How do callers complain in Saudi Arabia?

The language used in complaint calls to a Saudi Arabian company is the unusual thesis topic of a Faculty of Arts student, who graduated with a PhD in Linguistics last week.

Dr Najla Alfadda: interested in "the importance and sensitivity of complaining".

As far as she knows, Dr Najla Alfadda’s research was the first to focus on an in-house complaints department of a large trading company operating in Saudi Arabia.

She says her interest was driven by “the importance and sensitivity” of complaining and responding to complaints effectively.

“My research investigated what constitutes an appropriate business complaint in within Saudi culture. It contributes to the development of an analytical framework – from a wholly non-western context – applied effectively to the Saudi culture and is likely to be equally applicable to other Arabic dialects.”

Originally from Saudi Arabia herself, Dr Alfadda says she chose the University of Auckland to do her postgraduate study because it has an excellent academic reputation in the area of linguistics, and she liked the idea of moving to such a different culture.

“It’s a very safe, quiet and beautiful country to live in, and it was a very nice experience, full of challenges and excitement. Through it, I discovered myself, became more independent, and got the chance to meet, discuss, and present my research to very well-known academics in the field.”

She moved to Auckland six years ago with her two small children, who are now ten and seven, and her husband, who completed his masters degree in marketing at AUT while here. She says it’s quite usual for educated Saudi women to go to another country to complete their studies.

I discovered myself, became more independent, and got the chance to meet, discuss, and present my research to very well-known academics in the field.

Dr Najla Alfadda PhD graduate, Faculty of Arts

After graduating last Monday, Dr Alfadda moved the family back to Saudi Arabia where she will resume a lecturing position at King Saud University, a large public university in Riyadh.

“I’ll be transferring what I’ve learnt personally and academically to my students and sharing it with the academic staff at my college.”

Living away from home for so long, she says she missed friends and family and “celebrating Islamic festivals such as Ramadan and Eid in a family-friendly atmosphere, as well as the delicious food of my country”.

But she will also miss many things about New Zealand.

“I’ll really miss having a daily productive routine, writing almost half of the day, the very nice weather and amazing landscapes around New Zealand, and of course my colleagues and professors.

“And another thing I will absolutely miss is staying up late at the General Library writing alongside a lot of other students, then returning home late with a great feeling of achievement most days."

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