Egyptian Etiquette: A Guide for International Travellers and Cultural Enthusiasts

Navigating social customs and etiquette in a new country can be challenging but understanding these rules is essential for fostering respect and building meaningful connections across cultures. Egypt, with its rich history and vibrant culture, offers a unique opportunity for international travellers and business professionals to immerse themselves in its traditions. Here, we outline the key do’s and don’ts that will help you engage with Egyptian society respectfully and effectively.

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Greetings: The First Step in Building Rapport

In Egypt, greetings are the foundation of social interactions, often characterized by warmth and hospitality. A handshake is customary and widely accepted; however, it’s considered respectful to allow the other person to extend their hand first. For women, especially in traditional settings, a nod or a smile can suffice as a greeting. This initial interaction sets the tone for the conversation and demonstrates an understanding of local customs.

The Heart of Hospitality: Engaging in Conversation

Egyptians are known for their genuine hospitality and keenness to engage in dialogue. When entering discussions, whether social or professional, engaging in some light conversation beforehand is customary. This approach helps establish a connection and is seen as a sign of respect.

Visiting Homes: A Gesture of Goodwill

When invited into an Egyptian home, bringing a small gift like pastries or sweets is a thoughtful gesture that is always appreciated. It reflects an understanding of local customs and respect for the host’s hospitality. Remember, removing your shoes before entering the living area is a common practice and shows reverence for the host’s space.

Public Conduct: Observing Social Norms

It’s important to be mindful of public displays of affection, which are generally frowned upon, especially for unmarried couples. Demonstrating sensitivity to these norms signifies respect for local values and traditions.

Dining Etiquette: Respect at the Table

Mealtime is another area where etiquette plays a crucial role. Always wait for the host to begin eating before you do. This sign of deference is appreciated and seen as a mark of good manners. Furthermore, in line with Islamic practices, use your right hand for eating and passing items to others.

Dress Code: Modesty Matters

One of the most visible forms of respect is how one dresses. Dressing modestly, particularly in conservative areas, is vital. For women, covering shoulders and knees is a respectful choice that acknowledges and honours local cultural expectations.


Adhering to these etiquette guidelines not only demonstrates respect for Egyptian culture but also enriches your travel or business experience. By showing awareness and sensitivity to these customs, you pave the way for deeper connections and a more authentic understanding of this magnificent country. Remember, each interaction is an opportunity to bridge cultures and build friendships, making your experience in Egypt truly unforgettable.