Business Practices in Algeria

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The Fundamental Principles of Business Culture
In Algeria, the way business works is based not only on formal relations but also on one's capacity to build up an "address book", which is very useful when prospecting, and especially when planning to set up in the country. Courtesy, mutual confidence and respect are much appreciated qualities. It is important to keep its commitments, to increase personal visits and to exercise great rigor.
First Contact
Take an appointment at least 2 or 3 weeks ahead of time.
It is better to be recommended by someone who personally knows the person with whom you want to do business.
It is important to know if the partner is a woman or a man, because you will have to adjust your behavior accordingly.
Avoid July and August which are periods when people often take their holidays. Moreover, the month of Ramadan is not a good time for business meetings.
Shake hands with the person you are meeting and greet her/him by name putting Madame or Monsieur before it. In the presence of a woman, nod (with a smile) and wait for her to hold out her hand for you to shake; avoid prolonging eye contact and avoid, too, asking personal questions. For women visiting Algeria, men may sometimes refuse to shake your hand; do not be offended, it is a sign of respect.
How to Present Yourself
Begin introducing yourself by saying « Salam Aliykoum», then give your first name and your surname, as well as the name of your company, if necessary. Use a polite, formal language, and avoid familiarity.
Business Relations
Contrary to other countries in the north, Algerians have a very friendly attitude towards the people they meet. If you are invited to lunch or dinner at their home, accept the invitation. It will make your relations with them much easier. Do not refuse the food offered to you.
Algerians like gifts. Do not hesitate to make a thoughtful gesture; you will be rewarded in your relations with them (a regional culinary specialty will be highly appreciated).
Business Communication
Negotiations can be long and patience is essential. It is not uncommon to have to wait 2 years before reaping the benefit of your prospection.
During the visit, it is important to maintain eye contact with the person with whom you speak.
Dress Code
Stay rather conservative, for the first meeting; wear a suit and tie. Then, adapt to the dress code of the people you are meeting, but keep to classic styles. It is not uncommon to find yourself being judged on appearances. In summer (often very hot), wear a short-sleeved shirt.
Women must have at least the arms and legs covered.
Visiting Cards
Exchanged at the beginning of the first meeting, they are mainly in French. To help attract attention, visiting cards should incorporate graphics and color codes of Arabic culture.
Algerian Businessmen often work in several companies and can therefore provide you with different visiting cards.
For Further Information
Kwintessential information sheets on culture and customs in Algeria.

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