Dubai City Information Site

Women Doing Business in Dubai



Hi, Sunil here to talk about women doing business in Dubai

My inspiration in writing this discussion was the misconception I saw evident in several emails sent to Kish and I by you, or loyal follower.

So I thought I’d take some time out and discuss doing business in Dubai as a woman.

From observing things first hand, it appears that contrary to popular belief, women are indeed respected and treated well in Dubai and most Arab countries.

So whether you are a woman who wants to get in business for yourself or work for someone, Dubai can be a very rewarding experience for you.  I hope this discussion helps you out a bit in your pursuit.

The idea here is not to bore you with technical jargon (which you are probably already familiar with if you are considering doing business in Dubai), but rather to give you some basic background on women doing business in Dubai.

Getting in business for yourself

Frankly a woman can do whatever a man can do in Dubai.


When it comes to running your own business, there are no restrictions whatsoever. Just decide what you want to do and go at it.

Doing business with the Arabs can be a fun experience. They are generally hospitable and genuinely care about you once you start to build a relationship with them.

Also don’t forget that if you are getting into a business like imports and exports, you will have an inherent advantage because the local culture’s economic history is of the trading nature (barter).

That said, below are the three common ways in which I see women doing business in Dubai.

Retail shops

I see so many women run these shops either in market areas or in shopping centers and malls. I see them in proper stores as well as portable kiosks. This business appears reasonably easy to start. All one would need is some cash to source the product from a reliable resource and sell it in the shop.

Many housewives do this part time. It is an easy way to get started for women doing business in Dubai. They also tend to enjoy it quite a bit.

Imports and exports

Dubai, like most Middle East countries do not produce many varieties of goods to export. However, the country is rich because of oil money. That creates an opportunity for the entrepreneur to import into Dubai what is needed. Some quick exports that I can think of are oil, dates, dry fruit and gold / jewelry.

Working from home building websites or helping other businesses promote theirs

Sometime starting in 2007 this became a very popular option for women wanting to do business in Dubai. Many stay at home moms and housewives found working from home to be a good option that allows them the freedom and flexibility while spending quality time with family.

Many have turned their passion into a full time living on the Internet. So if you fit this category there are plenty of options for you. This is exactly how Kish and I turned this hobby website into a money making machine for us.

Some women also take the real estate agent route, where they work and research on an as needed basis as the leads come in. There is surely something for every woman in Dubai.

Working for someone

You will find more women in leadership roles in Dubai (including chief level) than you will in Europe. Yes that is true. That alone should tell you that doing business in Dubai as a woman isn’t so bad after all as many women are enjoying very satisfying and fulfilling careers working in corporate Dubai.

How to start building those important local relationships?

Nothing beats being in the trenches. Get out there and network. Find out where your target crowd hangs out and make sure you spend face time meeting and greeting. Exchange contacts, establish friendships and seek word of mouth. This is by far the best way.

The next best way is to search online on forums and discussion boards. There are specific niche sites as well that you can dig up from research. Also make a trip to your local country’s embassy. They have all kinds of contacts there, especially if you are from a first-world country.

There are many willing and able local business men and women just waiting to get in touch with you. Why not, it’s free money for them after all (read up on my business discussions and you will understand why I say this)!

Try to gauge who you are talking to. There are some extremely conservative men (though less and less over time) that would not even shake a woman’s hand. So unless they extend their hand, do not extend yours out.

How to appeal to the locals?

Women doing business in Dubai must not get all cute and charming when building relationships with locals. I know it sounds tempting but try not to do it (it may work with some of the modern new generation locals but generally it’s good to keep it friendly-professional).

It is not a good idea to talk business when you meet someone for the first time. Don’t forget about the business culture and the importance of friendship. If they bring it up, then go with the flow but don’t extend the business discussion more than it is required. First meetings are always about getting a feel for and knowing each other.

So what topics appeal to them most? Family, culture, geography, weather, travelling, hobbies, passion, etc. They love general chat. Avoid hot button topics (I think you know what these are).

Attire

Women doing business in Dubai don't need to cover their heads unless they are going outside of Dubai to the nearby areas. So if you decide you want to extend outward to nearby countries like Saudi, do keep in mind that they are more conservative that Dubai is. In that case, it is a good idea to carry a scarf with you to cover your head.

But no matter where you are, do not wear super tight clothing and always cover your neck area.

Business Material

Have copies in Arabic (translated by someone credible and well versed in Arabic) as well. Do not refer to any hot topics like religion or politics. Also no women in bikinis please on your marketing material.

Pricing

Experience and market research will teach you more than I ever could. You know your product better than anyone. You know the cost, care, mark ups etc. Just keep in mind that that the locals (Arabs) are fond of negotiating. They actually enjoy it.

So make sure you factor that in during your pricing decision. Try to get your cash as soon as possible. The longer you sit on it, the sooner it will become uncollectible.

= = = = = =

This is not a comprehensive list of avenues that women doing business in Dubai are involved with. It is merely a small list from our observations. Nothing worthwhile comes easy and without work. A good business career in Dubai or the UAE is no different. A lot of hard work, patience and persistence goes into it at first, but the rewards are well worth it.

In other words, establishing business relationships can take time, but once established, it will benefit you for years to come. Doing business in Dubai is all based on trust. So what is so different about women doing business in Dubai? As you can see, nothing out of the ordinary. A woman can do what a man can.


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