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MiddleEast versus American Culture

Manydifferent cultures exist across the world. In various countries,people observe different customs and possess diverse beliefs (Xue1492). It is vital to be aware of the different customs and variedcultures in these countries especially when visiting these places orwhen conducting business with persons from these countries. Becauseof the enormous cultural differences among various people fromdifferent countries, it is easy to offend a person without evenknowing it, especially on matters involving communication (Xue 1492).These cultural differences make people unique, and once people travelto these countries, they should appreciate these cultures. Persons ofthe American origin are viewed as outgoing, friendly, and lessreserved (Dallmann et al. 7). Others perceive them as arrogant,obnoxious, loud, and self-centered. This paper will compare andcontrast the American culture versus the Middle East culture.

Thedifferences between the American culture and the Middle East cultureare numerous because the Americans and people from the Middle Eastnot only live in different environments but also learn through uniqueeducation systems. The characteristics of their religion mainly shapetheir culture, a shared set of behaviors, belief systems, andtraditions. Cultures are exhibited in the population’s attitudestowards life, the people’s habits, their love lives, and theirpersonalities (Xue 1492). Their cultures are different in thefollowing areas:


Bothregions have diverse religious affiliations with Islam dominating inthe Middle East while Christianity is the dominant religion inAmerica. Both regions have a certain percentage of the peoplepracticing Islam and Christianity. People from the Middle Eastcountries are distinguished by their religious beliefs (Pappé 5).Most of the people from this region practice Islam. Apart from Israeland Palestine, other countries from the Middle East region practiceIslam (Pappé 5). According to the number of countries, this area isconsistently populated by Muslims. Nevertheless, this perceptiblereligion uniformity masks many significant variances. For example,there exist different sects within Islam. Most of the people in thesecountries are affiliated to the Sunni sect. Others include Shiite orthe Shia sect, the Druze sect, the Ibadis sect, and the Alawites sectamong others (Pappé 5-7). In Israel, the majority of the peoplepractice Judaism. Christianity is practiced by a few in countrieslike Egypt and Israel.

Historically,the USA has always been marked by religious diversity and pluralism(Dallmann et al. 15-16). Religion in the USA is characterized by avariety of religious practices and beliefs. Christianity dominates inthe American states with more than three-quarters of the peopleidentifying themselves as Christians (Dallmann et al. 15-16). Morethan 50% of these Christians are Protestants while Catholics accountfor approximately 23%. Other religions such as Buddhism, Islam,Judaism, and Hinduism account for about 6% of the population(Dallmann et al. 15-16). While the majority of the people identifythemselves as Christians, up to a quarter of the population claims noreligious affiliation.


Inthe Middle East societies, the family has been and is still thecenter of life. The family and marriage are held in great esteemamong the old and the young alike (Pappé 10-11). In thesesocieties, the responsibility of the children is carried by theparents well into their adulthood, and then the children reciprocateby taking care of their aging parents (Pappé 10-11). In the MiddleEast cultures, marriage is a well-defined turning point which bringsrecognition, prestige, and societal approval to the ones involved.While most of the women and men choose their partners, marriage inthese cultures remains a social and economic contract between thefamilies involved. Women get married in the teenage years or early20s (Pappé 10-11). There are cases of arranged marriages in thisregion. Polygamy is permitted in these cultures and men are allowedto marry up to four women. Same-sex marriage is prohibited in almostall states and is punishable by law in many Middle East countries(Pappé 10-11).

Onthe other hand, marriage in America is a social, legal, and religiousinstitution (Dallmann et al. 20-23). Individual states manage theproper acknowledgment of the institution of marriage. Each state hasset the age at which persons can freely enter into marriage on theirapprobation and also the ages at which young individuals can enterinto marriage with judicial and parental assent (Dallmann et al.20-23). Over the years, the legislations on marriage have changedconsiderably. Bans on interracial marriages as well as same-sexmarriage have been abolished. Marriages vary significantly regardingage, religion, commitment, and socio-economic status. The terminationof marriages can occur through a divorce, annulment, or the death ofa spouse. Legislations on divorce vary from state to state and offerguidelines on issues such as child care and support, the division ofproperty, and obligations of all spouses (Dallmann et al. 20-23).

Traditionsand Etiquette

Manymatters of etiquette and traditions in the Middle East have aconnection to Islam as it is well spelled out in the Qur’an (Pappé15-17). Regarding the attire, the Muslim traditions require personsto dress decently without exposing their bodies. Women have anobligation to cover their heads with the hijab. Public display ofaffection by persons of the opposite sex is prohibited while holdinghands by persons of the same sex is considered as a sign offriendship without any romantic intimation (Pappé 15-17). People ofthe Middle East assert a self-effacing amount of personal space.People from these regions pay a lot of respect for seniors in manyinstances.

Onthe other hand, etiquette and traditions of the American people applyto individuals generally, unlike cultures that have formal classstructures (Dallmann et al. 12-13). Most Americans have shared thelinguistic and cultural heritage of European origin. The clothingstyles in America vary depending on the occupation, region, climate,and social status (Dallmann et al. 12-13). Clothing such as boots,baseball caps, sneakers, and jeans are some of the items associatedwith the American culture (Dallmann et al. 12-13). The media andcelebrities significantly influence the fashion industry. In America,public display of affection is allowed as well as same-sex marriages.


Thestatus and legal issues of women in the Middle East are differentfrom those of women in America. The social position occupied by womenin the Middle East is worse than anywhere in the world (Pappé 25).A good example is whereby women cannot travel or work without writtenpermission or consent from their male guardians or husbands. MostIslamic fundamentalists are against any reforms on women rights whichcan undermine the male dominance with regards to the society andfamily (Pappé 25). Women cannot secure a divorce without theassistance of the husband unlike in America where a woman can obtaina divorce by simply getting a divorce form and filling it. In theMiddle East, women are trained to be housewives, their access to thepolitical life restricted, and a strict dress code imposed on themunlike in the America where women have equal rights to men (Dallmannet al. 33-34).


Culture,a shared set of behaviors, belief systems, and traditions is mainlyshaped by religion, history, nationality, language, and ethnicidentity among other factors. People from America and the Middle Easthave different cultures exhibited mainly through personalcharacteristics. Although there are a number cultural differencesbetween the people of these two regions, there are some similaritiesin the cultures of the people from the Middle East and those fromAmerica.


Dallmann,Antje, Eva Boesenberg, and Martin Klepper. Approachesto American Cultural Studies.London and New York: Routledge, 2016. Print.

Pappé,Ilan. Themodern Middle East: a social and cultural history.London: Routledge, Taylor &amp Francis Group, 2014. Print.

Xue,Jiao. “Cultivating intercultural communication competence throughculture teaching.” Theoryand Practice in Language Studies,vol. 4, no. 7, 2014, p. 1492+. LiteratureResource Center, 18 Mar. 2017.