The effectiveness of cultural factors in the marketing of small and medium-sized enterprises in Qatar and the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) countries: with special focus on advertising

  • Mohammed Saleh Al-Marri

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    There is a close relationship between advertising and culture and both have an effect on each other across all countries. Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) countries have a unique feature being conservative Islamic countries where adopting Western culture is not very acceptable by the public.

    This study examines how SMEs in GCC countries consider marketing and if they practice any sort of marketing activities. The thesis also looks into the role of the SME in GCC countries as a tool to diversify resources. GCC countries are heavily dependent on oil resources which are not infinite. SMEs as a majority of the
    economy in terms of size and percentage are under focus to play a bigger role in the future economy of the wealthy GCC countries. The fluctuation of the oil price drops from time to time, making it a scary resource to depend on so it does not provide a stable future.

    GCC countries are trying to diversify their economies; SMEs are one of the high potential areas on which to target: to focus on, support and encourage. GCC is in a boom era recently in terms of development and foreign investment due to the high oil price. Hence, there have been more conferences on SMEs and new authorities and bodies which have been established to support SMEs in GCC countries. Enterprise Qatar (EQ) and Kuwait National Fund for SMEs are an example of the new establishments to boost SME businesses in the wealthy Gulf States.

    Looking into the bright future expected for SMEs’ business in GCC, it is important to look into marketing and advertising specifically to examine its readiness for this expected boom and how it looks at its surrounding culture. After the oil price boom in the seventies; many international advertising agencies came to the Gulf States and started business in a new business area. As SMEs play an important role in business, it is important to examine how they are advertising and whether they are capable of
    doing advertising or not.

    As advertising is seen as the most important element of the marketing mix in terms of cultural boundaries; many advertisers have negatively affected the advertising industry in the GCC. There have been quite a few advertisements that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have adopted for their own use which do not relate to the culture. The question this raises is who should decide on the nature of the advertisement, the owner or the advertising agency? Hence this study answers some questions related to advertising and culture within the SME sector in the GCC countries.

    The study used a quantitative approach to meet the aims and to increase the reliability and validity of the results. The research strategy implemented involved sequential procedures in which a quantitative study was undertaken to investigate the relationship between marketing and culture for SMEs in the GCC countries. This was followed by a qualitative study involving in-depth interviews with owners/managers of SMEs.

    The research findings indicate a major improvement in the restructuring of roles and working of SMEs in the GCC is required. Some SMEs did, however, understand the importance of a marketing department which is either controlled by the owner or a
    general manager who makes the final decision (not a professional marketer).
    Date of Award12 Jan 2016
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorSaid Al-Hasan (Supervisor) & Brychan Thomas (Supervisor)


    • GCC Countries
    • marketing
    • SMEs
    • advertising
    • culture

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