Traditions and Cultures of Egypt

January 17, 2017 Heba Nady

Egypt has a rich history and culture dating back thousands of years, starting with the Pharaonic culture, then Christianity and Islam. Egypt is among the earliest civilizations. Its culture has been affected by many other cultures and ethnic groups who either lived in or invaded the country, creating a melting pot.

The way the cultures blended together might be difficult for foreigners to understand, but once you do understand and appreciate the traditions, the experience in Egypt will be like none other.

Warmth and Hospitality

Egypt has amazing natural, historical and cultural attractions, so tourism is one of the main sources of income, especially before the revolution. Egyptians are friendly, open to other cultures and known for their good hospitality, so do not be surprised if people invite you to their homes and insist that you accept the invitation.

Egyptians also like to help people. It is very common if you ask someone for help or directions, they will call others to also help and make sure you get what you need or where you need to go. 

Family

When it comes to family affairs, family is very important for Egyptians so they pay special attention to family values and relationships. This great blend between family members encourages children to live with their parents until they get married and then start their own families. Therefore, marriage rates are high and families encourage and financially support their sons and daughters to get married.

Usually the responsibilities are divided so home and childcare are the main responsibilities for women, while men are responsible for supporting the family financially.

Since family members are so connected, they deeply mourn the death of a family member. It is customary to wear only black for at least 40 days after a family member passes, and this duration can last up to a year. This is one of the traditions inherited from the grand pharaohs, and it is considered inappropriate to show any sign of happiness during funerals. In contrast, Egyptians like to throw big wedding parties, where they invite all family members and friends and hold big feasts.

Celebrations

Speaking of parties, Egyptians love celebrations. Close and extended family members and friends gather during holidays and special celebrations.

Due to their love of food, all celebrations include sharing special meals prepared for the occasion. Women usually take pride in their ability to cook several dishes and compete among themselves for who makes the most delicious dishes. Restaurants are one of the most flourishing businesses as Egyptians like to try new cuisines and they appreciate a good meal.

Religion

Religion plays a big role in the life of Egyptians, and it is intermingled with daily activities of Muslims and Christians living in Egypt. You can see this clearly during Ramadan, Eids and Christmas, where festive spirits are everywhere.

Mosques are around every corner, so walking down the streets of Egyptian cities, you can hear the call to pray during the five prayer times per day.

Although Egyptians use the Western calendar, they refer to the Islamic calendar for Islamic religious holidays, and Ramadan is the most important month in the year. During this month, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, focusing on praying and doing charity work. Streets and homes are decorated to celebrate the occasion and special meals are prepared.

Summary

Egypt's long history, tourist attractions and geographic location make it an ideal destination for business and tourism. But before you visit or develop an Arabic translation strategy for doing business in Egypt, it's important to understand the culture and traditions and what impacts them.

Egypt has been prey to many invaders throughout history, and recently, due to economic and political problems, but Egyptians have a strong sense of humor and they find humor in everything, including themselves. This is what keep us going despite all hardships.

Further Resources on Arabic Culture, Language and Translation

Globalization Partners International (GPI) has extensive experience localizing marketing materials, technical documents, and large, scalable websites into the Arabic language. We have previously posted a number of useful guides for best practices in this area. Feel free to review our blogs that are particularly relevant:

Please feel free to contact GPI at info@globalizationpartners.com with any questions about our language and technology services.  Also let us know if you have any interesting blog topics you would like us to cover in our future blogs.  You may request a complimentary Translation Quote for your projects as well.

Sources:

http://www.ask-aladdin.com/Egypt-Travel-Tips/egypt_culture.html

http://www.touricoegypt.com/Egypt.aspx?EGID=9

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culture_of_Egypt

About the Author

Heba Nady

Hebatullah (Heba) Mahmoud Nady is a native Arabic speaker who lives in Cairo, Egypt. She has 11 years of experience in client relations and project management, working in different industries, such as publishing, oil and gas and translation and localization. Heba holds a B.A. degree in English Language and Literature from Ain Shams University, and has a great passion for language and culture. She has been actively managing many localization and translation projects for major clients since 2008 and is well versed in a wide range of localization tools and practices. Heba enjoys working with teams from different cultures and bringing people together to achieve a common goal. For her, translation is a mission that contributes to enriching Arabic and other cultures and languages. In her free time, Heba likes to read about literature and management and go sightseeing.

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