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Local versus expatriate culture

The UAE is home to multiple cultures – an indigenous Arab Emirati culture, and a wide range of cultures of the expatriate communities, which vary in their size, influence, visibility, and relation to Emirati culture. The relations and interactions between these cultures vary, based on such factors as language, religion, tradition, and perception, creating varying connections, tensions, and conflicts. The people of the UAE, like other people who lived in Southern and South-eastern Arabia, have been strongly influenced by Persian, Indian, and African cultures. Through trade and the immigration of large groups of people from these areas, these cultures have left a distinct imprint on Emirati cuisine, language, customs, and lifestyle.

The local culture, as the culture of the national community of the UAE, is a minority culture and is constantly under the influence of the cultures of the majority foreign population. The rapid population changes of the last few years have increased the expatriate population in the country and increased the stresses on local culture. Many nationals feel strongly about what they see as a threat to the country’s cultural identity, citing the decrease in the use of Arabic and other unwelcome influences on the local Arab culture of nationals, for example, in dress, food, artistic taste, and traditional customs.

 

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