Generally speaking, Egyptians reckon that things will occur at the will of God. Therefore when in Egypt you may experience delays in some processes, as Egyptians see time as an infinite resource. That’s why it can be very frustrating for the Westerners in Egypt, especially for those who are used to get down to business as soon as possible and meet tight deadlines.
In a meeting the same applies, as you may be kept waiting for hours or even have the meeting cancelled, if the person you are meeting with will be stuck in traffic or just cannot manage to come round. If this happens, don’t get frustrated about it and simply set another date for a meeting. Always be patient when in Egypt and you will see that this will have a positive impact on your business.
Planning a meeting
- You should always make an appointment in advance.
- Do not schedule a meeting during the Ramadan or Hajj season
- It is recommended to confirm the meeting one week in advance, both in writing and by telephone.
- Reconfirm again a day or two before the meeting.
- Try to make an appointment through your Egyptian agent
- Let your Egyptian counterparts know how many people will be at the meeting
- If you need an interpreter, you can always invite your agent to be present during the meeting
- Your business card should be in two languages, English and Arabic
During a meeting
- Meeting will begin with a small talk, tea and coffee
- You should always accept the drink, for not doing so will be considered as an insult to your host
- Be ready to experience external interruptions when in a meeting; it is not unusual for people to answer incoming phone calls, or for someone to just can walk in and out of the room and talk about other issues
- Do not get frustrated about these issues, as it is considered to be rude to be impatient
- First meeting is always about getting to know each other and to establish a relationship
- Do not go straight into business
After a meeting
- Send a polite follow-up letter to your Egyptian team thanking them for their time
- Clarify who does what
- Clarify the milestones and responsibilities
- Be sure with whom you should contact in order to make a decision
- Remain calm, be patient and you will soon get your counterpart’s full attention
The tips presented above should be taken into account when making business with Egyptians. By doing this you will avoid cultural misunderstandings and promote a better more clear communication with your Egyptian counterparts.
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