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Business Customs in Egypt

Any person traveling to Egypt is well advised to become aware of the etiquette and customs of the country, whether traveling for business or leisure. Business customs in Egypt are unique to Egyptian culture and all organizations and individuals who operate here must abide by the general guidelines laid forward by the government to ensure a smooth experience. There are also cultural expectations and norms that are very useful to know about if you are traveling for business or leisure.

 

 

 

When traveling to Egypt a basic starting tip is to always be aware of your market. Before coming you should conduct in-depth research and do your homework well. If you carry documentation supporting the research you have done then you are bound to create an amazing first impression. The official language of Egypt is Arabic but people who can efficiently speak and write English can also be found very easily in the country, so don't stress out about language barriers overly much.

 

Hiring A Local 

 

Business Customs

Another custom you should know is that of having a local person or agent who can help in speeding up your official work. The decision of your counterpart is final and that only happens if the other party likes your behavior and business pitch. Expecting immediate outcomes is never advised as the working culture in Egypt is slower than other European countries and not as "time-focused". Keeping foreign trade partners waiting is very common so do not await a same-day response. A typical business day in Egyptian is usually from 8am to 2pm in the summer and 9am to 1pm with an extra 5 to 7pm time period in the winter. Fridays are  a holiday in Egypt as it’s a holy day in the Muslim religion. Before setting up a meeting, check that it is not Ramadan as well, since working hours for business and government offices are majorly altered during this holy month. 

 

When starting work with an Egyptian organization, the declsion to hire an Egyptian representative who can explain the chief points and important details in Arabic can be very helpful. Keep in mind that a raised voice in Egypt should never be mistaken for a fight as it’s very common in the country to speak loud when making a point during a discussion or business negotiation. There are few favored topics on which Egyptians like starting any new discussions. These include Egyptian achievements (both ancient and modern), the positive reputation of Egyptian leaders, Egyptian cotton and sports. Topics which you should always avoid during discussions are asking about female members of an Egyptian's family or about Israel’s effect on Egypt.

 

Following the dress code is important in Egypt despite the hot temperatures. To follow local conventions, most of the body must remain covered. Wearing Egyptian traditional clothing is a complete no-no as this will be seen as pretentious and strange. It is always safest to wait for your counterpart to initiate the greeting, especially at a first meeting. When addressing an Egyptian for the first time it is advised to use their title along with their surname. Punctuality in Egypt is not considered the main priority, so keep in mind it is not rude if someone is a bit late for a meeting. Business cards should be printed in English on one side and in Arabic on the other. Best of success in your Egyptian business endeavors! It is truly a great place to do business with ample opportunities for ambitious individuals to form partnerships and deals.

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