All three countries are part of the Arab Gulf Co-operation Council states, and business visitors need sponsorship from a local business or individual in order to obtain a visa.
The official language is Arabic, although English is used in business. Working hours during the holy month of Ramadan (generally between 31 January-1 March 1995) are restricted.
SBHD: SAUDI ARABIA
Population 12.3m (expected to reach 20m by the year 2000), plus 4.6m foreign contract workers and expatriates. “Passports bearing evidence of a visit or proposed visit to Israel will not be stamped with a Saudi visa.” The working week runs from Saturday to midday Thursday. All offices are closed four times a day for prayer. “Any company intending to take the market seriously is advised to visit the country regularly and for worthwhile periods.”
Packaging must not feature, among other things: “indecorous pictures of the human form and the like, pictures of the cross, all pictures and paintings which are contrary to Muslim morals.” Instructions and directions must be in Arabic and English.
There can be difficulties for women going out to work in Saudi, where they cannot drive and must be accompanied by a man. “Some older Saudi businessmen are not used to dealing with women.”
Population 1.5m, 650 000 of whom are Kuwaitis. “Even with a good local agent it is essential to visit the market regularly.” Visas are required. UK passport holders applying for a visa at the Kuwait Embassy in London do not require a sponsor but will need a letter from their company stating they are travelling on business. It is best to avoid visiting Kuwait during Ramadan. “Difficulties may be created in Kuwait for British firms if it is known that they have connections with Israel.”
Population is just over half a million, with expatriate employees forming the majority. “Dubai is tolerant, welcoming and virtually crime-free. Businessmen in the region prefer to deal with someone they know and trust and personal relationships are much more important in doing business in the Arab world than they are in Britain.”
Increasingly, large organisations are shifting to a five-day week, with Friday and Saturday as holidays. British citizens are issued automatic 30-day visas on arrival. There may be problems for visitors whose passports bear Israeli stamps. Women can drive and move about unaccompanied.