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
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.
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,
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.
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
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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