Navigating UAE Business Culture
In a globalised business world, understanding and adapting to the local business culture is crucial for the success of any venture. When it comes to business formation in Dubai, UAE, or the Middle East as a whole, considering their unique business culture is a vital step. Seeking guidance from a trusted business consultant is key to successful company formation in Dubai as you explore the nuances of business culture, shedding light on important socio-cultural aspects one must respect.
What is the Business Culture in the UAE?
The UAE, and Dubai in particular, has established itself as a hub for international business and a melting pot of cultures. Its business culture reflects this diversity, and is anchored in values of respect, hospitality, and mutual trust.
Before setting up their companies in Dubai, entrepreneurs must recognise the importance of establishing personal relationships as they play a pivotal role in business interactions. Engaging in small talk and socialising, even during work meetings, is customary and helps lay the foundation for successful collaborations. Handshakes, smiles, and formal greetings are commonplace.
How is the Work Culture in the UAE?
The typical working hours in the public sector were historically from 7.30 am to 2.30 pm, and the customary workweek extended from Sunday to Thursday. However, in December 2021, the government declared a transition to a 4 ½ day working week, running from Monday to Friday, aligning with global work standards.
Although no official requirement was imposed on the private sector to implement this new schedule, numerous private companies voluntarily adapted to it, mirroring the change initiated by government institutions and schools.
Foreigners seeking to set up a business in Dubai must be aware that collaborative decision-making is the norm, and multicultural teams are often seen working closely together. During Islamic prayer times, business activities typically continue without interruptions.
What are the Important Aspects of Culture in the UAE?
As one of the leading business set up consultants, we help you navigate the diverse cultural aspects that are integral to business in Dubai:
- Building Relationships: Establishing strong relationships with local business partners and clients is the cornerstone of successful business interactions. Face-to-face meetings are highly valued, bridging trust divides.
- Negotiating Business Deals: Be prepared for a series of meetings and negotiations before closing deals. Decisions may take several months to materialise, so patience is key. Ensure your business cards include a UAE number, and be reachable on WhatsApp, a popular communication channel.
- Important Times of the Day, Week & Year: Be mindful of the Islamic call to prayer, which occurs five times a day. Despite this, business meetings are unlikely to be interrupted. However, show respect for local customs during prayer times.
- Holidays: Many decision-makers take summer holidays in July and August, which may affect business activities.
- Ramadan: The holy month of Ramadan is a significant cultural event. Business continues, but schedules tend to be shorter and disrupted. If you’re in the UAE during Ramadan, you may be invited to iftars (evening meals) or suhoors (pre-dawn meals), providing opportunities to build relationships.
- Meet-and-Greet Etiquette: When meeting local Emiratis, especially in the public sector, a more conservative etiquette is observed. Understanding family connections and positions of leadership is important.
- Dressing Appropriately: Dress formally, with a shirt and tie as a minimum for men. Modesty is advised for women, covering shoulders and knees.
- Alcohol: UAE laws related to alcohol consumption have evolved. It’s no longer illegal to consume alcohol in public or unlicensed places, particularly for Westerners. However, always respect local culture when organising events.
- Language Considerations: While English is the language of business, Arabic is also spoken, so speak clearly and consider basic Arabic phrases.
- Gift-Giving: Gifting is a gesture of reciprocity, with the gesture’s value more important than the actual gift. Be aware that some organizations may not accept gifts.
- Women in the UAE: The UAE is relatively liberal compared to other Middle Eastern countries. Women in the UAE have important roles in government and business, with rights and freedoms akin to men.
Understanding the local customs, work culture, and key cultural aspects can open doors to successful business formation in Dubai. Remember that respect, adaptability, and patience are your greatest assets in the UAE’s diverse and thriving business world.
If you’re seeking business setup services in Dubai or need assistance with all things company formation, reach out to us for expert guidance.