Did you know that the Arab world is not synonymous with the Islamic world; as the media would like us to believe? Turks and Iranians, for example, would heartily agree that they do not consider themselves to be Arab, and yet they do belong to the Islamic world.

Or, did you know that there are Christians and other religions represented in the Arabic region? When you look back at the Christian history, Christianity not only began in modern-day Palestine, but the early denominations in Syria and Egypt played a significant role in shaping its dogma. And, to date, there are significant Christian minorities in several of the Arab counties.

And finally, contrary to the predominant stereotypes of the Arabic region, its people belong to more than just the three large and vague categories of oil-rich sheikhs, thousand-and-one-night exotic beauties, and your average terrorist.

These, and other topics related to the Arab world will be explored in the course titled The Arab World: Meaning, Identity, and Discovery” (Session II B, 23) offered at the Summer Institute of Intercultural Communication (SIIC) in Portland, Oregon, USA, from 16 to 18 July 2018. SIIC is an inclusive and supportive training event for hundreds of professionals in intercultural communication from around the world to learn from each other.

This three-day course offers an opportunity to go beyond the surface of the sketchy media images and long-held stereotypes and take a deeper look inside the Arab region, its peoples and their local realities. We will explore the kaleidoscope of Arab identities and their core cultural values, learn about the primary communication patterns, negotiation and collaboration strategies, and compare local business practices of public and private institutions. We will also look at the role of media in shaping the local realities as well the general Western discourse on this region. Islam and its role in Arab societies is another subject matter that deserves a place at the table. And, depending on the participants themselves, we may get to delve into other interesting topics as well.

Taught and facilitated by an Egyptian Muslim and a Slovak expatriate living long-term in Cairo, “The Arab World: Meaning, Identity, and Discovery” strives to provide both an insider and an outsider perspective, as well as an anthropological and intercultural approach. We will also employ both the Arabic and “Western” lenses to look at the Arab world and to learn about its own perceptions of the “West”.

In a nutshell, the course primary aims are threefold:

  1. Use both Western and Eastern perspectives to understand cultural norms;
  2. More clearly decipher world events that involve Arab societies; and
  3. Explain, analyze, contribute, criticize and share knowledge about the Arab Islamic world.

We hope to achieve this by facilitating an open space where participants can share and explore their own perceptions of the region and its people, compare them with what reality has to offer and fill in any gaps they feel they may have.

Speaking of participants, the course is open to everyone interested in getting a deeper understanding of the Arab world and its peoples for professional and/or personal reasons: educators, trainers and students, business people, administrators, study abroad professionals, developmental workers, people with close friends/neighbors or partners with Arab origins, to name a few.

We invite you on an experiential learning journey that will engage your mind as well as your senses. Are you intrigued? Then join us!

Register now

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“The Arab World: Meaning, Identity, and Discovery” is taught and facilitated by Sherifa Fayez and Dr. Jana Holla.

  • Sherifa is the National Director of AFS Egypt Intercultural EducationPrograms; and helped facilitate the start up and development of partner offices in the region (KSA, India, Kenya and Tunisia). She holds a Masters degree in Intercultural Communication from University of Pacific and an Economics degree from American University in Cairo. Sherifa authored chapters in several publications related to intercultural communication, and is passionate about spreading intercultural learning—particularly in school curriculum and professional workplaces.
  • Jana is a freelance intercultural consultant and trainer with academic background in culturalanthropology. Her passion lies in (Arab) East-West dialogue. Jana recently published her first book on intercultural competence practice in study-abroad context. She also lectures at the Ain Shams University in Cairo, Egypt. A former president of Young SIETAR, she maintains an active membership.