Women’s Rights in Saudi Arabia and the United State
I.I BACKGROUND AND HISTORY
In the 1940’s, with the devastating results and number of casualties that both world wars had, the lack of respect of human rights was evident. As a result, the United Nations (UN) came to be. The purpose of this intergovernmental organization “was to establish and maintain collective security in the years after the war” (Glendon, 2001.p. iv). In June 1945, with the efforts of the “Big Three” (Britain, the United States and the Soviet Union) along with the other signing countries of the UN, the UN Charter was drafted and signed. This document stated the duties that each signing member of the UN would have, including the promotion and respect for human rights. Although the idea of human rights was finally in an official document, the UN Charter did not specify what those rights were and if there was a possibility of them being universal, “in the sense of being acceptable to all nations and peoples, including those not yet represented in the United Nations” (Glendon, 2001.p. 19).
In the aftermath of the two world wars, “the mightiest nations on earth bowed to the demands of smaller countries for recognition of a common standard by which the rights and wrongs of every nation’s behavior could be measured” (Glendon, 2001.p. iv) and after many efforts to find a set of rights that would fit equally to all nations and bring dignity to all citizens, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was created. This document listed different types of rights such as civil, social, economic, political and cultural. It also emphasized the equality of all humans regardless of their gender, race, color, religion or any other factor. The main purpose of the UDHW was “the promotion and respect for human rights” (Glendon, 2001.p. iv). The Universal Declaration recognizes the integral dignity of all humans and it is this recognition that is the “foundation of freedom, justice and peace” (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948, preamble).
I.II PROBLEM STATEMENT
Even though there was now an official document stating people’s rights, the problem of universality arose. To this day, many argue that the ideologies in the UDHR were not universal but culturally relative. For instance, Muslim countries were not convinced that this document was appropriate due to doctrinal matters. Islamic civilizations created “shar’ah (principles for policymaking) for guidance in economic, environmental, legal, political, and social features of life in order to preserve and promote life, religion, reason, progeny and wealth” (Al-Ahsan, 2008), and successfully lived by these guidelines creating what seemed to be a “glorious civilization”. When the UDHR was enacted, one Muslim country specifically took a negative stand. “Saudi Arabia refused to sign, arguing that Islamic shar’ah had already adequately recognized the rights of men and women in Islam” (Al-Ahsan, 2008).
After the “glorious” Islamic civilization “began to suffer and decline” due to European occupation and the deviation of values from the Muslim community, various reformers and leader met in order to recreate the human dignity values. In 1990 the member states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC)-an international intergovernmental Islamic political organization, which represents all Muslim nation-states-, drafted a new declaration of an Islamic origin of human rights. The Cairo Declaration on Human Rights (CDHR) was created to “serve as a general guidance for member states in the field of human rights” (Cairo Declaration on Human Rights, 1990).
Despite the efforts to end human rights violations and establish a universal regime of treaties, norms and institutions, the abuse of human rights continues to be a problem. Due to the fact that the umbrella of human rights is significantly vast, I will only mention a couple of reasons as to why this could be; to begin with, it is extremely challenging to have a global system implemented by all nations since each nation has different domestic laws in which some rights might interfere with, which leads us to the second reason, even though the UN Charter encourages “fundamental human rights” (UN Charter, 1945, preamble) it also states that nothing “shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state or shall require the Members to submit such matters to settlement…” (UN Charter, 1945, art. II) resulting in the limited authority of the UN and difficulty to penalize negligence of international obligations (Council of Foreign Relations, 2013). One last reason is that the implementation of respect for human rights is troublesome since “some of the worst violators have not joined central rights treaties or institutions, undermining the initiatives’ perceived effectiveness” (Council of Foreign Relations, 2013).
The purpose of this paper is to define human rights, analyze a cultural model and attempt to explain the challenges of human rights through a cultural perspective as well as proposes a model to remedy human rights abuses focusing mainly on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and The United States of America.
It is important to establish a common cultural model in order to express the meaning of “culture” and to set the implications that it has when dealing with two completely different countries. Culture plays an important role in the behavior of the people in a community. “The cultural differences between nations and their organizations raise the question of whether what can be applied to organizations of one country is applicable to the organizations in another country” (Obeidat, Shannak & Al-Jarrah, 2012). In this paper, I will use a version of the Ronan and Shenkar (1985) cluster model to assess and measure cultural differences. This model uses nine “country clusters” in order to classify different cultures. In this paper, I will only focus on two clusters, the Arab cluster which includes Dubai, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, and the Anglo cluster which includes Australia, Canada UK, and the USA.
Luciana Nardon and Richard Steers took the Ronan and Shenkar cluster model as well as various cultural dimensions models from Geert Hofstede, Edward T. Hall, Fons Trompenaars and Shalom Shwartz and created their own cultural model. They published this model in the “Cambridge Handbook of culture, organizations and work” in 2009. They had five central tendencies (Hierarchy-Equality, Individualism-Collectivism, Mastery-Harmony, Monochronism-Polychronism and Universalism-Particularism) and four categories for each tendency (e.g., strongly universalistic, moderately universalistic, strongly particularistic, moderately particularistic). In this particular case, I will only focus on the universalism-particularism, mastery-harmony and individualism-collectivism dimensions. (Bhagat, R. S., Steers, R. M., 2009).
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II.I LITERATURE REVIEW
According to the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, Human Rights are defined as “rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, language, or any other status. We are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination. These rights are all interrelated, interdependent and indivisible”(UNOHC, 2016).
In her article, “Universality of Human Rights and Cultural Diversity: Implementation of Human Rights in Different Socio-Cultural Contexts”, published in the Human Rights Quarterly, Christina Cerna talks about many issues that arose when the Declaration was first drafted. She addresses the problem that many countries had with the document and how “they argued that principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration reflected Western values and not their own” (Cerna, 1994). She continues explaining that the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action was the result of the UN World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna. This document was the product of many countries having different stances of the universality of Human Rights. The Western states, for example, did not agree with the idea that depending on some countries, rights can be measured in a different way and the U.S. even “dismissed the argument that any definition of human rights should consider regional social and cultural differences” (Cerna, 1994).
In her 1948 “Adoption of the Declaration of Human Rights” speech, Eleanor Roosevelt made clear that it was very difficult for all the people and governments of 58 countries involved to “reach a common basis” and agree to a set of rights that would include and that could be applied to every single country. Because of this, she mentions, “certain provisions of the declaration are stated in such broad terms as to be acceptable” to all. She continues to reiterate that the Universal Declaration “is not a treaty” and it does not have “legal obligation” but is simply a guide “of basic rights and principles and freedoms” and its purpose it to “to serve as a common standard of achievement for all peoples of all nations” (Roosevelt, 1948).
According to Saudi Arabia’s Human Rights Watch World Report of 2015, women’s and girl’s rights are still very limited even though many have tried to improve this situation. It is still illegal for women to “obtain a passport, marry, travel or access higher education without the approval of a male guardian” and as many know even driving is forbidden for women in this country. Early in the year, a fatwa (“a recommendation or piece of advice given by a knowledgeable and trustworthy religious authority” (Larson, 2011).) was released prohibiting women to visit a male doctor without a male companion or guardian and exposing body parts unless it is a medical emergency. Although women still have many limitations they are slowly making progress in some areas. For example, this report also mentions that the Supreme Judicial Court of Saudi Arabia now allows women to have custody of their children and have authority in all affairs dealing with their children, even with official documents. They also are considering having physical education for girls in schools, since sports are forbidden for girls at the moment (Human Rights Watch, 2015).
According to Natalia Truszkowska, the Saudi criminal justice system is known for women’s human rights violations and neglect, which “goes far beyond discrimination”. She states that the religious police is the main offender in the violations and blames institutions such as this one that has a certain level of power for the mistreatment of women. Truszkowska talks about the formation of an association known as the Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (CPVPV), which is not government accountable but does work closely with legal institutions in order to abide by Saudi law. This group offers economic incentives to the religious police for every person they arrest (Truszkowska, 2001).
In her article “Women’s rights violations inside America”, Charlene Muhammad studies the violations on women’s rights such as women being penalized for taking time off work for court appearances. She also wants to raise awareness of sexual assault taking place in the military. Domestic violence is a big issue in the United States and there are not many options that the victims have due to housing arrangements. The author mentions how even though the U.S. is a constant advocate for women’s rights towards other countries, there are many issues within the country, especially incarcerated women who are in vulnerable situations (Muhammad, 2011).
The way women’s rights are overseen or abused in the US is different than in Arab states. In the 2015 World Report of the United States issued by Human Rights Watch, it is clear that the main issue nowadays is abortion and women’s health insurance. There has been an evident increase in the restrictions given by state legislatures from 2011 to 2013. The lack of investigation and mishandling of sexual assault cases was a big issue when looking at this year’s report (Human Rights Watch, 2015).
It is important to have a universal idea of what culture is in order to be able to compare and to assess how much culture weighs in the application of human rights. In their article, “Toward Better Understanding for Arabian Culture: Implications Based on Hofstede’s Cultural Model” the authors investigate a common meaning of the word culture and the implications that it has in the Arab culture. They mention that cultural differences can “raise the question of whether what can be applied to organizations of one country is applicable to organizations in another country. They also mention that there are complexities when dealing with a concept as important as culture. (Obeidat, Shannak, & Al-Jarrah, 2012).
Hofstede (2005) studied culture and how it is affected by the environment. He divides culture into two parts: “culture one” and “culture two”. He says the first is “culture in the narrow sense” being things such as education, literature, or art. The latter, however, he mentions it entails much more extensive use of the word since it’s a type of “mental software”. He says it’s a mental software because it is what makes a person greet a certain way, eat a certain way, show feelings (or not show them), and even the way a person maintains body hygiene is cultural. Hofstede says “the core of culture is formed by values” which are the tendencies in which one prefers “certain states of affairs over others”. He surveyed a group of 50 people in different countries regarding values and the survey revealed that many people had common problems but had different solutions to that specific problem around the world. These problems represent the four dimensions of culture that he named as 1) Power Distance, 2) Collectivism vs. Individualism, 3) Femininity vs Masculinity, and 4) Uncertainty Avoidance.
Fons Trompenaars based his work off of Hofstede’s cultural dimensions but added a few more. He, along with Charles Hampden-Turner did a study of various managers across countries and found similar results as Hofstede. He found that “every culture distinguishes itself from others by the specific solution it chooses to certain problems” (Trompenaars & Hampden-Turner, 2000, p. 8). They found seven cultural dimensions being 1) Universalism vs Particularism, 2) Individualism vs Collectivism, 3) Specific vs Diffuse, 4) Neutral vs Affective, 5) Achievement vs Ascription, 6) Time Perspective (past/present oriented vs future-oriented), and 7) Relationship with the environment (Inner-directed vs outer-directed).
III.I Comparative Analysis Using Multiple Sources of Data
III.I.I UN Documents
The UN has developed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that together with the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights and the International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights formed the background of its strategy of assurance and protection of human rights. The Declaration was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1948 (United Nations, n. d.). It has the aim to promote respect for numerous rights (life, recognition, equality before the law, effective remedy, equal public hearing, and others) and freedoms (from slavery, cruel treatment, arbitrary arrest and detention).
The organization also have developed and introduced nine human rights treaties for the support of the realization of the above-mentioned strategy. Among these treaties are the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, 2016).
The UN documents provide the most comprehensive coverage of human rights compared to documents developed by the US government, especially by the Saudi government. At the same time, this organization does not place emphasis on some particular rights, in contrast to the US documents. Apparently, this can be explained by the fact that these documents are created by the representatives of various countries. Consequently, this grades the influence of the historical context and cultural specifics on the development of documents.
III.I.II Saudi Government Documents
The government of Saudi Arabia formulated documents that are more oriented on the protection of employees of various ages and genders than on the assurance of human rights. General documents are represented by the Council of Ministers Resolution No. 332 of November 1, 2013. Regulation on Protection Against Abuse, Ministerial Council Decision No. 244 in 20/7/1430 hijri on Prevention of Human Trafficking, and Labour Law (Royal Decree No. M/51) (International Labour Organization, 2014). Moreover, protection of children and youth and elimination of child labor are assured by the Council of Ministers Resolution No. 50 of 24/11/2014 on approving the child protection regulation and Ratification of the ILO convention on the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour (International Labour Organization, 2014). With regard to women’s rights, they are partly granted by Ministerial Council Decree No. 60 of 28/2/1430 Hijri regarding the Increase of Vocational and Professional Training for Women (International Labour Organization, 2014). What is more, the rights of migrant workers are described in Council’s decision No. 166 of 12 July 2000 on Regulations concerning the relationship between employers and foreign workers (International Labour Organization, 2014). Furthermore, social rights are regulated by Social Insurance Law (Royal Decree M/33), Order No. 81 of 2014 on Unemployment Insurance.), Order No. 81 of 2014 on Unemployment Insurance, and others (International Labour Organization, 2014).
Saudi government developed documents that provide the least protection of human rights. Similar to the UN and US government, it has introduced various laws which assure the rights of child and youth, regulate the status of migrants as employees, and protect against enforced disappearance. However, the legislature is more focused on the labor sphere. Hereby, the Saudi government provides insufficient protection of political, social and economic rights of people. Protection of women’s rights is also poor. Unlike documents formulated by the US government, the discussed laws do not put emphasis on the elimination of discrimination.
III.I.III USA Government Documents
The major U.S. human rights documents are the Declaration of Independence (1776), the Constitution of the USA; the Bill of Rights, the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, Fifteenth, and Nineteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, and ratification of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Human Rights, n. d.). The current work will provide general consideration of these key documents, without listing state regulations concerning discussed matters for not making this section too long. The Declaration assures the protection of the right to life, liberty, happiness, and legislative powers (“The Charterers of Freedom,“ n. d.). Moreover, the Constitution contains information about the realization of executive, legislative, and juridical powers as well as the general depiction of the rights of immigrants (Constitution U.S., 2016). With regard to the Bill of Rights, it provides freedoms of religion, speech, press, assembly, petition, and rights to public trials, among others (Cornell University Law School, n. d.). Furthermore, the discussed Amendments grant freedom from slavery and prevent states from abridging the privileges and immunities of citizens, including the right to vote on account of race, color, and sex (Thomson Reuters, 2016).
The US government provides rather comprehensive protection of human rights. It is connected with the fact that this country ratified the Universal Declaration developed by the UN. Unlike the UN and Saudi government, this government lays emphasis on the assurance of independence and elimination of any form of discrimination.
III.II Human Rights Issues in Both Countries
The country has a very poor human rights record with numerous human rights concerns. The most notable of them are corporal and capital punishment, insufficient rule of law, tortures, absence of freedom of assembly and expression, the violence of women’s rights on equal treatment, and many others (! 9). Islamic Sharia law formed the background for such concerns as a violation of women’s rights on equality, torture, death penalty, and absence of freedom of expression and assembly.
World Report 2016 shows that the Saudi government commits numerous violations of such basic human rights as freedom of expression, association, and belief (Human Rights Watch, 2016a). Thereafter, the authorities perform numerous arrests of prominent figures who express their opinion concerning government actions and reforms. One of such figures was Saudi writer Zuhair Kutbi who was brought to a special court for trial after his discussion of peaceful reform proposals (Human Rights Watch, 2016a). Moreover, Saudi authorities perform systematic discriminatory acts “against Muslim religious minorities, notably Twelver Shia and Ismails” (Human Rights Watch, 2016a). These actions are represented by the inequality in employment, public education, and the criminal justice system (Human Rights Watch, 2016a).
Detainees of all ages face enormous violations of human rights during arrests and trials. In fact, children can be arrested and sentenced as adults. The arrests and punishments are performed at judges’ discretions because there is no penal code and justice is performed according to Islamic law.
Saudi Arabia has more than 9 million of migrant workers whose rights are not sufficiently assured. Hereby, many of them suffer from exploitation. Some employers confiscate migrants’ documents and oblige them to work without any payments. According to the legislature passed in October 2015, these actions are considered to be illegal (Human Rights Watch, 2016a). However, there are still numerous cases of such violations. Moreover, there are no legal tools that enable migrants to “to prevent their forced return to places where their lives or freedom may be threatened” (Human Rights Watch, 2016a).
Domestic workers also face numerous violations of their rights. They are reflected in non-payment and partial payment of wages, unpaid overtime, and various forms of abuse (physical, psychological, and sexual) (Human Rights Watch, 2016a). Talking about intends to inform authorities, they can be addressed by groundless accusations of theft (Human Rights Watch, 2016a).
Notwithstanding the fact that the U.S. has strong legislative protection of human rights, some of these regulations still do not grant the actual assurance of human rights. As a result, people face harsh sentencing, racial discrimination in criminal justice, prolonged detention due to poverty, and solitary confinement. Child labor is not sufficiently protected.
The USA has the largest rate of imprisoned individuals in the world. The total number of incarcerated is about 2.37 million people (Human Rights Watch, 2016b). The reason is in such practices as large sentences, imposition of the death penalty by 31 U.S. states, and mandatory minimum sentencing (Human Rights Watch, 2016b).
There is enormous racial discrimination in criminal justice, especially in such fields as drug enforcement. According to the official statistics, African Americans represent only 13% of the total U.S. population, while the proportion of engagement of Whites and African Americans in drug offenses is equal; however, the letter makes 29% of all arrested for such crimes (Human Rights Watch, 2016b). Additional attention should be paid to the fact that drug sentencing in the U.S. is considered to be disproportionately long. African Americans not only face unequal terms of arrests but also can be killed by police officers even being unarmed.
Numerous defendants are obliged to suffer from unnecessary detention because they have no financial ability to post bail. Moreover, it is important to note that about 100,000 imprisoners are held in solitary confinement (Human Rights Watch, 2016b). The problem is that this has an enormous negative effect on their psychological conditions.
Similar to Saudi Arabia, in fourteen U.S. states, children can be prosecuted as adults, while in the rest of the states there is an age limit from 10 to 13 years old or at the discretion of an attorney (Human Rights Watch, 2016b). Some of the prosecuted children receive long-lasting and even life sentences without any possibility to parole.
The U.S. government does not provide sufficient protection of child labor. Hereby, the work of children on farms is not regulated by “minimum age and maximum hour requirements” (Human Rights Watch, 2016b). Furthermore, working conditions can be rather poor and can cause health issues such as poisoning (Human Rights Watch, 2016b).
III.III Women’s Rights in Both Countries
Saudi Arabia has enormous issues of discrimination of women’s rights. In fact, females are obliged to receive approval from their male guardians (fathers, brothers, or husbands) for “obtaining a passport, marrying [and divorcing], traveling, or accessing higher education” (Human Rights Watch, 2016a). Moreover, such approvals are required for employment, driving vehicles, and obtaining medical assistance.
On the contrary, in the U.S., women’s rights are more protected. They can receive education, drive, obtain medical assistance, and become married or divorced at their own discretion. However, they still face enormous discrimination, threats, vandalism, insufficient promotion opportunities, disciplinary actions, and sexual assault during their work in military services (Human Rights Watch, 2016b).
III.IV Documented Cases of Women’s Rights Abuses
This work will provide the description of several documented cases of women’s right abuse. In 2013, a Canadian citizen Natalie Morin who lived in Saudi Arabia called women’s rights activists Wajeha al-Huwaider and Fawzia al-Oyouni and asked for help because her husband locked her and her children in the house without sufficient amount of food. The women arrived to help Natalie Morin. However, this was a trap prepared by the police and Morin’s husband. Consequently, Wajiha al-Huwaider and Fawzia al-Oyouni were detained and sentenced for two years “on suspicion of attempting to help her to leave the country with her children” (Bryan-Brown, 2013).
Iscah Achieng is a Black immigrant woman who worked as a domestic worker in Saudi Arabia. In the workplace, she suffered from beating, sexual abuse, death threats, and starvation (Burns, 2015).
The documented cases of women’s rights abuses in the USA will concern the violation of their rights while serving in military forces. Kate Weber was raped and even stalked and harassed after reporting the crime (Calvert, 2014). Brittany Fintel was told to have adjustment disorder after reporting of being grabbed and pinned to the bed by her superior (Calvert, 2014). Jessica Hines working as an Air Force fighter jet mechanic was raped by a member of her troop in the military base in Nellis (Calvert, 2014). It should be noted that ”her case was thrown out the day before the trial was to begin” (Calvert, 2014).
III.V The Republic of South Africa Model (Reconciliation Approach)
After the abolition of the Apartheid in 1994, South Africa knew something had to be done in order to reconcile all the human rights violations and the political change that the country had experienced. Hence, The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was established. The Government of National Unity set this restorative justice organization due to the “violence and human rights abuses from all sides” that had occurred during the apartheid since “no section of society had escaped abuses”. Not only that but it was intended to “provide rehabilitation, reparation, and amnesty to perpetrators of politically motivated crimes during the former atmosphere of political upheaval and apartheid” (Vora & Vora, 2004, p. 306). According to the former Minister of Justice, Mr. Dullah Omar, “a commission is a necessary exercise to enable South Africans to come to terms with their past on a morally accepted basis and to advance the cause of reconciliation.” This commission is considered to be “one of the most remarkable efforts of peacemaking in our time” (Vora & Vora, 2004, p. 305).
In one survey study conducted, the effectiveness of the TRC was measured. A series of questions were asked dealing with “bringing out the truth”, “bringing about reconciliation” and “positive effects” of this commission and the target audience was three ethnic groups from South Africa, the British Africans (English), the Afrikaners and the Xhosa. The authors found that the majority of people of South Africa felt that the “TRC was indeed perceived effective in bringing out the truth” (Vora& Vora, 2004, p. 309). When it came to reconciliation, not so many people considered that the TRC was effective, compared to bringing out the truth. The Xhosa group overall perceived the TRC to be effective in bringing about reconciliation. The other two groups had varied views about it. There were similar results when speaking about the positive effect of the TRC, with the Xhosa group being the one who mostly voted yes and mixed responses from the English and the Afrikaners. The study concluded that even though the TRC did bring reconciliation, it was not as successful as bringing out the truth, however, “all three ethnic groups perceived the overall success of TRC to be related to its effect on South Africa’s society” (Vora & Vora, 2004, p. 316).
I have categorized the Saudi Arabian culture with the American culture by using three dimensions from Hofstede and Trompenaars in order to equally compare both countries. Since we are focusing on culture, it is first important to agree with one universal definition of culture. There are many factors that play a part in defining culture. Some say that “culture is one of those items that defy a single all-purpose definition and there are almost as many meanings of culture as people using the term” (Ajiferuke and Boddewyn, 1970, p. 154). Hofstede’s definition is “the collective phenomenon programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from another” (Hofstede, 2005). He also mentions that we obtain culture depending on our environment meaning its something we learn, not something that we are born with. Trompenaars states that culture is the way in which a group handles specific situations. So we can conclude that culture deals with being part of a group and how a certain group reacts to problems or dilemmas.
Adding to the work of Geert Hofstede, Dutch researcher Fons Trompenaars introduces his model of culture, which consists of seven dimensions. I will use three dimensions, “Universalism vs. Particularism”, “Collectivism vs Individualism” which focus on relationships among people and “Past-Present Oriented vs Future Oriented” which focuses on time management (Nardon & Steers, 2009, p. 5).
IV.I Universalism vs. Particularism
Universalism vs. Particularism is the first of “five dimensions of how we relate to other people” or to simply put it, “rules versus relationships” (Trompenaars & Hampden-Turner, 2000, p. 29). The authors explain that this first dimension has to do with the way a person judges someone else’s behavior. There are two ways in which a person can judge; On one hand, we have the feeling of obligation to follow universal rules that are set by the culture we are part of such as, “Do not lie. Do not steal…the Golden Rule” (Trompenaars & Hampden-Turner, 2000, p. 31), etc. On the other hand, we have that same feeling of obligation but with this approach, it’s towards people we are close to; “X is my dear friend, so obviously I would not lie to him or steal from him.” (Trompenaars & Hampden-Turner, 2000, p. 31). In order to conclude which nationality or country as a whole is either universalist or particularist, they present individuals from different countries with one scenario and conclude from their answers which nationality leans towards which extreme. One of the exercises they use is a situation in which a friend has just hit a pedestrian while speeding and asks to lie for him under oath in order to protect him. They ask each individual if their friend had the right to ask them for their protection. They found that most North Americans and North Europeans answered that their friend had no right to ask such favor from them, concluding they are Universalists; while other nationalities that said their friend had all the right to expect support since they use the reasoning, “my friends needs my help more than ever now that he is in serious trouble with the law” (Trompenaars & Hampden-Turner, 2000, p. 34). “Particularism is based on a logic of the heart and human friendship”. In his article, Ira Lapidus explains that the Arab-Muslim community can be considered both since it has gone through many changes in different Arab countries over the years. He does mention however “in many cases global Islamic identity is accompanied by particularistic identities” (Lapidus, 2001, p.39). When Muslim nationalism began, what used to be a universalistic community turned into a particularistic one. In the early twenty-first century, the Sufis, “one who imitated the ways of the Prophet” (Lapidus, 2001, p.45), reformed the community by favoring “the consolidation of particularistic social and political movements” (Lapidus, 2001, p.45). With this evidence, we can conclude that the U.S tends to be more universalist and Saudi Arabia, being an Arab-Muslim country tends to be more particularistic overall.
IV.II Individualism vs Collectivism
The second dimension I will be explaining is Individualism vs Collectivism. Hofstede explains that in an Individualistic culture individuals mainly worry about and take care of themselves and their immediate family (life partner and children) but also expect loyalty in return from them. He mentions that collectivist culture believes that they belong in a group since the moment they are born and will always be part of that group which is “tightly integrated” (Hofstede, 1984, p. 390). An individualistic society believes that in order to have a good quality of life one must have “individual success, achievement, self-actualization, and self-respect” (Hofstede, 1984, p. 394) while in a collectivist society the definition of high quality of life is related to family or groups. Hofstede mentions several examples of differences between an individualistic society and a collectivist society, for example, children in an individualistic society are taught to think of themselves as “I” when in a collectivist society they are thought to think of themselves as “we”. In an individualistic society, members avoid guilt rather than avoid shame like they do in a collectivist society. When accepting a job, in the collectivistic culture people don’t take into consideration family or private life since they make a clear separation between job life and private life. On the other hand in an individualistic society people let their job interfere or invade their private life but they also have certain expectations from their employer when it comes to family duties or private life matters.
Arab countries received a 38, suggesting they have a collectivistic society. Evidently, this is due to the committee members of this society feel towards one another. In the Arab culture, loyalty is indispensable and trumps many other societal laws. Relationships are also a paramount factor in this society since everyone takes responsibility for each other regardless of their position or rank in both, business and/or social life. Even when dealing with hiring or promotion within a company, most of the time decisions are “influenced by the desire to cater to family and friends” (Cassel & Blake, 2011) instead of choosing according to qualifications or experience.
The United States of America, on the other hand, ranked 91 in the Individualistic dimension making it number one on Hofstede’s Individualistic scale. In this society, members are used to dealing with strangers and don’t bother getting acquainted before doing business or any type of interaction. “Hierarchy is established for convenience” and it is expected for people to look after themselves and fulfill their own personal goals and needs.
IV.III Time Perspective
The last dimension I will use is Time Perspective or Past-Present Oriented vs. Future-Oriented, having to do with how much importance different cultures give to the past, present, or future in their daily lives. It has been said “that how a culture thinks of time and manages it is a clue to the meanings of its members find in life and the supposed nature of human existence” (Trompenaars & Hampden-Turner, 2000, p. 121). Our worrying of the past and the future really influences the way we act or think in our present. We may not do it consciously but these subjective times (past and future) are greatly impacting our decisions and our judgments. Even though our lives are oriented towards future success, “past experiences have deeply affected our perceptions of that future, as does our present mood” (Trompenaars & Hampden-Turner, 2000, p. 122). The authors mention that it is evident that “all three time zones unite in our actions” (Trompenaars & Hampden-Turner, 2000, p. 122) since our past actions lead us to our present and consequently, our present actions will determine where we will end up in the future.
Some cultures, however, tend to rely more on the past more than the future, or vice versa. There is the cultures that view time as “sequential, a series of passing events, or synchronic, with past, present, and future all interrelated so that ideas about the future and memories of the past both shape present action” (Trompenaars & Hampden-Turner, 2000, p. 120). The authors used Thomas Cottle’s “Circle Test” in order to measure the approaches to time in various cultures. The test asked the following question.
“Think of the past, present, and future as being in the shape of circles. Please draw three circles on the space available, representing past, present, and future. Arrange these circles in any way you want that best shows how you feel about the relationship of the past, present, and future. You may use different size circles. When you have finished, label each circle to show which one is the past, which one the present and which one the future.”
Thomas Cottle came up with four different results. The first one is Absence Zone Relatedness being that there is no connection between any past, present or future (e.g Russia). The second result was Temporal Integration in which the three times overlap considerably. Thirdly, the partial overlap of zones and the fourth result was touching but not overlapping.
When we take a look at Hofstede’s cultural dimensions, it is evident that