Naturally, when I think of classy places in the world in terms of business, I cannot help but include Dubai in this category. The city-state was literally a desert some years ago. Today, it is among the leading places in architectural and urbanization advancements.
Most people tour the place to be awed by the buildings, amazing views and great weather during spring and fall. Others, I included, go there for business and pleasure, and end up knowing more about the place than what instantly meets the eye.
There is so much you can do while in the Arabic City. Wholesale and retail businesses have dominated the place and there are more opportunities. The hospitality and tourism industry is growing strongly. There is basically everything to be done in Dubai. If you do it right, you will excel. This article will give you a clue on how to handle Dubai.
Before You Go…
This was a little tricky for me considering I used a visit visa to get into the country. I chose the 90-day visa and exited through Sharjah to apply for another 90-day visa. You can choose to get a tourist visa or resident visa too. Be in touch with your country’s embassy to ease the whole process.
In case you urgently need your visa, you can get yourself an urgent or express visa. These take a few hours to two days respectively at an extra cost. As for the normal visas, a maximum of 4 days is enough at normal price.
In case you have been posted in Dubai by the company you work for, you should not worry much about accommodation. The company is likely to book a place for you. You shall not be stranded if they do not get you a place: there are many rooms in the city.
If you are riding solo like I did, make reservations in hotels like The Dubai Youth Hostel or Radisson Blu Hotel Apartment Dubai Silicon Oasis. Relax if you cannot make these reservations. There are plenty of hotels in Dubai and they are really affordable.
What to Pack
It is hot in the UAE. You could sweat as you shower especially in the months of July and August. It is advisable for you to pack things you will need to chill in at the beach and those you shall need when in your official meetings. Bear it in mind that Arabs have a conservative culture; hence you have to be decently dressed.
I would not worry too much if I were you. Clothes dry up fast and the shops have the best quality of clothes. Pack a week’s attire. You can update your 6-month wardrobe while there and find really classy outfits. Below is a list of attire you could use as a guide (pick any that suits you and your gender).
- Nice suits
- Relaxing shorts (knee-length)
- A pair of sandals/ flip-flops
- Closed shoes
- Scarf and cardigan (most buildings have air conditioners, so you will need these)
- Swimming costume
- A sarong
You can bring personal toiletries that you are absolutely sure can only be found in your country. Otherwise, there is plenty you can use in Dubai. Remember to check into Dubai laws to know what is illegal and leave it behind (more so with the medicines).
Means of transport are not unfamiliar at all. They use both roads and waterways (Water Bus). There are buses that move around the city at fair prices (starting from Dh2) and connect to most tourist attraction sites. Metros are common and most efficient. They may not leave you at the doorstep of your workplace, but they do not experience traffic ads the buses do.
Taxis are another option that could take you wherever you wish. Their rates start from Dh 3 and increase at a rate of Dh1.60 per kilometre. You could hire a car but that would require you to get a license and deal with traffic while driving on the right side of the road. Hired cars are convenient for you if you prefer moving around by your rules.
14 Handy Tips
- When in official meetings at the offices or restaurant, care to have a casual conversation. It counts to know how your colleagues’ loved ones are faring on. Could take some time but do it.
- Use the name Sayed (Mr) on men and Sayeda (Mrs) on women.
- Working hours run from 8 am to 7 pm, with a lunch break at 1 pm and siesta hours from 2 pm to 5 pm in the hot days. In the holy month of Ramadan, working hours are shorter by 2hrs.
- English is the business language in Dubai. However, have your business card translated into Arabic on one side and have that side facing up when giving the card to an Arabic expat.
- Dress modestly. Suits will work for men, and women can have their dresses, jumpsuits or skirt suits on. When in the rural areas of Dubai, try out their traditional attire.
- This one got me every time. Anytime you have had coffee to your fill, shake the cup, otherwise, the waiter will keep serving you more in those small coffee cups.
- Use your right hand to do most things. Do not eat, greet people or hold the door using your left hand as it is used for ‘hygienic purposes’ in UAE. Be as ambidextrous as possible if you are left-handed.
- When in the presence of a woman and you are male, let her be the one to stretch her hand out to greet you. Some women find it inappropriate shaking hands with men.
- Keep your cursing words to yourself to avoid trouble with colleagues and the law. They do not do that there.
- As much as you can, avoid kissing, cuddling and having sex in public places. Public display of affection will get you judged by the society or courts in Dubai.
- While at the beach, have comfortable swimming suits on. Do not get nude as you could be arrested.
- Take as many photographs as you wish to, but ensure that you seek the consent of people when taking photographs of them.
- Keep a low profile during Ramadan if you are not Islamic. Eat in your room during the day and keep the volume of your favourite playlist down. It is a holy month, so give them their peace.
- If you are a smoker, smoke in your room or in designated smoking zones. If not, you will definitely land on the wrong side of the law.
There is so much you could do during your leisure time. You could sit on your bed and watch all the movies you love, read novels and sleep for fun. That is basically what you can do in Dubai and most other parts of the world. There is more.
You can start by visiting The Dubai Mall for shopping, skating and a good lunch treat at any of the restaurants and luxurious hotels. The 5.9 square feet mall has approximately 1200 shops, so be ready to be awed. There are souks in which the best jewellery is sold and a Level Shoe District where you can find all sorts of shoes.
If seeking to have a breath-taking view, go to Burj Khalifa. It is the 3rd tallest building in the world with the best view on the 124th floor of 163 floors. I loved chilling in the sky lounge on the 148th floor. Other sights your eyes will rest at include:
- Burj al Arab Hotel (tallest hotel known)
- Dubai Fountains
- The World Dubai
Do not miss going to the beach, particularly Jumeirah Beach. It has enough sun for you and the view of the city from a distance is satisfactory. Other experiences you should try out include the ones below:
- Go for safaris across the desert and enjoy a barbeque and live music while at it.
- Visit the Palm Islands
- Check out the Dubai Creek
- Enjoy the amazing night scene of the Dubai Water Canal
You can also get in touch with Emirates pre-history at the museum in Al Fahidi Fort and enjoy some Arabic lessons at SMCCU (Sheikh Mohammed Centre of Cultural Understanding) while in that neighbourhood. Doing business in Dubai is so much fun.
Working in Dubai may turn out to be the best experience you may have in your business history. If you follow all the rules in the country and observe business etiquette, all you have left to achieve your goals is doing what your business entails.
I was wrong thinking I would have a difficult time adjusting to the life on the Persian Gulf. It was so easy and time flew. 6 months seemed like 3. I would not mind going back there; the city good for all sorts of business, except for maybe pig-selling butcheries