Cultural Understanding Essential to Cultural Travel

Whether you like it or not, want to explore this or not, the truth is, you must abide by cultural beliefs and traditions while being a visitor in another country. In earlier posts, I have illuminated the fact that cultural understanding is a must while traveling to other cultures. One must know cultural etiquette in the form of beliefs with a culture, traditions within a culture, and rituals that are aligned with cultural beliefs. Additionally, dress, salutations, and the appropriate way of addressing people within a given culture are extremely important if not imperative. Why? Because first and foremost, cultural understanding is essential to cultural travel while you are a guest within that culture. Take for example an excerpt from an article in the Gulf News:

Dubai: Expatriates have found themselves on the wrong side of the law — jail terms followed by deportation for public indecency and obscene gestures. Alarming, worrying, yet true. The accused have been guilty of acts ranging from flashing a finger at someone to consensual sex in public.

The recent court cases reported by Gulf News not only illustrate this, but point to a far more insidious subtext — cultural misunderstanding.

An expatriate who considers the middle finger as a commonplace gesture in his country, now finds himself in an uncommon position — in front of a judge for the very act. He may also not realise — until it is too late — that apart from obscene acts, certain overt physical gestures overlooked in his home country are punishable in his host country.

Would you call this a case of misunderstanding? Or would it be fair to label expatriates as culturally ignorant?

 

The Persian Hasht-Behesht Palace

The Persian Hasht-Behesht Palace

We’ve all been there, in a frustrating moment within a culture and reacting quickly in our own cultural way. But this is not always the best way, nor the most appropriate way. Cultural understanding is essential to cultural travel, as well as being essential to understanding the LAW within a given culture. Don’t be  stupid about cultural etiquette. Consider yourself a guest within any given culture, and know that you are a guest until you return to your home land. Read the whole article about the consequences of crossing the line here.

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