Work in Dubai? you need the email dictionary
I’ve written a couple of posts about what it’s like to work in Dubai. To adjust successfully there are some small details you need to know.
Some of the phrases may not necessarily be unique to emails in Dubai . They are nonetheless important to understand to avoid offending people in the workplace. Likewise, I’ve included a few email phrases to avoid just in case they are phrases you use as much as me.
Good luck to those of you starting out in Dubai or who aspire to work in Dubai!
Work in Dubai – email dictionary
Today itself – yes… this is exactly as it looks. An unnecessary repetition of the fact that today is… well… today? I’m not sure why this is so popular but on 80% of emails I receive, I seem to require reminding that today means today itself and not today someone else.
Too much of work/so much of work – Basically, this translates to someone telling you to get stuffed and they don’t want to do whatever you are asking. It could also be used as a suck-up to suggest that maybe you wouldn’t think something was too hard. Either way, just lose the “of” and it makes sense.
Do the needful – When I get asked to do the needful in an email, it usually means that someone wants me to do whatever is necessary to complete the job. I’ve don’t think anyone has ever explained what qualifies as the ‘needful’. It’s not a question you go back and ask for more detail on though. Basically, they don’t want to go into detail. Just do what you think is right and they reserve the right to tell you it’s wrong later.
And revert the same/please revert – This odd phrase merely means that the requester would like a bit of an update (revert) on something previously mentioned in the email (the same). They won’t usually indicate a timeframe but I try to ‘revert’ immediately to qualify what ‘revertion’ is required before I move on.
NB. If I get an email that says:
“It may be too much of work, but we will do the needful and ask that you revert the same”
“I’m not doing that so get stuffed and tell me once you’ve finished it yourself so I can stop pretending to be doing it”.
.. in case you were wondering….
Work in Dubai – Classic phrases…
Today morning/today afternoon/today evening/today night – These descriptions, whilst slightly annoying as at first they appear an unnecessary use of words, could actually be viewed as useful. There are some cultures who will specify the exact period of the day in which they intend to do something. I’ve never really been explained where the line is drawn between afternoon, evening and night. At least you get a bit more detail than something like “I’ll get to it later?”
Where do you stay? – Its taken me quite a while to get used to this one. What they are actually asking is where do you live. It can be asked in a workplace email or it can be asked in person by anyone and everyone in Dubai. But it gets asked A LOT! Initially when I was asked this I would ‘revert’ with a long explanation of the fact that I stay with my family here in Dubai. I would invariably receive strange looks and blank stares continue to be asked the same question over again until I gave the correct answer. So just say the area you live in like ‘Downtown’ or ‘Marina’. And that’s all. End it.
And best of all…
More power and God bless – I LOVE this one. I don’t know what power I am meant to amass from any of these emails but I get a little bit excited to think that not only is someone blessing me with their email, but they’re giving me power as well. It’s my one moment each day to get to feel like the Genie… (check out my Workplace Personalities blog to learn more about the almighty workplace Genie…)
Work in Dubai – email phrases to avoid
Cheers – I know, I know…it may sound an odd one to warn on. And maybe this is my problem more than anyone else’s. But when I was in Australia, I always signed off every email with “Cheers, Emma”. It was never an issue. Here in Dubai though, I have been pulled up multiple times by different people completely offended that I use the term. Whatever the reason, I always sign “Regards, Emma” now to avoid any trouble.
Urgent – In most places I’ve worked, sending an Urgent email means that you’d actually like someone to read it. Given how much workplace email there is now, it’s the only way to ensure someone sees the email sometimes. Here though, labeling something ‘Urgent’ instigates an immediate panic attack.
I’ve only made this mistake a couple of times. Both times, no sooner had I pressed the send button than I had 2-3 sweaty, team members at my desk exhausted from having run all the way. When I asked why, it was so they could do the needful…..
Simple but important points if you work in Dubai. There are many others as well which I’d love you to add to. Dubai is quite formal and people use lots of words they really don’t need to.
The trick is not to end up using them too, which can be tricky.
I’m pretty sure I said that I would ‘revert back’ in a conversation the other day, as I bobbed my head from side to side with a little smile. I caught myself just in time and followed up with a big, bogan “yeah I’ll get back to ya mate – no worries!”. Just in time.
Have a good rest of the working week everyone!