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Advertisement of a Saudi Arabian Hotel Chain Essay

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Updated: Sep 10th, 2022

The rise of Globalization, as a new socio-economic reality, resulted in creating a situation when more and more people begin to think of humanity as something homogeneous, which in its turn, prompts them to conclude that cultural and economic concepts that are being crafted in the West can also be applicable in just about any other part of the world with ease. It is being commonly assumed that people’s behavior is defined by their social status rather than by their ethnic affiliation, and to suggest otherwise would represent a politically incorrect statement. In her article “The March of the Monoculture”, Helena Norberg-Hodge says: “The world, we are told, is being united by virtue of the fact that everyone will soon be able to indulge their innate human desire for a Westernised, urbanized consumer lifestyle. West is best, and joining the bandwagon brings closer a harmonious union of peaceable, rational, democratic consumers ‘like us” (1999, 194). However, the objective reality often indicates that it is namely individual’s affiliation with a particular ethnic group, which defines his or her existential drives more than anything else does. The validity of this statement can be best illustrated with the example of a hypothetical advertisement of a Saudi Arabian hotel chain, mentioned in the assignment, which was meant to increase the chain’s attractiveness in the eyes of Western would-be-visitors.

Even a brief analysis of this advertisement leaves no doubt as to the fact that it can hardly be considered commercially effective, simply because it appeals to an Arabic/Muslim rather than to a Western psyche. Apparently, ad’s designers had failed at realizing this simple fact, which is why it never occurred to them that by exposing potential Western consumers to this kind of advertisement, they would cause the Saudi hotel chain more commercial harm than good. In our paper, we will aim at exploring this thesis even further.

Even those Westerners who do not know a whole lot about the history, are well are of the fact that, as recent as fifty years ago, Saudi Arabia was considered one of the most inhospitable places on Earth. Back then, there was nothing in this country, except for the dunes of sand and the occasional bands of Berbers, riding their camels across the desert. In their article “Mapping Arabia”, John Leatherdale and Roy Kennedy provide us with insight into the fact that, up until comparatively recent times, this country was not even properly charted: “The Arabian peninsula, known to the Greeks and Romans, was one of the last areas of the world to be fully discovered by Europeans and until recently was very poorly mapped. It was not until 1819 that an outsider, Captain Sadlier, was able to report that he had crossed Arabia from the Gulf to the Red Sea” (1975, 240). Throughout the course of millennia, people in the area surrounding Persian Gulf, did not have any other concerns except for satisfying their immediate physiological and religious urges.

And yet, in the second half of the twentieth century, Arabs had suddenly realized themselves in possession of 60% of the World’s oil reserves. In this turn, this created an objective precondition for Persian countries to embark upon the policy of industrialization, even though prior to the twentieth century’s fifties, area’s natives continued to profess the principle of primitive tribalism, as the most fundamental rule of their living. Thus, despite Saudi Arabia’s amazing wealth and despite the policy of industrialization, which the country’s government continues to pursue, the overwhelming majority of Saudi society’s members address life’s challenges in a way if they had lived during the course of the early Middle Ages – their mentality continues to remain utterly primitive.

In his article “Is There a Primitive Mentality?”, C. R. Hallpike defines the foremost principle, along the lines of which one’s primitive mentality operates: “Members of closed cultures cannot escape from the modes of thought of their own culture. Again, there is no ‘second order thinking”, or ‘thinking about thought processes’ in such cultures” (1976, 265). While referring to particularities of Oriental reasoning, in his article “Cultures of Reason”, Bruce Bower comes up with essentially the same idea – the members of non-Western rural societies are being simply incapable of operating with highly abstract categories, which is why their existential priorities bear a strong mark of mediocrity: “In a variety of reasoning tasks, East Asians take a “holistic” approach. They make little use of categories and formal logic and instead focus on relations among objects and the context in which they interact. People in the United States, on the other hand, adopt an “analytic” perspective. They look for the traits of objects while largely ignoring their context” (2000, 57). Both observations explain Muslim religious anthropomorphism – the fact that Arabs think of a paradise as simply the place where there will be plenty of wine and naked women is nothing but one among many indications that they are being endowed with rural-peasant mentality, which in its turn, prevents them from considering a possibility that their psychological anxieties might not correspond to the anxieties of people not affiliated with Arabic culture. It is namely Arabs’ apparent inability to expand their intellectual horizon, which explains why the advertisement of a Saudi hotel chain in America, featuring the logo “We’re having a good time in this paradise-like environment”, cannot be referred to as such that is being smartly designed. The reasons for this are as follows:

  • Whereas; Arabs do associate the concept of paradise with a lot of water and women, White Westerners do not, simply because their ancestral memories do not revolve around these “things’” shortage and because they were able to free themselves of the remnants of rural mentality. In its turn, this allowed them to remain on the cutting edge of the world’s cultural and scientific progress, throughout the course of centuries. The reason why Western civilization’s progress was able to reach its current heights, is because its promoters used to derive ultimate pleasure out of indulging in primarily intellectual pursuits, instead of striving to satisfy their animalistic urges as their foremost priority, which is still often the case with people in Third World countries. Therefore, by being exposed to the sight of Saudi advertisement, an educated American of European descend will simply be getting irritated – that is, the best-case scenario.
  • As it appears from the ad’s imagery and logo, its semiotics imply sexism – in the eyes of advertisement’s designers, the creation of a “paradise-like environment” is quite impossible without the inclusion of women, as this environment’s essential component. And, as we are well aware of – in today’s West, sexism is being considered as one of the worst crimes against the spirit of political correctness. Nowadays, men try not to even look at women, while in the same elevator with them, simply because this can be interpreted as “sexism”, on their part. Therefore, it would only be a matter of a short time for the Saudi advertisement to begin stirring up a public controversy, after having been displayed in public places for a while. However, this would hardly add to advertisement’s popularity, as it is the case with “controversies” that are being created on purpose.
  • As practice shows, a significant number of Western businessmen are being instilled with contempt towards the prospect of bellyful idling, with cocktail glasses in their hands; due to their Protestant worldviews. It is because White Protestants do not expect divine graces to fall out of the sky, as it is the case with Muslims and Catholics, which explains why traditionally Protestant countries (U.S., Canada, Britain, Sweden, New Zealand, Australia) continue to feature world’s highest standards of living. In his book “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism”, Max Weber had said: “A glance at the occupational statistics of any country of mixed religious composition brings to light… the fact that business leaders and owners of capital, as well as the higher grades of skilled labor, and even more the higher technically and commercially trained personnel of modern enterprises, are overwhelmingly Protestant” (1930, Ch. 1). Apparently, these people are being well aware of the fact that, in order to be able to attain riches, one must never cease working hard. Unlike Saudi “kings”, who switched from riding camels to riding exclusive Lamborghinis and Rolls-Royces, and who will switch back to riding camels again, once country’s oil resources become depleted, Western businessmen do not profess the values of parasitic existence, which is why they were able to push forward civilizational progress, in the first place.

Therefore, it is highly unlikely that Arabic perception of “paradise” as the place where people drink themselves into a stupor, while indulging in sexual escapades, might appeal to Westerners on a sub-conscious level. And the reason for this is simple – whereas, Arabs think about happiness in terms of emotional/sensual intensity, Whites think of happiness in terms of mental/intellectual exaltation. This is why it never occurs to many Western politicians (such as Swedish Prime Minister, for example) that there might be anything wrong with them using public transportation to get to work; whereas, it is not only that Saudi “king” would never ride a car that costs less then million dollars, but he would never leave his countless palaces without being surrounded by an army of bodyguards, estheticians, speechwriters, advisors, fashion models, etc. Thus, it appears that the Saudi advertisement has been designed to target the audience consisting of simple-minded Arabs, and as such, it can hardly be applicable in the U.S.

The conclusion of this paper can be summarized as follows: The practice of designing commercial advertisements must take into account the racial affiliation of the targeted audience’s members. Apparently, those people who thought that Saudi ad would be able to increase hotel chain’s appeal, in the eyes of Western businessmen, are not very bright individuals, simply because they had failed at realizing a simple fact that “glamour” and “style” are nothing but few among many external emanations of the Western psyche and that they certainly do not constitute this psyche’s metaphysical essence, which is why these euro-centric concepts can never be thought of as being a “thing in itself”. Unlike what it is the case with people who simply mimic a Western living, without being able to relate to White people’s existential anxieties, the descendants of those who had created and maintained Western civilization can never subscribe to the idea that experiencing sensual pleasures represents the ultimate purpose of one’s life – they are being little too idealistic for that.

Bibliography

Hallpike, C.R. “Is There a Primitive Mentality?”. Man, New Series 11.2 (1976): 253-270. Print.

Leatherdale, John & Kennedy, Roy “Mapping Arabia”. The Geographical Journal 141.2 (1975): 240-251. Print.

Norberg-Hodge, Helena “The March of the Monoculture”. The Ecologist 29.3 (1999): 194-197. Print.

Weber, Max “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism”. 1930. (2002). American Studies at the University of Virginia. Web.

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IvyPanda. "Advertisement of a Saudi Arabian Hotel Chain." September 10, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/advertisement-of-a-saudi-arabian-hotel-chain/.

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IvyPanda. 2022. "Advertisement of a Saudi Arabian Hotel Chain." September 10, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/advertisement-of-a-saudi-arabian-hotel-chain/.

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