A Window to the Middle East

Connect. Make a Middle-East Connection

Geert Hofstede™ Cultural Dimensions
Regent Connects

The Geert Hofstede analysis for the Arab World, that includes the countries of Egypt, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, demonstrates the Muslim faith plays a significant role in the people’s lives.

globeLarge Power Distance (PDI) (80) and Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI) (68) are predominant Hofstede Dimension characteristics for the countries in this region. These societies are more likely to follow a caste system that does not allow significant upward mobility of its citizens. They are also highly rule-oriented with laws, rules, regulations, and controls in order to reduce the amount of uncertainty, while inequalities of power and wealth have been allowed to grow within the society.

When these two Dimensions are combined, it creates a situation where leaders have virtually ultimate power and authority, and the rules, laws and regulations developed by those in power reinforce their own leadership and control. It is not unusual for new leadership to arise from armed insurrection – the ultimate power, rather than from diplomatic or democratic change.

The high Power Distance (PDI) ranking is indicative of a high level of inequality of power and wealth within the society. These populations have an expectation and acceptance that leaders will separate themselves from the group and this condition is not necessarily subverted upon the population, but rather accepted by the society as their cultural heritage.

The high Uncertainty Avoidance Index (UAI) ranking of 68, indicates the society’s low level of tolerance for uncertainty. In an effort to minimize or reduce this level of uncertainty, strict rules, laws, policies, and regulations are adopted and implemented. The ultimate goal of these populations is to control everything in order to eliminate or avoid the unexpected. As a result of this high Uncertainty Avoidance characteristic, the society does not readily accept change and is very risk adverse.The Masculinity index (MAS), the third highest Hofstede Dimension is 52, only slightly higher than the 50.2 average for all the countries included in the Hofstede MAS Dimension. This would indicate that while women in the Arab World are limited in their rights, it may be due more to Muslim religion rather than a cultural paradigm.

The lowest Hofstede Dimension for the Arab World is the Individualism (IDV) ranking at 38, compared to a world average ranking of 64. This translates into a Collectivist society as compared to Individualist culture and is manifested in a close long-term commitment to the member 'group', that being a family, extended family, or extended relationships. Loyalty in a collectivist culture is paramount, and over-rides most other societal rules.

Impact on the classroom

Students from the Middle East may be uncomfortable with a close teacher/student relationship due to the large Power Distance Index. Students expect the teacher to separate themselves from students and not to approach students as a learning facilitator. Non-authoritative approaches to education may make students feel uncomfortable at first and may take some time and extra attention to help middle eastern students understand that they can approach a professor for help.

Regent University Coursework, Study Abroad, Service Opportunities

School of Divinity

Study Tour: Israel and Jordan - February 27–March 13, 2010
Approximately 30 faculty, students, and friends have signed up to participate. The trip explores the history of Israel and the early church in their ancient life settings. Participants will also gain a better understanding of the historical, cultural, and religious contexts within which Israel and the church developed.

Study Tour: Turkey, the Seven Churches, and Paul’s Journeys - March 2011

School of Government

Qur’anic Law course – every Fall semester (Law/Gov – taught in Virginia Beach)
Studies law and government teachings in the Qur’an, and the hermeneutical systems used by Muslims to interpret and apply these teachings in the Middle East and in the West, each of which themes show the interpretive clash within Islam itself.

Biblical Law course – every Fall semester (Law/Gov – taught in Virginia Beach)
Studies the Old and New Testament laws in the light of their Middle Eastern historical and cultural contexts, and the range of views held by Jews and Christians on the extent of the applicability of these laws to modern nations.

Holy War & Just War in Islam & Israel – every Summer semester (Law/Gov – taught in Israel)
Studies the comparative law of war in both the Judeo-Christian and Islamic legal traditions; tours several of the legal, governmental and military sites throughout the State of Israel, and examines issues of international law with regard to the Israelis and Palestinians.

All three of these courses are open to all graduate students for credit, and to all students, staff and faculty for audit.  Other coursework is offered in Mid East Politics, American Foreign Policy in the Middle East, Islamic Political Thought, and the Arab Israeli Crisis.  RSG offers a certificate program in Middle Easter politics, and fulltime RSG students can specialize in Mid East politics as part of the International Relations concentration. 

RSG also participates in events such as Camp David III in Washington, DC in which students from around the world come to visit embassies, hear from experts on the Arab Israeli crisis, and participate in simulated peace negotiations. 

School of Law

The summer program in Israel offers three credit hours of coursework: 1 credit in a course taught by Professor Joe Kickasola comparing the biblical and Qur'anic concepts of war and 2 credits in a course on issues of international law and the State of Israel taught by Dr. Jay Alan Sekulow and Professor Robert Ash.  The program runs from May 14 through June 2, 2010, in Jerusalem and Haifa, Israel, and includes tours of northern and central Israel. Classes in Jerusalem will be taught at the Hebrew University.

School of Psychology & Counseling

Regent Professor Evelyn Biles, founder of Global Mosaic International, offers opportunities to work from bases in India and Malaysia with the large seasonal (June to October) Middle Eastern populations.  Most frequently needed areas of service include relational difficulties, parenting, dealing with life stressors, and leadership skills.  Efforts of upcoming trainings will focus on: child and adolescent counseling (July (Prof. Vickey Maclin); crisis intervention (August); and conflict management (October, in Borneo).  GMI also has open invitations to teach counseling topics in the Islamic University and private universities, limited only by lack of personnel.

If your school offers additional opportunities not listed here, please send a short print-ready description to jmoustafa@regent.edu