What would you do if you had a significant sales opportunity in Saudi Arabia, but your best salesperson for the job was a woman?

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  • 終了:2006/10/04 18:15:02


id:shimarakkyo No.1



(lol, is this your assignment question or something? ;-)

quik answer; i'd send her for the job.

GIVEN she has the basic knowledge and understanding of the customs etc. of that region and some experience with clients with cultural backgrounds that differ from hers. basic knowledge meaning, e.g., what's written in the wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saudi_arabia).

the question is not whether your salesperson is a male or not, it's whether he/she can work with clients with different cultural/religious/social backgrounds.

i guess what "Saudi Arabia" signifies in this question is "distant foreign" (both to us japanese and to north americans, TEXANS in particular, if you like!).

or were you really asking for an opinion based on experience? well, i'd still send here there! given she fulfils the above mentioned criterion. i've had few clients from the arab countries and they are as business oriented as we are, if not, tougher! ;-)

id:osamu666 No.2



I disagree with shimarakkyo. I guess the point of this question is whether to send a woman to Saudiarabia, which is strict islamic country and where women are not supporsed to be in business.

I wouldn't send her for the position because the customers are not in the culture that women do sales. If I send the lady there, it makes the company's potential business opportunity in a new market at risk from the beginning.

Even though the lady has the best knowledge and experiences, she would have a lot of difficulties in doing her job due to the huge cultural gap that she has no control over. The potential customer might feel insulted if the company send a woman to do business with them. If a competitor send a guy to market same product in the country. He will probabry make connections with customers fairly easily just because he is a man. (Of course, I'm not saying women are inferior to men. I'm talking about cultural gap.)

Therefore I am not for sending a woman to Saudiarabia. I'd send next best man for the job. Anyway, studying culture of the target market is one of the most important steps in global business.


id:nofrills No.3



The question is if she will be the best salesperson in Saudi Arabia as she is now. The problem here is that she is a woman, and that the place is Saudi Arabia, notorious for "discrimination against women".

I don't think generalisation like "because she's a woman and it's all different in Saudi Arabia" is suitable. You have to precisely look at what makes her the best one now, and what could make it difficult for her to be an able salesperson.

As to the "discrimination", while it's true there are laws and customs that restrict women's rights and activities, the stereotype that women can't work in Saudi Arabia is not exactly true. An Australian expert assures that "Females can do business effectively in Arab countries" including Saudi Arabia, and Japan is part of "Training on Female Enterpriser Promotion". So after all, it should be all right for a woman to work there. I don't think potential customers feel "insulted" by her being a woman as I suppose you don't have your office in a remote area where people are very strictly religious and very conservative.

Still, being a woman in Saudi Arabia is different from being a woman in the United States or other English speaking countries. The problem is basically how she feels, and the question is how it will affect her as a business person.

I should like to stress that it's not exactly the culture there but the laws that could be difficult for us outside Saudi Arabia, like the "women can't drive in public" problems. I suppose it is frustrating at least. In the recent past, as the Amnesty International reported, foreign women had problems with Saudi Arabia's religious police.

However, the situation has been changing. The new generation Saudis take a more open attitude in general. More and more Saudi women are working with male collegues. In addition to the Australian and Japanese governments' statements I mentioned above, the Al-Ahram newspaper reported these changes in 2004.


Thus, her being a woman might or might not cause difficulties for her. And yet, it's possible she would be frustrated and/or discouraged and wouldn't be able to perform as she does now. It totally depends if she could adapt herself and manage the frustration. This is everybody's problem in a cross cultural business, though.

On a second note, the fact that the religious freedom is very limited in Saudi Arabia should be noted, if he or she is not a muslim. This is important especially when his/her ability as a businessperson relies on a good private life.

Saudi Arabia is an Islamic state, where the laws are Islamic and prohibits other religions for its citizens. Even though there are foreign workers who have other religious faith than Islam, there is no place of worship for Christians. They are only allowed to pray in private. No festive mood at the Christmas time. So, if he or she can not do without his/her church and Christian social practices, it's possible that he/she wouldn't be the same "best" salesperson in Saudi Arabia. This, as well, might be everybody's problem.

And whatever decision you make, it doesn't seem to be a good idea to send her alone, according to a US State Department's advice.


Women traveling alone, who are not met by sponsors, have experienced delays before being allowed to enter the country or to continue on other flights.

  • id:shimarakkyo
    you soooooooo should have opened nofrills-san's answer! that's really a "mottainai" thing to do there, you know.
  • id:nofrills
    Thank you, shimarakkyo-san, for opening my answer. Because you were for and Osamu666 was against, I felt I might be trying with a third way sort of answer. (^^)