Dubai is considered to be the business hub of the Middle East, which is why many foreigners have been working there over the past few years. However, it is recommended to learn about the emirate’s cultural etiquette prior to moving there, as failing to conform to it may result in breaking the country’s laws.
One of the country’s main values is respect. Therefore, one must ensure to avoid public confrontations with clients and colleagues, as they would greatly deteriorate such relationships and affect their work at a later stage. If one is required to have what can be considered to be a difficult conversation with a colleague, it must be done so privately.
Another factor to consider is the working-week, as it begins on Sundays and ends on Thursdays. The majority of Arab companies have working hours from 8 AM until 4 PM but during the holy month of Ramadan, the working day tends to be a couple of hours shorter.
Even though Dubai tends to be more relaxed than the rest of the Emirates, there is an unspoken dress-code to be followed, regardless of how hot it may get. It is important to remember that Arab cultures are much more conservative than western cultures and therefore, one must dress accordingly.
It should be noted that Fridays are considered to be the praying days for Muslims, therefore, one must ensure not to arrange any meetings on that day. Similarly, during the month of Ramadan, Muslims are expected to fast through the daylight hours, therefore, non-Muslims are only allowed to eat in the designated areas, which are away from the public eye.
Business meetings with Arab clients tend to be quite casual, as they prefer to arrange the meetings in public places, such as restaurants or coffee shops. Such settings tend to smooth down conversations, leading to business matters being settled much quicker than they do in the west. It is also recommended to wait until handshakes are offered, especially when meeting with Arab women, otherwise, they may consider such gestures offensive and too out there.
On the other hand, compared to business meetings, business lunches in Arab culture tend to be more formal. Hence, one must always ensure there is no alcohol being served during the lunch and avoid directing the soles of the shoes towards an Arab client, as it would be considered an offense.
The do’s and don’ts are many, but when a culture is respected, people tend to be very welcoming, which is one of the great qualities of the Emiratis, who welcome people from all around the world every year. Therefore, if you want to ensure the business is conducted as efficiently and effectively as possible, we suggest you do a little bit of extra research to be able to conform to the cultural etiquette of the UAE.
About the Author:
Maksim Tsiazhkin is a Russian speaking entrepreneur & Co-founder and Managing Director of a DMCC Business Setup Company in Dubai named UAE Consultants. He is always enthusiastic about business news, entrepreneurship and marketing and an avid lover of writing about them. You can follow his YouTube channel named “Game Changers Dubai” where he interviews millionaire businessmen of Dubai, their life story & success.