Exploring Egyptian Hospitality

Shaddi Spencer, 2019 GLN Leadership Fellow, shares about the importance of Hospitality in his home city Cairo, Egypt. 

Each country has local customs of being friendly and traditions of welcoming strangers. In Egypt, specifically, hospitality has a deep meaning and is considered a fundamental characteristic among its culture. Egyptians care about being warm-hearted towards their guests. They ensure that their guests feel welcome.  In Egypt, everyone generally takes care of each other. When it comes to hospitality, the host will make sure their guest has enough of everything, whether food, drinks, or even warm water for showers.

One way Egyptians share hospitality is offering meals to guests. However, sharing a meal with an Egyptian is not just about food. It is a sign of honor, respect, and trust. For example, if an Egyptian invites a tourist to have a meal with them at a local restaurant, they will insist to pay. A tourist will not be allowed to pay even if they want because the Egyptian will want to show hospitality to their guest. Another example of showing hospitality in Egypt is through home meal invitations.

Meals served at home, are an indication that the guest is considered a part of the family. Once the guest enters the house, they are treated like royalty. The family always offers their best seat, food, drinks, and dessert after meals. Typically, the food is served in varieties. Once the food is served, the host is expected to finish the entire meal. If the guest goes for a second round, it is an indication that they enjoyed the food and ultimately the host feels complimented. 

After the meal is served, the host will offer tea and dessert and will share conversations that usually last a long time. One fun fact about Egyptians is that they will never take “No, thank you” or “I’m full” for an answer. They will always serve more food and guests must eat it all, otherwise, it is considered rude. If a guest does not like this specific kind of food, they are still obligated to eat it just because their host cooked it.

If the guest is staying the nights, they do not help themselves with food or drinks. If the host does not have enough food in the fridge, they would not want their guest to feel bad since the host always serves their best options. The host will make certain that everything is pre-arranged and that their guest does not need anything. In Egypt, the lack of sharing hospitality is almost equivalent to not having high morals.

Overall, it is fascinating learning about different culture protocols and how life operates in
different countries. Hospitality differs depending on the culture. In regards to Egypt, hospitality and interpersonal relationships play a large role in everyday life.

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