Egyptian Culture


  • A person entering into any group scenario should greet those already present. Handshakes are expected in a situation involving people you are familiar with.
  • Handshakes may be held only lightly, but are often prolonged. They are generally accompanied with a wide smile and eye contact.
  • First names tend not to be used unless one has been invited to do so. The common form of address is the use of titles (e.g. Mr, Mrs, Dr, etc.) along with one’s first name or surname depending on the relationship.
  • Close friends may address each other in informal settings by first name but may add a title to the first name in formal settings.
  • A common phrase that accompanies a greeting is ‘salaam aleikum’ (‘may peace be with you’), which should be replied to with ‘waaleikum us salam’ (‘may peace be with you also’). However, the exact phrase varies by town/city and dialect. For example, in some areas it is more common to say ‘Sbaa’ el Kher’ (good morning) and ‘Masaa’ el Kher’ (good evening).
  • Often, how people greet one another is based on the class, religion and gender of the person. If unsure about the most appropriate greeting, it is best to follow the lead of the Egyptian you are meeting.
  • Greetings among Egyptians can be quite lengthy, with people inquiring into their counterpart’s health, well-being of their family, etc.

Greetings based on gender

  • Men greeting men: When meeting for the first time, a light handshake with the right hand is common. Friends and relatives tend to kiss on both cheeks. This may be accompanied with a hug and a back slap while shaking hands with the right hand.
  • Women greeting women: When meeting for the first time, a simple nod of acknowledgement or a light handshake with the right hand is common. Friends and relatives tend to kiss on both cheeks while shaking hands.
  • Greetings between men and women: A handshake may be acceptable in certain circumstances and the woman must extend her hand first. If she does not, a man should bow his head as a sign of acknowledgement. Kissing on the cheek is acceptable if they are very closely related.

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