UAE research offers insights into how Arabs interact

The new online journal edited by an American University of Sharjah professor offers an insight into how Arabs communicate between each other and with foreigners.
Rana Raddawi is the editor of Intercultural Communication with Arabs. Antonie Robertson / The National
Rana Raddawi is the editor of Intercultural Communication with Arabs. Antonie Robertson / The National
SHARJAH // A new book offers empirical insight into how Arabs communicate with one another and with foreigners.

The book, edited by an American University of Sharjah (AUS) professor, also offers advice, mainly aimed at western expatriates, on avoiding cultural taboos.

Intercultural Communication with Arabs: Studies in Educational, Professional and Societal Contexts is claimed to be the first study of its kind that focuses solely on intercultural communications with Arabs, according to Dr Rana Raddawi, its editor.

"Drawing on current theory, research and practice, this book will help readers better understand and, as a result, better engage with the Arab world," said Dr Raddawi, an English lecturer.

"It provides an insight into the humanitarian side of Arabs.

"It breaks the stereotypes of violence, aggression and fanaticism of Arabs as portrayed by the western media, especially after 9/11 and the Arab Spring in the Middle East."

The 358-page book features 19 chapters of essays by Arab academics and westerners who live in the Middle East. The chapters can be bought separately.

The book is divided into three sections covering educational, professional and wider societal themes. Each chapter features essays detailing case studies and real-life experiences meant to be useful for researchers, scholars and students. But the book could be helpful to anyone living and working in the region, said Dr Raddawi.

"Since we are in the Arab world, we need to teach some intercultural communication about Arabs, it goes without saying," she said.

Dr Raddawi also has a chapter in the book called "Intercultural (Mis-) Communication in Medical Settings: Cultural Difference or Cultural Incompetence?"

Two other AUS professors have contributed chapters to the book. Dr Linzi Kemp, associate professor of management, wrote "Culturally Different Perspectives of Time: Effect on Communication in Meetings", and Dr Khawlah Ahmed, associate professor of English, wrote "Intercultural Communication and Muslim American Youth in US School Contexts".

In addition, AUS alumni Sarah Abdul-Hadi, Lori Ann Alnaizy, Bashaer Aref and Asma Al Shamsi co-authored a chapter entitled "Integrating People with Disabilities into Society in the UAE".

"The main one, I think, who is the star in the book is the Emirati mother who talks about her autistic child," said Dr Raddawi. "It is very strong, the testimony that she provided and how society perceives her son, how she perceives her son compared to her other son who doesn't have this disability, and how she as an educated mother has succeeded in overcoming whatever hindrances, whether societal or individual, in order to cater to the needs of her son."

Two other chapters focus on intercultural communications issues specific to the UAE, including "Understanding Family Involvement in the Education of Emirati College Students in the United Arab Emirates" and "Why Am I Black? Gendering Hip-Hop, and Translocal Solidarities in Dubai".

A chapter by Dr Melanie Gobert at the Higher Colleges of Technology describes taboo topics in the region and offers case studies from the UAE.

"We do have some chapters in the book that talk about what foreign teachers should know before they come and teach," said Dr Raddawi. "This is very important. They should know about how these students were raised, what is their cultural background, what they believe in, what are the issues they would like to discuss in the classroom.

"All foreign teachers, whatever the subject matter they teach, they should have cultural competence, they should be aware, trained, exposed to cultural awareness about the country they'll be teaching in."

The book is available only through the publisher's website, Springer.com, for about Dh370.

rpennington@thenational.ae

Published: December 26, 2014 04:00 AM

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