The Blog for Culture Vultures

Satiate your inner Culture Vulture with regular news and posts about cultural awareness, doing business abroad, working in a multicultural environment, HR diversity and global mobility.

Supermodel Accused of Racism Over Cultural Faux Pas

Supermodel Accused of Racism Over Cultural Faux Pas

Did you hear about the supermodel, the airport lounge and the cultural faux pas that caused uproar in Saudi Arabia and the UAE?

No? Well this is a great little example of culture gone wrong!

Continue reading
  183 Hits

Why Do Middle Eastern Men Wear a Chequered Head-dress?

Why Do Middle Eastern Men Wear a Chequered Head-dress?

A common question foreigners moving to or working in the Middle East ask at cultural awareness training sessions is, "Why do the men wear the head-dress?"

Great question! So let's discover more about the reasons behind it.

Continue reading
  143 Hits

What are the Most Common Causes of Culture Shock for Expats Moving to the Middle East?

What are the Most Common Causes of Culture Shock for Expats Moving to the Middle East?

Providing relocation training for expats moving to the Middle East means that we get to hear a great deal about people’s experiences in their new home country.

Although moving to the Middle East can be an incredibly positive experience, it goes without saying that adapting to new cultures and ways of doing things can be a challenge.

Continue reading
  154 Hits

What Cultural Differences Can an American Expat Find When Moving to The Middle East?

What Cultural Differences Can an American Expat Find When Moving to The Middle East?

The Middle East is as culturally diverse as the USA, which makes it difficult to talk about Middle Eastern culture as something homogenous.

What we will do, however, is to pick a few cultural differences which are shared across most of the Middle East and which are more likely to trip North Americans up when working in the region.

Continue reading
  209 Hits

What does Google Search Data tell us about Culture in Saudi Arabia?

What does Google Search Data tell us about Culture in Saudi Arabia?

For those of you interested in the Saudi people and culture, Google Search Engine data is a great starting point.

By looking at what people in Saudi Arabia are searching for online, you can establish a good understanding of what’s important to the Saudi people and, from this, draw inferences about the culture and life in Saudi Arabia.

Continue reading
  1253 Hits

Doing Business in Saudi Arabia? How to Make a Good Impression

Doing Business in Saudi Arabia? How to Make a Good Impression

Saudi Arabia is on a mission.

Their ambitious 2030 Vision seeks to create an economy for the future based around trade and tourism.

Continue reading
  337 Hits

Being Clueless about UAE Culture Won’t Protect You from Punishment

Being Clueless about UAE Culture Won’t Protect You from Punishment

A survey by the UAE’s security magazine, 999, has shown that most expatriates visiting the UAE are doing so while blind to UAE cultural customs and traditions.

Seven out of ten of the 2,000 expatriates included in the survey claimed to not understand local Emirati culture and traditions.

Continue reading
  560 Hits

Dismantling Stereotypes of Saudi Arabia

Dismantling Stereotypes of Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has become an almost permanent fixture in Western news.

With the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and the continued carnage in the Yemen which threatens to spiral into the worst global famine this generation, the spotlight placed on Saudi Arabia has been almost completely negative.

Continue reading
  667 Hits

Hospitality, Food & Friendship in Arab Business Culture

Hospitality, Food & Friendship in Arab Business Culture

Being a good host is a central part of life in the Middle East and it is an underpinning value that everyone in the region shares.

The roots of this can be found in the tribal system whereby treating guests well is traditionally a way of gaining honour.

Continue reading
  831 Hits

Honour, Face & Shame in Arab Culture

Honour, Face & Shame in Arab Culture

Doing business in the Middle East? Then you need to understand the role of honour in the Arab world.

The concept of personal dignity, honour and protecting one’s reputation is very important in the Middle East.

Continue reading
  1171 Hits

Understanding the Arab Middle East - Identity, Roots and Values

Understanding the Arab Middle East - Identity, Roots and Values

As with any people, the Arabs look to the past for their sense of identity.

Arab history is tied to tribalism and the nomadic life of the desert. Although in most places the nomadic lifestyle has all but disappeared, the influence of the desert and especially the importance of tribal identity are still prominent today.

Continue reading
  1095 Hits

Fighting Witchcraft in Saudi Arabia

Fighting Witchcraft in Saudi Arabia

For many Western cultures, witches are an innocuous subject.

Long gone are the days where innocent women were dragged from their homes to be burned at the stake.

Continue reading
  1476 Hits

Gift Giving Etiquette in the Middle East

Gift Giving Etiquette in the Middle East

The giving and receiving of gifts is an important part of professional and personal life in the Middle East.

Closely tied up with the need to maintain relationships and as a way of gaining and giving face, gift giving bonds people together.

Continue reading
  5371 Hits

Media Throw Confusion Over Wearing of Hijab in Saudi Arabia

Media Throw Confusion Over Wearing of Hijab in Saudi Arabia

Some recent news coverage focusing on Theresa May not wearing a headscarf on her business trip to Saudi Arabia has caused some major confusion over etiquette and protocol in the Kingdom.

Certain news outlets and media seemed to use terminology that suggested that the British PM May somehow 'refused' the idea of covering her hair.

Continue reading
  2571 Hits

The Importance of Business Relationships in the Middle East

The Importance of Business Relationships in the Middle East

Intercultural Awareness

Intercultural awareness training is sometimes perceived as a luxury within the business world. Many who feel this way are also proponents of the misconception that because the "world is getting smaller" our differences are becoming less obvious and less of a problem. This is in fact false. As we get closer, our differences become more acute and more of a problem thus further driving the need for intercultural awareness training.

Companies are now tuning into the fact that in order to get ahead in today's global economy, cultural awareness is critical. It is no longer a luxury but a necessity. The right intercultural awareness training briefing can offer a company real benefits, namely a competitive advantage and a greater long term gain.

Continue reading
  9118 Hits

When Cultural Ignorance becomes a Costly Mess

When Cultural Ignorance becomes a Costly Mess

Case studies from real business life are always the most powerful of ways to highlight the importance of local knowledge and cultural awareness for those operating in foreign countries. Often ignored or undervalued, this lack of sensitivity can sometimes have messy outcomes.

Continue reading
  10667 Hits

Ramadan: The Business of Fasting

Ramadan: The Business of Fasting

Did you know Ramadan changes every year? It is not always on the same date like Christmas or New Year. That is because the Islamic calendar is lunar. Whenever Ramadan starts millions of working men and women from Morocco to Saudi Arabia to Indonesia will be fasting from dawn till dusk as of next week. Life changes for 30 days inevitably having an impact on business.

Continue reading
  7276 Hits

20 Must Know Arabic Words and Phrases for your Business Trip to the Arab World

20 Must Know Arabic Words and Phrases for your Business Trip to the Arab World

Travelling to the Middle East, The Gulf or Arab world on business?

No matter where in the world you go for work knowing a few words or phrases in the local language can break down barriers, build relationships and smooth the way to business success.

Continue reading
  29314 Hits

Leadership and Management: Is the West Killing Local Arab Culture and Values?

Leadership and Management: Is the West Killing Local Arab Culture and Values?
Has the adoption of western education, management and leadership paradigms killed off local and national management styles across the world? Voices in the UAE are claiming this is unhealthy and unsustainable as foreign principles can never 100% fit in with local cultural needs.
Continue reading
  6812 Hits

Doing Business in The Middle East

Doing Business in The Middle East

The Middle East is an area which carries many stereotypes and myths. Before doing business in the Middle East it is imperative to learn about areas such as business culture, business etiquette, meeting protocol and negotiation techniques.  Through such knowledge stereotypes are broken and barriers to communication reduced.

When doing business in the Middle East, it is wise to bear in mind the great diversity within the region. However, a common religion, language and culture make the highlighting of general traits and features for the region valid.

Continue reading
  3472 Hits