No Image Available

TrainingZone

Read more from TrainingZone

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

Full of Middle Eastern promise: Top tips for smooth working in the Middle East

default-16x9

Middle EastAlthough the Middle East is still struggling with political turmoil and conflict among differing ideologies, much of the region is thriving, with immense opportunities for foreign investment and continued economic growth. Cathy Wellings gives her advice on getting the most from any business dealings in the area.







The diverse countries of the Middle East each have their own unique identity and culture but share many fundamental beliefs and traditions which are common throughout the region. You cannot really understand Middle Eastern culture without understanding that Islam is more than a religion - it is a way of life. It governs politics, family life, values and business practices and it is essential that you respect Islamic culture, customs and prayer times while on business in the region.

Photo of Cathy Wellings"You cannot really understand Middle Eastern culture without understanding that Islam is more than a religion - it is a way of life. It governs politics, family life, values and business practices and it is essential that you respect Islamic culture, customs and prayer times while on business in the region."

Personal relationships are highly valued in Middle Eastern cultures and networking is essential to develop relationships before doing business. People in the Middle East tend to mix their business and personal life and therefore use personal relationships to get things done.

The following tips will help you ensure that you maximise your opportunities for doing business in the Middle East:

  • Do dress conservatively when doing business in the Middle East. This is particularly important for female visitors.
  • Bear in mind that business meetings are less structured in the Middle East than in the West and be ready for interruptions and deviations from the agenda.
  • Avoid doing business during the holy month of Ramadan as business activity dramatically reduces while Muslims are required to fast from dawn to dusk.
  • Don't forget that the working week usually begins on a Sunday and ends on a Thursday.
  • Try to avoid eating pork or drinking alcohol in the presence of your Middle Eastern colleagues and never use your left hand to pass something.
  • Do take the time to develop personal relationships with your Middle Eastern partners and ensure you make small talk rather than jumping straight in to business discussions.
  • Bear in mind that your 'word' will be much more important than a written contract. Make sure you only make promises you can deliver otherwise you risk loss of honour.
  • Remember that while it is polite to enquire about your colleague's family you should not ask specifically about female family members.
  • Try not to show discomfort with close proximity or casual touching as this may cause offence.

  • Cathy Wellings is the culture and communication manager
    at Communicaid. She oversees the design and delivery of more than 500 programmes in over 30 countries every year. She has lived and worked in France and Spain as well as the UK, training professionals in culture and communication skills.

    For more information on Communicaid, visit the company's website


    We are running a country by country business etiquette guide. If there is a country that you would like us to look at, please let me know: email [email protected]

    To see the other Country guides that Cathy has prepared click on the following links:

    The rising sun: Top tips for dealing with the Japanese market

    Some like it hot: Top tips for smooth working in India

    Taming the dragon: Top tips for dealing with the Chinese market

    Living the dream: Top tips for smooth negotiations with the American market

    Newsletter

    Get the latest from TrainingZone.

    Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.

     

    Thank you!