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  • Writer's pictureIsrael Gulf Report

Arona Maskil: Business tips for Israelis and others meeting their Emirati colleagues

Updated: Dec 8, 2020

Arona Maskil is across-cultural business development consultant, virtual leadership and multi-cultural team trainer at Training CQ ( She sent along several tips for Israeli and other organizations meeting colleagues for the first time in the United Arab Emirates.

More and more Israeli organizations and delegates are outbound for the Gulf region

taking advantage of the business opportunities the Abraham Accords Peace

Agreement has made possible.

Here are a few business tips when making meeting your Emirati colleagues:

1. For the first visit, try to meet the end-users, government agencies, banks,

consultants not just distributors or agents so you can receive a variety of


2. It is common for meetings to be rescheduled or delayed, so ensure you have

other contacts in your visit plan to fill any gaps. The reason for delays or

rescheduling is due to a variety of factors ranging from a call from a 'higher

authority', family business or prayer times.

3. While your Emirati colleague may delay the meeting, you, as a visitor do not

have the same flexibility. Their perception of Westerners is that they are

punctual and on time.

4. If your meeting is cancelled, leave behind a pre-prepared note on your

company letterhead regretting that you were disappointed to miss your

contact. Suggest meeting at an alternative time, along with your hotel and

telephone details.

5. As visits may involve rescheduled meetings, it is important to operate flexibly.

It is unrealistic to plan a two-day visit with five calls per day and presume your

itinerary will run to time. Always allow an extra day.

6. Arab meeting settings in the UAE vary but it is best to be prepared. In many

instances, you may be meeting with an expatriate executive and the meeting

will follow standard international practice.

7. There are many characteristics of Arab meetings in the UAE. Coffee should

always be offered. Your host may interrupt the meeting at any time to answer

calls or to sign paperwork. Accept this and greet them politely if introduced.

Your host may even suspend the meeting to attend prayers.

8. Be ready for long, often poetic speeches and expansive conversation.

Patience is the key for meetings with the Arabs.

Making your pitch

1. Arabs place great emphasis on the past; therefore, discuss your company's track

record and achievements Real achievements backed by drawings, photos,

certificates and maybe testimonies will count more towards selling your 'product'

than the abstract 'vision'; of your plans for the future. Storytelling is also a compelling way for people to remember you. Share a story about a specific project or a

challenging issue that your organization faced and how you managed to overcome

the issue.

2. When making a presentation, please note that Arabs are circular thinkers and thus

tend to learn through their senses and through memorizing. The use of imagery,

analogy, repetition, and graphics are important. Always highlight the human aspects

of the project and the benefit to Emirati nationals. How many jobs will your project

create, the benefit to the environment, and to the urban development. Make sure all

your written materials are translated into Arabic have a native speaker review

content for any offensive words or sentences.

3. Presentations in the UAE can be chaotic, as people take and make calls or greet

unexpected visitors. Do not get impatient; wait for a sign from your audience that it is

time to resume the speech.

4. Your audience will expect you to have done your homework in understanding their

culture. Engage in small talk before the presentation, always show respect to the

most senior person in the room.

5. Like in Israel, they might interrupt your presentation to ask questions or make

comments, do not take it personally, it shows they are paying attention and are

engaged. In the end allow time for a Q and A session, be prepared to know all aspects

of your product as they will ask diversified questions. If there are no questions, you

may assume your product is of no interest to them.

Tighten your seatbelts and good luck!

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