Etiquette in Tunisia

By the last estimate, there are 10.98 million people living in Tunisia.

The official language of Libya is Arabic, the primary language. Some business people speak English, Italian, German or the language of commerce, French, except in the south.

98% of Tunisians are Muslim.

The currency is the Tunisian dinar (TND) and they are 6 hours ahead of the Eastern Time Zone.

Greetings are formal. It is considered polite to inquire after the health and well-being of family.

Handshakes are customary between members of the same sex.

If you have a relationship with a Tunisian, it would be usual to kiss both cheeks starting with the left, men with men, women with women.

When men greet women, a woman must extend her hand for it to be shaken. Otherwise, men bow their heads as a greeting.

Give and receive objects using your right hand. Shake hands with the right hand.

Business is relationship-driven and requires respect. Expect to invest time in your connection with business people. Show concern for others and build trust in your relationship.

If you use business cards, one side should be translated into French or Arabic, the most commonly spoken languages in the country. Business card trading doesn’t involve a formal ritual.

Personal appearance is essential in how you are viewed by business contacts. A dark conservative suit is best for an initial meeting. Women should wear clothing covering to the knee and most of the arm.

Business practices are marked by courtesy and formality.

If you aren’t fluent in French, hire an interpreter for business.

There is usually a good deal of small talk prior to business meetings.

Businesses close for lunch from 12:30 to 2:30 Monday through Friday and possibly during prayer times.

Workdays are shorter during Ramadan.

Never criticize publicly, causing colleagues to lose face.

Deadlines are not set in stone.

If you are invited into an Tunisian’s home, good gifts for the hostess include nuts, candy, flowers, or pastries. Don’t bring alcohol unless you’re certain the recipient partakes.

Don’t expect your gift to be opened when it’s received.

Dress modestly.

Don’t assume that if you are invited into a home, your spouse is as well. Be sure to ask.

Remove your shoes at the door.

Continue to use your right hand for eating and passing dishes.

You may be given a wash basin for the start of a meal. Keep your eye on the host.

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