7th April 2010, Dubai, UAE: The recent coverage given to the convicted “kissers of Dubai” has again brought the tensions between a traditional Arab culture and European norms to the surface. Despite the media backlash, the translation agency Kwintessential Arabia has applauded the courts’ decision, stating it is the responsibility of visitors to educate themselves of the local customs and not vice-versa.
In November 2009 local police in Dubai arrested a 24 year old expatriate and a 25 year old tourist after receiving a complaint from a local woman that the couple were kissing in a restaurant. The courts recently found them guilty of committing an offense and were subsequently sentenced to one month in jail, a $300 fine for consuming alcohol and eventual deportation.
“This is one in a long line of examples coming out of Dubai,” explains Kwintessential Arabia’s Director, Asif Afzal. “The media pick up on them and present them as a case of injustice. In truth, people should just be a bit more culturally aware when they come to an Arab or Muslim country. By appreciating some simple dos and don’ts you avoid these types of incidences.” Afzal maintains that the courts’ decision to apply a penalty is wholly justified. His belief is that a host country cannot be held responsible for its visitors’ ignorance to local cultural norms and laws.
Launched in 2010, Kwintessential Arabia are a Dubai based communications agency. Specialising in translation, interpreting, graphic design and multilingual conferences the agency also provides cultural awareness training. This involves teaching people about other cultures, whether on a social or business level. The aim of such training is to help expose participants to what other cultures believe, think and do in order to create a better platform of understanding. “We mainly deal with businesses and their personnel. We offer training on numerous topics. For example, it could be someone who wants to understand how to negotiate with the Chinese, man-manage a team of Indians or how to build relationships with Arab clients,” explains Afzal.
One area receiving increased demand is from local companies wanting to offer their inbound employees an appreciation of what life is like in the emirate and especially what the local customs demand. Dubai based company Elevation Technology Solutions recently commissioned Kwintessential Arabia will providing training for their new Sales and Marketing Manager who moved from the UK. “We decided we needed to invest in this sort of training,” explains the company’s Vice-President Kamran Hussain. “The training gave our manager a great insight into his new life and what to be aware of. As a result we are confident he will fit in well, adapt to life in Dubai and avoid the mistakes we keep reading about in the newspapers”.
Kwintessential Arabia believe that the business community is now taking the use of such training seriously. However, the tourism industry lags behind due to the lack of clarity over whose responsibility such information dissemination would fall under.
About Kwintessential Arabia
Established in the UK in 2003, Kwintessential has grown to now boast offices in the USA, Argentina, South Africa, Germany and now the UAE. The company provides support to businesses needing to communicate across cultural and linguistic barriers through translation services, interpreters, multilingual web design and graphic design.
Tel: +971 4 3326914