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Glocalising university websites: culturally formatted Arab sentiments

Vanaja Menon Vadakepat (Department of Marketing, New York Institute of Technology – Abu Dhabi Campus, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates)
Devaki Vadakepat Menon (New York University, School of Arts and Science, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates)

Journal of Islamic Marketing

ISSN: 1759-0833

Article publication date: 18 July 2019



Many researchers have addressed students as consumers and considered their online searches to choose a university as typical buying behaviour. The myriad features of digital information enable universities to conveniently and quickly reach educational markets at a relatively low cost. Consumers’ market choices can usefully be interpreted in terms of their cultural perceptions. To encourage Web viewers to make repeat visits to, and remain longer on, their websites, it is critical for international universities to understand local and regional viewers’ perceptions and preferences regarding non-text Web messages through the lens of culture. The purpose of the current study is to address the need for, and the challenge presented by, glocalising the text and non-text aspects of university websites by investigating Arab consumers’ perceptions of these websites.


The sampling frame comprised 200 residents from the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, including 100 high school students and 100 stakeholders, with equal proportions of Arabs and non-Arabs. Illustrations and images were used in the questionnaire to collect respondents’ perceptions about university websites from a cultural perspective.


This study identifies a need to glocalise the non-text and website messages of international universities that are aiming to penetrate educational markets in the Emirates.

Research limitations/implications

This study clearly identifies the segment that is most receptive to a “glocalised” website communication strategy of international universities: Arab students, aged 16 or above, and educated stakeholders, expect to view academic information on websites, as do viewers everywhere, but prefer this information to reflect the values and traditions of Arab culture.


The increasing inflow of students from the Gulf region to the United Arab Emirates, instead of their usual choice of European or Western educational destinations, has motivated international universities to envisage the Emirates as a location for their campus expansions. An understanding of the approaches of Arab viewers to the websites of international universities through the lens of culture is essential for bridging the literature gaps that currently persist in the area of digital promotion and social marketing.



Vadakepat, V.M. and Menon, D.V. (2019), "Glocalising university websites: culturally formatted Arab sentiments", Journal of Islamic Marketing, Vol. 11 No. 5, pp. 1073-1089.



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