Sunday, March 15, 2009
Wosta (also spelt, woster/ waster/ waster but all pronounced in the same way, [wass-ter]) is an Arabic word which describes a polite form of corruption.
Wosta is the non-monetary method way of circumnavigating the prevaling system, or, short cutting the rules and getting what you want without waiting.
For example, say you need a job. What you will do is go visit your friend explain your situation, suggest they might be able to help and their friend goes and sorts you out a job.
Or you need a specific police report to disapear which mentions you attacked your wife. You go to your friend in the police/ traffic department and there it is, gone.
An 'old boy's network' if you will.
In English, the term 'wosta' is used as a noun, for example; "He's got lots of wosta."
You can not say, "He's wosta-ing" (verb) or "She's a wosta-ly girl" (adjective)
A friend of a friend worked for a very large shipping company. One day he received a phone call from a man who was shipping lots of fireworks from China to the Middle East for the opening event of a festival.
The shipment was late and the man who was supposed to be supplying the fireworks was beginning to panic and the pressure was beginning to build.
“Why hasn’t the shipment arrived yet?” to which he replied,
“Fireworks aren’t just any old shipment, they need lots of paperwork and clearance. Surely you were aware of this before you said you’d ship the consignment?”
The man replied,
“Do you know who these fireworks are for? They are for xxxx, now do something.”
My friend had heard it all before, and so replied,
“I'm sure they’re not bothered in Hong Kong or Singapore about xxxx, they want the paperwork. And that’s why your shipment is stuck in Beijing.”
Years ago, whilst in an Australian railway station a friend was getting a cup of coffee when the Gulfie man ~man from the Gulf~ behind the counter spotted some Arabic writing on one of her posessions. He struck up a conversation and found out she worked in the Middle East and immediately suggested she find him a job.
A friend of a friend had an accident in her car and had the car fixed at the dealership garage. Several years later when she wanted to sell the car, someone went to the garage to make sure the car’s history would not be divulged to anyone who might come along and ask. The car was now accident free.
Some Background Information
Al-Faleh (1987) found the Arab management style has the following characteristics:
1. Organisation members are motivated by friendship and power needs, rather than by performance objective
2. Social formalities are extremely important
3. Managers rely heavily on kinship ties to get things done4. Nepotism is regarded as natural and acceptable
5. Punctuality and time constraints are much less concern than in western cultures
6. Subordinates act with deference and obedience to those above them in the hierarchy
The Images on today's posting come from a variety of Arabic blogs including: