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.
This country-specific business culture profile was written by Keith Warburton who is the founder of the cultural awareness training consultancy Global Business Culture.
Global Business culture is a leading training provider in the fields of cross-cultural communication and global virtual team working. We provide training to global corporations in live classroom-based formats, through webinars and also through our cultural awareness digital learning hub, Global Business Compass.
This World Business Culture profile is designed as an introduction to business culture in United Arab Emirates only and a more detailed understanding needs a more in-depth exploration which we can provide through our training and consultancy services.
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