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Middle East & North Africa (MENA)

Are Times Changing in the Middle East & North Africa?

Iran and Saudi Arabia have begun modernizing their countries with new interpretations of Islamic law. This is signaling a new more modern era in the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) region. This is great news for the countless western professionals who work and live in the region. Despite these modern conveniences there remains a need in the region for cultural education of western professionals to ensure their knowledge of the local culture and success in their endeavors.
Are Times Changing in the Middle East & North Africa?

by Pedram Behzadi, MD

11 months ago

It has long been known that the countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have been skeptical of western influences on their culture (Middle Eastern Values Survey). With the 1979 revolution in Iran where the monarchy of Shah Reza Pahlavi was overthrown, a new Islamic leadership took power and with it came a new  way of life in Iran.  Pre-revolution life drastically differs from post revolution life. The wearing of the hijab and modest Islamic attire became the norm replacing mini-skirts, bikinis and completely exposed hair while in public.

A recent article from the 12/28/17 Wall Street Journal mentioned that the moral police of Iran have announced they will be loosening their punishments for moral violations (non-modest dress or behavior). Instead of imprisonment, violators will be subjected to softer consequences such as educational instruction on Islamic values. Western professionals interested in the region should take note of this change in approach in Iran.

Saudi Arabia has also recently changed its approach to daily life. Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman recently allowed cinemas to open up after three decades of being absent in the country. It is reported that the first movie theater in Saudi Arabia will open in March 2018. Women in the wealthiest MENA country will be allowed to drive starting in summer 2018. These changes are part of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman's Vision 2030, which is intended to advance and modernize the Kingdom. 

For those western professionals who are unfamiliar with this region it can seem unthinkable that men and women would be restricted in their dress, driving or even speech. While opportunities abound in the MENA region one must be prepared for the realities of living and working under Islamic laws. Many western multinational corporations and organizations need guidance on life in the MENA region.  Sending top talent to the region without proper understanding of Islamic culture is a recipe for less than desirable results. 

International Intercultural Consulting Firm prepares western professionals to be successful in their endeavors in the Middle East and North Africa through understanding and exposure of the importance of culture of the region. 

1 comment

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    Association Tanger Porte De L'Afrique on

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