North Sudanese Culture

Business Culture

Meetings

  • Make sure to greet everyone appropriately when you arrive (see Greetings).
  • Be aware that meetings may not commence or finish according to schedule.
  • Meeting agendas may be interrupted by the prayer sessions of practising Muslims. If you know your Sudanese counterpart prays, it’s a good idea to schedule in a break for the midday and afternoon prayers.
  • Try and get to know everyone in the room better by engaging in a fair amount of small talk before starting the meeting.
  • If the meeting is the first time people have met, expect its purpose to be about getting business associates acquainted. A decision is unlikely to be reached in initial conversations.
  • Expect meetings to be interrupted, either by people or mobile phones. If someone does arrive in the middle of the meeting, everyone is expected to greet them.
  • Expect your Sudanese counterpart to barter in negotiations. The first offer is rarely seen as the final offer in Sudan.
  • Be aware that some people may be reluctant to give a straight ‘no’ in order to avoid causing offence. Therefore, if you receive an empty or uncommitted response, it is best to interpret it as a negative one.
  • Avoid trying to press strict deadlines on deals.

 

Considerations

  • Personal relationships are extremely important to business.
  • Expect delays in business proceedings that are not conducted in person. People may take a significant amount of time responding to propositions over email.
  • If you are a female travelling to Sudan for business, it is important to let your associates know that you are a woman in advance. This will allow them to prepare for your visit accordingly (e.g. providing appropriate chaperones).
  • It is best to try and use your oldest team member or the person with the most impressive title as your business representative. Age, degrees and experience are highly respected in Sudan.
  • Sudanese associates may be more comfortable pointing out an error in a business context than in a personal context. However, it will still be communicated in an indirect way.
  • The Sudanese business culture is hierarchical with the highest-ranking person having most decision making power.
  • Address all workplace-related problems discreetly to avoid embarrassing the person in question.
  • On the Corruption Perception Index (2017), Sudan is ranked 175th out of 180 countries, receiving a score of 16 (on a scale from 0 to 100). This perception suggests that the country’s public sector is highly corrupt.
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