The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a unique country with a unique history of development and modernization. The most demanding visitors can find entertainment and products to their taste and enjoy the high level of service and amazing infrastructure of the main cities and resorts. The unbelievable transformation took place in the country within the last fifty years after the discovery of oil fields. Nowadays, the UAE is one of the most popular tourist destinations and the modern paradise for the mass culture consumers. However, the secret of such unprecedented success has deep roots in the preserving of Islamic cultural traditions and following the long-lasting customs and religious morals. The country has a strong and demanding system of censorship against violation of national cultural values. Native Arabs have bans and limitations on certain mass cultural activities. Television and advertising follow the general Muslim rules of products broadcasting. Islamic canons persist and reign in the human behavior and activities of the citizens of the country. Moreover, society insists on a profound respect for their national tradition from the visitors and partners. These facts make the United Arab Emirates a successful example of elite culture domination over the mass culture. Despite the access to various technical possibilities of mass culture, broadcasting, and television in the UAE is subject to the traditional norms of the authentic culture.
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Mass Culture as a Phenomenon of Globalization
Mass culture is an influential social phenomenon of the modern global world (Imbert, 2004). The unified vision of the common good intensively penetrates all spheres of human activity and serves as the main form of the existence of society. The pioneers of Critical Theory or Frankfurt School wrote that mass culture was the result of the industrialization (Robertson, 1992). The current situation in the world shows the mass culture as the outcome of the globalization process. Consequently, it has many doubtful merits. People enjoy the achievements of information technology development, have the chance to travel and try various cuisines and entertainments, watch films, and play popular games. At the same time, traditional values lose their attractiveness in the eyes of native populations. People focus on the mass culture of consumption and become money- and profit-oriented, losing their spirituality and intellectual needs. The rapid development of science and technology, as well as the associated transformation of society, has significantly affected the competition between authentic and mass cultural values. The United Arab Emirates are not excluded in the process of the global race for material world benefits. However, the strong cultural position and development of elite national culture distinguish them among other states.
The decline of Traditional Values
Today, a growing number of Arabs live as if they are in the West. They drive foreign cars, eat Western food, and dress up in accordance with the best global trends. They watch English speaking TV and movies and sell products following the demands of mass culture advertising and broadcasting. At the same time, many Arabs perceive Western influence as a threat to their way of life. Therefore, they fear that it may damage and corrupt the customs of their country and the system of their lives morality (Guaaybess, 2013). The Arabs try to understand and know the customs of the Western world and the benefits that the mass culture can bring. Nevertheless, they are alert because of the threat of losing their cultural identity. They are afraid of the negative aspects of the mass culture influence infiltrating their society through the increasing number of foreign tourists and partners. These complications led to the strong establishment of Islam as a dominant religion and cultural tradition in the UAE social and cultural life. Any bias from the unspoken but firm order is indisputably condemned and even punished.
Marketing and advertising strategies have developed in accordance with the demands of strict morals and limitations (Kraidy, 2006). Despite the Western claims for liberalization and mocking at obviously stereotyped behavior, advertising companies follow the rhetorical strategies to attract the target audience. Television and broadcasting are designed to ensure that the consumer can identify the main idea and no ethical rules are violated. For this reason, Arabic culture plays a crucial role in the formation and the development of advertising and broadcasting strategies in an accurate and precise way. The decline from traditional values is impossible because of the strong social disapproval of any visual or verbal violations of the morals and dogmas of the Arabic religion.
Broadcasting in the UAE
Despite the development and modernization of the media and advertising business in the UAE and the relevant liberalization of the official ruling elite, broadcasting is subject to censorship and should be as close as possible to the national language and cultural values. It should be conservative in content and appearance and avoid representation of any social values or situations that are contrary to the Arab culture and Islam. Advertising should avoid sexual promise and nudity exposure (Kraidy, 2006).
Arabs style of communication is highly contextual. While communicating, Arabs emit significant place to emotions. In this culture, people express their personality with a few words (“Globalization debates”, n.d.). This suggests that the audience in the Arab world does not need a lot of information about the product advertised. Thus, Arabic television and advertising include short remarks. As it has been already mentioned, communication style is very contextual in the Arab world. Providing information about the price of the product is undesirable. The Arabs adhere to the principle of a collectivist society. Therefore, competing ads are less common in this culture (Imbert, 2004).
Some of the prohibitions in Arabic advertising can be strange or even funny to foreigners. However, the native population would reprimand and condemn the lighthearted attitude to their religious and national peculiarities of the Islamic culture. On the territory of the Arab Emirates, any publicity, including the logo, must adapt to the local Arabic language and cultural values (Imbert, 2004). The knowledge of the English language is an important tool for cooperation and communication. However, the native people will appreciate and welcome the ability to speak Arabic.
Knowledge of the animals’ peculiarities is an important aspect of broadcasting (Guaaybess, 2013). The chameleon representation shows hypocrisy, and raven symbolizes death. Arab advertising has a paramount direct impact on the person and should not violate the preservation of cultural aesthetics. In Arab culture, dogs are considered ‘dirty animals’. Therefore, they never use them in commercials and on billboards. Manifestations of supernatural powers such as wizards, aliens, witches, or vampires can be interpreted as equating to God, and their demonstration is prohibited. Also, the words ‘create’ and ‘the greatest’ should be used carefully, as they are also associated with Allah (Guaaybess, 2013).
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All addictions are strictly forbidden in Islam. Drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes are never used in Arabic advertising. According to Islam, homosexuality is perceived as a violation of the traditional sexual orientation (Guaaybess, 2013). Islamic culture is very conservative. The elite UAE culture is inextricably linked with Islam. For this reason, religious conservatism is more deeply rooted in business practice. Besides, it consists of ideas that really stereotypical.
The high attractiveness for tourists makes the advertising industry in the UAE rich and diverse. Nevertheless, at the same time, it has some difficulties. There is a significant influence of religion on the advertising industry. Islam accompanies cultural values and has a considerable impact on people’s lives. That is why cultural values find broad representation in the advertising industry. Such an approach is not outdated or undeveloped. On the contrary, it represents the reverence of the authentic culture and respect for it.
Women’s Participation in Broadcasting
Many modern researchers determine that the reaction of the consumer on advertising depends on the compatibility with culture (Guaaybess, 2013). There are guidelines for the design of femininity and the different roles of females. Women in Islam should not only dress modestly but never expose their body in public. The UAE is one of those Arab countries that reinforce the principles of Islam. Therefore, Muslim women, according to religious reasons, have to follow certain rules. These restrictions on the promotional activities of the Arab countries should include a special attitude to women’s presentation on the screen (Guaaybess, 2013).
For example, the UAE have restrictions on television and broadcasting on the territory of the state. Being one of the richest countries in the world, they follow and preserve their Islamic religious tradition and correlate the mass culture intrusion with the canons of the Arabic traditional living. Women in the UAE take less activity in television and broadcasting than in Western mass culture (Imbert, 2004). The modern Arab woman is an inspiration and mentor to her husband. Their primary calling is to provide all possible support to her husband in all situations and help with the right advice. In turn, the Arab man serves as a support and protector of his wife. Of course, a modern woman in the UAE can make men a worthy competition both in business and in politics. However the strength of tradition remains at a high level, and traditionally a woman is the guardian of the family hearth.
In the modern mass culture, there is a stereotype that women in the Arab world take a humiliating position (“Women in the UAE”, n.d.). However, in reality, the situation is somewhat different. In the UAE, women occupy the position indicated by characteristics, traditions, customs, and religious affiliation of the state. It is kind of a tribute to the great history and respect in relation to their ancestors. That is why advertisers have to solve the problem of customers’ attraction taking into consideration the special respectful position and status of women.
Nowadays, the UAE can satisfy the most demanding consumers of the mass culture. At the same time, the strong moral tradition of this country shows that the success and economic thrive can be achieved modestly. The ability to change under the influence of social, technical, and scientific factors in combination with the adherence to traditions led to the creation of a unique cultural phenomenon of a new level. The UAE managed to imbibe numerous achievements of the industrial progress. At the same time, they preserved modesty and the moral norms capable of combating the corruption of the modern mass culture. Nowadays, people approaching from all over the world can admire and enjoy the infrastructure and an astonishing variety of mass culture pleasures. At the same time, Arabs could show and promote the priority of their elite culture. Mass culture is accessible to anyone in the world while the native citizens of the UAE belong to an exclusive circle with strong traditional values and unique welfare benefits. Broadcasting in this country is subject to compliance with the social norms and rules of behavior. People working in this area are not afraid to go against the mass culture rules, defending their traditions and customs, preserving the morals of the native people. Women do not strive to act, advertise, and show off as women in Western countries do. There is a restriction on the use of female sex appeal to attract men to buy products. It seems rather ambiguous that some Muslim women are willing to appear in advertising beauty products, and advertisers can use their image. They have another calling in life and follow it with dignity. Sometimes censors can become a preposition for jokes and the criticism of advertising outside the country. Many people express their dissatisfaction with the strict requirements in the Arab countries. However, the Arab UAE producers believe it will help to protect citizens from the corrupted mass culture.