Egyptian Culture

Etiquette

Basic Etiquette

  • It is considered impolite to point the toe, heel or any part of the foot toward another person. Showing the sole of one’s shoe is also impolite.
  • Modest dress and presentation is highly valued in Egyptian culture.
  • Greetings often occur before any form of social interaction. For example, a person joining a group is expected to greet all those present.
  • Generally, the younger defer to the older through showing respect, not challenging their seniors and using special verbal terms of address for aunts, uncles, grandparents and older non-relatives.
  • If your counterpart identifies as Muslim, it is forbidden to walk in front of someone who is praying or to talk to someone who is currently in prayer.
  • It is expected that one show gratitude when offered a compliment. This is done by responding with an equally respectful compliment on the same subject or, if they are Muslim, wishing Allah’s (God’s) blessings.


Visiting

  • Not visiting someone for a long period of time is considered a sign of the relationship’s insignificance, especially one’s family.
  • Egyptians generally have a relaxed attitude towards time and strict punctuality is not commonly practised.
  • Adult children who live outside of their parents’ home often visit their parents on Fridays and holidays.
  • When visiting a mosque or someone’s home, one is required to remove their shoes before entering.
  • Egyptians tend to prepare elaborate and lavish meals when they have guests.
  • If invited to an Egyptian’s home, offering good quality chocolates or sweets to the hostess as a token of gratitude is appreciated.
  • If the reason for being invited to an Egyptian’s home is for a dinner party, wait for the host or hostess to indicate the seat they have reserved for you.
  • Guests should always wait for the host to serve them rather than serving themselves.


Eating

  • It is considered to be a compliment to take second helpings.
  • Leave a small amount of food on your plate once you have finished eating. This symbolises abundance and serves as a compliment to the host for providing so well.
  • It is not common for people to salt their serving of food as it is considered to be ‘unnecessary’.
  • Complimenting food should be done in a statement rather than a question. For example, questioning the method of the cooking (e.g. ‘how was this made?’) means that one is sceptical of the food.
  • Avoid eating communal food with your left hand, as this hand is generally reserved for personal hygiene. Only the right hand is used when eating food with one’s hands.
  • Alcohol is generally not offered nor is it consumed with food. Only offer alcohol to your Egyptian counterpart if you know that they consume it.
  • It is considered offensive to offer pork to Muslims as pigs and products relating to pigs (such as pork and pig leather) are prohibited in the Islamic religion.


Gift Giving

  • Gifts are generally given and received with both hands or only the right hand.
  • A small gift to your Egyptian counterpart’s children is a welcome gesture.
  • Gifts tend not to be opened when received.
  • Avoid giving flowers as a gift. Flowers tend to be reserved for weddings, the ill or for periods of mourning.
Download this Cultural Profile

Too busy to read it right now?

You can download this cultural profile in an easy-to-read PDF format that can be printed out and accessed at any time.

Egypt
  • Population
    94,666,993
    [2016 est.]
  • Languages
    Arabic [official]
    English
    French
  • Religions
    Islam [predominantly Sunni] (90.0%)
    Coptic Orthodox Christianity (9.0%)
    Other Christianity (1.0%)
    [2015 est.]
  • Ethnicities
    Egyptian (99.6%)
    Other (0.4%)
    [2006 census]
  • Cultural Dimensions
    70
    25
    45
    80
    7
    4
  • Australians with Egyptian Ancestry
    50,517 [2016 census]
Egyptians in Australia
  • Population
    39,779
    [2016 census]
    This figure refers to the number of Australian residents that were born in Egypt.
  • Average Age
    56
  • Gender
    Male (52.0%)
    Female (48.0%)
  • Religion
    Oriental Orthodox Christianity (36.2%)
    Catholic Christianity (21.9%)
    Eastern Orthodox Christianity (14.8%)
    Islam (12.9%)
    Other (14.3%)
  • Ancestry
    Egyptian (47.1%)
    Greek (13.6%)
    Italian (6.6%)
    Maltese (4.4%)
    Other (28.3%)
  • Language Spoken at Home
    Arabic (56.0%)
    English (20.3%)
    Greek (10.3%)
    Italian (6.8%)
    Other (6.7%)
    Of those who speak a language other than English at home, 88.7% speak English fluently.
  • Diaspora
    New South Wales (50.4%)
    Victoria (34.2%)
    Queensland (5.7%)
    Western Australia (5.1%)
  • Arrival to Australia
    Prior to 2001 (75.9%)
    2001-2006 (10.1%)
    2007-2011 (10.3%)
Country https://dtbhzdanf36fd.cloudfront.net/countries/114/eg.svg Flag Country Egypt