Egyptians prize themselves on their sense of hospitality. Great hospitality reflects well on the host and you can expect to be well looked after during any trip to visit business contacts in the country.
If invited to an event, accept. To refuse an invitation could be perceived as a snub to the host. As would be expected in a strongly relationship-oriented culture, it can be difficult to get to the point of having a strong enough connection with somebody to do business with them until a certain amount of socializing has been performed.
Entertaining will invariably happen at a good restaurant in modern-day Egypt. Be prepared for large feasts with massive amounts of food. You should try to leave a little food on your plate at the end of a meal for fear of offending the host by implying that he hasn’t offered sufficient to meet your appetite. It is unlikely, but not impossible, that alcohol will be offered.
Always eat and pass food plates with your right hand as the left hand is considered unclean. (It would be quite insulting to pass food with the left hand.) Food is in fact often eaten with the right hand.
A service charge of 12% is very often included in restaurant bills but an extra 10% should be given in cash directly to the waiter.
Written and Produced by Keith Warburton
This country profile has been produced to give a short overview of some of the key concepts to bear in mind when doing business with contacts in Egypt. It is intended to be an aid to business people who have commercial dealings with counterparties in the country but should not be seen as an exhaustive guide to this topic or as a substitute for more substantial research should there be a need.
With this in mind, we have covered the areas which are key to a better understanding of the cultural mindset underpinning business dealings in Egypt and which are, quite often, extremely different from the approach and thought processes associated with business in other parts of the world.
Therefore this briefing note is broken into short, bite-sized sections on the following topics: