- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.