Move to UAE has increased knowledge of Islam, say expats

Expatriates say they have embraced the UAE's culture and traditions since they moved to the Emirates, a YouGov survey has found.
ABU DHABI // Expatriates have embraced the UAE's culture and traditions, and increased their understanding of Islam since they moved here.

Most western expatriates (94 per cent) say they have embraced the culture, followed by Arab expatriates (93 per cent) and Asian expatriates (89 per cent).

And 81 per cent of westerners say they have learnt more about Islam, as did 71 per cent of Asian expatriates. 

Filipino Chai Medel says she has happily embraced the local culture.

Ms Medel, 26, an administrative worker, has lived in Abu Dhabi for six months and says has tried to understand much more about Islam. 

"I have come to know so much about Islam," she says.

"It is an eye-opening experience. I had certain perceptions about Islam but when I came here I learnt a lot.

"This country is very tolerant of people from different religions. One can see different Islamic traditions and beliefs and they are not closed about it.

"I think being here does make you proud because you get to experience and partake in different cultures, especially how everyone from different parts of the globe flock here.

"It is a melting pot."

Jamie Derit, 25, a Filipino who works for a telecoms company in Abu Dhabi, says: "I have learnt more about Islam since I moved here and I know that the people here are serious about their religion."

Eighty-five per cent of westerners and 84 per cent of Asian expatriates feel they have learnt more about Arab culture since moving to the Emirates.

"It is interesting to find that expats and especially Westerners have tried to better understand the UAE and Arab culture and Islam," says Lara Al Barazi.

"This shows they are trying to be part of the community, and in turn would give their counterparts back home a better and clearer idea of what Arabs, the UAE and Islam are about."

Published: December 1, 2014 04:00 AM