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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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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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