What is the proper way for a woman to greet a UAE sheikh?

…at a dinner party with business associates. Is a handshake OK?
Thanks so much for the input! Some more info – he is a crown prince and refered to as “His Highness” on the invitation. Unfortunately, I don’t have anyone I can ask about proper customs that will be attending.


Written by under UAE Business Discussions.

Comments

  • roscoedeadbeat

    May 1, 2010 at 12:54 pm


    According to the New World Encyclopedia, Men do not shake hands with women in public.

  • h

    May 1, 2010 at 1:18 pm


    The general formal address is ‘Sayyed’ (‘Sir’) for a man.

    Rulers are usually addressed as ‘Your Highness’ . Senior members of ruling families are called ‘Your Excellency’ followed by ‘Sheikh’ and their full name. Government ministers of the ruling line are ‘Your Excellency, Minister of . . .’ and other ministers simply ‘Your Excellency’ followed by the full name. Lesser members of ruling families and those in religious authority are addressed as ‘Sheikh’ followed by their full name.

    Names are often confusing. It’s best to get the names (in English) of those you will meet, speak to, or correspond with. Learn both their full names and how they are to be addressed in person before you meet.

    Some men will shake hands with women, others dont. Just wait if a handshake is offered to you.

    More tips on how to behaive joining a cross cultural business meeting, you’ll find here:
    http://international-business-etiquette.com/besite/uae.htm

    @ Abu Zekya: you are right in general and an Emirati women hardly would shake hands with another man, but male Arabs educated in the West and familiar with western customs do so sometimes when doing business with Westerners. It all depends……..

    edit: Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi or Dubai? Anyway, both are young, western educated and you will not face any problems. Just relax. In case you will get introduced formally, the space between the two of you will be to big anyway to shake hands.

    To all who say it’s ‘forbidden’. Emirati business men and politicans live in the 21st century.
    Photo shows US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice shaking hands with UAE Foreign Affairs Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan during their meeting in Abu Dhabi.
    http://www.naharnet.com/domino/tn/Newsdesk.nsf/TheWorld/A3FAC7E15AF081ACC225711F0041B603?OpenDocument

  • Abu Zekiya

    May 1, 2010 at 2:00 pm


    Handshaking not recommended. 😉
    It’s a no no in Islam to touch someone of the opposite sex who aren’t family.

  • Lucky Star

    May 1, 2010 at 2:28 pm


    Man & Women are avoiding to handshake according to Islam is not allowed to handshake opposite sex as the above answer said is true
    Its better to you avoid to handshake with Muslim man arab sheikh etc.
    Some Arab man are do but they fill uncomfortable to handshake

    Just say hi hello salaam etc by verbally with big smile

    Good luck

  • tin m

    May 1, 2010 at 3:10 pm


    How do you know this person is even a Sheikh , I see a lot of people from outside UAE thinking any rich local is Sheikh , that is not true , most of them are not , and some are not even from UAE , they came from other countries. A local guy who’s father was in construction and got rich is now being called a Sheikh by most foreign media but he is really not. Some former ministers or bank CEOs are also being called that .. that is stupid, none of these people are deserving of that title. The title is really for ruling family (i.e. like Maktoums, Nuhayans, etc) , and for religious leaders / experts / professors etc. It is also common to call the Imam in the mosque that , but it does not indicate status, more out of respect really.

    edit:
    I just re-read some of the answers here and it sounds like some have appointed themselves to speak on behalf of all Muslims, when they don’t even know what or why it is this way. Hand shaking between men and woman is not “forbidden” as some people said here , and I have this on authority of Shiekh Qardhawi who is probably one of the most respected Islamic Scholars today. He said it is just not recommended to directly touch (skin/skin) if the person intends to enter the mosque afterwards because in such case they will have to redo their prayer wash. Meaning there is also mental requirements for the wash (Wudhu), not just the physical washing with water, as a person in prayer is expected not have distractions or impure thoughts while praying, and hand shaking may lead some men / or women , to get distracted and start thinking about that other person in prayer which is why the scholars said it nullifies prayer readiness. Qardhawi also said if a person needs to shake hands in this sense before entering the mosque then it is fine if one of the two is wearing gloves or fabric ; meaning no direct skin contact , in which case it does not nullify Wudhu as in the first case. As you can see this is the most respected scholar saying it is not a problem , and it only concerns entering the mosque (prayer readiness). It really does not apply if a person is doing other things, like doing business etc, this rule is only for the mosque really. It is fine a Muslim & non-Muslim from opposite sexes shake hands in official business as this is not really related to Muslim prayer in any way, they are just doing business. Plus scholars like Qardhawi are not blind to the changing times , and even the different geographical, or social changes. He said all this on Aljazeera TV, so I don’t know why some so called Muslims are being rigid & “more royal than a King” as they say.

  • Shakir E

    May 1, 2010 at 3:43 pm


    Make sure he is Sheikh…lol

    Wait and see… let SHEIKH go first… normaly muslims won’t shake hand with women… but modren and forign educated SHEIKH might… jst wait for first response…

  • Nomad

    May 1, 2010 at 4:22 pm


    I was once introduced to sheikh Mohammad bin rashid al makhtoum at a confrence for an interview and I addressed him as Your Highness throughout our conversation and he did not correct me nor did any red faced PR person later mash me up for making a royal goof-up.
    I think you shud do the same until someone points out differently. dont shake hands though – forget Islam it’s not proper ettiquette to shake hands with royalty until they offer you their hand first.

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