Tunisia's Business World
Although Tunisia is part of Africa, it has a lot in common with the countries of the Mediterranean and Middle East. Most Tunisians are of the Muslim faith, but the country's government is secular. Tunisia is a former French protectorate, so most of its people speak both French and Arabic. To do business in Tunisia, it's essential that one takes the time to learn about their business culture; here are some of the values that drive Tunisia's business world.
Islam, though moderate, is still very important in Tunisia. Although the country is primarily Muslim, there is greater religious freedom there than in other nearby countries. That freedom carries over to Tunisian business; for instance, business is conducted all day on Friday, in contrast with other, more devout Muslim countries.
There is great emphasis on the Tunisian family unit, and the interests of the family always outweigh those of any one individual within it. Nepotism and favoritism are common in Tunisia's business world; many companies are almost wholly run by families.
As is the case in other Muslim countries, Tunisians take pride in being great hosts. When doing business in Tunisia, being invited to a dinner meeting at a colleague's home is quite common. If one is invited to dinner, they should bring a gift for the host and remember to remove their shoes at the door.
Like many other Muslim cultures, the Tunisian people often communicate indirectly. For the most part, they dislike confrontation and peaceful discussions are a very high priority.
Tunisian Working Practices
*Be sure to make an appointment for any conference or meeting. Schedule a few days in advance, and make sure to confirm the appointment either by phone or in writing.
*Punctuality is key in Tunisia's business world, and being on time reflects a person's reliability and work ethic. There, deadlines are often firm, and one should make every effort to keep them.
Although Tunisia is a Muslim country, businesses are closed on Sundays rather than Fridays. Businesses usually open at 8 am and close at 6 pm, with shorter hours during the summer when it is very hot.
Hierarchy Within Tunisian Business
Businesses within Tunisia are almost always hierarchical, so the most experienced team member makes all final decisions. Tunisian business often means dealing with a lot of bureaucratic red tape, so it may be wise to consult an experienced local for complex deals.
Tunisian Business Relationships
It is absolutely essential that one take the time to establish a personal relationship with their Tunisian counterparts. Like in most other Muslim business cultures, great emphasis is placed on interpersonal connections, and people like to do business with those they know and trust.
If one has a conflict with a colleague, make every effort to avoid a public confrontation as they are seen as deeply offensive.
Although Tunisia is very liberal in both its religion and its business dealings, there are still some things to keep in mind and some rules that must be followed. Learning more about Tunisia's business world will greatly increase one's chance at success.
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