Arabic is the official language of the UAE. Various dialects of Arabic can be heard in the Emirates, as well as the languages of the immigrant communities, such as English, Urdu, Farsi, Malayalam and Tagalog. Both Arab and English are used in business.

Politeness and courtesy to guests, whether friends or business contacts, is a noticeable feature of life in the UAE. Greetings are elaborate and extended, with numerous references to Allah (the Muslim name for God). Common expressions include Al-hamdu-lilah (all praise is due to Allah) and Subhan-Allah (glory be to Allah).

It is considered polite to take off your shoes before entering a private home. In traditional Arab society, men and women do not socialize or eat together, although modern Arabs may not observe this tradition within the family.

Incense is burned to welcome guests into an Emirati home. The smell fills the air with a sweet fragrance. According to tradition, rosewater may also be sprinkled on guests' head and hands as they leave someone's home.

Business communication in the Emirates is very different from that in Canada. Usually, people who are interested in doing business do not immediately speak about what they want to sell or buy. Coffee is served and considerable time can be spent exchanging courtesies. Emirati business people may ask their guests to return many times before they reach a decision about a business matter. This reflects the need to feel trust in the other person before engaging in any deals.

   English    Arabic
Yes Na'am
No La
Please Min fadlak (if addressing a man)
Min fadlik (if addressing a woman)
Good morning Shokran
Good evening Masa' an-nur
Welcome Ahlan wa sahlan
How are you? Kaif halak
Very well, thank you Taib katheer, shokran
Goodbye Fi aman Ilah
Friend Sadiq
 Did you know?
The Bedouin depended on word of mouth for spreading news across the desert.