As with most strongly hierarchical cultures, teams tend to be thought of as a group of individuals working to a strong leader.
The leader tells individual team members what to do and the team members report back directly to the leader. Therefore teams tend to work vertically rather than horizontally.
In any case, for a team to work well together, everybody needs to have formed a strong bond. Traditionally teams would have consisted of extended family members working together – and so the bonds were already formed. It can be difficult to bring a group of locals together who do not know each other and expect them to work easily as a team from the beginning. In such a situation, people tend to display suspicion of one another and progress can be slow.
Within any gathering of Emiratis hierarchy will always be present and even if you wish to develop a flat system within the team it is likely that traditional class and family issues will result in an unofficial hierarchy developing very quickly indeed.
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: