Compared to other countries and regions in the world, Dubai offers the best opportunities for business growth. In case you are wondering, Dubai comprises many free zones for business opportunities compared to other regions of the Middle East. Various factors contribute to this kind of feasibility that only Dubai offers, including a strategic location and an excellent business infrastructure. We will get to the details of these factors in a bit. Let us talk about the cultural significance of Dubai first. If you are considering moving to Dubai to set up your business, here is the link to everything you need to know about offshore company formation in Dubai. That said, let us move to the cultural significance of this region.
What is Business Culture in the UAE?
Disclaimer: the business culture in the UAE is different from what you are used to at home. With that said, the great news is that it is easily adjustable. You will need to consider a couple of things before booking the flight for your business venture. Firstly, the crux of Dubai’s business etiquette revolves around respect. More importantly, Dubai is an Islamic region. Therefore, you might find the business culture more conservative than what you are used to in the US or Europe. Furthermore, instead of the weekend, the off days in Dubai are Friday and Saturday.
You will find all kinds of nationalities in Dubai as it is the hub of all cultures. Also, the Emiratis understand cultural differences and cut their foreign business partners usually some slack when it comes to cultural attitudes. However, it is recommended to get familiar with the basics so that no one gets offended on your initial business visit.
What are the Typical Working Conditions in the UAE?
The typical working hours in the UAE are from nine to five. Whereas, the regular work days start on Sunday and go till Thursday. During the Islamic month of Ramadan, the work hours are confined to six hours. The natives of Dubai are punctual. Therefore, you need to be on time for your meetings. You will also find a healthy work-life balance in the UAE.
One of the primary keys to excellent business etiquette in the UAE is having the right communication skills. You can expect communication to be more formal during business meetings. This is due to the conservative Islamic culture of this region. All people need to be appropriately addressed by their titles (Miss/ Mr/ Mrs). Men typically exchange a light handshake, whereas, with women, you have to be careful. Wait till they extend their hand. If they don’t, then a slight head nod will do (remember it is an Islamic country). Hierarchy plays a crucial role in the culture of Dubai. Therefore, remember to greet the most senior person in the room first before working your way down.
The interesting aspect of Dubai’s culture is that first impressions matter tremendously. This is specifically important when you are meeting a potential client for the time. In Dubai, it is a custom to bring a present as a token on such first meetings. Similarly, people also prefer exchanging gifts after a business deal has been successfully closed. The locals of Dubai have a particular liking for receiving gift tokens from different cultures. In case you are wondering, for a first business meeting, you can opt for high-quality chocolates or dates as these are considered an excellent choice among the locals. If the person holds more significant value and wants to move towards a special business deal, you can also choose expensive pens. While exchanging gifts, you must keep in mind that it shouldn’t be offensive to Muslims as most locals are from an Islamic background.
As an expat, you are not required to adopt the dress code of the locals. The men in Dubai typically wear loose clothing, also known as dishdasha. Whereas the women usually wear a headscarf (hijab) and a floor-length robe (abaya). While you dress up for the meeting, you should wear something classy, elegant, and yet modest. As a man, you can go in suits, ties, and shoes. However, if you are a woman, make sure to cover your shoulders, knees, chest, and upper arms.
What is the Organizational Hierarchy in the UAE?
Now comes the exciting part; the organizational hierarchy is very rigid. The senior and more experienced employees are typically in the top positions. People on the top are also generally the decision-makers, whereas the employees working on a lower level are subordinates with little say in crucial matters. If you want to win a business deal with a company, you will have to win over the people who are at the top. More surprisingly, the more family connections, money, and age someone has within the company, the higher up they are in the hierarchy. This is also why you will find fewer women and more men in the organizational hierarchy’s top positions.
The UAE is providing excellent business infrastructure to foreign investors with no limitations on the types of office set-ups. You will find no taxes and low import duties in the free zones of Dubai, and these are plenty. Globally, the UAE ranks number 11 regarding easy business set-ups and number 1 to provide excellent business opportunities for foreign investors. Most foreign industries are not being charged for corporate taxes, except for oil businesses and foreign bank set-ups.