Almost 70 percent of people questioned in a survey in the UAE believe those with a western accent – mainly British or American – have an advantage in the workplace.
Of the 1,882 people who responded to a poll conducted by Gulf News, 69 percent said those with accents from the US or the UK were perceived as more educated and are valued more.
The survey also found that 30 percent of those surveyed said they adjusted their accent and how they speak English to order to sound more westernised.
“Accents are a reflection of hierarchy. In every society there is a hierarchy of ethnicity and, along with that, there is a hierarchy of treatment. So accents are very much a representation of social class, ethnicity and social status,” Dr Rima Sabban, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Zayed University was quoted as saying.
Sabban added that some people believe a thick accent shows the speaker did not learn to speak English properly and this reflects their educational upbringing.
Clinical Psychologist and Managing Director of The Light House Arabia Dr Saliha Afridi said those who change of fake their accents to be more westernised often suffered from “an inherited colonial inferiority complex.”