A business trip to Dubai

Our advice for a successful stay in Dubai, where modernity meets culture for a guaranteed change of scenery

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Staying in Dubai for the first time may be a culture shock. It's home to an excessively modern environment and cultural codes which are very different to Western norms.
Here’s an overview of the intricacies of this small — yet hugely powerful — territory, which is a great place to do business.

The sky's the limit

Dubai is often perceived as a city of excess and endless possibilities.
And it’s true that, bathed in luxury, the capital of the Emirate of Dubai is the place for grandiose projects. From the world’s highest tower, the Burj Khalifa, to the huge shopping malls where you can spend the day in retail-therapy heaven, the city attracts expatriates as well as tourists and business travellers.
You'll also enjoy a high standard of living, thanks to a wide selection of tempting leisure activities, from swimming at the beach to a trip through the desert, not forgetting the amusement parks. 

Business opportunities

Overtly displaying its economic dynamism, the city attracts a great number of foreign businesspeople, both those on business trips and those choosing to settle permanently. Being oil based, Dubai’s economy has diversified to become both a financial hub and a leading tourist destination.

Building projects are important here, particularly tourist complexes. Another interesting development is that Dubai has opened up free zones in order to facilitate trade. It means that foreign businesspeople can operate their businesses here and goods in transit are exempt from tax. 

A cosmopolitan population and interesting traditions

A huge number of Dubai residents are expatriates. The most commonly used language is English, while posters and signs are generally bilingual, written in both Arabic and English. Natives of Dubai can be identified by their traditional dress: men wear white gandouras and women wear long black cloaks.

The official religion is Islam, but other religions are accepted. Although non-Muslims are asked to observe a code of conduct, the rules are relatively simple to follow. Women aren't required to cover their hair or face in public, and Western dress is acceptable. Garments which cover the arms and legs are preferable, particularly in a business setting. Alcohol must be consumed in enclosed spaces, such as hotels. During Ramadan, drinking, eating and smoking in public in the daytime is forbidden. That being said, you can eat any time of day in enclosed spaces.

Business etiquette

When planning a trip to Dubai, bear in mind that the working week runs from Sunday to Thursday. The most difficult thing to grasp is probably the cultural aspect, particularly during business meetings. Etiquette is essential here and it follows relatively strict rules.

Hospitality is particularly crucial. You will always be welcomed with tea or coffee, an offer you should accept as refusal is frowned upon. On the business side of things, it's not customary to address matters head on, but rather to discuss them after a period of 'small talk'; courteous discussions are considered proper etiquette. Be patient, there will be time later on to discuss business matters. 

A not-to-be-missed exhibition

From 2020, Dubai will offer a sizeable gift to celebrate the UAE’s 50th anniversary: the Universal Exhibition.
Set up for a period of six months from 20th October 2020, the Universal Exhibition site will then be turned into the Dubai Trade Centre Jebel Ali conference and exhibitions facility: a space dedicated to innovative technologies where visitors can browse the event’s exhibition, as well as details of properties and luxury hotels.

Published by Laurence on 26/01/2018 Photo credit: © dblight

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