Doing Business in the Middle East
Doing business in the Middle East involves a different set of rules from doing business in the West. You’ll have to take on a new culture, learn to deal with the differences, and build a network of trusted relationships. However, this region has an amazing opportunity for foreign investors and a unique, diverse consumer market. Despite the challenges, the Middle East offers opportunities for many multinational corporations.
For newcomers to the Gulf, it is important to understand the culture. Obtaining a basic understanding of Islam and the Gulf’s business culture is essential for doing business in the region. By understanding the local culture, you can also mitigate the potential barriers to entry.
One of the main reasons that doing business in the Middle East can be frustrating is the differences between the two cultures. Those who are unfamiliar with the region’s customs and culture may find themselves confused and frustrated. But if you approach the experience with an open mind and a little bit of patience, you’ll be able to succeed.
The first thing to realize about the Middle East is that people matter. In fact, it is people who make business happen. Often, the Arabs prefer to do business face-to-face, and they value the importance of personal relationships. As such, they have very strict etiquette for conducting business with foreigners. This is why you’ll be required to be flexible and willing to adjust your schedule to accommodate your clients.
You’ll also have to be prepared to engage in small talk. In addition to conversations, you may be asked to take phone calls during your meeting. Depending on your business relationship, you may be invited to a social event or dinner. Regardless of your reason for doing business, be sure to accept the invitation.
When you first start doing business in the Middle East, you’ll need to become familiar with the culture and the customs. If you’re unsure of how to do this, it may be a good idea to get some professional advice. Your first steps should include taking a cultural awareness course, researching your prospective partners, and getting legal advice.
Despite the differences between the cultures, one of the most critical factors in the success of any business is developing a genuine, trusting relationship with your customers. While it’s easy to establish a rapport with your Western business partners, it’s more difficult to build a relationship with your Middle Eastern counterparts. That’s why it’s imperative to invest in your relationship early on.
Taking the time to get to know the local culture is a great way to build a successful business in the Middle East. Not only will you be able to establish a deeper understanding of the region’s business customs, you’ll also have the advantage of working with someone who understands your needs.
It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on religious holidays and events. Muslims observe Ramadan, a time of fasting, and Eid al-Fitr, a three-day celebration. During these times, business activities are often reduced.