The UK Abu Dhabi Specialist
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Business Etiquette in Abu Dhabi

Meeting and greeting

  • It is necessary to use the correct title when addressing someone. It is normal to use Sheikh (meaning chief) for a man or Sheikha for a woman, Sayed (Mr) or Sayeda (Mrs)
  • Always greet and acknowledge the most senior person first
  • Handshakes are always used and can go on for an extended period of time
  • Always use your right hand. Among Muslims, the left hand is considered unclean
  • Gift giving is very important and it would be appropriate to give something to an individual you are being introduced to


  • Modesty is very important, and both men and women should wear non-revealing clothes (covering the shoulders, arms, legs and closed-toe shoes)
  • Women should cover their hair if visiting religious sites
  • Shoes may need to be removed in certain situations, such as when entering religious sites

Business is personal

  • Business relationships rely much more on trust and compatibility in the Middle East
  • It’s important that business relationships are built on mutual friendship and trust
  • Conversation and getting to know the person you are doing business with are vital


  • The working week runs from Sunday to Thursday
  • Punctuality must be adhered to, even if the locals are relaxed about it
  • Lavish signs of hospitality are the norm, and it is offensive to refuse food, drink or gifts
  • Never show the bottom of your feet when meeting
  • Meetings can be chaotic, with phone calls and people entering and leaving at random
  • Decisions tend to be made slowly

Useful Expressions

  • “As-salam alaikum” – A standard greeting that means peace be upon you.
  • “Wa alaikum as-salam” – The reply you should give, meaning and upon you be peace.
  • “Ma salamaa” – Goodbye.
  • “Ma Fudlek” – Please.
  • “Shukran” – Thank You!