Doing Business in the MENA Region: Egypt

April 10, 2017 Farah Fathy

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) regions represent an area of growth opportunities for businesses planning to expand global operations. But, it can be daunting to navigate the nuances of doing business there.

In this blog, I will focus on Egypt and cover some brief, but important facts for doing business in this North African country.

Doing Business in Egypt

  • Anyone looking to expand their business to Egypt should be aware that Islam is the dominant religion and it has significant influence on the personal, political and economic lives of the Egyptian people.

  • Egypt plans to develop the construction and infrastructure sectors and create an efficient retail environment to support the growing economy.

  • The World Bank has a list of the documents you will need to file and how long the process takes when starting a business. You can find that here.

  • Economic growth will average around 4.6% annually in 2017-21.

  • The primary industries are agriculture, automotive manufacturing, construction, steel manufacturing, textile production, tourism and petrochemical.

  • Egypt's main exports consist primarily of natural gas and non-petroleum products.

Business Languages

  • The official language in Egypt is Arabic.

  • Most Egyptians’ business transactions are done in English and Arabic.

Political Environment

  • Egypt has a semi-presidential system of government and Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is the President.

  • Egypt has been the target of terror attacks and the country’s safety remains questionable.

  • According to the Egyptian Constitution, political parties are allowed to exist, but religious political parties are not. Religion must remain in the private sphere in order to respect all beliefs.

Business Challenges

  • There is a lack of legal and contractual certainty.

  • Bribery to get your business dealings done widely exists.

  • The rate of unemployment is high.

  • Customs procedures take a long time.

Business Etiquette

  • During the Islamic holy month, Ramadan, business hours are shortened because Muslims fast during this period.

  • Titles are very important to Egyptians. You should use a person’s title followed by their surname when addressing someone. If someone’s title isn’t known, using Mr., Mrs. or Ms. is appropriate.

  • The dress code in meetings must be a formal or semi-formal.

  • Making eye contact with your counterpart is viewed as a sign of trust and sincerity.

  • When sitting in front of people, don’t cross your legs because showing the bottoms of your shoes is considered disrespectful.

  • Business cards should have two sides, one side in your native language and one side in Arabic.

Additional Resources on Africa and African Language Translation

In order to support the growing needs of our clients for many of the African and Middle Eastern languages, GPI has opened offices in Dubai, UAE and Cairo, Egypt to support our clients doing business in the Middle East and Africa. GPI has built teams of professional native speakers for many of the African languages whether national or indigenous, who are available to help companies with their African language translations needs.

Feel free to review our blogs and eBooks that are particularly relevant:

Please feel free to contact GPI at info@globalizationpartners.com with any questions about our translation services. Also let us know if you have any interesting blog topics you would like us to cover in future blogs. 

Sources:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/exporting-to-egypt/doing-business-in-egypt-egypt-trade-and-export-guid

About the Author

Farah Fathy

Global SEO Specialist. Farah is a native Arabic speaker born and residing in Cairo, Egypt. She received her degree in Commerce and English from Ain-Shams University studying marketing, management, economics and accounting. Her experience includes working in various specialties in global digital marketing with specific training in Link Building, Website Traffic Analysis, On-page Optimization and Off-page Optimization as well as standard Social Media Marketing. She is skilled in a variety of tools including Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Light Room and SEO tools such as Google Keyword Planner, SeoMoz, Opensite Explorer, Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools. She enjoys playing sports such as swimming and basketball and loves to read in her spare time.

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