Understanding the Pace of Business in Qatar
When doing business in an unfamiliar country, it’s generally a good idea to find out more about that country’s customs and culture if you want to succeed and get ahead.
Essentially, business depends on relationships, whether those relationships are business to business, or business to client. To make those relationships work though, you must first understand the fundamentals of how the other party thinks and operates.
Not only will this help to prevent misunderstandings, which may result in insult, it can also make doing business easier, so that each party leaves happier, hopefully getting what they came for.
Customs and etiquette obviously vary according to culture. What may pass for standard business etiquette in the United Kingdom or Australia, for example, may not be acceptable in Qatar.
So, for any foreign investors looking to do business in Qatar, or for any individuals coming to Qatar for work, it’s important to find out more about how business is conducted here.
The Pace of Business in Qatar
When it comes to doing business in Qatar, one of the first things many expats notice is the difference in pace. Quite simply, this is a country that runs at its own tempo.
For expats who are unused to this slower pace in business, it can be both confusing and frustrating. But, by learning what to expect when doing business in Qatar, it can make the process much easier for both parties.
Once you know what to expect, it’s best to embrace this new pace, and try to work within it. Fighting it by trying to do everything the way it is done at home will usually just end in frustration.
Try to adapt your way of thinking and adjust your expectations – especially when dealing with government departments. Don’t expect things to work exactly as they do at home, and embrace this new business culture you are working within.
Getting it Right
One reason the pace of business is slower in Qatar is that many Qataris value personal relationships when establishing business contacts.
That means it’s important to make the effort to develop relationships, first showing an interest in a business contact’s personal life and family, instead of getting straight down to business.
With that being said, it’s best to avoid asking after female relatives directly, such as a wife, sister or daughter. However, if an invitation is made to visit a Qatari’s house for lunch or dinner, accepting this invitation is recommended, as hospitality is very important within Qatar.
It can also be helpful to have an expert on your side – preferably one that speaks Arabic. This expert can either assist you as you go about your business, or work to execute your requirements.
Even with the services of an Arabic-speaking aide, it’s generally well thought-of if you learn a few Arabic phrases, as it signals that you are making an effort within the Qatari culture.
As for paperwork and documentation, that should always be supplied in Arabic. Although Qataris are used to dealing with foreign business partners and negotiating in English, paperwork and documentation should be completed in Arabic primarily.
Change of Pace During Holidays
It’s also worth bearing in mind how much Qatar changes during Ramadan and Eid, as well as during other government holidays. Business life is affected as much as social life during these times, so be sure to take the resulting delays into account when business planning.
Overall though, the most important thing to remember is that when doing business in Qatar, ultimately, the job will get done. Try to relax and go with the flow. It may take slightly longer than perhaps at home, but in the end, it will get completed.