4 Tips For Doing Business In The Middle East – Professional Business Consultancy By CWIIL Group Of Companies

As you spin your globe wondering where you should expand your business next, your finger might reflexively glide past the Middle East. But you’re urged to revisit that opportunity. In particular, Dubai and Abu Dhabi – two pockets of relative stability – could be the launching pads that your business needs.

Not only are Middle Eastern markets rapidly growing, but these markets also have young populations and increasingly diverse economies. In fact, according to a recent survey, Dubai has one of the five fastest-growing economies in the world.

One reason is location. The Middle East, after all, is conveniently tucked between Europe, Asia and Africa. Factors such as an expanding middle class and urbanization are spurring consumer spending, and governments are promoting certain areas of the economy. In the UAE, for example, the government is paying special attention to the education, healthcare and transportation sectors.

Rules and laws are also favorable to businesses. In Dubai, for instance, there’s a customs-free corridor between the airport and the port, meaning raw materials can be imported and exported free of charge.

Still, much like any global endeavor, you must consider the cultural nuances and unique characteristics of doing business in the Middle East before you dive in. Here are four tips for success that I learned when my company expanded to the Middle East:

1. Be Careful With Language

There are different languages in the region, so you must take care to note the variations. For example, an Iranian razor company adopted the brand name “Tiz” because it’s the Persian word for “sharp.” However, “tiz” is also an Arabic slang word for “buttocks.” As you might imagine, razor sales took a nosedive.

2. Hire People Who Can Bridge The Culture Gap

Talent identification is critical. Your best employees will be able to operate locally and understand Western business practices. I.e. a UK-based company hiring a native who is fluent in Arabic and English as a managing director; an individual with extensive work experience in the Middle East and received his MBA in the UK or other Western country (experience with the culture).

3. Spend Time In The Region

Relationships are very important in the Middle East, and they take time to develop. Once you spend some time in the region, you’ll be better able to identify important cultural nuances. For example, while speedy decisions are often valued in the United States, the decision-making process takes longer in the Middle East.

4. Keep Track Of Local Customs

Religious holidays are incredibly important and tend to move around each year. The local sheikhs play a critical role in all areas, including business; i.e. a trade show can come to a standstill because the local sheikh has to privately tour the show before it can open.

You also should understand some of Islam’s basic tenets. For example, you’ll often hear the term “Inshallah” – which means “if Allah wills” or “God willing” – used in business settings. At the very least, knowing that might put your intense business negotiations in another context.

Any new market has special challenges. In the Middle East, these include language and culture, but learning how to navigate this market is well worth the effort. With the Middle East’s growth potential and welcoming attitude toward new business, you are sure to find enticing opportunities.

These materials are not intended and should not be used as legal advice or other recommendation. If you need a legal opinion on a specific issue or factual situation, please contact a lawyer. Anyone using these materials should not rely on them as a substitute for legal advice.

Remember, no problem has a quick fix solution. Thus, always ensure to consult highly knowledgeable group of professionals whom would provide you with a collective advice, never individual advice. This group advice and approach is unique with CWIIL Group and is based on the overall Management Philosophy of all CWIIL Group Companies.

Consulting CWIIL Group of Companies, for any / all matters relating to investment ensures advice based on highest level of knowledge which are given to you by a team of select research-oriented experts whom each will do their own assessment of your matter, and also assess it together, thus ensuring that in case a mistake has been made by one, it will be noticed and corrected even before it is being passed on to you. Receiving incorrect and un-knowledgeable investment advice can be disastrous and thus should be avoided.

CWIIL Group of Companies is a global group of multi-specialized units with diversified interests and activities, wherein each company is a separate legal entity registered under prevailing laws in different parts of the world. CWIIL Group of Companies Products, Services, Project and Solutions are in a multitude of Verticals including, but not limited to, Infrastructure, Power, Oil & Gas, Legal, Media, Technology, ITES, HR, Shipping, Aviation, Real Estate, Hospitals, Health and Medicine, Education, Funding & Investment, Business and Legal Consultancy, and Public Private Partnerships, and other CWIIL Group Units, worldwide, to name a few.

For Further Queries Feel Free to Contact :

Mr. Mohammad Mukhtar Mustafa,
Deputy Global Director, No. 4,
Strategic Business & Intelligence Division,
Email : deputy.gd.4@cwiilgroup.eu
Voice : +45.8176.1923
Connect : LinkedIn – Twitter – Facebook – Quora

For Queries Specific to Middle East & North Africa :
Email : mena@cwiilgroup.com , hq@cwiilgroup.eu
Web : www.cwiilgroup.com , www.cwiilgroup.eu

For Any / All Other Queries :
CWIIL Group Global Regional Headquarters Denmark,
Address : No. 1, Klokkebjergevej, DK6900 Skjern, Denmark
Voice : +45.5148.3608
Fax : +45.7014.1498
Email : corpcomm@cwiilgroup.eu
Web : www.cwiilgroup.eu
Connect : LinkedIn – Twitter – Facebook – Quora

Office Hours :
Monday to Friday : 10.00 – 17.00 CET.
Saturday : 10.00 – 14.00 CET.
Sunday : Closed.

The Corporate Communications Team would require minimum a fortnight for Reviewing & Responding to Queries, which please note.

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Global VCs Investing In MENA Are Like Pink Diamonds: Rare But Existent – Investment Advice From CWIIL Group of Companies

Towards the end of 2014 Wamda published an interview with Lebanese VC Khaled Nasr. He said, quite plainly, that if you’re a Middle Eastern startup it’s highly unlikely you’ll get money from a US VC. That’s a sad thought (especially when access to funding within the region has also been tough).

Indeed, in another article from February of this year we learned that there’s “still not much entrepreneurship activity in the MENA region.” While Nasr is still of the opinion that Silicon Valley VCs are highly unlikely to invest in MENA startups, a fair bit of Googling and chatting to contacts led to realize that global VCs moving into the region are a bit like pink diamonds: beautiful and rare, but more importantly, existent.

Who’s Investing?

Silicon Valley investment numbers are not that low, but if we compare them with investments within the US or Europe, then yes, they are few and far between. However, there are notable exceptions to this. Germany’s Rocket Internet has been making waves in the region since its investments in Namshi and Mizado in 2012. They opened offices in Dubai, and have since made investments and purchases worth hundreds of millions of dollars, with their Middle East Internet Group.

Currently Fenox, which has yet to declare any investments in regional startups, is the only Silicon Valley-based VC to have set up office in the UAE. Brent Traidman, General Partner at Fenox Venture Capital, told Wamda that even though US and UK markets continue to serve well, their VC was looking to “focus on emerging markets where we witness the biggest growth opportunities.” So, in April 2014 the VC announced the launch of its $100 million fund for startups in the developing world (in December it also launched a $200 million fund for Bangladesh).

To do so they partnered with Dubai-based Innovation 360. But this took some time. Traidman said that they started by sponsoring and mentoring local startups, then performed due diligence to really gauge the appetite for a VC fund. “With the recent surge in incubators, accelerators, and early stage startups in the GCC, we seized the opportunity to get in early.”

For Traidman the increasing population of the region, as well as the massive mobile penetration, cannot be overlooked. “We see this number continuing to rise quickly in the next five to seven years, which gives us the opportunity to start investing prior to mass adoption.”

Other venture capital companies that have added MENA-based startups to their portfolios also include Lumia Capital; San Francisco’s Rise Capital which raised a $100 million maiden fund specifically for early stage expansion of companies in emerging markets in 2014; Belgium’s Hummingbird Ventures which invested in MarkaVIP back in 2012; and South Africa’s Naspers which invested the sizeable $75 million in souq.com in 2014.

What Has Been Holding Investors Back? 

Talk to someone Stateside and you get an obvious answer. “There is this attitude of ‘if I can’t drive to a portfolio then it’s not worth investing in,’ which is frankly extremely unfortunate,” says San Francisco-based entrepreneur Mohannad El-Khairy. “Especially because when you look at those living in the Valley, like 50% are not from the US.”

With his company, NXT Innovation, El-Khairy often has the challenge of showing off the qualities of a MENA-based startup to US-based corporations: putting tech startups within reach of corporations in order to facilitate innovation within the corporation.

As a result, startups have been aiming to get themselves to Silicon Valley in order to scale, rather than staying in the region. Wally, the Dubai-based personal finance app, is currently in the Valley, as is the Bahraini startup Utrack.tv. Another which has recently returned from a stint there is the Cairo-based obituary website ElWafeyat.com.

Yousef El Sammaa, cofounder of El Wafeyat, concurs with El-Khairy’s point after his four months spent in California with 500 Startups. “We met a lot of potential investors who were interested in our model but rarely were they interested in investing outside of US, or even California.” El Sammaa added that investors felt that it would be an issue if they couldn’t get to an investment within two or three hours to sort out a problem. Also, investors are reluctant to invest in markets they don’t understand well – and they’re happy to admit that they don’t understand the MENA.

As part of its write up on the Middle East, in their Global Startup Series, 500 Startups said: “It’s clear that a major entrepreneurial shift is taking place in the Middle East and the startup scene has grown exponentially in the past few years.” And they are right. However, certain things are still lacking, notably funding to take many startups to the next level.

“One challenge that we face is that there is currently a lack of Series B, C and D [funding],” Traidman noted. Commonly known as ‘middle series funding’ it is very important but not as popular as seed and Series A, nor final round investments. “This is a critical time in a startup’s life that enables them to hire the right talent, develop products and patents, as well as start to grow to a more mature level of user traction and revenue.”

Moving Forward

Putting these regional startups in a context that foreign investors can understand will help with their appeal. In April AstroLabs Dubai will be opening its temporary coworking space, ahead of its official opening as a Google Tech Hub space.

Here the ecosystem can see movement in both directions. AstroLabs’ partnership with India’s Nasscom 10,000 Startups program will be providing soft landing packages for startups coming to the region from India. Louis Lebbos, AstroLabs’ founder, also told Wamda that this kind of partnership would be soon extended to Russia, Turkey, Pakistan, and Morocco. “We will have many international investors come to the space to meet the startups in our community and the wider ecosystem.”

The impact of 500 Startups in the region is also being felt. Since 2011 they have invested in 17 startups in five regional countries. From Jordan’s Jeeran to ShopGo, a total of $2 million has found its way to the region. Investors in the Asian market are not shy of MENA either.

Frontier Digital Ventures are a Kuala Lumpur-based VC which has already invested in Dubai’s propertyfinder.ae. The company is very focused now on the MENA region’s classifieds sector, on the hunt for automotive and property verticals. “It’s an exciting and diverse region,” says Shaun Di Gregorio of Frontier Digital Ventures. “You’ve got markets the size of Egypt, right down the small but wealthy Gulf states.”

So, like the pink diamond, once you’ve found one, you can safely say you’ve hit the mother lode.

These materials are not intended and should not be used as legal advice or other recommendation. If you need a legal opinion on a specific issue or factual situation, please contact a lawyer. Anyone using these materials should not rely on them as a substitute for legal advice.

Remember, no problem has a quick fix solution. Thus, always ensure to consult highly knowledgeable group of professionals whom would provide you with a collective advice, never individual advice. This group advice and approach is unique with CWIIL Group and is based on the overall Management Philosophy of all CWIIL Group Companies.

Consulting CWIIL Group of Companies, for any / all matters relating to investment ensures advice based on highest level of knowledge which are given to you by a team of select research-oriented experts whom each will do their own assessment of your matter, and also assess it together, thus ensuring that in case a mistake has been made by one, it will be noticed and corrected even before it is being passed on to you. Receiving incorrect and un-knowledgeable investment advice can be disastrous and thus should be avoided.

CWIIL Group of Companies is a global group of multi-specialized units with diversified interests and activities, wherein each company is a separate legal entity registered under prevailing laws in different parts of the world. CWIIL Group of Companies Products, Services, Project and Solutions are in a multitude of Verticals including, but not limited to, Infrastructure, Power, Oil & Gas, Legal, Media, Technology, ITES, HR, Shipping, Aviation, Real Estate, Hospitals, Health and Medicine, Education, Funding & Investment, Business and Legal Consultancy, and Public Private Partnerships, and other CWIIL Group Units, worldwide, to name a few.

For Further Queries Feel Free to Contact :

Mr. Mohammad Mukhtar Mustafa,
Deputy Global Director, No. 4,
Strategic Business & Intelligence Division,
Email : deputy.gd.4@cwiilgroup.eu
Voice : +45.8176.1923
Connect : LinkedIn – Twitter – Facebook – Quora

For Queries Specific to Middle East & North Africa :
Email : mena@cwiilgroup.com , hq@cwiilgroup.eu
Web : www.cwiilgroup.com , www.cwiilgroup.eu

For Any / All Other Queries :
CWIIL Group Global Regional Headquarters Denmark,
Address : No. 1, Klokkebjergevej, DK6900 Skjern, Denmark
Voice : +45.5148.3608
Fax : +45.7014.1498
Email : corpcomm@cwiilgroup.eu
Web : www.cwiilgroup.eu
Connect : LinkedIn – Twitter – Facebook – Quora

Office Hours :
Monday to Friday : 10.00 – 17.00 CET.
Saturday : 10.00 – 14.00 CET.
Sunday : Closed.

The Corporate Communications Team would require minimum a fortnight for Reviewing & Responding to Queries, which please note.

New Business Opportunities For Expanding in the Middle East – Specialized Advice From CWIIL Group

Many foreign entrepreneurs say that the Middle East is a “land of promise” for expatriates and even companies wishing to do business in the region. However, there are several drawbacks. Unlike Asian and European markets, it does not have a steady supply of trained manpower. The people are not industrious compared to other populations. Employees do not come cheap. Thus, entrepreneurial risks are greater.

The Middle East is composed of seven countries which are the top oil manufacturers in the world. However, it seems like the oil surge has made ordinary business standards look inappropriate. Too much wealth erased the need to obtain qualifications or craft smart business decisions. Yet, the economies of nations like the United Arab Emirates, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Iran, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, and Yemen are booming. They offer numerous stimulating investment and trade prospects for investors and exporters.

According to a private research study, the Middle East affords potential investors with considerable growth prospects in the defence, maritime, automotive, energy, and chemical industries. Incidentally, statistics released by the International Monetary Fund through its World Economic Outlook Database disclosed that the export value of Middle East was roughly USS1.13 trillion by the end of 2012. This was approximately 6.2 percent of the total worth of global exports. The combined Gross Domestic Product of all Middle Eastern nations was about US $3.96 trillion during the same year.

Opportunities in Top Five Countries

Let us take a look at various investment opportunities in 18 Middle East countries that can help spur exports in the region:

Saudi Arabia is the biggest producer of crude oil worldwide. Despite this stature and riches, the government continues to encourage private sector expansion to reduce the nation’s reliance on oil and increase job opportunities for the country’s growing populace. The Saudi Arabian government offers multiple incentives to foreign investors. The top industry right now is Agriculture.

The climate and terrain does not support much food production. Therefore, most agricultural crops are still imported from neighbouring countries. The only produce that thrives despite the arid and hot weather includes barley, wheat and date palms. There is more demand than supply so you may want to start an enterprise that imports fresh produce from other countries. The other sector is real estate. There is increasing demand for residential units and other buildings as the economy and population keep on growing. The opportunities for property investors are simply overflowing.

The United Arab Emirates specifically the trade capital (Dubai) is a business core. It provides hassle-free access to consumer markets in other Middle East nations, Commonwealth of Independents States, Africa, West Asia, and Eastern Europe. Starting a business at the UAE is not difficult. The progressive administration maintains lenient policies and gives incentives for foreign entrepreneurs. Taxation is nearly non-existent except for tobacco processing, oil and banking. Besides, it formulated a long-term plan that concentrates on growing start-ups.

The foremost industry is construction. The UAE needs engineers and other professionals in the construction and building sector. You can also form businesses that produce or sell raw materials for these two industries. Oil and gas spearhead the country’s economy. There is sufficient room to take in new investors. One option is to begin your businesses from scratch or team up with existing ventures.

Kuwait used to have a law stipulating that any investor should have a local partner with a minimum of 51 percent business equity. However, the enactment of the Foreign Direct Investment Law (8/2001) led to more relaxed requirements. Foreign companies were allowed to incorporate even without a Kuwaiti partner. Foreigners are allowed to participate in industrial activities but not oil/gas exploration and production. So far, the recommended sectors are construction and infrastructure particularly in energy, communications and drainage systems. The other is information technology and development of software applications.

Bahrain boasts of a modern regulatory and legal structure, open border policy, infrastructure, and highly educated workforce. In short, the country has all the basics making it attractive to investors. The most ideal investment opportunity is the petroleum industry particularly processing and refining. A second alternative is transportation. Bahrain is an excellent location for shipping consignment in and out of the country. This is free of tax. It is a trans-shipment port which is the main reason for the presence of many businesses in the country.

Qatar is a relatively small country but the economy is very strong. Policies are also friendly to investors. The first opportunity you may want to put in resources is the manufacture and marketing of building materials for local consumption. This is lucrative since buildings are constructed every day. Information technology is a rewarding business because there is a scarcity of IT specialists in this country.

Prospects in Other Countries

Cyprus has evolved into a reliable global business hub particularly in the services sector. The shipping business can be a good choice because the country ranks among the foremost maritime nations worldwide. Cyprus merchant vessels represent 16 percent of the fleet with European Union flags. The banking industry is also flourishing with a broad range of local and global services like insurance, investments, mutual fund management, and asset administration.

The strict investment policies in Egypt have been relaxed. Businessmen looking at Egypt should consider the cluster of petroleum, energy generation and transmission, information technology, and telecommunications. On the other hand, tourism is the biggest earner in terms of foreign exchange and employs over 10 percent of the Egyptian workforce.

Iran has an abundance of business opportunities. With a population of 78 million and second biggest gas reserves in the world, this country is one of the first three consumers of Muslim food in the Middle East valued at 77 billion one year ago. Iran is also the second largest market for Muslim clothing.

Israel is another very small but highly developed nation. The Jewish nation has become very competitive in the information technology and pharmaceutical sectors.

Lebanon is the main trading partner of the United States, Italy, Germany, France, and China. Starting an enterprise is rather easy although corruption can be a problem. Nonetheless, opportunities are focused on the electricity sector as well as oil and gas exploration.

Business potentials in Northern Cyprus include retail, restaurants, water sports, construction, property management, and real estate.

It is necessary to undergo a long process and submit numerous requirements if you want to launch a business in Oman. However, the primary investment areas in the country consist of tourism, infrastructure and public utility services.

At the recent Palestine Investment Conference (2010), business leaders and private entrepreneurs met regarding potential businesses in the fields of tourism and manufacturing which are the top two. Other sectors were information and communications technology, housing, agribusiness, environment, and tourism.

Turkey has the 16th largest economy in the whole world and the sixth in Europe. The country has a high-growth market with construction and information technology as the top two profitable enterprises for foreigners.

Conclusion

Indeed, there are limitations for entrepreneurs who want to start a business anywhere in the Middle East. Political and economic transformations have opened and closed doors for businesses. Despite the risks, corporations, as well as small and medium enterprises, remain open to options.

These materials are not intended and should not be used as legal advice or other recommendation. If you need a legal opinion on a specific issue or factual situation, please contact a lawyer. Anyone using these materials should not rely on them as a substitute for legal advice.

Remember, no problem has a quick fix solution. Thus, always ensure to consult highly knowledgeable group of professionals whom would provide you with a collective advice, never individual advice. This group advice and approach is unique with CWIIL Group and is based on the overall Management Philosophy of all CWIIL Group Companies.

Consulting CWIIL Group of Companies, for any / all matters relating to investment ensures advice based on highest level of knowledge which are given to you by a team of select research-oriented experts whom each will do their own assessment of your matter, and also assess it together, thus ensuring that in case a mistake has been made by one, it will be noticed and corrected even before it is being passed on to you. Receiving incorrect and un-knowledgeable investment advice can be disastrous and thus should be avoided.

CWIIL Group of Companies is a global group of multi-specialized units with diversified interests and activities, wherein each company is a separate legal entity registered under prevailing laws in different parts of the world. CWIIL Group of Companies Products, Services, Project and Solutions are in a multitude of Verticals including, but not limited to, Infrastructure, Power, Oil & Gas, Legal, Media, Technology, ITES, HR, Shipping, Aviation, Real Estate, Hospitals, Health and Medicine, Education, Funding & Investment, Business and Legal Consultancy, and Public Private Partnerships, and other CWIIL Group Units, worldwide, to name a few.

For Further Queries Feel Free to Contact :

Mr. Mohammad Mukhtar Mustafa,
Deputy Global Director, No. 4,
Strategic Business & Intelligence Division,
Email : deputy.gd.4@cwiilgroup.eu
Voice : +45.8176.1923
Connect : LinkedIn – Twitter – Facebook – Quora

For Queries Specific to Middle East & North Africa :
Email : mena@cwiilgroup.com , hq@cwiilgroup.eu
Web : www.cwiilgroup.com , www.cwiilgroup.eu

For Any / All Other Queries :
CWIIL Group Global Regional Headquarters Denmark,
Address : No. 1, Klokkebjergevej, DK6900 Skjern, Denmark
Voice : +45.5148.3608
Fax : +45.7014.1498
Email : corpcomm@cwiilgroup.eu
Web : www.cwiilgroup.eu
Connect : LinkedIn – Twitter – Facebook – Quora

Office Hours :
Monday to Friday : 10.00 – 17.00 CET.
Saturday : 10.00 – 14.00 CET.
Sunday : Closed.

The Corporate Communications Team would require minimum a fortnight for Reviewing & Responding to Queries, which please note.