UAE has had tremendous economic growth since the discovery and export of oil. This has led to an increase in international relations among the Emirates leading to globalization and cultural interactions in the country especially Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Therefore, the foreign influence has affected the citizens with the youth being affected the most. This paper will try to establish the sources of foreign influence and how they have impacted the youth. The research conducted through interviews has focused on some issues dealing with western culture, the Internet and social media, learning the foreign language especially English and tourism. The interviews conducted have involved youth and school children. The paper provides helpful insight into how foreign influence has had some positive and negative impacts on the youth of the UAE. The paper will also help institutions and governments to see the impact of foreign influence and determine the best approaches to deal with such issues so as to maintain their cultural beliefs and identity for future generations while preserving these international relations. The paper outlines the adverse effects caused by foreign interactions on the UAE youth despite the benefits derived from these foreign influences. The implication of this paper is to show that there are many adverse effects of foreign impacts on the youth.
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Foreign Influences and the UAE Youth
The United Arab Emirates is a country that is composed of seven states called emirates which include Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ajman, Fujairah, Umm al-Quwain, Ras al-Khaimah, and Sharjah. They have a capital headquarter in Abu Dhabi. Dubai and Abu Dhabi form the two prominent centers for commercial and cultural activities in the world today. The most common religion in the UAE is Islam, and the main language spoken is Arabic. The UAE is located in the Persian Gulf on the Arabian Peninsula and borders such countries as Qatar, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Iran. Exploration and export of oil have contributed much to the growth of the Emirates and has raised the living standards of people. It has also contributed to the development of infrastructure, healthcare, and education making them be the attraction centers for commercial and cultural activities. Thus, UAE is the most developed country in Western Asia. For example, Dubai is a global city and business center for the Middle East and African countries.
The foreign trade for copper and domestication of camels has led to a major interaction with people from other parts of the world. Also, the movement from and to the sea especially to the port of Omana has made the interaction possible with Indians, Chinese and other communities. The UAE has many foreign relations with such countries as France, the US, the United Kingdom, Germany, India, Egypt, Pakistan, and other countries. They have business relations with Germany and the United Kingdom where they export their oil and obtain their diplomatic relations with Pakistan. The UAE is a member of major organizations like the UN, the OPEC and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) where it plays an important role and has an active membership. The UAE has continued to support emergency relief, especially the conflict and natural disasters in many third world countries in terms of loans and grants among other support mechanisms. The export of petroleum and natural gas supports their economy. However, they carry out other activities like tourism, finance, and construction, thus, supporting their economy through diversification. Their labor is from the locals and foreign expatriates like India, China, Africa, and other countries. Trade unions do not exist in the UAE; thus, there are no collective bargaining rights and rights to strike. Therefore, there is a foreign influence on the UAE which has caused a lot of civilizations impacting and other many effects especially on the youth. This makes the UAE a cosmopolitan, diverse and multicultural society.
Negative Effects of Foreign Influence on the UAE Youth
The discovery and later exportation of oil lead to a major development of the country, thereby leading to the entry of other cultures from the West. This has promoted a total change in culture and lifestyle in the UAE. This had both negative and positive effects on citizens, especially on the youth. The culture and general lifestyle of the UAE youth have been influenced greatly because of such interactions with the western countries. It has caused negative effects. Some of them are severe leading to the loss of their identity and erosion of their culture. These negative effects include the western lifestyle like dressing, hairstyles, the use of western words and an accent in conversations, tattooing, mixing with other gender groups and copying the style of famous artists and other western stars. These are mostly seen in many adolescents especially in Dubai. The study to determine the impacts of foreign cultures on the UAE youth was conducted by the Centre for Decision Making and Support of Dubai Police. The study has found out that Satellite TV channels, the Internet and other youth already influenced are the major sources of negative effects. They have resulted in bad companies that share bad habits with other youth, thereby corrupting the moral culture. In the study, most respondents have stated that the children (at the age of 7-17 years) and the youth (at the age of18-30) are the most ones being affected. These groups form the majority of the population in the UAE. The influence has occurred because there is a small parental control over the children and poor training; there is less satisfaction with their religious beliefs and no social awareness among the youth. Peer influence and urge to draw attention attracts them to adopt these habits.
Social media has emerged and formed a new social culture where traditional modes of communication have been marginalized and overtaken by modern technology. Social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Skype are easily accessible and easy to use than traditional modes which are slow and expensive. The UAE, which is largely guided by their traditions, has been affected by this technology in that during their national, social and religious events like Ramadan, an exchange of greetings, congratulatory messages and news are sent through these social media instead of formal and direct contact. Therefore, most people have moved to use this mode of communication, thereby destroying their conventional social relations and traditions. Social visits by the Emirati family, which are done regularly, have decreased resulting in the decline of many social and family ties that had existed before. Furthermore, social media has changed the lifestyles of members of the family. It has led to weakening family ties and social isolation.
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The new modes of communication have put a lot of pressure on life, thereby the responsibility of parents like educating and guiding them is done through mobile phones, emails, and other social sites. There is no physical contact between a child and a parent. This has made children develop a certain lifestyle with different values that have negative impacts on their lives. Thus, good values from parents are not passed to their children. The effects of social media on the youth include Internet addiction, social isolation, introversion, poor performance at school and the adoption of bad habits and values. For instance, the iPad has taken a lot of time studying making children not finish their homework. It has taken away the direct communication with other family members. Social media has led to family break-ups, and children living with their online friends. It has affected the basis of social life in UAE families. Social media has also made the process of drug trafficking and acquisition easy and cheap. This has led to many youths engaging in drug abuse.
Positive Effects of Foreign Influence on the UAE Youth
Arabic is an official language spoken in the UAE. However, it has developed to be a global city and a business language, English and other languages have penetrated as being introduced in most schools. Intercultural communication has been implemented in the workplace which has resulted in competence and quality improvement in many UAE organizations. There is also an entry of other religious beliefs like Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism. They have led to the presence of such buildings like churches, temples in the UAE. Learning a foreign language has made children and adults develop cognitive skills, thus, they can identify an object which performs the same function for many languages. It helps them to have mental flexibility and creative thinking skills. Also, mastering the foreign language helps the one to have confidence and the ability to communicate with other foreigners easily and interact with them. It enables the youth to travel across the world without a fear to communicate. They can speak English which is widely used, as well as they may use their own language, Arabic. They build confidence by listening to music, and the rhythm helps them to know how to speak. Learning a foreign language helps the youth to acquire better opportunities like learning abroad and career development. It also helps in building relationships with foreigners who can be helpful for the friendship and for some business associations, hence, developing many cultural connections.
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The foreign influence has made the emirates like Abu Dhabi to be an international cultural attraction center where major tourism takes place. The center is rich in architectural artifacts. There are many attraction sites that attract tourists there. This helps the youth to diversify economic activities to generate income. It also offers many job opportunities like working in many hotels, beaches, and museums. The same has happened in Dubai. It has developed to become a global city that contributes much to the commercial sector by enabling people to conduct business as far as Africa and other countries. This contributes to the development of entrepreneurship skills by the youth, hence, being self-reliant and contributes to economic growth.
It takes a lot of time to learn another language. It is difficult to learn the language when one is an adult because cognitive and reasoning skills have already been established. There is the pronunciation that takes some time to master; also studying vocabularies, a sentence structure and different cultural subtitles are being timed consuming. There is also anxiety associated with learning a foreign language. It can affect the child and the youth in their studies and various relations in their life. For instance, when the vocabulary or pronunciation is not right, they may develop some stress which affects the quality of their life, in general. Learning English contributes to a higher world’s interaction that has such effects as drug trafficking and Internet addiction. Therefore, the benefits of learning the language are fewer as compared to the effects it may trigger in the life of the youth.
Although tourism contributes a lot to the economy of the country, the negative effects are adverse. It is believed that tourism has increased some cases of terrorism by sharing information with other terrorists. Tourism also affects the youth by being a major avenue of drug trafficking, whereby narcotics and other abused drugs enter the country easily. Tourism has resulted in the loss of morality for the youth because they engage in prostitution, commonly referred to as sexual tourism. This results in the degradation of morals, a spread of various sexually related diseases and the destruction of families. For instance, there is a spread of the MERS-CoV, a SARS-like coronavirus which may cause many deaths if the epidemic appears. It is thought to spread highly during the month of Ramadan when many tourists visit the country for their leisure. Tourism causes some interaction with many cultures. It results in the loss of cultural beliefs forming a basis of social order in the UAE. Sometimes, tourism can cause the country to ignore the needs of the state for the sake of attracting tourists to generate income, i.e. giving special privileges to tourists. This has, in turn, resulted in the high cost of living in the UAE.
The research has been conducted on the UAE youth between the ages of 18 to 35 years to investigate whether foreign interactions and technology have caused any effects on their lives. Also, it has been done to find out the positive and negative effects and some side impacts on the UAE children and youth. Children between the ages of 7 to 17 years were also included in the research because they had such interactions while being at school and at home with foreign maidservants. The youths mingled with many people at the workplace, schools, business associations, and family associations. The youth is also affected by modern technologies. Also, children and teenagers form the majority of the population in the UAE. The methodology used to carry out the research and collect the data was interviewing respondents with various structured questions.
Most children and youth who are learning at school have stated that they do not finish their homework and assignments because they do not concentrate on their studies. This is because social media has taken a lot of time away from them, whereby they chat with online friends from other countries. Also, the fact that they have learnt English leads to their ability to communicate and chat with their friends from the US, the UK and the rest of the world. They have formed bad companies in which they can share the information through networking and obtain drugs easily. They are addicted to the Internet because it is easily available and cheap to access. It forms the best mode of communication, thus, avoiding most essential events being beneficial to their cultural beliefs.
The UAE is a country of leisure and a sport attraction center. Many young people value leisure more than anything else. Thus, with tourism on the height of growth, it has led to many vices. The worst vice is the family isolation with the youth living on their own near the tourist attraction sites.
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The foreign influence brings globalization and civilization to the country and its citizens. Thus, it is a good thing to happen to the country. People need to develop competency and different skills useful in improving their standards of living. However, caution should be taken as they embrace the influences that come up with foreigners to safeguard their cultural identity. Parents, institutions, and other UAE agencies should assess the effects of foreign influence and identify the sources and how to control them to avoid the degradation of cultural values. This will help to develop and maintain the morality of their children. Social awareness may be put in many programs to educate the youth; otherwise, there will be the erosion of morals and cultural beliefs. The culture of the country also makes an attraction of tourists, and the UAE youth should notice it and embrace it. Of course, there are the benefits caused by foreign influence. However, there are many adverse effects which not only affect the youth but contribute to the destruction of the young people themselves, other family members, friends in schools, neighborhood and workplace, fellow employees, and the nation, at large. Therefore, when the children and the youth are affected, then, the whole nation is also impacted.
It is good to embrace modern technology and use it for modern communication because it is cheap, faster and relevant to the demands of the global market. However, such technology like social media and the Internet can be used in more beneficial ways like studying, career development, and business connections instead of being used as an avenue to abuse drugs, separate families and destroy conventional events traditions. While maintaining international relations and driving economic growth, the UAE should know the adverse effects caused by this and take the appropriate measures. These measures will help both sides of development and prevent the youth from such vices. In doing so, the foreign influence will benefit the youth instead of ruining their lives.