Syria Culture of Business

By | July 24, 2022

Subchapters:

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

Introduction

The cultural and therefore the business environment in Syria is understandably very specific, shaped by completely different cultural patterns and historical experiences. Although many Syrian businessmen operate in a very modern, “Western” style, even with, for example, long-term business experience and stays in Europe and the USA, it should be remembered that there are a number of rules based on Syrian society that must be followed or it is better to avoid them exceedance or breach. In addition, Syrian society is not uniform and it depends very much from which confessional, social and geographical area the merchant comes from. Visit Animalerts for more information about Syria culture and traditions.

Addressing

Most Syrian businessmen have websites and e-mails for their companies and businesses, so it is possible to get initial access via the Internet, but it needs to be emphasized that in business personal relationships, acquaintances and references from friends are of great importance. Therefore, it is necessary to gain personal trust first, which cannot be done without frequent personal contacts, even though it may not be directly related to the business in question. The often intuitive behavior of Syrians means that trust and sympathy for a company representative have more weight for them than company statements. If a potential Czech entrepreneur wants to meet a new business partner in Syria, it is always good if he gets a recommendation from someone who already knows this business partner, so it is recommended to make initial contact through a personal recommendation.

If such possibilities do not exist, then a face-to-face meeting as soon as possible can be recommended, which the Syrian businessman prefers to other methods. It can also be added that within the limits of travel and personal contact during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Syrian businessman suffers a lot, because personal contact, preferably in the context of an informal meeting over lunch or dinner, is absolutely essential within the Syrian business culture.

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.)? Timing of negotiations

Eating and dining is generally a very important social/family event for Syrians, around which the daily routine basically takes place. In addition, the Syrian businessman prefers business dinners, which can stretch into the late hours of the night, for this reason it is better to propose a possible business meeting to the Syrian partner only after 12 noon, and the dinner starting from around 9 pm is absolutely ideal. it is not very usual to give gifts during the first contact, even more so in the case of promisingly developing business, business cards are handed out at the first meeting (even during business lunches/dinners).

What surprises a Czech businessman the most during negotiations?

What are ….. traders?

Syrians are generally friendly and hospitable people who enjoy interacting with foreigners, and hospitality is deeply embedded in the foundations of Syrian society and culture. Moreover, they are generally very proud of Syrian culture, rich history, Arabic language and diverse Syrian cuisine. They usually speak relatively loudly compared to the Central European standard, and they also express themselves with clear physical gestures when communicating. As a rule, it is better to avoid discussions about current Syrian politics, or to refrain from criticizing the current Syrian government altogether. Increased sensitivity in emphasizing the traditionally positive political attitude of the Czech Republic towards Israel within the framework of modern history is also recommended. A Syrian merchant is usually a very skilled merchant with a very good “business” instinct and very good negotiation tactics.

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

An important factor is also the numerous religious public holidays, which for Syrians are mostly an opportunity to meet with the extended family, and during such periods they do not engage in business, so you need to take these possibilities into account and plan, for example, your business trips outside of the main holidays (e.g. Ramadan ). It is also not good to forget that the weekend in Syria is Friday and Saturday, Sunday is a normal working day, so avoid, for example, making an appointment on Friday.

How do ….. traders manage time in a business meeting?

It is generally not recommended to start talking about business right at the beginning or the beginning of the meeting. If it is a business lunch or dinner, important topics usually come up only in the second half of the meeting. It is recommended not to be impatient or even too eager, the Syrian partner would perceive this as impoliteness. In the case of business lunches/dinners, it is important to focus on the selection and actual consumption of the food (usually several courses) and only then bring up the topic of business. Working dinners can last several hours (2-3 hours). It is good to show that we are willing to devote enough time to the Syrian businessman.

How do ….. traders deal with emotions in a business negotiation?

Syrians are emotional people in general, and this is also reflected in business negotiations, but it cannot be said that they are short-tempered or rash in their judgments and business proposals. They usually have their business strategy very well planned. Syrians also like jokes and like to laugh, but he recommends avoiding sexual or religious jokes. It should be emphasized that the Syrian businessman does not like to discuss business proposals or opportunities over the phone, he does not like to correspond via e-mail and prefers a face-to-face meeting and face-to-face contact. As already mentioned, it is absolutely crucial to build friendly relations based on mutual trust with the Syrian partner and not to rush into common business interests.

Are there any territorial differences in business dealings within a country?

Another sensitive topic is possible comparisons or comments/criticism of individual Syrian regions, as there is a certain rivalry and local patriotism between cities in Syria (for example, Damascus x Aleppo or Aleppo x Lattakia, or in general residents of larger cities x countryside) and inappropriate comments/criticism of the area from which the Syrian merchant comes from, the Czech merchant can completely close the door to a possible successful trade. In general, it can also be said that Damascene business families have traditionally devoted themselves to classical trade with individual commodities, however, the business elite from Aleppo has always focused more on industrial, larger technical investment units and engineering.

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

Due to the great confessional diversity in Syria, this blast is also very sensitive, especially if it is not clear to which confessional group the Syrian business partner belongs. From this fact, the question of consumption of alcoholic beverages or alcohol as a gift continues to arise. Alcohol is not a suitable gift in any case, if it is not certain that the recipient will accept the alcohol and this does not depend only on the possible confession of the recipient. Therefore, for example, Czech glass and other characteristic and traditional products for our country are more suitable (these can also be items of higher financial value).

How to dress for a work meeting?

Especially for the first meeting, it is best to be dressed completely formally (suit, tie), later it is possible to “reduce” the dress code to “smart casual” (shirt without tie, blazer), however, this development depends on the Syrian counterpart.

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

Another very sensitive topic is the wives of potential Syrian partners (trade is completely gender imbalanced in Syria and the vast majority of Syrian traders are men) it is not very polite to open this topic unless the Syrian trader himself starts, on the contrary, asking about the family in general, especially any descendants is very grateful topic. It is also recommended that the leader of the negotiation team from the Czech side be a man, ideally experienced, preferably the most important, most respected figure in the company. The total number of the team should not exceed three people.

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?

When it comes to the initial stages of negotiations and meetings, this is not a very common practice and the Syrian businessman does not even expect to be invited to his home, nor does he initially offer this invitation to his Czech counterpart. Invitations to homes can be expected in the much later stages of a mutual business partnership, but this is not the rule either. Usually, the first contact is in the office premises, and relatively quickly, other meetings move to restaurants and rather in the evening or night hours.

Communication

Is it important to bring an interpreter with you?

In 90% of cases, an interpreter is not needed during business negotiations. The Syrian business community mostly speaks very good English.

How about language facilities?

Most Syrian businessmen speak good English, however, knowledge of Arabic (or a Syrian Arabic dialect) at any level of proficiency is highly valued by a Syrian businessperson.

Are there any communication taboos?

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

See previous chapters. The Syrian businessman clearly prefers personal contact.

Recommendation

It is recommended to follow the instructional subsections 4.1.- 4.4.

Public Holidays

  • January 1 – New Year
  • March 8 – Revolution Day
  • March 21 – Mother’s Day
  • April 17 – Easter
  • April 17 – Independence Day
  • April 24 – Orthodox Easter
  • May 1 – Labor Day
  • May 2 – May 4 – Eid Al-Fitr (End of Ramadan)
  • May 6 – Martyrs’ Day
  • July 9 – July 12 – Al-Adha
  • July 30 – New Year according to the Islamic calendar
  • October 6 – Anniversary of the October War
  • October 8 – Birth of the Prophet Muhammad
  • December 25 – Christmas

Syria Culture of Business