Business Communication in the Islamic World

Term Paper, 2007

17 Pages, Grade: 1,3


Table of contents

List of illustrations

List of abbreviations

I. Introduction

II. The basic principles
1. religion
a.) Shahâda - statement of beliefs
b.) Salat - prayer
c.) Zakat - Tax for Charity
d.) Saum - fasting
e.) Haddsch - pilgrimage
2. family
3. honour/saving face

III. Doing business
1. verbal communication
2. nonverbal communication
3. welcome
4. small talk
5. negotiations
6. networking
7. hospitality

IV. Summary/conclusion

List of literature IV

List of illustrations

illustration 1: the annual change of the GDP in 2005

illustration 2: a typical structure for Arab companies

illustration 3: turn taking in Arabic and western countries

List of abbreviations

illustration not visible in this excerpt

I. Introduction

What is it most people associate with thoughts of the Islamic or Arab World? It is true, no one will forget the horrible pictures of the Gulf Wars from 1980 to 1991 or the attack of radical Muslims on the USA on September 11, 2001, but dictators like Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden do not mirror the whole of the Islamic world. These radical Muslims and terror attacks are only exceptions, and it is not fair to see only this side. There are fanatics from other religions or racial offenders in the Western World as well, and it is unfair to think they are all the same because they belong to the same religious group. There are about 1.3 billion Muslims in the world and for the most part, they want only to exercise their religion without any aggressive intentions.

When presented with the term “Arabic”, more traditional minds might think of men riding camels through the desert, wearing turbans. This is the more accurate image of the Islamic world; a very custom rich culture with an intense focus on hospitality1.

While both of these images are true, what people must recognize is the enormous business power these countries possess; and this power lies in much more than oil alone. Dubai, for example, is one of the fastest growing cities in the world with investments of hundreds of billions of US-dollars each year2. It seems that there are no limits set in the world of the sheiks. In Dubai they have the Burj al-arab—the only seven-star hotel in the world—and a snow dome that offers skiing, even with the temperature outside at 50°3. Furthermore, in Dubai they are building the 560 metres high Burj Dubai, which will be the highest skyscraper in the world after its completion4. All this considered, it is obvious that it could be profitable to have a look at the Arabic countries for businessmen and investors.

To underline this argument, consider the annual change of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the Arab countries in comparison to those of western countries in 2005. In the following table, members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have been chosen to represent the Arabic side because 50 % of the entire trade of the European Union (EU) with the Arabic world is done there5. In the view of business aspects, the GCC is an economic union a bit comparable with the EU, because it has introduced some of the same instruments such as the free movement of goods and a customs union. Furthermore, they are planning to introduce a common currency in 2010. The members of the GCC are Saudi-Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE)6. For the western side we see illustrated the USA, Mexico, Sweden and Germany in reference to the participants of this course.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Illustration1: The annual change of the GDP in 20057

As you can see, the annual change of the GDP of the Arabic countries in 2005 was much higher then those of the Western countries. This chart underlines the important economic position of the Islamic world.

This was a short introduction to answer the question of “Why” conducting business with the Arabic world could be profitable. The following section will focus on the “How” aspect. I will explain how to cultivate a cooperative environment with Islamic business partners by describing their cultural views and customs, and what people should focus on or avoid in business transactions. It will be a general overview because Dubai is not like Bahrain, in the same way Germany is not like France, but there is one binding element for these countries - their religion.

II. The basic principles

There are many customs, traditions, and rules in the Islamic World, but the most important principles centre around religion, family, and honour/saving face.

1. Religion

Religion influences literally all actions in the life of a religious Muslim. Islam is not just a religion, it also provides rules and laws for its followers. There are five pillars of Islam - Shahâda, Salat, Zakat, Saum and Haddsch.

a.) Shahâda - statement of beliefs

The statement of the Shahâda is that there is only one God - Allah - and Mohammed is his envoy on earth. Therefore, it is important to avoid jokes about God or to say that there is no God. The Muslims think that people will not respect laws or the conditions of a contract, for example, if they do not respect God8.


1 Nydell - Arabs, p. 56.

2 Janzir - Golfstaaten, p. 31.

3 Kratochwil - Arabische Welt, p. 11.

4 Janzir - Golfstaaten, p. 31.

5 Janzir - Golfstaaten, p. 27.

6 Al-Omari - Arab Way, p. 80.

7, June 24th 2007, 11:46.

8 Janzir - Golfstaaten, p. 59.

Excerpt out of 17 pages


Business Communication in the Islamic World
Leuphana Universität Lüneburg
Intercultural Communications
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
File size
407 KB
Business, Communication, Islamic, World, Intercultural, Communications
Quote paper
Frederik Wendisch (Author), 2007, Business Communication in the Islamic World, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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