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Working in Dubai

Working in Dubai

Working hours, business procedures and etiquette – what to expect when you work in Dubai

While the city is very much geared towards the business traveller, newcomers working in Dubai can be taken by surprise by some of Dubai's business customs.

The first thing to know about working in Dubai is that the working week can differ from business to business. The working week is generally Sunday to Thursday. However, retail and some other businesses open six days a week, closing on Fridays.

Usual business hours are from 08:00 to 13:00, resuming after the temperatures have begun to cool from 16:00 and continuing until 19:00. During Ramadan the working day may be shorter Free Zones may also have different working hours.

Peak traffic times are anything between 06:30-09:00 and 16:30-20:30. In the older part of town, peak times are from 13:00 until quite late into the night. Jams and accidents are a regular occurrence, and parking for some buildings may be a problem, so do take advice on how much time you should leave for your journey.

Business meetings

Working in Dubai can be very much in the regional manner and be very relaxed and informal, which is born of the whole hospitality / coffee culture. Similarly, you should allow plenty of time with all forms of paperwork, be they visa applications, government approvals or bank documentation.

The business dress code is conservative, and anyone working in more rural areas should wear clothing that completely covers the body. On the other hand, business meetings with Arab clients or colleagues can sometimes seem very informal and may take place in cafes (however, a pre-arranged business lunch can be extremely formal).

In business meetings, it is polite to enquire about families and make general conversation – the actual business part of the meeting can be quite short, with matters resolved very quickly. It is also acceptable for the client to take calls on their mobile phone.

Business etiquette

If you do need to criticise or correct someone, make sure it is in a private discussion away from the meeting, as causing public loss of face is considered very rude.

It is considered polite to have one side of your business card translated into Arabic, and to present this side of the card face up when passing it on to an Arab colleague or client.

One final thing to remember is that the more conservative Muslims often show their respect by not shaking hands with people of a different gender, so do wait for them to take the lead on hellos and goodbyes.

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