Relationships & Communication
. Since Kuwaitis prefer to do business with those with whom they have a personal relationship, they spend a great deal of time on the getting-to-know-you process.
. You must be patient since impatience is viewed as criticism of the culture.
. Kuwaitis judge on appearances so dress and present yourself well.
. They respect education, so carefully mention if you have an advanced degree, especially if it is from a prestigious university.
Business Meeting Etiquette
. Try to schedule meetings in the morning when meeting with government officials, since they are restricted to a 6-hour day.
. Many businessmen prefer to meet in the early evening.
. Do not try to schedule meetings in July and August as many Kuwaitis leave the country during the worst of the summer heat.
. Meetings may be interrupted if they interfere with prayer times.
. Meetings are generally not private unless there is a need to discuss matters confidentially.
. Expect frequent interruptions. Others may wander into the room and start a different discussion. You may join in, but do not try to bring the topic back to the original discussion until the new person leaves.
. Business will only be discussed once an atmosphere of trust and friendship has been established.
. Kuwaitis are event rather than time-driven. The event of getting together is more important than the timeliness of the meeting or the outcome.
. Kuwait is a hierarchical society. Many companies are structured around the family. Decisions usually come from the top after determining a consensus of the various stakeholders.
. Decisions are reached slowly. If you try to rush things, you will give offence and risk your business relationship.
. Kuwaitis are shrewd negotiators who are especially interested in price.
. Do not use high-pressure sales tactics. They will work against you.
. Repeating your main points indicates you are telling the truth.
. There is a tendency to avoid giving bad news and to give flowery acceptances, which may only mean "perhaps".
. Problems may be discussed outside the meeting in a one-on-one situation rather than in the group meeting room.
. If you change the lead negotiator, negotiations will need to start over.
. Proposals and contracts should be kept simple.
. Although negotiating is done in English, contracts are written in Arabic. If there is both an English and Arabic version, the Arabic will be the one followed.
. Business attire is conservative.
. Men should wear lightweight, good quality, conservative suits, at least to the initial meeting.
. Women should avoid giving offence and refrain from wearing revealing or tight fitting clothing. Although they do not need to wear skirts that reach the ground, skirts should cover the knee and sleeves should cover the elbow and fasten at the neck.
. Titles are important. Use the honorific "Mister" and any academic or political title and the first name.
. Do not use only the first name until expressly invited to drop the titles.
. The title "Sheikh" denotes that someone is a member of the royal family. It is also used for old men.
. Business cards are given to everyone you meet.
. Have one side of your card translated into Arabic. Be sure to check the translation carefully as there is often confusion with the order of western names.