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Sun 13 May 2012 05:22 PM

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Brits must respect UAE culture more - diplomat

Ambassador to UK urges expats to developer better understanding of Emiratis

Brits must respect UAE culture more - diplomat
British expats in Dubai

The UK's ambassador to the UAE has urged British expats and tourists to better understand Emirati local customs and traditions.

 “It is really important for expats and tourists to understand the norms of the society they are in,” Dominic Jermey told 999 Magazine, the official magazine for the Ministry of Interior.

“So that is why we, through our embassies in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, work very closely with tour operators, local schools, and the airlines to run a global campaign called ‘Know Before You Go.’ 

“As far as the UAE is concerned it is about having a really good time and getting the best out of your experience, but doing so in a way that is entirely appropriate,” he said.

Jermey’s comments follow months after a 999 poll found that seven out of ten expatriates in the UAE do not understand the country’s local customs and traditions. Only 60 percent of expats claim to know the basics of UAE culture while 72 percent admit to knowing very little about their host country.

The UAE, like much of the region, heavily depends on foreign workers to fill jobs at all levels of the economy. An estimated 83.5 percent of the UAE population is made up by expats.

As many as 1m British nationals visit the UAE every year, according to the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office website, with as many as 100,000 Britons living in the country.

The emirate has received high-profile coverage in the British press in recent years, following a spate of arrests relating to crimes such as culturally inappropriate behaviour.

The British Embassy said in 2009 that UK nationals were more likely to be arrested in the UAE than anywhere else in the world.

The Gulf state in January was ranked the least friendly country in the world for expatriates by Forbes magazine based on data from HSBC’s Expat Explorer Survey, which polled 3,385 expats in 100 countries on factors such as economy, raising children and overall experience.

Forbes, which stripped out data in four categories – ability to befriend locals, success in learning the language, integration into the community and ease of fitting into the local culture – to rank the world’s top spots for migrant workers, said the UAE, Hong Kong and Singapore did not fare well in community integration and befriending locals but performed well in those relating to career prospects and high income.

LUNA 7 years ago

Everybody knows : When in Rome do as the Romans ! English tourists have a bid of difficulties with controlling themselves when abroad. They tend to " let go " easily, we see them in Europe as well, they are always the loudest, men and women. Could it be some Victorian baggage, that have kept them in "strain " and only when away they can they unfold ?

Doug 7 years ago

I wonder if part of the problem is the fact that there is an implied agreement between expats and UAE Nationals that an 'apartheid' style separation is the best way forward.

The behaviour of some Britons here shocks me because it's not just culturally inappropriate for the UAE, it'd be inappropriate in Britain too. But what happens is because British expats primarily live in this bubble, it's like they suddenly feel normal rules don't apply. It's worth noting just how many incidents here are fuelled by alcohol. It's something of a shock to see how alcohol is served here in the UAE. It would be illegal to hold those infamous 'brunches' in the UK because of alcohol selling and licensing laws - you would never get an 'all you can drink' event in Britain.

Telcoguy 7 years ago

Nope you travel to Southern Europe for that :)
But yes you are spot on.
Honestly rowdy behavior is not just coming from British. Go to Mallorca or Ibiza. you will see the same behavior from French, Italian, Dutch or German tourists. Go to the Caribbean and you will see some really shameful behaviors from Spaniards and Italians...

It is good we have the British to blame and feel better, but truth is that people away from their natural habitat, so to speak, tend to misbehave more easily. The sense of shame that would normally constraint the behavior disappears.

This is just a fact of life. If you want to become a mass tourist destination then you need to be ready to accept it.
This is as true in Dubai as in the Mediterranean destinations. This time is NOT different, this place is NOT different. This is the downside of mass tourism.

Once again I thank the people from the UK for generously taking the blame for our faults :)

mania 7 years ago

Not to tell about Briton policing attitude trying ti change people's behaviour and the knowing all.
It is so bullying I wonder now why your youth are uprising against the system.
After seeing the queen show of splendour to the congress for the discussions of proverty and austerity… a total hypocrisy.
Britan has to clean their own house before critisicing and imposing policies to the world around them. Not to mentioned the expatriates in their own ground.

Doug 7 years ago

British youth are hardly 'uprising against the system'. Last summer's riots are more to do with slack parenting rather than bullying by the police/

As for the 'queen show of splendour to the congress'...what is 'the congress'? Do you mean Parliament? 'Congress' is an American thing. Make sure you know what you're talking about first before criticising, eh?

In any case, how is this story about Britain criticising the UAE? It's about Britain telling its people to respect UAE culture and norms! It's not 'imposing' policies on anyone!

happy Brit in UAE 7 years ago

I think its unfair to single out the brits behaving badly, as the majority are well behaved, when it comes to holiday makers coming here Dubai is now somewhat of a budget destination and marketed to a certain sector of the UK population (a certain demographic who are in all honesty... not the cream of the population) so perhaps that alone is perpetuating the problem.

Im british.. been here 16 years speak arabic (to a degree) have never had any problems with the police either, and also count a large number of Emiratis as close friends..
so its a little harsh to generalize...

I praise the initiative of the Embassy to start a campaign to teach people there are different rules and customs here in the UAE that need to be followed and adhered to..

Next they should be doing the same for some people who come to the UK and fail to respect our values and traditions..

Mick 7 years ago

I believe that the blame is put on Brits because Brits make up the western majority by a massive long shot here in the UAE and when you see Russians, Americans, Canadians, Germans, Spanish, French they aren't usually the ones complaining and getting lit as much.
I have no personal issue with Brits but I totally get where the UAE powers-that-be are coming from. When I see a 6 inch skirt or people falling all over each other at a bar....It's normally followed by a brit accent. There are some brilliant, upstanding Brits here that create a great blueprint for the society but you have to admit that the ones here that seem to really highlight the stereotypical Brit do so in a very stunning spotlight. Every nation blames the other. The South Africans, Aussies and every other western-ish nationality are just as guilty from time to time but because of the massive demographic of Brits here....they seem to bear the wrath. We all have our issues.

Marsh 7 years ago

seriously? The Brits in the UAE are not spearheading the moral decline this article talks about?? Must be the Canucks and Kiwis again. They're always falling down blind drunk in the streets and roaming from pillow to pillow.

I actually feel bad for the brits that come here to actually sock away and invest their money and work hard and have to endure the stereotype of drinking and complaining. I have loads of british friends but I'm selective in that I stay away from the reckless, disrespective ones and they would all agree with what I've just said, i'm certain.

Bakheet Saeed 7 years ago

@ Telcoguy, I hope you are not one of those who associate mass tourism with mass nudism; if you or any resident or tourist think that tourism means nudism and decadence then you'll seem disoriented and came to the wrong destination. Time for some lessons in how a guest should respect his host before he is shown the exit door.

John Fox 7 years ago

Brits are economic, political and cultural imperialists. They are bred to actually believe that the world should bow before them, this has been repeated throughout history for centuries. I actually believe that they dont know how to behave differently as it is enshrined into the most basic unit of society--the family (see last years riots for example). I have seen this same behaviour by the Brits all over the world. Good on the UAE gov for being so hard on them, they deserve it and require it.