Making appointments and the concept of time—the Middle East

Making appointments & the concept of time—the Middle East

When doing business in the Middle East, one of the first things you may notice is the different time horizon and the importance of the past and the present. According to Geert Hofstede, Middle Eastern countries scored generally low on the Long-term Orientation scale. This means that time is perceived to be Circular. Events are believed to repeat, the same way the earth rotates around the sun, and thus special attention is not given to individual situations. If something cannot be done today, it can be done tomorrow.

To effectively schedule an appointment, be sure to confirm several times. As a foreigner, you are expected to arrive on time, but do not be surprised if your business partner is late. Each meeting is treated as an opportunity for relationship building and will generally take more time than expected. You should plan for longer lunches and short, 15–20 minute interruptions. Islam is the predominant religion across most of the Middle East, and thus times are scheduled for daily prayer. You may consult the local newspaper for the prayer times and plan accordingly.

Do not rush negotiations; take time for conversation. In order to reach an agreement, a relationship needs to be established. You should not hesitate to arrange several meetings instead of one. This can help you understand the culture better and build a strong connection with your business partner.

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