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Walks of Life and Beyond

Walks of Life advocates freedom of the press and freedom of self-expression, promotes the art of sharing of thoughts and highlights the significance and the power of the use of words and languages presented with a tagline that is... "The way to a free cognition is thru BLOGGING that speaks for the mind."--Azeweht

Monday, February 28, 2011

Living the Transcultural Way

Posted by Ma. Theresa Macabuag On 12:17 AM 1 comment

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, bounded by their religious beliefs and cultures is one of the known conservative places in the world solidified by their Islamic Religion being ruled by a King in a form of Islamic Absolute Monarchy. It is most likely can be considered as a very traditional nation where customs, beliefs, and values are being highly regarded and observed. 


It is  really a total and absolute transcultutural experience to be in a place of the unknown. And the way to respond from here is through proper subordination while regarding the nationals with respect, with the anticipation of their values and social norms through orientation, so that chances of culture shock would be minimized.

In the main City of  Riyadh is where exactly I got my post and this is an opportunity  for me to apply my nursing profession in one of its known universities which is the King Khalid University Hospital,  which in fact, the largest University Hospital of the country.  


King Khalid University Hospital (picture taken from the Hospital's Website)


The City of Riyadh, though, it is the main city where all the center for business and transactions  can be found, still it is the city which I called a “ghost town” where no one walks around,  where day is like night  and night becomes their day, and where everything is like upside down. Starting from the forms of their writings which are from right to left up to the way of life and perhaps on their way of thinking which exactly remains the opposite of what we usually have been doing. 

It wasn’t easy. From here, I started to fear walking alone. I started to live differently. Starting from  observing proper eye contacts, verbal and non-verbal behaviors up to dress codes where everything has to come in a  very conservative approach. It is more likely a human experience of social inhibition bounded by their cultural restrictions.

Riyadh City Showing Kingdom Tower From Akariyah Housing


Choosing to work and live here means embracing their culture, social norms and values, walking through them and accepting all the challenges to endure all the differences of way of living or lifestyle. Since this is not an Open City, everything would come in to restrictions starting from the dress code up to manners and public behaviors.


Every female has to reveal their conservative sides by wearing "abaya" and in some remote areas  females have to cover their faces especially their hairs. Females and males always come in separate ways, they cannot be together especially when they are single. Unless they are married, or related by blood they can get together but must always bring some legal documents, a proof that they are really related to each other.




My Friends and I on our Abayas while dining in Pizza Company


Muslims are required to pray like five times a day based on their Islam Religion which is articulated by Qur'an so expected that all business establishments will always be interrupted on the schedule provided to give way for  their prayers. They called their formal prayer as "Salah" in Arabic and from the distant mosque, everyone would hear them like they are singing their prayers which is being conducted by an Imam, an Islamic worship leader. And they usually pray facing towards the Mecca's position which is considered as the Islamic Holy place located at Makkah Province, a neighboring province of Jeddah.


They are most likely the conservative and devoted people when it comes to religious aspects that they live in accordance to the Qur'an's teachings which is said to be written by Muhammed, their prophet or they considered him as the messenger of Allah, their god!


Mosque Near to Akariyah Housing at Sulaimania


Eating pork is not allowed when it comes to the foods that they can eat which is in accordance again to Qur’an’s teachings. They considered it as unhealthy and filthy foods. They would mostly eat chicken, beef, turkey, sheep and the like. They have rice which they called “Kabsa” added with meat, seasoning flavor and oils. At first, I had difficulty eating their rice because of the after-taste effect but later on got used to it. 

Kabsa, Arabic Rice (picture taken from wikipedia)

They like to eat bread called "khubs" and croissant which they usually take during breakfast together with lentil. And their diets again are greatly affected by their religious practices especially during Ramadan when they have to fasting in the morning starting from 06:00 AM until 06:00 PM and everyone has to follow this Ramdan diets except for the non-Muslims wherein, for us, we are allowed to eat in the morning but we have to make sure that no one is seeing us in respect to their rituals.


So these are just few insights about the Arab cultures and their way of life which is mostly based on their Islamic religion. It's fun learning new things from the other people especially when they came from another nation with different cultural background and what is important from all these is that, though we all are different in so many ways, everyone deserves to be treated with respect.

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