“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”, and this couldn’t be more true in the UAE. In this region building relationships is one of the cornerstones of business success.
As a rapidly developing international market, positioned as a natural trading hub between the developed giants in the East and West, the Middle East has long been accustomed to connecting people and businesses to propagate its own success. Despite the seismic technological advances in communication of recent decades and the power to exchange information at the touch of a button, this region still prides itself on never losing sight of the strength of personal connections.
To succeed in this part of the world it is imperative to physically be here and understand how things work. It takes time to build strong relationships and many start on an informal basis, as does business. More often than not, business is done face to face, and often at short notice. Your success at the negotiating table will depend heavily on the effort that you have put in and strength of the relationships that you have developed and nurtured. Whatever you do, don’t make the mistake of turning up to your first meeting with a printed agenda and PowerPoint slides, this western approach will get you nowhere.
If you want to be a serious player in the UAE then you need to respect the local culture and pace, be ready to respond quickly and not get disappointed when things take time. It pays off to work on becoming a trusted and recognised member of the business community. Never lose sight of the importance of developing your local network and you will be well placed to succeed in this thriving and vibrant market and capitalise on the opportunities open to you.