Doing business in a foreign country or region can be challenging, especially when the culture is substantially different from what one is used to. Thus, informing oneself of the cultural norms and the way business is conducted in a given country can be extremely beneficial and help to prevent mistakes that could damage business relationships. When conducting business in the Middle East, there are several things a businessperson should keep in mind. This blog post highlights some of the key cultural differences to be aware of.
Islam is the most prominent religion in the Middle East and can affect the way business is conducted in the region. In particular, it is recommended that one avoids doing business in the Middle East during the month of Ramadan. During this time period, business activity is often reduced, as fasting during the daylight hours and reduced sleep contribute to a decline in workforce productivity.
It is also important to consider the gender roles in the Middle East. Gender roles tend to be much more defined in the Middle East than in Western societies. For example, public interaction between the two sexes is often looked down upon and men should avoid physical contact and long periods of eye contact with women.
In the Middle East, great value is placed on spoken words. In fact, spoken words carry more weight than written agreements – a stark contrast to most Western nations. Contracts are generally not considered binding and are viewed as details of understanding rather than a fixed agreement. In addition, scheduled meetings and appointments should be confirmed verbally at a time close to the meeting date to ensure personal circumstances have not led to a schedule change.
Hopefully these tips were helpful in providing insight into doing business in the Middle East. Check out the country culture pages for Middle Eastern nations such as Iran, Jordan, and Egypt to obtain country-specific culture information. Stay tuned the remainder of this week for more blog posts related to business in the Middle East!