How to Reach and Engage with Emiratis



The UAE is blessed with a vibrant and diverse demographic made up of over 200 nationalities. Emiratis, or national citizens of the UAE, make up almost a fifth of the population. Emiratis are usually one of the most sought after demographic by both local and international brands, especially in the B2C space. However, a lot of businesses find it difficult to target Emiratis and make one mistake or two in the process.

From our experience, here is some advice that may help you on your next campaign targeting UAE nationals:


  • Use the right platforms. Instagram is the most popular platform used by Emiratis, followed by Twitter and Snapchat. They appreciate the simplicity and real-time function of these apps. Facebook on the other hand doesn’t have much traction with the majority of Emiratis; they find it cluttered and invasive of their privacy.
  • Optimise your content, your website, and your campaigns for mobile. Emiratis are heavy users of smart phones and they rightly believe that they should be able to get everything done from the comfort of their smart phone.
  • Post frequently, with a lot more images and a lot less text. Emiratis love social media and spend generous amounts of time on it.
  • Connect with local Instagram celebrities and influencers and seek exposure through genuine endorsements.
  • Research your Arabic hashtags. Try to find the ones relevant to your industry with the highest number of photos, and remember to include generic ones like #دبي
  • Extend your support as much as you can and look into accommodating different types of communications and requests. Expect your online shop customer to ask for a Whatsapp number to order items and pay cash on delivery, or the patient at your hospital to send you questions regarding their next doctor appointment through an Instagram direct message. If you support them there, it can pay great dividends. Emiratis are generous and they appreciate a generous effort to help.
  • Advertise smartly and be concise. Emiratis just like anyone else can cut through the sales talk. Deliver your message through valuable content. Need to sell a holiday package? Advertise using a free quick travel guide.
  • Be conservative and respectful with your visuals. Nobody cares if an international celebrity is using your brand if she’s going to sport it half-naked.


  • Don’t use stock photos of who you think are Emiratis. How do you think Emiratis would perceive your brand if you use an image of a Caucasian male wearing a Kandoora, or a Levantine man wearing a Saudi thobe? Not good. If you have to use stock photos go for an authentic source such as Getty Images. This guide from Brownbook illustrated by Liz Ramos-Prado will help you tell the difference between male dress types in the GCC.
  • Don’t overbrand. You can throw in your logo every now and then, but slap it on every image and you’re guaranteed to lose followers.
  • Don’t Google translate your content into Arabic or outsource it to remote translators and copywriters who know nothing about the UAE. If you wish to use colloquial UAE Arabic in your communications, enlist the help of local talents or copywriters who have experience with Emirati dialect. Use local freelance marketplaces such as Ureed.
  • Don’t assume that Emiratis only read and engage with Arabic content, especially if you’re targeting younger audiences. One of the most popular and successful accounts on Instagram in the UAE is the local burger brand SALT founded by two Emirati female entrepreneurs, and they post entirely in English.
  • Don’t stereotype. Emiratis are a very diverse community with a wide variety of background and interests.

Did we miss anything? share with us your experience.

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