The Do’s and Don’ts of Doing Business in Dubai

Are you interested in going to Dubai to try and win some new business, set up some trades, or meet with an important figure you’d like as a business connection? Dubai is a thriving, cosmopolitan place, and a lot of fun to visit, but it really pays to know the etiquette before you try and meet with anyone there, so you don’t cause any faux pas or have a less than ideal experience.

Here are some important do’s and don’ts if you want to be a hit in Dubai:

Consider When You Travel

What many people don’t realise is that the business week in Dubai runs from Sunday to Thursday. This means that the best time to fly in is Saturday, so you can make the most of the full working period (or Thursday or Friday if you want some time to relax and acclimate).

There is also little point in going there on business in July or August, when most important people you’ll be wanting to see have a strong chance of being elsewhere on vacation. Due to the extremely hot climate at that time of year, business slows down a lot and it’s also pretty uncomfortable for you!

What to Wear

Despite the heat, you’ll want to be in proper business attire at all times, and if you’re a woman, dress conservatively. While you may see people dressed in other things around, for business and to avoid offending anyone, make sure you look smart. This means wearing a full suit and tie for men, which can be uncomfortable outdoors unfortunately, but you’ll find indoors places are kept at an OK temperature for formal business attire.

Meeting People

When you visit a place of business in Dubai, you’ll see that most men are wearing what’s called a dishdasha – robes that replace the western business suit as work-wear. It is very hard to tell from what people are wearing what their roles are so it is important to treat everyone with the highest level of courtesy.

Additionally, remember that while some women are fine with a traditional handshake, it makes others uncomfortable so if you are introduced to a woman during your business trip, even if she is the client you want to impress, do not automatically go for a handshake. Allow her to offer her hand first if there is to be a handshake at all.

Coffee Etiquette

Traditional Arab coffee is often served, and it is a useful piece of etiquette to know that you should shake the cup when you have had enough. This indicates to the person serving coffee to stop refilling you. If you don’t know this, you can end up drinking far more strong coffee than you intended while trying to be polite to your hosts!

Dubai can be an amazing place to visit and ripe with opportunities, but be sure to learn what the appropriate etiquette is for business visitors while you are planning your trip and behave accordingly!

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Israa Elkhatib

I was born in Palestine but raised with the fireflies in Georgia. My teenage years were spent being the Muslim nerd who was known as the bookworm of the school. That followed me back to Palestine, to develop into being the girl with the big vocabulary. I spent most of my high-school days cursing Newton for not eating that apple. My English Literature Bachelor's degree was only obtained because I'm a nerd for literature and my minor in Translation pretty much pays the bills, thank you Birzeit University.Creative writing is my passion and reading is my escape from reality into a world where everything is the way you imagine it to be.

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