In this sequel on how achievement is perceived in general from an African perspective we look at the Middle East.
A member in good standing of society is at least a professional
Are you an engineer? Are you a doctor? Are you a lawyer? Do you hold a PhD? If the answer to any of those 4 questions is “No” then you could’ve done better in life. This is certainly a generalization that will not hold true in all households but most people I have met and crossed path with have indeed told me that those are the 3 very well perceived professions in the Middle East, and every parent would love for their child to pursue one of these paths.
Success is not an option, it’s mandatory
I recall meeting a student in University who was enrolled in an engineering program. I never asked him why he has chosen this career path, but I assumed that like the rest of us he was either passionate about the creative/problem solving side of it, or that it was because he was looking for a stable job once he graduated.
After his first semester he wasn’t doing so well and after the second semester he was put on probation, i.e. he would have to take courses to improve his grades and be re-admitted into engineering. After discussing other alternatives for his program of studies, he categorically refused to hear anything. His saying was that he couldn’t make it to Med school so he HAD to graduate in engineering. When asked why he said his parents would not approve of anything else.
It’s all a question of perception
Now obviously this is not going to be true for all people with Middle Eastern origins, but the conversations I’ve had with a lot of people from that area revolved around this same ideal. Similarly to Africa, your success is measured by the kind of role you hold in life and how well perceived that role is.