Diversity is prevalent in our society. As a nurse working here in Middle East, achieving cultural awareness is a very important aspect in providing quality care to our patient. We are not required to accept and understand all their values and beliefs completely but we do need to respect them.
One of the key to become a competent nurse here in Middle East is to develop CULTURAL AWARENESS. We must realized that different values and believes exist. Culture influences patient’s behavior toward their health. In line with these, I’ve collected some important facts that we should be aware of
- There are 22 arab countries: Algeria, Bahrain, the Comoros Islands, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Mauritania, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan,Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen (Iran and Turkey are not Arab countries.)
- The Arab world includes Muslims, Christians and Jews. Any person who adopts the Arabic language is typically called an Arab.
- Sexual problems and venereal diseases are difficult for Arab patients to deal with. Women are shy to talk about their private lives and may feel more comfortable with women doctors.
- For pregnancy or gynecological needs, women prefer a female doctor.
- DRESS FOR WOMEN: Adherence to traditional dress varies across societies. (More traditional—Saudi Arabia Less traditional – Egypt) Traditional Arab dress features the full length body cover (abayah, jilbob, or chador) and veil (hijab or chador).
- DRESS FOR MEN: Arab dress for men ranges from the traditional flowing robes to blue jeans, T-shirts and western business suits. The robes allow for maximum circulation of air around the body to help keep it cool, and the head dress provides protection from the sun. At times, Arabs mix the traditional garb with Western clothes. Headdress pattern might be an indicator of which tribe, clan, or family the wearer comes from. However this is not always the case.
- Local men and women in Abu Dhabi are easily distinguishable from expats because of their traditional dress: men wear Dishdasha, an ankle-length, collarless gown that is usually white, matched with headdresses (guthra), while women wear black Abayas over their clothing. Elderly married women sometimes wear the burkha, or a special facial covering, whenever they go to public places. Modesty as well as adaptability to the weather are key elements that have defined these traditional costumes.
- THINGS TO DO:
- Respect the privacy and protected role of women in Arab societies.
- Men stand when women enter a room.
- Respect the different living “areas” for men and women.
- Do not expect women to eat or socialize in the same room as men.
- THINGS NOT TO DO:
- Do not shake hands with an Arab woman unless she offers her hand first. Do not flirt, hit-on, touch, hug or show any kind of affection in public.
- Admitting, “I don’t know” is distasteful to an Arab. Constructive criticism can be taken as an insult. Be careful not to insult.
- Family is the center of honor, loyalty, and reputation for Arabs. Males are always the head of the Arab family.
- The holy day of the Muslims is FRIDAY. It is considered to be sacred and the Day of Judgment will take place on Friday.
- Arabs are restricted by Islamic conventions from eating pork, most carnivorous animals, and unscaled fish. Alcohol is forbidden. Meat must be butchered in line with Qur’anic ritual (known as Hallal = “permitted”)
- When served a beverage, accept with the RIGHT HAND ONLY! When eating, drinking, offering, or passing use right hand only!
- Shake Hands with right hand only and at the beginning and end of any visit. Shake hands longer but less firmly than in the West. Left hand grasps elbow.
- Close friends or colleagues hug and kiss both cheeks upon greeting. During the Hajj (pilgrimage), people may kiss only on the shoulders as a gesture of friendship and greeting. Touching noses together three times when greeting is a Bedouin gesture of friendship and respect.
- Placing a hand on your heart along with a slight bow is a sign of respect. This is usually done during greeting.
- Ramadan is a month of fasting from food, drink, smoking, and sexual intercourse during the daylight hours. It is a time for self-discipline, self reflection, and empathy for the poor. IT IS CONSIDERED BAD MANNERS TO EAT, DRINK, OR SMOKE IN FRONT OF SOMEONE FASTING!
- Do not take pictures of people in a mosque, particularly women. Mosques are considered to be shelters for homeless people. Do not be surprised to find mosques without furniture, except for the carpet. The Islamic religion advocates a simple way of life for its followers.
- “ARAB CULTURAL AWARENESS: 58 FACTSHEETS” By office of the deputy chief of staff for intelligence US Army Training and Doctrine Command Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. January 2006