The Arab Health 2013 event concluded last Thursday, and it was an incredible week here in Dubai. People and technology from more tahn 60 countries converged on this Emirate to propel healthcare to new levels in the Arab region.
This author has learned a lot about the market and the culture of doing business here. Dubai alone is a place with less than 20% native Emiratis and 80% expatriate business people. This is a cosmopolitan place. Yet, doing business here means placing the relationship with your local partner or customer first and the business deal second. Make no mistake, business is important to Emiratis but not until trust has been built.
Critical to building trust is a long-term commitment to the region. Arabs here want to know that their American, European, or Asian partners are prepared to invest in the region—time, resources, and people.
Also, for many Americans the pace of business is bit slower here than many are used to in the United States. And Arab business people do not share the same affinity for rapid streams of electronic communication, e-mail, texting, and the like. They prefer instead personal interactions, phone calls, and especially face-to-face meetings over tea or a meal.
That said, growth prospects remain good. I heard this week that Dubai alone has a shortage of 2,000 hospital beds. Recent history has shown that the UAE is prepared to solve such problems with funds and people—witness the construction boom.
The Arab market may not make sense for every medical device company, but it affords ample potential for many. Not one of the American exhibitors I spoke with said they were not returning to this event next year. As we wrap up Arab Health 2013 and look ahead to 2014, consider this market as a potential growth vehicle.
From the city that holds the world record for the number of world records, here’s to a prosperous and healthy 2013!
Don Beery is president of Blendon Group Consulting and executive director of the West Michigan Medical Device Consortium. Check back throughout the week for more of his posts from Arab Health 2013.