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Achieving Professional Mastery in the Middle East: Insights from Corina Goetz!

The Middle East stands as a region of immense potential and unique opportunities for professional growth. Navigating its diverse markets and intricate cultural landscapes can be a challenging yet rewarding endeavour. This is where Corina Goetz, a renowned Middle East strategist, comes into play. With a wealth of experience as a keynote speaker and advisor, Corina has dedicated her career to empowering professionals and businesses to unlock their full potential in this dynamic region.

1: What inspired you to start Star-CaT Ltd, and what was your initial vision for the company?


When I first started my company Star-CaT it was born out of necessity. I wanted more flexibility than in my 9-5 hotel job as my son was small so I took on a few consultancy contracts for hotels, specialising in getting them Middle Eastern Clients.

Covid very much coincided with Saudi Arabia opening up and I started getting lots more questions on what it is like as a woman to travel and do business there. So my vision for Star-CaT developed and changed because I realised I could impact more women and help them do business better.

I also noticed that many of my Saudi clients were stereotyped in Europe because people simply didn’t understand their culture and I wanted to help to bring our cultures closer together.


2: Can you share some key strategies for building successful business relationships in the Gulf region, particularly for female entrepreneurs?


Absolutely. I would say there are 5 key things anyone should do:

  1. Preparation is key – it is an absolute must to learn about the country that you do business with

  2. Work on Relationship building even more so than anywhere else – the locals want to know more about you than just your career history so be prepared to share

  3. Don’t judge – just because someone’s culture is different to yours, doesn’t make it right or wrong. Keep an open mind

  4. Master Social Media – this is where so many companies go wrong, they think everyone still uses emails when the digital world is so key in the Gulf Region

  5. Don’t do business and disappear – you should stay in contact even when your business is done – this is the best strategy for long term success


3: What are some common misconceptions about doing business in the Gulf region that you frequently encounter, and how do you address them?


There are so many but let me give you 3 keys ones:

  1. You have to speak Arabic to do business there – wrong, so many in business speak English and have been educated in the UK or US

  2. You have to be a man to do business there – wrong, very often being a woman is a massive advantage because for cultural reasons you can deal with men and women

  3. Women have no rights – this is a huge one that I hear over and over again. So many women in the Gulf run successful businesses and are very independent, it just doesn’t get shown in the Western Media.


4: As a female CEO working with high-net-worth clients, what unique challenges have you faced, and how have you overcome them?


Coming from a hospitality background, I am very adaptable and have learned that nothing is as dramatic as it first sounds.

Plus, there is always a solution. Finding hotel rooms when a city is sold out, getting a 3-tiered cake done overnight, helping a Saudi client explaining to a hotel what a Majlis is: I have done it all.

The key is to have a great network and build relationships around the world and then show others how to do the same.



5: What advice would you give to female digital nomads looking to expand their businesses into the Middle East market?


I would recommend listening to someone who has travelled there extensively, speak to expats and go and see for yourself. Very often the worst advise comes from people that have never been there and only read things that are often not true. Find a good network and ask for help. We are so lucky that we have the online space to help us out with this now.


6: How does Star-CaT Ltd support companies and professionals on an ongoing basis after the initial advisory and strategy phases?


We have a community called the Middle East Hub, where you get breaking news, up to date projects and get to ask your questions every month live.

Meeting other like-minded people is absolutely key.


7: Can you discuss the importance of customer service in the Gulf region and how it differs from other markets?


Customer service is key now and, in the future, especially with the emerging tourism sector in Saudi Arabia as part of their Vision 2030.

A lot of the young Saudis now work in hospitality, and they are proud to show travellers their country.

What is so different there than anywhere else is that everyone is willing to help, even if they don’t speak the language Google translate will do the job just fine.

It is not uncommon to get invited to their houses for dinner which is an incredible experience for anyone visiting.


8: What are some effective ways for female entrepreneurs to leverage workshops and online resources to grow their businesses in the Gulf?


LinkedIn is a huge platform that is so underestimated. So many Saudis are on there from Royalty to a CEO and professionals. I have found the most incredible connections on there.

But you also find other expats on there that can help you work with some of the Giga Projects or get consultant work.


9: Could you share a success story of a client who significantly benefited from your services and workshops?


I had a client that was working on a project with a Saudi client and suddenly the communication stopped. This is not unusual as sometimes things come up and more important events take over. It is crucial to then stop and reconnect with the Saudi client which is exactly what I advised my client.

We crafted some very bespoke messaging, and the sales process was back on in no time, making my client 80,000 GBP.


10: What future trends do you see in the Gulf business landscape that female entrepreneurs should be aware of?


Digital will be even more important than it is now, so you must ensure that your brand has a great presence online. Saudi Arabia often gets called the rising giant because of the enormous change that is happening so fast – so be prepared for even more exciting projects to emerge whether this be in tourism or any other sectors. Oman is another country that I think will come out of the shadows and play a huge role and of course the UAE will maintain their status in the region.

All in all, the Gulf Region is where it is happening and if you can make this part of your strategy, you will be on to a winner long term.

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