I was recently in Dubai for a client. Our goal was to raise the interaction and engagement of their customers in this high growth market. Even leading 100’s of these types of meetings before across the globe, this is the first time I’d stepped foot in the Middle East. The clients came from Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, etc. I honestly didn’t really know what to expect. How would this culture accept an American leading a meeting on how to serve the Middle East? The cultures are so different…I wanted to get them engaged as quickly as possible and not set these critical relationships back.
Honestly, I was more nervous than I had been in years doing this, due to the unknown. Were they going to think “Aggressive American” or that I didn’t get their culture, etc...? The 24-hour journey over there was an anxious time.
These folks were incredible. They made me and my American and European colleagues feel very welcome and embraced the interaction and approach with humble enthusiasm. On the last day of the meeting, many came up to me and invited me to their country, work and homes. “I’m invited into your home?” I was both honored and blown away. I never had been so far away and yet felt so welcome and at home.
People are people…and when we approach different cultures, societies, etc. that way, it’s amazing how quickly we can come together and how much we can accomplish.