Working in Egypt

Most expats working in Egypt are based in Cairo. As Egypt’s largest city, it is also the location with the most employment opportunities and thus plays host to a more conspicuous American and European population.

However, unemployment levels are high and expats may have a hard time finding a job. Still, there are a few positions where a foreigner may find a niche.

Job market in Egypt

Job types vary widely, but most expats don't move for the financial promise that makes other global destinations attractive. The most common occupation for expats working in Egypt is teaching, both in private schools and English language schools.

Volunteers and employees for NGOs make up another substantial part of the expat community. Other industries that draw expats are a petroleum export sector and media businesses. A large number of writers make Cairo their headquarters, and Egypt also has an emerging IT industry.

Finding a job in Egypt

It is far better to be hired from outside Egypt than to arrive in Egypt unemployed. If the latter is the case, the best bet for finding employment is through a personal connection.

Expats hired from overseas to work in Egypt enjoy a higher salary, usually paid in a foreign currency such as Euros, British Pounds or US Dollars. Expat employees hired from within Egypt are paid in the local currency and earn much less. Networking is an important part of the Egyptian business culture, which functions largely on the premise of personal contacts and recommendations.

Expats seeking employment in Egypt should start by searching internet job portals. If possible they should set up interviews before arriving in Egypt.

Work culture in Egypt

For such a conservative society business in Egypt is conducted in a formal yet friendly and personal manner. Punctuality and a formal appearance are important; suits and ties are worn by businessmen and women should dress modestly.

Expats in Egypt must be respectful of the local Islamic customs. Many Egyptian businessmen are not available during Ramadan, and as Friday is the Islamic holy day, the working week runs from Sunday to Thursday.

English is widely spoken and understood but a basic knowledge of Arabic will be appreciated. People with titles should be addressed using their title and surname. Business cards should be printed in English and Arabic and if someone gives their card, treat it with respect.

Egyptians often prefer indirect communication and will seldom say no. Expats should read their colleague’s body language to determine whether the response is positive or negative. Handshakes are an appropriate greeting, but a kiss on the cheek is common once a relationship has been formed.