One reason why Emirates Towers is the hotel to be in if you are doing business with the Dubai government (or one of its agencies) is because, as well as being an excellent business hotel, it is owned by the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
It’s worth extending this principle to other business you may be doing in the city. Most businesses based in Dubai itself, rather than one of the Free Zones, are part of large, family-owned holding companies, many of which will have hotels among their interests. It’s always worth staying in the leading hotel of the group you are doing business with. It probably won’t make the deal but such courtesies are valued highly in the Gulf.
You are likely to meet plenty of extremely well-educated, modern young Emirati women – particularly if you are dealing with the government. However, remember that traditionally Muslim women are not supposed to touch men outside their family. Therefore, however warmly they smile when they hand over their cards, don’t automatically attempt to shake their hand unless they offer it. I might also add that Arab men are normally slightly more sensitive when touching each other and no one will infer weak character from your failure to crush their hand with your firm grip.
Favourite restaurants: Gordon Ramsay’s Verre at The Hilton Dubai Creek for European cuisine. Go for the food, not the décor, and because it’s somewhere you can actually talk. Lebanese is often the fallback for mixed entertaining but Iranian is a good alternative and in many ways closer to the Emirati palate; I would recommend the Shabestan at the InterContinental. Sadly, both are on the Deira side of town - but they are well worth the effort.
Jumeirah Emirates Towers, PO Box 72127, Dubai, UAE.
Tel.: +971 4 3300000
Verre at the Hilton Dubai Creek, Beniyas Road, PO BOX 33398, Dubai, UAE.
Shabestan at the InterContinental, Dubai Bin Yas Street, PO Box 476, Dubai, UAE.
Tel.: +971 4 222 7171
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