- Business Meeting
- Public Holidays
Czech goods and services have a chance of success on the Qatari market if they are competitively priced, original and innovative, e.g. advanced technologies and systems. Sales must be accompanied by top-notch marketing, given the high competition in the market, which is highly saturated. A specific feature of the local business environment is the fact that foreign business entities cannot enter the market directly, but through a local intermediary or business partner. This should be a Qatari national who should own at least 51% of the joint venture. In the case of a mere sale/distribution of goods, an intermediary is not required by law. In practice, however, most companies, even in this case, use local agents or distributors with relevant licenses, marketing and knowledge of the local market and environment, or send their sales representative to the country.
Contacting companies or authorities in Qatar “remotely”, e.g. by e-mail or by phone, without prior personal acquaintance, does not work. For initial contact, it is ideal to go to the territory in person – for example, as part of a visit to a fair, exhibition or conference. A personal recommendation works well, e.g. through already established companies, traders or intermediaries. The embassy can also help with establishing the initial contact – the commercial and economic diplomat can pass on the contact, arrange a meeting, etc.
The first meeting between potential partners usually takes place in Qatar, typically at the local partner’s office. Other meetings and negotiations can often be held less formally, e.g. in a restaurant or cafe. It is quite common for a Qatari partner, for example, to invite a foreign guest to lunch after a meeting in the office, which he then pays for. Donations are not required at the first meeting, but are positively perceived. In the case of good prospects and a serious interest in cooperation, the visit of the Czech businessman in Qatar is usually followed by a visit of the Qatari partner in the Czech Republic. It should be taken into account that the initial visit to the territory will usually not be enough to successfully conclude the deal. In most cases, it will be necessary to visit the territory repeatedly, and quite often. Depending on the size,
In Qatar, business is often done “among friends”. Establishing a personal relationship with a sales representative/partner is expected. At the first “get-to-know-you” meeting, in addition to the actual business meeting, a relatively large amount of space can be devoted to private life, including questions about age, family status, children, personal interests and hobbies, religious orientation, etc. Western business representatives are expected to dress more formally (suit/ tie) in the case of meetings at public institutions (ministries, state corporations, etc.), less formal (jacket/shirt/ shirt) in the case of B2B meetings. Business cards are quite widespread, but representatives of local public institutions in particular sometimes do not have them.
Due to the local approach to time, the late arrival of the local partner should not stop the meeting. Being half an hour late is not considered impolite if the latecomer at least formally apologizes for being late. However, punctuality is expected from Western visitors. It is common to arrange meetings and negotiations promptly, even days or even just hours before the meeting. Canceling an arranged meeting even at the last minute is not considered impolite – the partner is expected to accept the apology calmly, show understanding and be able to promptly agree on an alternative date. A visitor to Qatar should not be surprised by repeated interruptions of meetings, e.g. handling phone calls or short conversations of the Qatari partner, e.g. with colleagues who will freely enter the office during the meeting. Such behavior is quite common in the local environment and is not considered impolite. As for the expressions of emotions during negotiations – of course, this largely depends on the individual nature of the person concerned, but in principle it is true that self-control and moderation of excessive expressions of emotions during business meetings or in public is considered a virtue.
Due to the dominant position of men within the predominantly patriarchal Kuwaiti society, we find predominantly men at the head of large companies, in high management positions and in technical professions, who will lead the vast majority of business negotiations in Qatar. It is therefore ideal to send negotiating teams led by men to Qatar – however, the presence of a woman in the team is not a problem. It is quite common to invite a foreign company representative to the house of a local partner, especially during repeated visits to the territory and successful cooperation. If it is a Qatari, it will probably be a defined space in the house, which is intended for men to sit, separated from the rest of the house, where women (wife/s, daughter/s) move. Invitations to lunches and dinners in restaurants, or to extended tea rooms and smoking rooms (hookah) are also popular.
In the Arab environment, friendly and informal communication is mostly preferred. After getting to know each other, he is usually addressed by his first name with the address “Mr.” (e.g. Mr. Fahad, Mr. Peter), or less formally by his first name only. Addressing by surname is unusual for locals. Most local businessmen or senior company managers and representatives speak very solid English, so it is not necessary to take an interpreter with knowledge of Arabic to the meeting. Appropriate topics of conversation that can be used to fill the downtime in the business meeting itself include, for example, the weather, (positive) first impressions of Kuwait, (appropriate) questions about the country, its culture and society, etc. On the contrary, we do not recommend conducting conversations on sensitive topics related to politics or Islam with people we don’t know well. After establishing personal contact, all commonly used forms can be used for communication. Visit Animalerts for more information about Qatar culture and traditions.
Respect local customs and rules related to culture and religion – knowledge and consideration will earn you the respect of the locals. Time passes more slowly in Qatar and the pace of work is more relaxed – family activities take priority and a lot of space is devoted to gathering with friends, often over generous meals, the consumption of which is given considerable space. Learn to work with the locals’ approach to time and prepare for the fact that, on the contrary, a “Western” approach to time may be expected of you, i.e. punctuality.
Qatar has a number of floating holidays, the exact timing of which is determined only a few days in advance by Muslim institutions. The most important floating holiday, lasting about 1 month with reduced working hours and significantly reduced performance due to fasting from sunrise to sunset, is the holy month of Ramadan. Due to limited performance during Ramadan, this period is not recommended for establishing business contacts. The working hours of state institutions are 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. from Sunday to Thursday. The private sector is open from 8:00 to 12:00 and from 16:00 to 20:00. Shops are open from 08:00 to 12:00 or 13:00 and from 16:00 or 17:00 to 21:00 to 10 p.m., some continuously. Days off are Friday and Saturday.
Other holidays are:
- Independence Day – 3.9.
- Public holiday – 18.12.
- Eid Al-Fitr – a moving holiday, lasts three days and follows Ramadan
- Eid Al-Adha – follows approximately 70 days after Eid Al-Fitr
Qatar is a Muslim country that does not celebrate the New Year or other Christian holidays.