Posted by: Melissa C | March 4, 2010

Cultural Awareness – Egypt

CLICK HERE to access a PDF file of this presentation!

Al Salaam A’alaykum!


  • Capital – Cairo
  • Language – Arabic
    • French and English understood by educated classes
  • Population – 127,078,679
    • 16th in world
  • Religion – Muslim (Sunni – 90%)
    • Christian (Coptic) – 9%
  • Area – 386,659 square miles
    • 30th in world
  • Independence – February 28, 1922
    • From United Kingdom

Business in Egypt

  • Work week adjustment: Saturday – Wednesday
    • Islamic Sabbath on Friday
    • Also during Ramadan (One month of fasting)
  • Very familiar with Western business customs
    • Both extremes; some executives follow Arab traditions
  • Few things happen on time; slower pace of business
    • May not show up at all
    • Standard practice to keep clients waiting
    • Patience is vital
  • Less personal space than in West
    • Tend to gravitate towards people
    • Physical contact in conversations, but not between sexes
  • Business hours vary greatly, depending on season
    • 8:00am – 2:00pm in summer
    • 9:00am – 1:00pm; 5:00pm – 7:00pm in winter
  • Egyptian agent is required to do business
  • Small number of women business executives
    • Men and women not treated as equals
    • Women may be professors, physicians

Some Useful Facts…

  • Arabic is read from right to left
    • Books open “backwards” and should have impressive back cover
  • Upper and Lower Egypt refer to flow of Nile
    • Runs south to north
    • Lower Egypt is northern part; Upper Egypt is southern part
  • Showing the bottom of your foot is offensive
    • I.e. Do not cross your legs when sitting
  • Foreigners should not attempt to drive
    • Notoriously manic drivers
    • Run red lights, do not use headlines, drive on sidewalk
    • Greatest hazard for visitors
  • Alcohol and pork prohibited to strict Muslims
  • Left hand is considered unclean
    • Avoid eating or gesturing with this hand
  • “Thumbs up” is a rude gesture

Implications in our Fields

  • Tourism and Hospitality
    • Historical monuments
      • Sphinx
      • Great Pyramids of Giza
      • Pharaoh’s tombs, temples
    • Nature tourism
      • Red Sea
      • Nile River
      • Deserts and safaris
    • Mount Fuji
      • Active volcano
    • Religious and cultural sites
      • “Cradle of Civilization”
      • Part of the Holy Land (i.e. Mount Sinai)
      • Bedouins
    • Wellness tourism
      • Hot springs – Oyoun Mossa, Hammam Pharoan
      • Environmental therapies
      • Mineral-rich waters in Red Sea
  • Sport and Recreation
    • Soccer
      • Won African Cup of Nations for 3rd time in a row
      • Have not played in World Cup since 1990
    • Basketball
    • Boxing
      • Mohamed Aly received silver medal in 2004 Olympic Games
    • Horseracing
    • Water sports
      • Sailing
      • Swimming
      • Diving (SCUBA)
    • Squash




  1. Hm hm.. that’s interessting but honestly i have a hard time seeing it… wonder what others have to say..

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