The subject of local cultures and international cultures clashing is demonstrated in places such as Dubai where the local authorities have for some time turned a blind eye to the activities of many Western workers in the region until recently, when we saw something of a crackdown. Quite what prompted this change in the authority’s attitude towards international workers in the region is unknown but there is speculation that the blatant flouting of the local culture and beliefs prompted the short sharp backlash.
However, many are now questioning whether you can invite international workers into a foreign land because of the skills and experience they have, as well as taking their investment, and ignore their beliefs and practices in favour of the local culture.
Are we moving towards a two tier cultural system in foreign lands?
The two camps are very much at odds on this subject which has attracted more than its fair share of attention over the last few years in particular in places such as the Middle East. The friction between the Western world and the Middle East has been there for many years but lately, due to economic growth in the region, many differences have been put aside to facilitate both parties. Areas such as the Middle East have enormous investment potential and Western companies have the skill, experience and workforce which many developing countries are crying out for.
When in Rome do as the Romans?
Many people feel that when in a foreign land you need to appreciate and accommodate the local culture and local beliefs not only as an expression of respect but as a way of joining the local community. Unless there is some appreciation of the local culture we run the risk of substantial enclaves in foreign lands which will house for example European workers who will have little or no contact with the local community.
Should different cultures meet each other halfway?
Many people believe that the fact many foreign workers have been “invited” into a new land they should be able to live as normal a life as they have been used to, based upon their own culture and their own beliefs. While many people appreciate this position there is a need to ensure that potential clashes are avoided and possibly some activities and practices carried out away from the local community. One such example is the consumption of alcohol in Dubai by Western nationals which is at odds with local regulations but has been accommodated by the authorities for many years, if done in private.
While there are many different angles and elements to consider when looking at potential clashes of cultures and beliefs there is a feeling that moving to a foreign land should also include the appreciation, or at least part appreciation, of the local culture. However, for those workers who are from foreign lands where cultures and beliefs may be very different there is an argument for at least part accommodation of their practices.
One country where the clash of cultures has in the past been a problem is the UK although a number of accommodations and changes have been made to avoid serious unrest. However, there will always be one party suggesting the authorities have gone too far and another suggesting that more integration is required. This is an argument which could go on and on for some time yet.