Wasta is a catchy little Arabic word you will often hear in the UAE. It has to do with the power, influence and connections that one might have.
Your nationality, family or job can give you wasta. The people you work for or have close relationships with can give you wasta. Your connections to people high up in the authority scale can give you wasta.
A bit of wasta can give you access to people and places, smooth or speed up long and bureaucratic procedures and even get you out of difficult or tricky situations.
Now, very important: do NOT mistake wasta for bribery. Wasta is about who you know and not about money. If you try to bribe someone, like government officials for example, things can get nasty – especially since most of them will probably have more wasta than you!