CESNUR - Centro Studi sulle Nuove Religioni diretto da Massimo Introvigne

CESNUR 2005 International Conference
June 2-5, 2005 – Palermo, Sicily
Religious Movements, Globalization and Conflict: Transnational Perspectives

Why do Arabs & Muslims fear Globalization?

Dr Zakariyya Abdel-Hady
Assistant Professor of Islamic Thought & Culture -Abu Dhabi University, UAE

A paper presented at the 2005 CESNUR Conference in Palermo, Sicily. Preliminary version – do not reproduce or quote without the consent of the author.


Despite the fact that Islam encourages mutual interaction among nations and different civilizations in order to learn and benefit from each other, Muslims in general fear Western influence, and particularly the relatively- new phenomenon of Globalization. This kind of fear may be the result of the historical conflict between Western Colonization Powers and Muslim Nations. It may also be due to the perception of double standards and favouritism of one side over another when dealing with the Muslim party. It could be also due to the wide spread theory of “Clash of Civilizations” that some Western thinkers have promoted and Western politicians practiced, or it could be the perceived dangers of globalization, or simply it could be the ignorance of the concept of globalization or all of the above.

The aim of this paper is to point out the reasons why Arabs & Muslims in general fear Western influence with all positives that might benefit them. The concerns and issues to be discussed deal  with the concept of Globalization, its impact on Muslims, their culture, traditions, way of life and beliefs.


1. Introduction

Globalization is neither good nor bad. It is what people make of it. No system is an end in itself, and it is necessary to insist that globalization, like any other system, must be at the service of humanity, it must serve solidarity and the common good. 

Muslims like people of other faith have concerns about globalization and how it quickly became a cultural phenomenon. The market as an exchange mechanism has become the medium of a new culture. It imposes its way of thinking and acting, and stamps its scale of values upon behaviour. Those who are subjected to it often see globalization as a destructive flood threatening the social norms which had protected them and the cultural points of reference which had given them direction in life. What is happening is that changes in technology and work relationships are moving too fast for cultures to respond. Social, legal and cultural safeguards are vitally necessary if individuals and intermediary groups are to maintain their centrality. But globalization often risks destroying these carefully built up structures by exacting the adoption of new styles of working, living and organizing communities. All societies recognize the need to control these developments and to make sure that new practices respect fundamental human values and the common good.

The affirmation of the priority of ethics corresponds to an essential requirement of the human being and the human community. Ethics demands that systems must be attuned to the needs of man, and not that man be sacrificed for the sake of the system. The Church on its part continues to affirm that ethical discernment in the context of globalization must be based upon two inseparable principles:

– First, The human being must always be an end and not a means, a subject and not an object, or a commodity of trade.

– Second, the value of human cultures, which no external power has the right to downplay and still less to destroy. Globalization must not be a new version of Colonialism. It must respect the diversity of cultures which, within the universal harmony of peoples, are life’s interpretive keys. In particular, it must not deprive the poor of what remains most precious to them, including their religious beliefs and practices, since genuine religious convictions are the clearest manifestation of human freedom. As humanity embarks upon the process of Globalization, it can no longer do without a common code of ethics.[1]

Globalisation is a challenge not only for the economic, social and political forces of society and the world. It is also a challenge for the Social Teaching of the Church.[2]

The type of assessment we make of globalization depends on the perspective from which we see it. Christians, being loyal to the Gospel, must see reality from the standpoint of the poor.[3]


2. What is Globalization?

Globalization is a process of advancement and increase in interaction among the world’s countries and peoples facilitated by progressive technological changes in communication, political and military domains, knowledge and skills, as well as interfacing of cultural and value systems and practices. Globalization is not a value-free, innocent, self determining process. It is an international socio-politico-economic and cultural permeation process facilitated by policies of governments, private corporations, international agencies and civil society organizations. It essentially seeks to enhance and deploy a country’s economic, political, technological, ideological and military power and influence for competitive domination in the world.[4] 

"Globalization is difficult to define precisely. It certainly transcends economic relations, including social, cultural and political processes which are enmeshed in a larger “global” order; forms of social, political and economic organization beyond the pale of the state".[5]

"Globalization may be thought of as the widening, deepening and speeding up of worldwide interconnectedness in all aspects of contemporary social life, from the cultural to the criminal, the financial to the spiritual"[6]



The study of Globalization is remarkably complex. Different schools of thought have

analyzed Globalization through application of various disciplines. From an Economic point of view, Globalization has to do with the ‘opening up of the  frontiers’, and the tendency called “deregulation”, which started in the Western world between 1980 and 1988 and is considered to mean the domination of one economic model, the free market economy. From a political point of view, Globalization took off in parallel with the collapse of communism and the end of the Cold War era.

While it can be argued that Globalization has some cultural and political consequences, it is important to mention that Globalization has tremendously accelerated the contact and interactivity between the East and West.

During the Cold War era each block had its own ideology, distinctly different from that of the other, and based on a specific Philosophy of History: Communism and Liberalism /Capitalism. Obviously, the interpretation of History is presented as one of the aspects of these ideologies. The ideologue of Communism understood History as the evolution of Stages. It is based on the Philosophy of the “Historical Determinism” with a very clear final stage which will, according to their interpretation, inevitably lead to Communism.  Liberalism on the other hand understands history differently. There is no “great future” which should come about one day, in which there may be a question of long-term plan for justifying the present, or for directing human activities. 

After World War II, each block reinforced its own political structures. The communist Block was a ‘one-party system’ with the Communist Party dominating both State and Society.  In the Western world political system is based on pluralism of ideas. Socially speaking, Communism applied a kind of Collectivism concept of interpersonal relations, while Liberalism is historically based on Individualism. For Communism, the collective or the community takes priority over the individual, and its interests; for liberalism, individual has priority over collectivism. Here the idea of individualism fits in perfectly with the philosophy of a free market economy.

The nature of Capitalism and the movement of Globalization during the last twenty years have forced most of Socialist Parties in the West and in other countries to accept and apply the key characteristics of Liberalism. 

Globalization is related to the ‘opening up of the frontiers’, the movement called “deregulation”, which started with relaxation of governmental controls of market activities. Relieved of the government control, American and European companies rushed to the Eastern markets in droves. Consequently, the main/or first direction of the movement of Globalization was from the West to the East. Soon one could observe a high acceleration of western businesses in eastern economies. For many of the eastern States, with the exception of Japan, it is the first time they will become so actively involved in international businesses. 

At the end of the 1990’s the top three hundred companies in the World were western.

Moreover, ¼ of all production resources in the world come from the West. European

Companies like Phillips became active in 45 countries. Nestle became a Global company, having headquarters all over the world. By 1997 Macdonald’s, which was created in 1955, had built 22,000 restaurants in more than 100 countries, serving more than 40,000,000 clients per day. [7]


3. Is Globalization positive or negative?

Globalization is a phenomenon that people seems to differ on. Some take it as a major problem, and therefore miss the opportunities it is offering, while others have grabbed it as a movement offering potential development and used it to advance their growth and development and their self-interest, whether it be national or personal. While some take it as a dangerous process of exploitation where rich countries and big International corporations are getting bigger and richer at the expense of the poor, others see it as the final pin in the process of positive socio-politico-economic, mutually beneficial, global integration.

It is important to note, optimistically, that Globalization offers great opportunities. However, it is probably more important to be clear about the negative aspects of globalization and the fact that its benefits are very unevenly shared and its costs are unevenly distributed among, across and within countries. This is very true especially when seen in the light of Arab countries. Both in concept and in practice, for every positive aspect of globalization, there is negative side: Below I give examples to illustrate this point.

Globalization exposes people’s lives to other cultures and all their creativity and flow of ideas and values. However, as cultures interact, some cultures are being diluted and/ or destroyed at the expense of others and negative values are being spread all over the world with relative ease.

Information and communication technologies have eased interaction among countries and peoples. However, the world is now divided between the connected, who know and who have a monopoly on almost everything, and the isolated, who do not know and who practically have nothing. 

Globalization has eased international trade and commerce and facilitated foreign investment and the flow of capital. However, it has encouraged illicit trade in drugs, human smuggling, dumping of dangerous waste and depletion of the environment.

Globalization has freed labour across boundaries and facilitated “brain trade”. However, it has facilitated “brain drain” in developing countries, thus reducing further their human capacity.

Globalization has set new rules that integrate global markets. However, those rules have further marginalized poor countries and people, especially in areas of trade.

Globalization is creating a global village out of a wide and diverse world. But, only a very few privileged people whose borders are impenetrable to the poor, unconnected and unskilled. However, extreme optimists see globalization as full of opportunities. Extreme pessimists see globalization as full of problems, especially exploitation, socio-economic injustice and international political domination. Mid-point thinkers must see globalization as a process of change full of opportunities and challenges that must be carefully and skilfully harnessed and managed towards the human development.

The effect of globalization on the Arab world is not only of an economic nature. The process and the outcome of globalization involve a lot more than economics. Globalization includes permeation of political ideas and practices across borders. It includes permeation of cultural and religious beliefs and practices, resulting in dilution of some cultures. It includes the permeation of administrative/managerial concepts and practices across boarders and organizations. It includes the domination by some super-powers through military coercive means and the impositions that go with it. It involves internationalization of conflicts that would otherwise remain local.

There are three approaches to globalization; hyperglobalism, skepticism, and transfromationalism:

Hyperglobalism: As Dani Rodrik observes, "global integration has become, for all practical purposes, a substitute for a development strategy"[8] According to this view, governmental attention and resources should be focused on rapidly removing tariffs and other devices that block access to the globalizing world. 

However, Scepticism rejects hyperglobalism’s view that global economic integration is taking place and that states are getting weaker. Sceptics argue that regional trading blocks are getting stronger, resurgent fundamentalisms either insulate themselves from or clash with alien cultures, including those shaped by North Atlantic consumerism, and that national governments are getting stronger. Such sceptics of hyperglobalism include Samuel Huntington (The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order) and P. Hirst and G. Thompson (Globalization in Question).

Meanwhile; Transformationalism, such as Held et al. advocate, conceives of recent globalization as a historically unprecedented and powerful set of processes that is making the world more interconnected and organizationally multileveled. They argue that it is too simple to say that states are either being eroded or reinforced – it is more accurate to conclude that states are reconstituting themselves in a world order increasingly populated by global and regional economic, political, cultural institutions, and by social movements.

Transformationalists insist that globalization is not merely economic but many processes with diverse consequences. The new economic, political, cultural, criminal, and technological global processes proceed on multiple, sometimes inter-linked, and often uneven tracks. Rather than being inexorable and unidirectional, globalization is contingent, open, and multidirectional. Rather, than uniformly integrating communities, globalization results in new global and regional exclusions as well as novel inclusions, new winners and new losers. The nation state is increasingly reconstituted in relation to regional, hemispheric, and global institutions; the old North/South dichotomy is being replaced by a trichotomy of elite/ contented/ marginalized that cuts across the old North/South polarity.[9]


Some risks of globalization:

1. Undermining the State's power.

There is a risk concerning the connection between globalization and democracy. New entities are being created that exercise normative and regulatory powers but often are not democratically legitimized, i.e. they are not accountable to any specific demos or constituency. There are examples among the great international organizations (the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the World Trade Organization), but there are also some nongovernmental organizations that are more powerful than many nations.

Capitalism gave birth to the modern nation state; its economic form is historically bound to its political structure, and the social relations it created. Today globalization functions in a manner which undermines the nation state from which it originates. This is the essential difference between second wave imperialism and third wave globalization. The speed and carrying capacity of digital telecommunications have allowed capital to escape national control. These changes are occurring in the mode of production and the way in which wealth is created; in a new international legal superstructure; in the redefinition of sovereignty and state control of the economy; in the restructuring of the world labour force and its social entitlement; and a new ideology of borderless free markets.

Markets concentrate wealth, often spectacular wealth, in the hands of the market-dominant minority, while democracy increases the political power of the impoverished majority. In these circumstances the pursuit of free market democracy becomes an engine of potentially catastrophic ethnonationalism.[10]

Chua contends that while democracy may be a positive development for nations overall, imposing massive democratic reforms too quickly can be harmful. In other words, the stable democratic governments that exist today, e.g. Britain and France, implemented democratic reforms incrementally over a long period of time with much contention, debate, and citizen participation. Alternatively, widespread democratic reforms instituted instantly can be destabilizing by enfranchising the disgruntled masses and allowing easy access to demagogues.

International agencies such as the World Bank, IMF, the United Nations World Trade

Organization, etc. take decisions which are binding on countries. This could be looked at as eroding the sovereignty and power of the State. The poorer the country, the more chance of power erosion for the State. This would be minimized if the voice of Developing countries was increased and strengthened in the world bodies.

Wriston's book, "The Twilight of Sovereignty" underscores a key process of globalization, the weakening of nation-states and the redefining of the role of government. “Global financial markets represent one of the most astounding aggregations of new rights and legitimacy...powers historically associated with nation-states”.[11] It is not only those stateless corporations are escaping taxes and national responsibilities, but those they have used states to create a new international structure of laws and legitimacy. Transnationals can have their cake and eat it too. At the same time they reduce their tax burden and demand cuts in social services, they use government to help penetrate new markets, keep labour and environmental costs low, and subsidize their global activities. We are not looking at the disappearance of states, but the redefinition of their role."[12]

Barnet & Muller target Multi- National Corporation’s (MNCs) and their managers of directly: “The men who run the global corporations are the first in history with the organization, technology, money, and ideology to make a credible try at managing the world as an integrated unit.” Their underlying assumption is that MNCs manage the world to reflect their interests at the expense of everyone else’s. Their legitimacy is questioned directly: “by what right do a self-selected group of druggists, biscuit makers, and computer designers become the architects of the new world?”[13]

A clash between corporate interests and national interests is to be expected, and the assumption is that when it occurs, the former will dominate the latter. Foreshadowing later arguments, Barnet and Muller argue that the power of both organized labour and the nation-state is no longer adequate to oppose that of the MNC.

Despite the fact that mangers of global corporations are neither elected nor subject to popular scrutiny, “in the course of their daily business they make decisions with more impact on the lives of ordinary people than most generals and politicians”[14] Barnet & Muller foreshadow arguments of the current protest against “corporate globalization.” They focus clearly on MNCs as the problem, citing the decline of countervailing power of national governments and labour, target firms and managers as individually culpable, and assume that the genie can be put back in the bottle, that power could be given back to national governments and that would be a solution to the problem. Focus on four interrelated and interwoven criticisms of globalization and the MNC:

1. There has been a dramatic increase in the power of multinational corporations relative to national governments and civil society. As a result, globalization and its institutions are dominated by corporations: the international economic system is structured to protect and enhance the profitability and power of the MNC;

2. The global system and international institutions are neither transparent nor democratic. There has been a marked loss of accountability and democratic control resulting from the shift of power from national governments to the market and international institutions;

3. Deregulation and neo-liberalism have extended the scope and power of the market to all aspects of social, cultural and political life. Non-market values no longer matter; and

4. Globalization involves a Western or American consumerist mentality over-washing all, which has markedly reduced diversity and the availability of local products. It is a force for homogenization: the “McDonaldization” of the world.

“What seems to be emerging is a corporate state that is primarily designed to create the conditions necessary for profitable transnational investment and competition” corporations and their managers have taken political and economic power from the state and other segments of society to restructure the system to their benefit.[15] 


2. Making poverty eradication more difficult.

As global actors pressurize poor states open up more and more to maximize foreign investment and capital inflows, and as big multinationals and local enterprises utilize this environment to cater for their interests, the government is having less and less room to pay attention to poverty amongst its poor people. Evidence that shows the widening gap between the poor and the rich both in country and between countries is increasingly becoming abundant.

One of these risks has to do with the fact that globalization increases overall wealth and income, but at the same time tends to increase the social distances between countries and inside each country, even wealthy, the distances between a social group and another.

Therefore, no one who values peace can remain silent in light of the increase in relative poverty. Moreover, when relative poverty increases significantly, democracy itself comes under fire. This cause/effect relationship has been demonstrated: when inequality in a country exceeds a certain level, those in a position of relative disadvantage stop participating in the democratic community life, which leads the way to the varying forms of totalitarianism, the most prevalent at present being technocratic, not military, totalitarianism. 

Today there are 175 manufacturing free enterprise zones in the world employing four million workers, 2.6 million of whom are young women. In Indonesia Nike pays 82 cents a day. Their cost per shoe averages $5.60, for a product selling from between $75 to $135 a pair. Michael Jordan makes $20 million for his contract with Nike. The Nike workforce of 12,000 mostly teenage girls in Indonesia earns a total of $5 million a year. But the transfer of jobs has not been all one way. BMW went to South Carolina where they pay $12 an hour, rather than the $28 per hour they pay in Germany. The flow of jobs and capital is happening everywhere.

Those with a good job live in a nice community, with excellent schools, safe streets, polite police, and politicians who return their calls. Those without jobs live in projects, with rundown schools, abusive police, and politicians who make them the cause of every problem in society. One is a citizen, the other criminalized. This truncated citizenship fits hand in glove with the marginalized contingent work force, and the changing relationship between capital and labour. But as the spectre of unemployment spreads, the legitimacy of government shrinks. If citizenship is only based on economic well-being those outside that constricting circle become political outsiders moving to the right, the left, or into nihilistic rebellion.

Hymer[16] believes that the problems produced by multinational firms -- a hierarchical division of labour between geographical regions corresponding to the vertical division of labour within the firm -- are systemic. They are a manifestation of “the tendency of the system to produce poverty as well as wealth, underdevelopment as well as development.”

Greider[17] for example, worries about a race to the bottom. He argues that globalization, in the form of unregulated free trade, results in a flow of manufacturing and jobs to the poorest countries where the wages are lowest and working conditions the worst. He asks if the system is sustainable if jobs are transferred to workers who do not make enough to buy the products that they produce.

A Pew Research Center Poll in the April of 1999 found that 52% of respondents feel that globalization would hurt the average American because of competition from cheap labour and job losses. Sixty-nine percent believe that increasing globalization will have a great deal or some impact on them “personally”.[18]


3. Debt accumulation and the debt burden.

The phenomenal debt burden of poor countries is well known. Most of the accumulation of this debt over time was as much a result of the incapacity of the borrowers to pay it back as it was of the ease with which the lenders gave money to the countries. This was, and still is, facilitated by the context of globalization.


4. Drain on the human capacity of the State.

Globalization has opened borders and relatively freed labour movements. But for poor countries this has aggravated the problem of brain drain, which has existed for a long time. A huge number of professionals today live in Europe and US.


5. McDonalization of the World

To many, globalization is Americanization; the expansion of American consumerism and the American consumerist mentality throughout the world. There is a good deal of concern about increasing homogenization, the elimination of local products and local ways of life by mass produced and mass advertised consumer goods.

The prevalence of global brands gives a very visible meaning to the term “global culture.” It reinforces concerns about homogenization and makes who the “they” are very clear. Global brands, which are intended to be as visible and memorable as possible, are very obvious symbols of the spread of consumerism and the market and are often seen as threats to local cultures and ways of life. 

Globalization, deregulation, and the homogenization of products, life styles and culture are all seen as part of the same phenomenon. Klein relates globalization and global branding to “another kind of global village, where the economic divide is widening and cultural choices narrowing.” She argues that multinational corporations and global branding are transforming culture into “little more than a collection of brand extensions-in-waiting and that in turn, is a function of deregulation.[19]



Culture is seen, especially by modern anthropologists and sociologists, as a vital force in the existence of human society. Society's dynamics depends greatly on the state of its cultural forces.

The international economic movement, which follows Globalization, is Westernization. It does not imply that all countries that embrace a free market economy have become a part of the West. The whole world is not becoming a part of the West, but westernized!


6. Linguistic Underdevelopment:

We define linguistic underdevelopment as, on the one hand, the widespread use of one or more foreign languages in a given society and, on the other hand, the under –usage of the society own native language(s) (spoken/ written or both) the best case in today's world can be seen in the African continent case.

As a result of western imperialism in Africa since the fifteen century, English, French, Portuguese and Spanish have become the widespread languages of most countries of today's Africa. The total number of countries amounts to 38 which constitute the majority of the African states.[20]

The general acute linguistics underdevelopment in Africa not, however, be explained only by the Western imperialism, but also by in-built difficult internal linguistic situations which characterize most of those countries. On one side, there is hardly any common language / dialect in each of those societies which is understood and acceptable to all clans, tribes and groups. On the other, the languages /dialects is often limited to the oral form.

Furthermore, the North African Arab societies (Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco and Mauritania) cannot be either exempted from the phenomenon of linguistics underdevelopment. The post independence constitution of each of these countries explicitly affirms that Arabic is the national official language. Yet, the special use of French (Spoken and written) is still a prevailing common phenomenon in these societies.

However the those north African countries have, on the whole, a much better chance than the rest of the rest of the African states in ending linguistic underdevelopment. And this is for the following reasons: first, Arabic is spoken and understood by the vast majority of the population of these four countries. Second, Arabic is the sacred language of the holy book (the Quran) of the Islamic faith to which the Arabs and the Berbers of the Maghreb adhere. Third, as a language Arabic is a well developed language. Thus, successful arabization become here the key for dealing with linguistic underdevelopment.

The case of linguistic underdevelopment in Africa here in brief is far from being confined only to this continent. Linguistic underdevelopment can be equally found in Asia and in Central American countries, particularly where English and French imperialism have ruled. Were English is the official or semi–official language in both India and Pakistan.

Capitalist western globalization is running wild today not only in the market economy but also in the cultural area where internet is the latest electronic invention for the promotion of cultural globalization.

Westernization is responsible for the domination of English language in the world. Today English language has become the major language of business and international communication. About 85% of the web-sites on the Internet are in English. English language is taught as a second language in many schools all over the world.


7. Western monopoly in Modern Science and knowledge:

There is no question that today's Western advanced societies has an overall monopoly in Modern Science and knowledge[21]. In the modern period, the third world has not only been dependent on the West in the fields of the exact science such as physics, medicine, biology, computer sciences, etc. but also in the corpus of the social sciences, like sociology, economics, psychology etc.

The contact in modern times between the dominant West and the dominated third world has enabled the former to impose the spread of its own cultural values, particularly those of modernity in the underdeveloped societies.   

The concept of cultural domination means that once the capitalist western powers had occupied their targeted foreign territories, they has made efforts and carried out policies that helped spread, among the colonised people, their cultural symbols. The latter refers here to such things like language, thought, religion, science/knowledge, cultural norms, and values.  

For example the French occupation had made serious attempts to de-acculturate the North Africans from their Arabic –Islamic heritage and acculturate them instead to the French language and its culture. The result of this process has been the creation of cultural alienation among Algerians, Tunisians, Moroccans, and Mauritanians who have had a predominately French education. On the other hand, these individuals have had high admiration for French language and culture. Their widespread and frequent use of French is a good indicator of their compulsive attachment to the French culture in general. They are found to consider Arabic and its culture as traditional (outdated) and, thus, unsuitable for modernity (Westernization). Their acculturation into the dominant French culture has made them feel uneasy with regard to their relations with the Arabic language and culture becomes therefore, a source of feeling inferior instead of feeling proud as usually occurs under normal circumstances.[22]


Globalization is a world movement with a specific direction: from the West to the East, but this movement is never limited to only an economic sphere. For example

the Anglo-Saxon culture, the younger generations in developing and even in poor countries prefer English/American music and films. American film industry, during the last two decades has achieved a total domination of the world movie industries.


As different regions of the world apply more and more western technology, embrace market economy, western democracy, and western model of education, they however do not become a part of the West but westernized. Despite Globalization and penetration of the western technology in all countries, we did not see fewer wars around the world; we did not see peace dominating everywhere. This means that utilization of the same technology does not produce, mandatory and all round the same culture. This conflict of cultures creates a real confrontation between Western/modern and Eastern/traditional values in the non-western countries. Nowadays, the question, and the issues of such value confrontation are posing big challenges. [23]


The acute state of cultural conflict between the traditional cultural value system and its modern western counterparts is expected to have certain side –effects on the personality structure of the Third World acculturated (to Western culture) individuals. Some modern sociologists have referred to this type of personality as "disorganized personality"[24]


Furthermore, the inferiority complex becomes a strong force causing the development of a negative perception of one's national language and culture.    


What is at stake here is the clash between tradition (third world cultures) and modernity (the new cultural values and visions of Western civilization since the nineteenth century). This is a theme which is often covered ethnocentrically by modern Western sociologists. Most of their studies do not hesitate to side (theoretically or empirically) with modernity (Westernization) against tradition (non-Western cultures).[25]


Such influence can easily be seen as unwanted intrusions and serve as focal points for protest. Seemingly innocuous shards of foreign culture can serve as triggers. For example, Valentine cards were burned in Bombay on Valentine’s Day 2001 in an event organized by the Hindu Shiv Sena party to protest against a western tradition taken to violate local culture.[26]


4. Response to globalization

In a general way and in light of the effects of globalization on the whole world and on the African state highlighted above, below is some recommended responses:

i. the willing to change, develop and strengthen public administration systems that is change-oriented.

ii. Adhere to openness and accountability, to be democratic and sensitive to the problems of the local people.

iii. Adopt a proactive approach to globalization so that the challenges it poses and the

benefits it offers can be foreseen and planned for. The reality of globalization is that

either a country changes or the globalizing forces change it. African states should use globalization to determine the direction of their people rather than letting globalization use their countries to determine the direction of the world.

iv. Address human capacity needs from a comprehensive angle (skills, knowledge, attitude, networks, and information technology). In any case, globalization or no globalization, a country cannot be more developed than the capacity of its human resources.

v. Address institutional capacity needs (i.e., create and/or strengthen institutions that are change-oriented, outward-looking and able to interact meaningfully with global actors).

vi. Deal with bureaucracies, however, the adoption of the “New Public Management approaches should always take into consideration the context of the African state, especially their needs and capacities.

vii. Embrace the application of information technology in public administration practice (e-government).

viii. Invest in the education and health sectors.

ix. Utilizing education to play a major role in the creativity of new generations

x. Build young leadership that will be cable with dealing with new challenges

xi. Increase and strengthen the voice of African state in international bodies (such as the United Nations).

xii. Strengthen culture, traditions, values and language so as not to be eliminated.[27]


5. Empirical work:

To try to understand the question of why do Muslims fear globalization? A survey was conducted on 100 university students (Males "M" & Females "F") and below was the findings:

The initial question that we asked was did you hear of Globalization? The respond was that 88% (81% M- 95% F) of the respondent said yes they did, while only 12% (19% M- 5% F) said no. (Fig. 1)

(Fig. 1) Did you hear of Globalization?

But when we asked do you understand the concept “Globalization”? The figure went lower to only 70% (70% M- 70% F) of the previous 88% who understood what does it actually means, and 30% (30% M- 30% F) said no. (Fig. 2)



(Fig. 2) Do you understand the concept “Globalization”?

A number of questions were asked to understand how the respondents perceived globalization:

Are you for or against Globalization? Only 18% (26% M- 10% F) of the respondents were for globalization while 42% (33% M- 50% F) were against and an amazing 40% (40% M- 40% F) were not sure. This showed that half the females respondents

Were anti- globalization comparing to only just over one third of the male respondents.

(fig.3) Are you for or against Globalization?

Is Islam for or against Globalization?

The majority of the respondent 44% (53% M- 35% F) were not sure, 36% (21% M- 50% F) were against and only 20% for (26% M- 15% F). It is worth mentioning that half of the female respondents believed that Islam is against globalization.  (fig.4)


(fig.4) is Islam for or against Globalization?

“Globalization” is “Americanization”?

The majority of the respondent 64.5% (49% M- 80% F) agreed, 21% (26% M- 15% F) were not sure, and only 14.5% (19% M- 10% F) disagreed. This implies that the majority of Arab students perceive globalization as Americanization. (fig.5)     

(fig.5) “Globalization” is “Americanization”?


Is Globalization effects more positive or negative?

There was an exact response to both negative chose and both are equal chose 32.5% (25% M- 40% F) said it was negative, 32.5% (20% M- 45% F) said it was even, while as low as 12.5% (10% M- 15% F) thought it is more positive. This means that majority of Arab students perceive globalization as negative or something that have less effect. (fig.6)

(fig.6) is Globalization effects more positive or negative?


Globalization represents a threat on us

A big majority of 60.5% (51% M- 70% F) view globalization as a threat, while only 9.5% (19% M- 0% F) disagree and 30% (30% M- 30% F) were not sure. What was interesting when analysing the response is that, not a single female respondent disagreed with the statement. This points out that the majority; if not all Arab Female students perceive globalization as a threat. (fig.7)

(fig.7) Globalization represents a threat on us

However, when the students were asked "We have to deal with Globalization" whether we agree with it or not, a big majority 64% (58% M- 70% F) of the respondents agree, 19.5% (14% M- 25% F) disagree, and 16.5% (28% M- 5% F) were not sure. (fig.8)


(fig.8) "We have to deal with Globalization"

A number of questions were asked about the negative aspects of globalization:

“Globalization” means that the strong eats the weak, 63% of the respondents agree (56% M- 70% F), 15% (16% M- 15% F) disagree, and 21% (28% M- 15% F) were not sure. (fig.9)


(fig.9) “Globalization” is that the strong eats the weak

Globalization affects our Islamic beliefs: The majority 62% (49% M- 75% F) of the respondents agree, 15.5% (16% M- 15% F) disagree, and 22.5% (35% M- 10% F) were not sure. (fig.10)


(fig.10) Globalization affects our Islamic beliefs

When the students were asked if Globalization affects our culture a massive majority 81% (77% M- 85% F) of the respondents agree, a very small 6% (13% M- 0% F) disagree, and 13% (11% M- 15% F) were not sure. This clearly shows that for both male and female respondents the affect of globalization on culture is a major concern (fig.11)


(fig.11) Globalization affects our culture

When they were asked if Globalization affects our language a clear majority 75% (65% M- 85% F) of the respondents agree, a very small 9.5% (14% M- 5% F) disagree, and 15.5% (21% M- 10% F) were not sure. (fig.12)

(fig.12) Globalization affects our language


Globalization affects our family relations:

The majority 57% (39% M- 75% F) of the respondents agree, 21% (32% M- 10% F) disagree, and 22% (29% M- 15% F) were not sure. It is so apparent that huge difference between males and females respondents to this question while only 39% of the males agree that globalization have an effect on family relations we find that 75% of the females agree to the same statement. (fig.13)

(fig.13) Globalization affects our family relations:

When asked if Globalization divides Muslim Societies the majority 66% (52% M- 80% F) of the respondents agree, a 20.5% (21% M- 20% F) disagree, and only13.5% (27% M- 0% F) were not sure. (fig.14)

(fig.14) Globalization divides Muslim Societies

Globalization brings Western cultures & beliefs: when the students were asked that question a clear majority 75.5% (65% M- 85% F) of the respondents agree, a tiny minority of only 6% (12% M- 0% F) disagree, and 18.5% (32% M- 5% F) were not sure. (fig.15)

(fig.15) Globalization brings western cultures & beliefs

When the students were asked if Globalization aims at marginalizing Developing Countries a clear majority 71.5% (53% M- 90% F) of the respondents agree, a very small 13% (16% M- 10% F) disagree, and 16% (32% M- 0% F) were not sure. (fig.16) What was striking was the 90% female respondent majority who agreed that globalization aims at marginalizing Developing Countries.

(fig.16) Globalization aims at marginalizing Developing Countries.

When the students were asked if Globalization is a western tool to control Arab countries, a clear majority 72% (60% M- 85% F) of the respondents agree, a very small 15% (25% M- 5% F) disagree, and 13% (16% M- 10% F) were not sure. (fig.17)

 (fig.17) Globalization is a western tool to control Arab countries: 


When the students were asked if “Globalization” is “Colonization” around half of them 50.5% (51% M- 50% F) agree, 18.5% (22% M- 15% F) disagree, and 31% (27% M- 35% F) were not sure. (fig.18)

 (fig.18) “Globalization” is “Colonization”  

When the students were asked if Globalization limits state’s authority nearly half 53% (51% M- 55% F) of the respondents agree, a very small 15% (25% M- 5% F) disagree, and 32% (24% M- 40% F) were not sure. (fig.19)

(fig.19) Globalization limits state’s authority


When asked about perceived positive aspects of globalization, those were the respondent feedback:

When asked if Globalization allows freedom of speech just 41% (48% M- 35% F) of the respondents agree, a very small 29.5% (18% M- 40% F) disagree, and 29.5% (34% M- 25% F) were not sure. Again we can conclude here that the majority of female respondents disagree (fig.20)

 (fig.20) Globalization allows freedom of speech


However when applied that question on our Arab countries the figures changed dramatically, when asked dose Globalization allow Muslim societies to enjoy freedom of speech, only 25.5% (26% M- 25% F) of the respondents agree, an amazing majority of 44% (38% M- 50% F) disagree, and 30.5% (36% M- 25% F) were not sure. This shows that despite the fact that the majority of the respondents acknowledge that globalization allow freedom of speech they still doubt that it will work for them. (fig.21)

  (fig.21) Globalization allows Muslims societies to enjoy freedom of speech


When asked whether Advanced technology is a result of Globalization, 69% (68% M- 70% F) of the respondents agree, 14.5% (23% M- 10% F) disagree, and 16.5% (9% M- 20% F) were not sure. This indicates that despite the fact that the majority of the respondents are anti- globalization they do still acknowledges its benefits. (fig.22)

(fig.22) Advanced technology is a result of Globalization

 When asked Do you agree that the world became a big village, a big majority 73% (72% M- 75% F) of the respondents agree, 19% (18% M- 20% F) disagree, and 8% (11% M- 5% F) were not sure. (fig.23)

(fig.23) Do you agree that the world became a big village

When asked if Globalization encourages dialogue between civilization, a big majority 72.5% (70% M- 75% F) of the respondents agree, 8% (11% M- 5% F) disagree, and 19.5% (19% M- 20% F) were not sure. (fig.24)

(fig.24) Globalization encourages dialogue between civilizations


Finally we asked why do we fear Globalization, we gave five options to choose from:  1. We fear Globalization because of it's economically impact on us.

2. We fear Globalization because we are weak and can not deal with it

3. We fear Globalization because it contradict our way of life

4. We fear Globalization because it shows the double standards

5. We fear Globalization because we don’t really know that much about it.


 A big majority 70% of the respondent said that they fear globalization because it shows the double standards in dealing with Muslims, 12.5% claims that the reason to be contradicting our way of life, 10% said that the reason bean's that we don’t really know that much about it, 5% claimed the reasons that we are weak and cannot deal with it, and as little as 2.5% said that the reason why its economical impact on us. (fig.25)

(fig.25) why do we fear Globalization



So in conclusion; we found out that the majority of the respondents did hear of globalization while the female respondents were higher. This amazing figure will always have a huge impact throughout the survey (Fig. 1). But those who understood what does globalization actually mean were less (Fig. 2).

It was not clear if the Arab students consider themselves against or not sure about Globalization, however it was clear that they were not for it. This showed that half of the Arab females were anti globalization comparing to only just over one third for male respondents. But the percentage were reduced when asked if Islam was against globalization,  however, it is worth mentioning that again half of the female respondents believed that Islam is against globalization.  (fig.4)

The perception that “Globalization” is “Americanization” was clear amongst the majority of Arab students. (fig.5)  we found that the majority of Arab students perceived globalization as negative or something that have an equal effect. (fig.6) what was interesting when asked if globalization represents a threat on us not a single female respondent disagreed with the statement. (fig.7) a big majority agreed that they have to deal with globalization whether they agree with it or not. (fig.8)

As for the perceived impact of globalization; the highest percentage was that globalization affects our culture was a massive majority 81% which clearly shows that for both male and female respondent the effect of globalization on culture was a major concern (fig.11) The majority was slightly lower when we asked if it affects our language. (fig.12) It was further reduced when asked if it affects our Islamic beliefs, still with a higher percentage within female respondents. (fig.10)

It was so apparent that a huge difference between male and female respondents to whether globalization affects our family relations. Only 39% of the males agree comparing to 75% of the females. This shows that Arab females, family relations are of great importance and concern. (fig.13)

More negative perceptions of globalization were apparent such as globalization brings Western cultures & beliefs was a clear majority 75.5% (56% M- 95% F) of the respondent agreed, which is the biggest female majority throughout the survey and makes it the top concern. (fig.15) This majority were reduced when asked if globalization results in dividing Muslim Societies. (fig.14)  90% of female respondents' majority agreed that globalization aims at marginalizing developing countries, a clear majority. (fig.16).

The majority viewed globalization as a Western tool to control Arab countries. (fig.17) Around half of the respondents perceive “Globalization” to be “Colonization”. (fig.18) Nearly 53% agrees that globalization limits the state’s authority. (fig.19)

About perceived positive aspects of globalization, such as the allowing of freedom of speech, the majority of 41% agreed. (fig.20) However, the majority dramatically changed to only 25.5% when asked if globalization allows Muslims societies to enjoy freedom of speech, which shows that despite the fact that the majority of the respondents acknowledge that globalization allows freedom of speech that they still doubt that it will work for them. (fig.21)

Despite the fact that the majority of the Arab students have shown anti - globalization answers they do still acknowledge some of its benefits such as advanced technology, transforming the world to became a big village and encouraging dialogue between civilizations. (fig.22/23/24)

In answer to the main question of the survey why do Arabs fear Globalization? A big majority 70% of the respondents say that they fear globalization because it shows double standards in dealing with Muslims, 12.5% claim the reason is that it contradicts our way of life, 10% said that the reason is we don’t really know much about it, 5% claimed the reason is that we are weak and can not deal with it, and as little as 2.5% said that the reason is its economical impact on us. This shows that political events involving Muslims around the world and the perceived double standards in dealing with Muslims are in fact impacting Arabs and shaping their minds and views. (fig.25)

Arabs, like other nations around the world are sceptic about potential threats and injustice that globalization may deliver to the world and to them in particular.

What this paper have shown is that not only Muslims who are worried about globalization but people of other faiths too such as Christians. People not only in the Arab region but people all over the world such Asian, African, European even American themselves are worried about its impact. What is more detrimental is the mistrust of any ideas and theories that is been introduced by the west, a leading factor which is the perceived double standards in dealing with Muslims. 

Globalization has posed enormous challenges to the Arab world. It has put demands on its capacities (institutions, structures, skills, knowledge, networks, technology, facilities, equipment, etc.). Managing globalization effectively requires vision, appropriate knowledge, skills and wisdom.

The cutting edge for Arab people to participate in and benefit from globalization lies within the internal force, and the internal force lies within the capacity of its people.

It is hoped that the global actors will realize that it is not beneficial to them or to anyone else to play the globalization-game without the "others". It is clear that globalization benefits those who have the capacity to harness it but can be very detrimental to those whom it finds not prepared. Majority of the Arab world is not prepared, especially in light of the clear double standards global actors propagate.

Finally, it is important to highlight that there is difference between the concept of Universality that Islam propagates and Globalization. Islam is a world religion that brings its call to the whole universe, but in no way does it force its method, culture or way of life on others, that is why we find Muslims around the world with vast range of cultures and traditions. We have Asian Muslims, Arab Muslims, European Muslims, etc... each of whom are proud of their religion as well as their own heritage and culture. Islam encourages learning from one another not assimilating and eliminating one another, thus, the concept of globalization contradict this freedom by trying to clone people into one shape, one culture, into one "Big Mac"  thus, is not welcome.


[1] Globalization ethical and institutional concerns, The proceedings of the seventh plenary session of the pontifical academy of social sciences 25-28 April 2001, Address of the holy father to the participants of the seventh plenary session, p29

[2] ibid, The church’s view on globalisation, Johannes Schasching, p37

[3] ibid, An ethical assessment of globalization, Sergio Bernal Restrepo, p73

[4] The Effect of Globalization on the State in Africa: Harnessing the Benefits and Minimizing the Costs, by: Apolo Nasibambi, The paper was presented in a Panel Discussion on Globalization and the State,2,November 2001(United Nations General Assembly, Second Committee). http://unpan1.un.org/intradoc/groups/public/documents/un/unpan001978.pdf

[5] Albrow, Martin. The Global Age. Stanford: Stanford University Press. 1997.

[6] D. Held, A. McGrew, D. Goldblatt, and J. Perraton Global Transformations, Stanford: Stanford University Press. 1999 p.2.

[7]  A. Hoodashtian, Globalization: A short study, Conference at the Eurasian Market Institute, Central Asian Journal of Management, Economics and Social Research, Issue 2, June 2001

[8] Rodrik, D. ‘Trading in Illusions’, Foreign Policy, March/April 2001. p.55.

[9] D. Held, A. McGrew, D. Goldblatt, and J. Perraton Global Transformations, Stanford: Stanford University Press. 1999 p. 429

[10] Chua, Amy. World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability. p. 6, New York: Doubleday, 2003.

[11] Walter Wriston, Twilight of Sovereignty: How the Information Revolution is Transforming Our World.1992, p38.

[12] Jerry Harris, Globalization and the technological Transformation of capitalism

[13] Barnet, Richard J. & Ronald E. Muller. Global Reach: The Power of the Multinational Corporations. New York: Simon and Schuster. 1974. p. 13, 25

[14]  Ibid, p. 214

[15] Tony Clarke, Silent Coup: Confronting the Big Business Takeover of Canada. 2001. www3.sympatico.ca/tryegrowth/MAI_can.htm, accessed January 12, 2001.

[16] Stephen Hymer, The Multinational Corporation and the Law of Uneven Development. In Modelski, George, editor, Transnational Corporations and World Order. San Francisco: W.H. Freeman and Company, 1979. p. 114

[17]  William Greider, One World, Ready or Not: the Manic Logic of Global Capitalism. New York: Simon & Schuster 1997.

[18]  Public Perspective. 2000. Its a Small World, After All. http://web/lexisnexis.com/universe Accessed January 13, 2001

[19] Naomi Klein, No Logo. New York: Picador, 2001. p.xvii

[20] Mahmoud Dhaouadi, Globalization of the other underdevelopment, third world cultural identities. A.S. Noordeen publishers, KL 2002, p3

[21]  Mendelsohn, K. 1976. Science and Western Domination, London: Thames and Hudson

[22] Mahmoud Dhaouadi, Globalization of the other underdevelopment, third world cultural identities. A.S. Noordeen publishers, KL 2002, p16

[23] A. Hoodashtian, Globalization: A short study, Conference at the Eurasian Market Institute, Central Asian Journal of Management, Economics and Social Research, Issue 2, June 2001

[24]  Znaniecki, F. and Thomas, W. 1958. The Polish Peasant in Europe and America. New York: Dover.

[25] Lerner, D. 1964. The Passing of Traditional Society, New York: Free Press

[26] Financial Times 2001. Valentine's Day Massacre, London. February 14: 1.

[27] (some of the points here deals with the African countries however it can be common in lot of countries in the third world, which is the case with the majority of Arab countries), Effect of Globalization on the State in Africa: Harnessing the Benefits and Minimizing the Costs, by: Apolo Nasibambi, The paper was presented in a Panel Discussion on Globalization and the State,2,November 2001(United Nations General Assembly, Second Committee). http://unpan1.un.org/intradoc/groups/public/documents/un/unpan001978.pdf