Culture consists of behaviors, beliefs, and language among other characteristics that are common to people who are members of a particular society or group (Peterson 2008). Through the culture, people conform to society’s shared values, define themselves and contribute to the society that they find themselves in. every culture has its own distinct characteristics that differentiates it from the others. One of such culture of the world is the Kuwait culture. This culture exists in the Middle East which borders the Persian Gulf, sandwiched between Saudi Arabia and Iraq. This research will endeavor to focus on cultural aspects of the people of Kuwait drawing similarities and differences with the Australian culture. The main aspects of culture that this research will focus on include religious beliefs, language and appropriate cultural behaviors governing interactions.
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A Brief Description of the Kuwait Culture
The Kuwaiti culture is dominant in Kuwait where the people originate. These people have a unique culture especially given the fact that the country was never colonized. This means that the culture was never exposed to dilution that comes with colonization. The people have therefore been free with regard to managing their affairs and develop their unique cultural characteristics. Kuwait is therefore touted as the Arab world’s cultural city (Brown 2004). This culture places a lot of emphasis on the family unit’s role in passing values from one generation to the next. This contributed in developing a close knit culture that has retained a distinct identity to this day.
Similarities and Differences between the Australian and Kuwaiti’s Culture
The Kuwait and Australian cultures have very differing religious beliefs. The Kuwait culture is dominated by the Islamic faith while the Australian culture is dominated by the Christian religious faith. The Islam faith governs the Kuwaitis personal lives. According to their religious belief, Prophet Mohammad was the last of God’s emissaries to bring revelation to all mankind. According to this faith, the people are supposed to fast and pray especially during the holy month of Ramadan. On the other hand, the Australian culture mainly practices the Christian faith. Prayer and fasting are not coordinated. Even though they engage in fasting, it is left on every individual to decide if and when to do it. There are no specific times when people are obliged to fast and pray. According to the Kuwaitis Islam faith that characterizes their culture people are obliged to pray five times a day. On the other hand, according to the Australian Christian religion that characterizes their culture, there are no obligations as to the number of times an individual is supposed to pray. The holy day for the Australian people is on a Sunday while that for people in Kuwait it’s on Friday.
The other aspect that differentiates two the cultures is the language. The first difference relates to the dominant languages used in the two cultures. In the Kuwaitis culture, Arabic is the dominant language (NEA 2005). Arabic is used in usual conversations in social settings. Most importantly, the language is most important in the religion. Arabic is important to the people as they learn their Islamic doctrines through the language. On the other hand, in the Australian culture, the dominant language is English (Department of Foreign Affairs 2011). Unlike in the Kuwaitis culture, there is no heavy link between understanding the language and religion. The Australian English is heavily characterized by slang and shortening of words. The people have a penchant for shortening words and giving new names to people and animals. It may be difficult to get the meaning of their conversations if one is not conversant with the connotations attached in their slang language. The first example of their slang is “You right?” which meaning if you need any assistance. The other example of a slang that characterizes their language is good on ya. This slang means well done. One similarity with relation to language as an aspect of culture is that both cultures use English. The English language spoken in Kuwait is not characterized by abbreviation and shortening as in Australia. Even though Arabic is the main language of communication in Kuwait, English is sometimes used and is the second compulsory language in schools. The Kuwait people use English widely for business purposes just as their Australian counterparts.
The other aspect of the culture relates to the manner of greetings. The two cultures have differences in their manner of greetings. To begin with, in the Kuwait culture, greetings in form of a handshake are normally restricted to people of the same sex (Maria & Spilling 2008). This is different from the Australian culture where people of different sexes can shake hands. The other difference relates to the enthusiasm. In most cases, greetings in the Kuwaitis culture are given with a lot of enthusiasm. The greetings are supposed to deeply express an individual’s pleasure of meeting again. This is different from the Australian culture where greetings with as much enthusiasm. The other difference relates to the exchanges that go with the greetings. In the Kuwait culture, the Kuwaitis take the time in the course of the greetings to find about the other person’s family, health, acquaintances, mutual friends and all matters that are of general interest. This is different from the Australian culture where greetings are generally relaxed. Greetings may just entail a simple hello (Kwint 2011). In formal settings, greeting entails just good morning or good afternoon depending on the time of the day. One similarity about the two cultures in terms of greetings is the fact that a handshake forms part of their greetings albeit for people of the same sex in the Kuwaitis culture.
The other key difference relates to gender separation among members of the society. There Kuwait culture has strict interaction expectations among the member of its community as opposed to the relaxed Australian approach. In Kuwait’s culture, men and women gather separately during social functions such as marriage dinners and parties. This is different in the Australian culture as men and women are allowed to interact freely with each other. Among the Kuwaitis, people of the same sex constantly show a lot of affection and friendliness. In fact, it is common for a man to kiss another man in the cheek (UFL 2011). In contrast, among the Australian’s men cannot kiss another man on their cheek. This practice may be there among females but not in Australian men. In the Kuwaitis’ culture, it is considered impolite for a man to kiss a lady on the cheek. This is regardless of how much friendly they are. This is very different from the Australian culture when it is common for a man to show affection to a woman through a kiss on the cheek. In a nutshell, there are huge gender boundaries in Kuwait than in the Australian culture.
The Australian and Kuwaitis religion culture guides the people in their every day life. Although the two cultures have different religions, the ideals they advocate are the same. In Kuwait, religion is based on respect and tolerance. This helps people to live and coexist in peace despite tensions that may arise in the course of their every day life. Religion guides the people in their social and even political activities. In the Australian culture, the church also emphasizes on tolerance on other people view points. The Australian cultural perspective in relation to God is that of a transcendent and perception of an interventionist. The perception of the Australian culture of God is based on the security and strength of the mateship myth (Porta 2007). This indicates reliance in God among the Australians in their day to day life. As a result, both cultures have a lot of reliance on religion in their everyday life.
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The family plays an important role in learning of its members of the Australian and Kuwaitis culture. The family offers the initial learning environment for the infants. In the Kuwait culture, the family is held with a lot of respect (Lairi 2009). The young are taught how to behave and respect the older people. This is the same with the Australian culture where parents and members of the immediate family have the responsibility of laying the foundation for their young ones. They have to ensure appropriate behavior that project positively to the whole society. Hospitality and contributions are esteemed values in both cultures and are nurtured right from the family level. It is the pride of the family when the child prospers.
The similarity in learning environment in both countries is that their language of instruction is English. The main language among the Australian culture is English. The language extends to the learning environments. Instruction is carried out primarily in English which is the uniting language among all the tribes in the culture. Just as in Australia, English is the language of instruction in Kuwait. This is despite the fact that Arabic is the language that is widely used in the normal communications. This is because English is the most popular language in the world and as a result the Kuwait learning environment tries to prepare the learners in a way that they can fit in a world beyond their culture.
The difference between Kuwait and Australian learning environment relates to cultural diversity. The learning environment in Australia is more culturally diverse than that in Kuwait. The Australian system has many foreign students from all parts of the world. As a result, there is a conglomeration of cultures in the learning environment. Students therefore have to learn to accommodate each other and be more adaptable. On the other hand, the learning environment in Kuwait is not as diverse. There are fewer foreigners and therefore the learning environment is dominated by people who share many aspects of the same culture.
Australia and Kuwait are two cultures that share some similarities and differences. This research has found that there are more differences than similarities between the two. One of the factors that define a culture is its religious beliefs. While the Kuwaitis culture gravitates towards Muslim practices, the Australian culture leans towards Christianity. The other aspect that distinguishes the two cultures is language. The main language among the Kuwaitis is Arabic that in the Australian one is English. Gender separation is the other cultural aspect that differentiates the two. While the Australian culture allows for free interaction of people of different sexes, the Kuwaitis’ one does not. The manner of greetings is also different between the two cultures. The salient thing is the enthusiasm in the greetings among the Kuwaitis something missing in the Australian culture. The first similarity between the two is the fact that religion advocates for tolerance and respect for others. Additionally, the family plays a critical role in creating an environment for learning acceptable behavior.
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