7 UNSPOKEN RULES IN MENA’S BUSINESS ETIQUETTE
By Leena ELDEEB / Startup Scene
Wondering why your business relationships are not going very well? You might find why in this list.
Doing business in the Middle East and North Africa is quite different than how meetings are done in Silicon Valley . for instance, where if you're on time for a meeting you're simply not punctual enough. We had a talk with Mena's region entrepreneurs. They talked about the business sector and the rules to follow.
1. Pointing your shoe down
No one wants to look rude in a meeting, especially with their superiors or potential investors. The CEO and founder of MENA's largest investments data platform, Magnitt, Philip Bahoshy, tells Startup Scene that one of the plenty things that he finds impolite and is considered disrespectful to others is pointing your shoe sole to his face. "When crossing your legs, never show the sole of your shoe to your client or in fact anyone in the room," Bahoshy says. "Always have your leg and shoes pointing downwards." Some would argue that Bahoshy is actually very flexible with this rule; many of the businesspeople across the Middle East regard crossing legs altogether as impolite.
2. Giving priority to the people on the right
Based on the global norm-turned-law, driving, cycling, or walking on the right hand-side comes by default. Even in the business world, people tend to walk up and down corridors of their offices following the same rule. Bahoshy says that people should always give way to people on their right hand-side. "As a sign of respect, when opening doors and walking through walkways, always give priority to people on your right and accept to walk forward if you are on the right," he elaborates.
3. Shaking hands
Religion is a key pillar in everything a regular Middle Eastern does, even gestures. Some schools of Islamic thought prohibit Muslims from shaking hands with the opposite sex, except for of course first-blood relatives.