Gifting Etiquette and Traditions in the UAE: A Comprehensive Guide Skip to content
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Gifting Etiquette and Traditions in the UAE: A Comprehensive Guide
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Gifting Etiquette and Traditions in the UAE: A Comprehensive Guide

Today's blog post is an interesting one. It's something a lot of expats living in the UAE get wrong a lot of the time, and some locals even make this mistake.

Yes, I'm referring to the gifting etiquette and traditions here in the Emirates.

You've been invited to a celebratory dinner in the UAE. Or worse, your boss or someone very important is coming over.

Now you're racking your brain about the right gift to give them. Well, I get it.

In the UAE, a thoughtful gift shows respect and deepens relationships. Screw it up, and you may inadvertently insult someone.

In the UAE, a well-chosen gift strengthens bonds since it symbolizes understanding someone's values. Nail it, and you'll be welcomed like family! 

Mess it up... well, let's avoid blunders, shall we?


Gifting Etiquette and Traditions in the UAE

4 Golden Rules So Your Gift Scores Major Brownie Points

Quality over quantity

Save the two-dollar drugstore trinkets for other occasions! Modest offerings are preferred if thoughtfully selected. A single refined item like specialty dates or artisanal chocolate makes a classy impression.

Beautiful packaging sets the tone

Always try to wrap the gift very beautifully. It goes a long way to say you think the recipient is worth the time and effort. But avoid culturally inappropriate colors and images of people or animals, which may offend conservative values. At Wondergifts, we offer beautiful, tailored package options that speak volumes.

Timing is everything

While surprise gifts are great, it's important you understand that timing is everything. Gifting at a milestone event like a wedding or birth commemorates the occasion. But it's best not to gift a senior colleague during your first meeting. It may appear like a bribe.

Right hand receives

When presenting gifts, offer them with your right hand or both hands palms up. The left hand has unsavory associations in Islamic culture, so keep it free. When receiving it, politely accept it using your right hand as well.


What to Give (and Definitely Not Give)

What to Give (and Definitely Not Give)

Things you can gift:

  • Gift experiences like a cultural tour or kayaking adventure
  • Elegant dates
  • Luxurious perfumes or incense
  • Personalized or custom items like engraved jewelry

The thing you shouldn't even think about gifting:

  • Alcohol (you need to steer clear of this)
  • Religious items without knowing one’s faith
  • Intimate apparel between unmarried men and women
  • Anything pork - it’s forbidden.


Giftting experiences in UAE

Business Gifting Blunders to Avoid

Looking to build professional connections? This is what you should gift and avoid.


  • Surprise the person with a professional gift experience
  • Gift useful desk items like planners or business card holders
  • Give food baskets to the entire office
  • Wait until after a project finishes to gift


  • Gift anything remotely romantic like flowers or perfume
  • Select religious holiday-themed gifts
  • Don't offer money. It makes you look like you're trying to buy the person over


Celebratory Occasions in UAE

Celebratory Occasions in UAE

Aside from birthdays and weddings, Muslim holidays are something that warrants gifts, too.

During Ramadan, you could give sweet date boxes or Iftar food baskets to break the daily fasts.

For Eid Al Fitr and Adha, gift your family and friends an experience voucher, new clothes, or toys for children. And for UAE National Day, choose patriotic gift experiences to celebrate the day.


Perfect Gifts for Any Occasion in UAE

Where to Find Perfect Gifts for Any Occasion

Alright, that was a lot to digest! Now that your mind is swirling with gift ideas, where do you begin?

Skip the frazzled mall frenzy and check out our experience gifts.

We have thoughtful UAE specially curated gift experiences that respect local traditions. Yes, from indulgent spa experiences to private yacht cruises along the Dubai Marina.

Our experience vouchers arrive beautifully wrapped, so presenting them is effortless.

So, skip the bland fruit baskets and genocide candles. Gifting should show loved ones you “get them” while immersing yourself in fascinating local culture.

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