Saudi Arabia and India are tricky places to start up a business, however, if you ever decide to set up shop there, here are some tips on how to conduct business behavior there.
Let’s start with India. India’s business culture is heavily influenced by its complex social hierarchy and Western corporate culture.
When it comes to greetings, the traditional Indian greeting is the Namaste. Always use a person’s professional title, and only use your right hand when shaking hands or touching anything. Men and women do not touch in greeting.
Business is often slow and involves many delays, but you should not show anger or frustration. Be persistent and always approach others with a smile.
Indians are very sensitive to rudeness. Don’t point with your finger. Dive into business without asking after your Indian business associate’s life, family, hobbies, etc. Refuse an offered drink.
Saying no is considered very harsh. Never refuse an invitation outright. Always offer an excuse. To be polite, most Indians will say “I will try.”
Now to Saudi Arabia. Religious observance is crucial to all aspects of life in Saudi Arabia, including business.
The concept of Sha Allah (“If God wills it”) often translates into a lack of urgency by non-Islamic business associates. Business meetings must be scheduled around or allow time for daily prayer.
Many Saudi businesses are based around the family unit, as such they prefer to work with people they know and trust.
Hire a Saudi point-person to help you navigate and arrange meetings with your contacts.