Many people come to StudyWorld because they want to move into new markets. A growing source market for our event is the Middle East. And we will again have a specialist zone for buyers from the region, organised by specialist Andy Buckland of Gulf English, where you can meet Middle Eastern buyers.
Andy has been visiting ministries and training departments in the region to talk about StudyWorld and its advantages: he says they “love” the location, and that it is a one-stop shop for meeting the right contacts.
But every part of the world has its own ways of doing things and Andy’s professional life is spent “trying to join the dots, connecting key people, with the aim of trying to improve Arabic students’ experience in the UK, bringing together key markets in the Gulf and the UK.”
Working in the Middle East for many years, he has some advice for educators who are new to the region; they often don’t know what to expect and the etiquette can be challenging, he says.
Key tips on doing business with Middle Eastern buyers
Develop friendships before business
“It’s about friendship, working with the Middle East. Business comes second after developing friendships once trust has been built,” he says. Adding: “First and foremost, you have to understand as much as you can about the culture: you have to be visibly available and able to turn things around as soon as possible.
“Remember, the working week is different: Sundays are the start of the week, and they might send out requests first thing that morning for students to start the following Monday. I have had requests to contact schools on Christmas Day for courses to start on 1 January. Educators which are willing to pick up the phone on those days get students because they go above and beyond 9-5.”
Understand the needs of the students
Andy says it is important to help Middle Eastern buyers understand how the UK works. Much of his role at Gulf English is in supporting both sides to work together.
“A lot of what we do is helping schools to help Arab students experience the UK. For instance, we have put together local factsheets for students, explaining where the mosque is and so on. We pre-clear it with educators that everybody gets Friday afternoon off to go to prayer. You need schools to work with you or it comes unstuck.
“Equally, educators might be asked to take a party of students with very little notice; we help them understand what might be required, and to plan ahead so that this works.”
Help your clients understand what you do
Andy says educators should not assume that Gulf clients understand what they do or what is commonly offered as part of a package. “Even key training departments will say we want certain things like airport transfers to be included, without realising that it is.”
It’s worth taking the time to get the details right, he says.
“There are so many close connections and partnership opportunities: it’s a case of understanding each need. You need to understand their priorities and help them see things from the UK point of view.”
Want to meet members of our Gulf delegation? Make sure you’re registered for StudyWorld 2018 and ready to start making appointments as soon the system goes live in early July.