6 Tips to Successfully Enter the Middle Eastern Market


The Middle Eastern market is one of the regions that have great potential in the future.

New international businesses start investing in the region every year for many reasons including the untapped potential in some industries compared to other regions. 

If you plan to invest in the Middle East, then there are some specifics to keep in mind about entering the markets of Gulf countires or North Africa.

In this article, we share our top tips for successful internationalization in the Middle Eastern Market.

Take time to select your local partner 

Take time to select your local business partner in the Middle Eastern market

Selecting your local partner can be one of the most difficult decisions you need to make when entering the Middle Eastern market.

There are many businesses in most Arab and Middle Eastern countries that will seem ready to do business. However, not all of them are necessarily suitable for you to work with.

Accordingly, you need to choose between businesses very carefully and ensure that your partner will have the capabilities you need. Make sure that there is commercial synergy between the two businesses. 

You also need your local partner or partners to be flexible and dynamic. If they can offer what you need but they are not flexible and their pace is too slow, then you might find some difficulties pushing the business forward. 

Additionally, consider other aspects as soon as possible. This includes defining clearly what this new partner will offer you such as their contacts and local expertise. 

Defining clear responsibilities for each of your businesses is also a very critical step. This will help you avoid wasting time in the future, as well as many other problems. 

Executives, like others, appreciate personal relationships 

Build personal relationships with business executives in Middle Eastern market

If you're new to the business world in the Middle Eastern market, then you should know that personal relationships play a significant role in doing business.

Arabs and Middle Easterns in general are no different in wanting to work with people they personally know and trust.

So, if you want to accelerate your business growth, then you need to communicate with and build personal relationships with key people. 

What is good is that most businesses in the Middle Eastern market use English as the main or one of the main languages for business communication as well as for personal communication among employees.

So, communicating with executives and managers in the Middle East should not be an issue to worry about.

Nonetheless, people in the Middle East are proud of their language. It makes a great impression if you learn a few words in Arabic to use from time to time.

This will show that you respect their culture and strengthen your relationship with them. This is particularly true in Gulf countires where people are very proud of their heritage.    

It's not so easy to reach top executives

It's not so easy to reach top executives in Middle Eastern market

One of the biggest obstacles you may face when trying to do business in the Middle Eastern market is trying to reach decision makers. Reaching top executives can be harhder than you would expect. 

For instance, businesses in Gulf countries have traditional long chain of command. This makes it harder to reach the top of the chain if you don't already have contacts inside the organization.

To go around this issue, you can hire a local PR company who already has contacts in the said organization. They can then connect you to decision makers much faster than if you try that on your own. 

This is one of the best ways to speed up making deals, as this won't be the only bottleneck you will face while doing business in the Middle Eastern market. 

Expect decisions to take longer than you expect

Expect decisions to take longer than you expect in Arab companies

As mentioned earlier, many organizations in the Middle East have long chain of command. This means decision making can take longer time than you would expect since it has to go through many levels of approval.

This can be different from what you are used to in your home market. So, it's important to manage your expectations of how fast your internationalization plan can be implemented. 

For partnership, you should choose businesses that are more similar to your business in terms of efficiency and decision making style.

It's important to note that top executives in the Middle Eastern market usually have the authority to speed up things inside their organization. Having stronger relationship with them can help in moving things forward faster.

Get used to the communication style

Body language is important in business communication

When it comes to communication with businesses in the Middle East, there are some common things that you may be used to and others that can be strange for the first time.

Body language in the Middle East is very important. People express their opinion using various hand and body gestures that can be confusing to those from other cultures.

In addition, face to face meetings are much more preferred over email or phone calls. Business meetings typically include some form of informal social activity and casual chat.

For example, at the start of a business meeting, people start with short casual chit chat before diving into formal business details. This can be surprising for some people from other parts of the world.    

Start with smaller milestones

start with smaller project milestones

While this is not only true when doing business in the Middle Eastern market, it is always a good thing to remember. When working with a new business partner, start with a smaller project. 

By starting with smaller projects, you can test your partner's capabilities and compatibility. You can then expand the work to bigger projects with more confidence.

Bottom line

There are some cultural and business aspects to note when doing business in the Middle East. By being mindful of them, you can truly unleash the great potential of doing business in one of the fastest growing markets in the world.

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