The world of the Middle Easterner hardly features the clock at all. For the Middle Easterner, time is far more likely to be measured by purposeful divisions of the day.
In traditional, agricultural contexts this has meant getting up at sunrise and bedding down at sunset. In between that time the question is which persons need time expended on them and which groups can be offered less time.
Middle Easterners doe not feel pressurised by the passage of time. Such domination is refused by those with self-respect.
A few major groups demand an extended time commitment from an individual. There cannot easily be developed a commitment to a political ideal or an impersonal bureaucracy when there are other more immediate, traditional ties competing for loyalty.
Middle Easterners do not see time as most Westerners see it — primarily lineal with an emphasis on the future. In Arabic, to say ‘tomorrow’ simply means to acknowledge some vague moment in the future.
In the Middle East, time is neither accumulated nor budgeted. Their societies work by who you know and not what you know. Operating on the basis of who you know obviously takes a lot more time than working on the basis of what you know. They are oriented towards the past, in complete contrast with Westerners who are oriented towards the future.
Most Arabs deliberately raise their children in the same way that they were brought up. Schools emphasise obedience and memorisation, again lending weight to the importance of conformity to ideals handed down from the past.
The communication of ideas takes considerable time. The directness of Western approach to discussion can be misinterpreted as bluntness, with its implications to rudeness and non-appreciation of the person with whom one is conversing.
IN a world in which the extended family is of such primary importance, concepts of time and space help to reinforce the significance attached to those fundamental relationships.
Bargaining is the delight of almost every Middle Easterner, whether selling or buying. This is life being lived to the full!
The education system in most Muslim societies revolves around rote learning, even up to degree level and beyond. In Muslim societies, it reinforces values which have to do with according honour to older people and acknowledging the significance of the past.
Every day, supposedly, religious piety punctuates the conduct of Muslims with five sessions of prayer. Such benefits far outweigh concerns for efficiency, time-saving and the achievement of economic goals.