For Gulf Arabs hospitality is very important, so demonstrate generosity and helpfulness to your visitors from the Arab Gulf states. Strengthen your relationships with common meals and activities. That will certainly pay off later.
Arrival at the airport
It is absolutely advisable to meet your Gulf Arab guests at the airport and drive them to their hotel – or straight to a meeting in the office. If you cannot arrange the time for that, at least have your guests met by a driver. In most of the Gulf Arab countries chauffeur services are available for little money. So your Gulf Arab guests will not think of that as a special luxury. If a member of a royal family is on the way to you, by all means offer a driver and a limousine. Attention: for those VIP’s that is often organized by the Embassy.
Important decision makers from the world of Gulf Arab business should be personally greeted on arrival in the company either by the head of the firm or the board of directors, if that has not already occurred at the airport. In the Arab Gulf states deals are done only with persons at the same hierarchical level. So it is not appropriate to delegate a project leader; that can really annoy the Arab side.
The expectations of your Arabian guests regarding your hospitality are generally high. Guests from the Gulf region are used to luxury and the wishes of high-ranking representatives should definitely be discussed in advance.
The hotel you choose should meet those high expectations. In extreme cases accommodation in quarters not appropriate from the Arab point of view can influence business deals negatively. The question of the hotel is enormously important. So it is worthwhile to invest in the external arrangements related to the initial business contacts. If your firm’s central office is located in a remote area in which there are no five-star hotels of a high standard, then you should offer your Gulf Arabian guests the option of staying in the closest city, and take into account a longer amount of travel.
Apart from the customary luxury there is no doubt more night life on offer in a big city. And some Arabian guests like to try that out. After a business appointment they want to do something instead of staring at the walls in their hotel room.
Round-the-clock attention not expected
To what extent an organized program of entertainment is gladly accepted varies with the individual. In general a round-the-clock attention is not expected. Nevertheless it is always advisable to at least suggest a common dinner or some entertainment.
The three-time rule
When you offer an invitation take note of the Arabian rule of politeness that inviting once is not yet inviting. The reticence of Gulf Arabs commands that the person invited acts in a shyly declining manner at first. So the one doing the inviting has to repeat the offer several times.
You can’t be sure that the refusal of the Gulf Arab guest is meant seriously until after the third repeat of the invitation. That your business partner from the Arab Gulf states feels himself under pressure is not at all to be feared. Mostly the opposite is true!
Going to a restaurant
If the invitation is accepted your Gulf Arab guests are happy if they can choose between various restaurants. So you should be able to offer several alternatives.
Pork is taboo for Muslims, and many Gulf Arabs do not eat beef when in other countries since that won’t have been butchered in the halal way. Hence only poultry and fish remain. Depending on your guests’ country of origin, dispense with offering alcoholic drinks.
In contrast to the choice of hotel, when choosing the restaurants you do not have to insist on high class and many-starred cuisine.
As a host you should pick up the check. Your Arabian guests will thank you for your hospitality and certainly make a counter invitation.