Algeria Culture of Business

By | July 24, 2022

Subchapters:

  • Introduction
  • Addressing
  • Business Meeting
  • Communication
  • Recommendations
  • Public holidays

Introduction

The Czech trader at ADLR is usually surprised by the length of negotiations and the reluctance to immediately discuss specific terms of the trade. It is always preceded by a conversation about non-work matters. Algerians are very proud of their country and its potential. So it is good to avoid any criticism and instead admire the beauty and potential of the country. Historical institutional memory usually means that, even if the meeting seems inefficient at first, Algerian institutions sometimes contact the embassy or the supplier directly after many years with a request for cooperation. The private sector in ADLR is still developing, business ideas are often very naive. ADLR is one of the risky countries in terms of illegal migration, and it is no secret that many so-called traders actually have completely different intentions. This fact must be remembered and not be forced into hasty decisions.

Addressing

You will continuously encounter Arabic, Berber and French names, because the linguistic situation in Algeria has always been complicated. Therefore, when making first contact, you can only use the general address of Mr., Mrs., Miss. The transliteration of Arabic names into Latin in the Maghreb is usually based on the French transcription. So slight discrepancies in transcription on different documents do not necessarily mean that it is a different person. Many Algerians grew up in bilingual families, or studied or worked in France or elsewhere in the world. At first glance, the level of behavior and behavior of Algerian partners can sometimes be surprisingly similar to the style we know from Europe. A certain cultural tendency towards pragmatism and a different value system must not be neglected, however much the partner’s behavior does not indicate it from the beginning. Algerians also tolerate positions, and especially when in contact with representatives of the state administration and state-owned enterprises, it is appropriate to use the address “Mr. Director”, even though the actual position does not quite correspond to it. On the other hand, it can also be recommended to list similarly overvalued functions on Czech business cards, e.g. for an ordinary sales representative, it is more likely to list manager, director, etc. These designations inspire more respect in the locals and more flexible communication can then be expected. French is used almost exclusively as a negotiating language, in some cases Arabic, specifically the Algerian Derja dialect. A small part of Algerian businessmen speak English, while the older generation is fluent in Russian. In the area of ​​the city of Oran, you can meet Spanish-speaking merchants. The services of an interpreter can be hired for the needs of the meeting, and his presence does not have to have a negative effect on the course of the meeting, however, Algerians prefer personal contact and friendly relations. At the time of the COVID-19 health crisis, virtual communication platforms such as Zoom, Skype, MS Teams began to be used more in Algeria as well, and the first contact can thus be proposed in a virtual form, including for contact with representatives of state enterprises. State enterprises outside of direct contact often require sending a letter of so-called lettre d’intérêt in French expressing interest in cooperation together with promotional materials. In order to arrange a meeting, it is usually unavoidable to go through the embassy. However, in general, it has always been and is the case that a personal presence in the region is the most effective way to close a deal. However, all negotiations require, as representatives of the French-Algerian Chamber of Commerce like to say, the 3 P’s (patience, persévérance et présence), i.e. (patience,

Business meeting

How to arrange a business meeting and how does it proceed?

  • The Muslim working week runs from Sunday to Thursday. Fridays are public holidays and it is not advisable to make appointments on this day. For the time of the meeting, it is advisable to choose the morning after 10 o’clock and expect a protracted course.
  • For effective communication with the Algerian authorities, it is good to limit yourself to the time frame between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
  • Although lateness is widespread, it is usually caused by a serious traffic situation in big cities. A certain degree of flexibility is therefore always expected, on both sides.
  • It is a good idea to arrange meetings directly with the partner in the office, in production, etc., and thus get even a superficial idea of ​​his business. Public places (restaurants, cafes, hotels) can also be used for meetings. For the meeting of a larger delegation, the Algerian partner can best get in touch with business associations and ask for their space.
  • Algerians are generally hospitable, they are happy to invite their partner to lunch, dinner, etc. in their country.
  • Business cards are not a matter of course like a web presentation.
  • When communicating online, you have to take into account frequent outages of the Internet network, which are also programmed by the government, e.g. during demonstrations or during state exams.
  • The security situation in the country is difficult, and it is almost inevitable to use the services of a police/military escort for trips, especially to the south.
  • Avoid any hints about unofficial forms of cooperation, especially when contacting officials during tender procedures.

Timing of negotiations

  • An unsuitable period for business negotiations is the fasting month of Ramadan, when the rhythm of the entire society is subject to daily fasting and the population’s activity shifts to the night hours. During Ramadan, working hours are usually reduced by one hour. As a rule, Algerian partners are late in responding and many are on vacation.
  • A number of religious holidays are observed in Algeria, which are also movable. It is advisable to get a calendar of holidays for the given year in time and avoid the mentioned periods when planning meetings.
  • The working week is from Sunday to Thursday. Fridays are holidays (public places, institutions, shops are closed). We recommend arranging the meeting in the morning, starting at 10 a.m. and expect a lengthy meeting through lunchtime.
  • When you meet, you shake hands, which also applies to women. Some Algerians can be very familiar, especially if they don’t live in bigger cities. In such a case, they will require a jovial demeanor (friendly pats on the shoulders, the “French salute”, i.e. kisses on the left and right cheeks).
  • For women: Appropriate clothing should be chosen, it is recommended to cover the shoulders and wear a skirt below the knees. Furthermore, it is advisable not to make too much eye contact with men and to generally take into account cultural differences in the male-female relationship.

What are Algerian traders like?

  • According to aparentingblog, the private sector in Algeria is basically still developing. Algerian businessmen’s ideas about business are therefore often very naive. The Algerian businessman often overestimates his experience and capabilities. Algeria is one of the risky countries in terms of illegal migration, and it is no secret that many so-called traders actually have completely different intentions. This fact must be remembered and never be forced into hasty decisions. Healthy skepticism is always appropriate when dealing with an Algerian partner. Algerian businessmen usually do business in several areas, or at least try to do so. This fact does not always indicate that it is an unreliable partner.
  • It is definitely always good to at least make use of other contacts that the Algerian businessman often offers. The person sitting in front of you may not be “your person”, but at least he/she has an extensive network of contacts. At the end of the meeting, the next course of action is usually agreed upon, and the Algerian businessman utters the Arabic phrase inshallah (God willing) when parting. Algerians themselves often joke about this topic, and it is definitely superstitious to speculate whether the given thing will happen or not. For example, one can jovially remark “No, no, no, we’ll see it through.”

Is negotiating with local traders different, made difficult by cultural/religious/ethnic differences?

  • When dealing with Algerian partners, it is advisable to ask about the region from which it comes. Kabyles in particular are usually very proud of their origin and may not see themselves as Algerians.
  • Algerians generally claim their Berber roots, so they rarely refer to themselves as Arabs.
  • Although Islam is the state religion of Algeria, its practice is slippery among individuals. It is therefore a good idea to approach your partner with caution and ask indirect questions to find out to what extent he practices Islam, whether he consumes alcohol, etc. An orthodox Algerian Muslim (man) may react negatively to dealings with a woman. In general, however, socialist history has strengthened the awareness of a certain equality of the sexes, however deep cultural beliefs persist and come to the surface in moments of crisis.
  • The Algerian business environment is only at the beginning of its development, and a degree of naivety and exaggerated expectations can be considered a certain cultural trait.

What should an ideal negotiation team look like (number of members, age and gender composition of the team, team leader)?

  • The number of members of the negotiating team depends primarily on the size of the Czech company. The participation of a higher representative of the company is desirable, especially in meetings at ministries. Age and gender composition of the team do not play a major role, however, more trust is in favor of older men.

It is customary to invite a business partner to your home, or be invited home? If so, what is usual for such a visit, what to expect?

  • In regional comparison, Algerians are not very open and will probably propose an invitation home only after a long-term relationship or on the occasion of celebrating a successfully completed business. In this case, it is advisable to bring a gift (flower, sweets, cut glass or other Czech souvenir). Also, shoeing probably won’t be required.

Communication

Is it important to bring an interpreter with you?

For a long-term operation in the territory, it is advisable to hire a local force fluent in French, Arabic, or, depending on the needs of the exporter, English, and solve possible communication lapses, which are frequent, with an associate, or use the services of an interpreter.

How about language facilities?

The older generation, especially among officials, is fluent in Russian, while the younger generation of today’s thirty-somethings, on the other hand, rejects the French language as a symbol of the remnants of French colonialism and reorients itself to English.

Are there any communication taboos?

It is advisable to avoid topics such as politics, religion, alcohol and other drugs. The Algerian partner may want to share his opinion on political developments in the country. In such a case, it is good to listen to him with empathy and not oppose too much, comment on politics in a general, impartial way.

How best to communicate?

A personal meeting is essential in negotiations with an Algerian partner. Only a minimal percentage of traders in the region succeed without making repeated trips to Algeria. Obtaining a visa requires the submission of a number of documents and often an invitation letter. In the past, there have also been problems with the granting of visas, which usually depend on the political development in the country and the willingness of state-owned enterprises to issue an invitation letter. To speed up communication, we recommend using the phone and WhatsApp rather than e-mail. Algerian authorities, as well as businessmen, quite commonly use fax for communication.

Recommendation

  • Monitor political developments in the country and frequently changing regulations governing foreign trade.
  • Consider business risks well.
  • Contact a consulting company and consider setting up a business in the region.
  • Equip yourself with a good knowledge of the French language.
  • Be patient when communicating with authorities and banking houses. Accept only an irrevocable confirmed letter of credit as a payment instrument.

Public Holidays

Calendar

Civil holidays are fixed according to our (Gregorian) calendar, but Islamic holidays usually move forward by 11 days each year, because the Islamic year is shorter. The most common working hours are from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm and the average sales time is from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm. The weekend days are Friday and Saturday, with the fact that Friday is more of a holiday, similar to our Sunday, i.e. you can expect all offices, shops, restaurants, and in the worst case, even parks, to be closed until at least 3:00 p.m. during the service.

In the period of the month of Ramadan, it is necessary to expect reduced activity in the country in general, working hours are usually reduced by one hour. It is not advisable to plan trips to the Muslim world during this period, on the one hand because of fasting, when the consumption of food and drink anywhere in public space is negatively perceived, until late in the evening, and at the same time, many refreshment facilities are closed.

Civil holidays

  • 1. 1. New Year
  • 12.-14. 1. The Yennayer Berber New Year varies by region
  • 19. 3. Armistice
  • 1. 5. Labor Day
  • 5. 7. Independence Day
  • 1. 11. National Revolution Day

Islamic Holidays (Moveable)

  • 15. 5. Aid el-Fitr (end of fasting in the month of Ramadan)
  • 19. 7. Feast of Sacrifice Aid el-Adha
  • 9. 8. Islamic New Year
  • 18. 8. Ashura holiday
  • 19. 10. Prophet Mohammed’s birthday

Algeria Culture of Business