Egypt is the origin of the earliest civilizations and has taken an important position in the Middle East as the connection between the Arab and Europe regions. Egyptian culture and practices are greatly influenced by Arab, African, and Mediterranean cultures, and it is a distinctive mixture of modern and traditional cultures and behaviours.
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Most people visiting Egypt usually experience several challenges due to their unique culture. Failure to cope with Egyptian cultures and practices may bring about misunderstandings, stress, and unproductive tasks or missions. Islamic culture and religion are the single most important influence in this region and the society is conservative, particularly in matters associated to women.
Most women are modest in their dressings and behaviours (Snape, 2010, p. 23). Men are generally social, friendly, and welcoming, and visitors should not practice their religion and practices since proselytizing is unlawful in Egypt.
There are two unique versions of Arabic language in Egypt. These are classical Arabic which is the language of Koran and act as official language to most people. The second version is colloquial Arabic and most people used it in streets. French and English are broadly used for business and in educational institutions or organizations in urban areas. Egyptians, mostly Arabs, value their religion and culture.
Most books, films, music, and any other programs are produced in Arabic language and are supplied mostly to the Arabic world. Foods and drinks are not restricted in Egypt and are supplied or available in most drinking joints all over the country, but during Ramadan they are not allowed. This paper would provide different cultures and communication in Egypt.
Egypt is part of Arabic language society that contains around 260 million people. Egypt became Arabic-speaking country due to the Muslim existence in the seventh century, although to eliminate the earlier languages in Egypt took longer period.
In Egypt, just like in other parts of Arabic regions, the Arabic language is described by diglossia and this means that there is considerable difference between the spoken language and written language that is manipulated by the Koran (Mehrez, 2010, p. 21).
Television and radio enforce the Cairo-spoken speech as the famous and accepted dialect of Egypt. The Egyptian cultural influence is spread to the other parts of Arabic-speaking world in these famous and accepted Cairo language group. English is the most used language by foreign visitors in Egypt, and French language is commonly used also (Mehrez, 2010, p. 21).
Egypt and Western cultures
Differences between Egyptian and western cultures are there and these differences can be noticed through dressing, behaviours, and religion. Showing respect and kindness to old people in Asian regions are most important cultural values which most people are subjected to follow.
In Asian societies, the young people show respect to the older people by calling them uncle or auntie even if they do not share any blood relationship provided they are older (Narvaez, 2008). The young people are not supposed to call older people by their names.
They also have certain names which are used to show respect to older people. In western cultures, names such as uncle or auntie are used only to relate to blood-related people and do not have the specific names to show respect to the older people. In Asian society, daughters and sons in law call their parents or guardians in law similar to what their wives or husbands call them.
Another difference is the way of dressing among the people of both cultures. In western cultures, mode of dressing is not a big issue and do not contain specific way of dressing. People are allowed to choose the way of dressing since the Christian society does not restrict people on their dressing style.
In Egypt, all followers of Arabic cultures and practices are restricted to wear covers which hide entire body and have a specific mode of dressing (Auter & Mahmoud, 2009).
Asian families have close associations and usually stay together in one house, even if they are married and have children. Their parents and siblings prefer staying together as mode of unity.
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When their parents are old and not able to perform some tasks, children take the responsibility to attend and support them personally. This shows a big contrast to the western families which allow their children to have their own houses after they are married or are mature enough to take care of themselves.
One element of communication mode has been used to explain the differences and similarities between the Egyptian and western speakers. These modes of communication are direct and indirect elements. Direct and indirect dimension can be explained as the level in which speakers portray their purposes through explicit communication.
The literature of Egyptian communication method suggests that indirectness is the essential feature in their communication. Egyptian culture is taken as a high context or less direct, which the western culture is considered to be low context or more direct.
Some studies have shown that the Egyptian language is considered as a high-context culture, while English communication method is considered as a low-context culture where language represents truth.
Directness which is found in Egyptian or Arabic communication is much preferred and that great pains are usually used to prevent saying no, because a decline or refusal often bring about discomfiture. On the other hand, American communication favour taking or expressing straight to the point, stating openly what has to be expressed.
Public modesty, in behavior and dress, is greatly treasured in Egyptian culture and there is a kind of dressing arrangement that influences women more than men, sine women are required to dress in a way that covers the entire body. This is a sense where covering are present in Egypt, but the condition is explosive since they have an option to choose from different varieties.
Men are also required to dress nicely and conservatively, but their dressings are not strict since they are allowed to wear trousers and long sleeves shirts to cover their hands and legs. For both men and women, clothing should cover the shape or the structure of their body and not show any sing of immorality or disrespect (Maude, 2011, p. 135).
People are expected to be addressed by their assigned names, usually accompanied with a title. Calling a person by the name alone shows disrespect. The other essential communication feature, among Egyptian people, is to treat visitors warmly and hospitably and the first drink provided to a guest is often called a greeting.
These practices may be found also in western or other African cultures, but it is not as common like in Egyptian community. Cigarettes are usually provided as kindness and in rural areas, most people do not attend people who they believe to be of lesser status than themselves. Just like other cultures in the world, the level of respect goes with the status of a person.
Members of younger generation are supposed to demonstrate indications of kindness and not to challenge their older generation. They should use specific and distinct communication styles while addressing aunts, uncles, and other relatives, along with older non-relatives. Children and teenagers should honour their superiors or older people by providing them with sits and should not remain seated while their superiors are standing.
The common thing in Egypt is the relationships of mystics and the male-ruled alliances are under the guidance of a Shaykh (Jandt, 2004, p. 68). They are dedicated to support their participants achieve a mystical knowledge of associations with God.
This mystical knowledge or undertaking is frequently achieved through mutual rituals called Zikr and there are almost one hundred legally accepted alliances, along with several unaccepted associations.
Current essential practice in Egypt is to emphasize on the central beliefs of Islam community and to consider understanding the law of Islam. The law of Islam covers information of daily life that believing Muslims should apply to be in agreement with God’s will as understood by the professions.
There are several Muslim religious holidays in Egypt and all over the Arabic world, and among them are Ramadan and ‘Id al-Adha that are celebrated on different days (Jandt, 2004, p. 68). Friday is considered to be the day of congregational prayer and as a result bring about a break in between the working or schooling days. This break during the working days does not affect the official working days of the week.
In modern Egypt, Friday and Saturday are the two days legal weekend. This goes in contrast to the other countries or cultures where Saturday and Sunday id the official weekend. Not similar to the other cultures where working days are from Monday to Friday, Egypt considers working or school days to be from Sunday to Friday. Christians who live in Egypt make use of evenings and use Fridays for the main meetings.
Therefore Christians working in Egypt often face huge challenges coping with their culture, particularly with the working and worshiping days, since their employers expect them to attend work on Sunday, despite Christians considering it the day to worship.
Egypt contains two different versions of Arabic language, classical and colloquial Arabic language which are commonly used. Cultural differences among various societies and countries in the world make it complex to adapt or adjust to those cultures. Egypt has its own unique and distinct cultures, containing mostly the Islamic cultures and practices.
There are several similarities and differences between cultures present in Egypt and other cultures in the world. Western cultures have fewer restrictions on their dresses and communication mode among women and men, while the practices in Egypt allow only women to wear certain cloths which cover their body.
These varying differences make some people to face challenges while working either in Egypt or any other different cultures. Islamic religion is what most people in Egypt follows, but other religions also exist, such as Christianity and Hinduism. English and French are most commonly used languages in Egypt. English is commonly used during business meetings or transactions by foreign visitors.
Auter, P & Mahmoud, A 2009, ‘Arabic-Speaking Cultures and Practises’, Journal of Middle East Media, vol. 5 no. 1, pp. 45-68.
Jandt, F 2004, Intercultural Communication: A Global Reader, Sage, London.
Maude, B 2011, Managing Cross-Cultural Communication: Principles and Practice, Palgrave Macmillan, New York.
Mehrez, S 2010, Egypt’s Culture Wars: Politics and Practice, American Univ in Cairo Press, Cairo.
Narvaez, D 2008, ‘Teacher Self-Efficacy for Moral Education’, Journal of Research in Character Education, vol. 6 no. 2, pp. 20-87.
Snape, S 2010, Ancient Egyptian Tombs: The Culture of Life and Death, John Wiley & Sons, West Sussex.