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Egypt has the second largest economy in the Arab world after Saudi Arabia, reaping continuous growth averaging at 4-5% over the last 25 years, with a GPD growth of 1.8%. In recent years Egypt has moved toward a more market-oriented and decentralised economy. Prior to this movement and the 1952 revolution, the state owned the majority of the economy and a considerable proportion of the funds were ploughed into the military. These days there has been an increase in foreign investment and trade with popular exports including; Petroleum and Natural gases, cotton and textiles and many foodstuffs. 

Farmland, fishing, food processing and the tourism industry which have become important industries for the stability of Egypt’s economy. Most of the countries land is occupied by desert, so almost all agricultural activity – is concentrated along the banks of the Nile, and on the river’s delta; unfortunately this constitutes only 3.5% of Egypt’s land. New cities are being built on deserts, with new irrigations methods in place with the hope to increase cultivatable land in these areas.

Egypt’s northern border is the Mediterranean, which brings cooler weather; and is often more pleasant to visit. To the east, lies the beautiful mountainous Sinai Peninsula, which borders Israel and the Palestinian Territories. Towards the south and the west, deserts form an almost seamless wilderness through Libya and beyond. Investors and businesses visit Sharm el-Sheikh, Hurghada, Alexandria, and Port Said in their thousands each year. Visits to the country for business require a few discretionary communication and behavioural changes. Understanding a country’s working practices, communication styles and business culture/ etiquette is vital in establishing good business relationships and for success. Since there are plenty of greetings, wait for your counterpart to initiate their greeting and base yours upon that.

Egypt’s exports reached an all-time high of USD 2,991 Million in June of 2008; in contrast to a record low of USD 12.6 Million in July of 1959. Despite this successful transition from a military focused to a trade focused economy for Egypt the road to full democracy is still an on-going battle (sometimes bloody) between factions supporting the old military wing, the secular wing and Muslim factions. The country still suffers with high unemployment problems and struggles to support the growing population and a lack of political transparency and structured government policy.

Pointing is considered extremely rude and you should avoid gestures with your left hand. Visitors are also expected to follow Egyptian discretion standards; despite the country’s hot temperatures, outside of tourist resorts, most of the body must remain covered. Keep in mind that the pace of life is much slower compared to western standards, and the same applies to business; meetings will often be slow and lengthy so try to remain patient. It will soon emerge that business and ‘personal chemistry’ are intertwined, and business will not proceed until your counterpart decides that they like you. The social side of the deal goes hand in hand with the work-related one. The most sensible idea is to have an Egyptian agent to do business in this country to avoid misunderstandings and to promote clearer communication. Ensure business cards are printed with English on one side and in Arabic overleaf and include two dates on business documents: the Gregorian (Western) and the Hijrah (Arabic) date.

It is possible to enter Egypt on either an Entry or Tourist visa. An entry visa would be required for business, work or study purposes. It is possible to obtain an entry visa at any of the major airports or ports of entry. The visa is a stamp in your passport that is available to buy from these visa offices. All foreigners arriving in Egypt should have a valid passport (with at least 6 months left before expiry) to obtain an entry visa. Cost varies according to nationality. To UK nationals; a single Entry Visa will cost £53 or £91 for multiple-entry(as of 2012).  A letter from the company stating reasons for the visit is necessary when entering for business. Keep an eye of the on the validity dates of your visa and do not exceed these. Single and multiple-entry visas are valid for six months from date of issue for a maximum stay of 60 days and 90 days respectively.

The visa can also be obtained from Egyptian Diplomatic and Consular Missions in your own country. If you are already in Egypt and you require an extension or renewal; this can be completed from the visa department at the (TDINA) Travel Documents, Immigration and Nationality Administration. (Located at Mogamma building, in Tahrir squire in Cairo city centre)

Whilst on business, it’s important to stay connected. Public telephones can be used with top up cards that are easily available in newsagents, supermarkets and tobacconists. This is definitely the most cost effective method, as hotel telephones are extremely expensive and considerable roaming charges apply on mobile phones. Roaming does exist with international mobile networks, but coverage is limited. Buying a local sim card would be much more efficient, providing that the mobile is unblocked. Alternatively, there are internet cafes in larger cities and occasionally in remote towns. Wi-Fi access in hotels is often available but usually at a high price.  

Key Facts

  • Capital: Cairo
  • Population: 79.4 million
  • Area:  1,001,449 km2
  • Local currency: Egyptian Pound, which is further divisible into 100 Piastres
  • GDP (PPP): $519.0 billion. 1.8% growth and 5.1% 5-year compound annual growth
  • International Dialling code- +20
  • Official Language: Arabic, but the spoken language is Egyptian Arabic
  • Ports: The most important ports are Alexandria, Dekheila and Damietta Port
  • Main exports: Crude oil, petroleum products, cotton, textiles and metal products.
  • Time Zone: GMT+2 

Top Tips

  • Political demonstrations often happen on a Friday after prayers, ensure to leave the area immediately and do not participate.
  • Respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions. Remain aware of your actions at all times, and ensure that they do not offend other cultures or religious beliefs.
  • During the summer months (Especially June-August), keep hydrated and spend afternoons indoors as much as possible. Best months to visit are between November and April – depending on the region.
  • Providing that safety and cultural tips are implemented, conducting business here will be an enjoyable trip. Historical heritage and ancient symbols of civilization ensure memorable moments to the itinerary of business travellers.
  • Eat in reputable restaurants when outside of the hotel, drink bottled water, and beware of street food vendor style food.

Official Season Clarification:

Cool season: November to April (Min of 14C)
Hot Season: May to October (Max of 30C) 

Please Note: The information detailed within the contents of this website is to the best of Neptune Shipping Agency’s Ltd knowledge at the time of inputting and should not under any circumstances be exclusively used in its entirety as fact in forming a decision.

Neptune Shipping Agency Ltd reserve the right to amend any information where they see fit without giving prior notice to its visitors.

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