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Important differences in business culture between Dubai and the US

On Behalf of | Aug 1, 2023 | Business, Business and Commercial Law, Dubai |

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has taken steps to open business opportunities within their borders. The government has moved towards lifting restrictions that make it difficult for those in other countries to own and operate businesses within the UAE — and these efforts have paid off. There are over 130,000 registered businesses in operation in the UAE and many of these businesses have foreign owners.

Those who are looking to expand business operations into Dubai or one of the six other emirates that make up the UAE or start operations in this area are wise to take note of cultural differences. A failure to have a basic awareness can result in unintentional and unnecessary business disputes. Two things to keep in mind are discussed below.

Respect is important

It is important to note that the UAE is an Islamic country. As such, there is generally a more conservative approach compared to business culture within the United States and many European nations. Two primary examples include:

  • Titles. It is important to use proper titles during conversations and meetings. Avoid casually referring to someone by their first name and instead use Mr. or Ms.
  • Dress code. The dress code is also more conservative, with the general expectation that all involved wear modest, formal business attire.

It is also important to note that most media content and publications are regulated. This could impact any decisions about press releases or other media contact while conducting business within the UAE.

The focus is evolving

Any thriving business market knows the importance of evolution and the marketplace within the UAE is no different. The business culture within the UAE has started to shift to include a focus on corporate social responsibility. For example, although the oil and gas industry remain important the UAE is also expanding to include investments in green energy.

These tips can help start a broader conversation about cultural differences. Taking the time to start this conversation and better understand another culture can help to better ensure business ventures go smoothly.