The Gulf sits strategically positioned between the West and the East; between the old established economies and the rapidly growing markets of Asia. In addition, it is inextricably linked with Africa through history and religion. You could say that the Gulf is poised to re-position itself back to what it always was – a perfect staging point between cultures and countries.
Although it has relied heavily on oil-wealth to support its regimes and people, a fundamental shift is happening in the entire Gulf region as differing countries look to modernise their economies and move away from petroleum dependency. Initiatives such as Saudi Vision 2030 and UAE Vision 2030 demonstrate a desire to reach out globally and develop ever closer economic and cultural ties with the rest of the world.
The entire Gulf region seems more outward facing than it has ever been, and correspondingly we have seen an increase in interest in the region by international companies who are keen to explore the business opportunities available in the coming years. However, the Gulf region is culturally complex, and a good understanding of the cultural norms and expectations of local contacts is vital.
Global Business Culture has been running Gulf cultural awareness training for more than fifteen years – courses which are designed to help clients work as effectively as possible with colleagues, clients and other stakeholders in the region.
Our clients have a variety of differing interests in the Gulf region – some are interested in the whole region while others are focused solely on one country or Emirate and therefore the programmes we deliver are designed to meet the exact needs of each individual client. Typical clients tend to have Gulf-focused interests in the following areas:
A number of our clients have approached us for support before they open new offices in the Gulf. They are looking for us to give them guidance and help on how to better understand and overcome the cultural challenges they might face in the region. Other clients come to us after having opened operations in the region without the requisite cultural knowledge and asked us to help with remedial action.
Initiatives like Saudi Vision 2030 open-up multiple collaboration possibilities across multiple sectors and disciplines. Local authorities and companies are actively looking to co-operate with potential overseas partners, seeing these partnerships as a vital element in moving their economies forward. However, understanding local market conditions and having the cultural fluency to know what ‘good’ looks like when partnering with a local entity are the keys to success in the region. It is all too easy to make hasty, poor decisions based on insufficient knowledge – we aim to help clients make the right choices.
The changing economic landscape of the region coupled with a willingness to reach out to foreign experts means that there is a world of opportunity in terms of consultancy business. However, building a local reputation and being able to meet and impress the right people can be extremely complicated and time-consuming. Relationships need to be built – which takes time and investment – and the relationships which are built need to be with the right people. Global Business Culture has advised several significant consultancy-type organisations during their Gulf-entry and expansion processes.
In order to help clients navigate the incredibly varied and fluid cultural landscape of the Gulf we have developed several Gulf cultural awareness training programmes.
These programmes seek to help senior leaders of companies which are looking at developing their Gulf presence. We cover such issues as the influence of religion on business in the region, how corporate structures influence decision-making processes and the intricacies of building sustainable relationships with the right people.
These practically-focused Gulf cultural awareness training programmes are designed to help people who work with local colleagues in the Gulf to better understand the key drivers and expectations of the people they interface with in that region. The course looks at key Gulf-based business cultural concepts and explores how these issues might impact on cross-border working on a day-to-day basis.
Communication with the Gulf is not always easy. English language levels are variable with many people having been Western educated whilst others are less proficient in languages other than Arabic. These practical, short programmes are designed to help people improve their ability to understand and be understood when working with contacts in the Gulf region.
We feel we can help you improve your ability to interface effectively with contacts in the Gulf – if you would like to discuss this issue further please contact us.