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Many Emiratis prefer the traditional style of eating with the right hand. There are strict Muslim taboos against pork and alcohol, and meat must be slaughtered according to the Islamic halal method. Emiratis are known for their hospitality; they feel honored when receiving guests and socializing with friends and relatives. Guests are welcomed with coffee and fresh dates. Incense is passed around so that guests can catch the fragrance in their headwear.

With the immigrant population have come restaurants offering a wide variety of ethnic foods, and fast-food restaurants have also become popular. Basic Economy. Income is among the highest in the world, but there are large differences between the emirates, with Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Sharjah producing the most oil. The other emirates have benefitted from oil wealth through the federal welfare system and employment in state institutions. With declining oil prices, the government has attempted to diversify the national economy. This has led to the growth of industry, construction, commerce, free trade zones, transportation, tourism, farming, fisheries, and communications.

The rapid development of these sectors has reduced the nation's dependence on oil. Major Industries and Trade. The UAE is the third largest exporter of crude oil and gas in the Gulf. Division of Labor. Citizens account for 10 percent of the total labor force. Almost all nationals 99 percent work in the state sector because of the attractive benefits and are employed mainly in nontechnical jobs in education, the army, the police, and the civil service.

They also own all Emirati businesses. Immigrants are employed in both the public and private sectors in manual, technical, and professional occupations. Classes and Castes. Emirati society is divided into two social categories: the nationals Al-Muwateneen and the foreign immigrants, referred to as the incomers Al-Wafedeen.

Citizens are subdivided into four main social classes: 1 the ruling sheikhly families, whose members hold the highest political positions and power and have immense wealth and prestige, 2 the merchant class, known as al-tujjar , traditionally pearling merchants who now sell international consumer goods, 3 the new middle class, represented by increasing numbers of professionals who have benefitted from free state education, and 4 the low-income groups, represented by newly settled Bedouin nomads and former pearl divers and oasis farmers.

Among the immigrants there are hierarchical groups that receive different economic and social rewards: 1 top professionals and technocrats with international contracts, who earn high salaries and other benefits, 2 middle-range professionals such as school teachers, skilled technicians, and company salesmen, and 3 low-paid semi-skilled and unskilled workers, primarily Asian.

In general, nationals are a privileged minority, and benefit from state laws and business regulations. Symbols of Social Stratification. The symbol of a male national as a distinct social category is seen most visibly in the traditional dress of a white robe kandoura and white head cloth ghutrah with a black rope aqal. Men grow short beards and mustaches.

An old fortress surrounded by modern buildings in Abu Dhabi. After , mud-walled communities transformed into commercial centers. Women wear long dresses with a head cover hijab and black cloak abayah. The UAE has a federal government that is made up of several organs: the president and his deputy, the Supreme Council, the cabinet, the Federal National Council, and an independent judiciary with a federal supreme court. The Supreme Council has both legislative and executive powers and includes the rulers of the seven emirates. The cabinet consists of ministers drawn mainly from the ruling families of the emirates.

Leadership and Political Officials. The fact that the traditional tribal system of government each emirate was based on similar political principles facilitated the establishment of the UAE.

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Hereditary dynastic family rule still operates in each emirate as a local government system under the umbrella of the federal system. Members of the ruling families occupy the most important positions in their political administrations. While the political system continues to retain some of its traditional values at formal and informal levels, it has been able to keep pace with economic and social change. The sheikhs are highly regarded for performing the dual roles of modernizers and guardians of the cultural heritage.

They still have traditional majlis where citizens have access to their leaders. The development of the infrastructure has been impressive. The welfare system offers womb-to-tomb free state services for all nationals, including high-quality health care, education up to the tertiary level, social security, family allowances, subsided electricity and water, and housing for low-income groups.

This is a major way of distributing oil wealth among the national population. The immigrant population also benefits to some extent, particularly in regard to medical care. There were Associations of Public Benefit in , serving interests of many groups and identified with heritage preservation, immigrant communities, professional groups, culture, women, religion, sports, and general humanitarian services.

Their role is seen as complementary to that of governmental institutions. Division of Labor by Gender. Modern economic roles and social status reflect both change and continuity for women. Schools and universities are segregated, and levels of enrollment of girls and their performance are impressive. In higher education, female students outnumber males two to one. However, women's participation in the labor force remains one of the lowest in the world at 6 percent in In spite of new employment opportunities, most women opt for marriage and raising children.

UAE society places a high value on those roles. Conservative cultural attitudes lead women to seek jobs that do not involve mixing with men or commuting far from home. Subsequently, most women are employed in education, health, and civil service. The Relative Status of Women and Men. Official statements affirm that men and women have equal rights and opportunities to advance themselves and the nation, yet patriarchy as a generalized ideology is still visible in social life.

Men continue to receive employment preferences in high state administration and private businesses. Women do not play a significant role in politics and religious life, as these areas are considered male domains. Arranged endogamous marriage within the kinship tribal units was the preferred pattern in the preoil period, but this pattern has changed somewhat.

Individuals now have greater choice, yet many nationals still prefer arranged marriages. As prescribed by Islam, a man is allowed up to four wives, but most men have only one wife. Domestic Unit. The traditional household unit of the extended family has been undermined, as over 80 percent of national households live as nuclear families in their own houses. Large families are encouraged by the state as a national policy, and family size is six to eight children.

The husband's authority is declining, while the wife is gaining importance as a mother and the manager of the domestic unit. On average, each household employs two live-in domestic servants, usually Asian. Kin Groups. UAE society is family- and kin-oriented.


Tribal kinship units play a significant role in social identification and one's standing in the community. Most families prefer to live in the same neighborhood as their kin. Child Rearing and Education. Children are showered with care, affection, and physical contact.

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They are raised to be respectful toward their parents and elders and grow up to be skilled in interaction with a large number of relatives. Up to age 5, a child is referred to as jahel "the one who does not know" , and there is a tolerant attitude toward children's behavior. Most families employ maids to share child caretaking, and this has introduced a foreign cultural element to child socialization, although a maid's influence is viewed as negative.

The school system has undertaken a greater role in children's socialization, significantly reducing the family's role in this process. Higher Education.


The government views higher education as a major instrument for development. The UAE has one of the highest ratios of students entering higher education in the world. There are seven universities and eleven higher colleges of technology. An old mosque in Fujairah. Islam is the dominant religion in the UAR, so mosques can be found everywhere.

Social customs are shared throughout the Gulf Arab countries. An Islamic greeting al-salam alaykom is the most appropriate, and men follow this with a quick nose-to-nose touch while shaking hands. Women greet each other by kissing several times on both cheeks. Men normally do not shake hands with women in public. It is customary to ask about the health of a person and his or her family several times before beginning light conversation.

Refreshments usually are served before serious matters are discussed. It is customary not to use first names but to say "father or mother of oldest son. Sex segregation is still evident in social life. Men are entertained in majlis large living rooms, often with a separate entrance , while women entertain friends in the home. It is customary to take off one's shoes before entering a private house. Emiratis stand close to each other when interacting. It is acceptable for men or women to hold hands.

The presence of many ethnic groups has led Emiratis to be tolerant of other social customs, yet they remain conscious of their own customs as markers of cultural identity.

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Religious Beliefs. Islam dominates all aspects of life. Most Emiratis are members of the Sunni sect. Matters relating to marriage, divorce, inheritance, economics, politics, and personal conduct are affected by Sharia Islamic law. Emaritis are tolerant toward other religions, and immigrants of other faiths are allowed to have their own places of worship. Large numbers of Asian and Arab immigrants also follow Islam.

Rituals and Holy Places. The main Muslim religious ritual is prayer five times a day. This requires wodou ablution for purification. Usually people go to the nearest mosque or pray at home. The rituals involved in the pilgrimage Haj to Mecca are the most elaborate. One must remove the shoes before entering a mosque. In large mosques, there are separate areas for women. Before , there were few hospitals, and the population relied on traditional folk medicine. Cautery, bloodletting, and the use of herbs were common, and a religious teacher muttawe dealt with cases of mental illness.

Life expectancy was around forty-five years. With improved diet and health care, life expectancy is now seventy-two years, and there has been a reduction in infant mortality. The extended family provides its sick members with support in the form of frequent hospital visits, and traditional medical practices are still used to deal with mental illnesses. The UAE national day, 2 December, is the most important secular celebration.

Cities are decorated with colored lights, and folklore troops perform in heritage villages. Expatriate communities celebrate their own religious and secular holidays. Support for the Arts.

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The state generously supports writers, painters, actors, and folk dancers. The oral tradition remains strong, particularly storytelling and poetry, and most state events are accompanied by poetry readings. Written literature is increasing in popularity. Performance Arts. Conservative elements of the society still impede women's participation in performance arts. In , the first college for theater arts opened in Sharjah. Emiratis rely on theater and television programs produced in other Arab countries. Abdul Rahman, Abdullah.

Abdulla, Abdul Khaliq, et al. Al-Alkim, Hassan. Al-Faris, Abdul Razzaq. Al-Hassan, Yusuf. Al-Mur, Mohammad. National Aspirations: Essays about the Emirates in Arabic , Al-Otaiba, Mana. Petroleum and the Economy of the United Arab Emirates , Codrai, Ronald. Corderman, Anthony. Crystal, Jill. Drake, Diana. Discovery Guide to the United Arab Emirates , Dyck, Gertrude.

Encyclopedia of the Emirates , vol. Facey, William, and Gillian Grant. The Emirates by the First Photographers , Ghobash, Moaza. Heard-Bey, Frauke. Kay, Shirley. Emirates Archaeological Heritage , Khalaf, Sulayman. Matthew, Jane. Owen, Roger. Progress of UAE Women. Association of Popular Heritage Revival.

Zahlan, Rosemarie. The Making of Modern Gulf States , Toggle navigation. History and Ethnic Relations Emergence of the Nation. Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space Before , the only settlements were small towns and villages. Food and Economy Food in Daily Life. The national currency name is called the Emirian Dirham. Social Stratification Classes and Castes. Political Life Government. Social Welfare and Change Programs The development of the infrastructure has been impressive.

According to Prof. Saniel, modernization in the Meiji period was so sweeping that large revolts would have occurred in the case of another country. Without the emphasis on chu loyalty to lords and ko final piety peculiar to the emperor system and family system, such acute changes in political, such acute changes in political, social and economic systems could not have occurred even in Japan. The high level of education in pre-modern Japan also contributed to rapid modernization. Catholic fathers who came to Japan in the sixteenth century for missionary purposes held the intellectual ability of the Japanese in great esteem.

The accuracy of his map was confirmed by the Americans who came to Japan with M. Perry in Through Hirado and Nagasaki, Japan continues to receive various kinds of stimulation of from China and Western countries even during her policy of seclusion in the Edo period.

These factors actually contributed to maintaining a high standard of scholarship in the Edo period, and thus made it possible to translate many Western technical terms into Japanese in the early Meiji period. The publication of school textbooks in Japanese and the quick growth in the rate of school attendance among the Japanese contributed immensely to spreading foreign culture and scientific knowledge in Japan.

Elementary schools first started in The percentage of school attendance in was Since it has remained at When discussing national identity in indigenous cultures, we must remember that Japanese people have always made a choice or selection among incoming things, and have maintained a strong stability against the excessive influx of foreign elements, although it is a historical fact that Japanese people have been positive toward accepting foreign cultures.

Japanese classics such as the Kojiki and Nihonshoki probably started to be compiled in the reign of Emperor Tenmu This coincides with the time when Japan was strongly reacting against the introduction of Chinese culture since the Taika Reformation Even when the Japanese adopted the ancient Chinese law system ritsuryo-sei , they neither took it as it was nor simply imitated it. In addition to the original system, they introduced elements such as the establishment of the Bureau of Shinto Jingikan and the prohibition of eating the flesh of animals in case of festivals.

Ichiro Ishida, the dividing line in the history of Japanese culture is seen in the middle ages. Prior to the middle ages, Japanese culture had been fostered and formed by stimulation from foreign cultures. However later probably after the Mongolian invasions and , the autonomy of Japanese culture became stronger, although foreign cultural elements were used as a means of expression.

It was in the middle ages that new stream of expression. It was in the middle ages that new stream of Buddhism such as Shin Buddhism and Nichiren Buddhism developed. Genuine Japanese arts such as noh , renga , tea ceremony and flower arrangement developed, too. In regard to the teachings of Shinto, it was in the middle ages that authentic teachings first appeared in the middle ages that authentic teachings first appeared in the Shinto tradition.

Moreover, it was in the middle of the Edo period that Kokugaku National Learning started. Kokugaku aimed at rejecting the Buddhist and Confucian bias in Shinto teachings and returning to the spirit of ancient Shinto. In the early Meiji period, there was excessive Westernization and modernization such as represented by the Rokumeikan.

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However, after the middle of the Meiji period, a sort of self-modification occurred as a result of a strong sense of balance in Japanese culture, even though it was accompanied by nationalistic movements. This kind of sense of balance still exists at the bottom of Japanese society even in the post-war period. Japan rushed her modernization because she had to protect herself from possible colonization by Western countries, and to amend unequal treaties with foreign nations. After the Russo-Japanese War , namely after the above urgent problems were solved, Japan regrettably started to colonize other countries by limitating Western nations.

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Japan did it partly because she had to feed her overflow of population. Yet we must admit the fact that Japan's policy turned out to force neighboring countries to have a hard time. After Manchurian Incident , national Shinto was quite often manipulated in order to unify the mind of the people. It required Japan to initiate a policy of church? The demand was so severe that there was no parallel even in Western countries. Along with other new policies such as the reformation of the family system and land system, the Shinto Directive had serious influence upon the promotion of moral education as well as upon Shinto itself.

Confucianism probably suffered more damage than Shinto did. As time went on, however, something traditional gradually revived. This is not because conservative and reactionist groups have manipulated this change but probably because the people have tried to revise the lines along which modernization went too far.

Modernization as such is said to be an everlasting process without any terminal point. However we should question what Japanese people have actually acquired from the modernization which started at the end of the Edo era. Certainly our lives have become much more affluent, convenient and comfortable than ever before.

On the other hand, material fulfillment and the expediency of life have invited the alienation of man. Moreover, world-wide problems such as economic gaps among nations, overpopulation, starvation, draining of resources, nuclear armament, human rights, and environmental pollution have emerged. Many advanced counties including Japan must bear some responsibility for this in one way or another. A group of scholars consisting mainly of members of the Club of Rome, maintains that man must change the quality of his life style in order to survive; otherwise human beings will inevitably cease to exist.

There are several requirements for surviving in the future. With the rapid development of scientific civilization we are faced with several problems common to all human races. How can all nations establish coexistence and coprosperity? How can man maintain harmony with nature and how can man protect his dignity? We should tackle these problems together by going beyond ethnic and national backgrounds, because the problems are related to the whole earth itself rather than to only individual nations.

Man must try to solve them by uniting all nations into one spiritual community with a common destiny. Whereas development as such should be carried out only in developing countries, it is the responsibility of the developed nations to change the quality of life. This endeavor should be always accompanied by the quest of how human beings can be human. At the same time each country should review its own traditions and discover new meanings in the traditional ways of life.

People formerly led simple and humble lives, following their faith and conscience. It is in this sphere that traditional culture will be able to contribute to the modernization process of each nation. Like other cultural traditions in the East, Japanese traditional culture has placed great value upon the harmonious coexistence of man and nature. Looking at present Japan, however it is clear that all Japanese at present do not necessarily preserve the traditional worldview.

Moreover, we have many instances of environmental pollution in Japan. We should seriously consider why this has happened. When we Japanese aim at forming a new spiritual and cultural world community, we need new ethnical standards appropriate for this. For example, we need to transform "ingroup-counsciousness," which is said to be one of the characteristics of the Japanese people.


That is to say, we need new social ethics by which we care not only for the people within a limited group but also for all others as well. Otherwise it will be impossible for the Japanese to be seriously engaged in solving global issues. In order to do this, the most expedient way will be to educate the people in that direction.