Etiquette Around The World

| January 28, 2013 | 3 Comments

Business and tourist etiquette around the world

It is a beautiful thing to travel around the world. Learning about new cultures, exploring new traditions, meeting new people, these are the things that enrich your spirit and make you as a person. In this article I will try to explain some of the different amenities that are present in each of the countries I am writing about. Although etiquette rules are unique for the whole world, still in certain countries there are some specifics that you should know and respect.

It would be impossible to cover etiquette differences in all the countries in the world so I tried to focus on the most visited ones, both in tourist and business sense. List of business etiquette is also included.

So if you are planning to visit some of the countries mentioned bellow, no matter if it’s private or business trip, try to remember some of the advice given in this article so that you don’t get yourself in unpleasant situations.

This is a long article so if you are searching for a specific country, just click on a specified country link.

ItalyGermanyGreat BritainFranceSpainUnited StatesChinaRussiaUnited Arab Emirates


This beautiful country is one of the most visited countries in the world. This fact is no surprise given the number of historical, gastronomical and fashion related destinations you can visit.

Italian language is one of the most beautiful languages in the world. Also it is really easy to learn (I have my “Lear Italian” CD’s waiting for me to start but can’t seem to force myself to do it, although I would love to learn it.), and since Italians are not so good speakers of English language if you try to communicate with them in your bad Italian you will get their sympathies. They will not laugh at you, instead they will help you without hesitation. If you do not know any word of Italian, when approaching someone who you want to ask something try this: “My scusiparla inglese, meaning, “I apologize, do you speak english?”.

Italy is very religious country and if you plan to visit many of their churches wear appropriate clothes. Trust me I learned the hard way when I was in Milan trying to enter the Duomo at Piazza Duomo. It was mid of the summer and temperatures were very high, and I was trying to enter the Duomo in short pants. Each church has this wardrobe rules placed at the entrance but then it will be too late, just like it was for me. So, no short pants for man, no deep cleavage dresses for woman and no dresses with naked shoulders.

Italians are very open people. They love to talk, laugh and are tolerant to other cultures but do not be rude or arrogant.

Family is very important in Italy and you should take that seriously. If you are a guest at your Italian host’s home and his mother or father enters the room you should stand up.


General etiquette

  • When you introduce yourself to someone on a business or a social meeting, shake your hand with everyone, even with children.
  • Women should extend their hand to men first.
  • Italians are very stylish and they are generous gift givers. If you are giving someone a gift, don’t give them anything cheap or practical, and the gift should be beautifully wrapped.
  • If you are invited to someone’s home and if it’s your first time at his home feel free to ask for a tour. Italians are very proud of their homes and they will love to give you a tour.
  • When invited to someone’s house always bring some gift. Small one is enough, like chocolate pralines, flowers (uneven number), wine… When bringing flowers do not bring chrysanthemums cause they symbolize death, also do not bring roses cause they symbolize passion. Also do not give knives or scissors because they bring bad luck. Do not wrap gifts in black with golden ribbon because this is a symbol of mourning.


Dining etiquette

  • The person who invites you to the lunch or a dinner is the one that’s paying the bill.
  • Drinking cocktails is not usual in Italy since Italians drink very rarely without eating.
  • In Italy you will not get a bread plate. Instead when you break your bread, place it near your plate on the table.
  • Italians do not roll their paste with fork and a spoon. They roll it with fork on the side of the plate.
  • If you don’t want a refill, keep your wine glass full.
  • If you are invited to a home lunch or a dinner it is normal to arrive 15 to 30 minutes later than agreed.
  • Jacket is mandatory in all better restaurants.
  • To call a waiter, just raise your index finger and make an eye contact.


Business etiquette

  • Unlike arriving at private dinner at someone’s home, arriving at a business meeting must be punctual. Being late is rude.
  • Business cards should be exchanged at first meeting and should be handed to recipient, not tossed on the table.
  • If you are in a negotiations with Italians do not rush them, for them it is a sign of weakness.
  • In Italy meetings are often informal, their purpose is to show personality and status. You can set up personal relationship with Italians because they like to deal with people they trust. Italians also believe that work should not be taken too seriously.


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First rule in Germany is punctuality. Germans follow form and they value order and punctuality. Do not be late, ever, to a meeting with German.

They strive to perfectionism, especially in work.

Germans are not very communicative but there are exceptions to this rule and one such exceptions are Bavarians (especially if you are in Munich during Oktoberfest) which are, let’s say more joyful than the northern Germans.

When addressing someone always use “Herr” for man and “Frau” for woman along with their surname. For example, “Herr Heinz” or “Frau Heinz”. If you know the title of the person you are referring to, than use it. Germans are very proud of their titles.

Do not get offended if someone is gonna correct your behavior. For example if you parked at the wrong spot. This is Germans way of policing and it is their social duty.

Germans may seem reserved and unfriendly but it’s only their appearance.


General etiquette

  • Just like in Anglo saxon countries “Thumbs up” means one and is a sign of appreciation.
  • Do not use “OK” sign. It is rude gesture, just like pointing your index finger to your own head is an insult.
  • When you introduce your self never use your title. Just say your last name.
  • If you are invited to someone’s home, bring some small gift for the hostess. Flowers are OK (uneven number, but no 13), yellow roses are acceptable. Do not bring red roses because they are symbol of love, also yellow and white chrysanthemums and calla are not acceptable since they are funeral flowers. Chocolate pralines are OK, but do not bring sharp pointy objects (considered unlucky), personal items, extravagant gifts (Germans think of them self as humble), and wine.


Dining etiquette

  • You call waiter by saying “Her Ober” while raising your hand, and “Fraulein” if you are calling waitress.
  • At the dinner table do not drink before the host does.
  • It is normal for a host to say “Guten Appetit” (enjoy your meal) before the start of the meal. You should respond with “Danke” (thank you).
  • Keep your hands on the table, but do not put elbows on it.
  • Do not leave any food on the plate when you are finished eating. It is considered rude.
  • In Germany it is not usual to stay long after the dinner is over.
  • Unlike Italians, do not ask for a tour of a host’s home. Germans will find it impolite. They value their privacy a lot.


Business etiquette

  • When arriving at a business meeting be punctual. Germans take this very seriously.
  • Before arranging business meeting send your personal and company profile.
  • As we have learned so far, Germans like titles and ranks. Never schedule a meeting for a lower ranked person to meet someone higher ranked.
  • Business meetings in Germany are very formal. You should be well prepared and avoid selling tactics and surprises. They are not comfortable with the unexpected. They make plans with caution and comprehensive action plans. Germans take their business very seriously.
  • It is very hard to bargain with Germans, be ready for long negotiations, and decisions are done in a slow way with thorough analysis of all facts.
  • Do not expect much compliments for you, your work or your product.
  • In Germany business is done by the book. Germans follow the rules.
  • Germans tend to make massive written communications, so be ready for lengthy emails.
  • If you are giving them a presentation you should make it specific, factual and realistic.
  • Always deliver your products, information, proposals, etc… on time.


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Great Britain

They say that the British are very “up tight” but I have found it to be untrue in my many visits to this country, but politeness, reserve and restraint are admired.

I have found British to be very polite. Just like Germans, maybe even more. So, you should always be polite with them. Thank you should be your most used word. British are very courteous and are very proud of their history.

On a first meeting with British person, hand shake is obligatory, but do not be surprised if he or she do not offer their hand on a second meeting. This is because British are not touchy people and they do not display affection in public. So, no hugging, touching and kissing. You should also not stand too close to them. They value their personal space.

British also value their privacy so do not ask them what they do or how much they earn.

Do not think that you will impress a British if you are sharply dressed. They invented it, so don’t expect from them to compliment you on your well tailored suit.

Punctuality is also considered important, so don’t be late for meetings or dinners.

In general conversation you should avoid speaking too much about yourself and your accomplishments.

Brits are very funny and their humor is very specific. It can be sarcastic, sexist, ribbing and often racist. Do not be offended by this. It’s just their humor.

One important thing before we continue. Do never, ever insult Royal family. In England you can get arrested for it. And if you are in Northern Ireland avoid topics about religion and politics.


General etiquette

  • “Cuing” is British invention. If you are going to some popular club or a bars expect to stand in a cue. Also when waiting for a bus first person that arrives at the bus stop enters the bus first. Other persons align behind to form a cue. It seemed silly to me first time I was in London, but that’s the way they do it and it should be respected as such. Do not try to violate it. It is very rude to push ahead in a cue.
  • British seem reserved and formal, but they are very helpful and do not hesitate to ask.
  • Shake hands when arriving to a meeting and when leaving. With everyone, men, women and children. Your handshake should not be firm, it should be light but not soft. Woman extend their hand to man first.
  • Use last names when introducing yourself and when talking to someone.
  • When arriving as a guest to someone’s house bring a small gift. Chocolate, wine, cigars, books… If you bring flowers make sure they are not white lilies, which symbolize death.


Dining etiquette

  • To call a waiter you should only raise your hand. No waving or shouting.
  • It is not unusual to be invited to a cricket match or to the regatta, and since those are prestigious events you should wear sports jacket, preferably from tweed or navy blue blazer.
  • It is impolite to discuss business at the dinner table if the dinner is of casual manner.
  • If you are in England it is normal to arrive 10-20 minutes late after the agreed time. Don’t come too early. In Scotland and Wales be punctual.
  • If you are for example eating soup and your left hand is not needed do not place it on the table. It should be in your lap.
  • It is considered normal to leave a small amount of food on a plate after you finish your meal.
  • When you see your host folding a napkin, that means the dinner is over.
  • Just like in Germany you should leave shortly after the dinner is finished.
  • Do not ask your host for a tour of the home. British consider it impolite.


Business etiquette

  • You should wear dark suit and dark tie for a business meeting, but avoid striped ties because they look like a British regimental ties.
  • Punctuality is important so be on time.
  • Expect lots of protocol and formalities especially if you are doing business in London.
  • Your presentations should be detailed and factual.
  • Arrange your meeting well ahead.


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In France dining is a ritual. So be ready to sit at a table for hours. It is not uncommon to eat chicken with a hand or to sponge gravy with bread. French take their gastronomy very serious and several courses are a norm.

French people are very friendly and they like to show their affection when they meet their friends on the street, so hugging and even kissing is normal. I must say this was very strange to me when I visited France for the first time. I was a guest to a dinner and I did not know any of the hosts, but nevertheless both of them kissed me on the cheek like I was their best friend. I don’t need to tell you that they were preparing chicken couscous the whole day.

French are very polite but you won’t find many people willing to speak English. Especially the older generation. So prepare yourself and be patient about this matter. Word “Pardon” (I am sorry) should be familiar to you along with “Monsieur” (Mr.) and “Madame” (Mrs.) but without the surname. Also you will use word “Mademoiselle” which is women under 18, but also you can use this word to call a waitress.
When pronouncing these words don’t pronounce last letter. In French language, last letter is rarely pronounced.

French value their privacy so avoid intimate questions about business, money, age…

If you would like to impress French learn some of their history and share your knowledge with them.


General etiquette

  • When shaking hands with someone your grip should be light.
  • Sitting with legs spread apart is not appropriate. When sitting you should be straight with legs crossed at knees.
  • Avoid slapping your open palm over closed fist, because it is considered vulgar.
  • In France OK sign means “zero” and should be replaced with “thumbs up” sign.
  • If you plan to give a gift, make it a good quality one.
  • When going to someone’s home bring some small gift. Candy, cookies or flowers. When bringing flowers bring odd number, except 13. Avoid chrysanthemums or red roses.
  • Don’t bring wine as a gift, unless it is of outstanding quality.


Dining etiquette

  • Before dinner do not order Martini or Scotch since French think it is numbing your palate. Instead go for champagne, vermouth or kir (try this out since it’s delicious, especially Kir Royale).
  • Do not discuss business over dinner since dinner is social occasion and time of enjoyment in food, wine and good company.
  • Keep your hands on the table not in your lap.
  • Salad is folded with knife and on your fork, do not cut it. Also do not cut bread with knife, instead break it with your hands.
  • Unlike in England, leaving some food on the plate is considered impolite.


Business etiquette

  • For a business meeting wear conservative suit.
  • French value professionalism and punctuality so act accordingly.
  • French are not workaholics but they value hard work.
  • As mentioned above, French do not prefer to speak English, so maybe you should consider hiring an interpreter.
  • French businessman tend to be formal and conservative.
  • Their economy plans are detailed and they make decisions slowly.
  • When entering room for a meeting first person that sits down is of highest rank.
  • In your negotiations with French businessman be direct and open.
  • Your presentations should be clear, factual, well written and presented in professional manner.
  • Do not try to hard sell anything to French, they don’t like it.
  • Don’t plan meetings in the month of August and around Christmas and Easter holidays.


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What to say about the country that invented siesta? Their famous afternoon nap and leisure time. Spanish people are modest one but they take pride in their heritage. This is clearly visible in many Spain’s regions, especially Catalonia and Basque Country.

To Spanish people appearance and image are very important unlike superiority and ability.

In Spain it is normal for people to stand very close to each other when talking, and they tend to speak a lot with their hands. Do not try to imitate them.

Often you will see men embracing when they meet each other on the street. This happens only with close friends or family.


General etiquette

  • Shake hands with everyone, men, woman and children. When leaving, shake again.
  • If you want to impress Spaniards wear nice shoes since appearance is important to them.
  • It is normal to be interrupted while speaking
  • Since Spain is Mediterranean country nothing is done in a hurry so arm yourself with a patience.
  • If you are invited to someone’s home bring a small gift. You can give cakes, books, music, chocolate, flowers… Do not bring red and yellow roses, chrysanthemums and dahlias. Red roses symbolize passion, yellow infidelity. Give an odd number but not 13.


Dining etiquette

  • You can be late for a social meeting up to 30 minutes in south of the country and up to 15 minutes in the north. If you are going to a bullfight be on time.
  • Dining is vital part of Spaniards life. They love to enjoy good food and wine.
  • Tip everyone.
  • Do not leave food on the table, since Spaniards don’t like to waste it.


Business etiquette

  • As you can guess Spaniards are not punctual people so they don’t expect business punctuality seriously. But try to be on time.
  • Meetings in Spain don’t last long.
  • Spaniards value personal qualities more over technical abilities or professionalism.
  • Don’t expect English to be widely spoken.


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United States

When I visited US for the first time I was surprised how much these people smile. Till today I do not know if those smiles are genuine or fake. However if stranger smiles to you, return a smile.

Diversity is trademark of USA. Some things are normal to some people while the same things can be awkward to another. For example touching. Some really like it, some really dislike it. Americans don’t like when men touch each other, but they are known as “back slappers”, which is slap on a back as a sign of friendship.

Americans also love to say things they don’t mean. Normal farewell sentences are “We’ll stay in touch” or “We’ll have to get together” or even “Let’s do lunch”, but they do not mean it. Unless they specify time and date of the lunch, don’t expect it. It’s just their farewell gesture. The same thing with “See you later”. You may never see her/him again.

Americans love to small talk, and this is done in a form of casual conversation with short questions and answers. Do not speak for long when asked something. Just like someone might greet you with “How do you do?”, they are not interested in your well-being, it is pleasantry and you should respond with brief “Fine”, “Great” or “Very well” followed with “Thank You”. Arm yourself with a lot of “Please” and “Thank You” and use them always. Say “Excuse me” every time you touch someone unintentionally or when you cough or sneeze.

Some Americans are free to speak about their private life, some are not.


General etiquette

  • In US people greet each other informally. It is not lack of respect but just their way of greeting. Some even don’t shake hands. They may greet you with “Hello” or a simple “Hi”.
  • If you are in a seated group and your host is introducing you to the crowd, you should stand up.
  • If you are introducing persons to each other, include their titles when doing so.
  • When shaking hands use firm grip and always make eye contact.
  • When speaking with someone keep your distance.
  • Do not hold a middle finger up by itself. It is considered vulgar.
  • Americans do not have rules about gifts. You can bring your local gifts and it will be appreciated. Gifts like local wines and spirits are always welcome.
  • When going to someone’s home, bring fruit basket, candy, wine, flowers…
  • Do not stare at people since it is considered rude.
  • If you are a smoker ask for a permission to smoke if you are in a company, even if you are outdoors. They hate smoking. I think they exaggerate but what can you do.


Dinner etiquette

  • In US you may have business breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  • In US people use fork and knife the same way as in Europe but when they are done with cutting they leave the knife and switch fork to right hand to eat.
  • To signal waiter just raise your index finger and make eye contact.
  • When invited to home party do not come later than 15 minutes after agreed time, also do not come before that time.
  • It is normal to confirm your arrival if someone invites you to their home.
  • If you can eat second serving of food when offered, just go ahead. Americans like big eaters.
  • Lunches or dinner do not last long in US and it is not social event like in other countries.


Business etiquette

  • Be on time since Americans appreciate punctuality. Arrive even 5 minutes earlier to a business meeting. If you are late for 5 minutes it is not a big deal.
  • It is important to meet deadlines. If you don’t you will be viewed unprofessional and irresponsible.
  • Exchanging business cards is very casual in US.
  • Americans are direct in their conversation so “No” means no and “Yes” means yes. “Maybe” does not mean no.
  • Americans are informal and relaxed but they are very serious about their business.
  • Ask if you do not understand something. Americans ask a lot of questions.
  • Avoid silence since Americans do not like it and are uncomfortable with it.
  • Although it is common to be interrupted while speaking, try not to do it.
  • Participate in meetings, because if you keep your quiet they may feel that you don’t have anything important to contribute or that you did not prepare yourself for a meeting.
  • If you plan to sign a contract, read it well before signing and it is advisable to hire lawyer to check it out.
  • Use statistics with your presentations since Americans love numbers.
  • Americans do not believe in building relationship with their business partners so they may hurry you to make up your mind, since “time is money” for them.


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Since China is emerging as one of the new world leaders and popular tourist destination, more and more people travel to China for pleasure or business. Since their culture is much different from the western one, different rules of etiquette apply.

In China sense of unity is deeply rooted in people’s minds and age and rank is really important and respected.

Try to avoid any body contact with Chinese. They do not like it. No, hugging, touching, back slapping or other contacts are allowed. Also take good care to not click your fingers, since lots of westerners have that habit, and it’s very rude to do it in China. Whistling also. Blowing nose in public is also considered vulgar.

Chinese don’t like to say “no”. Instead they will say “maybe” to save face.

When referring to China do not say Communist China or Red China, also never suggest that Taiwan is not China.

Chinese people may ask you “How much money do you make?” and do not be offended by this question, it is normal for them. Also they may ask you about your marital status but do not ask Chinese about their divorce.

Do not flirt with Chinese woman if they are not wearing any rings since most of them do not wear it.


General etiquette

  • In China it is common to bow instead of to shake hands, but if you offer them your hand they will be glad to shake it.
  • Sometimes if you are being greeted by a group of people they may applaud you. Applaud back.
  • Since age is very important in China, greet the oldest person first. If you are greeting a group do not be surprised to see them standing in line according to the seniority, with the oldest person in the beginning.
  • When giving away gifts give them with two hands. You can bring brandy, chocolate, cakes, cigarettes (Marlboro), whiskey, pens, cognac, books.
  • Chines may refuse gift at first, as a sign of politeness. Offer it a second time.
  • Do not give expensive gifts and do not give gifts in sets of four since this number is associated with death. Also avoid white and black since it also symbolizes death.


Dinner etiquette

  • Do not beacon waiter with your index finger. Face your palm down and place your fingers in a scratching position.
  • Chinese food is much different from Chinese food in the western world.
  • Chinese people are superb hosts and twelve course dinners are normal.
  • They also like toasts, so be ready to make one. Host will make a first toast after the first course and you should reciprocate after the second one.
  • Usually you will see three glasses in front of you. Large one for beer or water, one for the wine and small stemmed shot glass that should be used during toasts.
  • Chinese consider drinking alone to be rude, raise your glass and make eye contact. You don’t have to drain your glass (bottoms up) after the toast.
  • Do not refuse a drink unless you are drunk.
  • To honor the host you should leave some food on the plate after each meal.
  • Slurping soup is acceptable.
  • Learn how to use chopsticks, because you will have to eat each meal with them, except soup of course. Do not tap your chopsticks on the table.
  • If you are the guest of honor you should leave first, shortly after the dinner, since no one will leave before the guest of  honor leaves.
  • If you are invited in Chinese home consider it big honor.
  • Come on time or bit early and bring small gift. Do not enter bedroom or kitchen since they are considered private.
  • At home dinner all meals are served at once and they will be placed in the middle of the table. Sample each of them.


Business etiquette

  • If Chinese makes a suggestion and you do not like it do not suck in air quickly and loudly through lips expressing surprise. It will make person making suggestion ashamed, and Chinese do not like to be lose their face.
  • Be punctual when arriving to a meeting.
  • Your business cards should have two side printing. One in English and other in simplified Chinese.
  • Chinese are known for long meetings and negotiations.
  • When you enter the conference room highest ranking person should enter first. Senior Chinese person will welcome everyone.
  • If there are some moments of silence during meetings do not interrupt these.
  • Signed contract is not binding since Chinese businessman can change their mind even if they agreed on a deal.
  • Status and rank is very important so when making first contacts make sure that the person making contact is not low ranked.
  • If Chinese businessman wishes to break the deal they will not tell you so, but instead they will make you break it by being inflexible and hard-nosed. In this way they will save their face and avoid blame for future deals.


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After the fall of communism Russia was in decline, but very soon this giant of a country stood on its feet again and today Russia is a modern country attracting lots of western businessman and tourists.

Russians are great hosts and very demonstrative people. If you want to impress Russian learn about their culture, art, literature, music, since they are very proud about it. If you can, try to learn some Russian since they appreciate when foreigners try to speak their language.

They are very friendly and public physical contact is normal, so hugging, kissing and back slapping are common among friends and relatives. Russians tend to stand close while talking to each other.

Russians are heavy smokers so do not expect to find any non smoking restaurants.


General etiquette

  • Do not put your thumb in the middle of your index and middle finger since it is considered rude.
  • When greeting someone, hand shake is not obligatory.
  • If invited to someone’s home bring a small gift and if they have any children bring a gift for them also.
  • Never call a Russian “Comrade”.


Dining etiquette

  • Arrive on time for a dinner at a restaurant.
  • Since Russians are great hosts they love to prepare big meals and you can expect to see more food than can be eaten. If you leave some food on the table you will honor your host since it means you have eaten well.
  • At the dinner, don’t drink before the first toast has been offered. Russians love to give toasts and guest should reply.
  • It is normal to clink glasses after the toast but do not do it if you are drinking non alcoholic drink.
  • Russians are heavy drinkers and they can drink a lot. Do not try to compete with them in this matter. You will lose and you should know your limits.
  • After dinner it is normal to continue socializing so do not have any plans for later.
  • If Russian invites you to his country home called “Dacha” consider it a big honor.
  • If you were offered more food and drink, accept it since declining such an offer is considered rude.
  • Like in China, if you are a guest of honor you should leave first since no one will leave before your.


Business etiquette

  • Russians are punctual so arrive at the meeting on time.
  • Word “No” does not mean that it is final answer to your issue.
  • Your presentations should be very organized, well prepared, factual and without “salesmanship”
  • Russians do not like to admit mistakes. Also they will try hard to not offend you and if it happens it will not be intentionally.
  • Russians like personal relationships and they may be of a crucial role in success of your business.
  • Agreement is final the moment the contract is signed.


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United Arab Emirates

Just like China and Russia, United Arab Emirates are becoming major player in the world of business and with its emerging cities like Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Emirates are becoming top tourist destination.

Just like in any other Middle East country, Muslim faith plays a big role in their lives and what is normal behavior in western world can be outrageous in the Middle East. When traveling to Emirates you should abide local standards and modesty, and do not try to wear their clothes because it may be found offensive.

You will soon find out that the climate is very hot in the Emirates but nevertheless you should cover your body at all times. This is even more true for the woman. Shirts or dresses whose sleeves go bellow elbows and skirts bellow knees are standard. Woman’s trousers are not recommended and you should have a scarf which will come handy if you plan to enter a mosque.

If you are traveling with your wife you should restrain yourself from affection in public. Even in closed spaces if there are people around you. Also do not discuss about women with your Emirate friends. Do not ask about their wives and daughters. Also do not talk about Israel.

When you greet someone it is custom to say “Salaam alaykum”. If they say it first you should respond by “Alaykum salaam.


General etiquette

  • If you like something do not make your admiration excessive, because your host may feel obligated to give it to you. If you are offered a gift it would be impolite to refuse.
  • Follow your hosts and if they remove shoes before entering a building you should do it also.
  • When greeting someone better wait to see in which way your host will greet you since there are several ways of greeting in Emirates. The traditional way is grasping each other’s right hand, placing left hand on persons right shoulder and exchanging kisses on the cheek. You can expect standard handshake also. Handshake does not have to be firm like in the west. If there is a woman in your presence let her wait to see if the host is gonna extend his hand for a handshake. If he does not, it is normal, do not be offended by it.
  • You can see men walking hand in hand and that is a sign of friendship.
  • Do not cross legs when sitting. It is considered offensive to show bottom of your foot, just like the “thumbs up” sign.
  • Gifts are not necessary but if you plan to give one avoid alcohol, pork, pigskin products, underwear, images of nude woman (even in art), perfume containing alcohol.
  • When shaking hands, eating, giving or receiving something always use your right hand. Left hand is considered unclean.


Dinner etiquette

  • Always arrive on time and dress appropriately.
  • Pork and alcohol will not be offered in Muslim countries.
  • If you find yourself in Emirates during Ramadan, their month of fasting, do not eat publicly during daylight since this is offensive. It is better to avoid traveling to Emirates during this month.
  • The Emiratis love to eat and for them dinner is time to socialize and enjoy good food.
  • Again, do not eat or touch food with left hand. Also do not offer food with left hand.


Business etiquette

  • Wear formal business suits with ties but avoid visible jewelry especially around neck.
  • During periods of silence you are not obligated to speak.
  • “Yes” can mean “probably”.
  • The person who speaks the most at the business meeting is not important person and he is not making any decisions. The quiet ones are.
  • You can expect lots of small talk at the beginning of the meetings.
  • Have your business card translated to Arabic on one side. Present that side face up.
  • Status is very important.
  • Bear in mind that Muslims do not work on Friday.

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3 Comments on "Etiquette Around The World"

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  1. Marine says:

    aaah finally a good article about etiquette/faux pas around the world. I only speak for the french part ’cause I’m French and I think that everything is true. Not everyone does that but in general you’re right :) Great article.

  2. Jim says:

    Good article. I only speak about the China part. Some other things to remember:
    – don’t play with the name card you get; place it orderly on table, or save it in a good place. That’s showing respect
    – Don’t feel offended if someone bring you something in your plate when dine together. Show your gratitue and eat it.
    – In China there is less “lady first” but whoever is most important is first. And elderly deserves always respect no matter what rank he or she has
    – You can look into a Chinese eyes when talking, but don’t feel offended when they don’t do that when talking to you. They normally don’t.

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