Saudi Arabia, as an ardent Islam state differs from the European countries, the UK included., The brief report will highlight some of the most important aspects about Saudi Arabia in order to facilitate better business experience for the UK based mangers. The highlighted aspects include the business culture, political and legal systems and finally the customs and values of Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is a monarch state which occupies the bigger part of the Arabian Peninsula. Its legal framework is based on the Koran but also supported by the basic law and every facet of Saudis’ life is marked by Islamic precepts.
The major distinction between the UK and Saudi Arabia is the lack of clear boundary between business and religion. The Islamic faith has taken great influence in Saudi Arabian business environment. The belief in fatalism has brought in a lot of reluctance among the Saudis, even in making business deals (IBP, 2011). Saudis believe that everything happens according to the will of God. Therefore, there is no need for urgency. Though such a belief can be interpreted as a lack of motivation or being inactive, the Saudis do not expect to be pushed too much into business. However, business appointments must be made in advance. The use of business cards is not very essential, but if used, one side of the card should be translated into the Arabic language.
Businesses are developed along family lines where major positions are occupied by the members of extended families. Business structures are, therefore, developed along strong hierarchical lines where senior, usually older members of the family are given the top most positions. Promotions within such organizations are mostly done on the basis of family seniority rather than on demonstrable talents and skills (IBP, 2011). For a foreigner, therefore, it is very important to dedicate a lot of time and effort in developing working relationships, since all businesses are family and relationship based.
Managers and leaders in the business are expected to make all decisions and communicate them to their subordinates for implementation. However, this belief that leaders should lead and followers to follow requires managers and supervisors to give clear, complete and unambiguous instructions because those things that are not specified to be done are likely to remain undone.
First time business meetings with the Saudis would seem informal as foreigners can be given divided attention in a rather disorganized setting, where several people might be speaking at the same time, and a lot of time is spent on familiarization. Women, however, are hardly expected to appear in such meetings, but if they do then they should be conservatively dressed, ensuring that most of their bodies are covered. Such meetings call for patience and perseverance as one might spend too long without any substantial achievements. For this reason, planning for more than one meeting per day may be difficult.
Communication is usually marked by a lot of hyperbole and positive comments about people’s merits and achievements. It is therefore in order that one offers some compliments to his host, especially in relationship building process (Bayliss, 2009). In turn, he should be ready to receive such compliments in the spirit they are offered. However, there is reluctance in conveying bad news about business issues. Communications are usually done in loud voices while maintaining eye contact as a show of engagement and interest in the discussion.