Algeria's Business World
The goal behind this guide is to provide you with knowledge about the Algerian business culture, its economy, and other issues. Whether you are an importer or an exporter, the information contained in this guide will provide you with an excellent foundation. When establishing relationships within the Algerian business world, you first need to learn about the country's people, history and culture.
Most Algerians speak Arabic (but some speak French due to it's long French history, which also aligns it a little close to the French business world as one would expect), and the country has its own unique customs which make business transactions into an art form. To be successful in Algerian business, you'll need to establish good personal relationships; long-term commitments are valued in the country.
To understand how to do business in Algeria, you need to familiarize yourself with the country's war-torn history. Algerian businesspeople trust those who know their history and their customs. The business environment in Algeria is much less casual than that of the United States, where meetings are routinely postponed or canceled. When scheduling meetings there, make the plans days in advance, and don't forget to call and confirm. Temp agencies are almost unheard of, as hiring someone unfamiliar is frowned upon.
You should also consider this: Algerians have a different definition of "personal space" than either Europeans or Americans. People tend to get closer to one another, and physical touch is often involved. To be successful in Algerian business dealings, it's a good idea to imitate the behavior of your hosts or associates.
When distributing contact information (such as leaflets or business cards), they should be written in both French and Arabic. As in other Arab countries, it is custom to give and receive items with the right hand only.
In the majority of cases, business in Algeria requires that you have a local representative, such as a distributor or an agent. Algerian business is done in person, not by phone or email; as personal integrity and relationships are very important to the Algerian people.
Keep in mind that Algeria is an Islamic country, so don't set appointments for the same day as a religious event or observance. Punctuality isn't the Algerians' strong suit; while you should always be on time for meetings, do not be surprised if your Algerian colleague keeps you waiting. Also, women and men are not on equal footing in the Algerian business world, so send a male employee whenever possible.
For the most part, the people of Algeria are relatively easygoing, courteous and communicate openly. However, complete disclosure often does not take place until the person feels that they can trust you. Building trust can often take several meetings, and require going though the chain of command. Getting a decision from an Algerian company can take time, but if they do decide to do business with you, rest assured that you are trusted and more business will come in the future.
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