Doing Business in Dubai

As said Dubai is a land of opportunity, so setting up and doing business in Dubai is very much similar to other parts of the world. Most of the business are owned/run by expats, which is the major part of Dubai and UAE population. One more benefit of expat is the external culture that comes with them.

Having said the above, Dubai is relatively easy to set up business because of the Multiple Free Zones. Free Zones makes the process all the easier. Because of the Free Zones and tax-free environment Dubai has become the home of many international companies. According to the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business survey 2017 UAE rank in 26th position out of 190 countries. Also scored particularly highly for factors such as dealing with construction permits (4th) and protecting minority investors (9th).

Doing Business in Dubai

Business customs and practices in Dubai vary from one company, colleague, and client to the next, and the most important preparation an expat can make is to be flexible and understanding. That said, it’s also important to remember that the UAE is a Muslim country, and Emirati businessmen will still take their mandate from Islam and Arab culture; thus, the guide below will address this aspect of doing business in Dubai.

Generally the working ours in Dubai starts between 7:30 AM (mainly the Govt. sector) till 9 AM. Govt. sector works till 3 PM – 3:30 PM, however, private sector continues to work till 5:30 PM – 6:00 PM depending when they start.

Dubai depends heavily on the labor force that works for multiple sectors including Real Estate. They generally get a split works hours during the summer time.

Workweek is Sunday till Thursday and Dubai enjoy a weekend break on Friday & Saturday, for some of the companies there is a 1-day weekend. Which is on Friday.

There may also be frequent breaks during the day for Muslim prayer times, so expats should expect and be patient about these interruptions. Working hours during the month of Ramadan are shortened by two to three hours.

In Dubai main language of business communication is English, however, all the official document (mainly Govt. documents) are in the Arabic language itself.

UAE focus on Gender equality, where Men and Women get the same treatment in business. However, men counterpart dominates some of the major positions. Being a Muslim country UAE advise women to dress properly. Main business attire in Dubai is formal like any other country. Local businessmen may wear Western attire or a dishdasha, a flowing robe seen at nearly every type of occasion.

Dubai is a very small community with multiple people. So, the base of everything depends on the relationship. Despite its cosmopolitan look Dubai still holds on to its root in Arab values and traditions. Along with respecting the all-encompassing effect religion has on everyday activity.

Business culture in the UAE is welcoming to foreign investment. Expat business owners are required to be respectful of Islamic culture and tradition; however, they are not required to practice it themselves.

Below are some of the points you should consider while conducting or setting up business in Dubai.

  • Do always dress conservatively and wear a suit and tie
  • Do arrive on time, though locals may be late
  • Don’t use the left hand to eat or gesture to another person
  • Do have one side of a business card translated into Arabic
  • Do always respect Islamic religious and cultural practices. Although foreigners are not expected to practice the religion, they should be mindful of the impact it has on everyday life in Dubai.
  • Don’t rush into business talk. Emiratis prefer to get to know their business associates before any real negotiations can begin.

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