Business Travel in U.A.E

A Hot Tip about Business Travel in the United Arab Emirates

Posted on: 23 Dec 2009

Business Customs

Men and women work together in United Arab Emirates (UAE) offices. UAE nationals wear traditional national dress and women usually dress conservatively and modestly. Western women traveling to the UAE for business should dress conservatively, in pantor skirt suits or dresses with sleeves.


As in many Middle Eastern countries, meetings can run late and projects may experience postponements and extensions. US business visitors, however, are expected to be punctual for all appointments. It is most important to respond to fax and other communications promptly.


In a meeting, the host will offer tea or coffee upon arrival. It is rude to refuse this beverage. Formal greetings can take several minutes. It is considered impolite to begin addressing business topics without taking several minutes for small talk. Courtesy is more emphasized in the UAE than in typical US business meetings. Never ask about a man's wife. Business cards and gifts should be offered with the right, not left, hand.


Travel Advisory

There is no specific travel advisory in effect for the UAE. Business travel to the UAE has been untouched by the violence regarding the Palestine-Israel conflict. A general worldwide advisory concerning terrorism is in effect and travelers should contact the US Department of State’s Office of Citizen Services or the nearest US Embassy or Consulate for an update.


Visa Requirements

US visitors can obtain a 60-day tourist visa at any point of entry. This visa can be renewed for another 30 days at a fee of 500 Dhs. These visas do not permit employment in the UAE.


An AIDS test is mandatory for obtaining a residence permit, which is a requirement for all expatriates and their dependents living in the UAE. The test must be conducted in the UAE by the Preventive Medicine Unit of the UAE Ministry of Health, or at Al Noor Hospital in Abu Dhabi. (The cost would be higher in Al Noor Hospital).


For further information regarding travel or immigration to the UAE, travelers may contact the UAE Embassy, Suite 700, 1255 22nd Street NW, Washington, DC 20037, Tel (202) 243-2400, Fax (202) 243-2432.

U.S. Companies that require travel of foreign businesspersons to the United States should be advised that security options are handled via an interagency process.



There are two telecommunication providers in the UAE – Etisalat and Du.


Etisalat has been the telecommunications service provider in the UAE since 1976 and is the number one mobile operator in the UAE. For three decades, since the birth of the UAE, it has played a key role in driving and supporting the nation’s prosperity and is on track to be a top 20 Global Telco by 2010. It provides mobile services for over 5 million customers. Penetration of Etisalat’s mobile phone service in the UAE is 142%, over 6.1m subscribers. At the end of August 2007, fixed line services reached 1.3m lines and internet dial-up subscribers reached 480,000 and 250,000 AL Shamil Broadband subscribers.


Etisalat offers fixed line services over its Next Generation Network, and provides mobile users with a range of services and applications such as GPRS, 3G, BlackBerry and MobileCam. Etisalat provides broadband internet access to the entire UAE and is currently working on rolling out triple play services, which will incorporate high-speed Internet, TV and fixed line offerings all via one cable. In addition to voice and data networks Etisalat also has many other offerings including the E-Vision cable TV network.


At the end of June 2007, Etisalat has a total of 28 million subscribers over its international operations. The Middle East magazine has ranked Etisalat first in the United Arab Emirates and fourth in the Middle East among the top 100 companies, based on its financial performance and capital growth.


Established in December 2005, Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company's (Du) launch by the end of 2006 officially broke the 30 year monopoly that Etisalat held over the country's telecom market. Du became the UAE's second telecom operator by winning the license for a fixed and mobile telephony network for an upfront license fee of AED124.5 million (USD33.9 million).


Du offers telecommunication services that include fixed, data and mobile telephony services. Du already offers a fixed line telephony services to more than 19,000 residential and business customers in the Dubai Internet City, Dubai Media City, Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), Emirates Hills and Dubai Marina through a fiber optic network. Du expects to gain 30% share of the UAE's telecom subscribers within three years of operations despite already high penetration levels in the country. Du also offers Satellite broadcasting services to a number of regional and international media companies. Du plans to extend its fixed line network to other areas of the UAE and launch a nationwide GSM and 3G mobile network and also build a WiMAX network in the UAE, an emerging wireless broadband technology.



Taxis are common and inexpensive. In Abu Dhabi, fares rarely exceed Dhs14 (US $3.50). Luxury radio taxis are available from the major hotels for triple the rate of street taxis. In Dubai, not all taxis are metered, but fares should not exceed Dhs30 (US $8) unless traveling to the outer suburbs. The fare from the World Trade Center to the Jebel Ali Free Trade Zone is about Dhs105-110 (US $30-36).



The language of business is English and Arabic. Most taxi drivers understand sufficient English to get you where you want to go.



Public health services in Abu Dhabi and Dubai are adequate, i.e., major trauma cases can be stabilized. Major hospitals have modern equipment and non-Western trained personnel to operate them. Most western expatriates use private medical facilities and carry private health insurance.


Local Time, Business Hours, and Holidays

Local Time: GMT+4 hrs

Government offices open at 7:30 am Sunday through Thursday, closing at 2 p.m. for the day. Local businesses often close from 1:00 p.m. until 4:30 or 5:00 p.m. and then reopen for several hours. Visitors should plan appointments around these timings, as UAE businesspeople may not adjust their schedules in order to meet during their closing time. Private UAE companies close Friday and Saturday afternoon. Business meetings are rarely, if ever, held on Friday or Saturday afternoon, which UAE nationals value as family time.


Temporary Entry of Materials and Personal Belongings

As a general rule, imports of goods into the UAE for the purpose of re-export within six months are exempt from customs duty. However, a deposit or submission of a bank guarantee in lieu of duty is required by Customs. The deposit or bank guarantee is refunded/released by the local Custom authority on proof of re-export. Goods remaining in the UAE after six months are liable for customs duty.


Goods may be imported duty free and stored in any of several free zones in the UAE. Goods, which enter the UAE from these free zones, must pay the duty noted previously. There is no provision for duty free entry of parts or components intended for the  manufacture of goods to subsequently be exported. As duties are already so low, this has not been a major impediment to manufacturing industries in the UAE.



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Posted: 23 December 2009

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