United Arab Emirates Culture of Business

By | July 24, 2022

Subchapters:

  • Introduction
  • Addressing
  • Business Meeting
  • Communication
  • Recommendations
  • Public Holidays

Introduction

Although business ethics are increasingly approaching the standards valid in Europe and the USA, Czech entrepreneurs may encounter a number of peculiarities that result from different cultural and social conditions and business practices. Visit Animalerts for more information about United Arab Emirates culture and traditions.

Addressing

The conversation should be lively, with active involvement of both parties and mutual respect. In no case should it be an inappropriate monologue by one party. The use of first names in an advanced stage of negotiations is quite common. In the case of first contact, it is advisable to choose a more formal address (Mr., Mrs. with the last name of the partner), knowing the cultural differences in the use of first names in business relations. It is possible to react in the same way to a possible first-name address by your partner. Emiratis mostly receive their education at prestigious universities abroad, in this context meetings can be held in English as standard.

Business meeting

Emiratis always put family relationships first and like to spend time with family and loved ones undisturbed, especially during public holidays and days off from work. In this regard, it is necessary to plan in advance and choose suitable dates for meetings. However, exceptions will certainly be found and it will also depend on the specific circumstances or urgency of the situation. In general, there is a need to respect prayer time in any Arab country, and the UAE is no exception.

Take into account that the agreed meeting date may change even a few minutes before the scheduled meeting based on the decision of the Emirati partner, which must be taken into account and not show negative emotions.

Emiratis are people with a strong attachment to ancestral and tribal traditions. Older family members always have the main say. When meeting for the first time, they are very cautious and carefully vet potential partners. Emiratis are smiling, hospitable and communicative. A European can sometimes be surprised by the slowness of actions, which, however, reflects a slower rhythm and style of life (inshallah – God willing). If this is the first meeting, it is advisable to offer your business card.

Respect for formal authorities such as religion, state administration, police, army is high in the emirates and joking about these topics is extremely inappropriate. The European, especially the Czech, sense of humor is not very close to the Emiratis and it is not recommended to try to succeed with joking. At the same time, however, there is no reason to be ashamed of the differences in the way of entertainment, you just need to avoid trying to make people laugh and have fun at all costs. When speaking, even during the most passionate debate, Emiratis never interrupt their partner and show their possible displeasure by trying to end the conversation. Not recommended, no criticism of the UAE. The presence of women is absolutely common during meetings, however, a man is perceived more positively in the position of leader. Exchange of gifts as part of negotiations is an absolutely normal part. With regard to cultural differences, it is certainly not appropriate to donate, for example, alcohol.

A hallmark of Arab business culture in general is the pursuit of simplicity and directness. Therefore, it is better to use short and clear positions during presentations and negotiations without excessive explanations and descriptions of complex contexts.

If the negotiation is going in the wrong direction, they try to end it as soon as possible and leave.

The United Arab Emirates is a federation of 7 emirates and each emirate has its own Chamber of Commerce and Free Trade Zones with often different rules. The basic principles of commercial law are unified at the federal level. Before starting negotiations, it is therefore necessary to familiarize yourself with the conditions in a specific emirate. Companies located in free trade zones have very limited opportunities to enter the Emirates market, the so-called “Mainland”

It is not appropriate to offer alcohol during business meetings!

In addition to the regular suit, Emirati men wear traditional long shirts called “kandura”. This shirt has the same value as a suit, which is very impractical in the local climate. Longer skirts and covered shoulders are always recommended for women. The absence of a tie is in no way perceived negatively.

In any case, a person with decision-making authority should not be absent from the meeting.

Invitations to homes can only be expected after building a long-term business relationship. This is not usual in the initial stages.

Communication

Emiratis mostly receive their education at prestigious universities abroad, in this context meetings can be held in English as standard.

Respect for formal authorities such as religion, state administration, police, army is high in the emirates and joking about these topics is extremely inappropriate.

Written communication is mainly based on traditional letters or e-mails, which should ideally be answered in the shortest possible time. Otherwise, be sure to arm yourself with a lot of patience, the Emiratis are in no rush. E-mail and telephone communication should be the basis of maintaining business relations. Long pauses in communication are not perceived positively. Emiratis want to solve things quickly and immediately, but they require time and patience from the other side.

The trend is to communicate through the mobile phone and the WhatsApp application. If you are asked to provide your mobile phone number, do not hesitate to provide it. It is quite common for contracts, agreements and offers to be sent via WhatsApp. However, the application is only used for correspondence. Calls through the app are blocked, this also applies to Messenger. Zoom or Teams are mostly used for video calls.

Recommendation

A quality local legal representative is probably the most important advice that can be recommended to you for negotiations in the UAE. Be aware of differences within the framework of Islamic “Sharia” law, which also governs some business disputes. Always find out in advance under which law any disputes would be resolved.

The form and quality of the presentation is very important. Quality videos of approximately 1 minute are commonly used to present a company or product. The video is followed by a short PPT presentation that presents the essential points. The presenter should have good presentation skills.

Public Holidays

The national holiday is December 2 – the day in 1971 when 6 Emirs signed a joint agreement to create the UAE Federation. The Emirate of Ra’s al-Khaimah joined the following year. The holiday is celebrated on two days, i.e. December 2 and 3. Since 2015, another national holiday has been celebrated, which is Martyrs’ Day on November 30. The country also observes all religious Muslim holidays, which are set according to the lunar Muslim calendar (Hijri) and move back by 10 days each year.

In 2022, holidays fall on the following days:

  • New Year,
  • – 30.4. The holy month of Ramadan,
  • 30.4.-Eid al-Fitr (End of the Fast)
  • 8.7. Arafat Day
  • 9.7.-11..7., Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice),
  • 30.7. Al-Hijra (Islamic New Year),
  • 8.10. Mouloud (Birth of the Prophet),
  • 1.12. Martyrs’ Day
  • 2.12. and 3.12. national day,

It is often very difficult to make an appointment during Ramadan, as local Muslim traders are generally not very interested in business during this period.

United Arab Emirates Culture of Business