Linguistic Hybridity and Cultural Multiplicity in Emirati Identity Construction

Part of the Contemporary Gulf Studies book series (CGS)


The effects of globalization and its accompanying language, English, can be seen in many countries worldwide. However, in certain contexts such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE) such effects are exacerbated due to several key factors. These factors include the UAE’s ‘superdiverse’ demographic makeup, the existence of diglossia in Arabic, widespread English Medium Instruction (EMI) policies and the fact that English is used as a Lingua Franca in multiple domains. This paper will discuss the effects of such factors on identity construction and language use with reference to international and local research. The findings from a qualitative phenomenological case study using open-response questionnaires and semi-structured focus groups, and involving 100 Emirati university students and 52 faculty members will be shared. Data analysis was thematic using informant and methodological triangulation. Decidedly, the most prominent theme emerging from the data was the complexity and multiplicity surrounding Emirati identity construction. This could be seen through the use of linguistic hybridity in the form of translanguaging and code-switching, as well as mixing of local and global cultures to create new, but no less Emirati, identities. Finally, a strong preference for being given a choice regarding medium of instruction in higher education was revealed. Such a choice is not currently provided. The paper ends by stressing the importance of embracing linguistic hybridity and cultural multiplicity rather than viewing English as a subtractive force.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Zayed UniversityAbu DhabiUnited Arab Emirates

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