It seems evident that people from different regions will have different social norms. If you are running a business in a uniquely different region, do not expect that the way you were raised to behave in your environment will necessarily be received with open arms. Indeed, the people of the MENA region have “dos” and “don’ts” of their own. In a more conservative country, you will be expected not to greet a member of the opposite sex physically. Even in a less conservative country or area, do not impose a handshake or a greeting kiss, unless the person you are dealing with initiates the physical greeting. Often, simply smiling and putting your right hand to the top of your heart would be enough. When dealing with persons of the same sex, however, there are no restrictions. A firm handshake and a smile, followed by asking about their well-being and that of their family, is how you properly greet without offending.
While many westerners consider prolonged eye contact to be aggressive or uncomfortable, it is not the case in the MENA region. People in the region might “stare” at you out of curiosity, friendliness or admiration. Avoiding direct eye contact with the person you are talking to might be perceived as arrogant, to show a lack of interest or indicate a deceptive nature. However, keep in mind that men take great offense if their female relatives (wife, daughter, sister, cousin) are given overt eye to eye contact. This attention to connecting with an associate is, of course, the standard behavior in general interactions. However, during business meetings, things may work differently, as your business counterpart may be checking his/her phone or laptop while communicating with you. Since meetings in the MENA region have a different flow; diverted attention is not meant to be offensive.
Learn more about social norms by visiting: Understanding MENA part 1