In this article we interviewed the company Lucas Diesel SE which makes business in the Near East. We talked directly with the company founder and executive director Asama Hashmy.
What made you to focus on the Near East?
I have been making business in Europe for more than twenty years, but I come from Iraq. The situation there is not stable, but I managed to conclude several interesting contracts, then I probably became popular and since that time I have quite a lot of new orders from this region. I see a huge opportunity here. That time, it was a big challenge and I can say that it is not different even today. There is not an easy business. But if you have courage, knowledge and high quality products, you just need to overcome a few obstacles to make it.
How would you describe such a deal?
It is a different mentality and for most of us it is a completely different business world. The Near East has never been a primary topic of the Czech foreign policy, however I have always seen huge possibilities there, I like its specificity. The countries of the Near East are growing rapidly, look where they have moved for the last 20 years.
What is the difference between their market and ours?
I would say that they are much more emotional. The first impression is important to them, if they like you, you win. But you will have to make it up with the fact that the negotiations will not be easy at all. You need giant patience, but it will be worth it. If there is a demand, there is an offer as well. And here is the demand for everything.
Why is the business in the Near East more interesting than making business within EU?
The Near East has huge markets. The region currently includes 20 existing countries. The cities have population of millions of inhabitants and the demand is usually higher than the offer. It is more interesting especially from the point of view of the amount of the sold items. We are especially B2B. If you look at the statistics and prognoses, the total number of inhabitants of the region will grow from almost 350 million in 2000 to almost 550 million in 2025.
What are the local businessmen like?
They love our technologies. On each global fair they make a big part of the market. They are also building a lot of new constructions, for example in Dubai you will find the biggest skyscraper of the world, this city changes every single day. They are the only country in the world where they use air-conditioning in the summer, but at the same time you can enjoy skiing, because they built a huge ski track. Nothing is impossible there and there is a huge amount of possibilities.
Have you ever been surprised by anything?
I would not say surprised, but it is true that I was really naïve when I thought that the only thing you need is high quality goods and you would have a large amount of demands. I understood very quickly that you would not make a deal at the first meeting.
How does such a meeting look like?
Just like in our country, even here is a certain hierarchy and you can be sure that you have to get to the top persons very slowly. The negotiation starts from the very beginning with the least important ones, however you do not know it, so you present everything, start to agree on the conditions and only then you find out that it was just the first one of the many persons you will have to persuade. On the other hand, if you agree on a deal, the bureaucracy is easier here than in our country or in general in Europe.
With which countries you can make business? What exactly should we imagine under the Near East?
Emirates, Qatar, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Oman, Jordan, Lebanon, Pakistan. There are many possibilities.
It looks like a goldmine for an EU based company, why all of them do not export there yet?
As I said, it is not easy to make a deal there. The European businessman will have a problem to understand the mentality, he would not hold on the pressure, he would end up before he actually begins.
Are you not afraid of the cheap goods from China?
The European quality is searched for. The polished poverty as the production from China is called which looks good on the surface, but nobody knows how long the product will work, is not so attractive. You can buy a product from China only once and then nevermore.
What is the competition here?
The competition comes from the whole world, the closest competition is from India, Taiwan, Thailand and of course the above-mentioned China, but this is the case of everywhere where you want to make business. You must have a good product, trust it, count well and know where you can go.
Do you verify the Arabian companies?
Yes, just like they verify us.
How long does it take to make a deal?
This is different. There are many factors. Something goes through the consultants, partners and investors. If you find the right person, you can make a deal very quickly, within several meetings. If you are going step by step and you are looking for the right door, this can take a long time and you don’t know what the result would be. You can recognize their interest in your product according to whether they are asking questions, if they want to know the details, if not, the deal will probably not be made.
How to persuade them?
In addition to having the high quality products, you must keep your position, be fair and patient. It is necessary to prove your qualities even if the goods is more than good, they will not buy it if you do not accept their habits and if they are not satisfied with you as a man.
Do you think this interest will be lost one day?
These countries are divided into many fragments, each one has its own politics, sometimes even each city is different. I cannot say what will happen in the future, but still I see a lot of opportunities here, everyone wants to make business here.
Do you see any risk in making business with the Near East?
The main inconvenience, in my point of view, is the political instability which is reflected in sharp changes of the state currency value and sometimes even in sudden changes of the import regulations. It is a matter that you have to deal with every day.
Is it possible to get ready for this?
Thanks to my long-term experience in making business between the EU and the Near East we are able to represent others and get their products on these markets. We are offering consultation services in order to protect the investment and secure against the currency risk which is connected with the exchange rate changes.
I wish you all the best and thank you for the interview.
All the best to you and your readers, thanks for your time.