Meetings can be confusing affairs as they are often subject to unforeseen interruptions and alterations. Don’t expect the standard western approach of meeting room, punctuality, agenda, action points etc.
Punctuality is variable in the UAE and a meeting scheduled to start at 10am might start on time but may well start an hour or more late. It is also difficult to predict the end time of a meeting with any degree of accuracy – which can make it difficult to visit the UAE and arrange three meetings in the morning, followed by three meetings in the afternoon. Two meetings a day is probably the safest option.
It is not uncommon to arrive at your meeting to find your host in a meeting with several other people and that these other people could be meeting your host about completely disconnected issues. This process can make meetings very lengthy and it can be a little frustrating if you don’t get the complete attention you feel you deserve.
Some people recommend setting up meetings at the up-market local hotels where you can serve coffee and refreshments – and where you are less likely to be interrupted as frequently!
In the UAE, relationships are all-important and meetings will often start with a lot of seemingly trivial small-talk. Do not underestimate how important this relationship building process is to the overall success of your project. Make time to chat – the rewards will flow in the long-run.
Written and Produced by Keith Warburton
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: