Handshaikh is a British training company that operates globally to provide customised business seminars, briefings and induction training for Western organisations wishing to improve cross-cultural communication with their Arab colleagues, clients and counterparts. We can advise on the Arab world generally but more specifically on the Gulf countries of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and the Sultanate of Oman. Events can be delivered face-to-face at your choice of venue, or virtually. The typical programme here will be adapted to suit your requirements. For public events please see below.

Our programmes are aimed at both newcomers and those more familiar with the Arab world and provide the perfect opportunity to find answers to all those questions you might have not known whom to ask.

The acclaimed book ‘Don’t They Know It’s Friday?’ by Jeremy Williams OBE, MD of Handshaikh, now in its 3rd edition, is regarded by many as the definitive guide to business culture and etiquette in the Gulf. A copy of the book is offered as part of our package for live training events.

Online training
Our structured online training programmes offer you a comprehensive overview of life and business in the Arab world, whether you choose to attend a live online class hosted by Jeremy Williams or to study on your own via our online training platform, see below. Our live hosted online programme is drawn from here. The self-paced on line programme is here (pdf).
Virtual training
The virtual classroom offers a live video feed for a fully interactive class hosted by one of our presenters. The virtual classroom combines the functionality of interactive whiteboards, breakout areas for individual and group activities with live chat so that you get the most from your training. Details

Handshaikh’s virtual training sessions are structured around a formal presentation. A typical public programme is here. This can be adapted to suit your requirements for a private session, to be attended only by those you select. All sessions last about two hours with plenty of time for anecdotes, and questions and answers along the way via live chat or interactive discussion.

Online for companies
Virtual training offers a cost-effective, flexible training solution allowing participants throughout your organisation to attend a live class without incurring travel, time and accommodation costs.

Handshaikh’s sessions can be scheduled to suit the availability of your global team or delivered one-to-one to senior members of staff via our virtual classroom. Each session is tailored to your specific requirements to ensure that your staff and executives get the most from their training. If more in-depth training on a specific topic is required we can add further sessions, again tailoring content to your organisational requirements. Please contact Handshaikh to discuss costs, your training needs and scheduling requirements. The typical programme here will be adapted to suit you.

Online for individuals
To find out when the next online public class for individuals is scheduled contact Handshaikh and follow the steps given to register. We prefer small groups so spaces are limited to allow plenty of time for interactive question and answers from all participants.

The self-paced online programme is here (pdf); access the programme is here.

How do I join a virtual training class?
Contact Handshaikh. The email in reply will give you details of how payment is covered, and to give you your personal log in details and password. You join your scheduled class by clicking on the link in the email on the day of your session. We recommend that you connect a little earlier than the scheduled start time to ensure your computer sound and mics are running correctly.
Study at your leisure with our self-paced programme
Our self-paced programme offers you the flexibility to study at your leisure and is a cost-effective alternative to live training sessions. You access the course material on the training platform at any time to suit you.

The structured programme offers clips of live lectures and interviews exploring a series of key learning points to inform, amuse and surprise you whilst ensuring that you gain a good understanding of Arab business culture and etiquette.

You can select the parts most appropriate to your specific requirements and areas of interest, or just follow the programme subject by subject. Each stage of the course is supported by additional activities and quizzes so that you can check your understanding and monitor your own progress. Content map (pdf).

A hardback copy of the acclaimed book “Don’t They Know It’s Friday”, now in its 3rd edition, by Jeremy Williams, MD of Handshaikh, is available as part of this programme.

Access the platform here.

Need more information?
For organisations wishing to incorporate any of these training solutions as part of their own onboarding package (see below) or if you simply want to know more about our programmes, please contact Handshaikh for further information.
Training needs analysis
The first step in planning any live event – whether face-to-face or virtual – is to decide what the audience needs and to agree the date/s and timings. To discuss a possible event for your organisation please contact Handshaikh.
The cost of the event includes a free copy per delegate of the acclaimed book on Gulf cross-cultural matters “Don’t They Know It’s Friday?” (Edition 3.) The book.
Costs for face-to-face seminars or briefings are agreed once the requirement is decided. For those attending face-to-face seminars a paper-back version of the book “Don’t They Know It’s Friday?” is provided as part of the package, signed by the author if requested.
Frequently asked questions
Please scroll down a little.


Handshaikh also offers tailor-made onboarding support.

Our self-paced training programme can be embedded into your existing recruitment process to provide a comprehensive onboarding package. Alternatively, we can design a tailored online product to suit your organisational requirements.

The progress of participants can be monitored to ensure all elements of the course have been successfully completed before deployment to the country in question.

We can also offer virtual or face-to-face training for your senior staff to answer their questions and smooth the process of transition to a new working environment.

For further advice and information, please make contact.

Rehearsal of presentations etc. to be made to Arab clients
Handshaikh can comment on and assist in the preparation of presentations and other material (such as proposals) to be submitted to Arab clients. Early consultation with Handshaikh can save you time and frustration by helping you to structure content appropriately so that you achieve the right outcomes for your business.
Promotional / Competitive events
Handshaikh can deliver a short presentation as part of your overall sales and marketing pitch to potential Gulf clients thereby helping to demonstrate your organisation’s cross-cultural awareness and competence in handling Gulf clients and contacts.
Participation in your continuing professional development events
Handshaikh can provide a brief, e.g. 30-minute, contribution to your in-house training seminars or other events, example titles being: ‘A look at cross cultural matters in the Gulf’ or ‘How business is done in the Gulf’.
Although Handshaikh is primarily concerned with assisting Westerners who have business interests in the Gulf, many clients ask for advice on life and circumstances relevant to spouses and children who will accompany or join the ‘bread winner’ in the Gulf from time to time. This advice is normally provided in two parts: (1) the unchanging or background circumstances of the country / location followed by (2) an up-to-date brief on schooling, job opportunities, shopping, air travel and medical facilities etc. appropriate to the family concerned. Handshaikh has useful contacts with Gulf-based companies who provide a ‘reception’ service for new expatriates.
Documents and Translation
Handshaikh can advise on the most suitable layout and style of documentation intended for Gulf Arab readership and – as a preliminary to translation – Handshaikh can proof-read or help you to structure your existing English language documents to suit a Gulf Arab audience ensuring that you achieve the best outcomes for your business. For example, a proposal that emphasises opportunities for Joint Ventures and the employment of local Arabs will be well received. Handshaikh can make recommendations to assist your selection of competent, confidential translators. Good translation takes time so allow for this in your planning process.
Sponsor / Agency selection
The contractual relationship between a Western company and its Gulf national or company is not easily severed regardless of the performance of either side. There are scores of unhappy (and happy) Gulf business relationships. The selection of any sponsor/agency relationship should be decided only after the greatest possible care has been taken in the selection process. Handshaikh can advise on potential pitfalls.
Contributions to Magazines, Training videos, TV and Audio programmes
Handshaikh has provided articles on cross-cultural and other contributions for a number of broadcasters – see Media. These have included the BBC World (Arabic, Persian and English) Services; Sky News; NBC’s ‘Street Wise’; British Business Group Dubai’s ‘BBG Calling’ and ‘Britain In Business’; Financial Times’ Business ‘Resident Abroad’; ‘The Treasurer’ magazine; Qatar British Business ‘Forum’; Kogan Page’s ‘Doing Business in the UAE’ and ‘Doing Business in Bahrain’; Dubai TV’s 24 hour Business Channel; Dubai TV; Dubai FM; Emirates airline in-flight audio programme; UN’s Climate Change Conference in Doha. Handshaikh is ready to provide Gulf cross-cultural input to all media.
Jobs in the Gulf
Although not a job agency or career counselling organisation, Handshaikh may be able to advise on the best routes for seeking employment in the Gulf.
Visits to your factory etc. by Gulf Arabs
Many Gulf Arabs visit business premises and factories in the West and elsewhere. Typically, these visitors form all or part of a Technical Committee tasked with evaluating your bid to an Arab tender. Handshaikh can advise on guidelines and procedures to follow which will ensure that their visit to you is a success.


Where and when is the next Handshaikh seminar? Is there a programme of courses?
Handshaikh has offered face-to-face private events for individual client companies and organisations world-wide for over 25 years. Handshaikh delivers on site at a time that suits you and each event is tailor-made for your requirements. These are special and usually closed events. However, there are occasional open, all-comer public courses. Handshaikh also offers virtual and self-paced on line training.
Who should attend or take a Handshaikh seminar from my organisation?
Everyone! Our programmes are aimed at both newcomers and those more familiar with the Arab world and are the perfect opportunity to find answers to all those questions you might have been embarrassed to ask. It is best to include not only those who will be in direct personal contact with Gulf Arabs either as resident executives or as visitors, but also ‘Head Office’ staff of all grades and levels who need to comprehend the nature and techniques of Gulf business, and the cross-cultural stresses involved so that they can react and play a part appropriately, not least in the selection of the right staff to go to the Gulf.
What will be the benefits of attending these courses?
Most Gulf Arabs, especially the younger Gulf Arab, have a good awareness of The West and of Western norms and behaviour. Regrettably, the opposite is often true in terms of Western understanding of the Gulf and its nationals. The latter are therefore well-used to innocent but ‘clumsy’ Western behaviour in or with Gulf. It therefore follows that any Westerner who indicates some understanding of the Gulf, of Islam, of the structure of Gulf Society and of ‘how things work’ (all topics covered in these courses) will be seen as particularly welcome and as ‘special’. Such a Westerner and his or her organisation will almost certainly be welcomed more easily than other organisations. This may well give the edge in terms of winning a major contract.
What happens at a face-to-face Handshaikh seminar?
One or more speakers, well experienced in the Gulf, give a series of short, informal talks in your board or training room (or in a local hotel) on subjects appropriate to your audience’s needs. Typical programme here.
What does my organisation have to provide for a live, onsite Handshaikh seminar?
A room with comfortable chairs, a projector and a screen (not a LCD screen). Catering for tea, coffee, sandwiches etc. to be provided as you see fit, at your cost.
How long is an onsite Handshaikh seminar?
Handshaikh face-to-face lectures are typically half day events (approximately 4 hours with time for Q&A), but we are happy to discuss shorter or longer events to suit your requirements. Typical programme here.
I’ve been offered an appointment in the Middle East. Can Handshaikh help me and my family decide if I should accept the job?
Handshaikh will be pleased to give basic advice free of charge.
My company is about to sign a deal with an Arab sponsor/agent. Can Handshaikh help?
Most certainly! Stop everything until you have spoken to Handshaikh! You may be about to make a big mistake in contractual terms.
We are all off on a tour of several Gulf countries. What help can Handshaikh give?
Handshaikh can participate in the organisers’ pre-departure briefing for the delegates.
We have plenty of people with experience of the Gulf. Why should we bother with Handshaikh?
Many organisations have people who have had dealings with Gulf Arabs. Handshaikh will seek to contact such people beforehand to capture their experience by encouraging comments and anecdotes from all such persons (sometimes as a ‘formal’ speaker within the programme) to the benefit of the whole audience. Handshaikh talks ‘with’ an audience, not ‘at’ it.
I don’t know what to wear in the Gulf. Can Handshaikh advise me?
Please call or email for basic advice. Handshaikh’s book ‘Don’t They Know It’s Friday?’ covers this topic in detail.
Can Handshaikh advise on selection, safety, race and gender issues?
Absolutely. These important topics feature in most Handshaikh’s events..
I don’t know how to address Arabs when I meet them. As a woman, do I initiate the hand shake as I would in the West? What happens if I am asked to a meal? What help can Handshaikh give me?
Please call or email for basic advice. A woman should not initiate a handshake with a Muslim man, but a man should certanly shake hands with another man, Muslim or not. Handshaiklh’s book ‘Don’t They Know It’s Friday?’ covers this topic in detail.
We are spending a fortune on an exhibition in the Gulf but we don’t really know how to cope with Arabs whom we hope will visit the exhibition stand. Can Handshaikh help with the etiquette involved?
Handshaikh often provides this type of advice.
We don’t need a full seminar but we would like someone to take 30 minutes in our quarterly ‘Manager’s Day’. Can Handshaikh help?
Handshaikh will be pleased to play a part – large or small – in your event either on-site or on-line. Some organisations use Handshaikh to give a short talk on cross-cultural matters affecting life and business with Gulf Arabs as an interesting and deliberately ‘different’ topic to set managers and staff thinking about broader issues.
We have a delegation of Gulf Arabs visiting the factory. Can Handshaikh help?
Most certainly.
What are the first steps of arranging a live on site Handshaikh seminar?
Please call or email. The first step for live, on site events is to reserve two or three dates in the diary so that you may establish within your company etc. which date is the most popular. Handshaikh will later wish to talk about your needs in some depth, ideally about a month or so beforehand so that the seminar itself satisfies your requirements. But short notice events are also possible.
How many speakers are there in an on site Handshaikh seminar?
Usually just one speaker; sometimes two.
Does Handshaikh provide translators?
No, but Handshaikh can make recommendations.
You keep mentioning ‘Gulf Arabs’. I don’t really understand who you mean, nor do I know what is included in the terms ‘The Middle East’, ‘The Arab League’ and ‘The Levant’ or ‘The Magreb’ – let alone ‘The Fertile Crescent’ or ‘The Muslim World’. I don’t know anything about Islam except what I read in the newspapers, which frightens me. It seems that all these expressions and groupings are somehow mixed up together.
All Handshaikh sessions include some explanation of these and several other terms to help de-mystify the Region as a whole. NB: Arabs are not all the same! Handshaikh is particularly experienced in the Arabian Gulf countries, i.e. Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, the UAE and Oman. And the facts of Islam are included respectfully in all seminars. Handshaiklh’s book ‘Don’t They Know It’s Friday? covers these topics in detail.
Where can I buy books about Arabs and the Middle East?
Please click here.
I am the head of the HR department about to write the Job Specification needed to select a person for an appointment with Arabs. What is the most important quality needed?
PATIENCE! And Resilience. Handshaikh can help write the country and cross-cultural elements of a Job Specification. And don’t select someone that may be needed in a couple of years to move on; try to send someone who can spend many years with your Arab clients.
What do people think about Handshaikh?
Please click here.
How long are Handshaikh online events?
Handshaikh offers two types of online training sessions. The first is a closed event designed for your company group of about 8 people who attend online from anywhere with a reasonable broadband connection and lasts about two hours. Further details. The second is our self-paced online training package for individuals and incorporates three hours of learning material structured in a series of short presentations with support activities and quizzes to test your understanding along the way. You may decide, for example, to spend 10 minutes tonight and each night thereafter. Access the training platform.


About Jeremy Williams OBE

Jeremy Williams’ experience of Gulf Arabs and Arab business practice spans some 40 years. He was the Defence, Naval, Military and Air Attaché in the British Embassies of Abu Dhabi and Bahrain at the times of both the Iran/Iraq (the Tanker) war and the Gulf (Kuwait) War.

In an Army and diplomatic career of 35 years he lived for eleven years in five Gulf locations: Sharjah, Dubai, Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain, and has visited most Arab countries particularly Kuwait, Qatar and Oman. He remains in contact with many government and commercial organisations and personalities throughout the Arab world.


Jeremy Williams’ book ‘Don’t They Know It’s Friday?’ covers for Westerners the cross-cultural aspects of dealing with Arabs in or from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE and Oman. It covers the realities of business practice…..



Handshaikh offers face-to-face lectures worldwide, as well as virtual and self-paced training solutions. Read on to find out about the range of topics covered in our events…..




For the past 25 years, Handshaikh has provided briefings for more than 500 clients from many sectors and organisations. These have included government, military and security audiences. The majority of Handshaikh’s clients…..