American business cowboy mentality does NOT work in the Gulf Region at all.
US business executives are way too ill mannered and assume that they can command Arabs just because they do not wear Western business suits.
Those cowboys do not talk one word of Arabic language, have no clue how to greet an Arab properly, do not have the slightest inkling how to make friends with Arabs.
Friends, that’s right.
All Arab business communication is primarily based on human values such as friendship. You are only successful when you have been eating at the same table as the Arabs, and preferably at their home!
Arabs don’t care too much about money. They have plenty. They care about higher values. They do not want to be forgotten.
You must have a lot of patience, with yourself and with them. At a meeting, you have to be on time, and they have to be late. Accept that kind of etiquette.
Never spend the first meeting on contractual and financial matters, not even on the product or service. Just talk about whatever pleasant subject comes up. Make them feel at ease with you.
And for heaven’s sake: smile naturally. Not like Clint Eastwood. If you cannot come forward as a warm natural honest compassionate human being, then take the first plane exit the Gulf region and go back to your ranch. Arabs don’t want to do business with Rambo Colt.
Arabs might give a first impression as being unpleasant, but in reality they are amongst the finest people on Earth. For as long as you accept them the way they are and for as long as you are a true warm natural honest compassionate human being, you will succeed in getting them accepting you and your products or services.
Arab men do like boyish humor. They like to laugh, but keep it clean. Do not talk about any other taboo subject and never criticize them, just acknowledge and smile. That is the long and the short of it.
And never ever flirt with their women! Do not even look into their eyes for longer than a quarter of a second!
Doing business with Arabs is 80 percent personal touch and 20 percent matters. Once that 80 percent is accomplshed, the remaining 20 percent goes by itself.
Western marketing & sales does not work in Arab countries. You have to show your own soul inside out. They want first trust, then more trust, and finally absolute trust. No friends, no business.
One glitch and you are out till the end of times. Don’t screw it.