Shake On It: A Guide to Doing Business in Dubai

Ask any PR agency who has successful international clients – you need to do research before taking a business trip. That is true for Dubai as well as other major international business hubs like Japan and New York. What you say and how you act could affect how others view you and your business. Here’s a guide to doing well in Dubai.

Respect Old Roots

Dubai is a very modern and hip place but it has very old roots and adheres to Islamic customs. Always use your right hand to shake. Also, it could be offensive to get down to business right away. Spend time asking about the health and welfare of business associates and their loved ones. Paying respect to business partners and recognizing them as people is a must and has advantages.

Be Modest About Achievements

You may be there to close a huge deal, which is customary for you and your business, yet it’s best to be modest about your prior and current achievements. Many successful people move through Dubai and the area has seen its share of cocky and lavish people. Be modest and stay focused on the business at hand.

Get Networking

Dubai embraces the digital age but business ventures and partnerships profit via in-person interactions. Join meetup groups, have Arabic business cards ready and don’t be shy about meeting people and starting conversations. So don’t fall in love with your luxurious room at the JW Marriott Hotel Dubai.

Keep Drinks to a Minimum

As mentioned, Dubai has old roots and it would be good to look over its code of ethics. And while it’s okay to let loose and have a cocktail, you don’t want to embarrass yourself or your company by getting too drunk. Moreover, while it may be okay to share a drink with potential business partners, limit yourself to one or two.

Nip It in the Bud

As not to offend anyone’s afternoon or nightly rituals, try and schedule meetings in the morning, when people are ready to make sound business decisions. Be on time and don’t allow your meeting to extend itself unless your host is okay with it.

Don’t Pressure Sales Partners

If you’re from a bustling sector rooted in New York or Chicago, you’re used to fast talkers and quick decisions. However, don’t assume the same goes for business people in Dubai. Be patient and stay aware of the pace of your host’s business decisions and actions.

Be Aware of Body Language

Onlookers could be more sensitive to the body language of foreigners or more astute to what you’re not saying. Be aware of how you present yourself in addition to your facial expressions and body posture.

Relax and Be More Informal

The success of business ventures are high in Dubai yet boardrooms do not have to be stodgy and plagued with awkward formalities. Arabs are more informal, preferring to be called by their first name in a business setting. While many sales organizations teach salespeople to create a persona, such pretenses can be offensive in Dubai.


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