Today’s Question for #LOVEComm is: What are the differences in communication between Saudi Arabians and Americans? We asked Abbas Alsabeh this question for the #LOVEComm social media campaign. His response was well thought out, as he examined the complex structures affecting communication in both Saudi Arabia and America.
Abbas says, “There are many differences in communication between Saudi Arabians and Americans. As a Saudi Arabian student who has spent more than 5 years studying abroad in the United States, I believe that it is understandable that human societies tend to be different in some way or another. In my perspective, unlike the American, the Saudi Arabian society is more closed in communication between men and women, as some would think it is. This is linked to the cultural norms, as Saudi Arabia practices the Islamic instruction. Although the Saudi Arabian society is under Islamic law (which in itself has many different prospectives), I think the society is more led by the cultural and traditional manner.
Men and women in Saudi Arabia go to separate schools, sections in restaurants and other public services. Meantime, women nowadays become more active and educated than most men in the field of medical, education and arts. Unfortunately, women don’t drive in Saudi Arabia and need permission when traveling abroad. I believe this has to be changed; there has already been some voices raising “women’s rights” issues up.
Saudi Arabia is a poly-chronic society that considers social-life a key role for the individual and group communication. In Saudi Arabian society, time is shared, people have very flexible concept of time, and they can easily change plans and activities. But in the U.S., I think time is more managed, scheduled and planed ahead of time. Collectivism in Saudi Arabian society is more important than in the American society, either it is in work, social life, or just going through a normal day. There is so much commitment for an individual to obey when it comes to social communication in Saudi Arabia, including communication between families, and people from other tribes or cities. Additionally, body language is used much more in the Saudi Arabian society than the American. It is acceptable to hold a friend’s hand while walking down the street, because it is a sign of preciousness or being in a high value to somebody. Also, when greeting, Saudis may kiss the elderly on their forehead as a sign of respect, while some people may get attached to each others’ cheek as they shake hands. Overall, there are many differences between the two of our cultures, and it is interesting to analyze the ways we communicate differently.