1. If you’re not here….you’re not here. Business is done face-to-face, often at short notice and is built on personal relationships. Whilst you can’t make that meeting tomorrow, your local competitors probably can.
2. Invest in legal advice. The UAE isn’t a litigious place, but the pitfalls of establishing & operating in the wrong way far outweigh a few hours with a lawyer to make sure your business’s set up is optimal.
3. Tap into goodwill. Join the British Business Group, make contact with industry bodies and attend events. Make the most of the support, advice and guidance that others are happy to give you for free.
4. Plan to leave. Whilst your main focus will be on getting started in the UAE, you should also make sure that whatever you establish allows you the exit that your long term business plan targets.
5. Caveat venditor! The UAE & Middle East might be exciting markets for you, but a sound business plan, cautious approach and normal business risk management processes should still be applied. The UAE is littered with failed British get-rich-quick merchants.
6. Abu Dubai? The UAE is a federation, but each Emirate has its own rules related to commercial activity so make sure you are working in the right jurisdiction for your company.
7. Wasta. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Network, network, network! (if you don’t know what ‘Wasta’ is, please see point 1)
8. Free Zones aren’t free. Don’t rush to a Free Zone because of their slick marketing. Check whether your business can legitimately operate there and be aware of the significant property and admin costs that are levied on tenants. And remember that you can own 100% of your business onshore anyway.
9. Meet you on Friday. Adjust to and quickly learn local customs. The different work week is the most obvious example, but would you know how to greet an Emirati lady or how to behave during Ramadan?
10. Take a deep breath & smile. The UAE is a hugely rewarding place to live and work, but it can also be frustrating, confusing, demanding and scary. Come with an open mind and be prepared for challenges, twists and an exciting journey. The British Centres of Business are here to support UK companies.