“It really is a different world.” The native of Syria lives and works in Dubai, where he manages the technical team at Wacker Chemicals Middle East FZE. His marketing partner is Shahid Ahmed, who hails from India. Other colleagues in the ten-strong team come from countries such as Egypt and the Philippines.
This diversity is a big plus in view of the huge region that they serve, extending from Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Morocco to South Africa. The vastness of the region is a permanent challenge, the two team leaders point out – starting with the different time zones that necessitate working in the evenings and at weekends.
Not to mention the different customs and taboos. Thus in the Arabic world it is considered offensive to sit with your legs crossed when facing your counterpart, or even to greet him with your left hand. In South Africa you keep to the appointed time, while in Egypt you can turn up to a meeting two hours later than agreed and still be considered punctual. There is some common ground, however: “Every customer wants to be respected,” says Ahmed.
WACKER has been carrying out business in the Middle East since the 1980s, and in 2002 set up a WACKER technical center in Dubai, the UAE’s largest city. A few years later, the team moved offices to the “Dubai Silicone Oasis,” a 700-hectare technology park where skyscrapers house many multinational firms.
Today, Dubai is a vibrant business center with modern standards. Increasingly, women are attaining the same rights as men. And over 5,000 restaurants cater to nearly every taste and style of cooking. In Ahmed’s words: “In Dubai you have a greater choice of Indian food than in Hyderabad.” With outside temperatures of 45 – 50 °C during the day, climatized rooms are to a large extent the norm.
Where will the team be in ten years’ time? The Arabic world will remain a significant region, with Saudi Arabia and the UAE occupying the most prominent position. The market has matured and the customers are more quality-conscious, which is good for WACKER. Sanoabar prophesies a similar development for Africa: “The people there are keen to find things out and learn.” His next flight is already booked – headed for Ghana.