Negotiating across borders

Negotiating in Saudi Arabia - 3 success factors

Knowing how to build up a network, and who to approach with what if you want to be effective, are some of the most useful skills for negotiating in Saudi Arabia. See our 3 top tips for negotiations in Saudi Arabia!

negotiating in Saudi Arabia
123rf.com/Dmitriy Shironosov

1 – Build trust

In Saudi-Arabia all business and negotiations are based on trust. This is rooted in the deep relationship values that define the country’s attitude towards life, work, and business. Saudi Arabia is a relationship-oriented country, and this means that trust is built on a personal level, by creating a bond first. Approach your partners on a personal level, let them know that you are genuinely interested in them as persons, and you are not looking at them merely as business partners.

2 – Circular negotiation

The Saudi Arabian way of negotiation may seem strange if you are used to the straightforward way of negotiating. Here, it is common that they jump from topic to topic, and then going back again. You shouldn’t expect a linear way of negotiating, and it helps if you are aware of this kind of communication, so you don’t end up surprised. Be willing to go with the flow, and always keep in mind, that they don’t see the task and the result as the first and most important, because the people are always first. So show no sign of impatience or annoyance, when negotiations start to take an unexpected turn, and things are going back and forth.

3 – Respect

Always show respect, both towards people and their norms and values. Precisely because personal relationships and networks are so important in Saudi Arabia, expressing respect towards the people is key. Learn their rules of conduct and norms, and also educate yourself on what their taboos are when it comes to discussing on a personal note. Let them know that you came prepared, and you are willing to play by their rules.

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