11 April 2013

Work in... Dubai

Five top tips on how to dress for work in the UAE's party town

Makes getting dressed in the morning much easier
1. Stay stylish, but modest  In general, Dubai residents - including expats - favour stylish outfits whatever the occasion. Office work-wear in the emirate is no different: you'll see slick skirt suits, well-tailored trousers and blouses, dresses and chic jackets. While it may all seem familiar, expat residents favour the trouser suit, or dresses and skirts below the knee with sleeves down to the elbow, to get a different reception. Which brings us to...

2. ...No need to wear a head scarf... unless you visit a mosque. Local women and Arab nationals take their fashion very seriously. Abeyas (the black head-to-toe covering) can be beautifully embellished and embroidered; head scarves can be boldly patterned and worn with plenty of matching accessories. You'll see the modesty warnings at the entrance to malls - be sensible and avoid wearing beachwear or hotpants or the like. 

3. Pack a pair of heels  Whether peeking out from underneath an abeya or teamed with a sharp suit, high-heeled court shoes are de rigeur for professional women. The combination of not having to walk anywhere or run for a bus plus the city's glamorous image means Dubai is a high heel friendly place. But exercise caution: the very shiny marble floors in most buildings are deceptively slippery and leave the 6-inch tottering shoes to the sun-seeking tourists. 

4. Beware the ubiquitous air con  Summer temperatures frequently pass the 40 degree Celsius mark in summer and rarely drop below 20 degrees during the daytime in winter. All buildings are air conditioned throughout the year and while this provides relief from the heat outside, many offices over compensate by blasting you with freezing cold air. If you're sitting at a desk all day and not moving around much, a cardigan or light jacket will sort you out. 

5. Consider wearing a wedding ring  Even for expats, being married (or looking like you are) provides benefits. There are plenty of single female expats, but wearing a wedding ring look-a-like can help save you from awkward moments when doing business in the Gulf if you're working with non-multinational companies. It's also helpful when just out and about: many workers from the sub-continent or the rest of the region haven't seen their wives in years; wearing a ring can help put down a marker and encourage wandering eyes to shift their attention elsewhere.

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