There are no elaborate rules and much depends on which Arab country you are visiting. It is simply a matter of indicating respect, since it is normal, especially in the Gulf countries, for your counterpart to be very smartly dressed in crisp, laundered Arab robes. Businessmen visiting the Arab world should dress in a smart business suit and avoid wearing short-sleeved shirts, even if the weather is very hot outside. Business women should dress conservatively and make sure shoulders and knees are covered. In some countries is it is advisable to cover arms and ankles as well.
Know the protocol
In many Arab countries you will be served coffee in a small cup by a ‘pourer’, often an elderly employee in the office. You will continually get a refill until you call a halt. This is normally done by holding the small cup in your right hand from below and making a circular motion, or by covering the cup with the palm of your hand, shaking it and returning it to the ‘pourer’.
It is advisable not to show the soles of your shoes towards your counterpart, nor to lounge on a sofa.
In some Arab countries sitting with legs crossed is regarded as lacking in respect.
Meet the family
Business relationships are based on personal relationships. An Arab business partner will like to know you personally if he wishes to do business with you. It would be perfectly normal for you to be the guest of your Arab counterpart, possibly at a restaurant or hotel or possibly even at home. For many Arab businessmen there is no separation between personal and professional life. None of the time devoted to out-of-office activity is ever wasted and can be invaluable in enabling you to understand fully the background of the person you plan to do business with.
You should be ready to meet your Arab counterparts when they are visiting your country, possibly on business, possibly on vacation. Again, your Arab counterpart would think it part of a good business relationship to have the opportunity to meet you on your home territory.
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