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Islam One cannot talk about the Middle East in a cultural sense without mentioning Islam.

Islam permeates all levels of society. It provides guidance, values and rules for personal life, community relations and ways of doing business. Islam, one of the world's great monotheistic religions, began to attract large numbers of followers in the early years of the seventh century Today, for a fifth of the world's population about !." billion followers# who are Muslim, Islam is both a religion and a complete way of life. Muslims are obliged to pray five times a day Meeting and Greeting The traditional Islamic greeting you will hear is 'Asalamu alaykum' peace be with you#. $s a non%Muslim you would not be e&pected to use it, but if you did you would receive the reply 'wa alaykum salam' and peace be with you# handshakes are always used and can last a long time. Islamic eti'uette recommends that one waits for the other to withdraw their hand first before doing the same. $lways use the right hand. (o not be surprised if your hand is held while you are led somewhere. )olding hands among men is common and does not carry the same connotations as it does in the *est $rabs are fairly informal with names when doing business and generally address people by their first names. +ohn ,mith will be addressed as Mr. +ohn. The word -bin- or -ibn- son of# and .bint/ daughter of# may be present a number of times in a person0s name, as ,audi names are indicators of genealogy Doing Business - Gender The roles of men and women are far more defined in the $rab culture Interaction between the se&es is still frowned upon in certain arenas. )owever, when doing business in the Middle East it is not uncommon to come across women If you are introduced to a woman as a male, it is advisable to wait and see if a hand is e&tended. If it is not, then do not try to shake hands. $void touching and prolonged eye contact with women. Business is Personal (oing business revolves much more around personal relationships, family ties, trust and honour. There is a tendency to prioritise personal matters above all else. It is therefore crucial that business relationships are built on mutual friendship and trust. $ conse'uence of this mentality is the system known as 'wasta'If you have friends or contacts in the right places then rules can be bent or things done more 'uickly. The system works on the basis that favours are reciprocated and never forgotten. $lthough it may seem biased, it is something that should be e&ploited when doing business in the Middle East. 1espect and friendship are values that are held very highly by the $rab people. In a business setting, favours based on mutual benefit and trust are ways of enhancing these cultural values. (ue to the personal nature of business in ,audi $rabia, family influence and personal connections often take precedence over other governing factors. The Spoken Word The Middle Eastern culture places more value on someone's word as opposed to a written agreement. $ person's word is connected to their honour. 2ontracts are viewed as

memorandums of understanding rather than binding, fi&ed agreements. 3e sure to promise only things you can deliver. 4ailure to do so will result in loss of honour Meetings & Negotiations Initial meetings are all about relationship building Initial business meetings are often a way to become ac'uainted with your prospective counterparts. They are generally long in duration and discussions are conducted at a leisurely pace over tea and coffee. Time should be allocated for such business meetings, as they are an essential part of ,audi $rabian business culture Meetings can e chaotic. $lways be prepared to e&ercise patience. 5hone calls are taken during meetings and people may enter the meeting room unannounced and proceed to discuss their own agendas. Meetings are circular in nature. They do not follow a linear pattern and are not structured upon agendas or targets. Issues are raised as and when. Punctualit! is e"pected o# #oreigners. $lthough the $rabs place a high emphasis on punctuality they rarely practice it themselves $ra s %ere a trading people and are e"cellent negotiators. )aggling takes places everywhere, whether at the shop or in the board room. (ecisions are made slowly. 3ureaucratic formalities tend to add to delays. (o not use high pressure tactics as they will be counter%productive. 6ift giving in $rabia is appreciated but not necessary. 6ifts are generally only e&changed between close friends and are seen as rather personal in nature. maintain strong eye%contact with your islamic counterparts and e&pect a closer distance during conversation in both business and social settings Doing Business in the Middle &ast The above few e&amples of cross cultural differences in business practice and culture highlight the areas where business people can face challenges when doing business in the Middle East. 2ross cultural understanding is an important tool for any international business person, company or organisation to ac'uire when doing business abroad. *hen negotiating with $rab 3usiness 5artners you should commit to the following points7 %8nderstand the interests of your $rab 3usiness 5artners %5repare your strategy and negotiations communications %8nderstand your -3$T9$- : test the $rab 3$T9$ 3$T9$ is the acronym for 3est $lternative To a 9egotiated $greement. The $rab 3usiness Eti'uette asks for 6entleman behavior in all situations of doing business. 6erman negotiators, when having a strong 3$T9$, often show a kind of arrogance, telling the other side to .T$;E IT O1 <E$=E IT/ and showing them that they don0t have and don0t want to negotiate with you. ,uch a behavior can drive a pride $rab 3usinessman to leave the negotiations forever. %9egotiate with results and relationship in mind> create an enduring agreement. % 1emain -principled- with commitment in all of the above