General Overview of the Thesis

 

Cultural differences are one of the challenging aspects in the human factors discipline. These differences can be an effect by the diversity of beliefs, languages, norms, religions etc. Cultural differences can constrain or restrict mutual understanding among practitioners in multicultural organizations, especially in the aviation domain, if they are not managed properly (Batteau, 2002). In the aviation domain, the diversity of cultures is very challenging for the following reasons: (1) The aviation domain is a very dynamic context and requires high cognitive workload and highly skilled operators, whether those operators are pilot flying airplanes, air traffic controllers providing air traffic separation, aviation maintenance personnel providing airworthiness services, or managers administering aviation organizations. (2) The technology used in aviation domain is highly sophisticated and requires the participation of experienced operators (pilots, engineers, managers…etc) in educating and sharing the experience among those less experienced operators in different regions of the world. (3) These days, it is not unusual to see multi-ethnic people (clinging to their norms, beliefs, and religion) holding aviation professions. (4) The nature of aviation dictates airplanes (pilots) flying across different regions of the world, and a local air traffic unit to interact with airplanes (pilots) coming from different regions of the world as well. These cultural diversities and differences (when are not managed properly) have contributed to aircraft incidents and accidents (Srauch, 2004).

 

If a nation is unwilling to acknowledge and articulate its worldview, to make known its fundamental opinions, and to bring to the front of discourse its basic beliefs, then this nation is being intellectually evasive at best or dishonest at worst. Those around this nation must always be in the dark concerning its underlying beliefs and motives (Funk, 201).

 

This thesis will attempt to explore the Islamic culture and offer some insights to its principles and concepts. The Islamic culture is very rich when it comes to dealing with Man’s concerns. This thesis will attempt to extract additional (new) human factor concepts based on Islamic perspectives. It will attempt to bridge the understanding gaps between the Western world and the Islamic world (at least in human factor issues), by shedding some light on Muslims’ worldview.  This worldview is the set of beliefs about fundamental aspects of reality that ground and influence their perceiving, thinking knowing, and doing. This thesis is an attempt to explain how Muslims conceptualize and perceive the outside world (Funk, 2001).

 

There are many reasons that challenged and encouraged me to investigate the Islamic culture for this thesis:

 

(1) I am a Muslim pilot from Islamic region (Saudi Arabia), and I believe that Islamic Law and culture are very rich when they come to deal with Man’s issues.  The Islamic culture did, and still does, answer the questions that occupy Man’s thinking, such as, where did Man come from? Where is Man going to after this worldly life? And the most important question, what is the purpose of Man (his duty) in this life? Lack of correct answers for these questions will create a state of anxiety which reflects on Man’s action and behaviour (Funk, 2001).

 

(2) The Muslim world occupies a vast area of the globe; this area cannot be ignored in aviation domain with its strongly cross-cultural operational activities.

 

(3) Experienced expatriates are hired to participate in transferring knowledge, technology, and experience form advanced countries to the Muslim world. In contrast, a high number of Muslims (Muslim world) are employed outside their regions (particularly in Europe and North America) and work in technological environments. This requires a mutual cultural understanding to harmonize the operation among the practitioners.

 

(4) In the past, Islamic Law presented social protection/prevention methods for the preservation of its society, especially Man's universal necessities and needs.  These protection/prevention methods can be modified and adjusted to suit our contemporary life today while maintaining at the same time the essence of the Islamic spirit.