Doing Business In The Arab Gulf States
Gulf Arabs consider a new business partner not just a delegate of his particular company. Instead, they sense his whole personality and thoroughly check, if he fits into their “family”. The right level of self-presentation and appearance is therefore crucial to any long-term success in the Gulf area. The focus rather lies on the involved persons than on the project: there is hardly any distinction between relationship level and factual level. Any business deal will usually be preceded by many joint meals and activities. Frequent business calls are of immense importance. E-Mails and phone calls can never compensate for personal meetings!
The topics discussed in these numerous face-to-face meetings will be hardly connected to your planned project. Instead, you will get to know each other on a rather personal level.
Expect questions about attitudes, opinions and values. Finding common ground and building on it might be the all-decisive factor for a later business deal to happen at all.
Members of the Arab culture have a rather excessive, bloomy and indirect communication style. In addition to that, Gulf Arabs communicate very expressively: they are very articulate – not only verbally but also on a non-verbal level!
If not being used to this kind of communication style, you may well get a little overwhelmed when being confronted with it for the first time.
Irrelevance Of Time
Time and punctuality do not have priority in the Arab Gulf States. It may well be the case that a meeting with Gulf Arab business partners is interrupted for an indefinite period of time. It might also happen that a Gulf Arab businessman doesn’t show up at all for a scheduled appointment.
However, this is not at all about being impolite or disrespectful towards you. The reason behind this behaviour is the dominating relationship-orientation of Arabs. Knowing the cultural background helps you to react appropriately and to reach your business goals.
All in all, there is no doubt that when planning a business trip to Bahrain, Iran, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia or to Dubai and the United Arab Emirates you should be well prepared in order to be able to deal with the peculiarities of the Gulf Arab business culture.
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How to make a good impression and strengthen personal relationships
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