Parsons School of Design
BFA Communication Design
Thesis 2015

Decoding the Cultural Divide in the UAE
Shamma Buhazza

At just 44 years old, the United Arab Emirates has undergone a rapid transformation from a conservative, traditional Middle Eastern culture to a cosmopolitan and futuristic melting pot of nationalities from all over the globe. This change, married with the almost warp speed development of the country from a barren desert to futuristic metropolis, has birthed a variety of unique issues. Expatriates make up the vast majority of the country’s population (88.5%), and the population of local citizens is meager in comparison. Despite occupying the same land, both sides struggle to understand each other and rarely integrate. This generates a cultural imbalance. Western norms such as short skirts and alcohol consumption stand in stark contrast to the traditional values and beliefs held dear by locals. A lack of understanding creates confusion, social segregation, and in some cases resentment. The project consists of a set of five posters and a hand-bound manifesto. The posters feature lyrics from the UAE national anthem presented in a futuristic aesthetic, as well as Arabish, a hybrid digital vernacular. The manifesto features voices from the author, expatriates and other Emiratis in text drawn from personal interviews, written articles, and online expatriate forums. This visual interpretation of the cultural divide in Emirates aims to educate viewers to become more encouraging than critical about the cultural division. Setting differences aside and working towards a joint culture is what is needed. This thesis strives to promote an aesthetic of cultural integration, as well as educate viewers outside the UAE about this diverse utopia.

Carolina Acosta

Carina Adijanto

Kathryn Adkins

Rosa Antonieta Andia Pastor

Che Ying Au

Nadia Bakst

Kevin Ballon

Tess Barber

Mercedes Beach

Trey Bedingfield

Evan Bender

Jan-Luca Berger

Liz Bergesch

Gabriel Berrios

Bianca Rose Bono

Zoe Sarah Bortz

Margot Bravi

Harlie Brindak

Stefania Brusatin

Shamma Buhazza

Daniela M. Casado

Edgar Castro

Dahye Chang

Alicia Chen

Jiayi Chen

Taylor Childers

Sanjana Chimnani

Yerang Choi

Caroline Chriss

Gregory Conte

Rafael Cordoboa

Gina Marie Costa

Karen-Cristina Cruz

Rachel Darmody

Amanda DeGiuseppe

Brittany DiPeri

Dariel Ben Dominguez

Phoebe Feng

Mark Foss

Lindsey Frazier

Anais Freitas

Amanda Goldstein

MaryAnn George

Camille Gervais

Sarah Gonzalez

Jessica Griscti

Anissa Hanley

Christa Herchek

Albert Hicks IV

Deja Holden

Mu-Ti Huang

Cari Hume

Zachary David Hurley

Anushae Hussain

Nicole Ignacio

Lama Kaddura

Sul Kim

Ji Hyun Kim

Hyerin Kim

Sunghoon Kim

Green Kim

Felicitas Kofler

Joan Koo

Hannah Kramer

Taiji Kuroda

Jasmine Lam

Alex Lardaro

Liberty Leben

Victoria Lee

Jayne Lee

Stephanie Leone

Crysta Leong

Sara Li

Liza Littlefield

Christopher Lucero

Huy Luong

Briana Lynch

Rachel Mak

David Marte

Nelle McDade

Kelly Merole

Marie Mhina

Riho Mineta

Regina Morgan-Muñoz

Ayla El-Moussa

Baki Mumkaya

Summer Myung

Caroline Newton

Sofia Oom

Adrian Ortega Pedraza

Rusbeny Pichardo

Maria Putri

Auriel Rickard

Nancy Rivera

Simone Roark

Emalis Robateau

Hussain Salahuddin

Benjamin Sands

Ariel Saura

Taleen Setrakian

Wren Sieber

Phuong Tran

Hilary Tunstall

Ujvala Abirami Vemparala

Gosbinda Vizarretea

Claudia von Hillebrandt

Marcus Washington Jr.

Jocelyn Wu

Jasmine Yacoub

Brenden Ying

Horin Yip

Christelle YuanYuan Zhang

Katie Zheng