Business Practices in the U.A.E.

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The Fundamental Principles of Business Culture
It is customary not to start a meeting by talking about business directly but to talk a little about oneself. Punctuality is not a strong point of the locals but they do not expect less from the Westerns. It is important not to be in a hurry. In fact trade negotiations ask for patience and a certain number of meetings can be specially fruitless.
First Contact
The customer relationship in Emirates is highly marked by speaking. Consequently, the best way to establish contact consists of calling the representative directly on his mobile.
The secretaries do not have the power to fix appointments. It is futile to take appointments weeks in advance and it is recommended to always remind his interlocutor a few days before. In any case, there should always be a letter which should be given to the secretary.
It is better to fix a meeting through a common contact. Effectively, the oriental culture is heavily based on the services exchange network system. Moreover, all the big businessmen have a weekly majlis, a sort of a meeting where one can go without an appointment. This is very suitable place for socilising where you can meet key contacts.
The form of greeting is "essalamu 'aleikum" either literally for peace or for your welfare and the reply is "wa aleikum salam". It is however rare that the Emirates businessmen greet a foreigner in this manner. Once invited to enter, you should take off your shoes if the floor of the room is covered by a rug or a carpet.

If there are several persons in the room, you should always greet the oldest person first and then continue in an anticlockwise direction. The people of the Emirates have the tendancy keep hands closed for a long time, dont be surprised and withdraw your hand abruptly but wait till your partner removes them.

If the associate is a lady, you should not shake hands with her unless she presents it. It is also important to avoid prolonged attention. If a western lady has an appointment with an Emirates man, then she should not directly shake hands but wait till he presents it. It is important to always put forward the right hand.

How to Present Yourself
The people of Emirates are quite informal with respect to the use of the names of their western visitors. It is thus customary to call a western by his first name preceded by Mister or Madame.
Business Relations
Private and professional lives are not clearly separated. For this reason, prefer the face-to-face meetings.
Gifts are not necessary but they are highly appreciated. If a gift is offered, it will be opened only in private. There are some prohibited gifts perfumes in alcohol base, pigskin articles, objects representing dogs, knives or gold jewellery. If a gift is offered to a Westerner, it is very impolite to refuse it. It should be taken with the right hand.
Business Communication
First of all, if a drink is offered, it should always be accepted. Refusal is considered as impolite. Further, it is not adviseable to cross your legs showing your heels as this is viewed as an aggression. The "thumbs up" gesture is also perceived as aggressive.
One should not feel offended when the host takes telephone calls during a meeting or allows other persons to enter. It is however better to have an appointment if possible in the lobby of a large hotel . The people from the Emirates are very good negotiators and more attention must be given to what they say than what they sign. Decision making is long but pressure will not work at all.
Dress Code
Do not try to dress like people of UAE who could take it very badly. Men should wear a suit with tie.It is recommended to them not to wear very flashy jewellery. Ladies themselves should take care not to wear clothes which are too revealing.
Visiting Cards
Visiting cards are common but not obligatory. It is recommended to have an Arabic version of the card. Nowadays, one side of the card is printed in English and the other side in Arabic. It is also possible to print both the versions on the same side or have two separate cards (one in English and one in Arabic). Card must always be given with the right hand.
For Further Information
Website on etiquette for foreign relations in Emirates
Website on etiquette for foreign relations

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