Ramadan Kareem!! What a British Business needs to know.

The Islamic holy month of Ramadan is rapidly approaching, probably starting on the 18th of June.  It will be my 3rd Ramadan spent in Kuwait (see the picture I took last year) and while some UK business people think that it's a time to avoid visiting - you may find that with a bit of hard work and the support of the KBBC you could make Ramadan work for you.

Kuwait holds the unique concept and tradition of a "Diwanyia" very close to it's heart.  A Diwanyia is both a room (or a specially added separate meeting hall) at a Kuwaiti home as well as the name given to the concept of men gathering together, receiving guests, neighbours and friends to discuss current events, exchange views and become better acquainted.  The good thing is (and it's something us Brits struggle with!) everyone is invited.  There's no invitations, no guest list, no RSVP - if you know the Diwanya is on just turn up...you will greeted with open arms.  In fact, with a British accent and even a vague understanding of the Premier League - you'll practically be a celebrity!  During Ramadan, all of the bigger Kuwaiti families publish the dates and time of their Diwanyia's in the local paper, including the Kuwaiti merchant families who are the best route into doing business here - whether you are a medical devices company or a lawyer.

You'll be treated to as many cups of arabic coffee as you can drink, (shake your cup to indicate you've had enough - or it will keep being refilled) dates and many varied sweets, nuts, desserts and cakes.  A polite "La shukran" is fine when you've had enough.  Talk about the weather, talk about the UK, the football, politics but wait for your host to bring up business.  You can stay between 5 minutes and 55 minutes, chances are you'll know when the time is right to say goodbye.  While you might not get a contract on the back of 15 minutes in a Diwanyia, it is a superb way to build your contact network, engage in some uniquely Kuwaiti culture and form a meaningful and memorable bond with a potential business partner. 

If you're interested we can help.  We'd be happy to work through the lists of published Diwaniyas (and some that aren't) find the right ones for your company and help make the introductions.  In Kuwait's busy Ramadan traffic we can even drive you from Diwanyia to Diwaniya then back to your hotel for some much needed shut-eye....just don't drink too much coffee!