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September, 2016

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10 Tips for Doing Business in the Middle East.

Monday, September 26th, 2016

Thinking of doing business in the Middle East? Here at Gdtme have put together 10 tips for doing so. Unlike the fast-paced, heavy handed business norms of the west and Europe, doing business in the Middle East requires adapting to cultural, religious and traditional ways of doing business.

shutterstock_1066904541. Time isn’t always money
In the west and Europe time is always money. In the Middle East, business is focused on status. Large business owners may feel that the privilege of working with them should be compensated by you! Be prepared to be flexible.

2. Meet face to face
Meet potential business partners in person. This should be the gold standard. Try to avoid meetings with staff on the lower rungs of the business ladder. Don’t rely on email or telephonic contact.

3. Don’t focus on turnaround times
In the Middle East scheduling is flexible. Lunchtime meetings can be changed to dinners out so be willing to adjust to scheduling changes.

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4.Ideas? Be ready to change them
Be ready to change your original ideas. The Arab world is creative and readily embraces concepts and outcomes that are alien to other regions of the globe. Keep an open mind even if they’re suggesting a snow resort in the desert!

5. Do ‘business’ later

Often a formal proposal is worked out long after the initial verbal agreement. Be willing to adjust to their unique time frame. Be prepared to be patient.

6. Avoid stereotyping your potential partners

Despite our best efforts, we often hold ideas about people in the Middle East. Be aware that your potential partners are as smart as you are.

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7. VIP’s don’t do details
Once a deal is made, be prepared to deal with underlings. Don’t expect the VIP to meet with you to discuss the contract.

8. Take charge of follow ups

Sometimes deals with Middle Eastern partners may be made and are then followed by non-action. This doesn’t mean they’ve reneged on the deal, just that it’s probably far less important to them than it is to you.

9. Take note of holy days!

In Islamic countries Friday is the holy day. This means that in these regions the weekend is Friday and Saturday. Eid al-Fitr (preceded by a month of fasting) and Eid al-Adha are two important religious celebrations that can last for 3 days or longer. The Ramadan fast is a time of shortened working hours so avoid doing business at this time.

10. Etiquette in the Middle East

Learning a few greetings in Arabic is a great way to make a good first impression and creates the sense that you are interested in getting to know a different culture. It also creates a sense of respect for their traditions. You may also choose to learn the traditional Islamic handshake.


If you require anymore information on this topic, we are happy to help – Contact us at: info@gdtme.com or visit our website, Gdtme. 

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From Local to Global How to Take Your Business to The Next Level.

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

From Local to Global How to Take Your Business to The Next Level.

Expanding your business overseas entails certain risks, but it can also reap great rewards. With global online retail sales alone up 17% annually, the potential for growth is huge. And it’s not just about the bottom line. Exploring new markets can keep your company fresh, help you to innovate, cushion you against downturns in the market at home and improve efficiency and productivity. Here are some helpful tips for turning your company into a global brand.

Research potential markets.

If you want to sell products and services abroad, it’s important to do your homework on potential foreign territories. When deciding which countries to target, you need to know whether there’s a demand for your product, and if you’ll have any competitors. How does the country’s internal market operate? Are there trends than you can turn to your advantage? Digging deeper, it also pays to become conversant with the local culture, customs and values. As well as helping to prevent any social faux pas, this can also provide valuable insights into how to frame your products for local consumers.

Get networking.

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Once you’ve settled on a potential foreign market, spend some time there visiting trade fairs and business events where you’ll have a chance to meet potential customers, distributors and agents. Be methodical about it: scan guest lists for people who might be of importance to you and make a point of introducing yourself. Don’t underestimate the value of networking. Friends on the ground can give you an insider’s point of view of new markets and help you to refine your sales strategy.

Sort out your finances.

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To successfully expand your business abroad, you must also ensure that you have adequate capital for your venture. If you need to raise funds from investors or banks, then you will want to show them a sound business plan explaining how you intend to scale up your business and build a lasting customer base. When doing your sums, remember to include all the additional costs you are likely to incur due to factors such as transport, storage, manpower and government red tape.

Start small.

It can be a mistake to rush in, blanketing several counties at once with a “one size fits all” marketing strategy. The wiser option is to begin with one or two markets, then expand slowly but surely. Trade fairs are a good starting point; it can also be helpful to create a presence on social media and existing e-market platforms, and thus ease your way into the consciousness of overseas buyers.

Insure against non-payment.

One of the hazards of trading overseas is the danger of non-payment. Dealing with this issue can be unpleasant enough at the best of times, and long distances can aggravate the situation. That is why it is important to evaluate the creditworthiness of potential customers before committing yourself. You can also guard yourself against non-payment with various safeguards such as credit insurance cover and Letters of Credit.


If you need anymore information, you can contact us on: info@gdtme.com or visit the website GDTME.com we are happy to help.

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Why the Middle East is a Lucrative Market for UK Entrepreneurs?

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016

Selling Products Middle EastThe Syrian crisis rages on unabated. The Arab Spring continues to cause unrest across the Middle East, from Lebanon to Oman. And yet British firms are successfully exporting to the region, overcoming political and cultural barriers to tap into a lucrative and fast-growing market.

The Middle East is open for business

Michael Oliver is the founder of Oliver’s Valves, a 35-year old British manufacturing company that specialises in making valves for the oil industry. The Middle East is one of his biggest export markets, accounting for 20pc of the company’s £90m revenue. “Next year, contracts in the Middle East will make up a quarter of the business,” he said.

Mr Oliver has spent more than a decade building up relationships across the region. His company is the official supplier of valves to Saudi Aramco, one of the biggest oil corporations in the world and has negotiated multi-million pound contracts with the gas gathering plants in Oman.

“I got on airplanes and I tramped the boards to win the business,” he said. “Made is Britain is hugely respected in the Middle East. There’s a high regard for our workmanship. That opened a lot of doors.”

Mr Oliver now has an office in Dubai to service the firm’s clients in the region. “It’s vitally important for any exporter to have boots on the ground with their own people in the Middle East,” he said. “You must also be be in the same time zone as your customers. You cannot sell by remote control.”

Despite all the headlines warning of ongoing strife across the Middle East, Mr Oliver has experienced “no problems” doing business over there. “But Syria is a negligible market for me,” he admitted. “In Dubai, the UAE, Oman and Saudi Arabia, the climate for doing business is stable. I’m not forecasting problems for the business, even if the situation does get worse.”

A technological revolution.

shutterstock_390425545Internet usage across the Middle East is up 2,639pc over the past decade compared with 393pc in Europe, according to Nielson’s latest Internet Usage and World Population Statistics. Saudi Arabia has now become the world’s largest consumer of videos on YouTube, with 40pc of the population visiting the site every day and 70pc accessing YouTube at least once a week. Mobile phone ownership across the Middle East is also 19pc higher than the world average.

“There has been massive online growth in the Middle East, which has created incredible business opportunities,” says Rasha Khouri, founder of luxury goods e-commerce company DIA-style.com.

Ms Khouri launched the online shop in September 2012. The site acts as a middleman for big luxury brands like Harrods, Net-A-Porter and US fashion giant Shopbop to sell their wares to the Arab States. The site translates all product information into Arabic and features lifestyle articles and fashion content tailored to the site’s customer base. It takes a small percentage of every transaction and operates a VIP service which costs between $100 to $300 a year (£64 to £192).

“When I first launched the website, it was in English,” said Ms Khouri. “But traffic and user engagement is much stronger, more active and loyal since switching to Arabic.” Indeed, Google announced in December 2012 that Arabic was set to be the fourth most important language on the web by 2015, after English, Chinese and Spanish. “If you’re selling online in the Middle East, it’s really important to have an Arabic website,” she said.

But it’s not always easy being a pioneer in a new market. DIA-style.com has run into some challenges along the way. “The biggest issue for us is that customers are afraid to put their credit card details online,” explained Ms Khouri. “In the Middle East today, about 75pc of purchases are still done cash on delivery.”

Ms Khouri has made some unorthodox business decisions to cater to this new market. “One customer didn’t know how to put her card details into the website,” she said, “So she took pictures of her card, front and back, and texted them to us so we could make the transaction for her. Can you imagine that happening in Europe?”

The entrepreneur’s flexible approach to doing business in the region has paid off and traffic to the website has been growing 50pc every quarter since inception with an average basket size of £375.

Barriers to growth.

shutterstock_157706513The Middle East may be brimming with opportunities for canny British firms but some entrepreneurs feel that the UK Government is not doing enough to help them access this export market.

Neil Purssey is an inventor and founder of Fireco, which manufactures fire safety products. “We make wire free alarms and sensors that can be attached to doors so that they automatically open at the sound of a fire alarm,” he explained. Two years ago, Fireco was invited to tender for a series of contracts in Kurdistan – a pipeline of work which is now worth $8.5m.

But the road to exporting success has not been smooth. “Government makes it impossible for Iraqi Kurds to come to the UK,” said Mr Purssey. “While I endorse and abide by the Bribery and Corruption Act, one of the few sales aids we can legally provide are visits to our businesses in the UK.

“A 73-year-old Kurdish engineer and his wife were recently refused a visa,” he continued. “Everyone is a Daily Mail reader these days and thinks that any visitor from Iraq will refuse to leave. What’s most bizarre is that this man’s uncle was a Brigadier in the British Army in Kurdistan in 1958.”

Mr Purssey is currently lobbying government to adopt a bond scheme whereby companies can sponsor visitors from outside the UK. “If they abscond, the company will pay £1,000 a day to a maximum of £50,000,” he explained. “This would ensure that they do not overstay their visa, and could guarantee a huge contribution to the social service pot if it was to happen.”

Mr Purssey’s criticisms are echoed by Oliver’s Valves’ Mr Oliver. “The big disappointment for me is the Government’s export ban on Iran,” he said. “We have been told that we are not to do business in the country because of political reasons. This is a great pity for me. Iran is the greatest player in oil in the world and needs our valves. We could generate a lot more jobs here in the UK by exporting there.”


For information about exporting to the Middle East, or how we can help your business, please call us on +97143206673 or email us: info@gdtme.com

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Expand Your Business Overseas with an Export Management Company

Monday, September 5th, 2016

Expand Your Business OverseasExpand Your Business Overseas with an Export Management Company.

In what is becoming an increasingly globalised world, the ability to sell products overseas is highly desirable goal for many businesses looking to expand their business.

Creating a presence in international retail markets is a vital growth strategy, yet many fail to understand the potential methods available for making this ‘dream’ a reality. This post aims to explain the benefits of choosing an Export Management Company as a way to venture into global markets and the processes such a company follows.

Why Export Overseas?

There are many reasons why you may wish to export your products to foreign markets, the main reason being the opportunity to access a much larger customer group. However, exporting internationally can also be beneficial for helping a business to spread risk should a local market experience recession spurring a fall in consumer confidence falls and a decrease in purchases.

Ways to Sell Your Products Abroad.

Many businesses can see the amazing opportunities venturing into international markets provides however the majority are overwhelmed with the perceived challenges and many complicated areas which must be overcome in order to make the process a success.

If you are only used to operating within your local supply chain, then you may lack the relative knowledge needed to operate in a different one. In order to export to overseas markets as efficiently as possible you will want to be prepared for all areas of exporting including understanding local customs and adjusting branding and marketing communications accordingly; as well as navigating language barriers, fees and international tariffs, among a whole host of other hurdles.

Why Choose an Export Management Company?

If you feel that opening your own operations in a foreign market is unachievable then an Export Management Company can provide an alternative which can simplify the process.

Export Managers help businesses to overcome the challenges they may face on their own by providing a logistic link in the international supply chain between producers in one country and channels to sell in another. They will be able to tap into an existing network of businesses and wholesalers which can help speed up the process of getting products on foreign shelves.
Through their knowledge of the market and the area Export Management Companies are able to help pass your products on in an efficient and cost effective way and develop the most effective way to link the supply chains of a business in the UK or other country and their potential partner(s) in the MENA region.

After discussion with your business, its process and goals, and once all requirements and barriers have been outlined and assessed, an export manager can begin the process of marrying up supplier to potential distributers in the region.

What Process Does an EMC Follow?

An Export Management Company will follow a number of processes to manage the flow of your product to the supplier. They are responsible for setting up the systems and processes needed to manage the flow of a product from your business to their local supplier/distributor.

Such tasks include of an EMC include:

  • Collection of goods
  • Consolidation and Interpretation of supplier documentation
  • Preparation of documents and certificates for shipment
  • Completion of customs export procedure
  • Shipment of goods
  • Delivery to partner distribution centres.

A good Export Management Company will ensure that you are informed about the progress of your products and about any potential issues and ways in which they can be resolved.

Why Export to the Middle East?

Every year there are new reforms in the MENA area which make it easier to do business in the region. The UAE and Morocco continue to lead in improving regulations business regulations, for example last year Morocco made it more straightforward to start a business as a declaration of business no longer needs to be filed.

This loosening of barriers and growth in the region has made it a popular choice for those looking to sell their products abroad. In particular, the UAE has been a popular choice due to the diverse and continually expanding economy and in the fact that English is widely spoken.

GDT: Export Management Company for the MENA Region

GDT are an Export Management Company established in 1982 and based in Dubai. Our primary area of operations are the GCC countries. However, for many brands, we handle the entire Middle East region along with some countries in the Mediterranean such as Cyprus, Greece, Turkey and Malta.


For more information about exporting to the Middle East, or how we can help your business, please call us on +97143206673 or email us: info@gdtme.com

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