Go with the flow when doing business in the Middle East

hsbc4It’s never easy starting up a business from scratch, any business. It’s never easy starting up a business overseas, for example in the Middle East, where cultural differences and practices have to be taken account of. And if you’re a women, well that can complicate matters, too.

Whether a businessman or a businesswoman trying to engage in a male-dominated business environment, such as is common in Middle Eastern countries, finance and business banking will of course figure prominently in any plans, especially in the start-up or expansion phase of the business. Fortunately, banks in the UAE, Egypt, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and other countries in the region are extremely modern and forward looking. They all offer a multitude of helpful services for the businessman or woman, everything from online business banking to business credit cards. Talking of credit cards, take some time and view available business credit cards from HSBC, one of the best-known and most highly respected multinational banks operating across the Middle East.

Business tends to be conducted rather differently in the Middle East compared to the United States or Europe. Family-owned businesses are common and much of it is hierarchical. Often the head of the family is also the owner of the company or business. What he says and does not only matters, but is usually final in terms of decisions taken. Having said that, much of the strength of such businesses derives from strong family ties and cultural bonds which often go back generations. To get to the decision maker therefore can often involve a sometimes convoluted path, at least to Western minds, involving a progression through the family hierarchy. In the Middle East, building up respect and trust is usually a gradual process.

If attitudes seem more than a little conservative, then so is dress and appearance. Don’t ignore this aspect of conducting business in the Middle East. It really is important. Men should dress smartly at all times and wear shirt, tie and a smart business suit. Hair should be short and tidy. Shoes should be clean. Women should dress conservatively, too, making sure to cover bare arms and shoulders. Loose-flowing clothes are best. Certainly, any tight-fitting or figure-hugging garment should be avoided at all costs. It might also be a good idea to wear some sort of headscarf.

Business meetings, too, are unlike their counterparts in the West and may take a bit of getting used to. Best advice is to go with the flow and you’ll be fine. Time, for example, is a much more ‘elastic’ affair in Middle Eastern business than in the United States. If a meeting has been set for a particular hour of the day, don’t be surprised if it starts much, much later. That’s just the way it is. However, better make sure that you yourself are not late!

No matter how much you may feel tempted, never jump in at the beginning and try to steer discussions straight onto the main point of the meeting. Not recommended. That will come in its own good time. So be patient as your host exchanges pleasantries with you and offers some refreshment in the form of a cup of coffee or tea. Don’t take it personally, too, if the telephone interrupts the conversation, or members of the family suddenly walk in and start talking about something completely unconnected. That’s simply the way business is conducted in the Middle East.

Click here for more information on business meetings in the Middle East.

This post was brought to you with support from HSBC.

16 COMMENTS

  1. 732183 507250Im impressed, I ought to say. Genuinely rarely do you encounter a weblog thats both educative and entertaining, and let me let you know, you may have hit the nail about the head. Your concept is outstanding; ab muscles something that too few men and women are speaking intelligently about. Im delighted i found this in my hunt for something about it. 654329

  2. This paragraph regarding Search engine optimization is really good one, and the back links are actually very helpful to promote your website, its also referred to as Search engine optimisation.

  3. I have observed that in the world these days, video games are the latest craze with children of all ages. Often times it may be not possible to drag your son or daughter away from the games. If you want the best of both worlds, there are numerous educational games for kids. Interesting post.

  4. certainly like your website but you have to check the spelling on several of your posts. Many of them are rife with spelling issues and I find it very bothersome to tell the truth nevertheless I will certainly come back again.

  5. Hiya, I’m really glad I’ve found this info. Nowadays bloggers publish just about gossip and net stuff and this is actually irritating. A good blog with exciting content, this is what I need. Thanks for making this web site, and I’ll be visiting again. Do you do newsletters? I Cant find it.

  6. Thanks a bunch for sharing this with all people you really know what you’re speaking about! Bookmarked. Please also visit my web site =). We will have a hyperlink alternate agreement among us!

  7. I have observed that online diploma is getting well-liked because accomplishing your college degree online has turned into a popular choice for many people. A lot of people have definitely not had a possibility to attend a normal college or university nevertheless seek the improved earning potential and a better job that a Bachelor’s Degree gives. Still some others might have a qualification in one training but would wish to pursue some thing they now have an interest in.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here