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Business Communication in Egypt

In the modern world globalization is exerting immense influence on the development of business situation. The market is expanding at an unprecedented rate, thus requiring proficiency at making business contacts and establishing international bonds. Consequently, a profound knowledge of mentality and cultural peculiarities is of vital importance for a successful business. The objective of the present paper is to highlight the key characteristics of Egyptian culture and communication style in order to figure out the behavioral recommendations which can be of use when establishing business contacts with that country.

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As many Arab countries, Egypt in its business communication style can be classified as a low-context culture which presupposes prevailing of explicit information given through words and verbalization rather than leaving most of the message unsaid in order to complete the gap from the context. Thus the Egyptians would prefer directness and openness in communication, with their verbal style characterized as elaborate and filled with juicy metaphors. For the purposes of sales messages this feature can be used in such a way as to saturate the sales letters with as much visualization and images as possible, not leaving any information implicit or withheld. The more facts are obvious, the better, as Egyptians would not prefer to rack their brains over any mysterious understatements.

However, there exist a number of cultural restrictions. A very careful approach should be taken to colors. Such popular color as green “is considered the national color of Egypt and should not be used for packaging there” (Axtell 1993, p. 65). Thus it would be highly inadvisable to position products wrapped in green or ones designed in green color scheme. Another taboo concerns hands: in Egypt left hand is considered unclean, thus it is strongly advised to “avoid touching anybody with your left hand or pointing feet at people as both of these are seen as extremely rude behaviour” (World Business Culture, n.d.). In terms of sales message that means that left-handedness must not be mentioned ever, whether explicitly (as an advertising character holding the advertised goods in his/her left hand) or implicitly (as jokes on left-handedness).

Gestures should also be considered. Working out sales images, one should not forget that although close body distance, eye contact and handshakes are acceptable among Egyptians, when one of the business partners is a woman, totally different rules apply (Martin 2008). Thus the idea of imaging an outright body contact should be rejected. Similarly one should avoid showing the soles of one’s feet or sitting with legs apart. Together with a strict and reserved dressing style this positions the Egyptians as business partners valuing decency and discreteness, which should also be taking into account when designing sales messages.

In terms of religion, most Egyptians are committed followers of Islam, so all the holidays, including Thursdays and Fridays, should be respected, as well as no jokes should be made on religious or political topics. However, Egyptians are known to be patriotic and would love it when they are complimented on the beauty of their land and the impressions it has produced on one (Centre for Intercultural Learning, 2009). Therefore, mentioning the cultural riches of Egypt can turn out to be a productive strategy when designing a sales message.

All-in-all, Egyptian culture appears to be relatively easy to comprehend due to its emotional openness and direct communication style. However, certain taboos and restrictions must not be neglected in order to be successful on the Egyptian market.


  1. Axtell, R.E. (Ed.). (1993). Do’s and Taboos around the World (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Wiley.
  2. Centre for Intercultural Learning. (2009). Cultural Information — Egypt.
  3. Martin, J. S. (2008). Global Business Etiquette : A Guide to International Communication and Customs. Westport, CT: Praeger; Oxford: Harcourt Education.
  4. World Business Culture. (n.d.). Doing Business in Egypt.

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