Dubai Airport, Mummys and personal contacts
As a Virgo with a research bent I’ve always been inclined to ‘do my research’ first. As a businesswoman and mother of a nine-year old son who was interested in mummys (not me but the ancient version thereof), I saw the perfect opportunity to multi-task.
Holdiay, business research and intellectual interest. I organised a month-long holiday for my son and I to Dubai and Eqypt.
Before we left I spent six months reading all the books I could find on the Middle East, ancient through to modern, as well as providing my son with books on Egyptian mummys, the Pharaohs and ancient civilisations. While my son was engrossed in his books I got down to business.
Firstly, I went out to my network and asked questions about the business, cultural and political environment in the UAE as that’s where I felt my writing and publishing services might be in demand. I called business people, Austrade representative, the Australian embassies in the countries I was visiting and the embassies of the Arab/GCC countries I was planning to visit. I went to visit the commercial consuls and, in some cases, Ambassadors, spent time with them, asked questions and ‘got an education’.
Secondly, I kept engaging my contacts about what I was planning and thinking. I sought their advice, guidance and counsel. I was genuinely interested in learning about what we would call ‘the lay of the land’, and in the process I developed some great friendships. Some of these friendships developed in to business opportunities and others provided the absolutely essential personal introductions required throughout the Middle East.
Thirdly, I went, well my son and I got on the plane and we travelled to the UAE for a week and then Egypt . . . this was in 2004. Most of my friends and my family were bemused at best and horrified at worst. Why was I going to ‘the Middle East’, was it safe, why was I taking my son, he might get stolen . . . and on it went.
My son and I could not wait to get on the plane. It was an adventure. For me it was the potential of new business links and the opportunity of meeting new people from a culture I had enormous respect for. For my son, it was the mummys.
It’s pretty much the same advice/experience I’d give today for businesspeople thinking about expanding their business in the MENA region.
- Do your research
- Be passionate about the opportunity
- Be open and engaging and keep engaging
- Seek advice from professional consultants who have actually lived and worked in the Middle East
- Connect with genuine people and seek assistance
- Get on the plane and invest yourself. Passion and focus will get you there.