Business Dress and Etiquette in the Middle East
For many Americans, the Middle East is extremely misunderstood. A lot of people who have never been to this part of the world tend to think of it as having an air of mystery to it that is difficult to figure out, which is almost always somewhat overblown. While Middle Eastern culture certainly differs from that which is omnipresent in America, this is not to say that one should expect to have any difficulty dressing for a business meeting when visiting the area. So long as you gain a basic understanding of how businessmen in the Middle East tend to dress, you should have very few issues when setting out to attend a business meeting there. The following are just a few characteristics to keep in mind if you have plans to conduct business in the middle east – this guide is part of our Business Dress Code Around the Globe series.
The Business Suit is Crucial
The first thing that one must realize about business dress in the Middle East is that wearing a classic, well tailored business suit is of the utmost importance. While business suits are certainly typical in America, it’s important to understand that those which are best for wearing in the Middle East tend to be on the conservative side. Suits should be cut in a way so that they are balanced, as those which are too tight or overly “boxy” in nature will do nothing but cause a disconnect. You’ll also want to ensure that the tie you choose is proportionate to the rest of the suit; avoiding overly thin or wide ties is essential. So long as you feel as if your suit is balanced, you’re likely to be on the right track.
Neckties – Yes or No???
For the most part the answer is YES! In most developed Middle Eastern cities businessmen DO wear ties. However, it is worth noting that fundamental Muslims don’t wear neckties as this clothing piece symbolizes Western society.
Avoid Flashy Colors
If you can internalize one thing about business dress in the Middle East, it’s that conservatism is of the utmost importance. As a result, flashy colors should be avoided at all costs when dressing for a business meeting in the area. In America, it’s not uncommon for pastels to occasionally be worn during business meetings, whether they be in the form of ties or dress shirts. A pastel tie will do you no favors in the Middle East, and may even be taken as being offensive. As tempting as a light beige linen suit may be for business on a hot day in the desert, wearing white, beige, or tan suits is not common practice and should be avoided. Instead, suits should be rich in color (black, charcoal, or midnight blue), connoting professionalism as much as possible. If you are unsure as to whether or not a particular color will serve to be a good fit, you’ll do best by avoiding it.
Don’t Go Business Casual
Business casual dress certainly has a time and a place, and can be quite effective when worn correctly. That said, the conservatism that is characteristic of the Middle East typically means that business casual dress should be left at home, as sticking with suits will be far more effective. While you can take your jacket off once you enter the office, you should still avoid any attire that might make you look any less professional than you are; save business casual for your flight home.
Basic Business Etiquette
The Middle East is predominately Muslim which strongly influences business practices. Keep scheduled prayer times in mind, for instance, when scheduling meetings. Also, Friday is considered a Holy Day meaning that a regular work week goes from Sunday through Thursday. Another thing to consider is punctuality. The Middle East has a very relaxed attitude towards time, meaning that showing up 20, 30, or even 40 min “late” is not uncommon. Foreigners however are expected to show up on time!
Other Suggested Articles:
Business Dress in Spain
Your Bows-n-Ties.com Team