Don’t rush in – allow plenty of time for preambles and getting to know your hosts. That said, Dubai remains a place with conservative values and you should treat this as part of the formalities. Avoid commenting on politics and religion and stay off alcohol at all times – even asking for it can cause embarrassment. That said, once contacts are established you can expect a strong relationship. Suits are the norm, and bear in mind that most meetings will be conducted in what can be chilly air-conditioned offices.
Dubai has more high-class hotels than any other place of comparable size, which keeps prices keen to a certain point. Sheikh Zayed Road is at the centre of things and the perfect location if you’ve got meetings all over town. Qamardeen (www.southernsun.com) manages to be hip but not overbearing with colourful, modern doubles. Rack rates are on the high side, but you should be able to get well below £200.
Deira’s street scene offers the most fun eating in the Emirate. Also here in Le Meridien Dubai you’ll find Cafe Chic (www.starwoodhotels.com), a celebrated Michelin-rated French place. Expect impeccable culinary acumen and, if this is your choice of where to eat, nods of approval from your clients.
Dubai’s bar scene revolves around hotels which serve alcohol to thirsty expats, and Thursday and Friday nights are the time to party. For somewhere a little less full-on than many places try Left bank at Souq Madinat Jumeirah (www.jumeirah.com), with waterside tables to watch the traditional wooden water taxis, known as abras, float past. The food is pretty good too.
Flights to Dubai are keenly priced, even direct ones at reasonably busy times. Emirates have the best coverage, with an especially useful links from Birmingham, Glasgow and Manchester. Some travellers are using Etihad Airways to Abu Dhabi and travelling into Dubai from there, which can save some money.
Dubai International Airport is the busiest in the Middle East, with over 30 million passengers – and rising – passing through it each year. An airport transfer to your hotel can often be included in your room package, and can save you money. In less than half an hour you can be in most places in Dubai by taxi and it won’t cost more than £20. Walking's not the norm.
Dubai uses the UAE Dirham. The Emirate is four hours ahead of GMT. There’s a desert climate here so expect hot, dry weather but note that you’ll spend much of your time inside in air-conditioned environ-ments. Weekend days are Friday and Saturday here so adjust your schedule accordingly. See: www.dubaitourism.ae