Egypt is a place that many expats are fascinated by due to its unique history. What is important to remember about Egypt is that it may be better as a tourist destination rather than a place to setup as a permanent expat. That being said, it is important to evaluate why you are moving abroad as an expat when determining whether Egypt is the ideal fit for you and your family. It is wise to listen to all arguments when making this important decision. Here are some common factors that expats have mentioned in Egypt. From their unique experiences, these are important aspects of the Egyptian culture to weigh in your decision as to whether Egypt is the ideal place for you to reside as an expat.
Culture of Haggling
This aspect of the Egyptian culture is not necessarily native to Egypt. Within the Arab world, there is a culture of haggling in public markets to get better prices. In Egypt, this goes beyond the market, which causes expats to be quite upset because they are always second guessing whether they are being ripped off. If you are an expat that does not enjoy this sort of interaction when shopping, then it is best to look elsewhere unless you can really speak and negotiate well in Arabic.
Dishonest Business Practice
Amongst the expat community that have lived in Egypt, there is a general tendency to disrespect the business culture in Egypt. There have been complaints of an overall lack of respect and integrity that involves the haggling that starts at the market. There have also been complaints of failing to pay or dragging out the payment process as long as possible for foreigners and their companies.
Lack of Importance for Education
A strong criticism of the expat community in Egypt is that there is not a great deal of respect for education. This criticism came from foreigner teachers there. Thus, it is likely that the students may not have wanted to listen to a foreigner, but they do take education seriously with their teachers that are Egyptian. Either way, this is a criticism that is worth noting for foreigners that are considering whether teaching in Egypt is a wise decision.
The majority of the complaints from expats also mention how dirty the streets are in Egypt. Egypt is still a developing country in many ways. To expats that have perhaps grown up somewhere different, it is important to take this into account so that they are not shocked when they arrive to Egypt. If expats are aware of this problem, then it will likely make Egypt a more agreeable choice for being an expat.
A major issue across the board in Arab countries is the subject of women’s rights. Egypt does have a very large divide between women and men’s rights. This is particularly true for the women that did not have the opportunity to go to school. For this reason, it is important to be aware of the cultural differences as a women residing in Egypt as an expat. Specifically, when considering how to dress, it is wise to err on the conservative side in order to respect the local culture. Women who do not do this as foreigners may face a backlash that is rather unpleasant.
Treatment of Foreigners
In Egypt, there is an overall disrespect for foreigners in many aspects of commerce. Expats that do reside in Egypt complain about this factor in that they have issues with how they are treated differently than the locals. Expats that are contemplating residing in Egypt should recognize the notable difference between foreigners and locals while remembering that this is common in many countries as an expat. This is usually true where there is a substantial linguistic divide. The more receptive foreigners are to adventures and new cultures, the easier this will be for them to pursue in the long run.
Final Remarks on the Subject
For expats that are able to find reliable employment opportunities from their home countries, Egypt has a wonderful ancient history to offer expats to enjoy. What typically ends up happening is that expat fantasize about the ancient ruins and culture from eras past rather than the Egypt that exists today. Additionally, the recent political instability in Egypt has caused many more class divide issues than were previously present in the country. It is wise to carefully consider whether Egypt is the precise right fit for you as an expat. If you are able to do so, you will make the proper choice that is best for you and your family. For many prospective expats, Egypt can be their ideal expat destination; however, they have to be flexible in nature in order to handle the current reality that living in Egypt possesses.