Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Cultural Sensitivity and Global Pharmacy Engagement in the Arab World

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Cultural Sensitivity and Global Pharmacy Engagement in the Arab World

Article excerpt


Global engagement between schools and colleges of pharmacy in the United States and those in the Arab world is increasing. In the United States, this has been the result of many schools and colleges of pharmacy establishing a global strategic plan, embedding the curriculum with global didactic content, providing opportunities for international experiential rotations, and/or enhancing recruitment efforts to sustain operations in an increasingly competitive environment. (1-3) In the Arab world, new schools and colleges of pharmacy have been established over the last several years. This has contributed to the growth of pharmacy services throughout the region, with advanced clinical practice in countries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. (4-6) Also, the curriculum in many programs has been strengthened to meet international standards, especially those set by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) (7) and the Canadian Council for Accreditation of Pharmacy Programs (CCAPP). (8) In addition, a culture of seeking certification or accreditation has resulted in many schools and colleges of pharmacy reaching out to pharmacy organizations in the United States to gain collaborative mentorship and partnership for further educational opportunities and postgraduate training. The ACPE grants certification or continuance to a professional pharmacy program in a country outside the United States that "demonstrates compliance with most or all quality criteria and meets all ACPE's requirements for such recognition." (9)

Historically, for reasons that will be discussed later, the Arab world has been misunderstood and misrepresented by the West, including the United States, resulting in the formation of many stereotypes and misconceptions. Thus, given the increased demand in the Arab world for health sciences education including pharmacy education, health care professionals from the United States who wish to collaborate with educators in that part of the world must be aware and sensitive to cultural, religious, historical, and political issues that may negatively impact their engagement. Thus, this paper aims to serve as a resource for schools and colleges of pharmacy that are currently engaged or considering future outreach opportunities in the Arab world, to ensure a purposeful, fruitful, and enriching experience.


The general methodology used in conducting this study was discussed in the introduction to this theme issue of the Journal. (10) Other keywords or terms used in the search included: Arab world, Middle East, names of respective countries, and orientalism. The majority of the authors are Arab-Americans who were born, graduated, taught, and/or served as visiting professors or program evaluators in the Arab world. One author is a US faculty member who practiced for several years in the region.


Arab World

The Arab world currently consists of 22 countries (Table 1) that share a common language, Arabic, in addition to a common Semitic heritage, history, and culture. (11,12) This definition has been used by the United Nations Development Program, (13) the Arab League, (14) and other organizations to characterize the Arab world. Many people consider Iran and Turkey as part of the Arab nations; however, because they speak Farsi or Turkish and have separate histories, they are not considered Arab. The population of the Arab world is 422 million people. Inhabitants live in a large geographical area expanding from the southwestern area of Asia to the northern area of Africa. (15,16) While Arabs are the majority, many other ethnic groups live in the region such as the Kurds in Iraq and Syria, and Armenians and Druze in Lebanon and Syria. (15,16) The majority of Arabs live in cities, towns, and villages, and the region includes some of the oldest cities in the world (eg, Baghdad, Cairo, Damascus, Jerusalem). (15) Approximately 90% of Arabs practice Islam, 10% practice Christianity, and less than 1% practice Judaism. …

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