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Doing Business in Egypt - Practical Tips About Egypt's Business Culture and Customs

If you plan to do business in Egypt, it is essential that you understand Egypt's business culture and customs. While the following tips are just the tip of the iceberg, they will give you a better idea of what to expect and how to conduct yourself when doing business in Egypt. Remember, a passport and Egypt visa are required for all non-Egyptian visitors traveling to Egypt.
The recommendations below were given by Egyptian and foreign business community members who have broad experience in the market.

Be Patient: Unfamiliar paperwork processes and bureaucratic procedures make business conduct somewhat slow in Egypt. Don't expect to breeze in for a week and leave with a contract. It may take a year or more, but in the end, it is usually profitable.

Understand with Local Culture: Egyptians are a proud people who trace their civilization back 5,000 years. Take time to learn the culture and develop an appreciation for the Islamic faith. All private business leaders and most high-level government officials have a good command of English. Learn as much Arabic as possible - it pleases Egyptians if you know key phrases in Arabic ... Good Morning (Sabah El Kheir), Good Evening (Messaa El Kheir), etc.

Be Personable: When you visit a businessperson, don't just walk in, shake hands, and get down to business. If you have previously met with the person, chat about common friends; ask about their family, children, etc.

Do Your Homework: The Egyptian market is a complex and highly competitive one. At the same time, it is booming in some fields, such as real estate. You have to study the market very well before starting a business. A good Egyptian agent will help you a great deal in directing you to success. Find yourself a good local representative with the help of the U.S. Commercial Service at the American Embassy or a reliable business group.

Stay Flexible: The Egyptian market, like anywhere in the Middle East, is a changing one. It may not be advisable for the terms of a contract to remain the same during its length. Changing conditions in the market may suggest exploring different markets or changing from partnership to technology transfer or royalty provisions.

Send Your Best: Your top experienced executive with knowledge of the area will do a better job with the Egyptian business community. Your young, enthusiastic representative may not be as effective with the local partner, particularly in a culture that respects age and experience.

Business Rules: When doing business in Egypt, be prepared to play it in the Egyptian tradition, or you may waste your time. A few foreign firms come to Egypt and give up after a short stay; but most foreign companies, once established with a base here, find the Egyptian market a worthwhile and profitable place to do business.

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