Conducting business in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) requires more than just knowledge of industry and market dynamics; it demands an understanding and appreciation of the country’s rich cultural heritage and business etiquettes. When you opt for business setup UAE, you will learn that the UAE’s business landscape is a reflection of its diverse and multicultural society, and mastering the nuances of cultural norms is essential for building strong relationships and achieving success.
Greetings and salutations:
The exchange of greetings is an essential part of business interactions in the UAE. A traditional greeting is the “Salaam” or “As-Salaam-Alaikum,” which translates to “peace be upon you.” Respond with “Wa-Alaikum-Salaam” or “peace be upon you too.” It’s customary to shake hands, but note that men may not shake hands with women unless initiated by the woman. It’s also polite to greet the most senior person first.
The dress code in the UAE is a mix of traditional and modern attire. Men typically wear long white robes called “kandura” with a head covering called “ghutra,” while women wear “abaya” and “hijab.” In the business environment, formal Western attire is common. However, conservative dress is recommended, with men wearing suits and women dressing modestly. In government and traditional sectors, the local attire is more common.
Punctuality is highly valued in business settings. Arrive on time for meetings and appointments. However, it’s essential to understand that business discussions in the UAE may often start with social conversation, and negotiations may progress slowly. Patience and flexibility are vital.
Hospitality and networking:
Hospitality plays a significant role in UAE business culture. Invitations to homes, sharing meals, and offering refreshments during meetings are common practices. Accept these offers as they demonstrate warmth and respect. Building relationships is critical, and a strong network is essential for success in the UAE.
Gift-giving is a customary practice in the UAE. When presenting a gift, use your right hand or both hands. Gifts should be given and received with the right hand. Be mindful of the local culture and avoid gifts like alcohol, as it may not be appropriate in some contexts.
Language and communication:
Arabic is the official language, but English is widely spoken in the business world. It’s advisable to learn a few common Arabic greetings and phrases, as it can help build rapport. Communication should be courteous and respectful, with a focus on indirect language and politeness.