People learn Arabic language skills for different reasons and perhaps one of the reasons you’re learning the language is for business, and why not? Many business owners venture into the Arab world because it is a region with a diverse market. However, doing business in the Arab region where practices and customs are very different from the U.S. or European viewpoint may take a little getting used to. As a result, you’ll have to not only have a good business acumen, but also because the area is so culturally, religiously, ethnically and geographically diverse, you’ll have to know the cultural details of each country to find the right business opportunities where your company will fit in. With that in mind, here are some tips to help you have that first successful meeting in one of the many Arabic speaking countries:
Choose a pleasant quiet, private location away from distractions.
Plan a light agenda
Arabs resist pressure to accomplish too much at an initial meeting as they usually considered these meetings as only ‘meet and greets’ and use them to judge the possibilities of future negotiations.
The Arab world has a very relaxed perspectivewhen it comes to punctuality and few wear watches. This is not a sign of disrespect and does not warrant an apology unless they are excessively late. (more than 90 minutes).
Expect to spend twice the amount of timeon greetings and salutations and greet Arabs in rough order of seniority. Unless she initiates the handshake first,do not attempt to shake hands with an Arab female.
Wrapped gifts are appropriate particularly if the discussions occur in a home. If you’re offered a gift, politely refuse at least twice and don’t open it in front of the one who gives you the gift.
Courtesy is vital. Meetings begin with niceties and small talk.
Using a translator can be tricky. Your translator might have his own agenda, or his dialect or tribal affiliation might not be well received. (If you plan on using a female translator, ask if it’s okay in advance of the meeting.)
Eye to Eye Contact
Maintain eye to eye contact with your counterpart even if talking through a translator and never wear sunglasses, even if the meeting is outside in bright sunlight.
Make sure tea and coffee are available. Offer or expect to be offered tea at least three times, say yes at least twice. Never offer alcohol. lengthy meetings should include snacks or a meal.
Look for the elder in social interactions when you need to gain allies.
Do not look at a watch or clock during the meeting. Doing so suggests to your host or guest that you consider them unworthy of your time.
Arab culture and especially Arab business culture may take you some time to figure out, but if you follow the tips presented above, your sure to get your foot in the door after a first successful meeting.
Whether for business or for pleasure, if you’re interested to learn Arabic language skills or want to find out more about the Arab culture, visit us at kaleela.com for more articles and tips.