Much has been written and said about the importance of the 2020 Abraham Accords that opened up new markets for Israel in the Arab world, including for its booming hi-tech industry.
Many Israeli businesspeople thought they could simply go to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), find local partners and do business in the same way as they do in Europe or the US. But to be successful, it is important to go about business and personal conduct in the UAE in the correct and proper manner and to consider the local culture.
The uniqueness of building a foothold in the UAE is that it is also a stepping stone to the entire Arab world, even to countries with which Israel has no official commercial ties.
Rules for the UAE
The first rule of thumb is to make an initial study of the local culture and its nuances and not to use Israeli conduct, which is often very blunt. The local power play must be well understood.
Secondly, when you come to do business with the UAE, trust is very important. There is no room for a breach of trust. They allow mistakes that can be corrected but are not a breach of trust. So, it is better to be honest and not cut corners, because the Emiratis are sophisticated people who will catch on immediately and then their trust will be lost and will not return.
On the other hand, it is legitimate to come to them and say directly that “I want to make a profit and therefore, I want to work in a certain way or demand a higher price. They understand and accept this.”
A third rule is the understanding that everything is reciprocal in the UAE. For example, it is wrong to think that Emirati capital is a given and you don’t have to do anything to earn it. The Emiratis expect, when it comes to the purchase of advanced technologies, that the investment will serve their economy, create jobs and develop local hi-tech. For example, the Emiratis would prefer to train their local teams to operate a new technology rather than use external teams who would come in specifically for the purpose.
In addition, you must make sure that you work according to the local regulations and do not impose a different way; for example, issuing appropriate licenses, involving and consulting with local authorities and no less important, learning from Israeli companies that have managed to crack the formula – and are doing business.
Most important, however, choose a winning product or service to introduce into the market and the first customers should be top-notch who can be very dependable references of credibility. Although the sales process to the anchor customers is longer and more complex, it will pay off. After securing anchor customers, you can reach out to additional customers.
And finally, it is important to be patient: trust-based processes are invariably slow. The Israeli culture that advocates “I want it yesterday” does not work in the United Arab Emirates.
The writer is the CEO and president of ThetaRay.