x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Ask Ali: business ethics and where expats can learn about the Quran

A bank employee raises a breach of contract issue, while an expatriate seeks a place for non-converts to study Islam's holy book.

Dear Ali: I work for a bank and my contract stipulates I work from 8am to 5pm, but we are asked to work until 9 or 10pm. We were also told that if we do not sign up a new client every day, Dh50 will be docked from our pay. From a cultural point of view, how should I address this unfairness? SA, Dubai

Dear SA: Did you try to speaking with your HR department? I suggest clarifying that these terms are not what you agreed to in your contract. If they insist, then you may report them to the Ministry of Labour, although I would use that as a last resort.

Unfortunately, some companies exploit their staff, which is not ethical or acceptable in our culture, and our Government encourages employees to speak up if they feel they are being treated unfairly. Try talking politely to your manager or employer and I'm sure they will sort it out fairly.

Another approach might be to talk to an Emirati supervisor and try to explain that such treatment detracts from your experience in the UAE. An unhealthy working environment could give a company, or even the country, a negative reputation. I'm sure this would motivate both Emirati and other managers, too, who wish to promote both the business and the Emirates. If long hours are still required, try asking for additional pay when working beyond the hours stipulated in your contract. It's only fair.


Dear Ali: Hearing the call to prayer every day has made me curious about the Holy Quran. I have read parts of an English translation but find it very difficult to understand. Is there anywhere in Abu Dhabi for expats to learn about the Holy Quran in English, even if they don't wish to convert? TS, Abu Dhabi

Dear TS: I applaud you for your interest in wanting to explore our faith and religion. Learning about the teachings of the Holy Quran will certainly help you understand us Muslims and make your stay here more valuable.

You are a fine example of an expat who is eager to understand Islam even if you don't wish to convert. Contact the Abu Dhabi Islamic Centre at 02 631 2211 for classes in "interpretation", which run on Fridays. Good luck and all the best.


Dear Ali: Arab men often use their father's name as their own surname. Do women also do that? Does a married woman take her husband's first name or surname as her surname? LT, Abu Dhabi

Dear LT: Arab men and women always keep their "last names", which are their tribal name, before and after they get married.

My full name is Ali Abdulkarim Ali Salim Alsaloom. First is my own name. Second is my father's name. Third is my grandfather's name. Fourth is my great grandfather's name. And fifth is my tribe's name, or "surname".

Typically, because many Khaleeji men have popular names such as Mohammed, Ahmed, Sultan and so on, we tend to use the first name, second name and the tribal name all together to avoid confusion.

As for women, it is not common in our culture for a woman to change her surname to her husband's. We place great value on a woman's family and heritage, therefore women are not officially required to change their names.

Visit Ask Ali for past columns by Ali Alsaloom.


Language lesson

Arabic: Mayseer

English: This cannot be

The phrase "Mayseer" can be used in different situations. For example, if you feel someone is being unfair to you, or you just heard something that is incorrect or unbelievable, you can say, "Hadha mayseer", which means "This cannot be" or "This can't happen". It indicates unfair behaviour as well as information that might be incorrect. The opposite is "Yeseer", which means "It can be" or "It can happen".