Etiquette is important here, and by making an effort to understand local custom and culture, many doors will open for you.
The culture here has evolved from a deep-rooted belief in Islam, which is more than just a religion. It is a total way of life, which governs every activity and decision that is made in daily life.
These are a few guidelines for behaviour and dress code that will become a part of your every day life in the United Arab Emirates.
Although you will be expected to be on time for an appointment, do not necessarily expect the same in reverse. Be prepared to be kept waiting for an appointment, or even for a last-minute postponement that you will only be notified of on your arrival for the meeting.
Arabs are an event-orientated people as opposed to time-orientated, and their hospitality roots stretch back many decades when all passing strangers were welcomed with shade and coffee during their journey through this land. The event of getting together is far more important than the schedule of the event.
Never refuse *******ments offered, as this will be taken as an insult to your host. Once you have received your *******ment, you may however, just take a sip and leave the rest in the glass or cup. Generally speaking, sweet black tea with fresh mint, small glasses of fragrant coffee, fruit juice or water will be offered.
Have clean feet or wear respectable socks, as you will be expected to remove your shoes at the entrance to the home.
If you are invited for a meal in a private home that is eaten at floor level, remember to sit so that the soles of your feet do not face anyone. Only take food with your right hand.
Do not explicitly admire anything belonging to your host. Your host would then be honour bound to make you a gift of the item, and would in turn expect a gift of the same stature in return at a later stage.
Avoid contentious discussions about religion, the status of women and the politics of the Middle East. Remember that you are a "Resident Guest" of the United Arab Emirates and should be respectful of the culture and way of life here.
By nature, locals are hospitable and extremely courteous. Aggression and rude behaviour are seldom seen; authority and calm are the norm.
Dress code is liberal in Dubai compared to other Middle Eastern cities, particularly in the residential western expat areas where women wear shorts and sleeveless shirts.
However, Abu Dhabi is more conservative than Dubai and as a mark of respect it is advisable for women to dress accordingly.
Long skirts or long trousers, and T-shirts or shirts with sleeves covering at least the upper arm should be worn in Abu Dhabi, and any area in the United Arab Emirates that is predominantly Arab.
Men may dress casually in the western expat areas, but should wear long pants when in Abu Dhabi or the downtown area of Dubai.
The dress code is less formal for children, although adolescent girls would be advised to dress moderately in order to avoid attention.
Both local men and local women are easily distinguished by their traditional dress, which is a common sight in the United Arab Emirates. Men wear the long white Dishdasha and headdress, while women wear the black Abaya.
There are no set business hours in the United Arab Emirates. Companies will either choose to work "straight" which is between 08hrs and 17hrs, or "shift" which is anytime between 08hrs and 13hrs, and then again between 16h00 and 21hrs or even 22hrs.
Government departments are open from 07hrs until 14hrs, Saturdays to Wednesdays.
Banks are currently open from from 09hrs to 13hrs Sundays to Wednesdays, and from 09hrs to 12hrs on Thursdays.
Most holidays are based on the sighting of the moon, and are not fixed dates. Many of them are therefore only confirmed the day before they take place. Also, note that Eid Al Fitr and Eid al Adha move back by about 10 days per year.
• New Years Day
• Eid Al Fitr
• Lailat Al Qadar
• Eid Al Adha
• Islamic New Year
• Prophets Birthday
• Lailat Ma’raj
• National Day
Work Dress Code
Men: A tie or smart open-necked shirt is recommended for office work. A suit is not necessary, unless visiting high profile locals.
Women: May wear knee length skirts or dresses, or trousers. Sleeves must cover the upper arm.