What is Wasta?

Wasta is an interesting concept heavily used in the Middle East. Anyone who lives there will learn it sooner or later, especially when they are faced with those long lines.

The rule of reciprocity plays into the concept of wasta. This rule is one of the basic laws of social psychology, and it states that we have a need to pay back what we have received from others. Wasta is just that in the Middle East. It’s what the Western world would refer to as calling in a favour.

In the Middle East, wasta is sometimes the only option people have to land a reasonable job or to get their drivers license. And that may be hard to come by when you’re an expatriate in the Middle East. The key is to be other people’s wasta wherever you can.  You don’t have to be the relative of an official or a diplomat to do that. When you see someone who needs a translator and you can do the job, offer your help. When someone needs directions, be their navigator. When you have wasta that can help someone else, be their call in your favour- don’t just save it for you! That’s how wasta works, when you give more, you will get more. When you are wasta to others, you increase your own wasta through the rule of reciprocity. You will then build your reputation as a person with wasta.

Every culture has this concept practiced to some extent. It comes with being human. The key is to know how to build your wasta.

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