Frequently Asked Questions About Doing Business in Saudi Arabia

As a nation in the midst of a broad-scale transition to a productivity-based economy, Saudi Arabia is planning for social and economic change across government sectors and industries.

With nationwide initiatives in place — in the form of National Transformation Plan 2020 and Vision 2030, which lay out broad goals for improving the nation’s economy in various areas by their respective years — the country will see significant socioeconomic changes and a movement towards productivity and privatization in the coming years. This changing economic climate offers U.S. companies already involved in Saudi business an opportunity to further develop their business relationships and expand their reach and may be an attractive market to enter.

If you’re interested in advancing your business in Saudi Arabia, you have to know when, where and how to play in the Saudi market, especially in times of change. As a culture where religion, customs and communication are deeply intertwined in the business sphere, Saudi Arabia can be a challenging environment for businesses to build relationships — even when they’ve already done business in the region — which is why the guidance and backing of a trusted business development group are so important.

Here’s some crucial background information to help you understand and overcome the challenges of further developing and doing business in Saudi Arabia.

How Can One Build Strong Business Relationships in Saudi Arabia?

In Saudi Arabia, business deals are not impersonal or quickly obtained. Doing business with Saudi customers and establishing prosperous relationships takes time and exceptional effort. Saudi businessmen conduct dealings only with those they trust, so it’s crucial to establish strong personal relationships with your potential business partners. You’ll earn their trust through patience and knowing when to show deference to Saudi business practices. While we always advise on showing respect for Saudi business norms including proper greetings, attention to manners, and other spoken and unspoken rules, The Quincy Group will help you understand when and where to assert yourself.

How does Saudi Hierarchy affect Business?

Saudi Arabia is a highly hierarchical and networked society where status and personal relationships often affect how, when and where decisions are made. Because the Saudi economy is so closely tied to oil revenues controlled by the government, the political hierarchies affect business even when it is not overtly apparent. Additionally, many of the countries largest business empires are run by large families with deep ties to each other and the government. Because of these often obscure connections, the published hierarchies often differ from the actual networks that get business done. To avoid the extremely common pitfalls of late payments, abandoned deals, and ineffective messaging, it is extremely valuable to have an advisor who understands how business works in the Kingdom.

How Does the Culture Affect Business in Saudi Arabia?

Saudi culture informs and colors every transaction, relationship and deal in the business world. While businesses in other markets often avoid and dissociate business with religion and personal lives, these are simply a part of how Saudis run their affairs. Navigating the business world with an in-depth understanding of customs, communication styles and other cultural factors is crucial to even begin to build rapport with a Saudi company.

To start, be aware that the Saudi Arabian work week runs from Sunday through Thursday, with Friday reserved for attending services at the Mosque. During the week, Muslims pray five times a day, and almost all shops and stores close during the prayers to allow for worship. While this does not generally affect business meetings, one should try to remain flexible and be aware of when prayers occur during the day. The Quincy Group will help you stay current on the business world with more crucial knowledge about Saudi cultural and religious customs.

Count on The Quincy Group

If you’re planning on further developing your business reach in Saudi Arabia, you need to be armed with the right information and assets to navigate the business world with finesse and success. With extensive experience and expertise in advising foreign companies entering the Saudi sphere, The Quincy Group has the access, assets and connections to position you for profitability and meaningful businesses relationships. Talk to us today to learn more about furthering your opportunities in Saudi Arabia.