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Understanding The UAE's Business Etiquette

February 09, 2022
2022-02-09
If there's one place that can guarantee wealth and success, it's the UAE. Just take a look at Abu Dhabi, the country's capital, and Dubai. These sparkling utopia-like metropolises are proof that the Emiratis definitely know a thing or two about big money and big business. And if you want to get in on all that first-class action, you'll want to work here or to work with Emirati companies. Doing so will definitely be a straight path to success, that is if you can impress them. A good way to do that is to adhere to their business etiquette.

Understanding The UAE's Business Etiquette


Never Be Late

Although the Emiratis aren't too particular when it comes to punctuality, they respect those who practice it. So when it comes to work, especially when there's a meeting, you'd do well to arrive on time. It's even better if you're a few minutes early too! A good ten to five minutes early would suffice. Arriving earlier than that would only make you look too eager and presumptuous. As for a grace period for being late, five to ten minutes is also the usual standard. And if you can't really help but be late, it's better to let everyone know beforehand.


Get Used to a Unique Workweek

If you're familiar with the UAE's job market and work culture, you'll know that the work week they follow is a bit different from that of the rest of the world. While most other countries work from Monday to Friday, the Emiratis actually work from Sunday to Thursday. Although the country is looking to change that to align more closely with global markets, it's only been applied to the public sector and schools for now. So when you plan to set up an appointment or a business meeting, take Friday out of the possible days in the week.

Understanding The UAE's Business Etiquette



Respect The Hierarchy

In such a patriarchal country, it's only natural that the business hierarchy in the UAE is pretty rigid. The older you are in the industry, the likelier that you hold the top senior positions in the company. This also means that the bosses have the most power in all the decision-making, leaving little to no say for the subordinates. It's not to say that their opinions don't matter, but when it comes to making important decisions, one word from the people in power is enough. All the employees can do is to work hard until they get to those positions themselves.


Know How to Communicate Properly

Always keep a formal tone when talking to potential Emirati clients and colleagues. Small talk is fine during first introductions and initial greetings, but when you get down to business, you'd do well to always have a respectful tone all throughout. But going back to first introductions, always address others with their last names. Even if you know the other person personally, it's never professional when you refer to them by their given names. You also have to learn how to behave when it comes to the opposite sex too. When greeting a man, a handshake is enough. But when you greet a woman, you have to wait until she offers her hand for a handshake first.

Understanding The UAE's Business Etiquette



Follow Their Conservative Dress Code

You don't need a local to tell you that the Emiratis are pretty particular when it comes to one's attire. Even if you're a foreign company looking to do business with them, they expect you to dress as conservatively as you can. For men, this means wearing tailored suits. If you can accessorize with branded items, you have a bigger chance to leave a better impression. As for the women, pantsuits and mid-length dresses would suffice. However, just make sure that your dress covers up most of your body. You don't exactly need to wear a hijab or anything like that, but the more you're covered up, the better!


Don't Wear Their Traditional Clothing

You've probably already noticed that many Emirati businessmen wear their traditional garb when they attend meetings. Men wear dishdasha (a long white garment) while women wear abaya (a floor-length robe). For them, it's part of embracing their culture even when they go about doing business in the real world. And while this may impress you, never, under any circumstance, imitate them. You may think you'll impress them more if you wear their traditional clothing as well but in truth, you risk offending them instead. And because of that, you'll flush all your chances of working with them down the toilet.

Understanding The UAE's Business Etiquette



Get Ready for Different Kinds of Meetings

For the Emiratis, work isn't only done within the confines of the office. There will be businessmen here who'd take every opportunity to seal the deal with you no matter where you are. Be it an evening gala, a business lunch, dinner with drinks, and the like. When it comes to working with the Emiratis, don't expect that all business decisions will only be made inside the meeting room. Sometimes, the most important decisions are made during a social gathering, a glamorous event, or even when they invite you to their luxurious homes. Always stay on top of things just to be sure!


Prepare Some Gifts

Giving gifts is a nice gesture that many Emirati businessmen appreciate. During your first introductions, leaving behind a small token will leave a very good impression, especially if the said token is something memorable. And when the deal is done and all the hard work is finished, it's also relatively customary to give gifts as a form of gratitude. As for what to give them, something that relates to your own culture would be best. Emiratis are the most accepting of different cultures when it comes to the Middle East and the more they learn about them, the better.


Have a Business Card Handy

Handing out business cards is also a common practice in the UAE's business etiquette. In fact, it's practically customary to do it before the business meeting, especially during your first introductions. And when you do, make sure you use your right hand in handing them out. Using your left hand would be considered rude. Additionally, you should also ensure that your business card is easy to understand and has all your important info and other details. A good way to go about it is to have them in both English and Arabic.

Understanding The UAE's Business Etiquette


The UAE is among the most successful and wealthiest countries right now. Doing business with them will be a step in the right direction but this will only work if you follow their business etiquette customs. That's the only way to seal the deal.




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