Cultural tips for doing business in Dubai in 2022

Mixed business team in Dubai. Business meeting with men wearing kandura and western people in the office

Cultural tips for doing business in Dubai in 2022


I visited Dubai at the end of 2020, and I was truly surprised at how diverse it was – I fell in love as soon as I arrived at the airport. I was fascinated by the international travellers setting up business meetings along the majestic marina, and when I took a moment to think about it, I realised it’s the perfect city for conducting business as it has both seaport and airport, both of which make logistics easier. Business related to international trading, import, export, tourism and logistics can flourish successfully in this region, and whether you are looking for an international fashion outlet or a world-class restaurant offering exotic cuisine, you are sure to find it in Dubai.

Learning the proper techniques for conducting business cross-culturally in Dubai will allow you to avoid poor first impressions and ensure that your time and money is invested wisely. 

Clothing – Dubai Culture

Wearing culturally appropriate clothing will always make for a great first impression and set a professional tone for how you will be seen by business prospects and clients. Remember Dubai’s culture is rooted in Arabic and Islamic tradition and therefore caution and consideration must be taken regarding your appearance so that no one is offended. If you are working in an industry where casual clothing is normal, then it is important that you avoid revealing too much skin or wearing inappropriate attire. If you are not sure, dress conservatively to be on the safe side. Every time I went out during my stay in Dubai, I would always bring a scarf in my bag to cover my arms and shoulders to use as a cover up in public places to remain respectful.

Remember to socially distance and give personal space – even in Dubai!

Doing business in Dubai means you will meet other entrepreneurs who have set up their business in Dubai just as you have. Remember that standing too close or touching another person is considered inappropriate. Touching members of the opposite sex during conversation is an absolute no-no and offensive. However, there is a fair amount of touching between men. It is common to see men holding hands as it is a sign of close friendship. Keep, at minimum, an arm’s length away from the individual to avoid any issues.

Business Meetings – Dubai Culture

Personal relationships are key to doing business in the UAE. Face-to-face meetings are preferred as phone calls and emails are sometimes seen as impersonal. Appointments should be made not less than two weeks in advance and confirmed a few days before the actual meeting. Recently, in an effort to support work-life balance for employees and to further align the country with the global economy, the UAE has made the following chances to the countries public sector work week: work days are now Monday – Friday afternoon and standard working hours for public sector employees are now 7:30am to 3:30pm on Monday through to Thursday and 7:30 until noon on Fridays. These changes came into effect on 1st January 2022. Try to avoid meetings/events on Thursday evenings and Fridays since these are days of prayer.

Always be aware of customs and culture when you are in a new country. Being an Islamic nation, the local traditions and sensitivities in the UAE are different from those in India, Singapore, or Australia. However, there’s no doubt that it is a culturally rich country. The people of the UAE are welcoming and friendly.

Being culturally aware is an essential element to consider while you’re doing business in a foreign country. What may pass for “normal” in your home country may come across as offensive or insensitive while doing business in other countries or with other nationalities. That is why it is vital to do research on the culture before flying out to your destination country.

Here at Dialogue, we provide cultural training sessions to help individuals understand different cultures in more depth. If you feel this is a service that would be useful to you then please feel free to look at our services in more detail today.

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