Business Dress Code in the UAE

Although most local men wear a dish-dasha which is a crisp white ankle-length shift and a traditional gutra or head cloth and many local women wear an abaya which is a floor-length robe when in public, it is not advisable for expatriates or visitors to do this. Locals would not expect you to do this.

Throughout the Emirates, work attire tends to be quite formal, except on Thursdays, when many companies adopt a casual look. This would include suits or very smart business casual for men.
Women should dress always modestly which includes covering shoulders, upper arms and knees. This is especially important during Ramadan.

It is an obvious thing to say but the region is extremely hot for most of the year (although evenings can be cool at times) and it is essential that you take lightweight fabrics and lots of changes of shirts etc.

A brief overview of some key concepts to consider when doing business in the United Arab Emirates

Written and Produced by Keith Warburton

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The United Arab Emirates is still predominantly dependent on oil revenues but, having said that, represents the most diversified economy in the Gulf region. All the Emirates have made concerted efforts over the past couple of decades to develop a future in which the country could continue to prosper in a post-fossil fuel world.

As a result of this drive for economic diversification, the UAE has become a magnet for international companies looking to develop new markets and increase their global footprint. As an affluent society, the UAE offer good opportunities across a wide-range of both consumer and industrial areas and will continue to do so into the foreseeable future.

However, the UAE is a Gulf state and needs to be approached with a degree of caution. Things work differently in the UAE than they probably do ‘back home’ and if you are considering doing business in the United Arab Emirates then it is essential to do some homework in advance. Do not be fooled by the fact that the country is home to a large number of expatriates from all over the world – the decision-makers are Emirati and you need to understand their local culture and business mentality if you are to have any hope of success.

Remember that relationship -building is the key but that it takes time and patience to build those relationships. Don’t try to rush things and don’t expect immediate results – you may be lucky but usually patience is an essential trait when working in the UAE.

This country profile provides an overview of some of the key aspects of Emirati business culture in a concise, easy to follow-format. The document includes information on:

  • Background to business
  • Business Structures
  • Management style
  • Meetings
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Women in business
  • Entertaining
  • Top tips