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Topic of the Issue
Egyptian Traits - Part II: Greetings and Hospitality
Thursday, April 15 (Issue 7)
by Raymon Kondos

CAIRO ( - Affection among same sexes is common in Egypt but not between different sexes, even between married couples, particularly in public.

Affection could be shown among same sexes by exchange of kisses in cheeks and sometimes hugs, particularly among women.

Kisses increase among females in rural areas and in Upper Egypt in particular, and sometimes old women kiss hands of each others to express mutual respect.

Upper Egyptians in traditional clothes
Upper Egyptians in traditional clothes

For people in rush, sometimes greetings is done with a gesture of the hand over the forehead, something similar to a scout's salutation.

Under some circumstances, physical contact between different sexes is not appropriate. This includes handshakes. Of course this differs with classy people.

Handshakes between men have to be strong, and sometimes even both palms are used to express more cordiality, one hand followed by another. Sometimes a handshake is followed by a gesturing touch on the elbow or shoulder of the opposite man

Handshake is a custom that has been adopted since Ancient Egypt, with traces that could be referring back to Babylonians.

It is not uncommon to see men walking hand in hand, or women walking arm in arm in streets.

If you wanted to smoke cigarettes in the presence of others, it is a must that you offer those around you to smoke, even if you know they don't smoke.

Egyptians are extremely friendly and hospitable. People tend to prove it by one way or another. Incapability to show hospitality and generosity is considered a deficiency in values and morals.

The simplest way is an invitation to have tea at house. Even the invitation may be attached to the Good Morning

Example 1:

- Good Morning come and drink tea with me.
- No Problem

Egyptians are so much persistent in invitations and usually a simple rejection won't stop them, and for some, rejection means an insult.

So if you want to reject some invitation, you have to repeat your rejection over and over accompanied by a pretext for example that you are late on some appointment etc.

Example 2:

Egyptian: Come and have tea with me.
Tourist: No ... thanks
Egyptian: Seriously ... come ... come ...
Tourist: Really I can't!
Egyptian: What? Do you think I am stingy or something.
Tourist: Believe Me! I have got to wake up so early in the morning tomorrow.

Invitations to foreigners are known as part of the Egyptian gallantry, whether to relative, another Egyptian or just a visiting tourist.

For Egyptians, it proves how much they honor guests and that the warmer they receive guests the better impression they will have.

. Food Habits in Egyptian Key Events (issue 1)
. Egyptian Matrimony: Man Got to Do it All (issue 2)
. The Egyptian Identity: Pharoahs, Moslems, Arabs, Africans, Middle Easterners or Mediterranean People? (issue 3)
. Egypt . Glimpse over its Society, Language and Religion (issue 4)
. Egyptian Traits - Part I: Inshallah (God Willing) (issue 5)
. Om Kalsoum: Legendary Singer and Mother of the Egyptian Nation (issue 6)

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