Abu Dhabi, U.A.E.
Value Added Tax
➤ The United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) has recently implemented a 5-percent VAT.
➤ Abu Dhabi uses 220V.
➤ While plug adaptors are available for purchase, they are expensive in Abu Dhabi. So if you need adaptors or transformers to accommodate 110V equipment, bring your own.
➤ Smoking is not allowed in exhibit halls, but all venues have designated smoking areas.
➤ Payment of music royalties is somewhat lax in Abu Dhabi. Check the exhibitor manual or with the show's organizer on rules for playing music in your exhibit during the show.
➤ Be aware that since the U.A.E. is an Arab country, Western music is often banned in public.
➤ If you have international service on your U.S. cell phone, it should work in Abu Dhabi.
➤ Purchasing a SIM card and talk time in Abu Dhabi is complicated. The simple solution is to purchase a prepaid, disposable phone at the airport in the U.A.E.
➤ Basic booth-cleaning services can be ordered in advance, generally through the show organizer.
➤ If you choose to use a build-and-burn exhibit in Abu Dhabi, your exhibit house will dispose of it for you following the show.
➤ Exhibit builders are responsible for disposal of all trash generated during installation and dismantle.
➤ Dial 999 for the police or medical assistance.
➤ Dial 997 for the fire department.
Greetings and Culture
➤ Formal English-language greetings are appropriate.
➤ While Arabs often kiss on the cheek when meeting, foreigners should simply shake hands with the right hand.
➤ Common Arab greetings include, "Salaam alaykum" ("Peace be upon you"), "Sabaah al-khayr" ("Good morning"), and "Masaa al-khayr" ("Good evening").
➤ Most hospitality rooms or lounges are found in exhibits that are larger than 200 square feet. Smaller exhibits aren't expected to provide refreshments for clients and booth visitors.
➤ Arab attendees tend to prefer casually meeting in a company's booth space, then setting up subsequent meetings in other locations such as a private meeting room or a dinner setting.
➤ Arabian coffee, water, and juices are common beverages served in exhibits. Common snacks include pastries, dates, and dried fruits.
➤ It is rare for an exhibitor to serve alcohol on the show floor.
➤ Check your exhibitor manual to see if you are required to use the venue's catering service.
➤ Arabic is the official language of Abu Dhabi, but most attendees at shows speak English. Still, it is advisable to have an Arabic translator on hand in your exhibit if at all possible.
➤ Signage does not need to be translated into Arabic, but literature and business cards should be available in both English and Arabic.
➤ Men should wear business suits at shows in Abu Dhabi. Women should dress conservatively, and avoid revealing clothing. However, head scarves are not necessary.
➤ Tattoos and piercings should be covered.
Installation and Dismantle
➤ There are no labor unions involved in Abu Dhabi exhibit halls.
➤ Labor is generally charged by the job rather than the hour, and crews will work well into the night to get the job done if allowed by the show venue.
➤ Work through an exhibit house to find labor crews. Crews can't always be ordered through show services, and the most experienced workers tend to work for exhibit houses.
➤ Electricity can be ordered through the show's venue. Information should be in the show's exhibitor manual.
➤ Booth builders may hire handling agents for large loads of exhibit materials.
➤ Bring your own tools unless your exhibit builder indicates otherwise.
General Facts and Tips
➤ Note that observant Muslims set aside time for prayer in the middle of the day.
➤ Arab attendees tend to focus on building a relationship with potential business partners. So take time to talk and get to know attendees, and don't use the comparably rushed lead-gathering approach common at many shows in the United States.
➤ Reserve hotel rooms well in advance of the show you're attending as accommodations fill up quickly during major international events.
➤ Abu Dhabi is extremely hot in the summer (May through September) and sandstorms are common. Bring lightweight clothing and sunglasses.
➤ Taxi drivers in Abu Dhabi do not generally speak English, so have the name and address of your hotel, the show venue, etc. written in Arabic or Hindi (many drivers are from India) so you can show the driver where you want to go.
➤ Avoid building exhibits inspired by Arab art and architecture. It is seen as insulting.
➤ Due to social conventions in Abu Dhabi, do not take photos of women unless they give you permission to do so.
Robert Campbell, vice president, Uniplan GmbH & Co. KG, Basel, Switzerland; Christopher Dorn, president, Idea International Inc., Tokyo; Jeffrey S. Hannah, president and CEO, Nuance International Inc., Lawrenceville, GA; Frank Liu, deputy general manager, Uniplan GmbH & Co. KG, Beijing; Lorraine Lorenzini, director of international account management, Freeman, Dallas; Matthew Pearce, president, Exhibition & Event Association of Australasia, Chatswood, NSW, Australia; Gino Pellegrini, president and design director, Inter-Global Exhibitions Group, Denver; Jeannine K. Swan, owner and president, Global Exhibit Management, Fort Worth, TX; Jori Wilmoth, manager of international services, Derse Inc., Milwaukee