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Winning work in the Gulf and wider Middle East and North Africa region

“Despite some unfamiliar challenges, projects in the Gulf are often not as complex as many companies percieve them to be.”
erik andersson, pa it expert

The development of infrastructure, public services and private enterprise in the Gulf and wider Middle East and North Africa region (MENA) creates an environment rich in opportunity for businesses with the skills and expertise needed to support these changes.

However, many companies struggle to understand exactly what they need to do to tender successfully for contracts or to ensure that a contract, once won, is delivered smoothly and profitably.

In fact, despite some unfamiliar challenges, projects in the MENA region are often not as complex as many companies perceive them to be. Organisations in the region are generally easy going, hospitable and seek to engage with companies that want to work with them.

Analysis by PA shows that companies that want to make in-roads into the MENA market need to develop their capabilities and processes in four key areas: commercial, cultural, relationships and project organisation. Companies should begin by undertaking an audit of their level of maturity in each of these areas and then work systematically to develop them as necessary.

Laying the foundation for commercial success

A clearly defined and legally approved commercial agreement is the foundation for all successful project work, wherever it takes place, and the MENA region is no exception. The ultimate goal for companies beginning a project should be to ensure:

  • a detailed and legally approved contract is in place before work begins
    the client is financially stable

  • a payment schedule has been set out and agreed on

  • a substantial initial payment has been made

  • quality assurance of deliverables is exemplary.

Building cultural understanding

Every region of the world has its own business culture and companies that operate successfully in the MENA region understand the distinctive culture that prevails in Arabic countries. Companies that operate with a high level of maturity in MENA markets use the same language as their client and ensure that their behaviour and cultural etiquette mirrors that of their client.

Establishing strong relationships

The relationships that develop between clients and companies as projects progress are critical to success and are inextricably interwoven with cultural sensitivities. Companies that demonstrate a high level of maturity in this area will see their client relationships extending naturally into new networks and new business areas.

However, business relationships in the MENA region are unique and often what is considered in the region as building a good relationship with the client, perhaps by offering gifts, would be considered unethical elsewhere.

Defining project organisation

The best project organisation practised by companies operating successfully in the Gulf  is characterised by very close cooperation among individual project teams and even integration with the client’s own teams. Companies operating at this level of maturity have overcome the biggest challenge to project success: the tendency for project teams to operate independently as autonomous units.

To find out more about how PA can help your business prepare to win and deliver work successfully in the Gulf, please contact us now.

PA Consulting Group in MENA

Charlotte Warburton

Charlotte Warburton

Farrukh Ahmad

Farrukh Ahmad

Miguel Lopez

Miguel Lopez


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