How Emirati Muslims Experience Coaching: An IPA Study



coaching, United Arab Emirates, cross-cultural, wellbeing, workplace


Coaching, with positive psychology at its heart, has the potential to support Emiratis in a national economic transition away from public sector employment. However, current literature on coaching in the United Arab Emirates is fragmented and dominated by coaches’ perspectives. This study aimed to fill this gap by exploring how four Emirati Muslim coachees experienced coaching through an interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) study. Through their perspectives, gathered in semi-structured interviews, this study identified aspects only partially covered in existing literature. Participants in this study valued opportunities provided by coaching for learning and self-understanding to move forward and grow, personally and professionally, through clarity gained in coaching relationships built on mutual trust, respect and sharing. Their perspective of coaching encompassed more of a spectrum of one-to-one learning than coaching literature and competence frameworks would suggest. Participants welcomed opportunities for self-directed reflection that contributed to deeper forms of understanding, potentially linked to wellbeing. Where participants felt coaches were familiar with aspects of Emirati culture, it contributed to participants feeling understood, to building trust and respect, and to coaching conversations taking directions that were felt to be more culturally aligned. These findings raise the possibility that coaching could support an Emirati Muslim workforce through economic transition and improve wellbeing. However, cultural adaptations might be necessary.




How to Cite

King, S., & van Nieuwerburgh, C. (2020). How Emirati Muslims Experience Coaching: An IPA Study. Middle East Journal of Positive Psychology, 6, 73–96. Retrieved from



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