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International business practices in saudi arabia
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International business practices in saudi arabia

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  • 1. International Business Practices in Saudi Arabia: Cultural effect Salem M. Al-Ghamdi Associate Professor of Management and Assistant Dean of CIM Graduate Programs January 2008
  • 2. High and low context cultures
    • High context
    • Information resides in context
    • Emphasis on background, basic values
    • Less emphasis on legal paperwork
    • Focus on personal negotiation
    • Low context
    • Messages are explicit and specific
    • Words carry all information
    • Reliance on legal paperwork
    • Focus on non-personal documentation of credibility
    Saudi Arabia, Japan USA, Germany, Switzerland
  • 3. Cultural Features of Saudi Society
    • Confrontation and conflict are to be avoided “The concept of face is a fundamental issue of Daily Life”;
    • Compromise, patience and self-control is a means by which to safe face;
    • Dignity and respect are key elements in S.A. culture.
    • Conclusion: Saudi Arabian counterpart will not take well to pressure tactics that place them in an uncomfortable positions, thus forcing them to lose face.
  • 4. Cultural Features of Saudi Society
    • Islam as a religion has an extensive influence on Saudi society;
    • Arabian culture is often described as detail orientated;
    • Ethics and expected social behavior such as generosity, respect, and solidarity are emphasized.
    • Conclusion: Understanding Islam, which governs every respect of a Muslim’s life, shall enhances how and why Saudi business people act or behave in certain manner.
  • 5. Cultural Features of Saudi Society
    • Saudi Arabia is considered a high context communication;
    • Saudi Arabia culture relies heavily on non-direct communication cues such as body language and eye-contact, tone of voice, facial cues, and the use of silence.
    • Conclusion: It is vital to be aware of these non-verbal aspects of communication in any business meetings in order to avoid misunderstandings.
  • 6. Cultural Features of Saudi Society
    • Understanding of Saudi etiquette and the personal manner in which business is conducted is essential to success;
    • Business appointments, for example, is unique in S.A. appointments should be scheduled in accordance with the five daily prayer times and the religious holidays of Ramadan and Hajj;
    • It is customary to make advance appointments for times of day rather than precise hours as the relaxed and hospitable nature of Saudi business culture may cause delays in schedule.
    • Conclusion: Working practices in Saudi Arabia are heavily influenced by culture.
  • 7. Cultural Features of Saudi Society
    • The Saudi working week begins on Saturday and ends on Wednesday. Thursday and Friday are the official weekend;
    • Office hours tend to be 0900-1300 and 1600-2000 (Ramadan 2000-0100) with some regional variation;
    • There exists a distinct dichotomy between subordinates and managers within S.A. companies;
    • Age plays a significant part in the culture of S.A. greater respect must be shown to elders and all times.
    • Conclusion: When first entering the room or greeting your Saudi counterparts for the first time, you should shake hands with the most senior person first.
  • 8. Cultural Features of Saudi Society
    • Establishing trust is an essential part of Saudi business culture;
    • Cultivating solid business relationships before entering into business dealings is key to your success;
    • In a business setting, favors based on mutual benefit trust are ways of enhancing these cultural values;
    • Due to the personal nature of business in Saudi Arabia, family influence and personal connections often take precedence over other governing factors.
    • Conclusion: When entering a meeting, general introduction will begin with a handshake. We should greet each of our Saudi counterparts individually (saying A-salaam alaikum), making on way around the room in anti-clockwise direction
  • 9. Cultural Features of Saudi Society
    • It is generally uncommon for a Muslim man to shake hands with a woman. Therefore, it is advisable for business women to wait for a man to offer his hand first;
    • Business cards are common but not essential to Saudi Arabia business culture. However, if used locally, ensure that you have the information printed in both English and Arabic;
    • Gift giving in Saudi Arabia is appreciated but not necessary;
    • It is also advised to refrain from overly admiring an item belonging to another, as they may feel obliged to give it to you;
    • Initial business meeting are often a way to become acquainted with your prospective counterparts. They are generally long in duration and business are conducted at a leisurely pace over tea and coffee;
    • In the event that you are offered a gift, it is considered impolite and offensive if you do not accept it.
  • 10. Sociological and Religious points of view of cultural features of Saudi Society
    • Islam plays a large role in the people’s lives;
    • Large power distance and uncertainty avoidance are the predominant characteristics for this region;
    • The society is highly role-oriented with laws, rules and regulations;
    • Inequalities of power and wealth have been allowed to grow within the society;
    • As a result of this high uncertainty avoidance characteristics, the society does not readily accept change and is very risk adverse;
    • Saudi society is a collective society and is manifested in a close long-term commitment to the member “group”.
  • 11. Media Decisions – Saudi Arabia
    • Use of comparative advertising claims is prohibited;
    • Non-censored films cannot be advertised;
    • Women may only appear in those commercials that related to family affairs, and their appearance must be in a decent manner that ensures feminine dignity;
    • Women must wear a long suitable dress which fully covers her body except face and palms.
  • 12. Thank you.