Personal Intercultural Competence as a Person from the United Arab Emirates (UAE)
The phrase “intercultural competence” can be described as the ability of a person to interact with other people of different cultures in a positive and authentic way through various events or transactions or activities such as trade, tourism, and learning among others. Moreover, due to increased globalization and other advances in technology, the rate of interactions between people from different cultural backgrounds has increased and enhanced through intercultural competence. For instance, people from different countries such as UAE and Malaysia have to learn to live alongside individuals from other cultures and hence reducing cases of conflicts based on cultural differences. In this regard, through intercultural competence, I have learned the importance of interacting with people from other cultures to and various stereotypes, which I have had about from daily activities.
In reality, it is vital to clear negative attitudes that individuals hold against my UAE culture to enhance the likelihood of creating lasting and positive relationships with people from different cultural backgrounds. For instance, from my interactions with people from other cultures, I have learned the essentiality of informing them about my culture. For instance, I always ensure that my friends know that the basis of the UAE culture is the Arabian culture even though it has a massive influence on the Persian culture. Besides, a majority of the people living in the UAE are Muslims, which means that official weekends are on Fridays and Saturdays (Uae-embassy.org 2018). As a result, most businesses are closed on these two days but some small enterprises close only on Fridays.
On the other hand, mutual and personal relationships are vital as they influence the conduct of business. In spite of significant influence from foreign cultures based on a large number of foreigners living in Dubai, building personal relationships, which are based on mutual trust, is critical to the success of businesses (Uae-embassy.org 2018). Nonetheless, I have developed global cultural skills to enable me to succeed in the global marketplace. Although in the international market personal relationships might not be as important as in my motherland, I believe in the vitality of building positive relationships between business leaders and their employees. Since a significant number of modern businesses are dependent on human resources to create competitive advantage, I believe that my ability to build trusting relationships with people from other cultures gives me an added advantage as I aim to manage global businesses and human resources.
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The success of current organizational leaders in the highly competitive business environment is dependent on business leaders’ possession of effective communication skills. In this regard, gone are the days when people aspiring to succeed in the business arena needed to learn their local languages. According to Uae-embassy.org (2018), UAE’s official language is Arabic but an increasing number of businesses in the country use English in business transactions.
At the same time, I have learned the English language to reduce communication barriers with people from non-Arabic speaking countries. In this way, I do not need the services of an interpreter when communicating with English speakers, which enhances my ability to communicate with a large number of people from different parts of the world. Besides using the English language to communicate effectively with my employees from different cultural backgrounds and languages, I would use the language to engage in business transactions with individuals and companies from various parts of the world.
The Importance of Intercultural Awareness in the Workplace
In reality, a significant number of companies in the modern business environment consist of people from different parts of the world with varying cultures. At the same time, modern enterprises have to engage in business transactions with people and organizations from different parts of the world because of globalization effect. In effect, intercultural competencies at the modern workplaces are critical to the success of corporate leaders. Besides creating a harmonious workplace with limited interpersonal conflicts, having effective intercultural skills enables the creation of positive and lasting relationships with employees thus giving corporations a competitive edge over their rivals.
Fortunately, an international education system is giving students an exposure to intercultural awareness at the earliest opportunity. Besides giving students an opportunity to learn about the various myths that they hold against other cultures, an international education system enables the transmission of the latest knowledge and innovations (Stier 2006). In addition, Stier (2006) establishes that international education exposes students to global conditions, which have effects on the international stage as well as the effects of local actions on the globe. According to Breen (2012), for these reasons, a significant number of American students are engaging in foreign study programs in a bid to learn other cultures to employ them in their future practices. Although some of the students leave their developed economies to study in the developing world, learning about other cultures helps them to become effective leaders in culturally diverse workstations.
On the other hand, the management of culturally diverse workplaces requires leaders to have effective communication skills. One of the primary requirements of being an effective communicator is to learn the languages of the different people in the same organization and their cultural norms and values. On this note, Spitzberg (2000) reveals that behaviors are appropriate in particular contexts. As a result, people have to learn the cultural norms of others to reduce the instances of conflicts. Therefore, to succeed in the modern business environment, employees and organizational leaders should possess intercultural competencies.
As noted earlier, the success and sustainability of modern business are dependent on human resources. As a result, business leaders devise effective means to attract and retain the best talents in the job market. Further, Jones (2013, p.95) notes, “Increasing globalization and the interconnectedness of multinational work environments have intensified the demand for graduates capable of operating in culturally diverse contexts.” On the one hand, people with intercultural competencies understand the vitality of developing productive relationships with people from other cultural backgrounds while on the other; they join culturally diverse teams to enhance both personal and organizational productivity.
Besides the need to have intercultural competent workers to create competitive organizations, Findler, Wind, and Barak, (2007) establish the essentiality of organizational leaders with abilities to manage culturally diverse workforces. In reality, leaders with intercultural awareness understand the challenges that their employees face when working in culturally diverse teams and thus devise effective solutions to the issues. In this way, the leaders manage to get the best out of the workers thus enhancing the chances of success and sustainability of their businesses.
The Differences between the Malaysian Culture and the Culture of the UAE
One of the primary differences between the Malaysian culture and that of the UAE is religion. Even though the UAE hosts a significant number of foreigners such as expatriates and tourists, the dominant religion in the country is Muslim. At the same time, the culture is based on Arabian culture while the laws are founded on Sharia law. As a result, businesses in the country do not recognize Sunday as a holiday for some religions such as Christianity, which elicit challenges for Christians working in Dubai or the larger UAE. On the other hand, the influence of various individual beliefs in the creation of the Malaysian culture enhances “social integration, mutual cultural awareness, and respect” (Expatfocus.com 2018). Even though the dominant religion in Malaysia is Islam, a significant number of the country’s population practices Buddhism and Hinduism. As a result, interactions between people with different religious beliefs and cultural norms have enhanced the respect for individual freedoms.
Unlike in the UAE where Islam determines public holidays, in Malaysia, the most important festivals for the three religions are public holidays. Importantly, all people are allowed to stay off work even when the religious festival does not belong to their religion. Consequently, workers in Malaysia have very many off days. At the same time, unlike in the UAE where the dominant dressing code is based on the Islam religion, a majority of Malaysians were western clothes in spite of their religious differences. Nonetheless, they wear traditional dresses to mark their vital religious festivals.
Growing up in Dubai has exposed me to different cultures since when I was a very young child. For instance, interactions with foreigners since an early age have exposed me to various dress codes and behaviors. However, I thought that the conservative nature of the Arabian culture had a massive influence on foreigners living or touring the country. In effect, visitors to Dubai did not exhibit their cultural norms to the fullest. On the contrary, I thought that the Malaysian culture has had massive influence from the western culture thus enhancing the instances of indecent behaviors, which are illegal in Dubai. However, after learning the culture of Malaysia, I have realized that the people respect relationships and do not engage in what my culture sees as obscene behaviors such as dressing in over revealing clothes. Nonetheless, one of the benefits of learning the Malaysian culture was the realization of the importance of coexistence between people with different religious beliefs.
The Effects of International Field Trip to Changes in UAE, Dubai Cultural Assumptions, Attitude, and Preconceptions
One of the best ways to learn the beliefs and norms of other cultures is by interacting with people from those cultural backgrounds. On this note, international field trips expose people from a particular culture to other cultures, which creates opportunities to learn the truth behind the myths, and stereotypes that people hold against other cultures. According to Tasci and Gartner (2007, p.413), destination image which refers to “the sum of beliefs, ideas, and impressions that a person has of a destination” play a critical role in determining the likelihood of an individual choosing to travel to a particular place. However, in most cases, people find out that the destination image they held is not based on truth. In spite of the availability of numerous avenues to gather information about specific places and countries, visiting the said nation helps people to have a firsthand experience of the people’s culture, which changes their perceptions.
On the same note, an international field trip would help people from Dubai to learn the essentiality of intercultural awareness as well as the need to establish relationships with people from various cultural backgrounds. In most cases, Emiratis interact with members of their families and other Muslims thus limiting their knowledge about other religions. As a result, the chances of holding negative attitudes against other religions are high but a visit to a foreign country would justify or nullify some of the stereotypes on the people’s minds.
In principle, the number of foreigners in the country is giving a significant number of the UAE residents a chance to interact with foreign cultures to understand their beliefs, norms, and cultural practices. Nonetheless, some of the foreigners could change their behaviors to fit in the Arabian culture thus denying Emiratis a chance to learn more about their culture. On the contrary, a foreign trip would expose the visitors to actual cultural practices of foreigners in their countries. According to Owsianowska (2014), the desire to attract the largest number of tourists encourages marketers to create narratives that suit the desires and preferences of the target audience. As a result, people are left to form their opinions based on the information they gather from third parties but in most cases is untruthful. On the contrary, personal visits help foreigners to learn the truths and lies about other cultures thus enabling the creation of opinions based on truths.
One of the advantages of foreign field trips in the current business environment is the preparations of people to work in foreign countries. The interconnectivity of the modern market alongside globalization requires people to develop skills and abilities to adapt to different cultures. However, holding various negative stereotypes against particular countries or regions reduces the desire to work and live in the said nations. However, high levels of exposure through foreign trips would prepare individuals to move their home countries to the global business environment.
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