24 February 2015 By Northern Lights
I was delighted to recently meet the UKTI Women in Business delegation visiting the UAE.
I had been asked to share my experience about what to consider when doing business in the UAE and specifically in Abu Dhabi.
These were my 10 tips:
The points they were most interested in were how we look at things from a Western perspective and how they are viewed in the Arab world. There was agreement that it is rude to try and impose our way of thinking, especially around picking up calls in meetings. They also wanted to know about women’s participation at work and the challenges they have to overcome – I explained their challenges are very much the same for working women as they are in Europe and not necessarily the stereotypes that you hear about. The big difference is perhaps maternity leave allowance at only 45 days in total.
The question that most wanted answered was where to start if you wanted to follow-up from first contacts. My suggestion was to engage on social media – with Twitter and Instagram being the most popular mobile apps today in the GCC, and use it to develop relationships with content developed specifically and addressing current issues that your business can help with.
They also wanted to know if you needed to set-up locally and while I understand the cost associated with setting up a fully fledged business in the UAE, I believe it’s very hard to run a business without a presence on the ground and having a trusted local partner to advise and help. Our own business is a member of the Gateway Group and we have had fantastic support from Jenny Hunt.
What other advice would you add to those looking to do business in the UAE?