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Business Culture

Qatar - Business Culture

Qatar is an Islamic country but four fifths of its residents are expatriates, and many western companies are located there, so the rules of business etiquette will depend on who your contacts are. This guide focuses mainly on Arabic business culture.

Qatar is a Muslim country, and you should always be sensitive to Islamic beliefs and customs in your business practices there.

You are required to use a local agent to conduct business in Qatar, unless you have an office there. Having an agent will help you to establish good contacts in a country where networking is very important.

Arabic is the national language of Qatar, but English is widely spoken, especially in busines.

Business negotiations are conducted slowly in Qatar, so you may need to make frequent visits. Business relationships are built on trust and reciprocity over time.

Appointments should be made shortly before your visit, as business schedules are frequently changed at short notice. Normal business hours are 8 a.m. to 12 noon and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays to Thursdays, with many offices closed on Fridays. Although you should try to be punctual, your Arabic contacts may arrive a little late.

Both men and women should dress very modestly for meetings, ensuring that most of the body is covered. Handshakes are commonly used as a greeting between men, and you should always shake hands with the most senior person present first.

It is usual practice to use first names along with personal or professional titles in business. Arabic titles such as Haji or Sheikh should be used if known.

Business and personal lives are closely intertwined in Arabic culture, and Qatari people place great importance on getting to know their business contacts personally. Although meetings may appear disorganized, this is because they follow Arabic customs, in which personal and business lives are closely related. Business discussions are interspersed with small talk, and may be interrupted by personal visitors or colleagues.

Arabic people are great conversationalists and meetings can be lengthy, but it is important to remain patient and courteous at all times in order to gain respect. Avoid high pressure sales tactics, which will be perceived as aggressive. You should make sure you can deliver anything you promise, as your verbal commitments will be regarded as even more important than a written contract in Arabic culture.

Gift giving is common in Arabic business culture, and gifts should generally of high quality. Traditional perfume is highly valued as a gift by Arabic men. You should avoid giving anything containing alcohol or made of pigskin.

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