Why the Middle East is the best place to do business
You'd have to be a hermit if you didn't know what's going on in the Middle East right now.
Yes, I hear you say . . . it's a dangerous place, and certainly not somewhere a businesswomen would go to.
WRONG! The Middle East, well parts of it anyway, are a terrific place for people, women included, to grow their business. How do I know? I've been working in the Middle East now for over 15 years. For me, it's just natural...I've developed some great friendships, business links and connections.
Part of me is bemused by why my friends, even today, think that what I 'do' is exotic and somehow dangerous. That said, I understand deeply why they and my mother were always scared when I said I was heading over to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE. For them, these nations were 'the Middle East'. For me they were cities and people and business opportunities.
As a businesswoman, business writer and business publisher I created the opportunity to develop a business in the Gulf States of the Middle East. I use these two descriptors quite deliberately.
The term 'the Middle East' is one that comes from the colonial/pre WWI period when everywhere was somewhere else from England. You had the Far East, Middle East (there was never a 'Close East'), South East Asia, East Asia....you get the drift. The main point is that these descriptors were assigned by the English and have no real meaning for anyone..they never did and don't now.
The Middle East doesn't exist...never did really. It's a bit like the Commonwealth...which did and does exist. But even the Commonwealth is a multi-faceted construct.
Anyway. I work and conduct business in a range of Arab counties. There, that makes it really clear. The counties I have worked in, the business people I have worked with include men and women from:
UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain.
I have been working with many wonderful women and men from all these countries for many years.
It took me several years to establish these relationships and I am now part of these business partners families and community. The warmth, friendship, care and support we provide each other is unusual in Western terms, and that's why I am passionate and committed to my Arab friends.
The first and most enduring lesson I learned (although I have to say this is really how I live my live), is:
If you want to create and build a business in the 'Middle East', build a friendship first.
This may sound odd to those of us/you who operate with a Western, transactional style of business, but if you think about it, this makes sense. We all want to transact business with people we know and trust . . . and it takes time to get to know someone and even more time to trust them.
This may sound counter-intuitive for the online world, but deep, important business relationships are always and only about trust.
My business partners and friends across the Gulf countries that I work with ONLY do business with people (actual people) they know. They are always open to meet and create new relationships but it's a two-way thing . . . just like any relationship.
In Western parlance. If you want a one-night-stand the diverse Middle East is not for you.
If you are genuinely interested in exploring an amazing part of the world where there is great opportunity and personal growth and wonderful friendships the Gulf nations are somewhere you should look. Sure, it's different, and yes, there are things you can and cannot 'do' and there's a different cadence to daily life. But it's these differences that make create opportunities.