Many events in Egypt's history have had an impact on tourism, but your business needs may still require training and development in Egypt. Let's explore some common cultural facts about Egyptians and their expectations when it comes to training and development.
Test Your Knowledge of Egyptian Culture:
- Is Arabic read from right to left or left to right?
- True or False? Egypt is one of the most westernized countries in the Middle East.
- The terms "Upper Egypt" and "Lower Egypt" are oriented to the flow of what famous river?
Quick Tips for Training & Development in Egypt1:
- Never show the soles of your feet, as this is offensive to Arab culture. Be mindful of this when selecting images or when sitting in meetings. In westernized culture, sitting with your legs crossed is a casual and relaxed pose, but it's perceived as impolite in Egypt since the bottoms of your feet may show.
- The left hand is considered unclean, so avoid gesturing with your left hand whenever possible, and always use your right hand when eating and handling "clean" objects such as offering gifts or exchanging business cards. The "thumbs up" gesture is also seen as rude.
- The Islamic Sabbath is on Friday. The typical workweek runs Saturday through Wednesday. Be sure to clarify the class schedule when training in Egypt.
- While Arabic is the official language, many executives speak English or French as well. Translation will likely be required for any in-country training materials.
- The Islamic faith is the primary source of truth; then personal feelings or facts are considered. Be careful not to speak against the Islamic faith, as about 90% of the population is Muslim.
- Family contributes to an individual's core identity, and Egyptians receive honor, dignity, and security through their family unit. These three values are highly respected in Egyptian culture, so be mindful of them to avoid embarrassing your contact and risking the relationship.
- It's a common Arab business practice to keep foreigners waiting for meetings, especially since Egyptian culture does not value punctuality. It may be wise to either schedule only one meeting per day when first getting to know your Egyptian client or team, or allow a large buffer between meetings in case they are delayed. You will likely need an Egyptian agent to do business in Egypt who can also work as an advocate to help you navigate through your meetings.
- Egyptian humor is often self-deprecating, but be careful not to join in. Only an Egyptian can make fun of Egypt.
Answers to Trivia:
- Since Arabic is read from right to left, Arabic-language training materials start on the back page or back cover of the book unlike an English version. Make sure your handbooks or manuals have colorful illustrated back covers to engage readers.
- True. Even so, business interactions with individual executives may range from westernized to traditional.
- The Nile. Surprisingly enough, this puts Lower Egypt in the north of the country and Upper Egypt in the south on the Sudan border.