Local Time in UAE: Print

Business Customs

The UAE is in many ways a model of intercultural harmony, with expatriates from over 150 countries forming 85% of the population. The Emirati culture itself is essentially a conservative Muslim culture, but tolerant of non-local mores up to a reasonable point. Men and women work together in offices, and you will see women in positions of responsibility. UAE nationals wear traditional national dress and women usually dress conservatively and modestly. Western women traveling to the UAE for business should dress conservatively, in pant- or skirt suits or dresses with sleeves.

As in many Middle Eastern countries, meetings can run late and projects may experience postponements and extensions. Business visitors, however, are expected to be punctual for all appointments. It is most important to respond to email, fax and other communications promptly.

In a meeting, the host will offer tea or coffee upon arrival. It is rude to refuse this beverage. Formal greetings can take several minutes. It is considered impolite to begin addressing business topics without taking several minutes for small talk. Courtesy is more emphasized in the UAE than in typical US business meetings. Never ask about a man's wife. Business cards and gifts should be offered with the right, not left, hand. Never sit with the sole of your foot facing someone.

Travelers can visit the website of the UAE Embassy in Washington for additional useful cultural tips: http://www.uae-embassy.org/travel-culture/traveling-in-muslim-country

Travel Advisory

There is no specific travel advisory in effect for the UAE. A general worldwide advisory concerning terrorism is in effect and travelers should contact the US Department of State’s Office of Citizen Services or the nearest US Embassy or Consulate for an update.

The website for the US Department of State is http://www.state.gov

Visa Requirements

U.S. citizens holding valid passports may obtain visitor visas at the port of entry for no fee, if the duration of the stay is less than 30days. This visa does not permit employment in the UAE. For a longer stay, a traveler must obtain a visa before arrival in the UAE. 

A medical exam, including an HIV/AIDS test, is required for work or residence permits; testing must be performed after arrival.  This is a requirement for all expatriates and their dependents living in the UAE. The test must be conducted in the UAE by the Preventive Medicine Unit of the UAE Ministry of Health. A U.S. HIV/AIDS test is not accepted.

For further information, travelers should visit the website of the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates (http://www.uae-embassy.org) or contact them at 3522 International Court, NW Suite #100, Washington, DC 20008 3522; Tel (202) 243-2400.

The Government of the United Arab Emirates requires that all persons residing in the UAE, including U.S. citizens, have a national identification card.  Americans who are working or living in the UAE should visit the Emirates Identity Authority website for more information on card registration procedures and requirements: http://www.emiratesid.ae/en/home.aspx.

U.S. Companies that require travel of foreign businesspersons to the United States should be advised that security options are handled via an interagency process. Visa applicants should go to the following links.

State Department Visa Website: http://travel.state.gov/visa/index.html

United States Visas.gov: http://www.unitedstatesvisas.gov/

UAE Embassy in Washington, DC: http://www.uae-embassy.org/travel-culture/visas-passports


There are two telecommunication providers in the UAE – Etisalat and Du.

For information on Etisalat check their web site at http://www.etisalat.ae/

For information on Du check their web site at http://www.du.ae/

Broadband is widely available, and fiber optic services are being developed in Abu Dhabi.


Taxis are common and inexpensive. In Abu Dhabi, fares rarely exceed Dhs 20 (US $5.50). Luxury radio taxis are available from the major hotels for triple the rate of street taxis. In Dubai, fares should not exceed Dhs 40 (US $11) unless traveling to the outer suburbs. The fare from Dubai’s World Trade Center to the Jebel Ali Free Trade Zone is about Dhs 105-110 (US $30-36), from Dubai to Abu Dhabi approximately 350dh.($100).


The language of business is English and Arabic. Most taxi drivers understand sufficient English to get you where you want to go.


Public health services in Abu Dhabi and Dubai are adequate, i.e., major trauma cases can be stabilized. Major hospitals have modern equipment and non-Western trained personnel to operate them. Most Western expatriates use private medical facilities and carry private health insurance.

Local Time and Business Hours

Local Time: GMT+4 hrs

Government offices open at 7:30 am Sunday through Thursday, closing at 2 p.m. for the day. Local businesses often close from 1:00 p.m. until 4:30 or 5:00 p.m. and then reopen for several hours. Visitors should plan appointments around these timings, as UAE businesspeople may not adjust their schedules in order to meet during their closing time.

Private UAE companies close Friday and Saturday. Business meetings are rarely, if ever, held on Friday or Saturday, which UAE nationals value as family time.


As a general rule, imports of goods into the UAE for the purpose of re-export within six months are exempt from customs duty. However, a deposit or submission of a bank guarantee in lieu of duty is required by Customs. The deposit or bank guarantee is refunded/released by the local Custom authority on proof of re-export. Goods remaining in the UAE after six months are liable for customs duty.

Goods may be imported duty free and stored in any of several free zones in the UAE. Goods, which enter the UAE from these free zones, must pay the duty noted previously. There is no provision for duty free entry of parts or components intended for the manufacture of goods to subsequently be exported. As duties are already so low, this has not been a major impediment to manufacturing industries in the UAE.

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