Majority of Dubai’s population is composed of foreigners who believe the city is their land of promise, career-wise. This shouldn’t be a surprise because there is a number of international companies based here. From top digital marketing agencies to engineering firms to global retail giants – they can all be found in the City of Gold.
If you have recently relocated to Dubai for your job, you will find that despite how vibrantly multicultural your work setting may be because of the different nationalities of the workers, getting into the inner circle – as well as establishing a good relationship with your bosses, especially if they’re Arabs – can prove to be a challenge.
The Arab workplace is rather unique. Expats say it has its own culture that you need to understand and adhere to in order to build solid relationships with your co-workers, bosses, and even your company’s partners.
So, what are the cultural components of an Arab work setting that you need to learn in order to ensure your advantage?
1. Knowing the vernacular is much appreciated
Although locals can speak English rather fluently, they find it friendlier when foreigners learn their language and use it to communicate. Therefore, think of it as a worthy investment for your career to learn how to speak and even write in Arabic. This is a great demonstration of your sincerity in building a relationship.
2. Respect for religion is a must
Most Dubai companies demonstrate tolerance for other spiritual leanings. However, it is imperative to remember that Islamic practices are strongly observed by most Arabs and other Muslims. Therefore, it is crucial to be familiar with and respectful of Islam so that smooth relations can be created in the workplace.
3. Promptness and punctuality are strictly practiced
For meetings with co-workers, superiors, and partners, make sure that you are always early and well-prepared for them. According to expats who have been living in Dubai for a long time, it is your responsibility to check whether or not meetings are still on, prior to the schedule. It is considered disrespectful not to do so.
4. Business is frequently mixed with pleasure
This is a well-observed practice among Arabs. Dinner meetings can stretch to the wee hours, so always be ready to pull an all-nighter once a dinner meeting is scheduled.
It is also worth mentioning that engaging in common practices such as smoking dokha tobacco can actually bring you closer to the people you are meeting with. The effects of smoking this tobacco blend are not similar to a regular cigarette’s (which is why it is recommended for people over 18 years of age), so it is best to find a way to become more familiar with it first.
5. Taking a rain check is rarely interpreted with great understanding
As much as possible, be free and ready for dinner meetings. You may have a lot of responsibilities to take care of, but aim to find a way to work these into your schedule because it would be to your great disadvantage to miss dinner meetings.
Expats point out that Arabs have an inclination to discuss work details in a more in-depth manner during such occasions. Repeating important information for the benefit of those who missed the meeting is an incredibly rare practice.
In addition, Arabs tend to close deals during dinner meetings. If you are working on building good relationships with people at work, you must never be absent when such a development transpires.
6. Reputation is everything
In the Arab workplace, reputation can make or break you. Therefore, be the kind of co-worker that everybody thinks well of. Be honorable in everything you do. Likewise, be thoughtful when it comes to your actions because bad news travels fast and wide in Arab workplaces. Plus, bad attitude and behavior are not widely tolerated.
Take very good care of your reputation.
There you have it – six cultural components that strongly come into play in Arab workplaces. Once you get all of these down, for certain, it will be so much easier for you to build solid relationships with the people you work with, and that can prove to be valuable for securing your professional advantage.