Egypt flag Egypt: Business Environment

Business Practices in Egypt

Opening hours and bank holidays

General Information
Commisceo Global, Egyptian business culture as per Commisceo Global
Services for business, Global Affairs Canada
Opening Hours and Days
Banks: from 8:30 to 14:00 from Sunday to Thursday.
Public administration: from 8:30 to 15:00 from Sunday to Thursday.
Businesses: from 8:30 to 15:00 from Sunday to Thursday.

Public Holidays

Coptic Christmas day January 7
Sinai Liberation day April 25
Labor Day May 1
Revolution Day July 23
Armed Forces Day October 6
Cham El Nessim (Spring Festival) The first Monday following Orthodox Easter
Aid El Fitr (Ramadan Feast) 3 days public holidays marking the end of Ramadan
Aid el Adha (Sacrifice Feast) 4 days public holidays, 70 days after the end of Ramadan
Islamic New Year Variable Date
Prophet Mohamed's Birthday Variable Date
Coptic Easter Monday Variable Date
Holiday Compensation

Periods When Companies Usually Close

Aid el Fitr (Ramadan Feast) 3 days at the end of Ramadan
Aid el Adha (Sacrifice Feast) 4 days, 70 days after the end of Ramadan
Summer vacation During the month of August, business is particularly slow

Business culture

The Fundamental Principles of Business Culture
Traditional culture greatly influences Egyptian business values. Honour is highly valued. Egyptian culture is influenced by Islam, family and fatalism. Other important concepts include loyalty, education, modesty and pride.

The hierarchy within a group is strictly respected. The highest-ranking individual will make the final decision, but will also look for group consensus. Including older, experienced people in your team is recommended.

The distinction between professional and friendly relationships is sometimes held but in general treating business affairs in a personal way is completely normal. The personal relationship with business partners is often developed at meals.

First Contact
It is strongly recommended to call on an Egyptian representative who can act as liaison or intermediary with Egyptian companies. The best way to establish a first contact is with an email followed by a phone call. Personal contact is generally important. As far as possible, addressing the prospective counterpart rather than secretaries when establishing first contact is to be privileged, since the secretaries may dismiss your request. Appointments should be made at least a week in advance. You should avoid setting up a meeting on Friday, which is the day off, as well as during the month of Ramadan.
Time Management
Punctuality and respect for deadlines are most of the time approximate. Businesses are generally open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. during summer and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m./5 p.m. to 7 p.m. during winter. It is not common to set a limited time for the meeting.
Greetings and Titles
Shaking hands and exchanging welcoming, polite words without being too formal is the norm. Saying hello in Arabic should please the other party. It is usual to address a counterpart by his title followed by “Mister” and his surname or name. The same applies for women ("Mrs" or "Miss" are appropriate).
Gift Policy
Gifts are an important factor in Egyptian society and are almost never viewed as corruption. When invited for dinner at a counterpart’s house, it is appropriate to bring a fruit basket, pastries or chocolates. Gifts must be given and received with the right hand or both hands, but never with the left hand. Gifts should be wrapped and opened later on.
Dress Code
The business dress code is formal and conservative. Men should wear a suit and tie (for some Egyptians, military or traditional outfits are also acceptable) while women should wear skirts or dresses that cover the knee and long sleeves.
Business Cards
Exchanging business cards is generally done at the beginning of the meeting during introductions. It should include your name, title, business, address and full contact information, with one side in English and the other in Arabic.
Meetings Management
It is advised to begin a meeting by enquiring about a person's health or family, before actively engaging in business talks. General questions on ones family are acceptable. You should not engage in political discussions as the contrary may prove very polarised in that regard. Making jokes and comments unrelated to business is common. You should establish some personal relationship with the other party before joining a company.

During negotiations, it is better not to go about it in a direct manner, but to get to the subject progressively. Your presentation should be thorough and researched. It is advised to include both the Gregorian (Western) and Hijrah (Arabic) dates. Expect interruptions or phone calls from other people while you present. You should not use high-pressure tactics. Bargaining is an integral part of the Egyptian culture, and one should avoid accepting a proposition without bargaining, as it is viewed as a sign of weakness.

Non-verbal communication is important in Egypt. Communication is usually indirect and it can be hard to say no or voice lack of interest directly. In general, a refusal will be expressed by a big smile and a non-committed answer like “God willing” (in sha Allah) or “tomorrow” (bokra). Most Egyptian businessmen speak English, French or both. Egyptians also tend to be in close proximity while talking; make sure not to back away when they do so. Smoking is a widespread habit; smokers should accept a cigarette that is being offered and offer some as well.

Business dinners are of great importance. It is advised to show interest in local culture and remain flexible. Drinks will be served; make sure to accept them as not doing so is considered offensive. Only use your right hand to eat. Accepting second helpings is considered as a compliment, but you should leave some food on your plate or it will constantly be refilled.

Sources for Further Information
Egypt guide Egyptian business etiquette

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Latest Update: March 2024

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