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 (www.TrainingCQ.com). 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
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
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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