Committed to expanding trade and commercial opportunities between the U.S. and U.A.E.®
Why the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Relationship matters
The bilateral relationship between the U.S. and U.A.E. exhibits three core components that make up its foundation: Political & Diplomatic; Business & Commercial; and Defense & Security. The ever growing strength of these three pillars are a testament to why the U.A.E. is one of our closest partners in the region.
- The U.A.E. is the only Arab state to participate in five coalition actions with the U.S. since the First Gulf War.
- The U.A.E. is the largest export market for U.S. products in the entire MENA region.
- The U.S. is the largest provider of foreign direct investment (FDI) into the U.A.E.
- The U.A.E.’s future vision for stability and security in the region closely mirrors that of the U.S.
U.A.E. Business Etiquette
Meeting & Greeting
Status is important and must be recognized by using the correct title when addressing someone. It is customary to use Sheikh or Sheikha to address members of the ruling families of the seven Emirates. For non-ruling family members, one can use Sayed (Mr.) or Sayeda (Mrs.) to be polite. Arabs generally address people by their first names, so John Smith would be addressed as Mr. John.
Gender & Attire
Men should avoid touching Muslim women or engaging in prolonged eye contact with them.
It is considered improper to inquire about a man’s wife or daughter. It is polite to ask about family or health in general terms, but never specifically about any female family members. Family life that involves female members is kept extremely private.
The modesty of one’s personal attire is important in the Middle East. Men and women should not wear revealing clothes. One should cover his or her shoulders, arms and legs, and feet.
When visiting religious sites, women must also cover their hair.
In some circumstances, shoes should be removed, such as at the entrance to religious sites.
Business is Personal
In the Middle East, doing business revolves much more around personal relationships, family ties, trust, and honor. It is therefore important that business relationships be built on mutual friendship and trust. Consequently, the system works on the understanding that favors are reciprocated and never forgotten.
Initial meetings are all about relationship-building – building trust and establishing compatibility. One should engage in conversation and try to get to know the person with whom one is doing business.
Age, money, and family connections are all key determining factors of a person’s status. It is therefore not uncommon to find many members of one family working for the same company.
In conversation, it is always good to ask about the health and well-being of a counterpart’s family. How many children? (Do not ask how many wives) What are the children doing? Where have they studied or are they about to study? Taking interest in a counterpart’s family is an important way of building early trust and connection.
The U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council continues to create and expand awareness of the U.S. – U.A.E. business, trade, and commercial relationship. Below are sector-specific publications that highlight the ever-growing strength of this partnership.