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Business Etiquettes


Egyptians prefer to do business with those they know and respect, therefore expect to spend time cultivating a personal relationship before business is conducted. Who you know is more important than what you know, so it is important to network and cultivate a number of contracts.

Expect to be offered coffee or tea whenever you meet someone, as this demonstrates hospitality. Even if you do not take a sip, always accept the beverage. Declining the offer is viewed as rejecting the person. Since Egyptians judge people on appearances wear good quality conservative clothes and present yourself well at all times.

Egyptians believe direct eye contact is a sign of honesty and sincerity, so be prepared for disconcertingly intense stares. They are emotive and use hand gestures when they are excited. In general, they speak softly, although they may also shout or pound the table. This is not indicative of anger; it is merely an attempt to demonstrate a point.

You should demonstrate deference to the most senior person in the group, who will also be their spokesperson. This is a country where hierarchy and rank are very important.

Business Meeting

Appointments are necessary and should be made in advance. Confirm the meeting one week in advance, either in writing or by telephone. Reconfirm again a day or two before the meeting.

Business meetings generally start after prolonged inquiries about health, family, etc. Meetings are generally not private unless there is a need to discuss matters confidentially. In general, Egyptians have an open-door policy, even when they are in a meeting. This means you may experience frequent interruptions. Others may even wander into the room and start a different discussion. You may join in, but do not try to bring the topic back to the original discussion until the new person leaves.

High- level government officials often adhere to more western business practices and hold private meetings without interruptions

If you send an agenda and presentation materials in advance of the meeting, send both an English and Egyptian Arabic translation.

Business Negotiation

The social side of business is very important. Egyptians must know and like you to conduct business. Personal relationships are necessary for long-term business.

Business is hierarchical. The highest ranking person makes decisions, after obtaining group consensus. Decisions are reached after great deliberation. If the government is involved, discussions will take even longer since approval must often be given by the ministers of several departments. Business moves at a slow pace. The society is extremely bureaucratic. It may take several visits to accomplish a simple task.

It is advisable to include older people with impressive titles in your team since Egyptians respect age and experience.

Expect a fair amount of haggling. Egyptians seldom see an offer as final. Egyptians do not like confrontation and abhor saying 'no'. If they do not respond, it usually is a negative sign.

Always include research and documentation to support your claims and do not use high-pressure tactics.

Business Dressing

Business attire is formal and conservative. Dress well if you want to make a good impression.

Men should wear dark coloured, lightweight, conservative business suits, at least to the first meeting. Men should avoid wearing visible jewellery, especially around the face and neck.

Women must be careful to cover themselves appropriately. Skirts and dresses should cover the knee and sleeves should cover most of the arm.

Business Cards

Business cards are given without formal ritual. Have one side of your card translated into Egyptian Arabic. Always hand the card so the recipient may read it. Make a point of studying any business card you receive before putting into your business card case.





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