Table of Contents
- Family Life
- Official Language and Greetings
- Status of Men and Women
- Dress Code
- Meetings, Business Settings, and Gifts
- Offices and Shops Opening Hours
- Potential Problems of US National in the UAE
- Advantages of Conducting Business in the UAE
- Related Free Business Essays
Delicacy, Ltd is a hotel business that has been carrying out its operations in the US for the past five years. Over this period, the business has sustained high profits, positive cash flows and has retained highly skilled employees. Delicacy seeks to expand its operations to United Arab Emirates (UAE) to take advantage of the established tourism industry in the country. Delicacy seeks to open a branch in the Abu Dhabi city to offer hotel and restaurant services to the rich customer base from the Abu Dhabi International Airport.
Entry into the global market requires meticulous strategic planning in order to avoid failure of business activity in a foreign country. Once the business has been set to engage this market, it is important to consider the culture of the country in which it will offer its services. The business will expand to UAE with most of its US workers. The employees relocating to UAE may experience challenges resulting from the cultural clash. Many reasons can explain cultural clashes between the US nationals and the Emiratis. However, the main reason for cultural differences is Emiratis’ strict observance of the Islamic lifestyle, while Americans mainly follow the Christian lifestyle. This paper explores the social customs, family life traditions, attitudes, religion, education and values of UAE, which will help Delicacy, Ltd to avoid cultural problems as it expands to the UAE. Specifically, the study addresses the following questions:
- What is the culture and lifestyle of the Emiratis and how does it differ from that of the US?
- What are the potential problems of US National in the UAE?
- What are the advantages of conducting business in the UAE?
Although families in the countries of the world are rapidly adopting global lifestyles, UAE families still maintain strong connections with extended family traditions. One big household normally includes basic and extended members of the family, such as father, mother, daughters and sons, brothers and sisters-in-law, grandparents, aunts, and uncles. The father is the head of the family who holds the highest authority. The sadness, happiness, dreams and concerns of one member of the family become a responsibility and concern of all family members. A family member has an assurance of unconditional love and support of the others. The Emirati never let any of their family member feel helpless and alone. The parents extend their love and provisional responsibility to their children no matter how mature and financially stable they become. Fathers give the children extra money even when they become financially independent. Family members gather together to share meals, which are accompanied with arguments, laughter and tickles. Family members pray five times a day and strictly observe Quran’s teachings.
Official Language and Greetings
The official language in the UAE is Arabic. However, most expatriates and non-nationals widely speak English. English is the official language of the private sector companies.
In the UAE, people use a correct title when addressing people to recognize the status. The most common titles are Sayed (Mr.) and Saya (Mrs.) followed by the first name. The senior person should be greeted first as a sign of respect in the Muslim culture (Benesh, 2008). The non-Muslims greet the Emiratis with “assalamu alaikum,” meaning “peace be upon you”, to get a return, “alaikum assalam”, which means “peace be upon you too.”
Men greet fellow men in a professional setting using a handshake that can last for a long time. The UAE nationals prefer to use the right hand for greetings, as they consider the left hand to be unclean. However, male visitors should avoid initiating a handshake or any other form of physical greeting with an Emirati woman and wait until she starts it. Touching between women and men during greetings should be minimal in the UAE.
Status of Men and Women
The Emirati do not treat males and females the same way. They still hold patriarchy as an important ideology in the social life. Men obtain employment preference in private businesses and high state administration. Moreover, men dominate religious and political lives, as women play insignificant roles in these fields. The participation of Emirati women in the labor force is one of the lowest in the world. The Emirati society places a high value on marriage and raising children. The pervasive conservative cultural attitude leads women to look for jobs that minimize their interaction withmen or allow them to stay close to home. For this reason, most women prefer securing jobs in health, civil service, and education.
The Emirati emphasize modest dressing for women and men. In contrast from US, the Emirati prohibit wearing of revealing clothes that expose shoulders, arms, and legs. A suit and tie of dark colors are appropriate for men. Women wear either a suit or a skirt that extends below the knees. The locals may approach a non-Emirati if they deem his or her dressing choice as inappropriate (Benesh, 2008). In such event, the person should stay calm, politely apologize and consider changing into a more modest dress.
Meetings, Business Settings, and Gifts
Punctuality at meetings is crucial in the US. However, the Emirati have a relaxed attitude towards meetings and may arrive late. While seated during the meeting, a person should refrain from showing the bottom of a shoe as, it is a sign of disrespect. The meetings in the UAE can be disruptive, as the members can take phone calls and respond to text messages. Unexpected people may also enter meeting rooms and proceed to discuss their agenda. The US nationals who have a custom of focusing during meetings should exercise patience in such situations. Refreshments are commonly served at meetings in the UAE, and it is proper etiquette to accept the offers. After any meal, a visitor should complement the host for the hospitality (Williams, 2010).
The Emirati conduct business in informal settings. Businesses have an inclination to grow into personal relationships, trust and family ties. They build business relationships on faith and mutual friendship. Developing this relationship building dominates the initial meetings. Knowing the person that is engaging in business is very important. Conversations begin by asking about well-being and health of the other person and their family while observing care to avoid asking questions about daughters or wife directly. If a person has friends in a desirable position, the friend may bend rules or serve the person quickly. People do not forget favors, and they reciprocate.
It is appropriate to offer a gift or token to the host upon introduction. Often an enjoyable book or a commodity related to the background or the hobbies of the host is a suitable gift. Furthermore, the Emiratis make decisions slowly as a result of their bureaucratic procedures (Kelaart-Courtney, 2010).
Offices and Shops Opening Hours
The government offices are open from half past seven in the morning until noon. Private offices have extended working hours from eight in the morning till five in the evening. All government bodies as well as most private offices remain closed on Fridays and Saturdays. Shops are open from nine in the morning until one, and then from four in the evening until nine. Malls have an extended hour and some supermarkets are open for 24 hours. Shops close at prayer time at one p.m.
The UAE nationals strictly observe the Muslim doctrine that forbids consumption of alcohol. Most hotels do not serve alcohol. Immigrants and tourists should be careful not to ask for alcohol if the restaurant does not offer it. A person should not turn down offered food or additional help during dinner, as a kind offer is never refused in the UAE. It is important to avoid asking for pork or pork products, as the Muslim tradition frowns upon pork consumption. The Muslims advocate for the use of the right hand for eating and leaving utensils facing upward at the middle of the plate after dining. Colleagues invited into a Muslim home should remove their shoes at a designated spot and set them in an orderly fashion before entering. The Muslims consider shoes dirty and wearing them at home is a sign of disrespect.
Eating habits have exceptions during the month of Ramadan. Muslims avoid meals from dawn to dusk. During this time, some restaurants are closed even during daylight, while those that stay open offer only takeout food. As a sign of respect, non-Muslims should avoid drinking, eating and smoking in public places.
Approximately 96% of citizens of UAE are Muslims. There are two divisions of this religion: the Sunnis, who constitute 85%, and Shia, who make up 15% of the Muslim population. The government subsidizes about 95% of Sunni mosques and employs their imams. The government has a central federal regulatory authority that guides the Sunni and Shia sheiks on the content they present to the summons. The Constitution of the UAE declares Islam as the nation’s official religion. It expressly proohibits the Muslims from converting to other religions, but welcomes the conversion of non-Muslims to Islam. Tourists can visit mosques tin groups organized by tour operators. Foreigners should avoid random visits to mosques at the times of prayer. During Ramadan, residents and visitors should observe the restrictions imposed on Muslims.
According to the non-Muslim religious leaders, UAE has liberal societal and governmental attitudes towards other faiths. The government observes a policy of tolerance towards Muslim religions and has little interference with their religious practices. Although, the government prohibits non-Muslims from advancing their religious literature, as it perceives the practice as offensive to Islam and serves the culprits with a penalty of criminal prosecution, deportation or imprisonment.
Literacy level in the UAE is 9%. Citizen children enjoy free public education all the way until university. Expatriate students attend governmental schools for a fee. Education is compulsory up to the ninth grade, and citizen children attend gender-segregated schools up to the sixth grade. Children of foreign nationals only enroll in private schools. Local and Muslim children that attend schools have to take Islamic studies as a mandatory subject. The UAE citizens have a poor grasp of English which is the largest employment barrier for the UAE nationals.
The UAE also has a wide range of public and private universities. The Emiratis attend governmental institutions for free. Public universities in the UAE include UAE University, Zayed University and Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT). In addition, there are several other private institutions. This presence of institutions of higher education indicates that the business will have a pool of trained labor force.
Potential Problems of US National in the UAE
The US accepts public display of affection – a habit that is socially unacceptable in the UAE. US nationals who do not take this precaution may get in trouble with the authorities. The Emiratis do not accept obscene hand signs. The penalty for the offense is a jail sentence or deportation. Alcohol consumption in unauthorized places is also an offense.
Advantages of Conducting Business in the UAE
The UAE provides a range of social and economic benefits. It has a strategic geographical location, as it serves as a connection point between different continents and is the fastest growing economy in the world. It has a safe environment and expanding infrastructure. The local law does not impose corporate income taxes, import duties and restrictions on profit transfer. Labor costs are also competitive. The UAE provides a cosmopolitan lifestyle and a high level of security for its residents. Visitors enjoy generosity and hospitality, as it is part of the government’s vision to becoming a global destination (Schwaighofer, 2013). The nationals welcome tourists and live with them amicably. They have an open approach to other cultures.
Knowledge and experience of cultures of the target country are the first steps towards business expansion. As Delicacy plans to open a branch in the UAE, the knowledge of the Emirati culture is important for avoiding cultural clashes. This business plans to offer hotel and restaurant services, which require constant interaction with people. An insight into the culture of the host country in this field is important for upholding hospitality and catering services that blend well with the prevailing culture. The biggest cause of cultural clash between the Emirati and Americans is the fact that the Emirati strictly follow Islamic doctrines and practices, while most US nationals observe Christian rules of conduct. This paper makes the following recommendations as the business plans to expand to the UAE:
- Recognition of status is important in the UAE. Employees who will relocate to the UAE should learn to address people by correct titles and greet older people first;
- Male visitors should avoid initiating greeting with Emirati women, but wait until the women initiates the greeting;
- The UAE is a patriarchal society. Hence, the branch should give men more preference in high administrative positions;
- The Emirati emphasize modest dressing and prohibit revealing clothes;
- Delicacy employees in the UAE should learnt to tolerate during meetings. They should also base their business relations on mutual friendship;
- The employees relocating abroad should seek admission of their children into public schools only.