Many countries such as those in the Gulf are now a melting pot of cultures and people. In fact, countries such as Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, and the UAE have a thriving expat community. However, just because these countries are used to foreigners doesn’t mean their own culture and practices should be ignored.
Companies that are planning to expand to the Gulf states should invest in Cultural Awareness Training UK for their employees. Why? Because one meaningless gesture in our culture might be offensive to another which can cost the company money and its reputation. These are a few important business etiquette practices to start:
Yes, the Gulf states are Muslim countries which means all expats must respect their religion. When it comes to dressing, foreign women are not expected to cover up in traditional Muslim clothes but are required to dress modestly. Men too are expected to wear a suit during business meetings and social events. Women in the workplace and events should dress appropriately meaning no short skirts or clothing that is too tight.
Learning The Language
Although the cultural awareness training UK does not offer language classes it is beneficial to learn the local language. In fact, it is a sign of respect to learn common phrases that are used during business meetings. Residents in the Gulf state will appreciate the extra time and effort their business partners exert in learning their dialect, even if it is just a few words or phrases.
Pro Tip: Be sure to learn how to correctly pronounce the words as saying it wrongly can translate to something different.
Don’t They Know It’s Friday?
In the west and many other countries around the world, weekends usually fall on Saturday and Sunday. This is mainly due to religion focusing on Sunday being a day for worship. Many new expats working in the Gulf states often get confused and ask: don’t they know it’s Friday because locals do not work on this day.
Friday is actually considered a holy day for the Islamic community. This means that foreigners should adjust to setting their days off on Fridays and Saturdays while also expecting to work on a Sunday.
Giving Business Cards
It is a must to provide a business card during the initial contact with another professional in the industry. In the Gulf states, many businessmen prefer the card to be exchanged with one hand: the right. It is also good practice to have one side of the card printed in Arabic and the other English. This one small detail is seen as a sign of respect, earning you a good first impression with potential partners or clients.
Learning And Respecting Other Cultures
Imposing the Western standards of business etiquette on others should never be done. A great and professional businessman or woman should take the time to learn about the cultures of the people they are working with. Taking a step towards learning, understanding, and respecting their culture helps to cement better professional relationships in the future.
The book “Dont they know its Friday?” Is also a great resource for cross cultural aspects in doing business in the Gulf countries.