Business Meeting

When meeting someone for the first time, do not be surprised to find yourself ushered into a room with several other people who you have never met

Your contact is then likely to give you some undivided attention before returning to a conversation

Never refuse refreshments like coffee, tea and dates; they should at least accept the first round of offerings

Do not take photos of people without permission

Refrain from saying that you are an atheist

This business process can be very frustrating for the task-oriented, time-dominated person

Meetings can drag on for hours with little, if anything, being achieved

It is the position of the host to set the subject of conversation at the outset

Argue as appropriate but never quarrel

If alone with your host, platitudes may continue a bit longer, such as questions about your home country

Assuming the host respects you, you will soon be asked your opinions about controversial issues

Politics and religion are favourite topics

If you genuinely agree with your host, he may take some convincing about your sincerity. Do not, be afraid to disagree

Many meetings can be spent in a seemingly endless round of ‘getting to know you sessions’

Try not to show annoyance or disapproval if meetings do not proceed along western patterns

During the relationship-building process, it is important to offer compliments to your host, his organization, Saudi Arabia and the Muslim world in general

Questions about marital status, children, religious convictions and personal wealth are commonplace

During small talks, Western businesspeople should avoid asking specifically about a Saudi businessman’s female relatives

Saudi businessmen are comfortable standing very close to the men they are talking with

Saudi men are usually addressed by their title and first name

Western businesspeople should use their right hand when shaking hands with others, and giving and receiving objects from others

People are reluctant to convey bad news to you about any business issues

Finally, be aware of the importance of good, strong eye contact

A man’s sincerity and honour can be judged by their ability to look you in the eye

All aspects of life in Saudi are governed by an absolute belief, in the teachings of Islam and an adherence to its tenets

No business deal will ever be discussed without reference to the Almighty and His Prophet Mohammed

Business is usually family-based with all senior positions filled by family members

Age is worthy of respect and honorable

It can be very difficult to fully understand exactly how interested people are in your propositions

Avoid touching anybody with your left hand or pointing feet at people as both of these are seen as extremely rude behavior

Do not comment on the political situation in the Middle East or make any adverse comments about the influence of Islam

Women play little or no active role in business life

Dress conservatively, but very smartly. You will be judged partly on your appearance

Saudi culture has a less rigid concept of time and schedule compared to the West

Try to find out the relationship tree of any company you wish to do business with

Managers tend to lead through instruction and subordinates are not expected to show initiative

Meetings can involve sitting in rooms with unknown people who are simultaneously meeting your contact

Initial meetings can be very time-consuming and appear to deliver very little in terms of tangible returns

Time is very flexible and meetings may start very late (if at all) and last for many hours

It is important to offer lavish compliments to your host

Saudis do not like to say no or deliver negative news

Meetings are often loosely scheduled around set prayer times. It is common for them to be interrupted

In many public places, Western businesswomen cannot meet with Saudi businessmen without a male in her party

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