Formal briefings on the Arabic culture are the most effective method of reaching the greatest number of the target sample. The presentations should take place at least 30 days prior to the scheduled deployment.
In addition to giving background information on the history and culture, the content of the briefings should focus on cultural norms, religious sensitivities and gender roles. Specifically, servicewomen have to be informed that they can not drive in Saudi Arabia, be seen eating in public with men or wear clothing displaying the contours of their bodyís. Deploying service personnel have to understand the consumption of alcohol is strictly forbidden, as is viewing pornography of any type. While visiting mosques may seem like an effective way to absorb the culture, troops are prohibited from entering unless a practicing Muslim or required by military necessity.
Brochures with information explaining the Arabic culture would help clarify any points not understood during the briefing for deploying servicemembers while also serving as a handy reference tool for when in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. The content of the brochures will list the specific "doís and dontís" outlined in the briefings. Additionally, the brochure would provide information to those who may not have been able to attend the briefing.
Listening to a briefing and reading a brochure are effective ways to assimilate information, but a video depicting the "Day in the Life of an Arabic Family in Southwest Asia," will clearly demonstrate the differences between American and Arabic culture. The video should clearly describe the men and womenís roles in the Arabic culture. The importance of the Islamic religion and how it governs daily life has to be incorporated into the video. Work ethics and life at home are also imperative in depicting the differences between American and Arabic cultures.
A moderator and focus group comprised of eight to twelve military members who have deployed to Southwest Asia at least once should review these materials before they are presented formally. Because these above material have not been previously tested, the focus group can offer valuable insight into the accuracy and appropriateness of the content within the briefings, brochures and videos. The focus group should last no more than three to four hours and must be scheduled far enough in advance of the actual deployment that additional research can be conducted if necessary.