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Egypt Business Etiquette & Culture

Egypt etiquette, manners, protocol, gift giving, communications, appearance, and behavior                      Egypt etiquette and manners

Egypt Introduction

Egypt, officially Arab Republic of Egypt is a country in northeastern Africa and southwestern Asia. It’s northern boarder is the Mediterranean Sea, on the east lies Israel and the Red Sea, Sudan is to it’s south, and on the west is Libya. The land of the Nile River, Egypt is the cradle of one of the world’s greatest ancient civilizations and has a recorded history that dates from approximately 3200 BC.

Although modern day Egyptians are usually lumped together with "the Arabs" due to their language and Islamic traditions, this is not completely accurate. There is a truly Bedouin Arab grouping within Egypt, who are still largely nomadic tribal people living in isolated oases and roaming through the country's vast desert regions. Many Bedouin Arabs reside the Sinai Peninsula and along the Red Sea coast, across from Arabia.


Egypt Fun Fact

Egyptians often consider their country to be a bridge between the European West and the Arab East. Thus, business practices may resemble European or Arab practices or anything in between.

Geert Hofstede Analysis for Egypt

The Geert Hofstede analysis for
Egypt is almost identical to other Arab countries their Muslim faith plays a large role in the people’s lives. Large power distance and uncertainty avoidance are the predominant characteristics for this region. This indicates that it is expected and accepted that leaders separate themselves from the group and issue complete and specific directives.

The Geert Hofstede analysis for the Arab World, that includes the countries of Egypt, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, demonstrates the Muslim faith plays a significant role in the people’s lives.

Large Power Distance (PDI) (80) and Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI) (68) are predominant Hofstede Dimension characteristics for the countries in this region. These societies are more likely to follow a caste system that does not allow significant upward mobility of its citizens. They are also highly rule-oriented with laws, rules, regulations, and controls in order to reduce the amount of uncertainty, while inequalities of power and wealth have been allowed to grow within the society.

When these two Dimensions are combined, it creates a situation where leaders have virtually ultimate power and authority, and the rules, laws and regulations developed by those in power reinforce their own leadership and control. It is not unusual for new leadership to arise from armed insurrection – the ultimate power, rather than from diplomatic or democratic change.

The high Power Distance (PDI) ranking is indicative of a high level of inequality of power and wealth within the society. These populations have an expectation and acceptance that leaders will separate themselves from the group and this condition is not necessarily subverted upon the population, but rather accepted by the society as their cultural heritage.

The high Uncertainty Avoidance Index (UAI) ranking of 68, indicates the society’s low level of tolerance for uncertainty. In an effort to minimize or reduce this level of uncertainty, strict rules, laws, policies, and regulations are adopted and implemented. The ultimate goal of these populations is to control everything in order to eliminate or avoid the unexpected. As a result of this high Uncertainty Avoidance characteristic, the society does not readily accept change and is very risk adverse.

The Masculinity index (MAS), the third highest Hofstede Dimension is 52, only slightly higher than the 50.2 average for all the countries included in the Hofstede MAS Dimension. This would indicate that while women in the Arab World are limited in their rights, it may be due more to Muslim religion rather than a cultural paradigm.

The lowest Hofstede Dimension for the Arab World is the Individualism (IDV) ranking at 38, compared to a world average ranking of 64. This translates into a Collectivist society as compared to Individualist culture and is manifested in a close long-term commitment to the member 'group', that being a family, extended family, or extended relationships. Loyalty in a collectivist culture is paramount, and over-rides most other societal rules.
More Geert Hofstede Details

Written by Stephen Taylor - the Sigma Two Group


Religion in Egypt


The predominant religion for Egypt is Islam, the practice of the Muslim faith. (see Article)

An Imam explains Islam

Islam is the name of the religion that was founded 1,400 years ago by the Holy Prophet of Islam, Muhammad. Islam is an Arabic word which means peace, love and complete submission and obedience to God. There is no difference between Islam and Muslims. Islam is the religion that a Muslim follows, just as Christianity is the religion which a Christian follows.

A Muslim is someone who has accepted Islam and lives his whole life according to the teachings of Islam. A true Muslim is one who is loving and caring, promotes peace, and is fully obedient and submissive to the will of God.

Islam demands from its believers that they establish peace in the world, promote love and make such examples of themselves that others, knowing that they are Muslims, feel at peace and harmony in that knowledge. This is the true Islam and what it means to be a Muslim.

The Holy Prophet of Islam has said that a true Muslim is one whose actions and words do not harm his fellow man.

When Muslims greet each other, instead of saying, “good morning” or “hello” they say “Assalamo Alaikum,” which means “May peace be upon you and may God's blessings be with you.” This greeting makes a Muslim aware that he has to spread love and peace wherever he goes.

There are many attributes of God, one being “AsSalam” meaning “the Bestower of peace and love.” Man has been created to fashion himself to the attributes of God and Muslims must try to adopt this attribute of God.

If someone calling himself a Muslim and a follower of the Holy Prophet does not promote peace and love in his actions and does not follow this teaching, he cannot be a true follower of the Holy Prophet.

Muslims pray five times a day, asking God for his love.

They pray, “Oh God! You are Peace and from you, is Peace; Blessed are you, O Lord of Majesty and Bounty.”

Islam is a religion from God for the whole of mankind and the name Islam was given to the Muslims by God himself in the Holy Quran.

“This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed my favour upon you and have chosen for you Islam as religion.”

The Holy Quran has been sent for the guidance of mankind. It is full of wisdom and commands.

Egypt Appearance

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Foreigners are expected to abide by local standards of modesty however, do not adopt native clothing.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  A jacket and tie are usually required for men at business meetings. Men should wear long pants and a shirt.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Women should always wear modest clothing in public.


Egypt Behavior & Manners 

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Space relationships among members of the same sex will be much closer than North Americans and Europeans are comfortable with. Egyptians will tend to stand close and moving away may be seen as a sign of aloofness. On the other hand, men and women stand farther apart from each other than is the custom in United States and Europe.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Try not to sit with your legs crossed. Showing the sole of your shoe is considered an insult to another person.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  It is common to smoke in public. Be considerate to others present and offer your cigarettes.

wb01542_.gif (729 bytes) More information on International Gift Giving

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Considering sending a gift to someone in Egypt? See this information


Egypt Communications 

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Names are often confusing. It's best to get the names (in English) of those you will meet, speak to, or correspond with ahead of time so that you can find out both their full names and how they are to be addressed in person.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Arabic is read from right to left and books or magazines start at what would be the last page in the U.S. and Europe. Printed literature are preferred to have an impressive back cover, even if printed in English.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Nearly all Egyptians speak Arabic. Most international business people will speak English, French or both.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Frequently appointments may be interrupted by phone calls and/or visits.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  If locating in Egypt, business cards should be printed in English on one side and Arabic on the other.



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