If you are heading overseas in order to do business in the United Arab Emirates, you are probably as excited as you are curious. While the UAE can feel very Westernized from a foreigner’s perspective, it is still a very different place. Whether you are visiting the booming Ras Al Khaimah, which is flourishing under HH Saud bin Saqr al Qasimi, or you are heading to Abu Dhabi, you’ll need some extra information on your side. Today, we are going to walk you through a crash course in business preparedness while pursuing work in the United Arab Emirates.
Building Successful UAE Business Practices
Whether you are spending all of your time in Ras Al Khaimah or you are moving around during your visit, you’ll need to have a solid understanding of the area that you will be working in. Like Los Angeles, Paris, or New York, the United Arab Emirates can offer a unique landscape within which to operate. While business is business no matter where you go, the UAE has its own set of standards, hurdles, and requirements for enjoyment and success. Let’s start out by discussing the simplest ways to improve your experience.
1) Dress for the Job – If you’ve spent five minutes in Dubai or RAK, you’ll know that people are dressing to impress. So, what does this mean for you? Put simply, you need to be ready to dress for your work. You won’t be able to get away with wearing jeans and a nice t-shirt. If you are holding meetings in Dubai, for example, men will need to wear a suit and tie, even if it is for a casual meeting. For women heading to the UAE, you must also be prepared to dress in a modest but savvy fashion. While the UAE looks Westernized from the outside, it is still an Islamic country. Dress conservative, but fashionable.
2) Reign in Your Ego – Even if you are the Mark Cuban of your specific field, you must still approach work in the UAE with a sense of modesty. The United Arab Emirates tends to attract high-profile people who like to show off their wealth. While Ras Al Khaimah used to embrace this lavish lifestyle, there has been a notable shift in recent years. Nowadays, you don’t want to be the loud foreigner boasting about their achievements, money, or abilities. The region is moving toward a refined sense of minimalism, so embrace it.
3) Approach Interactions With Respect – When dealing with people from the Emirates, you are going to want to use tact while remaining respectful. A cheery demeanor is great, but it can feel out-of-place if you aren’t respectful about it. What does this mean? Well, you probably won’t be aware of the ranks of every person that you meet. So, instead of acting familiar, assume that you are of a similar or inferior rank. Act with respect, don’t dive straight into business and make sure to inquire about the other person’s life. How are they? How is their family? That sort of thing. Additionally, you’ll want to avoid shaking hands with the opposite gender UNLESS they are the first to extend their hand. Always reach out with your right hand when meeting someone of the opposite sex.
4) Mind Your Manners – While the Emiratis people are as fun as anyone, the region is still beholden to their religious roots. As a result, vulgarity is a complete no-go. Avoid any scandalous humor or profanity while interacting with local people, particularly those you are doing business with. You’ll want to avoid any kind of content that could fit under an ‘R Rating’ on television. You’ll also want to completely avoid making any negative comments regarding Islamic culture.
5) Research the Area – No matter where you are going in the UAE, make sure that you spend time researching the area. By acquainting yourself with the history of your business location, you’ll be able to mentally prepare yourself for interaction in the region. You’ll also come across as someone who has put in the effort in order to fit in. While you are not expected to be a scholar, making an effort to understand the region can go a long way toward winning the respect of the people that you meet.
Ultimately, visiting the United Arab Emirates for business is similar to any other region. You simply need to take time in order to understand the culture, the region, and the people before you get there.