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Culture Zone - Arab World and Middle East

Summary
Your score is among the lower ones compared to the score of most respondents. However, do not despair! One point of the exercise is to make you aware that culture cannot be dealt with by intuition alone. It is nearly impossible to make correct guesses about how people with other values behave. The only way to deal with this is to study other cultures – by travelling, reading books and newspapers, learning languages, or by using the resources on this learning platform. You need to know the facts – don’t make assumptions if you don’t. All the questions have been formulated based on research results that can be backed up. Read more below to learn about each single question’s implications and background information. Each question has links to related topics – click the ones of interest to learn more about them in the library.

Q1. A blunt negotiation style is appreciated and likely to occur.

You answered FALSE, that was not the correct answer.
 
Implication
Be prepared to negotiate for everything, if prices are not fixed.
 
Background
This is well-known from anecdotal evidence: Arab merchants negotiate and haggle over prices quite aggressively. This is viewed as normal and is accepted without offense. 

Q2. People are religious and value traditions to a great extent.

You answered TRUE, that was the correct answer.
 
Implication
Show respect, don’t make religious jokes, inform yourself about religious holidays and traditions.
 
Background
This is evident from the World Values Survey.

Q3. One's public image is very important.

You answered TRUE, that was the correct answer.
 
Implication
Invest in your own public image and avoid damaging somebody else’s.
 
Background
There is indirect evidence about this from the Culture Connections study by Hofstede Insights and the World Values Survey. Arab societies emphasize mutual help,  "service to others", and sharing and generosity, suggesting that it is very important to maintain a public image of an admirable individual.

Q4. Students make stronger efforts and have better results in mathematics and science.

You answered FALSE, that was the correct answer.
 
Implication
It can turn out difficult to find a skilled workforce for highly technical tasks.
 
Background
The results of the large-scale international studies of students' achievement in maths, science, and reading, (such as PISA OECD) show clearly that the Arab countries, including the rich emirates, have lower scores than most European nations, especially those of Northern Europe.  

Q5. Women and men are generally considered equally good as managers.

You answered FALSE, that was the correct answer.
 
Implication
It may be easier to have a man as your company’s representative and face in the public. To be respected, a female company representative must have an outstanding professional record and this must be clearly communicated to the Middle Eastern partner.
 
Background
The World Values Survey demonstrates clearly that there is a tendency in all Arab countries to consider women less capable than men as managers or political leaders. While this view is not completely unknown in Western Europe, it is weaker than in the Arab world. 

Q6. Traffic regulations are strictly enforced.

You answered FALSE, that was the correct answer.
 
Implication
Be careful when moving around, especially as a pedestrian.
 
Background
A few minutes at a large intersection in an Arab country is enough for any observer to witness the poor enforcement of traffic regulations and the aggressive driving habits of some drivers. This is most pronounced in the poorest Arab countries, less so in the rich ones.

Q7. People value work more than free time.

You answered FALSE, that was not the correct answer.
 
Implication
People may show little understanding if work-life balance is important to you.
 
Background
This is evident from the World Values Survey.

Q8. Success and fame are valued highly.

You answered FALSE, that was not the correct answer.
 
Implication
Present yourself as successful to appear as a reliable business partner.
 
Background
This is evident from the World Values Survey and the Culture Connections study by Hofstede Insights.

Q9. People are likely to wish to achieve power.

You answered FALSE, that was not the correct answer.
 
Implication
Point out how doing business with you will increase somebody’s power.
 
Background
This is evident from the World Values Survey and the Culture Connections study.

Q10. People believe that human beings control their fate.

You answered FALSE, that was the correct answer.
 
Implication
People have an optimistic attitude towards the future and may be more willing to invest in uncertain projects.
 
Background
This is evident from the World Values Survey, as well as from the constant use of the phrase "insh-Allah" ("God willing") that most Arabs use whenever they talk about a future endeavour.

Q11. People try to avoid arguments and conflicts.

You answered FALSE, that was not the correct answer.
 
Implication
If you disagree with something, don’t express your disagreement directly but try to convey it indirectly.
 
Background
Evident from the Culture Connections study.

Q12. People are generous.

You answered TRUE, that was the correct answer.
 
Implication
Don’t be overly strict with your spending.
 
Background
Evident from the Culture Connections study.

Q13. People feel that effort leads to success.

You answered FALSE, that was not the correct answer.
 
Implication
People will work hard if they have a goal they want to achieve.
 
Background
Evident from the World Values Survey and a study by Michael Bond and associates. 

Q14. In general, women usually feel oppressed by men.

You answered TRUE, that was not the correct answer.
 
Implication
Be careful about your own reservations – locals may see things in a different light.
 
Background
There is no clear evidence that, generally speaking, Arab women feel oppressed by their fathers or husbands even if they do not have the freedoms that European women enjoy.

Q15. Employees are motivated by an opportunity to show that they are more competent or skillful than their peers.

You answered FALSE, that was not the correct answer.
 
Implication
Individual incentive systems will work in this culture.
 
Background
This is evident from a study by Evert van de Vliert.