Global business
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Business Conventions Around the Globe

SINCE the first hydrocarbons were discovered in the North Sea back in the late 1960s, the UK has been exporting its skills and expertise to oil rich countries and developing regions around the world.

Our pioneering heritage has seen us become a global centre of excellence in the subsea sector, with technology designed, developed and honed in British waters now in regular use in all four corners of the world.

This week, Cortez Subsea established its first foothold in the Malaysian oil and gas sector after signing an exclusive agreement with a major player to introduce our supply chain capabilities into the region.

Like many other UK businesses, this is just one of a number of international partnerships we have, reflecting the global nature of the energy marketplace.

While it’s a big old world out there, it’s also a very small one where a lack of awareness about cultural customs and etiquette could make or break your success in forging overseas ventures.

To celebrate our new partnership, we’ve taken a look at some of the business conventions which you may experience in oil and gas hotspots around the world.


In the UK, it is simply good manners to be on time for a pre-arranged business meeting. When in Russia, don’t be alarmed if you are kept waiting and there’s no apology or explanation when your contact finally arrives. It’s a good test of your patience and willingness to do business to keep you waiting.


It is traditional to bring a gift to a business meeting in China. It is also customary for the offering to be refused up to three times before it is accepted so don’t take an initial rejection to heart.

United Arab Emirates

Left-handers may have some trouble doing business in the UAE where the left hand is considered unclean and used strictly for bodily hygiene. It is important to eat, shake hands and pass documents with the right hand to avoid an inadvertent insult.


Many Malays are uncomfortable shaking hands with a member of the opposite sex. Foreign men should always wait for a Malaysian woman to extend her hand while foreign women should likewise wait for a Malaysian man to extend his hand.

Did you work out the handshakes conundrum? The answer is 190. The first person will shake hands with 19 people, the second, 18 as they have already shaken hands with the first; and so on. The 19th person only has to shake one new hand – while lucky 20 has already been greeted by everyone in the room.