Bahrain Culture of Business

By | July 24, 2022

Subchapters:

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

Introduction

Cultural customs and rules for business dealings are in no way different from what applies to other GCC countries or Arab countries. Traditional Arab/Muslim customs need to be respected. The English language is a common means of communication in business negotiations.

To a large extent, the recommendations contained in the document Culture of business negotiations prepared by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the territory of Saudi Arabia can be applied.

  • Programingplease: Yearbook 2010 of nation Bahrain, including population, politics, and abbreviations.

Addressing

We recommend asking for a personal meeting and handing over the company’s basic prospectus in Arabic to the partner. Today, there are already a number of professional translation agencies in the Czech Republic that can prepare a basic prospectus in high-quality Arabic at relatively low costs. A more detailed prospectus can then be submitted in English. In the current complex covid era, it is possible to use e-mail, phone or video call for the first contact.

Business meeting

It is advisable for the partner to have sufficient information about the Czech company and the discussed business plan in time before the proposed date of the meeting. For subsequent communication, it is advisable to use the phone, and WhatsApp is the most effective. Bahrainis themselves prefer sending voice messages through this app. If you already have contacts in Bahrain, it is possible to ask them for an introduction. It is appropriate to give a gift to your partner. A suitable gift is mainly Czech crystal or anything that the partner can show off, e.g. a valuable pen, cufflinks (not gifts with hints of religious symbolism or scantily clad women, classical music is a gift only for a partner whom you know will appreciate it ).

In Bahrain, personal contact is primary. Personal presence is therefore very important when closing a deal. Regular face-to-face meetings are absolutely necessary to gain the trust of the partner and to successfully close the deal.

In the beginning, it’s a good idea to call your partners by their last name and quickly switch to first names. It is also appropriate to use professional titles (Dr. Prof., Mr. Chairman, etc.). When exchanging business cards, it is advisable to accept the business card with the right hand and study it carefully. It is necessary to avoid the left hand, which is considered unclean. Even though the negotiations will take place in English, it is polite to greet in Arabic, i.e. Salam Alejkum (“peace be upon you”), i.e. to respond to such a greeting from your partner with Alejkum Salam. A less formal farewell is Másalama.

In the case of a business lunch or dinner in a restaurant or at home, a typical welcome snack is dark bitter coffee poured into a small cup, sweet tea and sometimes also dates or halwa. It is most polite to have the coffee poured, but not more than three times. The cup is held in the right hand. Similarly, food is only eaten with the right hand if the food is served in the traditional Arabic manner without cutlery (it is usually eaten on the ground).

Meetings It is advisable to head for the morning or evening hours. It is not advisable to extend the negotiation beyond the usual working hours, i.e. 2:30 p.m. On the other hand, the Bahraini partner is willing to negotiate during dinner in the late hours. Bahrainis usually do not interrupt the meeting for prayers, but if the partner requests an interruption, it is appropriate to respect it.

It is better not to direct business negotiations to the month of Ramadan, including the subsequent holidays of Eid al Fitr and Eid al Adha. In the summer season, business life is reduced to a minimum. Conversely, a partner’s vacation trip to Europe can also be used for a short work meeting. It should be taken into account that in Arab countries the distance between communicating persons is shorter than in Europe. A long handshake by the host when welcoming is an expression of hospitality. It may also happen that the Bahraini partner accompanies you with the company and holds your hand. A pronounced expression of friendship is a hug with a short touch on both cheeks. If women are participating in the meeting, it is advisable to wait to see if the woman offers her hand when introducing herself. Otherwise, it is possible to greet a woman by placing the right hand on the heart.

Bahraini merchants have a well-developed sense of the quality of the offer and the reasonableness of the price. When a partner gets excited about an offer or project, pressure to deliver quickly and start work can be expected. Many Bahrainis like to get things done as soon as they are mentioned. It is not unusual for a partner to call his contacts during negotiations for additional information or to issue instructions. However, after the end of the meeting, this spontaneity disappears and it is advisable to regularly remind yourself of the subsequent steps.

When dealing with a partner, it is customary to first start the conversation with general topics, e.g. about the weather, about sports, about important events in the country or the world. Religion is not an appropriate topic. The “Small Talk” phase is generally longer than in Europe. It is good to approach the meeting positively, to refrain from direct criticism and not to get carried away by emotions, there is an immediate “loss of face” and the damage caused is very difficult to repair. The prevalence of English is considerable. If it will be necessary to use an interpreter, the partners will usually indicate this. Negotiations often return to already closed topics in order to negotiate better terms. A business meeting is first and foremost a social act, and secondarily a business matter. It is therefore not a good idea to pressure the speed of negotiations, the Czech counterpart should adapt to the local pace of negotiations.

Bahrain is a Muslim country, but alcohol is also available in some hotels and restaurants. It is not appropriate to bring up the topic of alcohol, it is better to wait until your partner orders an alcoholic drink. We prefer not to offer alcohol during business meetings. It is good to avoid any criticism of the conditions and way of life in Bahrain.

Dress etiquette for business meetings is basically no different from the European one, i.e. a suit with a tie, for important meetings or evening occasions a dark suit; for women, standard clothing of a rather conservative cut, without a deep neckline and not exposing the shoulders.

The number of team members depends primarily on the size of the Czech company. Ideally, it should consist of a sales director and at least one technical person who is able to provide detailed information on the technical details of the product. The age and gender composition of the team does not play a major role, but it is still an advantage for more conservative partners (or if we are not sure of their opinions) if they are dealt with by men.

In Bahrain, it is possible to be invited to a partner’s house or farm outside the city. This is part of the broad concept of hospitality inherent in Bahraini culture. In the same way, it is quite common to be invited to restaurants or private clubs already in the early stages of a business relationship. It is appropriate to give a gift to your partner. A businessman should not be surprised if he gets to know the entire extended family and wider management of the company on such an occasion. On the farm, it can happen that even the neighbors come to see the “exotic” visit. It is appropriate to repay this hospitality when visiting the Bahraini partner in the Czech Republic, it will be appreciated.

Communication

It is a good idea to have an interpreter at the meeting, especially if it is a first meeting and you are not sure of your business partner’s English level. However, knowledge of English is widespread among Bahrainis. Most of them graduated from schools in the United Kingdom or the USA.

Communication taboos are mostly other religions, atheism, the intimate sphere, alcohol, political opinions or criticism of the political conditions in the country, criticism of the king or members of the royal family, etc. One should not get angry or raise one’s voice at meetings, as this loses face in the Arab world. eyes of the Arab partners. Visit Animalerts for more information about Bahrain culture and traditions.

As in other GCC countries, the use of communication applications on mobile phones is quite common. Sending voice messages (more often than written ones) via WhatsApp etc. is very widespread.

Recommendation

Basic principles when dealing with Bahraini partners, respecting which will help to promote the business plan:

  • Establish a personal relationship with your partner (find out his hobbies, invite him to the Czech Republic, pay attention to him properly here).
  • Always smile, be polite and pleasant.
  • Don’t complain about the little things.
  • Criticize indirectly and avoid confrontation.
  • Never show anger – there is a risk of losing your partner’s respect.
  • Don’t obviously try to gain an advantage over your partner – you need to be cooperative and work together. One battle won can sometimes lose the war.
  • Take your time. Gradually moving from general things to specific things will help the partner to better understand the proposals. Time must be spent negotiating and getting to know business partners.
  • Expect delays or sudden changes to the program – factor them into the program.
  • Prepare the project well and be specific in your argumentation. Bahrainis tend to have a good overview of competing projects (manufacturers) and are very pragmatic in valuing benefits.
  • Always calculate with discounts, commissions and delays in payment. Pricing is influenced by local cultural rules, where it is customary to give way with the amount of the total price gradually and always leave room for possible additional concessions. Haggling in a fun way is a cultural social duty and a sport in the Arab world, if you don’t haggle with a merchant in this world – you insult your partner.
  • Conscientious follow-up communication is a must.
  • At a later stage, it is good to consider opening a local representative office, preferably in the form of a Joint Venture. Companies capable of providing on-site after-sales service have a greater chance of participating in projects. A local presence is also a sign of solidity and reachability in the eyes of Bahrainis.

Public Holidays

Overview of holidays in 2022

  • January 1, 2022 – New Year
  • May 1, 2022 – Labor Day
  • 1.-4. May 2022 – Eid Al Fitr
  • 9-12 July 2022 Eid Al Adha
  • 31 August 2022 Al Hijra New Year
  • 8-9 August 2022 Ashoora
  • October 9, 2022 Prophet’s birthday
  • December 16-19, 2022 Public holiday

Overview of holidays in 2023

  • January 1, 2023 – New Year
  • 20-23. April – Eid Al Fitr
  • May 1, 2023 – Labor Day
  • June 28 -2. July 2023 Eid Al Adha
  • 19 July 2023 Al Hijra New Year
  • July 28, 2023 Ashoora
  • September 27, 2023 Prophet’s birthday
  • December 16-17, 2023 Public holiday

Some holidays are not tied to a specific day. Muslim holidays in particular may depend on the visibility of the moon and will vary in other years.

Bahrain Culture of Business