Opportunities For Doing Business in the Middle East.
Monday, November 21st, 2016
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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: email@example.com
Country Specific Tips for Doing Business in the Middle East.
Monday, October 10th, 2016
Some 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.
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.
If 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Why the Middle East is a Lucrative Market for UK Entrepreneurs?
Tuesday, September 13th, 2016
The 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.
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.”
Internet 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.
The 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: email@example.com