Success tips when doing business in Oman
Besides advising out Clients on how to set up a company in Oman, Healy Consultants offer the following advice to people who are interested in Oman corporate formation and business culture in the country.
- Your joint venture partner or Oman shareholder must not merely be a nominee for the sake of meeting the rules of foreign company incorporation. You should choose a partner that actually brings a lot to the table, including local knowledge your business would need in Oman;
- To optimize the success of your new business venture after establishing a company in Oman, Healy Consultants recommends your firm to i) complete a feasibility study ii) prepare a detailed business plan iii) communicate with the Oman Chamber of Commerce iv) speak to your local Oman embassy and v) communicate with Healy Consultants Clients who successfully launched their business in Oman;
- Foreign companies should be aware i) Oman statistics and market data are usually imprecise ii) transactions tend to take longer than expected iii) more frequent and longer market visits are required, at least initially iv) complex business procedures are common;
- Omanis put a lot of emphasis on personal relationship, therefore they feel it is important to get to know their partners before engaging in business. For that matter, during business meetings, is common to spend a lot of time discussing things in general and only then talk business. Expecting them to directly come to the point and discuss business is seen as rude and must be avoided;
- During business meetings, Arabs spend a lot of time discussing things in general and then once they are comfortable will talk business with you. Expecting them to directly come to the point and discuss business is seen as rude and must be avoided;
- Foreign entrepreneurs need to be aware of how they must treat women in the workplace. Examples include:
- Not all Oman women are comfortable shaking hands with foreign men. You need to wait for the woman to put her hand out first before putting forth your own hand;
- It is also not acceptable to touch a woman even in a friendly manner on the shoulder or other places at any time in the office;
- It is common for men and women to sit at different areas of the office. What this means is that you need to designate part of your office where all the men would sit and another part of your office where the women would sit.
- When exchanging business cards in Oman, always present and take the card with two hands, and spend a little time regarding the card before putting it away. It is advisable to make business cards with the information in Arabic on one of the sides.
Tips for living in Oman
- The week commences on Saturday and extends through Thursday, Friday being the day of rest. Government offices are closed on Thursdays and Fridays;
- If invited to the home of an Arab, you should always accept and take every opportunity to become acquainted with local people. Your Arab host will be generous and interested in you. However, you should avoid debating politics and religion as your opinions might be regarded as ill-informed or even offensive, even if they seem acceptable to you from a western perspective;
- Learn enough Arabic to communicate the pleasantries, greetings and responses. You will enjoy peoples’ reactions. However, it is important to use the Arabic language respectfully because Arabs believe it is designed to carry the word of God;
- Arabs are hospitable and place a great deal of emphasis on an outward expression of politeness and quiet demeanor. Arabs rarely say a direct ‘no’ to a proposition, so you must listen and observe carefully. If the response is ‘Leave it with me’ or ‘I’ll think about it’, there’s a good chance that the project will go nowhere;
- Avoid putting an Arab in a position where he might suffer a ‘loss of face’ in front of other Arabs. He will especially appreciate this, if he notices your action.
Interesting facts about Oman
- Omani men are usually addressed by their first given name. For example, Mr Khalifa Bin Salman Al Khalifa has the given name of Khalifa, is the son of Salman and his tribe is Al-Khalifa. He would simply be called Mr Khalifa;
- Oman is the oldest independent Arab country, having gained independence from the Portuguese empire in 1651;
- Oman discovered oil reserves in 1964 and followed with the Dhofar Rebellion of leftist forces in 1965. Sultan Qaboos deposed his father in a bloodless coup in 1970 on the grounds that Sultan Said bin Taimur led a weak military and a closed economy;
- In 2010, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) ranked Oman as the world’s most improved country since 1970;
- The official religion of Oman is Ibadi, a distinct sect of Islam apart from Shia and Sunni. 50% of the population follows Ibadi, however, Shia and Sunni Muslims, Hindus and Christians also reside there;
- Oman does not technically have a constitution. There is the 1996 “Basic Statute of Oman” which stipulates Sayyid Turki bin Said bin Sultan’s male descendents be passed the Sultani;