What’s it like doing business in Kazakhstan?
Most people are unfamiliar with this Central Asian country and its unique culture, so in this week’s blog, we’re taking a look at the practical aspects of doing business and working in Kazakhstan.
Working in Kazakhstan – the facts!
Contrary to some media reports, there are plenty of good hotels in Kazakhstan, though it’s best to get advice on the best places to stay whichever part of the country you’re visiting. Hotel accommodation can be pricey compared to European equivalents, but standards are as you’d expect. Hotels usually offer business suites and wifi is available, although sometimes it’s best to pay for wifi in your hotel room, as accessing wifi in public areas can be less reliable.
Standards are definitely rising – last week, The Guardian reported on ambitious Kazakh plans to offer caviar baths at a luxury resort planned for the Caspian Sea! But in the meantime, be prepared for catering services to be a little hit and miss – sudden shortages of supplies can occur, but as long as you are not too fussy and prepared to be flexible over menu choices, getting by is no problem.
Staff and people generally are friendly and polite. As a rule of thumb, as anywhere, treat people as you would like to be treated yourself and you should not encounter any difficulties.
Travelling around town to meetings in Western Kazakhstan can be interesting to say the least! Visitors will find taxi services of an infinite variety on offer. Avoid taking a taxi from the airport without pre-booking or calling for one in the street – it’s always best to use your hotel services to call taxis – it will generally be someone they know and trust to provide a decent service, often a family member! If you do book a taxi, bear in mind that anyone can be a taxi driver over there, so best not to expect a nice London black cab or even a typical UK licensed taxi – you could end up in a Lada, or even worse!
Best to ask your hotel to book a taxi on your behalf to avoid any surprises, with regard to both the vehicle and the fare!
Taxi journeys can also be memorable for all the wrong reasons if you don’t time your visits quite right, given the Kazakh habit of driving in the same way, regardless of the prevailing weather conditions. If it’s foggy or icy, you could be in for a hair-raising journey and might want to reconsider your plans..
However, on the up side, road systems are improving all the time, gone are the days when your route suddenly appeared to be taking you along a mere track!
As far as air travel is concerned, it’s generally advisable to fly with one of the more recognised carriers such as Air Astana, unless you don’t want to end up on a 1950’s plane, but again, it’s always good to take advice.
One last note, beware mosquitos in the summer – a good anti- mosquito repellent is a must if you don’t want to find yourself dish of the day for the local mosquito population!
If you’re interested to find out more about opportunities for your business and exporting to Kazakhstan, please get in touch.