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Cultural Competence for Doing Business in The Middle East.

Monday, December 12th, 2016

Selling Products Middle East

Interested in Cultural Competence for doing business in the Middle East? Gdt have put together a blog post on just that.

Cultural diversity covers respect for another person’s different religion, gender, way of life and more. When doing business in the Middle East, where English is not the primary language, understanding the cultural differences and behaving accordingly is vital – it could mean the failure or success of your business.
Unlike the Western world, where business culture demands that everything is written down in black and white, in the Middle East, there are times when verbal agreements are considered sufficient. This is because the foundation of doing business in the Middle East is honour. Your word is your honour – so don’t promise anything that you cannot supply.

The other key aspect of doing business in the region is the importance of personal and family relationships. In particular, the Middle Eastern culture emphasises respect towards senior people or elders and so, expect to find elders and other family members working in the company or participating in business negotiations.
Your social relationship is very important with your business partners. Don’t expect a business deal to be confirmed overnight. Practice patience and work on building a trusting, friendly relationship with mutual respect for each other. Don’t close a deal too soon – remember that Middle Easterners can drive a hard bargain and are good traders so negotiate as much as you can.

In the Middle East, Islam is considered the primary religion. The five pillars of Islam which cover Shahadah or belief, Salat or five time daily prayers, Hajj or pilgrimage to Mecca, Zakat or charity to the needy and poor and Sawm or fasting during the Ramadan month are commonly practiced here. Also, Friday is the designated day for long male congregational prayers. So work on arranging meetings that don’t cover these times. Since Islam prohibits eating pork and drinking liquor, don’t present any products containing these items as gifts to your business partners.

Greet your partner by saying “As-salāmu ʿalaykum” which means “peace be upon you.” In return, your partner may say “Waʿalaykumu s-salām”, which means “and upon you too.” If your business partner is a woman, don’t shake her hand first. If she offers her hand, only then should you do so. Also, try not to make any kind of eye contact with her. Whether you’re a man or woman, consider dressing conservatively in a dignified manner when meeting your prospective business partners. A male business partner normally shakes your hand – offer your right hand. Also, he may end up holding it while walking with you – don’t misunderstand such an action, which is common here. During meetings, don’t point your footwear towards your business partners – it is considered rude. Also, accept whatever drink, tea or coffee, that is offered as part of Middle Eastern hospitality. When it comes to passing documents or other things to your business partners, always use your right hand.

For more information about exporting and doing business to the Middle East please call us +97143206673 or email:

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Country Specific Tips for Doing Business in the Middle East.

Monday, October 10th, 2016

shutterstock_264221285Some businessmen assume that the Middle East is politically unstable and refrain from doing business there. Only specific countries like Yemen and Libya are politically unstable. United Arab Emirates or UAE is politically stable; numerous UK-based companies have invested their money here especially in Dubai.

Since Middle East has its own customs and cultures that differ from the West and other places, it only seems wise to know beforehand certain things before doing business there. Here are some country specific tips for performing business in the Middle East:

Honour and trust business culture

According to researchers from the Kellogg School of Management, the Western business culture relies on dignity culture, which is set apart from social interactions. Westerners tend to take a business negotiation or dealing as an issue to be resolved and adopt an open, trusting and information sharing approach.

Middle Eastern business culture relies on honour and trust culture, which is inclusive of social interactions. Middle Easterners take a business dealing more personally, considering it as competition against other businessmen. Also, they only extend their trust and share more information after building a relationship with their respective business partners, which comes about after many business meetings. For example, Emiratis may ask you similar questions many times to gauge the consistency of your replies for determining whether you’re telling the truth.

While Westerners adopt a more neutral approach, Middle Easterners may resort to emotional tactics like sympathy and frustration to gain the upper hand in the negotiation. For a business meeting venue with Middle Easterners, consider selecting a crowded souk where there are many social interactions.

Business etiquette

Everyday values and life revolve around Middle East’s main religion, Islam. So don’t arrange a meeting with a Middle Easterner on a Friday, during any of the daily five prayer times or Ramadan month. Also, Middle Easterners are particular about respect especially when it comes to elderly people. Middle Eastern men normally shake hands with other men during an introduction. They may even hold hands while walking – the tip is not to pull your hand away, showing disrespect.

Business dealings

shutterstock_215168539If you’re looking for a base, Dubai, which is the Middle East’s commercial capital, is the answer. But remember if you’re a non-GCC national, your ownership of whatever company you open in UAE would be limited to 49 percent – 51 percent must be owned by a GCC national. Opening a bank account in the Middle East can be time-consuming and costly due to expenses pertaining to the bank’s anti-laundering regulations. Wire transfer, PayPal and Western Union are some great ways to bypass the bank and get money for the goods that you export from or import into Middle East.

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

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How to Effectively Sell Your Products Overseas.

Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

How to Effectively Sell Your Products Overseas.


Considering the booming m-commerce and e-commerce industries, establishing your company’s website for selling your products overseas is wise. Two highly potential markets where there are huge investment opportunities are GCC and Middle East, which has over 360 million people. By 2020, around 40 percent of e-commerce growth is expected in GCC, according to Frost & Sullivan’s Sarwant Singh. Some of the possible setbacks when it comes to trading overseas are currency fluctuations, packaging differences and transportation or logistics issues.

Ways to effectively sell your products overseas.

To overcome the issue of currency fluctuations, discuss with your foreign exchange bureau or bank and set the rate for exchanging the currency when the times comes – it’s akin to a forward contract. Also, set acceptable payment terms, timeline for delivery, packaging and manufacturing processes and quote’s validity clause – doing these things ensures that you don’t mess up your pricing and lose your nett profit.

shutterstock_323328491You may have to pay import duties, export duties and local taxes when you export your products overseas. If you decide to export your products to a non-English speaking country, consider translating the language of the product instructions, labelling and packaging from English into the local language. It’s a great way to promote your products and gain the potential of more local sales.

Another key aspect to consider is product packaging colours. For example, in the Middle East, blue and green are favoured colours while red is considered evil. So choose the colours wisely to win over more customers for your business.

Another key aspect about exporting overseas is logistics. If you decide to use international shipping services like DHL and UPS for your m-commerce or e-commerce business, remember to fill in the appropriate customs declaration form. If the delivery route to your customer’s place is very difficult, you may end up paying a lot for transportation or logistics, which may mean no nett profit or even loss. So think twice before committing to any customer order.
If your company is located in the UK, consider adding the tag or label, “Made in the UK” – many people in various parts of the world think high quality is synonymous with UK. When you set the price for your product’s overseas sale, you need consider aspects like duties, extra packaging expenses and other aforementioned items.
Resources and assistance for your export activities

For resources pertaining to effectively selling your products overseas, refer to Department for International Trade (previously called UK Trade & Investment) if your company is based in the UK. Those in the US can refer to U.S. Department of Commerce. To make life a lot easier, you can get help from a company like us here at Gdt which have over 30 years of expertise in importing and exporting activities especially in the Middle East and GCC. Gdt handles the core marketing and sales functions that a company’s export department normally does.

For more information about exporting or doing business in the Middle East or how we can help please call us +97143206673 or email:

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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.


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.


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: or visit the website we are happy to help.

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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:

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How to Start Selling Products in the Middle East

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

Selling Products Middle EastDo you want to sell your goods or services in the Middle East? If you are looking for a quick and cost effective way to introduce your goods to a new market you may benefit from working with an Export Management Company.

This article explains how an Export Management Company works and why you may choose this method of exporting over other alternatives.

Doing Business in the Middle East

For businesses which are new to the Middle Eastern market there are three main ways to sell into the country: direct trade; through commercial agencies or by establishing a presence in the country. Which route you choose will depend on your business and the nature of your product or service.

If you lack exporting knowledge, then you may find it difficult to trade directly or establish a presence. For manufacturers or businesses in this position you may benefit from using an Export Management Company (EMC).

What is an Export Management Company?

An EMC is an independent company which acts as your export sales department. It is a common method that many manufacturers and businesses use to sell their products overseas.

Advantages of Using an Export Management Company

There are a number of reasons why you might decide to use an Export Management Company over direct exporting. Some of these are explained below:

1. Export Sales Tend to Come Quicker

Those looking to accelerate their business growth abroad quickly can benefit from using an EMC. An EMC will typically have a network of agent and distributors already in place and established contacts through which to sell your product. This will allow you to sell faster than setting up your own export channels which will normally require more time to realise sales.

2. An EMC Has the Time & Specialised Knowledge Needed

Even if you have the adequate financial resources your business may lack the time necessary to build an export business, or the time needed to gain the specialised knowledge about the foreign market you wish to sell in.

Your chosen export management company will typically have a greater understanding of the foreign market. They will be able to handle all the details of orders, including quotations and shipping.
Active contact with foreign firms is one of the key components of a competent Export Management Company and the expertise these companies have with the relative business conditions and sales opportunities is beneficial to supporting the selection of agents and distributors, and to manage the distribution network.

3. Their Profits Are Based on their Success

An EMC’s profits are based on how successfully they export. Thus, they will be motivated to sell more to increase their own profit.

4. A Way to Test the Water

By exporting through an EMC you will be able to see if there is a market for your product without taking the risk associated with setting up your own distribution channels.

How Does an Export Management Company Export?

Export Management Companies come in all different sizes and some will have specific industries they focus within.

Some EMCs will have established foreign sales and warehousing subsidiaries, however it is more common that the EMC will appoint an export agent or representative as a route to business.

A commissioning agent is different to a distributor. A commissioning agent will negotiate the sales on your behalf for a commission. They are preferred for products of high value, or which are bespoke or complex. A distributor will buy your products from you and sell them at a profit. This can be a preferred method for lower value “easier to sell” products. If you are entering a market where there are cultural differences, such as the Middle East, you will prefer to use a commissioning agent.

Why Sell Your Products in the Middle East?

The Middle East is one of the fastest growing markets in the world, which has been providing a great opportunity for all types of businesses and manufacturers. However, with this growth also comes challenges. Having created an unrestricted trade environment competition in the Middle East has led to a crowded marketplace which may make it harder to introduce new products or services. If you are looking to export to the Middle East, you will need to have a clear understanding of the advantages of your product and how you are going to effectively target the market.

Why Choose GDT?

GDT are an Export Management Company with over 30 years’ experience living and working in the Middle East. Our business operates throughout the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries as well as the greater Middle East. We currently have an existing network with over 300 distribution partners.

GDT have particular experience in brand building through various trade channels including automotive, consumer chemicals, hardware, building materials, industrial chemicals, consumables and FMCG consumer products. We are able to offer a unique, cost effective and result orientated service that helps businesses and manufacturers market and grow their business based on a variable, rather than fixed cost.

For more information about exporting to the Middle East or how we can help please call us +97143206673 or email:

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