The Defuse Podcast - Taking the guesswork out of protecting your privacy, reputation and status.

De-mystifying doing business in the Middle East with Corina Goetz

October 10, 2023 Philip Grindell MSc CSyP
The Defuse Podcast - Taking the guesswork out of protecting your privacy, reputation and status.
De-mystifying doing business in the Middle East with Corina Goetz
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Show Notes Transcript

This month’s podcast is all about doing business in the Gulf region. For many people, the Gulf region is an unexploited opportunity. It is a culture that is perceived to be at odds with the West. Corina is an expert in the region and shares with us her wisdom in unravelling the perceived complexities and making doing business more approachable. 

What is it like doing business in the Gulf region as a woman? Is it even possible? 

Do you need to speak Arabic?

I’m not in the oil business so what are the opportunities?

Where and how do I connect with potential partners or clients?

Corian will answer these issues and much more.

Corina Goetz is a Middle East Strategist and Keynote Speaker who helps companies and professionals to succeed in the Gulf region. We have been trusted advisors to many HNW clients from the Gulf and we now teach others how to build these relationships.

Corina founded Star-CaT Ltd in 2015 which stands for five-star service and consulting and training.

Corina, and her team help companies and professionals to succeed in the Gulf region. We have been trusted advisors to many HNW clients from the Gulf and we now teach others how to build these relationships.

Their services include:
 Middle East Membership for ongoing support (for companies and individuals)
 Online Resources

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Philip Grindell:

Hello everyone. Welcome to the Defuse podcast. Now we used to call it the online bodyguard. But we rebranded to bring the podcast online with the wider, Defuse brand. That sounds a bit weird that online but anyway, it's now part of the wider kind of Defuse brands so it's no longer the online bodyguard


and it's part of Defuse, where we take the guesswork out of protecting your security, reputation and status. And today I'm absolutely delighted to introduce my friend Corina Goetz to this podcast. Corina is a Middle East strategist. And her business is called Star Cat, which stands for five star service and consulting and training.

Philip Grindell:

And Corina, her team helped professionals and companies to better understand the Gulf region. So they can create success for their clients and themselves much quicker. And basically educating anyone to succeed in the Gulf region and break down all the stereotypes, which is, which is what this this podcast is going to be about. So just so we're clear, this is not about politics, we're not going to be discussing the rights and wrongs or whatever anyone else beliefs around what is what they think right about the Middle East, or the Gulf region or otherwise, this is if you have strong views on it, that's fine. You don't do business there.


But what but you might find that some of those views are actually wrong or mistaken, or just saw by the media. So listening, because I absolutely guarantee we're all going to learn things on this on this on this podcast. So Corina, welcome. Thank you for doing this. Great to see you. And let's just start off by saying, what when we talk about the Gulf, what do we mean, what sort of when you say the Gulf region, what does that actually mean?

Corina Goetz:

Well, I think the Gulf region is defined as sort of six main states, and that's the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, and the UAE. And they actually even have an official body called the Gulf Cooperation Council, which, you know, fosters cooperation between all of these six.

Philip Grindell:

But when we talk about the golf, we mean these six countries. Okay, so I'm fascinated, you know, how did you become interested, engaged, involved and learn about this part of the world?

Corina Goetz:

Well, this is a very interesting story, because I grew up in Germany, and particularly actually in East Germany, and I never really had any dealings with any kind of people from the Arab world, up until I actually moved to London, because my background is in hospitality. So I worked with a lot of five star hotels. And then of course, when I started, I worked in Germany, in in some hotels, but even there, I had no exposure to any of the sort of Gulf clientele. But when I came to London, I suddenly had massive exposure. And when we look at this, I think we look at sort of, like, early 2000. And at that time, I mean, Facebook, I think only launched like 2006 2007. So there wasn't really much information. I mean, the Internet was obviously around. But the information that was there was either wrong or not correct, or there just wasn't much. And then again, I think we also, in Europe, also in America, or in other parts, we don't normally get a lot of regional news. So we just get news stat that pertain to us. So again, there wasn't much about the golf. So everything that I kind of learned was by meeting people from the region by dealing with them by experiencing what they needed by meeting some of the families, you know, and then also travelling there. So I think my first trip to the region was in 2005, I believe. And obviously, it was very different back then. But that really opened my eyes to this whole region and how this actually worked. Because it's a very different thing. When you work with clients over here in the UK, then when you actually see what you know, how they live and what their life is like day to day. And that I think, is also one of the beautiful things that people let you in very quickly in the Gulf. And that's kind of how I started and I think one of the things I would like to say is probably that on paper, I would have probably been the total opposite to what you would think would be a good fit to deal with clients from the Gulf. Because I'm German, I'm very organised and very punctual. You know, I have all my things sort of like all my ducks in a row, as they say. And, but my personality actually really gelled with the Middle Eastern personality. We had a lot of values and common about families and things. And it just worked really well and some of these relationships that I have I've had from 20 years ago and this is kind of how I how I learned by making all the mistakes and learning what people had to say and what was happening in their, in their countries and being open minded.

Philip Grindell:

So I think that brings us nicely into dispelling one particular myth, which you talk about, you might not be the the people's perception of a good fit. And what you didn't mention was, because you're a woman.


Yes. And, you know, if, if I want to say something to the, to the woman in particular, I mean, time and time and time again, people have said to me, oh, you're a woman, and you don't speak Arabic, like you can't deal with this kind of clientele. But you know, it's actually the opposite. Because if you're a woman, I can go and see the man and the woman because if you're a man, sometimes if the woman are very traditional, the family is very traditional, you cannot go and see the woman was with me. I mean, you know, I've been to Saudi, I've been to dinners where I was the only woman with 50 men, but it was fine. Everybody was very accommodating. So being a woman is actually a massive plus, and you don't and one of the other meds is also you don't have to speak the language because a lot of the people from there speak very good English. And certainly the new generation. I just went met, somebody that I've known for a long time from Abu Dhabi and his son is the same age as mine. Like his English is perfect, because they really have you know, the Arabic and the English in school and kids, they already you know, they they grow up learning English. So English is really not a problem. But I'm guessing that if you know, like, you know, in many cultures, if you know one or two key phrases, that always goes down, well, I'm guessing. Oh, of course, of course. But you don't need to have a full like, you don't need to be fluent. Yeah. An interesting that the Arabic is, people often think, oh, Arabic is one language, but which of course it is. But it's like every language like English as an example, in terms of dialects and what have you, and so that the Arab, the Arabic of the Middle East may be very different to the Arabic of North Africa as an example. Oh, very much so because, for example, Didi, who works with me, she grew up in Italy, but she can understand Arabic because some of her family is from Morocco. But she even said that with some of the accents in some of the countries, she said, I can totally understand really well, when people from this country speak to me whilst with the next one, I really struggle, I have to listen really carefully. And even then I don't get the whole gist sometimes. So it again, it has a lot of regional dialects. And you have to, I mean, I think almost with English, there's, you know, the Scottish that is very different. So just because you speak English doesn't mean you understand somebody who speaks maybe full blown Scottish. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. So okay, that so if we, if we look at it from a business perspective, you know, why should we look to the Gulf region to do business? What's What's the attraction? I think, at the attraction at the moment, is that they are very forward thinking in what they want to achieve for the region and make that whole region such a hub, I think we've seen what they can achieve with what Dubai has done over the past sort of 20 years. And now I think we have, it's almost like, I would almost say it's sort of like your awakening a giant when you talk about Saudi Arabia, because Saudi Arabia up until I'd say probably 2017 2018 was quite a closed country, it was very difficult to get a visa tourist visas when a thing, except, obviously, for religious tourism. But, you know, my first trip to Saudi was actually in 2011. And my God, you know, like, I had to get somebody to sponsor me, they then had to send us to the Minister of Interior who had to approve this and Saudi then I had to go to Saudi embassy. I mean, the whole process took like four weeks easy, and it was not guaranteed that you would get it. I did get it in the end. But it was quite a long process. And for every single trip, you had to do the same thing. When you now look, fast forward to 23, you go online, and you get your, you get your visa within like three minutes. So it's a whole different thing. And I think what's so interesting about Saudi is that they have so many areas that are very unexplored for the majority of people. And that's something that they're focusing on like now. There's a big push for tourism, and people will think, you know, why would I go to Saudi there's probably just desert there, but there isn't and this is the this is the funny thing that they actually have so much to offer. They have mountains, they have snow, they have you know, a coastline on the red sea that is literally has never been developed for tourism at all. And that will once this these projects have come to completion, I think sort of rivalled the Maldives, because also they have, you know, the the animal and the plantation and the coral reefs and everything is still intact, and it hasn't been spoiled by tourism have for years and years and years. And what they're doing now is obviously also plan ahead for this to try and preserve that and not make the same mistakes that maybe other places have made, where these areas, you know, you know, almost got damaged by some of the tourism. And then you have places like an EU law that if if I would want to compare it to is probably very similar, what you can see in Petra, although they don't like to be compared. But that's the kind of landscape so there is a huge amount of different things that you can do. And people just think, Oh, my God, no, I would never go there. But that's because people don't know. And, you know, the funny thing is, with places, for example, like Lulu, I have Saudi friends that said, you know, I've grown up in this country, and I even never knew this existed. So I think there's a lot of things that are there that people just don't know about. And I think that is just hugely exciting. And some of the projects that they have is, you know, they tie in with all the things that a lot of a lot of the other countries in the West want to do, you know, sustainability and looking ahead and coming up with cutting edge technologies. So that's why I think it's a real hub of innovation. And these projects, like move fast. I mean, there's a new announcement pretty much every other week. So it's definitely a region that we should keep on our radar. And in terms of then developing business relationships, or beginning to sort of reach out into that part of the world. How do you do that? I mean, is it? Is it LinkedIn? Is it what's what's the kind of the way that you engage with that part of the world? You know, one of the things that I always say is you have to build relationships, because relationships in the Middle East are more important than anywhere else in the world. And when I say relationships, I mean, it's not just about you go in your pitch for your project, and that's the end of the communicate communication. No, you have to keep building these relationships and, and stay in touch with people. And even Once your project is finished, because this is, again, this is the other beauty of the Middle East, because you never know who else these people No. And in the Middle East, everything is about recommendation. Everything is about if you have done good business with somebody, they will recommend you but they will only recommend you if they feel you have a genuine interest in them. And if you just think, Okay, I'm going to do my project, and then I'm going to leave it. That's just not going to work. But But back to your question, where if, for example, you had no connections at all in the region, definitely LinkedIn is a really good place to get started. Because Saudi is very, very active on LinkedIn. And people would say, oh, no, I don't believe this. And I'm like, You guys just need to check all the big projects on there. There's so many people on there. And it's actually so funny, because we planning a trip to Saudi, and I was looking for a tour guide, and somebody in my, in my connections turned out to be a tour guide. And we just chatted, and he has these brilliant offers. And I'm like, oh my god, like I would have never known, like where to find you. Because if you look on some of the other places, like where you can book tours, it's not that common, and how are you really going to, you know, be sure that it's the right person, but this person actually had built up a profile on LinkedIn, they talked about some of the trips. And it was brilliant. So I highly recommend and, you know, I should also say we were at, at a conference probably about two months ago, and one of the Saudi ministers at the conference said, you know, we always get asked, Oh, how can we get started? How can people reach out to us? And he said, you know, guys, it's not rocket science. We're all on LinkedIn. So just make it happen. So there you go. This is my pitch. Yeah. I mean, it's interesting. I, excuse me, I've had Saudi clients and I've had members of the Saudi royal family. But of course, the Saudi royal family is huge. And I've had others that have kind of purported to be princes and what have you. But it can be slightly daunting when you're, when you're dealing with such a huge family where lots of people claim they are related or associated with where do you start? How do you know if someone is genuine or not? I think this is where you know, if you really want to make this a focus of growth, I think this is where you need to take time to educate yourself and invest a little bit into learning what the region is about and it's exactly like you like you said, you know, for somebody that That is really noon on LinkedIn. I mean, I can't tell you the amount of times somebody tried to connect with me claiming to be the Crown Prince of Dubai. Now, if I didn't know any better, I probably would have been like, Oh, my God, this is so exciting was probably you and me would be like, hold on a minute, let's look at this profile you have how many followers and aside from that, you know, you're the Crown Prince of Dubai, you have an office full of people looking after your social media is not necessarily just going to be you. So it was very clear that this person was a spammer. But a lot of people wouldn't know that. And that's why I think, you know, like, I think with anything in the world, if you're not an expert, I think you need to seek somebody out that has some expertise, and can help you and guide you and, and answer these exact questions, if you're not sure. I mean, I had a friend who reached out from LA, who looks after some celebrities, and they had been sent a letter from supposedly Abu Dhabi, one of the palaces to invite one of the celebrities he was managing. And it was very clear, very quickly for me by looking at this letter that this was a complete scam. And, but he wouldn't have known because it looked legitimate to him. So there we go, I'm sure you have come across so many more of these kinds of examples. I've had exactly that example, where I've had a crown prince, or, or a person who purported to be the chief adviser to one of the Crown Princes reaching out to me. And I remember thinking, would that person really be the person who's reaching out to me, or, you know, kind of on a cold, reach out, and I just thought, and you know, you do five minutes of fairly basic research, and you can pretty quickly work out that's not who they say they are. And even if you look at the email addresses, and all, you know, the usual sort of thing of scams, but equally, I've had others who've contacted me who were very genuine and, and, you know, again, five minutes, and you think, yeah, and I remember very distinctly, when I, when I had my first sort of Saudi client, and looking them up and researching and in thinking, wow, wow, they really are part of the royal family. And they're actually fairly close. And, but the interesting thing was, when I met them, they couldn't have been, I would know, if you'd walk down the street, you'd never have known who they were. And they couldn't have been more laid back. And I mean, we met them in in London, they live in London, or certainly part of the year. But they weren't, at all my perspective on my perception of what I was going to experience. And so that, you know, that was again, in another gentle reminder about you don't you know, what your perceptions are not always accurate around what people are like. But it's, but it's, but it's interesting in terms of people, perhaps thinking that the Gulf is purely about oil as an example. And yet, we know, tourism is obviously huge now. Tourism, I think, innovation, I think, there's so many, there's so many stereotypes that I hear all the time, it's the same as that people think everybody from the Gulf is rich. And that's that's not true, either. Yes, of course, maybe they're a bit more wealthy and our eyes, but they're not like that top top level, to the same degree that people say, have said to me before, when I had a Saudi client, and he wanted some help with something. And people over here in England have said to me, Well, do they speak English? Like, yes, they do. So it's so there's a lot of I think, preconceived notions, I see this time and time again, or, and that I think, for me is also one of the biggest mistakes that a lot of company or people from Europe make, they walk, they go out there. And then they think, oh, you know, we have to bring in and show them how to do it. Yes, maybe in your specific field, but you also have a duty to educate yourself about what is important to them and what they want to achieve, actually, and a lot of the trends and some of the tech stuff that is trend, ending they probably know before you because social media is huge in the Middle East. And people never believe me when I say that. But you know, I looked at some statistics and it basically said for Saudi Arabia, the population is 35 million 30 million of these of the population is on the internet and 30 million use WhatsApp, so that just kind of shows you, you know, what, like, how advanced this region really is, and they see all of these things. I mean, some of my friends from the regions, they say to me, oh, you know, we saw this new supplement or this new beauty brand or this new restaurant in London. I hadn't even heard of. So, you know, they really had with a lot of it. So I think we should never underestimate that. So if we, if we took about the Gulf region journey, I mean, I It's probably, if we say, the Gulf region, it's probably like saying, if I if I was to say, as an example, is it safe to go to the Gulf region? That's like saying, is it safe to go to Europe? Because they're all independent places, and they all have their own cultures and, you know, various different issues that are going on, as we do in Europe. But it's us, are there some sort of general guidance or good practices across the region? I mean, for sure, I, you know, I think back to your question, is it safe to go to the Gulf region, I would actually say, across the six countries that we mentioned, it's actually very safe. And it always, it always puzzles me that many people just feel really apprehensive, and they think it's not safe at all. And then they go, and they see that you can leave your laptop, your phone, in a coffee shop and a restaurant, and it will still be there an hour later. And they're like, Oh, my God, how did this happen? You know, and this is a very common theme that people just don't know. So yes, it's very safe. But of course, you know, for me, I would always say, respect the locals, do some of your homework, do some research. So for example, if you go to, let's say, you know, let's maybe even go away from Saudi Arabia just looking at UAE so a lot of people will go to Dubai, Dubai, I think is not very representative of the region, because it's such a massive expat city now. And, and it's obviously very free and and in the way you can dress pretty much how you like, and this was not even the same a few years ago, a few years ago, you would say, you know, at least like, you know, cover your shoulders, you know, and wear like loose fitting dresses, if you've got to do buy more. Now, there's crop tops, and mini skirts, you see anything. But let's say you're there, and then you think, okay, maybe I'll just go to Abu Dhabi. And because there's a few things to see, one of them, for example, is the mosque. And on our last trip, we also went to the mosque. And it was so interesting, what the perception of people was going walk thing into that mosque, miniskirts, hot pans, which is clearly not appropriate, and they all had to go back and buy extra things to cover up. And so it's like, so I think for me, this is just good practice, you know, you wouldn't go in like a miniskirt into a church in Italy, or in anywhere else. So I would say those are the kinds of things you need to you need to look into. And then I would say, be open minded, because people are very friendly. And they actually they want to strike up a conversation, and it doesn't matter if you know them, or you don't know them people really want to help. And that's, I think, to me, that's just beautiful. So I would say do your research and and look at the different places because not not one place is like like the other. And I would imagine most people will probably go to Dubai, and that's probably fine. But there are still things that are not acceptable in Dubai, like things like I don't know, getting drunk on the beach, or you know, things like that. That's just not okay. And for those kinds of things, you can get arrested. So do your research. So I think I think my perspective on some of that is, it's about respecting other people's cultures. You know, you may, you may you may think, or not you, but a person may think, well, this is how I dress. So I should be allowed to go into, you know, a mosque or something. But actually, it's about respecting, you're in their country, you're in their culture. So you know, you either respect it or just don't go. And I think it's less about culture, although that exists, but it is mainly about respect. You know, we know the rules. I know, we, we always hear horror stories that we have someone being imprisoned for something that is apparently minor, but we don't get all the full facts or something. But actually, when we looked down at it, it's about there are clear rules, they're not hiding behind anything that they they may be different to ours, they may have some, some specific religious and cultural rules, because that's, that's, that's the part of the world you're operating in. And so you need to be aware of them. And if you don't know, ask somebody, but it's just about respect and understanding and, and you've got a brilliant page on your website, which which I mentioned earlier on, which you've called the risks in the Gulf state. And I don't think it's, I don't think it means risks as in danger, but I think it means challenge, you know, issues and challenges. And I thought if we just talked about some of those because I think I highly recommend anyone to go to your site, and we'll put the details on the on the podcast notes, but there's a really quick easy wins here in terms of some of the issues and so Do you talk about gender roles? For instance, again, perceptions. Talk to me about that about the gender roles and our perceptions. So I think the perception is very much like, and I've, again, I've seen this time and time again, that, you know, people think you woman don't really have a real say on it. But there's actually a lot of a lot of the experiences that I had. And a lot of the people that I have met is the woman actually behind the scenes, probably very much the strings, there's a lot of woman entrepreneurs in the Gulf now, and I have a post about that coming up as well. And they're very much encouraged to, you know, get an education, do something with with business, but it may just not work in the way that we see entrepreneurs. So for example, I have a friend in Qatar, and one of her family members, one of her cousins, she actually has a really beautiful beauty business. And we were talking about this last time. And she's and they've, she's really grown this from really small to much bigger, and she has a lot of people following her now. And she said to me, you know, I love that my family is so encouraging. But one of the things I could do is advertise that as myself, because it's just not, you know, this is just not in our nature be very private. And I just would not show my face on social media. So I always look for models that represent and everything. So again, somebody from here would say, Oh, my God, this is just terrible. But that's just their culture. And why not respect that. But that doesn't mean, you know, she would want to do that. Because she was like, no, no, I would never want to do that. But I love my business. And I really want to drive this forward. And it's making such an impact with women. Because the makeups really helping people and I'm looking at different skin tones that they have to, for example, to Europe. So so to me, that's just beautiful, why can't we celebrate that not everybody has to be the same. Not everybody in Europe is the same. So I think it's just looking at those kinds of things. So it's not like that the man or press the woman actually a lot of the men are very, they encourage a lot of their woman to, you know, do something or come up with a business or or you know, come up with an idea. And then again, I had a friend in Abu Dhabi, and, and she said, I really wanted to bring you a little gift, but I wanted to bring you something local. So she brought me like a little notebook, and pens and things that were actually made in Abu Dhabi by local Emirati woman, because some of it was to do with the craft and the way they had sort of like, folded certain and use certain techniques. And I just thought that that was just such a beautiful thing. So, you know, so it's really great, I think, to see that. And then I think one of the other examples I always give, people say, ah, you know, but in Saudi, it's, like, stressful, woman come to anything. And then I'll always say, you know, look to when you look at, you know, every country obviously has an ambassador in different countries to represent the country. And the number one posting, the number one diplomatic posting is, of course, the US, which is Washington, because it's the most important for various reasons. And guess what, the Saudi ambassador to Washington is a lady Princess Reema. And she's been in this post since 2019. So, you know, it's kinda like, it's always what you choose to look at, I think, and, and how you choose to interpret that to your own values. But I think if you're a little bit open minded, and you look a bit more outside, you will actually see there's a lot going on that, you know, is very beautiful. And of course, a lot of its media perceptions and what the media tells us. And, you know, we watch some of the TV shows around Dubai as an example or the UAE and we see extreme wealth, but that doesn't reflect the whole place. It's just a microcosm of what they're showing us but but that's just the way it isn't. I mean, that's I'm sure they think so about us. So then the next time you've got his jet is greetings and gestures. So tell us about that. What do we need to know about that? So greetings. For example, one of one of the things that I always give us an example because this is such a good example is you know, here in Europe, we always say, oh, you know, How's your wife and because we just want to find out how house you know, the significant other, but in the Middle East, you don't say that in the Middle East if and especially if you're if you're talking men to men, this can actually be really offensive asking after somebody else's wife so you get out close there is How's the family because that incorporates everything and anything and it doesn't refer to one particular person. I mean, in Europe, we wouldn't think anything of it. But in the Middle East, this is a big thing. So and, and then of course, you know, you can go a lot further with, with things like handshakes, if people are very conservative, for example, and your man, maybe if you meet the rest of the family, maybe the wife doesn't want to shake hands, which is just totally appropriate, because that's just not as per their culture. So you kind of also have to always take clues from the opposite sides, I think there's like lots and lots of little nuances of things, if you know, then you can just operate so much better, and you can be so much more confident. It's really interesting. I, I was very new to Middle Eastern clubs with golf clients, and I had a golf client, and I was in exactly that scenario where I, my head was full of perceptions and what have you. And when I met the contact, who was the working for the family, I actually said to him, What do I do? You know, what do I do I reach out and shake the hands and do it, you know, and he could have guided me through it. So right, this is, you know, this is how they like to do things, what have you. And I just thought, why would you not just ask, you know, I mean, it's, it's not offensive to ask, you know, I'm, you know, I'm new to your culture. What do I do? How do I behave? Because? Because I've, you know, been in other cultures around the world and Africa, and, you know, in Far East, etc, where I've done exactly the same. And so again, I guess it's about not making assumptions and not being offended by different rules, or judging people by different rules. And if you're not sure, ask, yeah, 100 100%, I would agree, like do your homework beforehand, or ask the question, and you will never I think people will never be offended. If you ask a question and say, you know, I'm sorry, but I don't know. Yeah, they will actually be really happy. Because people, they are very happy to show you, their country, their customs. So but I mean, of course, in a business setting, it probably pays off. If you do your research beforehand, you don't want to sit in a bid in a bit in a business meeting and be asking all these questions, I think you should be better prepared. Yeah. Which brings us on to dress code. So, you know, particularly, you know, we mentioned obviously, going to a mosque and visiting a mosque and the appropriateness of dress there, but what about business? You know, are they? Are they very formal? Are they quite relaxed? What was the what's the, what's the advice there? I mean, I think if you go into a business meeting, and this is about meeting a new partner, or or, I mean, in any kind of business setting, you should be dressed in a business way. And it's very interesting, because I heard time and time again, that people look, look how well you are actually dressed. You know, and as a Westerner, your counterpart is when you go to the Middle East 100% dressed in their local in their local dress code. So the manual where the white thought, and this is very normal, because that is their setting in the in their home countries, it wouldn't be necessarily in Europe, but over there it is. But if you go in a nice suit, in some nice shoes, you know, then that shows your counterpart you mean business. And as a woman, I would say this is what I always say. You should also be dressed in business attire, but you should make sure that a you're not going in, in a in a mini dress. So if you had a dress, I would say, you know, maybe if you had like a longer dress that you could put, you could put a jacket on or like a longer skirt, something that is a bit more free flowing and not as tight. Also, you should stay away from, you know, showing a lot of difficulty and things like that, you know, in doubt, I would always put a jacket on. And so you just look well dressed. And not. I don't know, what is the right word for this? You know, it may be a bit more conservative than what you would dress in Europe, I would say. And then Saudi I always get asked this question should do I need to wear in a bio or do I have to you used to, but you don't need it anymore. But you can if you want to. And again, that's kind of like a beautiful thing. Like for me, I just think oh, this is brilliant. I'll just take my bike along, because it's actually very versatile garment. So what is in a bind. So in a buyer is almost like a very long flowing. I would say almost like an overcoat like it covers your arms up to your hands. And it normally goes all the way down to the floor. You can close it or you can keep it open but it's a brilliant garment because they have very light fabrics to throw over. For example, if you had a t shirt on and some summer trousers and you put the buyer over it, you'll always be fine like dress as well, ladies, ladies, ladies, not the men, the men, you can totally go in, in a nice suit in a business setting. So it's Yeah. Would you be I think, would you would you be expected to wear a tie? Um, I would say if you're pitching for something, yes, I would. Yeah. I mean, maybe if you're just meeting somebody more like as the first instance for coffee, then maybe not so much. But if it's a business meeting, or you're presenting something 100%, you should make an effort. So really, it's kind of formal and conservative is from business perspective. Yeah, I think just showing people that you mean business? And again, respect, I mean, like, I think, oh, in Europe, you wouldn't turn up, you know, sloppy if you go for a business meeting. So yeah, I mean, it comes down to respect here, and isn't it in terms of understanding where you are in the world, what's what's right and wrong, and respecting their, their culture and the nuances. So the next one, who fascinates me is time management. Whoo, this is a good one. So time management is, I mean, it has so many facets to it, I think it starts from like, when you're planning your trip, to see if there's any holidays coming up, and they may not even be obvious. So again, you know, this is already one thing, then is a time when people are away. So for example, in the summer, a lot of people go away, there's, there's not going to be prime time for your business, you know, but then also, I would say, you know, if you go for meetings, and, you know, my, my, the German in me would like to have a meeting, attend a meeting at 11, meeting at 12. This doesn't work in the Middle East, because you're 10 o'clock meeting, maybe really great. And the person will say, Oh, my God, I just have the right opportunity for you, my cousin has this company, or this and this, and I should introduce you to him. And let's go now, and then what are you going to do with all your other meetings, so you need to leave yourself a little bit of breathing room, because things sometimes move very fast. And you have to sometimes change your calendar in order to accommodate other people or use these kinds of opportunities. So I would say, you know, you need to be a little bit more fluid. And, and I understand this is really hard to understand for a lot of people. And also I think if you work, like let's say in a corporate setting very often, you know, if you go on a business trip, I think your boss may want to see, okay, what are you actually doing? Who are you actually seeing, and this may be a little bit more tricky in the Middle East to quantify. So that's why I think timing, and there's so many facets to it, you know, it's such a crucial thing. So you need to be, you need to be aware of this, because otherwise you're gonna get caught out. So Punctuality is is a different element of timing in terms of, you know, I'm a bit like you, I'm kind of, you know, 10 o'clock is five to 10. To me, so, that may not correspond with their lifestyle. No, it may be a little bit later, because something else had come up, somebody had to take a phone call. So punctuality, yeah, can be a fluid concept. But then also, again, I think if you look at some of the cities, for example, Riyadh, the traffic can be crazy. So sometimes you could just purely where people tell you maybe the day before is gonna take you 10 minutes. And then the next day, you just end up being in this massive traffic jam, and you're, you're stuck there for half an hour. So I think, you know, you need to kind of balance that a bit better with with the timing, but again, likewise, nobody, I think will tell you off, if you're there 1015 minutes late, it's not like the Germans would be like we're out of here. You know, you've had a chance you missed it. So you mentioned here also about, about meetings and how the culture of a meeting might be different in terms of interruptions. Yes, I think there again, I think there's, there's a lot of things here with with interruptions, you know, people may look at their phone, people may need to go and pray because they pray five times a day, and you know, and then maybe the leader for 10 minutes, and people are saying, oh my god, the person just walked out what happened, but it just, you know, maybe they just wanted to go and pray and then they come back in 10 minutes. So I think there's a lot more things but then it's also knowing about, for example, that you get Arabic coffee, and if you have, let's say five business meetings in a day, every meeting, you're gonna get Arabic coffee. So you need to pace yourself because otherwise by the end of the day, you won't be able to sleep. So it's little nuances like that, you know, to know but then at the same time, it's also rude to not accept it. So It's all of these kinds of things. And that I think is when it's so useful if you have somebody that can give you a little bit of a heads up and say, oh my god, pace yourself with this, don't do this, or it's the same, like you go to dinner. And, you know, some of us have been brought up to, we need to clear our plate while in the Middle East, that's not a good idea, because you're just going to end up getting more. So you know, but but this is part of the hospitality. And again, it's, it's different. And if you don't know, you're just gonna end up in, in a situation where you think, Oh, my God, what is happening here? Yeah, I had an experience exactly like that. When I when I, I had occasion to be with some headwinds. And unbeknown to me, when they pulled you coffee, when you when you'd had enough coffee, you had to turn your cup upside down. Otherwise, I just keep pouring coffee, because it just assumed that you would want more coffee. And after about four cups of, you know, lovely cardamom coffee, and what have you, you know, actually, they said to me, have you had enough? And I said, Oh, God, yeah. And they said, Oh, you need to turn your cup upside down, you know, so again, otherwise, I'd probably have never slept the rest of my life. But on that note, let's let's touch on it on a subject, which often raises lots of questions, alcohol. What was the what's your experience of that in terms of, you know, is it is it completely something you should never go near? Is it something you can drink in hotel? What's the kind of ruling generally around alcohol? I think in a lot of countries, you can get alcohol. Obviously, in, you know, like in Dubai, you can get it in like restaurants in hotels, lots of different places in Qatar, I think you can get it in hotels, although there's quite a few hotels that are also drying. In Saudi, you can't get it in a public place. But in a private place, probably however, you have to be as for example, like as an expat, sometimes you have to be careful, because, you know, there's also people that are brewing this, I say, like underground, which is like, is a lot stronger. So I will say, in a place where this is not accept it. For now, in Saudi, stay away from it, because you just don't know, you know, I mean, of course, like, in any place, you can get anything. But if you don't know what you're getting, I think you're going to put yourself in a situation that you don't want to be in. And would I be right then thinking, you know, if you were drinking in the hotel, as an example, I'll go on the hotel, and you go, you go off to a meeting the next morning or something, if you you know, if you've got alcohol on your breath, for instance, that probably might be offensive, or that might not be particularly Yeah, well accepted. But then on the other side, I've gone to dinner with people in the Emirates with locals, where they wanted to take you to dinner. And they would say, but please do order some wine if you want to. They wouldn't drink any, but they will be quite happy for you to have some and then But then again, you know, for me, would you want to? Okay, maybe if they insisted, maybe half a glass, but I wouldn't like you know, even if you drink a few more normally in England, I kind of would try and you know, sort of minimise it, because it's just not a good look. And if your host is not drinking, it's just that kind of just seems like common sense. Isn't it really what you would think, but common sense a bit of respect for, you know, wherever you are in the world, I've been in other parts of the world, not the Middle East or other parts of the world where that wasn't necessarily the right thing to do, or, you know, and so you just kind of tag along with what they're doing, really. But yeah, I suppose if you really can't do without a drink, then just don't go. But um, yeah, I do buy it in Dubai. And if you can get alcohol at the hotels, then like, there's nothing wrong with having a drink. But I think you need to really look at what you have going on the next day. And how this is gonna look at Dubai is very different to Saudi. So you know, it's about where you are in the world as well, in terms of, as I said, rather than rather than sort of throwing the whole Gulf is one place, you know, clearly Dubai and Saudi have possibly different extremes in terms of the liberalism or conservatives that they that they currently enjoy. So it's, it's horses for courses as the as the phrase goes, yeah. So So you so you know, kind of summing up really, you're obviously a huge advocate of business in the Middle East, breaking down the barriers. What would you have sort of five top tips, what would they be to in terms of engaging ageing with and working with Middle Eastern clients or golf clients, I think I would say be open minded, you know, be open minded, that lots of different things can happen and you sometimes can just go with it, then I would also say, Never assume anything. So never assume that you are the only person who knows everything. Because like I said before, people, people do know a lot more things, and you will just look silly, if you know if if you're pretending to come from this sort of, you know, higher level, and it's not really what people like. I would say, do some research, or some research in the sense of you would do research, if you go to any country on a holiday or something to just see, you know, how do you get around? What do you do those kinds of things. But in a business setting, I would say, do your homework, especially if the deal or the project or whatever you're working on is very important. I would say, you know, maybe go that one step further and hire somebody who can give you that help? Because also I find, you know, a lot of times when people Google stuff, there's very conflicting information, like how do you know that this is the right kind of information? So I would go to somebody who is maybe has their finger on the pulse a little bit more, because it definitely pays off? In my opinion, oh, my god, what is this for? So what is the fifth? I would say, just enjoy the hospitality because it's actually really beautiful. And, and people are really open and they want to show you their, their culture and, and, yeah, maybe do something that you would never do. Because it's very common in the Middle East, that people invite you to the home, and they invite you for a meal. And we in Europe think oh my god, I would never do this, you know, but over there. This is like a common hospitality. And I would say it's a brilliant experience. So if you if you get to do that, or if you work out there, and you have a local colleague, and they invite you make use of that opportunity, because that will really broaden your horizon. I think so. So following on from that, though, the question that jumps in my mind then is okay, so you're invited to dinner at a client's house. Here in the UK, we would probably take a bottle of wine with us. What would you take if you're invited to? Or when would you be expected to take anything but but what what would if you were what would you take? What's the sort of a gift that you might take to dinner? You know, I think it's not, it's not something that has to be massive, but you could you could buy a box of chocolate, you could buy a box of dates or something like that, that is easily found, I would definitely take something but it doesn't you don't even if you go to somebody that you know, is very wealthy. It's not about how much you take, it's just that you take something I mean, obviously, if you know the person very well, that's a different thing. You know, so then you can tailor it accordingly. I mean, we met some of we met somebody in Qatar, for example, who just had a baby, which we knew about, so we brought a little gift for the baby. And that was and that was fine. But that was a very different thing, because we obviously knew a lot more about the people. But if you don't know much, just bring anything you know, and you can get chocolates and dates. Anywhere you go really in the Gulf just as long as you bring something to say thank you. And Karina, if people want to engage with you, and obviously find out more about the Middle East on the Gulf, or engage your services, because they've got business contracts coming up. Where do they find you? So I do a lot of stuff on LinkedIn. So you can find me on LinkedIn, and Karina grass. And then obviously, I think you're gonna leave the website on the bottom, which is star hyphen, And it has a lot of lots of interesting information. If you you could sign up for example, to our newsletter, we do a newsletter. Every Sunday, we talk about a different topic about the Middle East. Something that is so for example, in September, we're going to talk about Saudi National Day because that's coming up there. What is this? And and Previously we talked about, like Ramadan and Eid and what does that mean, and what does that look like? And so there's lots of interesting information and then we also do on LinkedIn, I talk a lot about what are the big projects you know, what are things going on out there? So there's you know, if you don't know much about the reach, turn, but you have an interest I think there's a good starting point. Yeah, I guess I've gone on your website and it's, it's really informative actually. And it's, there's lots of bits on there that that are that you know, you can link on to or post get the posts and learn things in in five minutes. This This document I've got the risks in the Gulf state, I think excellent frankly. And it's a two minute read but it's but it's it's something you could pop in your in your in your shovelin bag and take with you frankly but, but brilliant. I will put all of those details on the podcast notes and when we when we publish it on social media. It's been a huge, huge pleasure talking to you, Corina, and I love learning more about the Middle East and the Gulf region particularly. I'd encourage everyone to who's got any involvement or wants any involvement to engage with Corina because I've known Corina for a couple of years now. And she's my kind of real expert go to person on this subject. So, once again, thank you very much. And I look forward to seeing you very soon. Thank you so much, and thank you for having me.