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Question: Wasta is the term used in the

Wasta is the term used in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for favoritism. In the UAE, it is a highly valued element of the culture. In fact, while nepotism might be kept under wraps or discussed in hushed tones in an American firm, Wasta is more likely to be worn on one’s sleeve among UAE professionals. It is precisely who-you-know that often dictates the position you might get in many companies or how fast you might get approved for certain processes. If you were assigned to build and then lead a team based in the UAE that would be comprised of both UAE nationals (called “Emiratis”) as well as US ex-pats, how might you most effectively respond to this culture of historical and embedded preferential treatment, reflecting the local realities, while at the same time respecting your own or your home country’s value structure, if different?


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