Business is usually developed around a family unit with all key employees coming from the extended family.

Nepotism is a way of life and the idea that positions would not be given to family members is incomprehensible. Who can you trust if not your own family? Within this family-based structure, the company would be developed along strongly hierarchical lines with the majority of power being held at the top by the senior, usually older family members.

Islam teaches the importance of family relationships, loyalty and the need to show respect to older people and forms the backdrop to social organisation. Trying to introduce flatter systems where promotion is based upon demonstrable talent rather than connections could be seen to fly in the face of culture, history and religion.

As all business is family and relationship-based, it is absolutely vital to be prepared to devote as much time and effort as necessary to relationship-building. Every contact within an organisation is important, as you may not be aware of everybody’s connections. A seemingly lowly employee may prove to be a favoured relative of a senior figure and therefore of greater potential help than some other apparently more important contact.

A brief overview of some key concepts to consider when doing business in Saudi Arabia

Written and Produced by Keith Warburton

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Overview

This country profile has been produced to give a short overview of some of the key concepts to bear in mind when doing business with contacts in Saudi Arabia. It is intended to be an aid to business people who have commercial dealings with counterparties in the country but should not be seen as an exhaustive guide to this topic or as a substitute for more substantial research should there be a need.

With this in mind, we have covered the areas which are key to a better understanding of the cultural mindset underpinning business dealings in Saudi Arabia and which are, quite often, extremely different from the approach and thought processes associated with business in other parts of the world.

Therefore this briefing note is broken into short, bite-sized sections on the following topics:

  • Background to business
  • Business Structures
  • Management style
  • Meetings
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Women in business
  • Entertaining
  • Top tips