The current paper dwells on the major millennials’ issues that are inherent in the Gulf region. The results of surveys and other secondary data are processed, analyzed, and synthesized in order to come up with a number of recommendations concerning the issue of Westernization of the Middle Eastern states. The paper discusses the most influential sources of Westernization and expands the knowledge base regarding the impact of Westernization on the Middle Eastern millennials.
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Nowadays people all over the world experience the impacts of globalization, in the framework of which different cultures interact actively. Western influence is considered to be among the most critical ones, as it spreads quickly through different spheres, including entertainment, education, business, and advertising, etc. Even though the UAE is known to be a country that pays much attention to its tradition and culture, its millennials are also affected by the West greatly. A range of research studies was conducted in the first decade of the 21st century to get to know more information about this phenomenon and point out its potential future outcomes. It was revealed that a part of the UAE youth turned into the copycats of the Western lifestyle. They tend to wear clothes and haircuts peculiar to Western people, use their expressions, and try to be like some artists.
Sources of Western Influence
The UAE youth alters its lifestyle due to the influences from the West. In the majority of cases, they are provided with the help of satellite TV channels and the Internet. A lot of parents and senior officials reveal their concern related to this phenomenon because adolescence tends to spend many hours watching TV or searching the Web with their computers, laptops, and tablets. Even though these technologies provide people with a wide range of additional advantages, adults emphasize the fact that the time children spend using them increases with the course of time, which has a poor influence on their health, academic achievement, and relations with others.
Western influences can also be faced because of the communication with the UAE youth who is already extremely affected by a foreign culture. Individuals share their habits and preferences, which streamlines this process. Unfortunately, in many cases, provided influences are rather negative. For instance, children can promote and spread bad behaviors because of the things they see on the screen. However, this tendency is not yet extensively spread, which provides the country with the opportunity to preserve its culture.
The survey revealed that the Internet provides the UAE millennials with the opportunity to communicate with the foreigners. Finding friends there, they start traveling abroad and spend a lot of time there. Getting used to a new culture, they tend to reveal their insights at home. But sometimes such influences are observed even without such interactions, as individuals can just observe the life of the Western people on the screen. The participants of the research stated that they are ready to interact with copycats (20%) even though they do not consider such behavior to be appropriate and desirable. The rest of the sample (80%) turned out to have more conservative views and revealed no desire to get in touch with these people.
The UAE is a country known for having a lot of foreigners in its labor market. As a result, the millennials also obtain an opportunity to communicate with these people. It is also critical to consider that the employees who come to the UAE tend to bring their spouses and children. As a result, the youth of different cultures can interact on a routines basis. In this way, they share their attitudes and beliefs even without realizing it.
Development of the Issue
According to the survey that was conducted among the UAE youth, almost 80% of them are not really interested in mixing with copycats. They underline the fact that they have mostly neutral and positive thoughts about the West, but they believe that people should not turn into the individuals they are not. More critical findings are revealed considering marriage, as more than 58% of the UAE millennials claim that they have no desire to build a family with a copycat. The sample emphasizes that it is good to be interested in different cultures, but it is not a reason to forget one’s origin and turn into a kind of a Western star.
The survey also revealed that more people started to get actively interested in Western culture in the last decade than previously. This alteration can be explained by several factors. The use of new technologies becomes more frequent, which destroys some limitations. Initially, the UAE was known as a place with a desert and sea that could not improve its economic performance and become wealthy. Still, due to the oil boom, the country obtained an opportunity to reach a lot of those items that used to be difficult to get, enhance the standard of living, and make it more comfortable (Rao, 2016). However, these positive improvements and peculiarities of culture have been adulterated by foreigners.
The participants of the survey revealed that the West provides mainly negative influences on the UAE millennials. In particular, people of ages 7-17 are critically affected. They start paying less attention to their own culture and do not act as they are expected to. In addition to that, the responders claimed that those who are 18-30 years old are also greatly affected by the West. Such results are rather critical for the UAE and the development of its culture because these two groups of the population represent the greatest part of the whole country’s population. In other words, it means that a lot of citizens will lose their identity over the course of time.
Copying of Western Culture
Recent observations reveal that the UAE millennials try to resemble the representatives of western cultures. Of course, there are different reasons for such actions. However, the responders underlined the influence of the weak parental control of children as the main one. It is believed that parents are to make their kids accept and follow particular attitudes and traditions. In this framework, they are also seen as individuals who are in charge of implanting cultural and religious beliefs. In general, these concepts play a vital role in the UAE population, as they determine people’s behaviors and attitudes. Mainly, people in the UAE resort to Islam, but regardless of the fact that the country is often considered to be rather conservative, it turns out to be one of the most liberal parties in the Arab world. Thus, it presupposes frequent interaction with other cultures and traditions. As a result, its population tends to be less strict regarding the focus on particular beliefs (“Culture and religion,” 2017). However, taking into consideration the fact that Islam shapes the population’s minds and affects culture, it is vital for parents to control their children better and ensure that they value their religion. Some influences of Islam can be found in simple everyday tasks, as well as in-laws and education. Thus, it cannot be denied that it is critical for the population to have a good understanding of its own culture and religion. The easiest way to ensure it is to educate children from an early age so that they have a strong religious belief and realize that copying other cultures they lose their identity.
Weak religious belief is also often entailed by poor social awareness. Being affected by the Western ideas described in social media and other sources of information, millennials tend to be greatly affected by the image of a happy individual. As a result, they tend to follow those habits this person has in order to reach the same outcomes. In this way, they follow those routines that are peculiar for the West and its population but not for the UAE (Kabbanji, 2015). They get to know a lot of information about foreign countries, their difficulties, and their positive experiences. However, their social awareness regarding the native country turns out to be rather weak. These people tend to gather in groups as they experience a light form of being outsiders. On the one hand, the UAE population accepts them but, on the other hand, it believes that it is critical for the citizens to focus on their heritage.
By becoming attracted to Western culture, millennials try to copy Western artists. As a rule, they start with some slight changes such as haircuts. In this way, there is always a possibility to return to the previous style or to hide it when needed. According to the survey, individuals also alter the way they dress up, speak, and eat. More critical changes are represented by tattoos and inter-gender mix-up.
One of the global challenges that are recognized by both Arab and Western millennials involves monetary assets. Both nations believe that the country’s economy should be one of the top issues reviewed by the government. These millennials also put emphasis on the significance of the cost of living. The process of Westernization can be described by the relative similarity that can be identified between the Western and Middle Eastern millennials. They all believe that such issues as climate change, cost of living, and mitigation of crime should be viewed as the key challenges that should be addressed by the government (Hamamsy, 2014). Also, the Middle Eastern millennials specified that the removal of the gap between rich and poor should become a positive aspect of the Westernization (considering the fact that the majority of the Gulf states heavily rely on the Western approach to this issue). Another important challenge that was identified by Arab millennials was the presence of corruption. They also stated that the current economic conditions and the loss of local values majorly contribute to the Westernization of the country (Goldschmidt & Boum, 2016). A significant percentage of the Middle Eastern millennials claimed that the problem of gender inequality is also a sign of the Westernization of the Gulf area. Among the Saudi millennials, almost 75% of the respondents are seriously concerned about the issue of gender inequality.
According to the results of the survey, the current list of Middle Eastern millennials’ priorities can be expanded by a number of issues that can be ranked on a scale from “relatively influential” to “very influential.” These priorities include issues related to employment and an increased level of terroristic acts all over the world. The Westernization of the Middle Eastern outlooks can be seen in their need for democracy. One of the characteristic traits of Middle Eastern millennials includes their desire to acquire the freedom to travel. In comparison, the Western millennials see employment and a reasonable salary are among the top priorities (Debevec, Schewe, Madden, & Diamond, 2013). The desire to be provided with consistent healthcare services can be located in second place. Western millennials believe that healthcare is relatively influential but still important. Ninety-six percent of the interviewees mentioned that health care services are an inextricable aspect of their contentment and quality of life.
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Relationships with relatives were found to be one of the weakest features of the Middle Eastern millennials’ Westernization (Deatherage, Servaty-Seib, & Aksoz, 2013). Only 80% of the millennials coming from the Middle East indicated that a close relationship with their families was important to them. Despite the evident jeopardies of terrorism in the Middle East, the millennials from these areas were not as afraid of extremism as were their Western counterparts. The survey showed that only 75% of the Middle Eastern millennials considered terrorism to be a very influential issue. Interestingly, the survey exposed that economic security was one of the signs of Westernization that became prevalent among the Middle Eastern millennials. Also, this particular sample indicated that they needed high-quality infrastructure and consistent provision of services when it comes to electricity and the Internet. Similarly to the Western millennials, they expected to live in a safe neighborhood.
Another aspect of Westernization is represented by the millennials’ requirement of living in a democratic state. Surprisingly, the response is relatively weak as only 55% of the UAE millennials showed interest in democracy. This may be the consequence of a large number of emigrants that currently reside in the country (Cole, 2015). Another thought-provoking finding revealed by the survey is the millennials’ attitude toward education and the problem of self-actualization. In this case, the process of Westernization had a rather influential impact on the Middle Eastern millennials (but the outcomes are different for various countries in the Gulf area). The disparities also led to the transformation of lifestyles and attitudes toward healthcare and other public services. All of the respondents mentioned that succeeding in life or at least having equal opportunities should be the top priority for the Middle Eastern millennials. Nonetheless, the respondents from the UAE did not show interest in the concept of equality. The majority of the advantaged Gulf area millennials tend to disregard this priority.
Increasing Web Dependency
According to the survey, the process of Westernization is reflected in the abundant presence of web technologies in the lives of Arab millennials. Ninety-five percent of Western Millennials were found to visit the Web at least once during the day, while at least 85% of their Middle Eastern counterparts did the same thing. A significant percentage of Arabian millennials (approximately 45%) were found to log on to the Web more than once. It is evident that the use of the Internet has increased throughout the last decade and the UAE and Saudi Arabia residents tend to visit a variety of websites rather frequently during the day (Brown & Shahin, 2013). Even in Kuwait, the percentage of recurrent logons reaches almost 50%. The millennials were found to log in to their social network profiles on different websites at least 20% of the cases (these statistics include Kuwait, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia). The results of the survey clearly indicate the fact that the presence of Middle Eastern millennials on the Web is unavoidable. Nonetheless, the majority of wealthier Gulf states were found to be not so effective as their poorer neighbors.
Another important point when discussing the Westernization of the Middle Eastern millennials is their devotion to various brands. Gulf states’ millennials are rather influential due to the fact that this particular customer group is relatively large. Their purchasing habits are also heavily impacted by their leisure time and purchasing authority. This particular aspect of Westernization is found to be developing at a rather fast pace due to career progress and an increase in the overall number of families. Therefore, the majority of brands that are active on the Middle Eastern territories take into account the preferences and purchase-related decisions of the millennials so as to improve their marketing strategies and make more profits (Archibald, 2011). The survey showed that the attitudes toward renowned brands change annually and it is important to keep track of those changes. The millennials were found to depend on the majority of brands relating to fast food, cars, electronics, and mobile communications. It is also important to take into consideration the attitudes of millennials toward a variety of developing Middle Eastern organizations. Some of these include Damas Jewelry, Emirates Airlines, and TV networks (such as Al Arabia and Al Jazeera). The impact of Westernization can be evaluated on the basis of the favorability of certain brands. For instance, the popularity of numerous mobile phones exceeds 100% (especially in the case of Nokia as it is the most popular brand among the Middle Eastern millennials). At the same time, the Western millennials tend to prefer other mobile phone brands (such as iPhone and Samsung). When it comes to electronics and cars, the majority of Middle Eastern millennials prefer Toshiba and Toyota over other popular brands.
The survey reveals that there are groups of the UAE millennials who are copying the Western lifestyle, forgetting their heritage. Such a tendency is not appreciated by the majority of the general population. The responders underlined that the influences of Western culture should be reduced. For instance, it would be advantageous to implement some alterations in the school curricula. General education should boost the teachings of UAE culture, history, and religion. The youth should be focused on the development of good values but not on the desire to turn into the representative of the West. Benefits can be obtained due to the development of awareness programs. Professionals should combat foreign cultures and teach parents to control their children. For instance, they can limit the usage of satellite TV channels and the Internet. The government also can affect this issue if it controls the Internet.
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