By Christianne Poels
We all know the big hit of Aretha Franklin, a song about respect, dignity and gender roles. A song that you can sing with an attitude and at the top of your lungs. The word respect is a loaded word and means something different in every culture, or even every person. To me, it is the way of treating and thinking about something or someone. Respect is determined by your culture, upbringing and experiences in life. It defines your perspective on the world and its inhabitants. So you can easily say that my consideration of respect differs a lot of that of the people here in Dubai and here is why!
Before I went to Dubai I did some online research on the culture, the norms and values and rules that apply here. What I found was a website with eleven tips for respecting the locals in Dubai. Of course I read it thoroughly, as I wanted to be fully prepared for my time here. I did figure that you will experience these things differently once you are actually living and working in Dubai, but I can say that after two months of internship, my consideration of respect has changed already.
Let me start with an example of what I noticed about the culture here. Not only in the culture of Dubai, but in the entire Islamic culture, the separation of men and women socially and publicly is the most normal thing in the world. As a matter of fact I am used to feminism and gender equality being a normality, so this seperation was something I noticed within a short period of time. I noticed separate entrances in buildings for women, separate cabins in the metro for women, schools, prayer rooms and so on. I have always had the feeling that this seperation is disrespecting and downgrading to women and that women in this environment were not really respected. I am telling you now, this is not the case at all! After two months of internship here in Dubai, I learned to see things from another perspective.
So here is where my culture differs form the culture here. All these precautions, like separation is actually showing respect to women, giving them space and allowing them to be apart from the men. In my culture the “Dolle Mina’s” would be screaming on the street if this was the case in the Netherlands. We would see this as an obstruction of your freedom. So the most important thing I learned about this up until now, is although the Arabic/Emirati culture the culture remains highly traditional, the culture is actually progressive.
So to summarize, I learned about different perspectives of respect. So if you want to learn about “R.E.S.P.E.C.T.”, broaden your view right here in Dubai! Because, ‘What you want, baby Dubai got it, and what you need, do you know Dubai got it’? And most important, do not forget to keep on singing this hit at the top of your lungs!