Meeting and Greeting
The handshake is commonly used.
Shake hands at the beginning and end of meetings.
Titles are important. Use the honorific Mister and any academic or political title.
Government officials will usually be addressed as "Your Excellency".Do not use only the first name unless invited to do so.
Business cards may be given to those you meet.
It is a nice touch to have one side translated into Arabic.
Relationships and Communication
Libyans prefer to do business with those they know and respect, therefore expect to spend time cultivating a personal relationship before business is conducted.
Who you know is more important than what you know, so it is important to network and cultivate a number of contacts who may then assist you in working your way through the serpentine bureaucracy.
Business Meeting Etiquette
Appointments are necessary and should be made as far in advance as possible and confirmed a day or two before the meeting.
It is best to avoid scheduling meetings during Ramadan since Muslims cannot eat or drink during the day.
Never try to schedule meetings on Friday between 11:15 a.m. and 3 p.m. since most companies close for prayers.
Try to arrive at meetings on time and be prepared to wait. Libyan businesspeople who are accustomed to dealing with international companies often strive to arrive on time, although it is often difficult for them to do so in such a relationship driven culture.
In general, Libyans have an open-door policy, even during meetings. This means you may experience frequent interruptions. Others may even 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.
Arabic is generally the language of business, although some companies use English. Check which language your meeting will be conducted in, so you know if you should hire an interpreter.
Companies are hierarchical. The highest ranking person makes decisions, but only after obtaining a group consensus.
Decisions are reached after great deliberation.
If the government is involved, discussions will take even longer since the ministers of several departments must often give approval.
Libyans are looking for long-term business relationships.
Do not criticize anyone publicly. It is important that you do not cause your Libyan business associates to lose face.
Libyans are non-confrontational. They may agree in meetings rather than cause you to lose face.
Expect a fair amount of haggling. Libyans seldom see an offer as final.
Decisions are made slowly. Do not try to rush the process, as it would be interpreted as an insult.
The society is extremely bureaucratic. Most decisions require several layers of approval.
It may take several visits to accomplish simple tasks.
Do not use high-pressure tactics as they will work against you.
Libyans can be deliberate and forceful negotiators.