Business in Saudi Arabia

Americans have a different approach from other nations when it comes to doing business. Each company has its own tactics that they apply to secure big deals. On the other hand, business in Saudi Arabia takes a different approach. Saudi Arabians take pride in knowing individuals from other firms before disclosing information to them World Trade Press, 2010. Meetings take place in cafes and coffee shops. Social and religious differences between America and Saudi Arabia make it challenging for the Americans due to unawareness of the Saudi lifestyles (Country Watch Inc & Films Media Group, 2014). When doing international business, it’s important to focus on how businesses operate within cultural boundaries. In western countries, people are deal focused and more task-oriented. Personal initiative and independence characterize American communication styles. Saudi Arabians follow a relationship-focus where people indulge in dealings with friends.

Business Negotiations

When doing business in Saudi Arabia it is important to consider their cultural values and way of doing business. For successful negotiations, it is important to be respectful and save one’s face. Respect and dignity are crucial elements in Saudi Arabian culture and saving face via patience, compromise and self-control is key. Concept of face among the Arabians has been used to solve conflicts and avoid discomforting and embarrassing others(Dept, 2014). It is of value to avoid pressuring people that you do business with and Saudi Arabians desire respect and showing them helps secure deals. High context communication where meanings are in rituals and not words. Business negotiations should consider such elements. Emphasis should be on applying silence, body languages and tone of voice which is challenging for Americans. Feedback is important in negotiations and power distance is important. Power distance is high meaning that they believe that there is a big equality difference prompting one to give positive feedbacks to save faces(Zuhur, 2011). Negative feedback is given in statements such as ‘That is not what I expected. Managers find it hard to get feedback from employees due culture requiring one not to challenge authority figures.

Business Dress Code

Modesty is important for both genders in Saudi Arabian business. Covering up can be challenging due to high temperatures but good dressing is likely to lead to successful business transactions(Mead, 2008). Men should wear business suits to meetings which preferably are long-sleeved and buttoned to the collar. Etiquette does not allow men to wear short-sleeved shirts. Wearing shorts to meetings is not allowed as Islamic law forbids men from exposing calves, knees and thighs(Dept, 2014). Visible jewelry should be avoided. Women should conservatively dress. The outfits should be ankle length although shorter skirts are allowed if they cover calves. Wear dresses with high necklines and button them up. Loose clothing is preferred.). Women should avoid wearing pants or pantsuits.

Businessmen can wear suits or Saudi clothing(Titles and MeetingsIn Saudi Arabia, a person’s title is learnt by the way other people address and themselves. Business titles come with job title, family and ranks. Foreigners are called either Mr/Mrs and common address names include chairman, your highness and teachers (Zuhur, 2011). Business card exchange occurs with little fan-fair and the cards can be used to glean and try some initial information about people(Country Watch Inc & Films Media Group, 2014). The cards carry no major importance within meetings. Arabic knowledge is a boost. Appointments should be done in advance and when meeting government officials, physical presence is needed to set dates. Meetings should be planned in morning hours and keeping time is key. Meetings are never private until trust is build.


Country Watch, Inc, & Films Media Group. (2014). Saudi Arabia.Dept, I.В M. (2014). Saudi Arabia. Washington: International Monetary Fund.Mead, A. (2008). Saudi Arabia: The business traveller’s handbook. Northampton, MA: Interlink Travel.World Trade Press. (2010). Saudi Arabia. Petaluma, CA: Author.Zuhur, S. (2011). Saudi Arabia. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.