Any type of relationship is built on mutual trust, respect and understanding, and business relationships are no different, says author Judith Hornok.
Austrian author, keynote speaker and expert in business etiquette in the Arabian Gulf, Judith Hornok sips Arabic coffee in one of London’s cafes during a recent trip a few days before the New Year.
“It doesn’t taste as good as the times I have tasted it in Riyadh and they haven’t served it with dates!” she exclaimed with a subtle frown as she sweeps her long brown locks away from the side of her face. Her frown gently dissipates as she smiles and asks the waiter to replace it with an espresso.
Judith is no stranger to the smells, sights and sounds of virtually anything related to the Arab Gulf. She has been travelling here for over 15 years studying the parallels of the culture and how business relationships are built in a region that is now very close to her heart.
Her travels inspired her to write books about the countries she has visited and the latest is der Arabische Business Code, (the Arab Business Code ABC) that is currently available in German and will be published in English soon.
The book is a practical guide for people who are interested in learning how to build business relationships in the region by understanding its culture and their codes.
Judith explained, “The Arab Gulf has been very intriguing to me. The deep family ties and customs have shed light to a way of life some have long forgotten in the West.
“My main aim as a decoder is to help people all over the world to understand the business protocol of the Arab Gulf countries by understanding the social emotional characteristics of its people, which I refer to as codes. At the forefront are loyalty, long-term friendship and respect of customs, and the values that shape the way of life.”
This she stressed is the foundation of any business relationship in the Gulf, big or small. Without it, she pointed out, potential business opportunities and partnerships would be missed or too weak to be sustained long-term.
Judith also highlighted a few cultural differences between East and West in regard to certain behaviours and habits, like punctuality when turning up to meetings or even sitting postures for example. However, she explained that challenges are natural and can be overcome with understanding and reaching a common ground.
Judith describes herself as a social bridge builder between the Arab Gulf and the rest of the world. She entrenched herself in the daily lives of those she admired. Furthermore, she developed friendships with business people and families in the Gulf countries that include Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, whom she now regards as family.
“When I travel to any of the Gulf cities, like Riyadh for example, I feel welcome by it’s people from the moment I arrive at the airport. Saudi people are eager to show me their way of life as much I have been eager to learn. I respect the modesty of dress, and family responsibility is central to their daily lives.
“The social progression and advancement I have witnessed in Saudi Arabia in light of Vision 2030 is phenomenal, especially in entertainment,” she said.
She continued by affirming that any type of relationship is built on mutual trust, respect and understanding, and business relationships are no different.