The Arab world—with hundreds of millions of consumers and a young, vibrant energy—offers exciting and challenging opportunities for local and multinational companies and entrepreneurs.
In his forthcoming book, “The Arab World Unbound: Tapping into the power of 350 million consumers,” Vijay Mahajan, the John P. Harbin Centennial Chair in Business in the Marketing Department at McCombs, brings readers along with him on his travels. Despite news headlines focused on "riots and protests, bombs and bullets," as the Financial Times (registration required) notes in its book review, Mahajan "opens the door into an entirely different Arab world, a vibrant, bustling place full of commerce and consumers hungry for goods of almost every kind."
He came away from his travels with some keen insights. “Mahajan is right about two big things,” says The Economist. “The first is that business is an engine for social as well as economic progress in the region....The second is that the region needs to push ahead with pro-business reforms.”
This isn’t the first time Mahajan has highlighted the potential of developing markets. His previous book, “Africa Rising: How 900 Million African Consumers Offer More Than You Think,” focused on the business opportunities of that continent.
For “The Arab World Unbound,” Mahajan traveled across the Arab World for more than three years—from 2008 to 2010—visiting 18 countries. It was more than a typical sight-seeing tour: He explored businesses of all types, from corporate offices to neighborhood grocery stores, and examined the Arab youth market, Arab middle class, Arab technology market, and the role of women in the Arab market.
In the video below, Mahajan shares a story that conveys the subtle complexities that can go along with transacting business with women in Arab countries, a topic he covers in Chapter 6 of his new book.