Successful Entertaining in the UAE

You may find that you are invited for a meal by a local Emirati contact who will entertain you lavishly at one of the most expensive hotels or restaurants in the region.

The food will be superb and the surroundings even better. You host may flatter you and tell you how much he enjoys doing business with you. Does this mean you are on track to land that big contract? Not necessarily. This lavish entertainment may be the precursor of great things to follow – but it may also be a polite way of letting you down gently!

If you invite a local contact for a meal, it is important that you also entertain lavishly. The amount of effort (and money) put into the entertainment aspect of relationship building reflects how highly you value your guests. Do not imagine that this investment is ill-advised or wasted – it is an absolutely essential part of that all-important relationship building process.

Do not eat or pass food with your left hand – which is considered to be the ‘dirty’ hand. (It might even be considered offensive to pass things with the left hand.)

A service charge of about 10% is usually added to a restaurant bill but it is not uncommon for people to add an extra 10% on top of this.

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