Planning on visiting or doing business with an Arab company? Here are few tips about Arab business and culture for visitors, exporters, and international traders to understand the culture, business culture, and how to do business with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Yemen, and other Middle East countries.
Conservative behavior: In public, Arabs behave conservatively. Display of affection between spouses is nonexistent. It is a private society and display of one’s feelings is kept private. You will also notice that laughter and joking in public is toned down, which is not the case in private gatherings. Arguments between spouses, friends, and people in general are also kept private or conducted in a way that guarantees no one else is aware of it.
Invitations: If you are invited to dinner or lunch, you are not expected to bring food, drinks, or gifts. Upon entering the house notice the guest room you are taken to. If shoes and sandals were left at the door by other guests, then take off your shoes. It is customary when entering guest’s room or office to greet everyone there by saying Alsalamo-Alikom, which means “peace be with you”. The reply to this greeting is “Wa’alikom Alsalam”. Once inside, everyone will stand up to greet you and shake your hand. Start with the person standing on your right side or the one who is approaching you. Notice that in both modern and traditional Arab guest rooms, attendants are seated in a circle to ensure that no one is facing someone’s else back. Also note that the soles of your feet should not point directly toward someone else. Always use your right hand when giving or receiving objects.
Save Face concept: The Arab culture is a non-confrontational one which seeks the least conflict possible. A concept called “save face” is a way to solve conflicts and avoid embarrassing or discomforting the parties involved. Saving someone’s face or dignity involves using maneuvers or holding one’s reactions to give the other party a way to exit the situation with minimal discomfort or harm to their dignity. It involves compromise, patience, and sensitivity. The “save face” concept is looked at as a behavior of high quality ethics and manners. The Arabian culture encourages people to act humbly and with sensitivity to a person’s dignity, especially when that person’s dignity and self respect is endangered. This is a crucial tip for those who might be involved in managing businesses in an Arab country.