Business customs in Azerbaijan
vacuum -cleaner entrepreneur - Baku - AzerbaijanUsually businesses are open all day Monday through Saturday.  Business appointments are rarely made before 10 am and often Azeris are reluctant to make appointments more than 24 hours ahead of time. Business cards are usually exchanged during the first meeting, with one side of the card in Azeri and the other in English or Russian. Meetings may be conducted in Azeri, Russian or Turkish, but official documents will always be drafted in Azeri. It helps if you learn a few basic words in Azeri.

Be punctual, but don't be surprised if Azeris are not: patience, rather than punctuality, is prized. Azeri business people almost always offer visitors tea and sweets. Personal contact and rellationships are critical in Azerbaijan. Individual meetings are much more effective than long distance communication.

Azeris tend to be very polite, but may appear to western Europeans as vague and noncommittal about specifics in business transactions. As in Japan, in Azerbaijan a straight 'no' is not often said, so when somebody tells you 'yes' do not assume that as a plain 'yes'.

It's polite to refuse a gift (or food, tea, ...) twice and only accept it when offered a third time, do not serve yourself, wait to be served. If you are given a wrapped gift never open it in the presence of the giver.

In formal events don't eat during speeches. If having a meal in a family context don't be surprised if talk is kept to a minimum during the meal itself, when tea arrives conversation develops more naturally.

It's considered unmannerly to sit in one's overcoat at a restaurant or theatre. It's polite to stand when an older person enters the room.  Don't sit with an ankle on one knee or show the soles of your shoes, these are in contact with the dirt of the earth and are considered repulsive. Shoes should be removed when visiting a private residence.

The thumbs up gesture is considered obscene. Women may find some degree of patronizing towards them, as over 70 years of Soviet culture haven't changed some aspects of the Islamic culture. Azeris usually smoke all the time, non-smoking areas are a new concept.

Unlike in some deeply muslim countries, in Azerbaijan business meetings are not interrupted upon the Islamic call for prayer.

Letters of credit drawn on Azeri banks are the preferred instruments for import / export operations.
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A to Z of Azerbaijan / A dan Z ye Azerbaycan