Every country has its own norms and traditions; so does Egypt. Today, we’re going to discuss “some” Egyptian social etiquette tips.
Egyptians are friendly and they like it when people greet them and/or talk to them even if they don’t really know each other. However, you have to be cautious about how to do this.- You can say “Al salamu alaykum = السلام عليكم” (meaning: peace be upon you) to anyone you know or don’t know.
- If you’re a man greeting a woman, it’s better to wave at her or just say “Peace be upon you= السلام عليكم” or “How are you? = ازيك؟” and avoid handshakes, unless, the woman reaches her hand out to shake hands with you.
- You can ,of course, shake hands with a man. Try not to give a crushing handshake because it might convey a feeling of hostility.
- Men can greet the men they know well with a kiss on each cheek or a hug.
- Women might find it a bit confusing. Some women give 2 kisses when they’re greeting their female friends, some give 3 while others give four. No worries, anyway! You can always laugh about the confusion and say something like “it’s great to see you = مبسوطة اني شفتك”.
- It’s not very common that men and women kiss for hellos or goodbyes due to religious and/or traditional restrictions. It can happen, thought, within some specific communities.
As mentioned earlier, Egyptians like to talk to each other and know each other better, so don’t get offended if the grocer starts to ask you questions about where you’re from or what you’re doing in Egypt and maybe also where you live. Just be careful and aware of the following points:
- Do not talk to or respond to a random person if they stop you in the street or the supermarket and start asking you questions. You can simply make a gesture that you’re in a hurry and or say “Sorry” while walking away.
- It’s your right not to answer any questions you don’t feel like. To get out of it in a non-offensive way, you can laugh and say something funny or ask another question in order to distract the person asking you.
- Feel free to ask questions back and start/extend conversations if you want.
Egypt is a conservative country to a big extent. You need to watch the way you dress and choose your outfits carefully.
- For women: It’s preferable not to wear reveling or tight clothes. Some examples of acceptable clothes:
· A loose blouse on a pair of jeans.
· A shirt and a knee long skirt.
· A long dress with sleeves.
· A t-shirt and jeans.
- For men: Although men have more freedom about what they wear, try not to wear anything too odd. You can start by a t-shirt and jeans, watch what men wear and take the lead from there.
In the end, do not stress yourself out. Egyptians usually understand that foreigners have different cultures so they don’t really get offended. They are also very amiable and forgiving, so you won’t face much trouble dealing with them.By:
IH Cairo Teacher