Foreign companies looking to make direct investment in the GCC would often need to carefully assess whether or not to enter the market and do business in the Gulf region. An important indicator to consider in that regard and a key question many foreign investors ought to ask is, “how easy is it to do business in the Gulf?”
It is indispensable for the expatriate business professionals seeking a successful and seamless entry into the Gulf to invest sufficient time and effort to understand the social and business culture across the Gulf.
Each of the six GCC countries is unique in their own way, despite several commonalities. Simply transplanting or juxtaposing western business practices, however successful they may be outside the GCC, will neither yield dividends, nor will it facilitate healthy growth.
We should be mindful of the fact that religion plays a significant role in all aspects of life across the Gulf region and the wider Middle East, and depending on the level of “piety” of the GCC business interlocutor and / or partner, at a minimum, a cursory understanding of Islam and its role on the business and social environment is an important undertaking that expatriate business professionals cannot discount.
Although the GCC countries do share a common history and culture, there are however many differences in terms of their social outlook and approach to business. Treating all GCC nationals and business partners alike is both patronizing and counterproductive in establishing solid business relationships in the region. Moreover, the appearance of “western” arrogance, however benign it may be, is considered as contemptuous and is just about the worst thing a western business person can do in this part of the world.
In order to effectively and successfully navigate through the cultural labyrinth of the GCC, it is always advisable to take proper cues and guidance from professionals with a long standing tenure in the GCC business community. The Links Group of Companies, with more than 10 years of successful presence within the GCC, has been a valuable partner to expatriate business professionals and companies in helping them to establish and maintain a sustainable commercial presence in the region.