If moving to Dubai and work there prepare that there are different ways to do business. The culture differs a lot so the set of rules is quite another.
You’ll meet many other expats while doing business in Dubai – so the mix of nationalities creates a unique business environment. But it’s critical to learn the local business culture taken from Islam and Arab culture.
Immaculate appearance matters here: Arabs think about their clothes a lot. It’s better here to appear ‘overdressed’ than to bummed to look too casual. Modesty is also needed: men and women should always cover shoulders, arms and legs – to avoid offending people around.
Etiquette is the most important in Dubai – the impression builds on how you address others. You shall use Sheikh (chief) (or Sheikha for a woman), Sayed (Mr.), Sayeda (Mrs.), etc. in any case. When arriving to a business meeting or meeting colleagues always say first ‘hello’ to the oldest / most senior person first.
It’s ok when a handshakes takes a long time – better wait for the other to finish it. If a man is introduced to a woman he shall wait and check first whether a hand is extended. And as for Western women, when being introduced to a Muslim man she also may wait to see if he offers a handshake.
Plus, always compliment hosts on their hospitality, it’s a must.
The working week is a bit unusual – Sunday through to Thursday, but due to culture mix it’s also often hard to get anything done on a Sunday. By the way, may sound funny, but is true for sure: expats are expected to be punctual, even if locals aren’t much.
Usage of the left hand: NEVER – either to eat or to shake hands or hand anything to anybody else. Left hand is assumed to be unclean.
Few words regarding hospitality: you should never say no to an offer of a beverage or any other display of hospitality – that may be thought as offence.
One more tip – do not back away while having a talk or a conversation with anyone. Since locals have much less personal space area, so they may be shurt if see you acting surprised.
And surely – no physical contact with Arab women for men; even enquiring after someone’s female relatives probably would be considered as inappropriate and not good – so first better ask after family overall in polite conversation.
And you probably already know – NO showing the bottom of shoes when sitting.