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 government's general guidelines to ensure a smooth experience. Some cultural expectations and norms are helpful to know if you travel for business or leisure.
An essential starting point when traveling to Egypt is knowing your market. Before coming, you should conduct in-depth research and do your homework well. If you carry documentation supporting your research, you are bound to create an excellent first impression. Although the official language of Egypt is Arabic, people who can efficiently speak and write English can also be found very quickly in the country, so don't stress out about language barriers.
Hiring A Local
Another custom you should know is having a local person or agent who can help speed 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 expected, so do not await a same-day response. A typical business day in Egyptian is usually from 8 am to 2 pm in the summer and 9 am to 1 pm with an extra 5 to 7 pm 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 since working hours for business and government offices are majorly altered during this holy month.
When starting work with an Egyptian organization, the decision to hire an Egyptian representative who can explain the chief points and essential details in Arabic can be beneficial. Remember that a raised voice in Egypt should never be mistaken for a fight, as it's widespread 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 arguments. These include Egyptian achievements (both ancient and modern), the positive reputation of Egyptian leaders, Egyptian cotton, and sports. Topics that you should always avoid during discussions are asking about female members of an Egyptian family or Israel's effect on Egypt.
Following the dress code is essential 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 and surname. Punctuality in Egypt is not considered the main priority, so remember 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.