Useful Tips for Women Interning in the Middle East
When you are all set to embark on building an international career as an intern, and become a Citizen of the World, in the true sense of the term, there are a few steps to be taken. Here are a few tips to learn the ropes of life and be a smart woman in the Middle East.
Knowing the local Culture
- Get acquainted with the local culture. Show respect for it. Accept social and business etiquettes with a desire to follow them.
- Do not initiate a handshake or physical contact, nor Hug and kiss a local man, even at the workplace. Public display of affection is a taboo.
- Women are treated with great respect in Middle Eastern cities, so do not be surprised by the chivalrous and protective behavior of males. These acts are neither patronizing nor challenge the independence of a woman they are a norm.
- Do not ask intrusive questions on personal lives, relationships, or family matters.
- It is better to be familiar with important religious practices and festivals.
- Get used to hearing the call to prayer five times a day, refrain from loud conversations, or playing music loudly, and show sensitivity to their faith.
- During the month of Ramadan there is a focus on fasting, empathy, charity, and benevolence. Do not eat, drink, or smoke and be modestly dressed.
- Accept an Iftar dinner, and join in the traditional meal to gain an insight into the religious rituals practiced.
Not required to imitate the locals in their dressing
You are not required to wear a black abaya or a headscarf like the local women but dress modestly, in the workplace. Cover the cleavage, knees, shoulders, stomach, areas and the back also, and do not wear clothing that is transparent/body-hugging.
Learn the Local Language
The internship being a wise opportunity, try to speak a new language- Arabic of the locals. English is widely spoken in the Middle East but Arabic is of great help while speaking to local colleagues.
It is ideal while dealing with regular communication with government officials, and adds to the efficiency and effectiveness.
Avoid Sensitive Discussions
Subjects like democracy and freedom of speech are best avoided as the matter has to be viewed through the region’s history and understanding its journey. The present set up works finely for the Middle East. Do not express judgments and opinions on politics or culture, in the workplace or elsewhere. Gain a new perspective; open the mind to a new and different culture.
Ensure Fair Compensation
Today the Middle East is gaining a reputation for innovative technology, fin-tech, sustainability, and education startups created by young and ambitious entrepreneurs. There are fine opportunities in it for creative self-starters who follow the trends and possess strong leadership skills. The start-ups often hire young interns who are attracted to the idea of interning abroad. Living here is expensive and so while negotiating the contract, ensure that you are paid properly and fairly.
Have Clear Objectives
Your objectives must be clear and you must continue to seek your goals.
Have a practical thinking and a well-defined structure and purpose of an internship. Work towards a global career, in a specific field and seek to play a permanent role in the new country. Besides, be culturally immersed while adding skills and experience.
Women interns, find themselves intimidated in the Middle East by the working style, gender ratios in the workplace. New methods of living and cultural differences should not make you realize that there is a fault with you. Be bold, confident assertive, and tactful, and take life as it comes, because it has nothing to do with your gender. Do not at all be discouraged; be and subtle ways to challenge the norm. In multinational companies, for every chauvinistic colleague, you’ll find two others who are encouraging. If the problem persists, consult the HR department.
Build a Professional Network
Cultivate professional relationships and build a network of colleagues, professionals, and friends. Show initiative, engage in conversations and seek advice from colleagues. Living abroad helps to develop worthy professional and personal skills. It brings tolerance and the ability to appreciate other cultures and is a fine quality needed today.