|Map of Egypt|
Location: Northeast Africa. Time Zone: GMT +2.
Egypt is bordered by Libya to the west, Sudan to the south, Israel and the Red Sea to the east, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north.
Except for the Mediterranean coast, Egypt's climate is subtropical desert, characterized by extremely high daytime temperatures in the summer and mild winters. The days are typically sunny and dry, with very little rainfall. The Mediterranean coast experiences some clouds and rain during winter, but is typically sunny, dry, and a little cooler than areas south. November to March is generally mild, with average lows of about 8-14 C (46-57 F) and highs of 18-26 C (64-79 F). April to October is very hot, with average temperatures in the south exceeding 43 C (110 F) in July. Dust and sand storms blow in from the Sahara in April and May. Known as khamsin, these storms may reduce visibility to less than 30 meters (100 feet) and pose health risks. Pack warm clothing at all times of year, as nights often turn cold.
Air pollution is a major problem, especially in Cairo. During the autumn months, smoke from fires, exhaust, and factory pollution combine and form an extremely dense smog cloud that can pose serious health problems, especially to those with respiratory difficulties.
|Type of Operation||Days of the Week||Hours|
900-1300 and 1700-1900 (Winter)
Hours are subject to change during Ramadan.
Make business appointments well in advance. Government and business visits are discouraged during the month of Ramadan, and appointments should not be scheduled on Thursdays or Fridays at any time during the year, as they are considered days of rest.
Meetings may be tough to schedule during July and August; these are popular vacation months. Having a local contact or agent is very useful for introductions and understanding the local business market. Arriving late to meetings or social engagements is common practice. Meetings usually progress very slowly; personal discussions and coffee will come first, followed by business discussions. Meetings will also frequently go longer than planned, so patience is advised.
English is widely spoken in Egyptian business culture, although a few words or phrases of Arabic are always well-received. Business cards are widely used, and it is helpful to have Arabic printed on the other side. If the person you are meeting has an official title, use it when addressing them as a sign of respect.
Do not cross your legs when sitting; showing the bottom of your foot is offensive.
When conducting business in Egypt, it is essential to observe the Muslim dress code. Men must wear long pants and long- or short-sleeved shirts that hide the shoulders. Women should wear skirts or dresses that cover the knees and long sleeves. Tie up long hair. Do not dress in local attire, as this may be seen as offensive.
Women play a smaller role in business in Egypt than they do in other parts of the world. That being said, do not be surprised to meet a female senior executive, especially in joint ventures, family businesses, or companies owned by Coptic Christians. Only shake a woman's hand if she offers it first.
Taxis run from Cairo International Airport (CAI) to downtown Cairo. There are several options for getting around the country. Rental cars are available, but driving conditions are frenetic, and driving is best left to the locals. Tour buses serve all tourist attractions. Trains, including overnight sleeper cars, are another option. Air travel is available to major spots throughout the country and riverboats ply the waters of the Nile from Cairo to Aswan.
Egypt's public telephone system went through extensive upgrades in the 1990s. However, landline monopoly Telecom Egypt has struggled to keep its extensive system up to Western standards. Calling to/from the country can be a challenge, with sometimes poor reception. Internet cafes can be found in the main cities in Egypt and in major tourist locations. Most major hotels also offer Internet access, including in-room wireless networks. Communications technology in Cairo and other major tourist sites is adequate.
Egypt's official language, used for education and official purposes is Arabic (Modern Standard). Egyptians, however, have a distinct dialect of Arabic that is used on the street and on the airwaves. English, German, and French are widely understood at tourist attractions, major hotels and in many professional circles. Other languages spoken in Egypt are Nobin, Kenuzi-Dongola, Greek, Domari, and Armenian.
Islam is the predominant religion; 90 percent of Egyptians are Sunni Muslim. All types of Christianity are represented, the most popular being the Orthodox Coptic Christian Church. There are also small numbers of Shia' Muslims, Protestants, Roman Catholics, Greek Orthodox, and Jews.
Egypt has undergone a significant religious revival in recent years. The majority of Muslim women wear a variant of the hijab, a simple headcovering that leaves the face visible. More conservative women often choose to wear the niqab, or the full facial veil. Non-Muslim visitors to Egypt should not feel compelled to adopt local styles of dress.
Muslims are called to prayer five times throughout the day. Friday is the holy day, with a noon gathering at the mosques being the main religious focus of the week. During the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims do not eat, drink, smoke, or have sex from dawn to dusk, but they indulge heavily at night. Ramadan can be inconvenient for visitors because public transport halts or slows significantly and food stalls close from dawn to dusk.
Women should dress conservatively at all times and not wear shorts away from the beach or pool (although the dress code is more relaxed in Cairo and other urban centers, where shorts and sleeveless tops on tourists are common). Women should travel with other women or a male escort to avoid verbal sexual harassment. Men should not speak to or shake hands with an Egyptian woman unless she initiates the action.
The left hand, typically reserved for bodily hygiene, should not be used for eating, shaking hands, or presenting gifts or items to other people. The right hand held up with the palm away from the body and the fingers waving up and down means "Come here." It is also common for people to touch their heart with their right hand upon being introduced to someone or to express thanks after being offered something.
Never allow the bottoms of your feet to face someone (for example, when crossing your legs). This is considered an insult.