The Middle Eastern markets are getting more important year by year. An economy kick started by oil has grown into a varied market attracting multinational companies and investors from around the world. Whatever commodities you deal in, chances are there is a huge market in Middle Eastern nations. The political problems that have plagued the region persist, but the future is looking brighter, at least from an economic perspective, especially in wealthy cities like Dubai and Doha.
Many businesses are late to the party when it comes to exporting to Middle Eastern markets because they haven’t invested in localisation for that region.It is an unfortunate fact that despite Arabic being one of the main languages of the world, Arabic translation services are not being used as much as they should be. UNESCO reports that over the past 50 years, Greece has translated ten times more books than the entire Arab world put together. The same is true in business but recently the Middle Eastern economies have succeeded in transferring their capital resources from oil reserves to sustainable industries such as healthcare, real estate and finance and part of this is down to Arabic localisation. Each of these industries requires both raw commodities and luxury goods in order to grow, and these must often be imported.
Importing is nothing new for this market, the initial growth model that Middle Eastern businesses followed pursued rapid growth relying on skilled employees and contractors coming in from abroad. This did not provide many opportunities for locals. This has since been changed, with nations like the UAE and Qatar enforcing quotas that guarantee a good deal for the natives although a language barrier still exists between the highly qualified expats and the native employees. Training programs devised by foreign CEO’s for the native workforce have not always been successfully implemented, leaving a skills gap that is difficult to cross without translations and localisation. Rather than making use of extensive localization services across these industries, companies focused instead on short term growth dependent on foreign labour and skills.
When the desperate need for sustainable growth was realised companies tried a new strategy, investing in localisation in the Middle East and sourcing new employees who could train locals in relevant skills and practices. Arabic localization in the Middle East was a crucial means of acquiring suitable employees for these new positions. Localisation was essential in order to capitalize on the cultural knowledge that local human resources possessed as well as their commitment to long-term regeneration in the region.
Arabic localisation created employment opportunities for locals and boosted economic growth which in turn boosted the motivation of the locally sourced workforce. Now there are highly skilled employees in many industries across the Middle East who make use of localisation services to engage with local staff. What has happened in the Middle East is a success story for the localisation industry and an example of what can be done in other parts of the world, where emerging economies have yet to engage with the international marketplace.
It also clearly demonstrates that localisation is the key with which exporters can unlock the Middle eastern markets.