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City Focus: Doing business in Dubai

Name:        Jason Keys
Lives in:    
Chief Marketing Officer

business trips to Dubai

How often do you travel to Dubai, and who do you fly with?
I go about once per quarter and I usually take Singapore Airlines or Emirates Airlines.

What’s one thing everyone ought to know about the place?
Unless you’re working there, the razzle-dazzle wears off after a few days.

How quickly can you get a visa? Online, embassy or visa on arrival?
Very easily – visa on arrival.

Fastest way into and around the city?
Taxis are quite cheap and plentiful. Alternatively, the Metro runs along the main strip into the city and is a good budget option. However, in the summer time it’s best to avoid any lengthy walks from Metro stations to destinations.

When are the good and bad times to visit?
Ramadan is definitely not the time to go. It’s way too hot and not much is open during the day.

Jumeriah Beach in Dubai, business trips to Dubai

Which hotels do you recommend?
There are plenty of good hotels to choose from. Grosvenor House is my choice of business hotel. For a holiday, hotels along Jumeirah Beach are generally high quality.

What’s the dress code for meetings?
For a very hot environment, the dress code is surprisingly formal. A tie is not always necessary but a jacket is normal.

Any cultural or business etiquette to be aware of?
Despite being an international city, there is a strong Arabic undertone. Therefore pork and alcohol are not to be served when dining with the Arabs. However, the business population comes from all over the world so it’s a matter of horses for courses.

If you’re taking a client to lunch or dinner, where do you go?
There are some good restaurants of all different cuisine types around the Downtown Lake area. The nightly fountain display adds to a pleasant atmosphere, so aim for a place with a view of the water.

Casual bars to go for a drink with clients where you won’t get hassled?
Bars are mostly restricted to the big hotels and tend to be more formal and expensive. For a more casual drink with some sport in the background, McGettigan’s Irish Pub in the JLT area does nicely.

Any unsafe areas to avoid?
Not really. It’s a safe place but usual common sense when travelling to an Arabic country needs to be remembered.

4WD safari in Dubai, business trip in Dubai

If you’ve got some spare time, what’s the must-see?
I’ve never been there but many people say the indoor ski slope needs to be seen to be believed. Otherwise, there are some travel agencies that organise 4WD safaris out into the desert; dune-bashing is pretty cool.

Gifts to take home for family and friends?
The local Bateel dates are a relatively healthy and easy-to-carry gift.

Best local street food or dish?
At many local eating places you have a choice of a hot or cold Middle Eastern mezze platter. Can’t go past them!

At the end of a trip, how long do you really need to get to the airport and get checked in?
In peak hour the main road can get quite congested so, depending where you are coming from, allow 45 minutes to get to the airport in peak times. Also, it’s a big airport so it does take time to get from check-in to the gate. The Emirates Terminal is more efficient so allow more time if you’re flying other airlines.

Tell us a personal anecdote from one of your trips to Dubai that will give readers a feel for staying there or doing business there.
I was meeting with the Purchasing General Manager from one of the larger UAE manufacturing businesses. He was well spoken and educated but he was surrounded by a group of mainly Indian junior managers. I soon realised these junior managers did all of the actual work and knew the business better than the General Manager. Therefore it became clear that to succeed, it was required to convince the junior managers of the business case while lavishing attention and compliments on the General Manager!

Want to find out more about the United Arab Emirates? Check out our Abu Dhabi guide.