General Mideastern Tips
Friday is their day of rest, not Sunday. Social drinking is actually rare, but business drinking is never done and seriously unacceptable. You certainly would not want to bring a bottle of wine to someone’s house, for example. For food, pork is also forbidden. Point with an open hand, not a single finger. Eat and give your business card with your right hand, never your left. Arabian wives are never supposed to be gift recipients, and if you do give a man a gift, an expensive gift is actually quite acceptable. Unlike in Scandinavia, touching is common and accepted. If you happen to admire an object, it may be given to you. Punctuality is very important throughout the Persian Gulf region. Not many places are still happy when someone is more than a few minutes late, you understand.
Israel – More formal than Americans, but less formal than Europeans, Israelis like to talk about culture and history. Of course, it’s always advisable to avoid topics that are more sensitive to Israelis.
General Pacific and Central Asian Tips
People are very polite and patient. They don’t think much of being embarrassed. Style and manner of a presentation is often more important than the gift itself. Thank you notes are vitally important.
Russia and the Commonwealth – Pens, books, and jeans are great gifts. Strong hugs and kisses on the cheek are quite common. Yes, denim jeans are quite popular there, especially for gifts. They don’t even have to be designer ones.
China – Nod and bow, in case the host does not shake hands, although those in Hong Kong do shake hands. Seniority and rank are both highly important during a hosted event. Chinese and English business cards are well-used. That means business cards written in both English and Chinese. The Chinese are not known for touching, but they are known for toasting and giving gifts in soft colours, never black and white, and never red and white flowers.
India – Only men shake hands; women bow. Use your right hand for eating and shaking hands, as well as passing food.
Japan – Business cards are exchanged before bowing or shaking hands, which are traditionally much weaker than the typical American strong hold. First names are rarely used. Gift-giving, in pastel wrappings and never black and white, is quite important. They rarely say “no” because they believe so strongly in harmony.