Business Trip to Dubai? 5 Things you need to know

Business Trip to Dubai? 5 Things you need to know

Business Trip to Dubai? 5 Things you need to know
24th February 2021

Upcoming business trip to Dubai? This is the desert city where sun-seeking holiday makers coexist with international businesses travellers. Whether you’re excited or daunted by this prospect, it is essential to grasp a basic understanding of the differing cultural norms. Adhering to the local protocols will help you avoid confusion and accidental offences when overseas. As a business traveller, you will need to attune your business etiquette by adopting common practises to establish positive relationships with local ­clients. To thrive in this city, here are five things you need to know about Dubai, which will go a long way in helping you acclimatise.

1. Initial Greetings

When greeting Arabic counterparts, it is suitable for non-Muslims to use the words “Assalamu alaikum” which means “peace to you”. The response is “Wa alaikum assalam”meaning “peace be upon you, too”. Ensure you have these phrases perfected for a seamless introduction.  

Seniority and status are highly valued in Dubai. It is socially correct to greet the most superior and often oldest in the room first, addressing them appropriately by using their tittle as a sign of respect. In Arabic Mr is ‘Sayd’ and Mrs is ‘Sayeda’; in return you can expect to be addressed as Mr or Mrs followed by your first name. 


Undoubtedly, performing the perfect handshake is the ultimate objective of any business traveller wanting to make a positive first impression. In Dubai, you may want to adopt a gentler handshake when greeting your Arab client. When doing so, it is essential to use your right hand, as the left hand is commonly considered to be unhygienic. Be sure to accept business cards with your right hand too. Finally, as a common rule of thumb, it is best not to initiate handshakes with women, just follow suit to show respect.

2. Meetings: Do’s and Don’ts

Don’t start off on the wrong foot, quite literally. Westerners should be cautious of how they’re seated in meetings, as showing the sole of your shoe is a sign of great disrespect. Now that you know, be mindful of this cultural disparity to make a well-mannered impression. 


Rich, spiced coffee, poured from a classic Arabian coffee pot, accompanied by a platter of fresh dates is the UAE’s classic welcome offering

Do accept offerings like tea or coffee which are typically provided by hosts at their place of business - this is deemed well mannered. You may be fortunate enough to be invited out to dinners as communal eating with shared dishes is a specialty in Dubai and a highly recognised expression of friendship. Muslims do not drink or smoke, while alcohol is served in most hotels and restaurants it is best not to ask for it unless suggested in the presence of your Arabic counterparts.

Meetings are often conducted in a relaxed fashion, which resembles the laidback lifestyle of an Emirati. Patience is a virtue; it isn’t uncommon for meetings to run over as decision making in Dubai can be a lengthy and thorough process. Don’t be distracted or offended by your host answering numerous incoming phone calls during your meetings; try to be tolerant, as this common practise.

3. Attire 

One thing you can depend on in Dubai is warm weather, all year round. The desert climate averages 20 degrees in “winter” and can reach close to unbearable peaks of 40 degrees in the summer months. Needless to say, save the questionably patterned shorts for the weekend, as business suits are expected. On a short business trip, you won’t get used to the drastic temperature changes between the desert climate and the ice chilled, air-conditioned boardrooms.


While Dubai is the most liberal of all emirates, it follows the assumed dress code of formal office wear

When packing for your business trip to Dubai, bear in mind that modest clothing holds a great deal of importance for Middle Eastern men and women. It’s preferable to dress conservatively when meeting clients in Dubai to demonstrate your cultural sensitivity. This means jackets and ties for men and formal office wear for women. Refrain from low necklines and short skirts; covering up legs and arms is preferable if you want show respect.

4. The Arabic calendar

There are notable differences between Arabian and Western calendars. Most importantly, in Dubai the core working week runs from Sunday to Thursday, yes work really does begin on Sunday morning, however working hours remain similar. Friday is a holy day dedicated for prayer and rest; the majority of Muslims will have the day off work and businesses will close early. Avoid organising any business meetings on Fridays and to look in advance for the numerous other Public holidays that may clash with your business trip to Dubai.


The Quran is the central religious text of Islam, believed by Muslims to be a revelation from Allah, their supreme God

Other things to know about Dubai are the rules around Ramadan, the holy month of fasting. If your trip overlaps with this sacred month you should comply with some formalities throughout this period of spiritual discipline. Ramadan occurs on the ninth and holiest month in the Hijri calendar, during this time Muslims do not eat or drink during hours of daylight and you should take into account that working hours are reduced. As a visitor you will be expected to abide by these rules when in public spaces, failure to comply can be punishable by fines. Restaurants will not be operating during daylight, however, in some shopping malls you’ll find a handful of designated cafés concealed by curtains that remain open to provide your caffeine fix. Being mindful and considerate during the day can come with great rewards as all-you-can-eat iftar feasts are notorious at sunset. 

5. Ways to spend your time off

There are some things you need to know about Dubai and then some things you’ll certainly want to know. A business trip to the City of Gold would not be complete without being able to boast about the abundance of incredible, iconic sights­­ on offer which draw the huge influx of expats and tourists year upon year.

To witness unforgettable, panoramic views over Dubai, skyrocket to the 124th floor of the Burj Khalifa, better known as the world’s tallest building; prepare for your jaw to drop at the incredible 360-degree view over the Arabian Gulf. 


Located 280m off the shores of Dubai on a man-made island is the stunning, luxury hotel Burj Al Arab 

The renowned Burj Al Arab is the icon of Arabian luxury and famous 7-star hotel that will be hard to miss when travelling around the city. Expect your interpretation of luxury to be redefined if you dine here or simply marvel at the impressive landmark from a distance, it’s a spectacular sight.


The ever-expanding Dubai Mall offers an unmatched retail variety combined with world-class dining, entertainment and leisure attractions.

There’ll be shopping malls on every turn of your corporate trip. Providing you have time to unwind, I would highly recommend paying some of these a visit. Covering more than one million square miles, Dubai Mall is among the largest in the world. B­oasting an Olympic sized ice rink, underwater zoo, and breathtaking fountain performance, it really is a shopping centre like no other. Or, to blend a shopping spree with history and culture, explore Dubai’s Ibn Battuta Mall. Thanks to its unique interior designs the mall transports visitors through six different lands as they follow the eponymous adventurer through the exquisite, travel-themed mall. Situated adjacent to Dubai’s main highway, the Sheik Zayed Road, this mall is a worthwhile distraction when returning from that client meeting.

Familiarising yourself with the local culture and practises is key to a successful business trip and essential for getting the most out of your time in the incredible destination. With your new found cultural knowledge, browse our extensive portfolio of Dubai serviced apartments before embarking on this business trip of a lifetime. 

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