I was at an industry social event talking to an acquaintance about the Middle East. He is an experienced and well-regarded lawyer.

I said that, in my opinion, it was easier for a religious person to do business in the Arab world than an atheist. He replied that I was “certifiably insane”.

Surprised by the ferocity of his response, I tried to lighten the conversation. I said that, although I was certainly insane, I did not think it would not be easy to find a doctor to certify that I was.

I had not been speaking out of religious or even commercial conviction, only from experience. The Arabs take their religion seriously. If you get to know them they are likely to ask you what your beliefs are.

The Arabs I have been close to have no problems with those of a different religion. After all, they consider Christ to be a prophet. But they do have problems with atheists. As one Arab friend said to me: “how can I trust the word of a man who believes in nothing?”


Chris Thorpe

Chris Thorpe is a respected independent lawyer in the upstream oil and gas industry, and an established lecturer and author. Chris has a LLB in law from Magdalene College, Cambridge and trained as a barrister in London. He worked for eight years' as an in-house lawyer for BP and Marathon. Since 1991, Chris has run his own upstream legal practice, CPTL, which has acted for many upstream clients. He has extensive experience of international upstream transactions, principally in the North Sea, the FSU, Africa and the Middle East. Chris has spoken at many UK and International Conferences and Seminars, both public and in-house. His most popular current lecture is Fundamental of Upstream Petroleum Agreements, a two-day course with accompanying book.