Meeting and greeting
- It is necessary to use the correct title when addressing someone. It is normal to use Sheikh (meaning chief) for a man or Sheikha for a woman, Sayed (Mr) or Sayeda (Mrs)
- Always greet and acknowledge the most senior person first
- Handshakes are always used and can go on for an extended period of time
- Always use your right hand. Among Muslims, the left hand is considered unclean
- Gift giving is very important and it would be appropriate to give something to an individual you are being introduced to
- Modesty is very important, and both men and women should wear non-revealing clothes (covering the shoulders, arms, legs and closed-toe shoes)
- Women should cover their hair if visiting religious sites
- Shoes may need to be removed in certain situations, such as when entering religious sites
Business is personal
- Business relationships rely much more on trust and compatibility in the Middle East
- It’s important that business relationships are built on mutual friendship and trust
- Conversation and getting to know the person you are doing business with are vital
- The working week runs from Sunday to Thursday
- Punctuality must be adhered to, even if the locals are relaxed about it
- Lavish signs of hospitality are the norm, and it is offensive to refuse food, drink or gifts
- Never show the bottom of your feet when meeting
- Meetings can be chaotic, with phone calls and people entering and leaving at random
- Decisions tend to be made slowly
- “As-salam alaikum” – A standard greeting that means peace be upon you.
- “Wa alaikum as-salam” – The reply you should give, meaning and upon you be peace.
- “Ma salamaa” – Goodbye.
- “Ma Fudlek” – Please.
- “Shukran” – Thank You!