Workers with US or British accents have edge in UAE - poll

Survey reveals that US, UK expats are perceived as more educated and valued more by employers

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.”

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Posted by: Canuck

US or UK? I guess we're getting lumped in with America yet again...or do we sound that much different? Maybe exclusion is a compliment.

- Canadian

Posted by: Mick

I think everyone should learn a language other than their own. Being a 6th gen Canadian, in addition to writing as a profession, I also speak French (the Parisian variety) and can have a general conversation in Hindi/Urdu and Spanish while still learning. I really would like to learn Arabic and have been searching for options for the 5+ years of living in Dubai but they have all been far to costly. In Canada, we try to preserve our culture by (govt) offering free English and French language lessons to immigrants and new residents. I would suggest that the UAE as a way of promoting their own culture. We know, very well, that this is of great importance to the government. What would it hurt to have the UAE government offer free lessons so that the many expats that live here, that REALLY are interested in learning Arabic can, without shelling out thousands to Berlitz or other places? Even beginners Arabic. You want us to acclimatize ourselves...let us. I'll be the first to sign up

Posted by: Mosa

I haven't come across anyone with an accent who is actually SMART. The accent gives them the 'edge' and then they leave their brains back at home, so when they are outside in the corporate arena - all they do is - blabber with their accent, irrespective of what they talk makes sense to anyone or not.

We need brains, people, brains!

Posted by: khal

inferiority complex!

Posted by: The Consultant

It's worth remembering that this was a poll open to anyone to respond to and consequently reflects the (often ill-informed) opinions of the man on the street, which may or may not coincide with corporate reality.

A poll of senior HR people or company CEOs would probably produce more valuable insight, but would require considerably more effort than sticking a "vote now" button on a mass-market newspaper website.

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