Business Customs in Egypt
Any person travelling to Egypt must get aware about the etiquettes and customs whether traveling for business or leisure reasons. When travelling for leisure you always make sure to gather detailed information about the itinerary, stay, and move and more, so why not do the same when travelling for work to Egypt. Business customs in Egypt are unique to their 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.
When travelling to Egypt a basic business custom is being aware about your market. It means you should have conducted an in-depth research and done your homework well. If you carry the documentation supporting the research you have done then you are bound to create that 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.
Another custom you must know is that having a local person or agent can help in speeding up your official work. The decision of your counterpart is final and that is made only when the other party likes you and your conduct and interest. Expecting immediate outcomes is never advised as the working culture in Egypt is slower than other European lands. Keeping foreign trade partners waiting is very common so do not await a same-day response. A typical business day is usually from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm in the summer and 9:00 am to 1:00 pm with an extra 5:00 to 7:00 pm in the winter. Fridays are seen as a holiday in Egypt as it’s a holy day in Muslim religion. Before setting a meeting, check that it is not Ramadan. Working hours for business and government offices are altered during this holy month in the country.
When starting work with an Egyptian organization having with you an Egyptian representative who can explain the chief points and important details in Arabic seems necessary. Raised voice in Egyptian discussions should never be taken for a fight as it’s very common in the country. 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, sports. Topics which you must avoid during discussions are not asking about the female members in the family or about Israel’s effect on the country.
Following the dress code is important and despite the hot temperatures, most of the body must remain covered. Wearing Egyptian traditional clothing is a complete no-no. 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. Business cards should be printed in English on one side and in Arabic on the other.
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