Unfortunately, Azerbaijan isn’t one of the safest nations to live or do business in. Right now, it is suffering from an intense conflict with Armenia, which has left a considerable number of people dead, injured or homeless. However, it still remains an important economic engine to the Middle East.
Due to its immense oil and gas exports, Azerbaijan enjoys a $100 billion gross domestic product and a relatively low unemployment rate (5.7 percent), even though the country is engulfed in violence. Its economy also benefits from strong real estate, banking and construction sectors.
With its Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline, the Baku-Novorossiysk and the Baku-Supsa pipelines, Azerbaijan will remain as a crucial economic driver of the Middle Eastern economy. This growth also provides an interesting business relationship with the rest of the world as investors seek out the next best place to invest in.
Here are five business etiquettes to know in Azerbaijan:
Azerbaijani (Azeri) is the official language in the country. Lezgi, Russian and Armenian are three of the other dialects spoken in the nation as it borders with Russia and Armenia – Russian and Armenian Orthodox are a growing population in Azerbaijani, with Muslim being the dominant religion.
Residents are direct and are rather commanding in their conversations. Directness is valued, but saving face when speaking is also significant to them. Moreover, being evasive is sometimes the best approach when airing personal opinions on controversial matters.
Making eye contact is the general norm when conserving with others. An arm’s length of space would be prudent when speaking with colleagues, acquaintances and friends. There is very little or no touching at all between men and women.
Business professionals wear formal clothing: men will sport dark suits and ties, while women will wear stylish conservative outfits (long skirts or pants) – females should avoid expensive accessories, sleeveless blouses and skirts above the knee. Business casual is accepted in some industries.
Handshakes are the standard greeting. It’s important to remember, though, that when men and women meet for the first time it’s best to allow the lady to offer to shake hands first. Another important thing to remember is to always shake with your right hand because it’s considered taboo for religious men to touch religious women (vice versa).
Professional Titles & Business Cards
The common method to address someone is to say their first names followed by their title. For instance, muellim/a for teachers or hemkim for doctor. There are no official customs for giving and receiving business cards, but they should always be handed or accepted with your right hand.
The matter of time is unimportant to most people. Individuals will arrive late, but offer their time rather freely. There are different social and business values, too. For example, socializing and personal relationships are far more essential to their lifestyles than attending a meeting or following schedules and established agendas.
Azerbaijan is quite a unique experience for the average Westerner so adaptation is necessary if you tend to relocate there or if you’re traveling on business. It’s a lovely country with marvelous sights, but its value system is far different than what we’re used to.
Have you previously conducted business in Azerbaijan? Let us know in the comment section.