Emirati Students In The UK: Cultural Identity Transformation

Doctoral thesis English OPEN
Shaheem, Samineh (2014)

The number of Gulf students, particularly those from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), who travel specifically to the United Kingdom (UK) for tertiary educational purposes, are continuously increasing. Immigration and sojourning discussions have been informed by concepts of globalisation, postmodern identity and cultural nationalism. This work discusses and\ud draws on such concepts to inform the study, which focuses on acculturation experiences of Emirati student sojourners. Reflecting upon sojourner identities during their time abroad, as well as repatriation experiences when back in the UAE, this study explores cultural identity transformation for Emiratis between two different locations.\ud \ud The samples were of 25 participants in total. Of those, there were 16 UK based sojourners (4 as pilot studies) and 9 UAE repatriates. Different sets of students were interviewed and therefore the sojourners were not the same repatriated students. Their interviews were collected, coded, analysed using deductive thematic analysis, guided by research questions and the theoretical\ud framework, that resulted in the identification of five themes: Emirati cultural identity, Emirati cultural identity affected through acculturation, sojourner acculturative strategies used in the UK, repatriation difficulties and repatriation strategies used upon return to the UAE. A stronger\ud connectivity to the cultural dimensions of Emirati identity resulted in a more successful acculturative outcome, with fewer repatriation challenges for Emirati students.\ud \ud The study aims to extend understanding of cultural identity and acculturation through the data emerging from this investigation. Implications of the study for support of Emirati students in higher education are also explored.
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