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Egypt - Business Culture
Most Egyptians are Muslim, and when visiting you should be respectful of Islamic values and practices. The normal Egyptian working week is from Saturday to Wednesday. Meetings should be scheduled shortly before your trip, and confirmed on arrival. Be prepared for your Egyptian contacts may be late as punctuality is not regarded as important here.
Arabic is the main language, although many Egyptians also speak English or French. Written material should be provided in both Arabic and English, and documents should include the Gregorian and the Arabic date.
Both men and women should dress very modestly for meetings, ensuring that most of the body is covered. Handshakes are commonly used as a greeting between men, although Egyptians will also often kiss close friends on the cheek. It is normal practice for Egyptian men to walk hand in hand.
Egypt is a status-conscious society, and titles are important. You should always address Egyptians by any professional title, such as doctor or professor, or by Mr or Mrs followed by their family name.
In negotiations, remember the important of building up trust and a good personal relationship. It is a good idea to stress the mutual benefits of your proposals, but avoid high-pressure sell tactics and don't try to hurry things along - Egyptians typically work at a slow pace.
If visiting during Ramadan, you should avoid eating or drinking in front of your hosts who will be fasting. You should also be aware that Muslims are prohibited from drinking alcohol or eating pork. Don't eat or pass things with your left hand, as this is considered unclean in Muslim culture. Pointing is rude, and the "thumbs up" sign is very offensive here.
If you are invited to the home of an Egyptian, it is appropriate to take a small edible gift, such as sweets or pastries. Flowers should not be given as a gift as they are associated with funerals.
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