" It is not about your products, it is all about who you know "
- A well-known saying about how to succeed in business in the Emirates.
An efficient way to get access to local decision-makers may be to join the professional business groups in the UAE.
Some of the business groups are highly effective venues for getting qualified help to open doors and to build up needed referrals.
One can find large global business groups represented, such as BNI, which has several chapters in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Business people of the same nationality tend to establish their own business groups in the UAE, like the Norwegian Business Group, the British Business Group, the South African Business Group, etc.
A number of smaller business groups may be limited to areas of interest or in membership. An example for the latter is Heels & Deals, which is reserved for businesswomen.
Common to most business groups is that to get access, one needs an invitation from someone who is already a member of the group. Some groups meet up on a weekly basis while others once a month. Many groups operate with an annual membership fee plus a fee for each meeting. Once granted access to a network, it is easier to access the other networks.
Some countries have established Business Councils in the UAE. The councils are often more formal and have a closer cooperation with the authorities in the UAE.