Business Etiquette in UAE
Handshakes: Handshakes are always used and can last a long time but you should wait for the other to withdraw their hand first. If you are in a meeting with a lady, always wait for her to extend her hands, if not, and then do not offer your hands to shake, as women generally don’t shake hands with men.
The Right Hand: Among Muslim, the right hand is always used. The right hand should be used for eating, shaking hands, or handing over an item.
Space: It is common to keep distance among people in the Middle East, especially if you have never met them before.
Older People: Special respect is paid to older people in many circumstances. This can include standing when older people enter a room, always greeting older people first, standing when speaking to one’s elders, and serving older people first at a meal.
Family‘s Females: It is polite to ask about family or health, but never specifically about any female members. Family life that involves female members is kept extremely private.
Clothes in Religious Sites: When visiting religious sites, Men and women should wear very non-revealing clothes and women must also cover their hair. In some circumstances shoes should be removed, such as at the entrance to religious sites.
Relationship: In conversation, it is always good to ask about the health and well being of a counterpart’s family, how many children? But don’t ask how many wives?
Sitting: One should never show the bottom of one’s shoes when sitting in a meeting. This is a sign of great disrespect and is a common mistake by Westerners during meetings.
Haggling: The Arabs were traditionally a trading people and are excellent negotiators and haggling is prevalent from the market to the boardroom. Decisions are made slowly. Bureaucratic formalities tend to add to delays.
Greeting: The customary greeting is “As-salam alaikum,” (peace be upon you) to which the reply is “Wa alaikum as-salam,” (and upon you be peace).
Appointments: Please be wary of when you schedule meetings over here. Try to avoid the weekends, specifically Friday as they are regarded as Family days. Arabs tend to place a high priority for family life, therefore try and schedule everything during weekdays if possible.
Hospitality: Arabs take great pride in showing hospitality, never failing to at least serve coffee and dates, but preferring to present guests with a lavish choice of expensive delicacies in abundance. To refuse such hospitality may cause offense.
Prayer: Muslims are obliged to pray 5 times a day, so please understand if one has to take a prayer break during work hours.