Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Since my arrival here, there has been an intrigue for local custom and the culture and all things Arabic.  The people are lovely, the place is very different but its generally really good.

At work however, I have had to live with the concept of "Inshallah".  Inshallah means "God Willing" and in a professional working environment, I was surprised how much it was used.  For example:

Me:  "When do you think I can have your report by?  Will it be ready by Thursday"

Emirati Colleague:  "Inshallah"

This doesn't mean, yes, it means literally if God wills it.  And if it doesn't arrive Thursday it means its because God didn't will it.  Seriously.

In fact the use of the word is so prevalent that it has become a standing joke with other Western expats that if an Emirati says it will arrive "inshallah" then actually expect it to not arrive on time.  And so life has gone on like this since I have been here last February and in fact I have caught myself and others using it ourselves... it has become part of the projects language.

Then, last month I hired a person to work for me and he has been really going great and all is well.  He is British, but Muslim and has been in the UAE for over 12mths and has worked on other projects in the region.  Being Muslim, he can speak a little Arabic, but mainly for prayer reasons and is actually very English sounding in his accent. He came to me though today with a peculiar problem...

From his perspective, as a Muslim and from being in other companies in the UAE, he feels that the use of the word "inshallah" is being used excessively.  In fact he said its being used to cover incompetance and that people were using it excessively to get away with not having to commit to things.  He wants to address this as part of his role in the company and take it up with management that people need to start accepting responsibility and stop putting it in "Gods will".  We then proceeded to have a fairly deep conversation about the Muslim Faith, the concept of Inshallah and a story from the Q'uran (sp?) called "tieing the camel"... I wont bore you with it, but it was very informative.

But now that I know this, I am concerned.  What I accepted as traditional Emirati / Muslim custom has been challenged and is being seen by my Muslim colleague as a bit of a "cop out" and he via his role wants to challenge this because its effecting his role.  I agreed that I support his stance, but he needs to take it up with management here but as a westerner, I cannot be getting involved.

I reminded him however that he is still on probation and that perhaps before he challenges the use of the Muslim faith in a commercial project he should consider his words carefully.

Good point he says... "inshallah"

1 comment:

Dan Collins said...

It all sounds like the islamic version of politically correct to me mate. I've never had the patience to put up with any of it tbh but it does sound like it could be useful lol.