The cultural aspects of doing business in the Middle East

The cultural aspects of doing business in the Middle East

Farhad Heydari lays out the complexities and the basics of doing business in the Middle East, whether in its more worldly or more insular regions.

In the early stages of David Lean’s Academy Award-winning 1962 epic “Lawrence of Arabia,” Peter O’Toole as the larger-than-life T.E. Lawrence is lectured by General Allenby’s cunning political consultant, Dryden, on what life is really like in the desert. “Lawrence, only two kinds of creatures get fun out of the desert— Bedouins and gods, and you’re neither. Take it from me,” he goes on to sermonize, “for ordinary men it’s a burning, fiery furnace.” But O’Toole, playing no ordinary man, is unperturbed by the harsh assessment and matter-of-factly retorts: “No, Dryden, it’s going to be fun.”

Perhaps he was on to something. In little more than 50 years, most of the tiny Gulf states that ribbon the northern coast of the Arabian Peninsula have morphed from a backwater of loosely organized trucial sheikhdoms, once nothing more than dhow-speckled pearling and fishing villages, to slick, tax-free hives for the mega-rich, anchored by the world’s largest oil producer next door— itself undergoing something of a measured transformation.

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Katia Reed

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