Cultural Etiquette: Doing Business In United Arab Emirates - Answers & Video

Cultural Etiquette: Doing Business In United Arab Emirates

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Cultural Etiquette: Doing Business in United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a country located in the Middle East, known for its vibrant economy and business opportunities. When doing business in the UAE, it is crucial to understand and respect the cultural etiquette to build successful relationships and avoid any misunderstandings. This article provides a comprehensive guide to the cultural etiquette when doing business in the United Arab Emirates.

Business Culture

  • Punctuality: Being on time is highly valued in Emirati culture. It is important to arrive at meetings and appointments on time or even a few minutes early to show respect for the other person’s time.
  • Dress Code: Emiratis dress conservatively, and it is expected that visitors adhere to a modest dress code, especially in business settings. Men should wear suits or traditional Arab attire, while women should opt for modest and professional clothing that covers the shoulders and knees.
  • Greetings: Greetings in the UAE are formal and often involve a handshake. It is customary to greet the most senior person first, maintaining eye contact and using appropriate titles such as Sheikh or Dr.
  • Business Cards: Exchanging business cards is common in the UAE. It is recommended to have one side of the card translated into Arabic, and it is considered respectful to accept a business card with both hands and take a moment to study it before putting it away.
  • Language: Arabic is the official language of the UAE, but English is widely spoken in business settings. However, it is appreciated if you learn a few basic Arabic phrases as a gesture of goodwill.

Communication Style

  • Indirect Communication: Emiratis tend to communicate indirectly and may use non-verbal cues to convey their message. It is important to pay attention to body language and tone of voice to understand the underlying meaning of the conversation.
  • Respect for Hierarchy: Emirati society is hierarchical, and it is essential to show respect for authority and seniority. Decision-making often involves consulting with higher-ups, so patience is necessary during negotiations.
  • Avoiding Conflict: Emiratis value harmony and avoid direct confrontation. It is advisable to maintain a calm and composed demeanor during business discussions and find diplomatic solutions to any disagreements.
  • Small Talk: Building personal relationships is crucial in Emirati culture. Engaging in small talk about family, hobbies, and local culture is a great way to establish rapport before diving into business matters.

Business Meetings

  • Formality: Emiratis prefer formal business meetings, so it is essential to maintain a professional demeanor throughout the meeting.
  • Agenda: Providing an agenda in advance helps Emiratis prepare for the meeting and ensures that all necessary topics are covered. However, be prepared for meetings to deviate from the agenda as Emiratis value flexibility and spontaneity.
  • Decision-Making: Decision-making in the UAE can be a slow process as it involves consultation with multiple stakeholders. Be patient and avoid putting pressure on your Emirati counterparts to make quick decisions.
  • Gift Giving: While not mandatory, giving a small gift at the end of a successful meeting is appreciated. It is customary to present the gift with both hands and avoid gifts with religious or alcohol-related connotations.

Negotiation and Contracts

  • Building Trust: Emiratis prefer to do business with individuals they trust. Building a personal relationship based on trust is crucial before engaging in negotiations.
  • Patience: Negotiations in the UAE can be lengthy and involve multiple rounds. It is important to remain patient and flexible throughout the process.
  • Contracts: Contracts are essential in business transactions in the UAE. It is recommended to have contracts translated into Arabic and to consult with a local lawyer to ensure compliance with UAE laws.
  • Face-Saving: Emiratis value face-saving and may avoid direct refusals or negative responses. It is important to read between the lines and use diplomatic language during negotiations.

Business Entertaining

  • Invitations: Emiratis often extend invitations for business meals or social events. Accepting these invitations is a great way to build relationships and show respect for Emirati culture.
  • Table Manners: Emiratis appreciate good table manners. It is important to wait for the host to start eating, use utensils rather than hands, and avoid discussing business matters during the meal.
  • Alcohol Consumption: Emiratis are predominantly Muslim, and alcohol consumption is restricted. It is advisable to respect this cultural norm and refrain from drinking alcohol during business entertaining unless offered by the host.
  • Gifts: When invited to an Emirati home, it is customary to bring a small gift such as chocolates or flowers. Avoid giving gifts related to alcohol or pork products.

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In conclusion, understanding and respecting the cultural etiquette when doing business in the United Arab Emirates is essential for building successful relationships and conducting business effectively. By adhering to the customs and norms of Emirati culture, you can navigate business interactions with confidence and respect. Embrace the opportunity to learn about the rich traditions and values of the UAE, and you will find yourself on the path to fruitful business endeavors in this dynamic country.



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