This headline was a cheap way to combine two subjects under one hopefully mercifully short post.
I went to a presentation put on by an Emirate who is 35 years old, a graduate of FSU and got an MBA from some school in Canada. His occupation in cultural therapy (that is what I call it) for expat businessmen who come here to try to take back some of the petrobucks that have flooded the UAE. The session was called Ask Ali! and it was interactive. Many reasonable questions, and then there was me.
His answer to my impertinent question was “We shave every 3 days”.
This guy was sharp, and funny, and I learned a few things that might help me while I am here. For instance, I asked him “When I see a woman in a beautifully embroidered Aballa, how do I acknowledge that without sounding like I’m coming on to her?”
His answer, shortly put was “Ignore it” Either she could take it wrong, or her man might be nearby and not appreciate it. It might just be well received, but it is best to just “Ignore it”.
Those of you who are still stuck on Fox news impressions about Arab life should hear a couple things about Arab women clothing styles.
Yes, it is important to dress respectfully. What that means is that those girls who walk the streets of Bocas in g-string bathing suits and guy nut bags would simply not be tolerated here. Hell, I could not tolerate them in Bocas, it got old fast.
But, back to the locals. The Abbaya thingie that you Fox news watchers think is some sort of prison for Arab women, is really just a tradition. Besides that, they are very cool in the desert heat, and provide the equivalent of SPF 1000.
Women walking behind men…now I have never personally seen that here in the UAE, but Ali says it comes from the Bedouin culture where men walked in front of women in the desert to scare up the snakes and such. He asked “Don’t cultured men in Europe and America walk on the street side of the sidewalk when they are with a woman for safety and to keep slush from spraying on your woman?” I don’y know about you, but I always do.
Anyway, I learned a few valuable things about the culture, the most valuable is that is just that, the culture, not some religious edict.
Now, the brand loyalty thing. Everyone of you will recognize the following three products in an instant. Marketeers and packaging designers have been here before you or I and they have trained us well.
I did not buy one to show you, but the only can I find just WRONG is Mountain dew in Arabic. Call me prejudiced, but a cracker beverage in Arabic just seems, well, WRONG.
Soon I will post McDonalds in Arabic, likewise Tasty Freeze, and of all things Colonel Sanders. He must be rolling in his grave.