In our nearly six years of helping over 700 companies with their journeys in the Kingdom, we have noticed common characteristics of exporters who succeed in making the most of a market the size of Western Europe…


Planning can seem endless. But the reality is that setting clear goals, with realistic budgets and timescales, is vital in Saudi due to the typically protracted length of the sales cycle. The key to being well informed is obtaining local advice!


Although opportunities abound, it is important to build a pipeline of qualified, validated opportunities; setting expectations to company leadership is vital to avoiding corporate fatigue and maximising your company’s Saudi stamina! Relationship-building is a key part of doing business in Saudi and is something that cannot be rushed.


There is no substitute for being on the ground. Managing the market remotely is considerably harder, and many Saudi clients are unsympathetic towards those who try to win business from abroad. Being in Saudi does not necessarily mean setting up an entity but visiting the market frequently to nurture developing relationships is key.


The perceived need for a local partner often animates legal, compliance and tax departments, especially when there are examples of foreign companies supplying goods or services directly. However, for many SMEs it is their successful Saudi partnerships forged over time and, critically, on the right terms that have expedited their market entry and kept overheads down.


Payment risk is a major concern of foreign companies. Mitigating this risk is best achieved by developing close relationships with customers and partners. The solution to the Saudi payment problem requires combining informed planning, patience and presence in the market, either directly or through partners.

Author:  Freddie Blackman, Senior Consultant, AEI Saudi

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