In-person meetings. There is a thin line between personal and business relations in the Arab world. Therefore, business meetings tend to be conducted in a more personal, face-to-face manner. Do not bank on being able to secure any deals or connections through email or over the phone.
Expect interruptions. Now that we’ve globally entered the era of technology, there’s no getting around that people will check their phones from time to time – even during meetings. This practice is slightly more common during business meetings in the Arab world and is not meant as an offense. There is also a slightly more common tendency to chat during meetings in the Arab world. So, don’t take interruptions as a slight and try to go with the flow.
There is a general code known as “Wasta” with a central tenet of “It’s not what you know but who you know”. Though this may be looked down upon in North American or European countries, it’s simply how things are done in the Arab world and there is no bad association with the “Wasta” system. By using this system to your advantage and forming plenty of close business ties, you could find that your deals come along a lot swifter.
The entrepreneur and business spheres of the Arab world are a dynamic and exciting environment right now. There’s no better time to set your sights on what the Arab world has to offer and start investigating. Learning the language before you go would be of great benefit to opening the door to new horizons.