Developing an Indigenous Positive Psychology in the United Arab Emirates
Keywords:culture, positive psychology, indigenous
A call for an indigenous positive psychology to address the human development needs of both Emirati and expatriate residents in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is proposed. A positive psychology approach leverages inherent, yet often neglected social, cultural and religious strengths and mobilizes psychological skills and growth. Yet, too often, psychology practitioners focus on the negative or do not feel it is their job to promote mental health and happiness. Many of the UAE’s psychology professionals are non-Emiratis; thus, the call for an indigenous psychology is even more pertinent as many theories, tools, and practice models are ill fitting or inappropriately utilized in the UAE. Rooted in Western notions of secular individualism that run contrary to the UAE’s collective and non-secular orientation, a focus on the negatives, avoidance of spirituality, and disguised Western ideals of normality can harm both the social and individual psychological fabric. Thus, the introduction of an indigenous positive psychology that focuses on and supports natural strengths is timely. To introduce this idea, the field’s tenets are reviewed and the future steps necessary for the development of an indigenous version are proposed with the aim of facilitating the growth of this flourishing nation.