Emirati and Chinese talk about cultural similarities and differences

Forum held to bridge cultural gap between Emiratis and Chinese

21:00 May 16, 2013

Dubai: In a bid to better understand each other, members of the Chinese business community faced off with their Emirati counterparts at the Shaikh Mohammad Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU) in Bastakiya on Wednesday.

Held for the first time under the theme Business Culture Insight: Emirati Vs Chinese, the two groups discussed their cultural similarities and differences to bridge the gap between two groups and pave the way for better business relationships in the future.

“The good thing about learning different cultures is we find that we have more commonalities between us than differences. For example, we have the same food, but different names,” Nasif Kayed, SMCCU general manager, said.

Various traditional Emirati practices and terms were discussed beginning with how Bedouin hosts would accommodate a guest, how to conduct a meeting and socialise, and how to build long-term professional relationships.

Shihab Mohammad Shihab Gargash, director of Commercial Bank of Dubai, dismissed misconceptions about “wasta” which translates to using connections to get something done. He said that while wasta has its own good uses, many still use it in a bad manner.

The group also discussed the practice of saying “Inshallah” (If Allah permits) in conversations in its proper context, emphasising on not using the word loosely in conversations. Activities done in the Majlis (a place of sitting) where Emiratis socialise with their friends were discussed in detail.

For his part, Captain Song Wang, chairman of the Chinese Business Council, emphasised on what the Chinese consider important when doing business. “When Chinese do business, it’s important for us that we build trust with our partners first, and we honour our word to them.” Wu Qiunan, acting general manager of Petrochina International Middle East, was there to give his insights as well.

Lucy Chuang of the Global Sino Consultancy that organised the event said it is important to conduct a cultural dialogue between the two groups to benefit the growing Chinese population in the UAE which at present stands at more than 200,000.