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How to Navigate Business Culture in the Middle East - Part 2

“It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.”

We all know relationships are vital in business. But in the Middle East, they take on a greater significance than in the West and hugely influence how key decisions are made in business as well as politics.

If you want to understand how things get done in the Middle East, you need to grasp one very simple concept: wasta.

‘Wasta’ is an Arabic term that means leveraging connections to achieve particular goals, whether it’s renewing official documents quickly, securing a job or promotion, or even being pardoned for certain legal infractions. Wasta as an exchange of favours among family, friends or acquaintances is a deeply entrenched and widely accepted practice in the region.

Wasta is not restricted to Arab nationals. If you’re new to the region, forging and maintaining relationships should be your top priority. By making good connections, you too can potentially benefit from the all-powerful wasta.

Just how important is wasta? This cheeky cartoon shows how useful wasta can be for getting what you want in the Middle East.

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