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Opportunities For Doing Business in the Middle East.

Monday, November 21st, 2016

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Considering all the political unrest and economic instability in the Middle East and North Africa region, you may think twice about wanting to invest in any of the MENA countries at this time. But it is worth considering the great potential these markets can offer: a rapidly growing population which is predicted to reach around 398 million in 2050, a youthful market with over half of the population less than 25 years old and a solid base for oil and gas resources.

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Unlike the Middle East of decades ago, the trend these days is towards liberalisation, with more and more Middle Easterners using mobile gadgets and accessing social networking sites like YouTube and Facebook. Instead of merely focusing on oil and gas as their key source of income, MENA countries, including the oil-rich GCC nations, are working towards diversifying their interests to counter the issue of fluctuating oil and gas prices. Health, renewable energy and tourism are some of the ventures that are being emphasised.

Rather than taking a pessimistic view of doing business in the Middle East, consider tapping into the considerable opportunities that the MENA region offers. However, be mindful that the MENA region can also pose various risks. Corruption, an unpredictable tax climate and currency exchange risks are just some of them. The key is not to simply venture into any market but to spend some time and energy studying the individual markets beforehand. Do a thorough risk analysis with the help of a local export management company, such as GDT, or a professional risk management company with local links.  In this way, you will be armed with the necessary information about political unrest, economic instability and other key matters that could potentially impact your business.

Consider also, that while the Western world focuses on dignity culture, the Middle Eastern culture is based on honour culture, which in turn is founded on personal reputation.   You will need to invest considerable time and energy to build a good relationship with your Middle East business partner to gain trust.  This also requires time and understanding of the local culture and traditions, which is where GDT can help.

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GDT are regional Sales and Marketing specialists, established in Dubai in 1982, and operating throughout the Gulf Cooperation Council countries as well as the greater Middle East. Today, we are successfully managing businesses for our clients in the UAE, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, Jordan, Lebanon, Pakistan, and elsewhere.

As a leading provider of outsourced sales and marketing services in the Middle East, we specialize in planning, building and managing sales channels which will deliver profitable revenue streams for our clients now and for the future.  We provide brand owners with a unique and cost effective solution, which enables them to enter markets in the Middle East without the costs, risks and delays associated with opening foreign offices directly themselves.

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How To Use Social Media For Your Business In The Middle East.

Wednesday, October 19th, 2016

To tap into the expanding Middle East market, understanding the usage of social media in the Middle East is vital. If your business is well-established, you can build brand loyalty, address customer issues directly and earn more customers by building brand repute. For those who are starting out their business, social media acts as a great platform for building your business. Visuals like videos and images are more effective to overcome the barrier of language in the Middle East – though English is widely spoken, it is the Arabic language that takes precedence over English.

Social media usage

A high percentage of social media users in the Middle East are tech-savvy, young and proficient in English. Understandably, English is slightly more widely used compared to Arabic language. Also, over 60 percent of the users are males. Topmost topics are movies, music, community issues and sports. So if you’ve got any products related to these topics, don’t miss the opportunity to promote them. It is a great tool to use especially on a budget, just know who to target and create a plan to do so, and you will have no problems.

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According to University of Oregon’s journalism professor, Damien Radcliffe, there are 80 million Facebook or FB users. Though Egypt has the most number of FB users at 27 million but it is UAE that has the most active users, according to his 2015 report on social media usage in the Middle East. Also, FB video viewing in the region is much higher compared to others around the world except for the United States. Google data indicates that the viewing time of YouTube videos by Middle Easterners seem to be growing annually. Twitter’s Periscope, which was just introduced in early 2015 for live video streaming, is already a hit in Turkey – it has the most number of users after the US.

When it comes to messaging services, Twitter users are very active in nations like Libya and Jordan though Saudi Arabia and UAE have a higher percentage of users. Also, around 45 percent of Middle East Twitter users fall into the 18 -24 age group. WhatsApp is the primary social media network in Qatar, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, according to Qatar’s Northwestern University. It is popular as a platform for e-commerce business, discussion of everyday topics like cooking and more.

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Instagram, which is a photo-sharing platform that is owned by Facebook, has an estimate of 25 million users with Saudi Arabia leading the way at 10.7 million users according to Radcliffe’s report. TNS’ 2015 study indicates that WhatsApp is the preferred channel for 41 percent of social media users in twenty Middle East countries. Looking into the usage of social media in the Middle East helps you to decide on the best channels for promoting your business effectively based on demographics, product features and other aspects.

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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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

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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: info@gdtme.com

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How to Effectively Sell Your Products Overseas.

Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

How to Effectively Sell Your Products Overseas.

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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.
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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: info@gdtme.com

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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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