Time Management – of the Cross-Cultural Kind

Some years ago, when I first went to Bahrain to work (and stayed three years, it was so enjoyable!), one of the first things I had to do was go to the Ministry and finish all the form-filling and official procedures to register my arrival and residence in the country.

I arrived at the correct building, main entrance door for an 08.00 hours appointment.

And sat down and waited.  And waited.  Then waited some more ….. Until 13.00 hours when they closed for the day.

This procedure was repeated for three more days.  I finally got in to see the relevant government official the following morning and successfully got my passport stamped and my piece of paper authorising me to reside and work in the country.

And thus was I introduced to “Gulf time” ….. my first encounter with “Bukra Inshallah” (“Tomorrow, God willing”).

A few years later, I went to Switzerland ….. on a one-year contract.  Local registration? 

Day One: fill out forms, sign forms and deliver the forms to the Ministry (within one day of arrival) in Geneva.

Day Three: I arrived at the Ministry department building at 10.35 hours for my appointment.

I sat down ….. three minutes later I stood up. I went into the office and received my authorised documentation to work for my one-year contract.  Twelve months.  Arrive 16th September Year One, depart 15th September, Year Two.

My introduction to “Swiss time”.

And work followed a similar pattern and culture all the time I was in each country.  Useful to know!