Sudan Culture of Business

By | July 24, 2022

Subchapters:

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

Introduction

The fundamental difference between Sudan and European states is the factor of Islam as the predominant religion and the basis of the country’s legal system (Sharia). Muslims are very sensitive to some manifestations of European behavior that offend their religious feelings. In this context, it is necessary to draw attention to appropriate dress, especially for girls, which should be free from short pants, women’s dresses without straps, and deep necklines. Sudan is slowly opening up to the international community, but for decades it was a very conservative state. it is therefore necessary to exercise caution in public in any respect.

It is absolutely inappropriate to drink alcoholic beverages in public (Sudanese citizens are prohibited from drinking alcohol by law, foreigners can consume alcohol, but only in private).

Addressing

How to reach business partners?

Due to the difficulty of understanding which of several names is and is not appropriate to use when addressing a business partner, it is advisable to clarify the address with your partner right from the beginning. The emphasis here is on writing and using titles before names.

Business meeting

How to arrange a business meeting and how it takes place (location and time of the meeting /office, restaurant; lunch, dinner/, business cards, gifts, etc.)?

How to arrange a business meeting and how it takes place (location and time of the meeting /office, restaurant; lunch, dinner/, business cards, gifts, etc.)?

Time passes differently in Sudan than a Central European is used to. Anyone who wants to do business in Sudan must adapt to the local pace and customs. Being late for business meetings and negotiations is a fairly widespread issue. Working hours here usually end around four o’clock in the afternoon, and the employees are usually not very willing to work overtime. Great emphasis is placed on the mutual exchange of business cards. A participant in a business meeting can expect an invitation to lunch or dinner from his business partner. The Sudanese are a hospitable nation, a social lunch can last two hours or more. It is a suitable and recurring custom to give a suitable gift to a business partner commensurate with his status.

Timing of negotiations

The fasting month of Ramadan is not a very suitable period for business negotiations, when the rhythm of the entire society is subject to daily fasting and the population’s activity shifts to night hours. In addition, working hours are shortened during Ramadan. A number of religious holidays are observed in Sudan, public holidays are often announced at short notice and apply to civil servants. It is advisable to prepare a probable calendar of holidays, which are more abundant here than in the Czech Republic. The working week here is from Sunday to Thursday. We recommend arranging meetings from 10 am. An important aspect of etiquette is the handshake. In the case of a man shaking hands with a Muslim woman, the handshake may be rejected. When meeting, men usually shake hands and place the other hand on their partner’s shoulder. Visit Allunitconverters for more information about Sudan culture and traditions.

What surprises a Czech businessman the most during negotiations? Lengthy negotiations tend to be somewhat exhausting for Central European traders. I can take a quarter of an hour just for the initial courtesies. It is not customary to start business negotiations right at the beginning of the meeting, it is always preceded by a conversation about non-work matters. For the Arab world, questions of a more personal nature, i.e. about health, family, children, or other family members, are typical for the beginning of a conversation. A suitable topic is the first impressions of the trip and, of course, the Sudanese culture. On the contrary, it is not recommended to spin the conversation on religious or political topics.

What are Sudanese traders like? A Sudanese businessman is usually very experienced and knowledgeable in his field. Before negotiating with a Sudanese business partner, it is necessary to take into account that not all the agreements of the previous day are also valid during the next negotiation. During negotiations, especially in the state sphere, it is quite common that some questions are reopened, especially with the arrival of a higher-ranking employee. Sudanese are talkative and very fond of debating. Don’t be surprised if your partners are noisy and use masterful gestures.

Is negotiating with local traders different, made difficult by cultural/religious/ethnic differences? A break for prayer is observed, especially in state-owned enterprises, but also in the private sector. For the same reason, the ongoing business negotiation can be interrupted at any time. However, this fact requires tolerance on the part of the business partner.

It is suitable or customary to offer alcohol during business meetings?

Alcohol is prohibited by law in Sudan. You will not find alcohol in any shops, not even in the Duty-free shop at Khartoum Airport. Alcohol is not available even in international hotels.

How to dress for a work meeting? Both men and women wear formal attire for formal occasions and meetings. This principle is also observed during business negotiations, especially if they are conducted at a higher level. During meetings in the hottest summer months, it is possible to put the jacket away. Women should be dressed appropriately. This is a Muslim country and it is necessary to adapt the behavior to this, but also the dress should correspond to local customs, i.e. skirts below the knees or trousers, blouses without a significant neckline and with sleeves.

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 senior representative, such as a sales director, is more than requested. The age and gender composition of the team does not play a major role, however, more trust is in favor of men here.

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?

If you are invited to the family, it is better to decline the invitation out of politeness. Only after persuasion can you agree. Dinner often stretches into the late evening or early morning hours. It will be welcome if you bring a gift to the host, for example a box of chocolates, but also cut Czech glass. After all, gifts are also suitable for a business partner. If he is reluctant to accept it, you must urge him. The gift is given with the right hand or with both hands.

Communication

Is it important to bring an interpreter with you?

In general, there is no need for the provision of interpreter services.

How about language facilities?

English is used as the language of action in most cases. However, if both sides were able to negotiate in Arabic, the negotiations would certainly be more friendly and perhaps even faster. However, in general, there is no need for the provision of interpreter services.

Are there any communication taboos?

It is advisable to avoid ambiguous jokes on religious topics, but also topics with sexual overtones. It is also a good idea to avoid talking about politics.

What is the best way to communicate (in person, email, phone, etc.)?

Personal dealings are certainly very important in Sudan, it is not possible to rely on the Internet and do business from a desk. In addition, a personal meeting is absolutely necessary to gain the trust of the partner and to successfully close the deal. To speed up communication, we recommend communicating via phone and WhatsApp rather than email.

Recommendation

What would you recommend to entrepreneurs who are going to Sudan?

  • Take your time, be patient and build personal relationships.
  • It is necessary to establish your own branch or to find a truly vetted Sudanese representative who must be registered in the register of importers.
  • Offer him exclusivity, initially only for a limited time.

Public Holidays

A list of public holidays and a possible brief comment on the most important ones.

+ if the Link to download the Business Deal Culture card

Public holiday: Independence Day – January 1

Furthermore, both national and religious holidays are celebrated. Islamic holidays are celebrated according to the Islamic calendar, which is lunar, and their date is shifted to an earlier date by about 11 days in our calendar. In 2021, the holidays fall on the following dates:

  • Independence Day – January 1st
  • Coptic Christmas – January 7
  • Coptic Easter – April 24
  • – Eid Al Fitr – End of Ramadan – May 2nd – May 5th
  • Eid Al Adha (Feast of Sacrifice) – July 9. – July 12
  • Islamic New Year – July 30
  • Birth of the Prophet Muhammad – October 8
  • Christmas – December 25

Sudan Culture of Business