As in most of the Arabic world, people stand quite close to one another when communicating and many other cultures may feel that their personal space has been invaded.
When this close proximity is coupled with strong same-sex eye contact and large amounts of tactility, many overseas business people can feel extremely uncomfortable. When attempting to build good relationships it is important that these differences in approach to body language do not become a barrier.
Arabic conversation can be very hyperbolic with much use of flowery language and flattery. This is a protocol of the language and is expected. Do not misinterpret this approach as insincerity or a tactic. Try to express yourself in a similar fashion – especially when establishing relationships.
It may sometimes appear that Egyptians are shouting at each other and in the middle of a very heated, acrimonious argument. Remember that emotion is used to convey conviction and that an overly reserved approach could be misconstrued as detachment or even lack of interest.
Egyptians are proud of their country and Egyptian achievements (both ancient and modern.) Egypt’s standing in the world, its history and local sport are all positive topics of conversation. However it is best to avoid discussing political issues or enquiring about female relatives of business acquaintances.
When dealing with government officials, it is important to learn the titles of any contacts as titles are of considerable importance, denoting hierarchy and status. Do not address government officials in a familiar way unless specifically requested to do so.