DOING BUSINESS IN SAUDI ARABIA

The best Arabian Peninsula, Saudi Arabia is a nation with vast growth and development potential. Presently numerous international corporations and business people are attempting to contact this market. In accordance with recent trade surveys, Saudi Arabia is among the globe’s most developing markets coupled with the speedily growing economy. However, despite the desire to become a contemporary state in numerous respects, the Saudi Arabian nation still possesses one of the mainly traditional societies globally. It is ruled by strict religious beliefs, laws and traditions, and of which visiting foreigners have to adopt. The norms and attitudes of indigenous society have been modeled by Islamic culture. Thus, Western foreigners will realize that family relations are still much stronger compared to many other cultures, additionally, they permeate every life aspects, even in the trade world. Unnecessary to say, numerous Arab customs are extremely unlike those of the west, and getting in the Arab world requires knowing what their expectations on foreigners are.  It isimperative to remember that being a foreigner one must consequently become accustomed to the customs and societal behavior of the country and never the other way. In addition to the deeds and behavior, which are deemed as criminal, there exist certain unrecorded rules that have to be obeyed not to upset local sensibilities. The UK Company has to adopt the local cultural norms and practices in order to be able to do business in Saudi Arabia. This paper will address norms and practices in Saudi Arabia and their implications on prospective international companies.

Dressing

The Saudi Arabia region’s hot temperatures and customs call for unofficial but elegant dressing. The Company should not expect to impose official dressing rules. The Saudi Arabian’s frown on garments which expose the, legs, shoulders, arms, and any female who dresses provocatively is regarded as of ‘simple virtue’ or maybe even as a prostitute. Therefore, any UK female staff working in Saudi Arabia is expected to dress in unrevealing clothes as opposed to the revealing and tight garments worn in the UK. In a company setting, it is proper for women in Saudi Arabia to dress in conservative clothes, in the type of dark-colored skirts that fall beneath the knee (Bhuian, Abdul-Muhmin & Kim, 2011).

In Saudi Arabia Foreign women might put on western clothes but the dresses must be conservative.  This is intended for women protection from unnecessary attention, and in Saudi Arabia even overseas women have to wear an abaya when outside their residence; the religious watch will stop every female who has an uncovered head and instruct her to coat her hair right away.

Apparently, overseas men are not expected to put on Arab clothes, the western dress is okay. However, Men should evade wearing sleeveless shirts and shorts around town, since these are seen as extremely casual, though with the growth of tourism, this mind-set is softening. Nonetheless, suits are infrequently worn in Saudi Arabia, for essential business meetings and associated social events (Mohammad & Ahmad, 2013).

Terms of Address

Arabs normally highly value civility, and it is imperative that you address local individuals in the acceptable way. The usage of Arab names could be puzzling for newcomers from the rest of the world. The universal official address is ‘Sayyed’ (‘Sir’), that is for a male or ‘ Sayeeda’ (Madam) for a female, followed by an individual’s full name. Arab females could also be referred as ‘Madame’ (Esler, 2011).

Rulers are habitually called ‘Your Highness’ or‘Your Majesty’ for the case of King of Saudi Arabia). Higher individuals of ruling families are addressed as ‘Your Excellency’ then ‘Sheikh’ (called out as ‘shake’) and then their complete name. State ministers of the ruling family are ‘Your Excellency, then the complete name. This is a very important part of Saudi Arabia’s customs and every foreigner must learn how to address the locals. Addressing the locals and without these terms especially senior members is considered as disrespectful.  The principles for addressing rulers and individuals of ruling families are compound, and one should at all times check locally prior to being introduced to every dignitary. This culture is as opposed to the UK culture where men simply could be called sir followed by one name or for women madam followed by one of their names (Mahajan, 2013).

Greetings

The mainly widespread greeting in Saudi Arabia is Salam alaykum, meaning peace be with you. To which the accurate answer is alaykum-salam, meaning and peace be upon you.

Men ought to at all times shake hands during greetings and when parting from Arab men. Many Arab women cannot shake non-Arab men hands, though educated women could. This is standard even with their close friends whom one meets frequently. The substitute is to put your hand above your chest. If the handshake received when leaving an individual is longer compared to the one received when meeting them, it shows that you have created a good impression. Newcomers should note that protracted reluctance to convene with people is scowled upon. Additionally one should never approach Arab females, glance at them or speak to them except if you have not been correctly introduced (Long, 2005).

After greetings, it’s habitual to enquire about the other individual’s health along with other matters, and should be expecting related enquiries to be intended for you. Men should never enquire about the female members of the other individual’s family. Foreigners are unexpected to comprehend all the subtleties involved in this ritual; however, a good impression is created by learning at least some of the typical expressions and utilizing them in the right way. Whether during a face-to-face discussion or speaking to persons on the telephone, talking business immediately; is regarded as rude and impatient or that you are simply concerned in them personally.

Greetings customs are very essential for business especially when dealing with clients. Learning them attracts the local business people and they will observe the Company as one of theirs. The Company executives requires to meet high people in government, as seen Saudis highly value respect and correct title references so it is imperative to learn these greetings (International Business, 2012)

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Hands & Feet

One should at all times accept refreshment every time they are offered, most notably the right hand should always be used for drinking and eating, since the left hand is taken as unclean because it is utilized for ‘toilet purposes’. Equally, one should evade viewing their shoes or feet soles, since it implies that you regard the other person as unclean, which is apparently highly offensive. Therefore ones feet should be kept horizontally on the floor and avoid crossing legs. Compared to the UK culture where one can refuse an offered drink or use any hand to eat and so on, the Company’s staff should expect a whole new conservative culture that must be followed (Momani & Fadil, 2013).

Invitations

The Arab culture is a collectivist culture as opposed to the UK mostly individualistic culture. If invited to the house of an Arab, one should at all times accept. Every opening to become acquainted with the local individuals should be utilized and avoid the normal UK tendency to maintain their social and physical individualism culture. The Arabian host will be concerned in ones views. Nonetheless, one should evade political and religious discussion subjects; since ones opinions could be viewed as ill-informed or offensive, though they might seem satisfactory from the western perspective (Al-Qahtany, 2013).

After entering the majlis, that is, the reception area for visitors, footwear must always be removed. At this juncture, women are typically requested to join other in the women in the house. A meal or drink will mostly be offered since the Saudis suppose that sharing something to eat positively affects their relationship. The hosts customarily offer encouragement to the ones who endeavor to learn their language. It is significant to note, still, that the Arabic language owns a special meaning, since it is designed to carry God’s word, so it is imperative to utilize it respectfully. One should also always call at a Saudi’s home with a notice that you are visiting, with the reason, that if the family’s women are present, this will be unappreciated visit. Additionally one should also shun showing admiration for host’s possessions, as custom dictates that it then must be offered to you. Though this tradition is not widespread, it could cause embarrassment (Robertson, Al-Khatib, & Rasheed, 2013).

It is critical for Westerners anticipating to do business in Saudi Arabia understands Saudi etiquette and the individual ways in which they carry out their business. Training and some basic information of Saudi business norms, one can differentiate between a triumphant business deal and a failing one. It is important to note, nevertheless, that some of Saudi trade executives and state officials have learnt and/or worked overseas. They are thus acquainted with the Western culture and are contented with its divergent approach to business. This does not take care of the rest of the population and especially the locals. Some Saudi businesspersons could be hesitant to schedule a meeting until and unless their visitors arrival in the Kingdom. Foreign business visitors have to inform their Saudi hosts regarding their travel arrangements and agenda, but they could have enhanced success of scheduling a meeting after their arrival in Saudi Arabia. All religious holidays such as Ramadan and Hajj and the day by day prayer breaks ought to also be taken into account when arranging business meetings (Ali, 2009).

Saudi businesspersons are highly unlikely to confirm any serious negotiation in absence of a face-to-face meeting, since doing business in Saudi Arabia is still habitually personal. Correct clothing at business meetings is crucial, as it is a symbol of respect for the individual you are meeting. Conservative business outfits are mostly recommended. The business cards to be exchanged are generally written in English on one surface and Arabic on the other. In Saudi Arabia meetings takes place at a leisurely speed, with the individuals involved taking pleasure in cordial discussions over coffee and tea. Arabian business proprietors like to be contented with their business parties prior to agreements or signing contracts. This could mean a few initial meetings in which no substantive deals are discussed. Nonetheless, these meetings are extremely important, as they are part of the main business negotiations. Considerable time should be allocated for such business meetings, as they are regularly long in duration. Arabian business executives are additionally prone to welcoming visitors and external phone calls within such meetings; an absence of privacy is common in private appointments. Privacy is expected to increase during the actual finalizing of the agreement. Operating business in Saudi Arabian nation is to some extent more demanding for women. There exist sexual category separations in the nation (Mazaheri, 2013).

Management style

In Saudi Arabia as might be anticipated in a culture where businesses are operated along strongly hierarchical lines, supervisors tend to be extremely instructional in their leadership. In this management system employees view the supervisor’s function as the sole decision makers. Nevertheless, the leader will at times include his staff in a consensus-style debate with the final verdict taken by the supervisor. Here, it is imperative to the boss that his power is respected and employees may show great levels of respect. This is taking into account that the respect is extended additionally because of the superior’s family status and age. It is of course important to remember that this deference is probably not only being shown to the organizational position of the boss but also to his family status, class connections and age (Al-Qahtany, 2012).

Taking into account that the UK Company is setting up business in Saudi Arabia it is compulsory to be aware of the management styles utilized in the country though the company might not use the same management style. Decision on the management style to be used by the corporation should incorporate some characteristics of the Arabian management styles so as to fit in. Therefore, considering the actuality that this is a new territory I recommend the UK Company to use a consultative management style. A consultative manager is greatly employee oriented, though this type of management style is seen as similar to the autocratic style, it bears more advantages since it highly regards employee opinions and interests in the company.  Taking into consideration that the UK Company is to set up in a new country, the manager cannot entirely make decisions on his own. The Saudi Arabian businesses utilize entirely an autocratic management style; therefore, incorporating some of the management styles in the company would be essential. The local employees will feel that their local culture is incorporated in the company’s endeavors where the respect of a superior is highly regarded. In Consultative, management style communications tend to be downward; nevertheless, views upwards to the manager is encouraged mainly in an effort to build employee morale. When the employees’ morale is boosted, they feel as part of the company and this increases efficiency and performance. Addressing the social needs of the staff reduces their worries and they concentrate on the company operational performance (‘Saudi Arabia Business Forecast Report’, 2014).

TheUK Company in preparation for the company’s entry to the Saudi Arabian market must conduct training for the staff so as to educate them in regards to the sensitive business environment they are to engage in.

Day Topic Particulars
Day 1 Religion and Dressing The Islamic religion is highly regarded in Saudi Arabia; therefore, the staff will receive training regarding their conduct towards the religion and the local people. Additionally, dressing particularly for ladies will be addressed
Day 2 Terms of Address and Greetings   The terms used in addressing individuals in Saudi Arabia as opposed to the UK thus the staff require to be trained coupled with local greetings
Day3 Meetings and invitations   As observed the Saudi people are highly sensitive to business deals thus training will be conducted concerning conduct during meetings and meetings invitations.

In conclusion, I find the Saudi Arabian culture as being greatly interesting, though some individuals might view it as conservative and a bit extreme I suppose it is the place to start and run a company. The Saudis are known to be highly entrepreneurial and the country offers a huge market for sales of oil pipelines and gas industry pipelines. Saudi Arabia is among the largest producers of oil and gas globally, therefore, the UK Company will enjoy a ready market for its products without incurring hefty shipment costs. Though the company might initially face a few problems in training its employees and adopting the new culture I believe that this is the way to go.  

References

Ali, A 2009, Business And Management Environment In Saudi Arabia: Challenges And Opportunities For Multinational Corporations, New York: Routledge, Discovery eBooks, EBSCOhost, viewed 10 July 2014.

Al-Qahtany, M 2012, ‘Doing Business in Saudi Arabia: Implication for International Investors’, Journal Of Transnational Management Development, 8, 1/2, p. 3, Hospitality & Tourism Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 10 July 2014.

Al-Qahtany, M 2013, ‘Doing Business in Saudi Arabia: Implication for International Investors’, Journal Of Transnational Management Development, 8, 1/2, pp. 3-16, Hospitality & Tourism Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 10 July 2014.

Bhuian, S, Abdul-Muhmin, A, & Kim, D 2011, ‘Business Education and Its Influence on Attitudes to Business, Consumerism , and Government in Saudi Arabia’, Journal Of Education For Business, 76, 4, p. 226, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 10 July 2014.

Esler, D 2011, ‘Operating in Saudi Arabia’, Business & Commercial Aviation, 107, 11, p. 30, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 10 July 2014.

International Business, T 2007, ‘Business in Saudi Arabia: Culture Differences to Watch for’, International Business Times, June, Regional Business News, EBSCOhost, viewed 10 July 2014.

Long, DE 2005, Culture And Customs Of Saudi Arabia, Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, Discovery eBooks, EBSCOhost, viewed 10 July 2014.

Mahajan, V 2013, ‘Understanding the Arab Consumer’, Harvard Business Review, 91, 5, pp. 128-133, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 10 July 2014.

Mazaheri, N 2013, ‘The Saudi monarchy and economic familism in an era of business environment reforms’, Business & Politics, 15, 3, pp. 295-321, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 10 July 2014.

Mohammad, K, & Ahmad, Z 2013, ‘THE ROLE OF CULTURE ON ENTREPRENEURSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN SAUDI ARABIA’, Journal Of Global Entrepreneurship, 4, 1, p. 31, Supplemental Index, EBSCOhost, viewed 10 July 2014.

Momani, N, & Fadil, A 2013, ‘Risk Management Practices in the Saudi Business Organizations: A Case Study of the City of Jeddah’, Journal Of Business & Retail Management Research, 7, 2, pp. 96-105, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 10 July 2014.

Robertson, C, Al-Khatib, J, & Rasheed, M 2013, ‘A Cross-National Analysis of Corporate Citizenship: Saudi Arabia vs. the United States’, Journal Of Managerial Issues, 25, 3, pp. 284-298, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 10 July 2014.

‘SAUDI ARABIA BUSINESS FORECAST REPORT’ 2014, Saudi Arabia Business Forecast Report, 2, pp. 1-53, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 10 July 2014.

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