The UAE offers a unique business and regional structure where fewer than 20% of residents are native to the Emirati, and where understanding the laws, business etiquettes, local culture, and expectations for expats, makes the difference between success and failure of an overseas assignment.
Research suggests however, that expats aren’t receiving enough cross-cultural training (CCT) and that the challenges they experience “could have been partially circumvented or dealt with if they had received more CCT than they did”.
Moving to a new country is exciting, but if you step off the plane with no idea of the culture you’re entering, it can become difficult to navigate, and hard to settle.
If you are conducting business within this new culture, you’ll soon find that your lack of knowledge limits your ability to be accepted by your new colleagues, compounds feelings of homesickness, and can contribute to formation of an ‘outsider complex’.
Business communications and dealings (and personal state of mind) will suffer as a result.
Cross-cultural training offers the perfect solution to this problem by preparing expats for the new culture, lifestyle, business etiquettes and social protocols.
Professional and good quality cross-cultural training covers areas such as:
• Business Ethos
• Laws and Regulations
• Customs and Social Values
• Dress Codes
• Communication (verbal and non-verbal)
• Knowledge of the Country or Region
• Intercultural Adaptability
While in the UAE, many expats will face experiences (both socially and within the business arena) that are new, or unfamiliar, and be uncertain how to deal with these.
For example, huge importance is placed upon trust in the UAE so before conducting business affairs, many meetings will open with small talk based around family and friends.
This should be seen as a sign that your counterparts want to get to know you, so it is important to make the most of it and respond in kind.
Actively engage in sharing information about yourself and your family, ask about their children or lives, and show an interest in them personally.
Expats that don’t expect this type of relationship, and try to rush talk onto business matters, would be seen as impolite and could miss out on a deal.
Research “demonstrates cross-cultural training [does] accelerate expatriates’ work, interaction and general adjustment” and that the “positive effects of cross-cultural training are even more noticeable for managers who have little or no prior international experience”.
Cross-cultural training specifically designed for expats moving to the UAE should explore the impact that Islam has upon the people, culture, and business so that personnel are fully prepared for their assignment.
It is a good idea to offer cross-cultural training to additional family members who are also moving to the UAE as this means the whole family are likely to settle in faster, be content in their new setting, and confident in their day-to-day dealings with others.
Promoting cultural awareness in an effort to facilitate improved business relationships is central to our ethos here at Creative Word Training.