Egypt Culture of Business

By | July 24, 2022

Subchapters:

  • Introduction
  • Addressing
  • Business Meeting
  • Communication
  • Recommendations
  • Public holidays

Introduction

Brief introduction – 3-5 sentences

In the individual parts, the answer to the questions can be based on the culture card processed for seminars and for delegations.

What a Czech exporter should know before entering the Egyptian market:

  • Egypt is often underestimated – everyone has been there. On the other hand, it is mistakenly assumed that everything here works similarly to the European market.
  • It is necessary to convince the Egyptian partner that the goods or technology being offered is better than the competition, even in terms of price. Today, not only companies from Europe, but also Asia and the USA strive for Egypt.
  • The corporate presentation must be focused on the customer’s needs.

We recommend that you refer to the document Culture of Business Negotiations Egypt prepared by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

  • Baglib: Overview of Egypt, including popular places to visit, UNESCO World Heritage List, climate, geography and travel advice.

Addressing

How to reach business partners?

Due to the difficulty of understanding which of several names is and is not appropriate to use when addressing an Egyptian business partner, it is advisable to clarify the address with your partner right from the beginning. The emphasis here is on writing and using titles before names.

Business meeting

Time passes differently in Egypt than a Central European is used to. Anyone who wants to do business in Egypt must adapt to the local pace and customs. Being late for business meetings and negotiations is a fairly widespread issue. Working hours here usually end around four o’clock in the afternoon, and the employees are usually not very willing to work overtime. Great emphasis is placed on the mutual exchange of business cards. A participant in a business meeting can expect an invitation to lunch or dinner from his business partner. Egyptians are a hospitable nation, a social lunch can last two hours or more. It is a suitable and recurring custom to give a suitable gift to a business partner commensurate with his status.

  • PaulSourcing: Tips and recommendations for doing business with Egypt. Also includes country basic data and information for entering the its market.

Timing of negotiations

The fasting month of Ramadan is not a very suitable period for business negotiations, when the rhythm of the whole society is subject to daily fasting and the population’s activity shifts to night hours. In addition, working hours are shortened during Ramadan. A number of religious holidays are observed in Egypt, public holidays are often announced at short notice and apply to civil servants. It is advisable to prepare a probable calendar of holidays, which are more abundant here than in the Czech Republic. The working week here is from Sunday to Thursday. We recommend arranging meetings from 10 am. An important aspect of etiquette is the handshake. In the case of a man shaking hands with a Muslim woman, the handshake may be rejected. When meeting, men usually shake hands and place the other hand on their partner’s shoulder. In Cairo or Alexandria, expect traffic jams on the streets,

What surprises a Czech businessman the most during negotiations?

Lengthy negotiations tend to be somewhat exhausting for Central European traders. I can take a quarter of an hour just for the initial courtesies. It is not customary to start business negotiations right at the beginning of the meeting, it is always preceded by a conversation about non-work matters. For the Arab world, including Egypt, questions of a more personal nature, i.e. about health, family, children, or other family members, are typical for the beginning of a conversation. A suitable topic is the first impressions of the trip and of course the Egyptian culture. On the contrary, it is not recommended to spin the conversation on religious topics, Egyptians also evaluate their own modern history differently than we are used to from our sources. Be prepared for the fact that the official meeting may be interrupted by phone calls or consultations with other workers. Egyptians do not take this as a sign of impoliteness.

What are Egyptian traders like?

The Egyptian businessman is usually very experienced and knowledgeable in his field. Before negotiating with an Egyptian business partner, it should be taken into account that not all the agreements of the previous day are valid during the next negotiation. During negotiations, especially in the state sphere, it is quite common that some questions are reopened, especially with the arrival of a higher-ranking employee. Egyptians are talkative and very fond of debating. Don’t be surprised if your partners are noisy and use masterful gestures. The attitude of the Egyptians to time and life is described by some frequently used phrases such as: Bokra – tomorrow, Malesh (there is no point in worrying), Inshallah (God willing).

Is negotiating with local traders different, made difficult by cultural/religious/ethnic differences?

A break for prayer is observed, especially in state-owned enterprises, but also in the private sector. For the same reason, the ongoing business negotiation can be interrupted at any time. However, this fact requires tolerance on the part of the business partner.

How do Egyptian businessmen deal with emotions in business negotiations?

With perhaps few exceptions, Egyptian merchants are experienced entrepreneurs. For the Arabs, bargaining is a natural way of acting, which is in their blood. As a rule, they are fluent in world languages ​​and know the psychology of their European partner. A number of them graduated from prestigious universities in the world. All the more thoroughly it is necessary to prepare for business negotiations with Egyptian partners.

It is suitable or customary to offer alcohol during business meetings?

In Egypt, it is usually inappropriate to offer alcohol during meetings, you have to be very careful, because the majority of the Egyptian population is Muslim. on the other hand, not all Egyptians follow the ban on drinking alcoholic beverages. therefore, it is a good idea to leave any initiative to order alcoholic beverages to the Egyptian partner. In Egypt, it is necessary to pay attention to the hygienic level of catering establishments, i.e. it is not suitable to consume e.g. street-sold ice cream, uncooked vegetables and unpackaged water, avoid “fresh” squeezed fruit juices.

How to dress for a work meeting?

Both men and women wear formal attire for formal occasions and meetings. This principle is also observed during business negotiations, especially if they are conducted at a higher level. During meetings in the hottest summer months, it is possible to put the jacket away. Women should be dressed appropriately. This is a Muslim country and it is necessary to adapt the behavior to this, but also the dress should correspond to local customs, i.e. skirts below the knees or trousers, blouses without a significant neckline and with sleeves.

What should an ideal negotiation team look like (number of members, age and gender composition of the team, team leader)?

The number of members of the negotiating team depends primarily on the size of the Czech company. The participation of a senior representative, such as a sales director, is more than requested. The age and gender composition of the team does not play a major role, however, more trust is in favor of men here.

It is customary to invite a business partner to your home, or be invited home ? If so, what is usual for such a visit, what to expect?

If you are invited to the family, it is better to decline the invitation out of politeness. Only after persuasion can you agree. Dinner often stretches into the late evening or early morning hours. It will be welcome if you bring a gift to the host, for example a box of chocolates, but also cut Czech glass.

Communication

Is it important to bring an interpreter with you?

In general, there is no need for the provision of interpreter services. Visit Allunitconverters for more information about Egypt culture and traditions.

How about language facilities?

English is used almost exclusively as the language of action. However, if both sides were able to negotiate in Arabic, the negotiations would certainly be more friendly and perhaps even faster. However, in general, there is no need for the provision of interpreter services.

Are there any communication taboos?

The majority of the local population, i.e. almost 90%, profess Islam, the remaining part consists almost exclusively of Copts and Orthodox Christians. And that is why it is advisable to avoid ambiguous jokes on religious topics, but also topics with sexual undertones. It is also advisable to avoid conversations about pork and alcohol.

What is the best way to communicate (in person, email, phone, etc.)?

In Egypt, personal dealings are certainly very important, it is not possible to rely on the Internet and do business from a desk. In addition, a personal meeting is absolutely necessary to gain the trust of the partner and to successfully close the deal. To speed up communication, we recommend communicating via phone and WhatsApp rather than email.

Recommendation

What would you recommend to entrepreneurs who are going to Egypt?

  • Take your time, be patient and build personal relationships.
  • It is necessary to establish your own branch office or to find a truly verified Egyptian representative who must be registered in the register of importers.
  • Offer him exclusivity, initially only for a limited time.
  • During negotiations, it is important to pay attention to payment instruments, the most suitable of which is a confirmed irrevocable letter of credit with the simplest possible terms, so that there are no delays in payments.

Public Holidays

A list of public holidays and a possible brief comment on the most important ones.

+ if the Link to download the Business Deal Culture card

A greater number of holidays are recognized in Egypt. Since the Islamic calendar is lunar, Muslim holidays are variable, moving about 11 days earlier in the calendar year-to-year than the previous year.

Overview of holidays in 2022:

– Coptic Christmas – January 7th

– Revolution Day – January 25

– Coptic Easter – April 24

– Sinai Liberation Day – April 25

– Sham El Nessim – May 25

– Labor Day – May 1st

– Eid Al Fitr – End of Ramadan – May 2nd – May 5th

– Revolution day – June 30

– Eid Al Adha (Feast of Sacrifice) – July 9. – July 12

– Revolution Day – July 23

– Islamic New Year – July 30

– Armed Forces Day – October 6

– Birth of the Prophet Muhammad – October 8

The official day off during the week is Friday. Banks are closed on Fridays and Saturdays, as are ministries and most state institutions. The working hours of ministries and state companies are from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Most private companies also work in the afternoon. Sales hours are mainly from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., but state-owned stores often close around 9 p.m. International supermarkets, on the other hand, often operate their stores 24 hours a day.

Egypt Culture of Business