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Letter from the UAE – ‘Global Business Isomorphism’

23 April 2020

As told to Anthony Hughes
As the temperature in the UAE begins to rise, the effects of the Government’s proactive response to the spread of Coronavirus around the world are starting to be seen, and the results look positive. As a major global hub for travellers, the UAE was at risk, however the Nation has a much flatter ‘curve’ than many countries thanks to the early measures taken by the Government to contain the virus. Particular cause for celebration is the low mortality rate from Covid-19, which, according to the Ministry of Health, is well below 1%, a testament to positive steps taken by the Government and the hard work of hospital and frontline staff across the country.

The social distancing measures and nation-wide lockdown that have protected the nation’s inhabitants from Corvid-19 has also thrown up some interesting cultural questions. Expats who are new to the region often comment on the amount of physical, face to face meetings that take place in the work environment, particularly compared to the West – but physical face-time in the Gulf is incredibly important for building relationships. As a result of the global lockdown and the migration of huge parts of our lives online we have seen a kind of isomorphism emerge, there is only one way of doing things wherever you are and that is virtually – everyone has to work, communicate and socialise in the same way.

Similarly, with Ramadan fast approaching it will be interesting to see how people respond. Ramadan is a time for spiritual reflection, acts of charity and spending time with friends and loved ones. Traditional ways of socialising and acts of charity will probably not be possible during lockdown, so we are likely to see some interesting innovations in the way that people respond in these challenging times.  

Whether the effects of this will be long lasting after the crisis has abated remains to be seen, but certainly in the world of work and business practices, Covid-19 could act as a global ‘cultural-leveller’.