Establishing Business Contacts in Algeria
If you wish to enter into business with a company or person in Algeria you will likely have to learn a bit about the culture and people to make it successful. There are some unique customs in Algeria and most of the locals speak Arabic - making successful negotiations an art. Many also speak French which can be helpful. There are also a few formalities which - when noted - help the whole process to go over more smoothly. Some of these practices are mentioned below.
Taking into account the country's history of conflict, it is understandable that Algerians tend to be more trusting when they have established who it is they are dealing with. Therefore it is good practice to spend time developing a rapport and building trust with potential clients. Their concept of personal space is also rather different to that of the average European or American. Algerians tend to stand very close and sometimes hold each other's arms. This is merely a part of the culture and you would do best to imitate it. Never embarrass your client - especially in public - and keep in mind that any favors you do will likely be repaid.
If you plan to make use of business cards, it is usually a good idea to have them translated into French and/or Arabic and remember to always use your right hand to give and receive. Appointments are best made far in advance and confirmed a day or two before the meeting. Remember that Algeria is mainly a Muslim country so do not try to make appointments that conflict with religious observations. It is also good practice to be on time for meetings but you may have to wait for your Algerian business partner. Meetings may be interrupted by non-related parties and these may temporarily distract the people you are meeting with. The conversation will likely return to the subject at hand once the person leaves. Women are not perceived to be equals as business associates and, if possible, a male representative should be involved in Algerian business dealings.