Essay on UAE Culture

Visiting the United Arab Emirates for the first time can be a memorable experience if one keeps in mind certain things about the Emirati culture.
Greetings
The most common greeting in the UAE between the locals is the verbal “As-salam alaikum” which translates into English as “May peace be upon you”. When greeted so, a person is expected to reply with “Wa-alaikum as salam” which means “Peace be upon you too.” It is customary to greet and acknowledge the elder people in the gathering before anybody else. Waiting to be offered a hand for a shake is considered to be respectful to the other person’s personal space. Arabs use their right hands for eating and greeting or handing stuff. The left hand is reserved for hygiene purposes and is avoided during handshakes. It is also considered good manners to wait for the other to end the shake, which sometimes, might last for a long period (Relocation Expert, 2011).
Dress Code
The traditional Emirati dress code emphasises on maintaining the modesty of the wearer. Therefore, most men and women of the UAE wear clothes which cover their entire bodies. Showing off body and skin is considered vulgar, especially for women, who even cover their faces and hands and feet with a Niquab and Gafaaz. There are many traditional clothes of the UAE which are rarely seen I other parts of the world, such as the Abaya and Kandura worn by most Arab women and men respectively. Sometimes men choose to show off their status by the style of clothing they display, such as the Kandura. The robe, if too long, hangs around the ankles showing off as a symbol of wealth. If short, then it shows the modesty of the person wearing it (Omar, 2009).
Meetings
For Arab people, business is a personal affair. They focus on forming strong personal relationships with their partners so as to expand their circle of trust. The philosophy of the UAE businessmen is that personal contacts are of more importance than achievement of business goals. If you happen to have a huge circle of trust among Arabs, the rules can be bent and your favour could gain preference. The Emirati always return favours; none is forgotten. Hence, business meetings are never conducted very formally, some of them may turn out to be utterly disorganized. The decision making process is also slow, as is the bureaucratic proceeding towards the decision (U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council, 2015).
Body Language
There are certain things which carry the most importance of all while visiting the Arab Emirates. How you interact to people and how receptive they are to you could be the main factor which makes or breaks your visit. The Emiratis are a very conservative people. Their culture is not as flamboyant as that of the west. It is best to be as sensitive to the Arabs as possible because a ‘wrong’ gesture might spoil your impression. For instance, while in a public gathering (especially meetings), it is considered very impolite to show the bottom of your shoe. Some might even take an offence from you showing off your shoe soles. Never stand too close to a Muslim woman or stare at her, it is considered indecent and an intrusion of personal space. Addressing women directly is not advisable too. While in a conversation, make sure you keep the eye contact. This makes the other feel you’re taking personal interest in his talks. It also helps in forming a foundational personal bond, which is beneficial in many other ways. To follow the lead of your Arab host is considered respectful. Emiratis usually address others by their first name. This shows how willing they are to trust new partners in possible future business partnerships (U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council, 2015).
Positives for living in the UAE
The United Arab Emirates is one of the richest countries of the world. Both financially and in cultural diversity. Expats from around the world tend to consider moving to countries like Dubai for the many advantages. The immediate advantage that a visitor will notice is the highly diverse population. There is a huge scope for learning an interacting with people from around the world all in the same place. Also, there are a number of activities that a person can do in the UAE, just for the sake of trying out something new or making a living out of it. Speaking of work opportunities, there is a wide pool of working disciplines, mainly due to the strategic location of the whole country, along with the other gulf countries. Tax-free income is one of the main reasons of settling in a country like the UAE (Living in Dubai, 2014).

References
Living in Dubai. (2014, November 03). What are the Advantages of Working in Dubai. Retrieved from Living in Dubai: http://www.livingindubai.org/advantages-of-working-in-dubai/
Omar, K. (2009). Arab Women Managers And Identifying Formation Through Clothing. Gender in Management: An International Journal, 412-431.
Relocation Expert. (2011, May 12). Greeting Customs Around the World. Retrieved from inmotion: news and views from moveONE: https://www.moveoneinc.com/blog/relocations/greeting-customs-around-the-world/
U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council. (2015, May 11). Business Etiquette in the U.A.E. Retrieved from usuaebusiness.org: http://usuaebusiness.org/about-the-uae/business-etiquette-in-the-uae/

Notes

Greetings
• Commonest greeting is “As salam alaikum,” which is responded with “Wa alaikum as salam”.
• Older people must be acknowledged first.
• Hand shake is done with the right hand (Relocation Expert, 2011).
Dress Code
• Clothes worn should not expose much of the body.
• Local women wear the Abaya sometimes along with Niqab and Gafaaz to cover their body including hands, feet and face.
• The Kandura is a loose, usually white robe which symbolises the status of the man wearing it (Omar, 2009).
Meetings
• Arab people do business on a personal scale.
• Relationship building is as important as the subject matter of the meeting itself.
• Business revolves around trust, honour and personal contacts. Kindness is reciprocated (U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council, 2015).
Body Language
• Never show bottom of shoe during meeting. Considered offensive.
• Respect personal space of Muslim women.
• Keep eye contact during conversation.
• Follow the lead of Arab Hosts regarding greetings such as shaking hands (U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council, 2015).
Positives for living in the UAE
• Benefits of knowing expats from all ‘round the world.
• Tax-free income.
• Vast work opportunities due to strategic location (Living in Dubai, 2014).

Bibliography
Living in Dubai. (2014, November 03). What are the Advantages of Working in Dubai. Retrieved from Living in Dubai: http://www.livingindubai.org/advantages-of-working-in-dubai/
Omar, K. (2009). Arab Women Managers And Identifying Formation Through Clothing. Gender in Management: An International Journal, 412-431.
Relocation Expert. (2011, May 12). Greeting Customs Around the World. Retrieved from inmotion: news and views from moveONE: https://www.moveoneinc.com/blog/relocations/greeting-customs-around-the-world/
U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council. (2015, May 11). Business Etiquette in the U.A.E. Retrieved from usuaebusiness.org: http://usuaebusiness.org/about-the-uae/business-etiquette-in-the-uae/

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Posted on

March 7, 2018

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