What is Ramadan and how does it affect business in the Middle East?
Well as you probably know, Ramadan is the holiest month in the Islamic calendar and the main feature of it is that people celebrate by fasting from dawn until dusk every day for the entire month. This means that they can’t eat, they can’t drink and they can’t smoke while ever it’s daylight.
If you are doing business in the region at that time, you will find that things move very slowly and I would recommend that you try and do as little work in Ramadan in the region as you can because you will probably waste a lot of time and a lot of energy. You will also find that your colleagues may be less easy to deal with than normal because they will be a bit tired and a bit hungry from fasting.
If you are travelling in the region during Ramadan, do remember not to eat or to drink in public because it is a criminal offence and it could very well get you arrested and if you are holding business meetings with people who are fasting, remember not to offer them anything to drink or to eat, it’s not very kind. You also might want to think about not eating or drinking in front of them, just as a common courtesy.
Author: Cynthia Dearin
Cynthia Dearin is an international business strategist, advisor, keynote speaker and author of Amazon best-seller Camels, Sheikhs and Billionaires: Your Guide to Business Culture in the Middle East and North Africa. With 18 years of international experience, as an Australian diplomat and management consultant, she is the Founder and Managing Director of Dearin Associates and the International Business Accelerator that helps clients to access opportunities in fast-growing international markets around the world.