By: Dina Indelicato | August 30, 2017

The UAE is the second largest economy in the Middle East following Saudi Arabia. It’s culture is largely friendly to westerners. These, and a combination of other factors make the country a good choice for business operation or expansion. However, when doing business is other countries, it is important to take cultural considerations into mind. This is no different with the United Arab Emirates. Here are some important standards, expectations, and norms to keep in mind if you should decide to establish a business in the UAE or expand your operations there.

Greeting Business Associates Clients or Colleagues

It is a sign of respect to greet the person with the most seniority first. Please memorize the term ‘assalamu alaikum’. It is a standard an appropriate greeting for those who are not Muslim when addressing their Muslim counterparts. It translates as ‘peace be upon you’. If you are greeted likewise, the appropriate response is ‘wa alaikum assalam’. This means peace be upon you too. Like many other cultures, the right hand is favored. When business cards are exchanged, use your right hand. It is a show of good will if you provide an arabic translation on the back of your business card.

Modesty Matters

Whether it's choosing your attire for a business meeting, or planning your first marketing campaign, keep in mind that modesty is held in high regard. Men should wear suits. Women should dress modestly with their arms and shoulders covered. Skirts should be cut below the knee. Women should be prepared to wear a Hijab if they enter any religious buildings or areas. However it is not needed at other times.


As far as marketing and advertising content goes, modesty is important as well. While the UAE is fairly liberal by Middle Eastern standards, it is still a conservative country. For example, content that depicts women in skimpy clothing, or discusses pork consumption or alcohol use can be problematic. Pick Writers can help direct you to a translation service with people who are familiar with content standards in the UAE.


Expect an Indirect Approach to Business Deals


You may notice that business dealings go a bit more slowly than in other regions. For example, it’s fairly normal for business meetings to start late, and to have frequent interruptions. Business dealings may take place over dinners and lunches out, and may take several meetings to come to fruition. Business people in the UAE frown on a fast paced approach to business. Take advantage of this meandering approach to chat up others and build relationships.


Be patient. Know that when the deal is closed that Arabs take pride in sticking to their words. Culturally, verbal agreements are valued just as much as legally binding contracts. Likewise, you will be expected to stick with what you agreed with. It’s find to have things written up and translated, but you will damage your reputation should you attempt to deviate.


Follow Your Hosts Guide When Dining Out And Socializing


When you are dining out with colleagues, clients, or other associates it is best to follow your host’s lead. Here are some tips to consider:


●Don’t Order Pork Products

●Don’t Order Alcohol if Others Are Not or if it Isn’t Offered on The Menu

●Left Handed People Should Use Their Right Hand When Dining

●If You Are Hosting do Not Offer Alcohol

●Eat Slowly And Politely



It is important to take cultural expectations into consideration if you plan on doing business in the UAE. This includes your behavior when interacting with business associates in person as well as how you choose to translate and localize your content.

Category: Business 



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