Basic Generic Ettiquette practises for offline and Online Communication appropriate for Saudi Arabia.
These tips are humbly introduce the basic etiquette practices that have been adapted to offer online communication guidelines that would be globally accepted as communication etiquette tips for Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, these guidelines extend into daily practice for communication guidelines such as email, networking, email searches, general online communication and address and internet skype meetings, friendships, social networks, research, gift giving, business meetings, conferences, lectures or webinars.
Building online relationships with a Saudi Arabian
Saudi Arabians take their time in getting to know someone. This means that a diplomatic stance needs to be taken when confronted with archetypal and stereotypical encounters. Patience is needed to be exercised when building these relationships. In time the encounter will prove less stressful and more non judgmental. Saudi Arabians are prone to communicate in the personal space of the persons whom they are talking to. Women are not to be touched by other men other than their husbands and thus hugging and handshakes are disallowed. In time this may change, but it differs from the staunch practices. They are likely to trust the person more quickly when respect is displayed for their cultural norms and beliefs. All these interactions are intended to be respectful interactions with the utmost diplomacy.
Online Communication is less personal, but could be as effective if not more so as the chances of offense are fewer.
Of course online communication differs as personal space is defined by access to an email box addresses, social networking and perhaps the privilege of skype interactions. When communicating online it is important to know that Saudi Arabia Time is +3 hrs GMT. It may also be useful to read up on the history, weather, currency and customs and norms of Saudi Arabia so that an initial meeting may show interest and be complimentary to the heritage of the Saudi Arabian engaged in conversation.
Online meetings are arranged well in advance. This meeting leads to specific topics of conversations and appearance that is in keeping with respect.
Online Communication and Language in and for Saudi Arabia
Western Cultures speak an array of languages. In Saudi Arabia, 90% of the population is Islamic and thus Arabic is the predominantly spoken language. Thus cultures and norms pay homage to their religious instruction which guides policies, customs, norms, practices, language and communication. This will not differ when making use of online communication.
Of course, not everyone in western culture is able to communicate in written or spoken Arabic and likewise not all people are able to communicate in well spoken or written English although it is the universal language. It would be appropriate where possible to make use of language translation services to translate the written documents or if possible and appropriate to make use of an interpreter when conducting online meetings, interviews, conferences, lectures or webinars. It may be useful in ensuring a smooth online communication that does not cause any cultural practice offences.
Saudi Arabians take their time in building relationships. They will thus take their time in getting to know you. They also never open gifts when receiving them whether it is online or offline. Be patient.
Practices need to be respectful in as far as they are practical. Correspondence and meetings need to be arranged well in advance (up to a month). The country is exceptionally religious and is guided by the Quran and thus the practice of and adherence to religious events is considered to the heart of the nation.
Online Communication Meeting Behavior
Traditional societies are not restricted to one person leading the conversation, but in a meeting with a Saudi Arabian ensure that the Saudi feels in control and takes the physical lead in the conversation. Should the Saudi Arabian decide to deter from a conversation allow him to resume the topic when ready. If someone has entered the room, wait until the activity or interaction has concluded until resuming the topic. Skype does not always allow each person to see what is happening in the other person’s space. It is therefore advisable to be exercise patience and respectful behavior in order to prevent offense and thus perhaps severed relations.
Online Topics of Conversation
Online Topics of Conversation need to remain within the framework of the chosen topic. Avoid topics of foods that are not eaten unless it is tabled and do not speak of alcoholic beverages, religious insults and so forth unless these are within the framework of communication. Let the Saudi Arabian take the lead. Even so, exercise the utmost of respect when engaging as relationships seldom gain trust when offense is present.
Online Appearance and Dress Code
Saudi Arabians are very particular about their appearance. Middle Eastern culture differs tremendously from western cultures in appearance; language, communication and dress code and the manner in which a person is presented. Saudi Arabians will more than likely be found in traditional / customary robes denoting the respect for their culture and norms. It may vary, but initially there is an investment in their customs especially for businessmen. The dress code is conservative and should be met with a conservative Western Culture dress code. A formal traditional suit would be appropriate when first meeting especially for businessmen. Women are seldom expected to be business people and are thus expected to take extra care precautions in their attire to prevent any offense e.g. make up is often perceived as offensive and unacceptable.
Lastly, it is important to remember that activities are scheduled around religious activities and strict and respectful adherence to these practices will ensure offline or online communication success.