Ask Ali: Explaining Emiratis' smartphone preferences and women's work choices

Dear Ali: I have heard that many Emirati women quit their studies or don’t like to work after graduation once they’re married. What’s your take on this? KP, Germany Dear KP: The reality is that more marriages are delayed than women quitting their studies, because they’re eager to graduate first and get a prestigious job. […]

Dear Ali: I have heard that many Emirati women quit their studies or don’t like to work after graduation once they’re married. What’s your take on this? KP, Germany

Dear KP: The reality is that more marriages are delayed than women quitting their studies, because they’re eager to graduate first and get a prestigious job. Women are the leading graduates in the country and they’re leading the way when it comes to working in various fields across all government and semi-government entities.

Men and women tend to have certain roles to play in our society, and knowing which helps explain the standards and priorities of each. Yes, a woman’s family might advise what they think she should or could do, but essentially she always chooses for herself. Therefore, if a woman decides to quit her studies to take care of her family and children, she wouldn’t be criticised for that. If she wants to complete her studies and get a job before marriage, though, her opinion will also be taken into account, and her future husband’s family will have to adjust to such conditions, which almost all of them do.

I believe education is a great thing. Every person should have one. That being said, I would never judge a woman for not completing her education for the sake of her family and life if she’s happy about it.

Many people in this region believe that the toughest full-time job that any woman could have is to raise her children and take care of her family. And for that, she’s respected and appreciated a lot.

Dear Ali: I own a mobile phone store, and every time an Emirati comes in to purchase a smartphone, they always buy one of the few most popular brands, despite there being so many more on offer. Do you think it’s a lack of presentation skills from my employees or do Emiratis not like other brands? KJ, Abu Dhabi

Dear KJ: I’m sure your shop has a great variety of the best phones, and there’s nothing wrong with your salespeople. The reason that only a few of the brands are preferred by your Emirati customers is that they’re looking for a certain standard it’s all about quality.

Back in the day, our society was communal and we used to trust the collective opinion. But since those times, our lifestyles may have changed, but the habits remain the same. We trust products that are more widely used and trusted by our people.

This has nothing to do with our nationality, but more about the culture we share and the language we speak. I see so many non-Emiratis who use the same phones as we do. I think it’s natural for people to go for the most-trusted brands if they can afford it.

We’re open to new ideas, technology and inventions, which quickly get accepted and implemented, especially by the younger generation. We don’t mind trying new things, but sometimes it takes time to beat the popularity of those brands that have already gained a great reputation and are more familiar to us.

Ali Al Saloom is a cultural adviser and public speaker from the UAE. Follow @AskAli on Twitter, and visit www.ask-ali.com to ask him a question.

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