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MASTERING BUSINESS ETIQUETTE IN SAUDI ARABIA: A GUIDE FOR PROFESSIONALS

In Saudi Arabia, business etiquette is deeply intertwined with the country’s rich cultural traditions and Islamic principles. Understanding and respecting these norms can significantly influence the success of professional interactions and partnerships. 

  • Formal Greetings: Always use formal titles unless invited to do otherwise. Addressing someone as “Mr.,” “Mrs.,” or “Engineer” followed by their last name shows respect. The Arabic greeting “As-salamu alaykum” (peace be upon you) is highly appreciated.
  • Handshakes: Handshakes are common but wait for your Saudi counterpart to initiate the gesture. Note that opposite-gender handshakes may be avoided due to religious beliefs.
  • Business Cards: Offer and receive business cards with your right hand or both hands. Taking a moment to read and respectfully acknowledge the card is considered polite. 
  • Building Relationships: Personal relationships and trust are crucial in Saudi business culture. Expect to spend time discussing non-business topics and getting to know your counterparts.
  • Punctuality: While foreigners are expected to be punctual, be prepared for meetings to start late or be interrupted. Time is seen more flexibly in Saudi culture.
  • Invitations: Accepting invitations to homes or social events is an important part of building business relationships. Such occasions are opportunities to strengthen bonds.

Navigating business etiquette in Saudi Arabia requires an understanding of and respect for its Islamic culture and traditions. By demonstrating respect, patience, and willingness to adapt, foreign professionals can build strong, successful business relationships in Saudi Arabia. Remember, the key to success lies in respecting local customs, embracing patience, and investing in personal relationships.

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