A Personal Experience of How the Arab Culture and Islam Impacts Upon the Concept of Professional Caring as a Nurse in Saudi Arabia

Thursday, 2 August 2012: 8:30 AM

Geraldine Murray, MBA, (Hons), BNS, CCUCert, ICUCert, RGN, RPN
Executive Director of Nursing, International Medical Center, Jeddah 21451, Saudi Arabia

Despite nurse education being available in Saudi since the 1970’s, this country continues to be solely dependent on expatriate nurses mainly comprised of non-Saudi, recruited from different cultural backgrounds worldwide. Many of these nurses are not culturally prepared thus causing them many challenges when caring for Saudi patients. Some have little knowledge of the Islamic faith and culture of a country that which is deeply rooted in religious and cultural traditions. Its diverse population extends from those living out in the desert, known as Bedouins, to those vast numbers of extended royal family members.

Reading a book about Saudi Arabian history, studying the Islamic culture or watching TV reports gives the Western little insight in to the Saudi Arabian culture. My experience is that Saudi is a beautiful country with beautiful people. Having lived and worked here as a nurse in the 1980’s, I have experienced it firsthand. This country and its Islamic culture is constantly misrepresented for the most part by the media and indeed by those who have never actually experienced the country. The nobility of the Saudi people has in fact never left me since then and it’s wonderful to see that this nobility remains many years later. This experience has enhanced my tolerance to a diversity of cultures experienced since those days of the 1980’s. I wish more people and in particular Western people had the opportunity to live and work here.

Despite the many developments in nurse education in Saudi Arabia, little has changed in relation to the Arab culture and Islam and how they impact upon the concept of professional caring as a nurse. In this presentation I will try to portray a true experience of what it is like as a western woman to live the culture while nursing in Saudi Arabia.