Business Communication in the Arab World

Dr. Annick Tonti just gave a very interesting guest lecture at the University of St. Gallen on “Working in the Arab World”

Based on her 40 years of experience in Asia and in particular in the Arab World, she shared with the students her insights on communicating with Arabs in business settings.

First she gave an introduction on the historical developments of the Arab World, a culture with 5 thousand years of history.

She stressed the importance to build a relationship with the business partner first: agreements and negotiations cannot be made straight away as in Western countries. “In the Middle East, they don’t do business if they don’t have a good relationship with you,” “They do not disassociate business and personal relationships.” For more details see:

Islamic banking is particular because it is usually based on Islamic law, the Sharia.These laws include the prohibition of taking interest, prohibition of unproductive speculation and prohibition of debt arrangements. What does it mean? Profit and loss are shared between the lender and the borrower.

Finally, Islamic law prohibits the financing of “sinful activities” (haram) such as the production of alcohol and tobacco or gambling.

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