Creating Connections: The Best Tips for Building Business Partnerships in the UAE

by Zaara 01, Apr 2019

It can be argued that one of the major factors in a successful business is partnerships. After all, it is these connections that allow your business to thrive and grow over time. Thus, creating and fostering these partnerships is of the utmost importance.

However, if you are just getting started in the UAE, you may have come to realise that business partnerships are handled in a slightly different manner. So, if you don’t have a great deal of experience with the corporate culture here, it is easy to flounder. Well, fortunately, here are 9 useful tips for building partnerships…

1. Make connections through your local partner

The nature of business in the UAE is such that you might often have to team up with a local partner to get your business going. Most entrepreneurs, however, simply see this arrangement for what it is: a legal one. What they don’t realise is that your local partner can be a useful resource.

Understand that many companies in the UAE prefer to create known connections. As such, they are more likely to do business with someone they are already familiar with. Of course, if you are new in town, this isn’t a requirement you can meet.

This is where your local partner will prove to be an advantage. They can introduce you to relevant or influential individuals that can smooth the way to a future partnership. At the very least, your partner will be able to make you a known face around the industry.

2. Start with smaller companies first

It may be ideal for you to try and build a partnership with large, thriving organisations. In reality, though, you will probably not be able to measure up to what these companies expect. Since you haven’t made your mark as yet, many of these companies would have no reason to trust you right off the bat.

This is why it is in your best interests to look for well-reputed but smaller companies. It is often easier to get your foot in the door with these small-scale operations. They may also offer you a better deal since you, yourself, are just starting out.

Once you have established your company within the sector, you can then consider moving onto bigger and better partnerships. For the time being, however, it is best to focus on more attainable goals.

3. Make smart partnership decisions

In the beginning, you may be desperate to strike any alliance at all. Nonetheless, going ahead with the first company that is willing to do business with you isn’t a smart move. Keep in mind, the value of the partnership is just as important as the organisation you are linking up with. As such, you shouldn’t just team up with anyone.

Your main focus should be on doing business with those that can further your company. So, when considering your opportunities, think about how similar your operations are. Do both organisations have similar goals and structures?

Another thing you should know about your potential collaborator is their strengths and weaknesses. Ideally, their strengths should be able to make up for the weak points in your company while your strengths should do the same for theirs. This is the best way to build up a partnership that is mutually beneficial for all those involved.

4. Do your research about potential partners

On a similar note, you should not blindly create alliances, particularly with people or organisations that you aren’t very familiar with. Remember, once a partnership is formed, that company’s reputation is linked with yours to a certain extent. Thus, you can’t really afford to make the wrong decision here.

To avoid any fallout from a collaboration, it is a good idea to do some research on your potential partner before making any deals. To start with, you can utilise a service that's involved in person lookup online. This is a particularly useful tactic to try on the main face behind the company.

After that, it is a matter of digging into the business aspect of the organisation. Determine important elements such as previous performance, their reputation in the market, and more. This way, you can be certain that you aren’t agreeing to any partnership blindly.

5. Always opt for face-to-face business meetings

In the Western world, over-the-phone conversations and several emails may suffice when getting to know your partner. Such tactics will not work so well in the UAE, however. Here, businesspeople pride themselves on the personal connections they are able to create with people. Due to this, you will quickly learn that face-to-face meetings are often best.

Remember how we mentioned that individuals in the UAE would rather do business with people they know? Well, your potential partners can’t possibly become acquainted with you if you don’t actually meet them. So, make sure you meet with these individuals, at least once or twice. This helps to create stronger bonds of trust between the two parties.

6. Emphasise personalised relationships

In the same way, you should also get to know your partners on a more personal level. So, if they invite you out to a meal or for coffee, make sure to accept their invitation. Such events are often a good sign and can mean that your partners are interested in learning more about you.

It should also be noted that such meetings can often start off in a manner that you aren’t used to. Now, in other parts of the world, most individuals may get to business straightaway. This isn’t always the case in the UAE. Rather, people may sit around and chat with one another for several minutes.

During this time, they may inquire about your family, background, and more. It is expected of you to make similar inquiries about them. Again, all of this is done so that your partners can decide whether or not they like you enough to move forward with the business side of things.

7. Respect the diversity

Few countries in the world offer as diverse of a workforce as the UAE. If you haven’t experienced a great deal of cultural diversity before, this can be quite a shock. In addition to the local UAE nationals, you will meet people from all corners of the globe.

Now, for many, this diversity is an accepted and respected fact. Thus, you will need to follow suit as well. Brush up on the various customs and traditions of different nationalities so that you are prepared to deal with individuals from various countries.

Of course, you aren’t expected to be a cultural expert by any means. Still, having a fundamental understanding of the dos and don’ts of different cultures can go a long way in solidifying your position as a viable business partner in the UAE.

8. Figure Out a Suitable Mode of Communication

Speaking of diversity, it is important to realise that each individual has their own way of communicating certain things. For instance, some of your business partners in the UAE may not want to correct you or disagree with you outright. Instead, they may use subtler tactics to get their point across.

In short, it isn’t uncommon for signals to get crossed in meetings due to different ways of doing business. As you can imagine, such instances can lead to a breakdown in communication. This isn’t a good thing for partnerships.

To overcome such issues, you will need to come up with a suitable mode of communication for each of your partners. First, though, you pay attention to how each person gets their point across. Once you are aware of these habits, the next step is to determine how best to communicate with each of your partners.

9. Adapt to a different way of doing things

While this might not necessarily be true of all of your business partners, you will soon notice that people prefer a more laidback atmosphere in the UAE. So, while things can run incredibly efficiently, timing can be another matter entirely. While it can be tempting to rush people along, you can be quite certain that this will not get you far.

For the most part, patience will soon become one of your most revered virtues. Keeping to your end of the bargain and being flexible with your partners can go a long way in keeping everyone happy. While dropping a few reminders on occasion is acceptable, understand that many people will work at their own pace. So, you will need to plan things accordingly.

It may take some time to build up this patience but you should work at it. By adopting this outlook, you may find that you have an easier time dealing with all your associates. In turn, this may help things to move along more smoothly.

As you can see, there are quite a few details that you need to understand about building partnerships in the UAE. Hopefully, these tips will help to pave the way for you. Once you have identified the right partners and then started building on these relationships, you are sure to notice your business flourishing.


What are the types of partnership business?

General partnership, limited partnership, limited liability partnership, and limited liability limited partnership are some of the types of partnership.

What are the benefits of having a partnership business?

There are many benefits and few of which are 

  • Expand opportunities

  • Cost-effective 

  • Tax benefits

  • Support system

  • Knowledge sharing

Is it possible to add a partner to my existing business?

Yes, it is possible.

Is a written agreement mandatory for a business partnership?

No, it is not a mandate. However, it is good to have one.

How are taxes paid in partnership?

As a partner, you have income through your profit share, and you record this on your personal taxes.