7 Tips for Making Your Business Trip a Success in Dubai
Dubai is a thriving and dynamic commercial hub, with a unique regional and global presence in this role. The city has emerged as one of the world’s most rapidly growing business centres and attracted the attention and active involvement of numerous corporations and investors over the last several years. The business traveller has many reasons to seek out the opportunities for growth and entrepreneurship that Dubai offers, and many do. Dubai is strongly connected to its roots while being a generous host to a very sizeable expatriate community. To make the most of their interaction with the city, the business traveller needs to be mindful of the unique character and flavour of the Emirati metropolis.
It’s hard to be indifferent to Dubai. Like many of the world’s iconic destinations, most have an opinion of the city even before they have set foot on it. Impressive skyline, outrageously ambitious landmarks and developments, thriving business climate or even Dubai’s push towards the adoption of future-ready and people-centric technology, perceptions about the city are often centred on its legendary penchant for momentum. For those looking to engage with the commercial energy and opportunities of the city, it is essential to incorporate the traditional etiquette and customs of the region. Attention to a few critical details, in conduct, style and attitude, can open doors that remain welcoming for a lifetime.
Gemini Property Developers CEO Sunil Gomes believes that Dubai presents business travellers and visiting entrepreneurs with far greater opportunity than challenges. In his opinion, the inherent warmth of the local culture has infused the business community in the city with positivity and dynamism that makes it open to new ideas. Sunil believes that this underlying optimism in approach, as well as Dubai’s ability to go from proposal to implementation rapidly, makes the city a highly opportunity-rich environment. Sunil notes that, for the very reasonable and simple courtesy of being respectful of local practices and approach, the upside is being able to gain access to one of the most exciting and aspiration driven business centres in the world.
Engaging successfully with the Dubai business community is based on values
For the international business traveller who has experienced diverse cultures and customs, Dubai doesn’t present any challenges of major significance. Dubai is a cosmopolitan city, with exposure to and tolerance towards cultures from around the world. However, sensitivity towards the local cultural environment and nuances is much appreciated and responded to warmly. Here are seven top tips that can help reinforce your chances of successful business interaction in Dubai:
- Business appropriate attire: As with any business culture around the world, the emphasis is on sophistication and smart appearance. Modesty in attire is a crucial aspect to adhere to for both sexes. Men would be advised to wear ties and suits are preferred in formal settings. For women skirts below the knee or pants are an advisable option, along with an overall emphasis on business-like modesty. It is not necessary for businesswomen to wear headscarves traditional to the region unless the occasion or venue has a religious significance.
- Etiquette and behavior: Good manners and mutual respect are held in high esteem across the Middle East, and Dubai is no exception. Being punctual in your dealings and appointments is an imperative, though it might require some time management, especially when covering significant distances over Dubai’s busy arterial roads. Greet the senior most individual of the group you are meeting first and do not initiate a handshake with a person of the opposite gender, unless it is offered first. Invest time into building a rapport before delving into business matters, even if it takes more than one meeting to do so.
- Networking: Personal networks and relationships are the cornerstone of business in Dubai. Even when you have had extended contact with someone using digital communication, it is advisable to invest in developing the relationship further by meeting them physically. It’s a good idea to participate in the groups and networks that The Dubai Chamber of Commerce hosts and facilitates within various industries.
- Embrace the ‘can-do’ energy: Much the same as Dubai is a mix of the cosmopolitan and traditional, it is also an ambitious city but one that demands convincing reasoning for a venture. Do extensive research and make sure you are well versed in the opportunities and risks of the local market. Bring specific proposals to the table but also engage with the city’s ability to dream and deliver the unprecedented.
- Balance expertise with humility: Dubai’s penchant for creating uniquely impressive outcomes is often mistaken as a desire to prove itself; this is not so. It is important to confidently share your opinion and perspective but do so without being arrogant or dismissive. For a city that is a lot younger in age than many global business centras, Dubai has seen it all. The city appreciates expertise but has an aversion to brash behaviour. Make sure your opinions are well founded and present them with humble but firm confidence; you will gain the trust of your Emirati partners more effectively.
- Including Arabic in your business cards and literature: It’s easy to conduct your business in Dubai using English alone but including some Arabic can go a long way. Engage a trusted local adviser to add content in Arabic to your business documentation. Such small but thoughtful gestures are expected, and highly appreciated.
- Business on Friday and during Ramadan: Friday is the Islamic day of prayer and contemplation. Do not initiate proposals to do business on Friday and follow the lead of the locals involved, should they propose any activity. Preferred business hours can often be different from the rest of the year during the holy month of Ramadan. Make sure to be well advised and researched on these matters and your diligence and sensitivity will be appreciated.
Business is based on trust and trust is gained through respect In Sunil’s opinion, business in Dubai goes well beyond the opportunism of many other modern commercial centres. He believes that the success of all commercial engagement is fundamentally rooted in establishing relationships and they are, in turn, the result of mutual comfort and courtesy. Therefore being considerate and thoughtful is not only favourable but also essential to the creation of a business rapport in Dubai. And this is because the city that never sleeps and boasts a modern progressive outlook is still steeped in values, and relationships form the cornerstone of life in this bustling metropolis.