5 key differences in business etiquette between the U. S and the Middle East

The Middle East is an area that spans from Morocco to the Arabian Peninsula. While the term Middle East is the most popular in the west, we recommend using the MENA, which stands for Middle East North Africa. There are many opportunities in the Middle East for any business. If you are looking to start a company for IT professionals, or social media marketing, there is a place for you in MENA. But the most popular business in Mideast is oil and natural gases. The MENA region controls 60% of the world’s oil reserves and 45% of the world’s natural gases reserves. You have many options for business in the Near East, but the hard part is establishing good business relations with the many cultural differences. To help you with your business. The article will talk about 5 key differences in business etiquette between the U.S and the Middle East.

The first of 5 key differences in business etiquette between the U.S and the Middle East is the overwhelming presence of Islam

Not to anybody’s surprise, we can’t talk about business etiquette in the MENA region without discussing Islam. Islam is the most practiced religion in the Middle East. 20% of the world’s Muslims are from there. Muslims follow the teachings written in the Quran. The Quran has reviled to the final Prophet Muhammad by God through archangel Gabriel. The Quran is a holy text with many guidance and nuances that we can’t go over in this article. To help you pay respects to your Middle Eastern business partner’s religion, we will give you some guidelines.

an image of the opening chapters of the Quran
Respect the Islamic religion, the most important of our 5 key differences in business etiquette

The first thing you should keep in mind when doing business in the Middle East is that Muslims pray five times a day. Muslims pray five times a day because, during prayer, it’s believed that they are in the hands of God and talking directly to him. When it’s time to pray, it’s announced by the mosque. Make sure to make business meetings around the prayer time. Some of your business partners might go to the mosque to pray, and some might do it in their offices. No matter where they pray, be respectful of their prayer time.

The second thing is to not do business in the month of Ramadan. Ramadan is celebrated to remember the month when the Quran was reviled to the Prophet Muhammad. During the month of Ramadan, people practicing Islam won’t eat during day time. Be careful when scheduling your business meetings because the time of Ramadan changes every year because Muslims use a calendar based on the cycles of the Moon.

Time is flexible

The second of 5 key differences in business etiquette between the U. S and the Middle East is that time is flexible. They believe that time is in the hand of God. The old saying time is money doesn’t apply.

An image of an hourglass
Respect the way Saudis think about time

For example, let’s look at Saudi Arabia and how their businessman deals with time. Saudi businesses man don’t have a strict rule when it comes to punctuality. Meeting are not scheduled at an exact hour a time of day will be used, morning, afternoon, and evening. Many American entrepreneurs get frustrated when meetings get canceled but remember to relax and get an adequate place for your goods. Because getting a good warehouse when doing business in Saudi Arabia can prevent them from getting damaged. Schedule your meeting a couple of weeks in advance and get a verbal confirmation a couple of days before the meeting. Weekends in KSA are on Thursday and Friday.

The third of 5 key differences in business etiquette between the U.S and the Middle East are greetings

Just going to the Middle East to do business or moving your company there to have better opportunities, it’s crucial to know how to greet. It’s because a greeting is the first thing you do before you start doing business. It’s needed to leave a fine first impression.

Let’s see how they greet in Saudi Arabia. When doing business with the Saudis, you should always greet everybody in the room with a handshake, with your right hand. This is because it’s believed that the left hand is dirty. Men and women don’t have physical contact in public. When greeting, you can learn to use two phrases. The first one “Assalaam Alaikum” (May peace be upon you). The second one, as the reply to the first one, “Wa Alaikum Assalaam” (And peace be upon you). If you decide to move to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to start a company remember this. To simply enjoy the process of moving to Saudi Arabia, hire a reliable moving company that can help you relocate hassle-free.

Greetings may differ between countries of the Middle East. You can look that up. But the before-mentioned things are a good start, and you won’t go wrong with them no matter where you do business in the MENA region.

Show hospitality

When doing business in the Middle East, you should be ready for a lot of hospitality. When you go to the Near East, they will welcome you with open arms. Middle Eastern are hedonistic people. They enjoy eating and drinking. Before starting a meeting, they will usually serve you tea or coffee with some sweets. When they come to America, you should retaliate the same way. Strive to be a good guest and a good host. You will get the same hospitality even if you move to the Middle East. Four Winds SA can help you move to many countries in the MEGA region to experience Middle Eastern friendliness.

An image of a man holding a glass
Enjoy yourself with your Middle Eastern partners

Do business in person

The final tip in our article about 5 key differences in business etiquette between the U. S and the Middle East is to do business in person. Many Middle Easterners don’t separate between personal business life. This is because they believe that good business is between good friends. To improve your business relations, we recommend forgetting about e-mails and meeting face to face.