Most expats in the UAE don’t know about local customs and culture

by Ray Clancy on February 20, 2012

Poll finds 7 out of 10 expats in the UAE have poor knowledge of the area's culture

Some seven out of 10 expats in the United Arab Emirates have a poor knowledge of the area’s culture and don’t know about local customs and traditions, a poll shows.

Despite an abundance of learning resources and materials available 72% didn’t bother to find out more about the country they live, the survey by 999 Magazine, the official English monthly of the Ministry of Interior, found.

Overall only 28% of respondents had any real knowledge of the customs and a third set aside time to find out more about culture. Some 11% said that they had never bothered trying to learn about traditions.

‘The UAE is home to more than 200 different nationalities and is known for its low crime, modern outlook and peaceful attitude. It is a dismaying fact that many expat residents have a very limited knowledge of the customs, traditions and heritage of the UAE,’ said Lt. Colonel AwadhSaleh Al Kindi, editor in chief of the magazine.

The survey received responses from Westerners, 39%, Asians, 42% and Arabs, 15%, and most people questioned had lived in the UAE for more than a year. Some 34% had lived there for two to five years, 22% for five to 10 years and just 23% for a year or less.

Of the 2,000 people questioned about their individual knowledge of UAE history and customs 60% said they only knew the basics and 12% said they knew nothing.

Asked how often they tried to learn more, half said occasionally and 16% said hardly ever. This was despite 70% saying that there were enough resources to learn more.

Most respondents said that they depended on word of mouth to obtain information but the main source of this information was other expats who often only knew the basics.

The magazine pointed out that this is likely to only increase the risk of miscommunication or incorrect information being passed on.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Adrienne March 7, 2012 at 5:32 pm

This is an absolute disgrace. I can hardly believe what I am reading. Maybe the UAE needs to change a few things?


Nasser June 4, 2012 at 6:54 am

I am local, and I have faced a lot of offensives from outsider because they do not no our culture which is most taken from releguon. Example… people at the beach almost do not care abut setting half nude and do not care about our feelings. Because we always beleave that how could a free minded people walk without cloth which is against the instinct of a normal human being.


Greta Aragon June 24, 2012 at 3:36 pm

I worked in Dubai for 3 years without taking my annual vacation,,when i finished my 3 years contract i need to went home here in Philippines to see my family .But my employer wanted me to signed first a new contract just to make it sure that im coming back in their company to work with.But when im here already in philippines my mind was change that i didint comeback in that company again.My question is how long my Ban is lifted?? can i go in dubai for visit or tourist??using a visit visa??or my company has a right to do a lifetime BAN for me??Please help me because right now im planning to go back in Dubai but in visit visa or tourist visa … thank you so much for helping and to answer my all question God Bless You


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