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Dubai Expo Research Paper

Multiculturalism entails the coexistence of communities from diverse cultures and traditions who seek to understand and accept the values and customs of other people without promoting segregation. The sustenance of multiculturalism has numerous benefits, which include the sharing of ideas, learning about diverse cultures, respecting human dignity and eliminating negative stereotypes.

Language differences act as one of the major barriers to the efforts of promoting multiculturalism because forging relationships between different communities requires a lot of dedication and patience. The culture of the United Arab Emirates has undergone significant transformation starting from the early 1900s when the country started to witness the arrival of other nationals, including Iranians, Indians and Pakistanis.

The continued influx of expatriates transformed the UAE into a cosmopolitan community that has only witnessed minor cases of disputes and conflicts between expatriates and local communities.

A significant percentage of Emiratis are fluent in Arabic but have little knowledge of foreign languages, which limits the cultivation of a multicultural environment and transfer of knowledge about the local culture to expatriates (Carter & Dunston, 2004).

Another concern relates to the statistically low number of Emiratis compared to the expatriates, which has created the tendency by the locals to adopt measures to preserve their culture by minimizing foreign influence. Recently, there has been the emergence of hybrid cultures that differ from the local culture in the UAE and seeks to create an all-inclusive platform for interaction and exchange of cultural values and traditions.

For example, the mall culture has emerged in response to the increasing presence of expatriates in shopping malls to promote an accommodative business environment.

The opportunity to host the World Expo has significant social and economic effects on Dubai and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) because of the influx of investors and tourists. The World Expo is a major global event, which attracts significant media coverage and exposure of various aspects of the host country such as infrastructural development, job opportunities and tourist attractions.

By hosting the World Expo, Dubai would have a great opportunity to enhance international partnerships and create a lasting social and economic heritage whose effects would spill over to the entire UAE.

Surveys on 1000 individuals drawn from various parts of the UAE indicate optimism on the effects of Dubai hosting the World Expo with about 75 percent of the respondents stating that they would not want to leave the emirates before the Expo (Fludernik, 2003).

The surveys show that residents of Dubai and UAE expect the Expo to have positive effects on the local culture and multicultural relationships in the UAE with about 65 percent of the respondents encouraging family members and friends who live away to move to the UAE and enjoy the anticipated benefits of the Expo.

Concerns on the negative cultural effects of the Expo are minimal with about 16 percent of the respondents anticipating negative influences on the culture of Dubai while 10 percent expect negative effects on multicultural relationships in the UAE.

The existence of the UAE as a major multicultural hub illustrates the ability of the region to support and accommodate diverse cultures, traditions and backgrounds to the sustenance of its growth and development.

The fact that about 200 nationalities reside in the UAE means that the Expo would contribute positively to the enrichment of the cultural fabric of Dubai and other emirates. The influx of visitors due to the Expo would not suffer the detrimental effects of the incompatibility of cultures because of the current existence of elements of diverse nationalities in the UAE.

By hosting the Expo, Dubai gives the rest of the world an opportunity to interact with the emirate’s community and learn various cultural aspects of the region. Research shows that about 60 percent of the total population in UAE constitutes of individuals of the age below 25 years with the trend expected to rise considering the current rapid increase in the total population in Dubai and the UAE (Fox, 2006).

The Expo will provide the young generation in Dubai an opportunity to bridge cultures and integrate the cultures of the East and West, especially considering that young people are less conservative and easier to accept other cultures compared to the old Emiratis.

The fact that UAE has had great success in maintaining its culture and traditions despite the increasing influence of the outside world on the UAE’s young generation illustrates the capability to cope with the anticipated influences of the Expo.

The cultural interaction and integration will be a form of an investment whose effects will positively transform Dubai’s social and economic environments to accommodate foreign cultures. Dubai boasts of being one of the leading regions in the Middle East in terms of supporting peaceful coexistence of diverse cultures and religions and hosting the Expo would further improve its hospitality.

The international appeal of the UAE culture continues to boost the country’s image in the context of openness and transparency and the existence of laws that maintain the traditional pillar without being excessively restrictive and rigid to foreigners.

Laws and regulations in the UAE and the rest of the Middle East incorporate the tenets of Islam and pose challenges regarding the customs and behaviors of individuals from non-Muslim states. To counter the aspects of cultural shock, UAE authorities make considerations for non-Muslims who although expected to respect the Islamic code, have no obligation to respect and remain bound by the code.

The accommodation of non-Muslims in the context of laws and regulations creates a friendly environment in which foreigners can easily adapt to the local structures and cultures (Kanna, 2011). For example, during the month of Ramadan, businesses will set up special rooms where someone can enjoy food or drinks without interfering with the fasting procedures for the Muslims.

Although Islam prohibits the drinking of alcohol, the authorities in UAE have put in place measures such as licensing for expatriates who intend to drink. The structuring of business operations and transactions in UAE has helped to distinguish different nationalities and promoted the importance of multicultural relationships, which would have a key role during the Expo.

Another aspect of the tolerance of the UAE to foreign cultures concerns the freedom to practice other religions apart from Islam, which creates a sense of security for non-Muslims and eliminates the fear of religious extremism as evident in some countries.

The social, religious and corporate structures in the UAE have helped to prepare the locals to interact with foreigners without being judgmental and discriminative. Hosting the World Expo in Dubai would face minimal challenges relating to cultural shock because the UAE has already established programs and initiatives to spearhead multicultural coexistence.

A Dubai Expo will not only enhance business opportunities and commerce, but also facilitate the exchange of art between different parties, which is a crucial element to a country’s prosperity. Elements of art entail music, paintings and other artistic designs, which portray diverse cultural aspects and encourage the audience to observe, listen and interpret themes in different cultural settings.

The Dubai Expo would provide an opportunity for the locals to learn and understand diverse cultures in their context and improve the status of the UAE as a multicultural hub. Technological advancements and investment in diverse ICT projects in Dubai have already created a window through which the locals interact with the rest of the world’s cultures, customs and values.

ICT development in the UAE has availed fast internet connections and access to social media, which has created a platform for interaction of difference cultures and access to information. The exposure of the people of the UAE to the rest of the world has minimized fears concerning detrimental effects of hosting the World Expo in Dubai.

In fact, the exposure is an advantage regarding the acceptance of foreigners in Dubai and treating them in a manner that respects and elevates human rights. The pursuance of global economic dominance through efforts to woo investors and business associates has exposed the UAE to various effects of globalization and eliminated elements of conservatism, which hinder inter-cultural relationships.

Being the two major economic hubs in UAE, Dubai and Abu Dhabi have experienced an increased presence of the expatriate community, which analysts estimated to be about 70 percent of the total population in UAE (Terterov, 2006). Most of the foreigners travelling to the UAE encounter a welcoming environment because they can easily fit into niches constituting of individuals from their home countries.

The Dubai Expo would provide an opportunity for Emiratis to exhibit the original culture, which faces increasing threats from the emergence of hybrid cultures in UAE. While there has been a focus on promoting multiculturalism, foreign influence has significantly drowned the Emiratis’ culture over the last decades.

Reputable establishments such as the Sharjah Museum and Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation preserve key elements of the Emiratis’ culture and are points of reference through which foreigners and the local young population can learn during the Expo.

The Islamic architecture in UAE reflects numerous aspects of the traditions and lifestyles of the local people with the designers using materials that can withstand the local climatic conditions. For example, an analysis of the traditional architectural designs in UAE illustrates that the Emiratis had great preference for privacy and a foreign culture that disregards such a concern threatens the concept of multiculturalism.

The dress code in UAE highlights aspects of Islam and is evident mainly among the older Emiratis whose design of clothing emphasizes on the need to cover most parts of the body. Although Western-style clothing has gained popularity, especially among the youth, there have been concerns on inappropriate dressing that the older Emiratis view as disrespectful.

The emirate literature and poetry largely constitutes of themes emphasizing on proper family and religious values and love, which are building blocks of the Emiratis culture. The folk music and dancing styles in UAE are distinct with women swinging their bodies to the music’s beat while men re-enact scenes from battles and expeditions.


Carter, T., & Dunston, L. (2004). Dubai (3rd ed.). Melbourne: Lonely Planet Publications.

Fludernik, M. (2003). Diaspora and multiculturalism: common traditions and new developments. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

Fox, J. W. (2006). Globalization and the Gulf. London: Routledge.

Kanna, A. (2011). Dubai, the city as corporation. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Terterov, M. (2006). Doing business with the United Arab Emirates (2nd ed.). London: GMB.

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