When the Middle East beckons, can you afford to not have the right guide?

January 30, 2017 Katy Roberts

For those organisations who have successfully done it, you will know that breaking into the Middle East market takes substantially harder work than a few phone calls and a couple of visits. It has been said that the estimated e-commerce market size in the Middle East will grow to reach $51 billion in 2017 and is “showing great resilience despite mounting political and economic headwinds” (Focus Economics). It’s no wonder that many organisations all over the world see the Middle East economy, which falls into the top 20 GDP earners globally, as a growth opportunity for them. 

But for those organisations who are at the start of their expansion into this territory, it has never been more relevant to ensure you have the right team of people to guide you. The home of independent business talent, Talmix, is not limited to a single industry or market. We speak to Talmix consultant Daniel Koob who shares some of his insight into growth strategies in the Middle East. 

“I have been in consulting for most of my life. My journey actually started while I was still studying at Mannheim University when I had the opportunity to work for my father’s consulting firm which focussed on the Middle East market, and specifically the oil & gas sector, and which provided consulting services to businesses looking to expand their footprint into the Middle East”, he tells me. Daniel makes an impression on me. He is well-spoken, incredibly knowledgeable about his subject matter, and demonstrates sound experience in helping businesses and projects who are trying to crack the Middle Eastern market. 

Daniel initially started his consulting journey with ZS Associates and then soon landed a consultant position with reputable consulting firm Arthur D Little. It didn’t take long for Daniel to be recognised as an enabler of cross-cultural project success by producing high quality deliverables for the clients he worked with. His eagerness to learn, and his hands-on approach to consulting meant that he was very quickly rewarded with internal career progression within the organisation. “As part of a project team, I was given the opportunity to spend some time getting to know emerging markets across the world, which included China, Brazil and the Middle East. Where some of my peers hesitated, I threw myself into the opportunity to get to know the cultures and experience true Middle Eastern life. I soon realised that the business patterns between these emerging markets were really comparable and most of the time, depended more on having the right local partners in place than the development of a market assessment that eventually ends up in the bottom drawer of a desk”.  

After realising an opportunity for Daniel to build on the experience and skill he had developed over the years, he opted for an independent consulting career and within a few months was able to sign his first client which he successfully represented within the Middle East. 

“Doing business with companies in the Middle East is not as easy as what most organisations think. Business is based on relationship. And relationship is based on trust. Without having established trust between all business parties, you have very little hope of successful development within this territory. This means that as an organisation moving into the Middle East, you have to be acutely aware of business culture. What may seem acceptable to you, may be the very thing that loses the deal at the last moment. The timescales you expect, may not be echoed by your counterpart in the Middle East”, he says. And Daniel demonstrates his expertise as he shares examples and stories of his own experiences bridging the gap between European organisations and their Middle Eastern counterparts. 

Daniel’s skill is being able to package his client requirements into a translatable and acceptable value proposition which opens doors for communication and development. He has built up a secure and high-calibre business network across the GCC, specifically the UAE and Saudi Arabia and actively works to keep relationships open, communication clear and trustworthy.  “An organisation cannot really afford a big mess”, he says. “The risk of a breakdown in communication could result in a permanent closure of the door of opportunity. And beyond that, there is very little chance of restoration”. 

Is your organisation looking to strengthen its footing in the Middle East? Then Daniel may be the consultant who can help you get there. Contact Talmix today about your next opportunity. 

About the Author

Katy Roberts

Katy is an independent marketing consultant and founded Fresh Brew Marketing out of her love for the cuppa. A seasoned marketer, Katy writes for several global publications and provides outsourced marketing services to businesses throughout the UK. She is a keen geocacher and rates running around in city centres dressed in Christmas lights as one of her most successful Social Media campaigns to date.

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