Published on December 17, 2013
BUSINESS CULTURE AND ETIQUETTE IN SAUDI ARABIA
BUSINESS ETIQUETTE IN SAUDI ARABIA 1. Greetings 2. Names and Titles 3. Business Meetings 4. Conversation Topics 5. Negotiation 6. Business Entertaining 7. Gift giving 8. Practical Advice Business Culture & Etiquette Guides
GREETINGS The form of greeting is a long, gentle handshake. Saudis usually greet their friends by putting an arm around their shoulders or giving them a kiss on either cheek. If the meeting is in a majlis or diwan you must shake hands with all the people present. You are not obliged to give a visiting card at the beginning of the meeting. It is better to wait for them to give you theirs. Business Culture & Etiquette Guides
NAMES AND TITLES The expressions for greeting are quite elaborate. They say Assalam Gualaikum (Hello - literally: “May peace be with you”) and the reply is Gualaikum Assalam (“And peace be with you too”); then they say, Kaif halak? (How are you?) Other common phrases are: Sabaah al-khayr (Good morning), Massa al-kayr (Good evening) and Shukran (Thanks). To address people you should use the title followed by the first name, for example, Mister Mohammed, Sheikh Rashid or Prince Abdullah. The title of sheikh (whose meaning is “expert of the Koran”) is used by people of a high social level who are not members of the royal family. Business Culture & Etiquette Guides
BUSINESS MEETINGS The best time to arrange visits is mid-morning or in the afternoon. In Jeddah and other cities offices are open until 21.00. The foreigner visitor should be punctual, although appointments are usually delayed, postponed to another day, or even cancelled without any prior warning to show a position of power. The meeting may be interrupted by telephone calls, matters that have to be dealt with urgently or even people coming in and out. You should stay calm and not get upset. This is how they usually work. Business Culture & Etiquette Guides
CONVERSATION TOPICS You must avoid speaking about some topics like religion, the conflict with Israel or the role of women in society. Neither should you ask about the way they dress. Favorite topics of conversation are the country’s economic progress, history, art, and sport (especially football). You should not ask about their “wife” or “sons” and “daughters”, since it may be ,interpreted as a lack of respect. It is best to use the general term “family”. Staring is a sign of trust. It is useful to gesticulate to give emphasis to what is said. Business Culture & Etiquette Guides
NEGOTIATION The price must be discussed in a friendly tone (between friends). They begin at an artificially high level and gradually improve their offer. You should not be surprised by initial offers that may seem outlandish. When you negotiate you will have to offer discounts or additional concessions, for, example, the cost of transport. Therefore you must know how much this is, because you are sure to be asked. Patience is fundamental. You should not pressurise to achieve quick decisions since it will have the opposite effect. Business will be done Insha´allah (“God willing”). Business Culture & Etiquette Guides
BUSINESS ENTERTAINING Lunches and dinners between companies are quite usual. The business conversation must begin once the meal has finished. You should show an interest in how the dishes have been prepared and try each one. Usually you eat with your hands from a single plate in the centre of the table. It is a good idea to leave some food on your plate. With this it means that the food is good and that another person can eat it. In restaurants leaving food is interpreted as a sign of wealth. Business Culture & Etiquette Guides
GIFT GIVING To show respect, the Saudis open gifts in the presence of who makes them and examine for a minute. Some gifts for women are not allowed according to the Muslim tradition: the case of jewelry or silk garments that are reserved for women. When you are invited to a house you must not take presents for the hostess. You should not take food either, since it could be interpreted that you do not expect the food to be good. On the other hand, presents for children are welcome. Business Culture & Etiquette Guides
PRACTICAL ADVICE To obtain the Saudi Arabia Business Culture Guide with more than 100 tips about etiquette and protocol, verbal and nonverbal communication, negotiation strategies, etc., clic on: Saudi Arabia Business Culture and Etiquette Guide To obtain Business Culture Guides in other countries clic on: Business Culture and Etiquette Guides in 70 countries Business Culture & Etiquette Guides
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