Relocating to Egypt? Here’s Our Top 10 Cultural Tips!
Posted by: Hazel Durie, Client Services Manager
Egypt’s strong links with western countries has made it a popular destination for many multinational organisations wanting to develop a foothold into Africa and the Middle East. The country is rich with history and renowned for its arts and cultural treasures, but it does pose a number of potential challenges for international assignees. These include security issues, finding a property and cultural differences. Our latest publication on Egypt explores these challenges and provides best practices to overcome them.
Cultural Tips for Relocating to Egypt
- Relationships are key to building successful business contacts, so it’s essential to take the time to get to know your Egyptian colleagues. Don’t underestimate the importance of small talk. It’s part of the relationship-building process.
- Expect a more relaxed approach to timescales. Some western assignees find Egyptians’ concept of time one of the most challenging aspects of working in the country. Meetings will often start late and run over since it is considered rude to stop a discussion just because you have another appointment.
- Like meetings, deadlines too may or may not be met, with scheduling an informal plan rather than a fixed commitment. Take this into consideration when planning projects.
- Avoid booking a meeting on Fridays as this is Egypt’s day of worship and key events or meetings should also not be scheduled during the month of Ramadan. (Find out more about this holy month of fasting.)
- As a Muslim society, dress codes are fairly conservative. Shoulders and upper arms need to be covered and skirts should be knee length or longer.
- Hierarchy is important in Egypt so when meeting a group of people, always greet each person in order of seniority.
- Egyptians are high context communicators and will often avoid giving a negative response or saying the word, ‘no’. To understand what is being said during business discussions, assignees will have to read between the lines.
- Feedback should be delivered carefully. Formal, written systems of giving and receiving feedback are frowned upon as Egyptians see them as cold and impersonal. Instead, negative feedback must be delivered tactfully, indirectly and in private.
- As the country’s official language, business cards should be translated into Arabic, as should sales documentation.
- Companies should consider cross-cultural training for assignees moving to Egypt. The policy-type you choose should take the length of the assignment into account as well as the scope of relocation experience that the assignee has.