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So is it Holland or the Netherlands? We bust a few myths

Misconceptions about the country proliferate like tulips, or so it seems. GN Focus goes myth-busting

Image Credit: Shutterstock

We are not sinking

“Most of the soil of the Netherlands is below sea level, so people think our country is underwater, but we have dykes to protect against flooding. This knowledge built over many decades allows us to help other nations. This is why the largest dredging companies in the Netherlands helped the UAE construct the reclaimed islands offshore Dubai and Abu Dhabi.”
Mark Pieter Frolich, 36, regional sales director

Story of Hans Brinker

“The one thing that always made me laugh is that the Americans have this story about Hans Brinker who allegedly put his finger in the dyke to stop the flooding. I had never heard of this until I started travelling and many Americans seem to be convinced this really happened.”
Bregje Meuwissen, 40, HR director

One big party

“After mentioning you are from the Netherlands, people often look at you with a very serious face and ask, ‘Why would you move out of a country like that?’ They don’t understand that it is a good country but you still have to work hard to make a living.”
Tolga Goksin, 27, creative director

Tulip mania

“One myth about the Netherlands is that you find tulips everywhere in the country. We grow a lot of tulips in the Netherlands, but you actually only see them during a short period in the year around April.”
Olav Scholte, 45, marketing director

Going dutch

“It’s a myth that Dutch people go dutch. Even though we are practical about sharing and spending money, we can be very hospitable and definitely are not greedy, but one thing I need to admit is that we definitely are direct!”
Julion Ruwette, 33, business development leader

Dutch dinnertime

“One silly thing people think about the Dutch is that all of us eat exactly at 18.00 hours and that a Dutch family will send their guests home because ‘we’re having dinner now’ or that the Dutch will never invite you for dinner unless it is planned three weeks in advance.”
Hilda van der Tuin, 46, lawyer

It’s straight talk

“The Dutch are not rude, but we are direct. Most Dutch will tell you what they think without much packaging. We do value honesty more than empathy — that is where the directness comes from. We honestly would feel guilty about not telling the truth. Dutch people mean what they say whether it’s negative or positive.”
Tialda Rienstra, 33, marketing business owner

Tipping doesn’t work

“One complaint is about Dutch service. Indeed it may not be what you expect in the UAE or the US. You can’t buy the Dutch with money and they normally get a salary, so they don’t depend on tipping. So even if you do tip, don’t expect a better service and do respect the salesman, waitress as you would any other job.”
Edgar Schurman, 54, senior project manager

Holland Versus the Netherlands

“The mix-up between Holland and the Netherlands is confusing, but even the Dutch misuse it. North and South Holland are actually two provinces in the Western part of the Netherlands.”
Ilios Kostoulas, 30, executive director

The clog mystery

“My dad actually learned to walk in wooden shoes back during the Second World War. They wore them when they worked in my opa’s [grandfather’s] bakery. So it’s a myth that they’re a myth!”
Amy Vogelaar, 48, educator