Top tips for exporting to Dubai

As a Muslim country, it is vital to observe religious and social customs in Dubai as well as the law, although Dubai is regarded as relatively liberal within the region. Unlike places like Saudi Arabia the Islamic dress code is not enforced although many Emirati men wear a kandura, an ankle-length white shirt and most Emirati women wear an abaya, a black over garment. However with four-fifths of its inhabitants from overseas business tends to be conducted as in the West in English, although Arabic may be spoken in the public sector. Differences are tolerated but being respectful is crucial.

Patience is a virtue in this small monarchy especially when it comes to government contracts but also with commercial organisations. Strong business relationships (known as the Wasta system) are also crucial. In this environment it is essential to protect your reputation at all costs. In this part of the world news tends to travel fast.

Mixing business with pleasure is a well-established local practice and meetings can go on until the early hours. Establishing solid relationships with customers in Dubai is vital since one deal tends to lead to another. It is very useful to check that meetings are still to take place ahead of schedule. If for any reason it is cancelled you may take the rap for not checking.

Remember that during the Holy month of Ramadan your business contacts are not allowed to eat or drink anything during daylight hours. Given its geographical positioning temperatures can reach 50 degrees Celsius during summer months.

 In business culture meeting face to face is viewed as much more important and personal than phone calls, faxes and emails. The working week is Sunday to Thursday from 9am until 5pm for the private sector and Saturday to Wednesday from 8am to 2.30pm for the public sector.


UK Trade & Investment

Paul Bathgate
Tel: 020 7215 424

British Embassy
Al Seef Road
PO Box 65
Tel: 00 971 4 309 4444

British Business Group
The David May Building
British Embassy
Al Seef Road
PO Box 65
Tel: 00 971 4 397 0303

Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Baniyas Road
P.O. Box 1457
Tel: 00 971 4 228 0000

Dubai Chamber Economist – Dubai Chamber

Economic Research in Dubai - Dubai Chamber

Economic research and studies from Dubai - Dubai Economic Department

Investing in the UAE - UAE Ministry of Economy

Free Zones in the UAE – UAE Interact

Statistical surveys in the UAE - Dubai Statistics Center

Why invest in Dubai? - Dubai Health Authority

Dubai for business - Dubai International Finance Centre

Chamber International - Arab Certificates of Origin