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How to do business in the Gulf: Part two 

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4 Know which Gulf you’re in Always the Arabian, never the Persian Gulf, unless you’re doing business with Iranians. The Arab insistence on their name for the sea between Iran and Allah’s Peninsula is more than just pedantry – there are several areas of territorial dispute between Iran and the Gulf states over oil-rich parts of the region. In the United Arab Emirates, despite the large Iranian trading presence there, this issue is especially sensitive.

5 Seal it with a kiss

Greeting men can be just as contentious as greeting women. An Arab woman would never exchange French-style air-kisses on meeting with a colleague but an Arab man might. Be prepared. If a man becomes friendly with a male Arab work colleague outside office hours, subsequent meetings, even in the work place, might be marked by nose kissing. Disconcerting at first but normal.

6 Slicken up your skills

Formal business meetings are an occasion for skilful presentation and demonstrative behaviour. “It’s not so much what you say as how you say it,” says one UAE-based communications guru. “A slick PowerPoint presentation will win marks at a board meeting or pitch, even if it’s short on content.”

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Monday, 30 March 2009
Entrepreneur in the wings at the G20
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