Doing Business in the U.S.

Five Considerations for the Arab Business Leader

October 4, 2017 | Jarrett Wolf

Click here to read the original version of this article, published in Forbes Middle East, September 2017. 

For Arab business leaders, doing business in the U.S. and with U.S. companies can be rewarding. As in any international business, there are risks, but business between the regions should be encouraged, while considering the means by which risks can be mitigated and disputes resolved.

Know Your Partners

Investigate your prospective partners. Nobody wants to buy insurance until after they’ve had an accident, but due diligence can help you make better informed business decisions. If something goes wrong it will be more complicated to undo the problem than it would have been to avoid the problem in the first place.

Consider The Four Corners Of The Agreement

It used to be fairly commonplace for Middle Eastern executives to treat what was said at the time of the handshake as the business agreement, while the contract was viewed as a written version of already agreed upon terms. With the increased adoption of Western business principles, however, things changed. Today, top Arab business leaders work closely with their lawyers to draft comprehensive contracts.

Questions to discuss with your lawyer early include asking which laws apply, in which country would any dispute need to be resolved and would it be litigated or arbitrated? Just as your lawyers can help you get the contract you want, your advisors and consultants can help you make sure that you are complying with your obligations and that the other side is complying with theirs.

Engage The Right Lawyers Early

How should a company from the Middle East hire a lawyer in the U.S.? There are aspects to business in the Middle East unfamiliar to some American lawyers, and Middle Eastern executives might feel more comfortable with attorneys who understand their business culture.

When hiring an American lawyer make an effort to find out how much they understand about you, your culture, your values and your way of doing business. Even a lawyer with no previous experience in the Middle East can bridge the cultural divide by listening to and learning from experts, consultants and the client.

Engage The Right Investigators, Consultants And Advisors Early

Investigative due diligence can mitigate credit risk, reputational risk and business risk. Compliance can help avoid a breach. Intelligence and investigations can change the outcome of litigation or arbitration.

Talk with the investigators, consultants and advisors you plan to hire and have your lawyers assist you in the vetting process. Consider their qualifications, experience, capabilities and resources. Be a sophisticated consumer of professional services.

Handle Business Disputes Responsibly

Litigation is expensive and exposes information about your company. It disrupts your company and distracts you from business. Working with your lawyers, investigators, consultants and advisors, have a proper plan in place for how such things will be managed. Should it be settled or tried, etc.

This article was first published in Forbes Middle East.

This article is intended to highlight certain issues and is not intended to be comprehensive or to provide legal or other professional advice. If you have questions, you should contact your counsel or other advisors and, on matters related to our work, we welcome you or them contacting us.

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