How to behave in Egypt and etiquette for the tourist
Behavior in Egypt is a fine line between Muslim traditions and the permanent desire of the local population to scam visitors for money.
Getting to know the local customs, traditions and norms of behavior in Egypt is not only interesting, but also useful. Mentality of the Egyptians is largely formed by centuries of influence of the dogmas of Islam. Even to this day, the way of life is subordinate to religion.
Clothing and Behavior
It is advisable to treat local traditions with respect and to remember that sometimes the style of dress or behavior common in the Western world may be considered extremely indecent and offensive to the Egyptians. Though locals do allow allowances for extravagance of foreign tourists, conservatism in appearance and behavior is preferable.
Women traveling unaccompanied should be very cautious. Short dresses, miniskirts and shorts can be safely worn at the hotel or in popular resort towns such as Hurghada or Sharm el-Sheikh. In areas less accustomed to the influx of European tourists, uninhibited women’s behavior, clothing that leaves exposed large parts of the body is likely to be perceived as accessibility. Such a tourist may be afraid of violence and intrusive molestation of local men.
Single ladies should remember that even agreeing to share a cup of tea will be seen as an encouragement to get to know each other better.
It is a sign of disrespect for local traditions to show men with naked torso in public places. Showing affection, hugging and kissing in public is also not recommended, as such behavior is offensive to Egyptian believers.
It is imperative that you ask the locals for their consent before photographing them. Most Egyptians will gladly agree to pose, but there may be exceptions – according to the Quran it is not allowed to create images of people.
Shooting most sights and museum pieces is allowed, but more often for an extra fee. To avoid problems with local authorities, it is wise to avoid taking pictures and videos in places related to strategic sites (bridges, airports, ports).
Tipping and Baksheesh
Egyptians are friendly and helpful people. If a tourist is in a difficult situation will help both representatives of the authorities (including special tourist police on patrol in areas with a concentration of tourists), and the local population. Before accepting help from locals, consider how you can pay for it – for any services rendered you usually have to pay a “bakshish”, that is, a tip.
Baksheesh requires many: from the boy who opened the door of the car, to a volunteer “guide” to local attractions.
It is customary to pay hotel attendants when the service is very good or beyond the scope of their direct duties.
To avoid embarrassment, it is better to have a supply of small bills or coins. A tip of about 5% of the cost of service is considered decent, although they may ask for a much larger amount. Do not give in to pressure, pay as much as you think necessary and only after the service is rendered.
What you should remember
Knowledge of some Egyptian traditions allows the guest of the country to recommend himself as a man of politeness and respect for the local culture. Thus, during Ramadan, believers are prohibited from touching food, drink, tobacco before sunset. A gesture of respect for the religious feelings of Egyptians would be such abstinence in public places.
Upon receiving an invitation to a guest, it is appropriate to prepare a small gift, such as local sweets for the hosts of the house.
Etiquette in Egypt
Going on a trip to Egypt, you need to get information in advance about the norms and traditions adopted by the local residents. This is an Islamic country that preserves the foundations that were formed for centuries. Egyptians themselves are sociable and friendly people. For them, family, nobility, and religion are important values.
Because of its location, the state is at the junction of three continents. The written language developed from simple drawings, gradually changing to hieroglyphics. The linguistic culture began to take shape, taking into account other cultures of antiquity. Today the official language of the state is MSA (Modern Standard Arabic). Almost no one speaks it in everyday life, as Egyptians speak their dialects. Many media use the MSA and official statements of the authorities are also made in this language.
There are two main dialects spoken in everyday life – Egyptian Arabic and Upper Egyptian Arabic. Many residents speak a foreign language, so there should be no difficulty in communicating.
Egypt’s Business Culture
Many business meetings in Egypt begin in the afternoon, but inviting business partners to your home is not recommended. Residents believe that home is a place where only close people can meet. Egyptians are often late, so if there are delays, you just have to wait for your companion.
There is an emphasis on social status in Egyptian society. Companions should be addressed by name and position. If a citizen has a doctorate, his name is Jabari, then he should be addressed as “Dr. Jabari”. If you do not follow this rule, you will be considered impolite or arrogant.
Dress Code in Egypt
Business style in Egypt is very conservative. Men at work should always look presentable, so they wear suits for official meetings. According to the rules of business etiquette, T-shirts, shorts are not allowed. Any jewelry except a wedding ring, long hair in men is considered a sign of bad taste.
Girls should wear a strict business suit, a blouse without cleavage, sleeves below the elbow and a long skirt. Modern clothing suggests the use of long tunics, hats and simple cut clothing with intricate embroidery. Young people have a preference for “western clothing. Many are okay with it, as long as it covers most of the body. In everyday life you will hardly ever see girls wearing open clothes. It is appropriate for a private beach or an expensive club.
Rules of visiting Egypt for tourists
Etiquette in Egypt should be observed not only by locals, but also by those who came on vacation. In such countries they honor traditions, so try not to draw excessive attention to yourself, but try to comply with the norms.
Gesticulation and body language
During a dialogue, locals gesture a lot. They do this to give emotion and meaning to their words. If you want to refuse any request, put your right hand on your heart area. This way you will show your gratitude, and the refusal will be less offensive to the other party.
Don’t wave your hands too much in front of the Egyptian’s face during the dialogue. This will be perceived as a rude tone, so you should keep your distance in your communication. It is a bad tone to show your feet or the soles of your shoes.
Egyptians are not superstitious, but many believe that the palm reflects evil. Near some dwellings you will see statues that show the palm of the hand facing outward. On it they draw a smudge. It is believed that the envious eye protects the house. It is not advisable to wave your palms in front of the face of a local. Such behavior suggests that he is considered an evil person.
When walking in public places remember: clothing should be consistent with tradition or just be than when in the tourist area. Girls should avoid tight closet items and products with deep necklines. Shoulders should be covered.
Going out for dinner at a nice restaurant, it is advisable to have a scarf to cover the shoulders. Women can use loose underwear, cotton pants, skirts below the knee. The Egyptians respect the traditions, but they treat tourists favorably, so if you violate the etiquette of dress is unlikely to make a reprimand.
How to behave properly?
The inhabitants of Egypt are very friendly, including in relation to tourists. When they meet acquaintances, they shake hands. Acceptable and hugging. If a new acquaintance decided to hug you, we can assume that he feels positive emotions towards you. Such behavior is acceptable only when communicating between the stronger sex.
Women are advised to keep their distance, especially if they are with their male counterparts. It is not customary in this country for a man to be the first to shake hands.
In Egypt, you can get a fine for using obscene phrases, the amount is always large. Egyptians are familiar with the Russian mat, so restrain yourself – in this case, there are more chances that the holiday will go well. Alcoholic beverages can be bought and drunk, but for drinking on the street can be required to pay a hefty fine.
Invited as a guest
If you came to visit, take off your shoes before entering, gratefully accept all treats. Refusing them will be regarded as disrespect to the host. When you come to visit a large family, you can take sweets as a gift. Do not forget to praise the host’s home. You are sure to be treated to any guests.
Table manners in Egypt
You may only eat with the right hand. You may note: when dinner is over, you will continue to be treated. Egyptians are happy to court their guests. You should not add salt to your plate, it may offend the cook.
If you are satisfied with the service in a restaurant, do not forget about tips. Usually they are 10-12% of the amount, immediately included in the bill. Waiters expect another 5% in addition. The cab driver can also be tipped 10% of the bill.
It is not customary for a woman in Egypt:
- to speak first to the male sex;
- Show her attention to men;
- to offer her hand to strangers to greet them.
If a handyman comes to the house, the front door should not be closed until he leaves. Otherwise, neighbors may assume that you have secrets in common with him. There are almost no serious restrictions for men in Egypt. You can walk hand in hand with a friend, kiss on the cheek. No one will judge you for that.
In the country it is customary to say hello when you enter public transport. If you are the fairer sex, you do not have to do it first, you will be greeted anyway. Do not be embarrassed if a stranger tells you that he missed you. It is done purely out of politeness. Do not take a seat next to the driver in a cab, and if you have a ride with a good friend – in the back.
Egyptians are measured, often breaking the time for which the appointment is made. A quarter-hour delay in the country is the norm. They often put things off “for tomorrow.” It is not customary to call a local in the afternoon if he is at home. There is a good chance he will be asleep at that time. After that, you can communicate until nightfall, since no one goes to bed before midnight.
Want to make fast friends with the locals? Bring small gifts with you. These are chocolates, magnets and other small things. When you take such a gift the Egyptian will be more favorable to you, will try to help quickly.
What it is forbidden to take photos
In 2019, the ban on photographs of archaeological monuments and attractions of Egyptian museums was lifted. You can take photos for free on cell phone cameras without a flash. Despite this, the bans remained. They concern the shooting of military buildings, aircraft and other similar objects. If you want to take pictures of the locals, be sure to ask permission.
Egypt, like other countries, has its own flavor, different customs and rules of conduct. Study them before traveling, so as not to refuse in difficult situations. Treat with respect the local traditions, be friendly. Try not to raise your voice or show arrogance while communicating.