I don’t envy her job
What do you do if you’re the counselor for commercial affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Saudi Arabia on the day after Jeddah? The same thing you do every day — try to drum up interest among U.S. firms in foing business with the Saudis. Jerry Miller of the Manchester Union-Leader reports: Just one day ...
What do you do if you're the counselor for commercial affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Saudi Arabia on the day after Jeddah? The same thing you do every day -- try to drum up interest among U.S. firms in foing business with the Saudis. Jerry Miller of the Manchester Union-Leader reports:
What do you do if you’re the counselor for commercial affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Saudi Arabia on the day after Jeddah? The same thing you do every day — try to drum up interest among U.S. firms in foing business with the Saudis. Jerry Miller of the Manchester Union-Leader reports:
Just one day after an al-Qaida led band of terrorists invaded the heavily fortified U.S. Consulate in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, killing nine workers, this nation’s counselor for commercial affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, was in the Granite State, working to drum up business for New Hampshire companies, interested in doing business in the family-run kingdom. Nancy Charles-Parker led a roundtable discussion at the Pease Tradeport-based International Trade Resource Center involving nearly three dozen companies eager to do business in the often turbulent nation and other Middle Eastern locations. With security-related issues on the minds of many participants, Parker did not avoid discussing Monday’s killings, which involved the death of staffers she knew and respected. “All of our people” at the consulate, meaning Americans, “are OK,” she told the gathering. “They are understandably shaken up.” Charles-Parker, who left for the Saudi capital shortly after the local appearance, was eager to return to the area to support her co-workers and the families of those killed. She said for those who fear traveling to the oil-rich Persian Gulf region, “You can sell in Saudi Arabia without being there physically. You can even sell there without going there” by carefully selecting a Saudi-based agent to represent your company’s interests in the kingdom…. Asked if she feared for her safety, Charles-Parker, who described herself as a wife, mother and grandmother, responded, “I think it’s manageable now.” Charles-Parker, the first women to head the commercial counsel’s office at the U.S. Embassy in the Saudi capital, spoke about the role of women in the Saudi culture, saying the country is really two nations, one for men and another for women. There are banks where only men can do business and another separate set of banks for women. Shopping malls also have separate stores for men and women. Females, including those on the embassy and consulate staffs, are not permitted to drive in Saudi Arabia,, and a man must accompany women who are on the streets. A female, like herself, who works in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the Arab world, must be “culturally sensitive,” she said…. In Saudi Arabia, a woman cannot represent a foreign company in negotiations, although one can in other places in the region. In fact, in Saudi Arabia, men are not used to doing business with women. Despite the cultural differences, Charles-Parker insisted Saudi Arabia is a very good place to do business, in large part because residents have money to spend and they opt for quality and brand names.
Readers are invited to pick the country where the counselor for commercial affairs would have the most difficult job. This obviously implies that the country is stable enough to have a counselor for commercial affairs.
Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and co-host of the Space the Nation podcast. Twitter: @dandrezner
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