10 social customs to respect when moving to UAE

Whether you are moving to a new place for work or to stay,you must acquaint yourself to the cultures and traditions there. Not being able to do that can lead to ineffective communication and further worsen the quality of life.
It goes without saying that building good relationships with the locals and business partners is imperative to run a successful business. If you are planning to start a business in Dubai but have not yet learnt the social customs there, it can hinder your prospects of building fruitful relationships.

However, it is nothing to worry about since this blog points out the top ten social norms entrepreneurs in Dubai should know.

1.) Greetings:
Every country has its way of starting a conversation or even greeting another person, for that matter. Since most of the Emirates people follow the Muslim culture, they usually greet you with an Islamic greeting. ‘As-salamu alaykum’ is the typical greeting which in Arabic means ‘peace be upon you.

While many first-timers make the mistake of saying the same thing back, the ideal way to respond is ‘Walaikum Assalam.’Although it means the same in Arabic, the latter is more of a reply than a greeting. Another common greeting used here is ‘Marhaba,’ which means ‘Welcome’ or ‘Hello.’

2.) Emirati names:
No one likes it if someone pronounces your name wrong, and the same logic applies here. Emirati names are often confusing to outsiders. When getting your business setup in Dubai, it is known that you have to make many new contacts.

It is advised that you memorise the name and pronounce them correctly. A usual thing to know is that most first names are followed by bin or ibn or bint and then their father’s name. While bin or ibn means ‘son of,’bint means’ daughter of.’ However, that is not it.

After the father’s name, there is another ‘ibn,”bin,’ or ‘bint,’ which is finished off by the grandfather’s name. Women typically do not change the surnames after marriage. Nevertheless, their children are given the name of the husband.

3.) Interacting with women:
While the general form of professional greeting all over the world is a firm handshake, here it is not true. Local men still will start with a handshake as a formal greeting, but physical contact between women and men is limited.
If you have to interact with a woman for business, it is advised that you wait till the woman initiates the handshake.

4.) Respecting seniors:
It is customary that you greet the elders first and also stand up while talking to them in a social setting. However, the same rules apply when you are talking to anyone senior to you. Emiratis show a lot of respect to their elders, and you should do the same when there.

5.) Prayer timings:
Prayers are perhaps the main thing you should know about while in Dubai. Since their daily routines are split with breaks especially for prayer, it will be easier for you to schedule work.

These breaks usually take close to the lunch breaks, which is punctuated accordingly. You should also accustom yourself with the Ramadan schedule since it will reduce work timings by two hours at least.

6.) Body language:
Emirati mannerism might appear to be different than where you are from. The locals mostly use loud voices and are very expressive with their gestures. Along with that, if you get a little laugh during a fight, it just means that they are trying to stop. Not that they are not taking you seriously.

7.) Sitting posture:
You should keep in mind not to show your feet or shoe soles to any other person while sitting. This is thought to be a sign of disrespect and can be quite offensive. You can always just keep your feet on the floor and avoid sitting cross legged.

8.) Dining out:
One informal way of doing business is by taking your new contacts out to lunch. However, while dining out, you must remember that Muslims do not eat or drink pork and alcohol, and you should avoid it too.

9.) Attire:
In UAE, the modest dressing can tell a lot about someone’s respect for the culture. This essentially means that you should keep in mind to cover your arms, shoulders, and legs. Shoes with closed-toes are also more preferred.

10.) Gift giving:
Emirati considers gift-giving an important part of their culture. It is customary to accept any given gift and bring one when you meet someone for the first time. You should avoid pork or pork skin products and alcohol as gifts at all costs.

For any first-timer, this can be a lot to take in on the first day. You can hire a professional team of experts like Dubai Business Setup to help you there in such a situation.