Arabic Business Etiquette

These tips on Arabic business etiquette are not intended to stereotype Arabic people or insist that all Arabic businesspeople and companies operate in exactly the same way.

There are a great many countries that make up the Arab world and it would be wrong to suggest that business etiquette in every country is the same. Rather, the tips serve as a guide, providing you with greater cultural awareness and understanding of Arabic cultural norms when it comes to doing business. Remember to always respect the culture, value and traditions of your prospective partners.

Greet your business partners with a handshake. These can last a lot longer than in many parts of the Western world as etiquette recommends that one person waits for the other person to withdraw. It is unlikely that, if you are greeting a woman, you will shake hands, especially in public. You should operate by the rule of caution and wait for her to offer her hand. Likewise, if you are a woman doing business in an Arab country, wait to see if the Muslim man offers you his hand. You should always greet the most senior person in the room first, and always use your right hand, as in Arabic culture, the left hand is used for bodily hygiene and so is considered unclean.

You should address people with their title (Dr or Mr) followed by their first or given name. Likewise, address women with a title such as Miss or Mrs followed by her first name. Men should avoid addressing women without using a title.