Culture is everything and everything is culture.
The UAE’s population comprises of over 85% expatriates. Dubai is home to over 180 different nationalities. As expected, this has made the globally recognized UAE, as the colossal collage of different cultures.
While some expatriates (I like to call them guests) are happy to immerse themselves in UAE culture, others tend to network largely with fellow countrymen and other Westerners.
As an Inter-cultural and motivational speaker, I have had the good fortune of meeting thousands of expatriates. My extensive work as an authentic source for UAE and Middle Eastern culture puts me in direct contact with expatriates who are new to the UAE, as well as those who have been living in the region for many years.
Below I will share some key information on culturally aware expatriates and offer some useful tips.
What are 5 things that culturally aware expats do differently in terms of how they conduct themselves (socially in public) in UAE?
• They learn basic Arabic such as the greeting “Asalamu Alikum” and what it means.
• They are mindful of their dress in public places.
• They are less judgmental towards those who are different and more comfortable in culturally diverse settings.
• They are more eager to interact with locals and become less intimidated by cultural differences.
• They advocate for better understanding of misconceptions and are willing to change their perception about other cultures.
• They become more aware of their own cultural norms and find more commonalities with others rather than the differences.
• They strive to learn about the culture business etiquette needed to do business in the UAE and Arab world.
The most important thing that people who are new to UAE should keep in mind shortly after arriving here?
There are some basic expectations about the “etiquette of body language” that may be acceptable in other countries but not here. For instance, in Singapore chewing gum is against the law and you could be fined. In the UAE, inappropriate hand gestures, offensive language, or insulting someone are taken more seriously by law enforcement than in other countries. Simply put, you need to mind your manners.
Safety is very important to us. Once you get here, you will realize that the UAE is a very safe place to live and work. We are also very tolerant. In Dubai, you will find the most diverse number of nationalities coexisting in peace.
If you have a misconception we have a clarification, if you have a perception we have an explanation.