Working in the UAE: expatriate management experiences

Hanan AlMazrouei, Richard J. Pech

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose – The purpose of this study is to examine issues of skills and cultural awareness amongst expatriate managers working in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The study explores expatriate management and leadership experiences within a predominantly Islamic context and the adjustments that have had to be made by the new arrivals before they could effectively undertake their senior functions within their organisations. Rapid economic growth and recent prosperity in the UAE has resulted in the recruitment and placement of large numbers of expatriate managers. Design/methodology/approach – Interviews were utilised to explore the experiences of expatriate managers in the UAE. These experiences have been interpreted to provide lessons and advice for new arrivals to the UAE, particularly those who are about to be placed into senior management positions. Findings – The findings from our interviews of expatriate managers and leaders reveal a great deal regarding Islamic principles and religious practices, the Arabic language, the preference for a paternalistic management style, customs around issues of female dress and issues of time management. A number of strategies are provided for managing these sensitive cultural issues in the workplace. Practical implications – This research provides an important examination of the effects of the UAE national culture on expatriate managers and how they have adjusted when managing local staff. Originality/value – This article adds to the disciplines of management and human resources by focussing on cross-cultural sensitivity and awareness, specifically within the context of the UAE.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-93
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Islamic Accounting and Business Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 13 2015


  • Arabic language
  • Cross-cultural management
  • Expatriate leadership
  • Islam
  • Time management
  • UAE

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Accounting
  • Strategy and Management


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