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What is considered good etiquette in Egypt

28 Dec 2014 10:15 AM

What is considered good etiquette in Egypt
When visiting Egypt for the first time, it’s important you get to know the culture and the customs of its people a little. Etiquette can vary from country to country, and even from city to city, but there are a number of general ‘rules’ that you should follow if you don’t want to risk accidentally insulting the locals.

How to act when meeting someone new

The first thing to take into consideration is how to act when meeting someone for the first time. A handshake is usually customary between those of the same gender, while a kiss on each cheek is normal once a relationship has been established.
If a man and a woman are to greet, then it is respectful for the male to wait for the female to extend her hand. If she doesn’t, then a simple bow of the head from the man should occur.

It is also important to note that you will be greeted with a big smile and lengthy eye contact when shaking hands. Embrace this, and your new acquaintance will consider you to be polite and trustworthy.

These guidelines may vary, however, as greetings are sometimes based on class and even religion. The best thing you can do is follow the lead of the person you are meeting.

How to behave when invited to dinner

If you are lucky enough to be invited to the home of an Egyptian for a meal, then you should be aware of their practices and what will be expected of you.

First of all, you must compliment the host. Talk about how much you love their home, and of course the food they have served. Accepting second helpings will also be hugely appreciated, but make sure to leave a little food on your plate when you’re finished – or they’ll continue to fill it up! An additional quirk is to always eat with your right hand.

Appearances are important, so dress conservatively and slip off your shoes before entering their property. Hand the hostess a small gift (traditionally chocolates or sweets, never flowers) and wait for her to show you where you are sitting.

How much should you tip?

Wherever you go in the world, you will expect to pay the individual who has provided you a service something extra. In Egypt it is no different. Traditionally locals who work in the tourism industry earn a relatively low wage, and rely on tips just to get by.

For waiters at restaurants, ten per cent of the cost of the meal is generally considered to be a fair tip – providing they did a good job. You may notice a “service charge” on your receipt in some places, but please note that this does not go to the employee but the business itself.

There are many other individuals who will look to help you out and make your stay more comfortable, so make sure to show your appreciation to them too. Housekeeping, luggage carriers at your hotel and kids who help out with the camels and horses will all expect a little something.

Check out this post for a general guide on how much to tip certain people.

How to interact with business associates

Trust and respect are two key qualities Egyptians will look for when deciding who to do business with. They like to have a good personal relationship with their associates, so you’ll be expected to take the time and effort to get to know them and vice versa.
Meetings may begin with lengthy pleasantries about the others family, health and personal wellbeing. Patience is required - don’t try to get right into business until they are satisfied that you have shown them respect.

Egyptian’s tend to have an open-door policy, so don’t expect privacy during a meeting unless it’s absolutely necessary. Others may pop in and out of the room to discuss something, which can make things take a lot longer than you had planned. As mentioned, try to be patient and wait until your host turns the conversation back to what you were originally discussing.

Have you ever been to Egypt? How was your experience in interacting with the locals? Let us know in the comments.


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