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Business Etiquettes in Iraq
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General

Companies in Iraq are hierarchical in structure. There is a strong sense of authority and a large power distance, which creates a distinct separation between those in senior business roles and their subordinates. As a direct consequence of company hierarchy, decisions are always made at the top of the organisation, either by one person, who has the ultimate authority, or a small council.

Taking the time to establish good working relationships with your Iraqi business colleagues helps to create an environment of mutual respect and trust and is a crucial part of Iraqi business culture.

Meeting & Greeting

Respect over-rides most other societal rules and is imperative for successful business relationships. Therefore, you should show respect for elder business associates by greeting them first.

When greeting your Iraqi business colleagues, it is customary to shake hands on both arrival and departure. Offer a firm but gentle handshake, always with the right hand. One should not attempt to shake hands with a female associate unless she initiates the gesture.

Status and respect for others is a fundamental element of Iraqi culture, therefore it is necessary to address your Iraqi counterpart by the appropriate title, for example "Doctor", followed by their surname, or for example "Abo Ahmad", which means "Father of Ahmad". However, first names are only used between close friends and family, therefore you should wait to be invited before you address someone in this way.

Business Meetings & Negotiations

It is considered polite to make business appointments in advance. However, this is not always necessary. When arranging business meetings it is important to take into account the impact of official and unofficial holidays on all business activities. Punctuality is viewed as positive attribute in Iraq; therefore you should always arrive at business meetings on time.

Business meetings are the most significant part of doing business in Iraq. The initial appointment is generally considered to be an informal, yet polite, introductory meeting, where associates take time to get to know one another and establish trust as opposed to immediately discussing business matters.

Do remain patient throughout all business dealings. Meetings are often interrupted, since Iraqis prefer to handle more than one issue at once. Also, show respect and courtesy at all times, as this is the most important element of Iraqi culture and takes precedence over all other customs.

Try to learn a few simple Arabic or Kurdish words and phrases such as hello (Marhaba salam'ualaikum), thank you (Shukran), please (Men Fadlak) etc, as they will be warmly received.

Never criticise or highlight simple errors or mistakes your Iraqi colleagues may make in a direct manner, but try to hint or offer indirect advice and solutions. Understanding the importance of saving face is vital for successful business in Iraq.

Don't use high-pressure tactics during business negotiations. Decisions are made slowly and this approach will only have a negative effect on your business outcome.

During business dealings, it is not uncommon for your Iraqi counterparts to walk out of a meeting, express their emotions openly or threaten to terminate the relationship.

Business Dressing

Do dress in a formal and conservative manner. Women, in particular should wear modest clothing and cover their hair when necessary. Iraqis tend to judge people on first appearances; therefore dressing appropriately will create a good impression with your Iraqi business colleagues.

Business Cards

It is common practice for senior-level business associates to exchange business cards at initial meetings. Ensure you have one side of your card translated into Arabic or Kurdish and include your company position and title, since rank and social standing are vital in Iraqi business culture. When exchanging cards, present your card so that the translated side faces the recipient.

 

 
 


 



 


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