Faced with a rapidly growing number of affluent Chinese visitors heading to the UAE, the need for firms across the Gulf state to have a better grasp of Chinese culture and their approach to business has never been greater.

An estimated 300,000 Chinese tourists traveled to the UAE last year and spent $334 million, according to a study by MasterCard, making Chinese tourists the most lucrative for the UAE. Per capita spending by visitors from China was AED4,092 per tourist compared with AED3,477 per average British tourist and AED3,996 per average Kuwaiti tourist, figures showed.

To help UAE firms take advantage of this growth, the Dubai Chinese Learning Center (DCLC), in partnership with Dubai-based event organiser The Main Event (TME), will hold the Chinese Cultural Awareness, Social & Business Communication Conference, on 23rd-24th May, to enable professionals to better understand the customs and principles of dealing with Chinese tourists to the UAE.

“The UAE has seen a huge rise in the number of tourists from China since 2009 when it gained “approved destination” status from the Chinese government to allow tourist groups there,” commented Lucy Chuang, Managing Director, Global Sino and DCLC.

“The UAE has certainly benefited from its safe-haven status amid regional turmoil and the number of visitors from China is expected to grow further as they continue to enjoy the mix of leisure, cultural and retail tourism Dubai and Abu Dhabi have to offer. A flying time of around eight hours and a growing airline capacity between the two countries, help make the UAE an ideal destination for Chinese tourists.”

In March this year Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways signed an MoU with China Eastern Airlines that included joint route and schedule co-ordination. Meanwhile, Dubai’s Emirates continues to increase the number of routes for its Airbus A380 to China. Not to be outdone, China’s big airlines are embarking on an aggressive expansion plan to match that of the major Gulf carriers.

The rising number of Chinese tourists in the UAE reflects the overall jump in the number heading overseas. Around 57.4 million Chinese went abroad in 2011, up 20.4% from 2010 according to the NTA. This figure is expected to increase to around 84 million by 2015.

Day one of the conference in Dubai will focus on Chinese cultural awareness and experts will introduce delegates to a number of topics including language, belief and customs; cultural values and attitudes; the Chinese socio-economic environment; social etiquette and protocol and building relationships.

The second day will look at social and business communications and cover areas such as the behaviours and needs of the Chinese traveler; negotiating with Chinese customers; dining and entertainment and greetings and introductions.

The conference will also cover titles and forms, colour symbolism in Chinese culture and the Chinese way of negotiating.

“This forum will benefit anyone who has face-to-face or virtual contact with China and Chinese tourists in the UAE. This includes business owners, marketing managers, and sales executives of tourism services, luxury goods and activities,” remarked Shannon Norris, Director,TME.

“At the end of the conference delegates will have a better understanding of the key drivers that motivate the Chinese traveler and will appreciate the etiquette fundamentals for social and business situations. They will also be able to demonstrate improved communication skills with the Chinese community.”

For more details, please visit www.tme.tv/clc/