Ultimate Insult?

Expatguru, who blogs at Working in Saudi Arabia, offers some good advice for business visitors to the Kingdom. But somewhere in the middle he says:

While exchanging business cards, NEVER EVER keep your host’s business card on your hip pocket. It is considered as an ultimate insult.

Really? Do you, my fellow Saudis, consider it insulting for someone to put your business card in their hip pocket? I don’t know about you guys, but it seems to me that some people around here are easily offended.

27 thoughts on “Ultimate Insult?

  1. u never know how businessman think. but i assume that’s true coz there’re in majority are in their 50s or so. they don’t know about other cultures like us who grow up watching American movies.
    just asked dad he said it’s insult but not an ultimate one.

  2. man i dun know but this is ridicules I dun care where did he/she but my card maybe they’ll but it in their wallet and the in their back pocket “is that an insult ?”

    man dun care about every single this u hear some times u have to pass dud

  3. custom and tradition is absurd theme.
    What about left and right hands?
    In south east asian if you offer someone with lefthand it’s also insult. but if you are foreigner everythings are tollerable.

  4. Guys,

    When an foreign businessman comes to meet a localite in a foreign environment, it is imperative for him to know as much as possible about the customs & traditions of the place. However absurd the precautions may sound; even if 1% of the target segment feel agitated or uncomfortable with this, i think its better to be prepared. God knows, coming to Saudi on a visa itself is so difficult, he/she shouldnt take chances & make someone finicky.

    I have been following Expat Guru’s blog entries for quite a long time and feel he is doing a wonderful job for a noble cause.

  5. I am non Arab and run own business, thanks for posting this Ahmed. This is helpfull if somehow my business path cross with Saudis. To play safe, I will put the card in the card holder and then keep them inside my bag:)

  6. I think when you are giving advice like this, you cater to the lowest common denominator.

    That is, something is considered the ultimate insult if *anyone* considers it so.

  7. I always thought it was all about making the contact and ensuring that business contact got back to you…who cares where he puts the darn card…once its in his(her) hands he can do with it what he wants…as long as he calls back too….lol.

    Your right…some people are just to delicate for words.

  8. I don’t think I would feel insulted by it, BUT I can see how some oversensitive individuals might take it as an insult. So err on the side of caution and place the card in your wallet :)

  9. Our traditionalists folk need to grow a thicker skin, if somebody had the mind to insult another person.. he’d make it pretty clear.

  10. a few question about Saudi’s customs: somebody told me that when meeting a Saudi man, I have to shake hands then kiss him on the cheek, right left then right again. another suggestion was to kiss the forehead of the king/royal. Is this true.

    I am involved in Hajj Research with UQU, sometimes they brought me to meet the governors of Makkah and/or Madinah. Usually, the officer in charge will prepped me up in dressing with the igal and skulcaps and the jubah, but they never told me what to do when the governor come and meet me. I saw some of the Saudi’s kissed the hand, some only kissed the cheeks.

  11. Well said Abid- completely agree.

    Upon further thinking I realized that stuffing something right into your pocket isn’t all that professional. Don’t know why but someone who would do that would come across as a sloppy or disorganized person. ALOT of professionals have namecard holders and many who don’t usually put the card into the inner pocket or the top outer pocket of their blazers. Anything in close proximity to the pubes or the rear isn’t appreciated- duh! Guess its more of a symbolic thing than anything.. Madry walla..

  12. Khair:
    Kissing the cheeks would mean a bit more familiarity, so stick to just shaking hands, which is the professional choice. Royals now are a different matter, but don’t sweat it. Should a royal be visiting, you will be instructed on how to behave towards them (kiss the hand, or kiss the shoulder, or just shake hands) by their handlers.

  13. Receiving ones business card during a business meeting is viewed as part of the protocol and expected to be treated with respect. If at a table I usually keep the business card in front of me until the meeting is over and then place it into my card holder. I may even make a note such as adding the date/place of meeting illustrating the importance of this card to me. I agree with the comments that receiving a card and then simply inserting it into ones pocket does not leave a professional image.

    As Saudi Jawa pointed out, if one is going to meet with Senior Royalty, a protocol officer will give advise on how to behave or act on meeting and greeting as noone wants any mistakes to occur.

    Best Regards,
    American Bedu

  14. Saudi Jawa // Thursday, October 16, 2008 at 13:41

    … you will be instructed on how to behave towards them (kiss the hand, or kiss the shoulder, or just shake hands) by their handlers…

    so far, none of the handlers told me anything. so I just kiss right left and right and pretend to smile all the way through this awkward moments.

    I understands very few Arabic words, mostly from learning the translation of a few surahs a long long time ago. My friends and I, we felt very left out when all the people started conversing in Arabic.

    sometimes they turn to us and laugh. I just smile back. Hopefully they are not insulting us while conversing in Arabic he he he

  15. If you are a non Arab and you want to be successful while working here in the middle east and you are offered a business card , just take it and wet it with your tongue and stick it to your forehead, just take my word , they will take you for nuts , but if you believe the story above , you are nuts any way

Comments are closed.