Etiquette in Libya

By the last estimate, there are 6.442 million people living in Libya.

The official language of Libya is Arabic, the primary language.

97% of Libyans are Muslim.

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

Meeting & Greeting Etiquette

Greetings may be long and people may hold hands after initially shaking hands. Men should nod and wait for women to offer their hands first.

Smiling and intermittent direct eye contact are important.

Use titles and the honorific.

Refer to government officials as “Your Excellency.”

Don’t use a first name unless you’ve been told to do so.

Business Etiquette

If you use business cards, one side should be translated into Arabic, the most commonly spoken languages in the country

Confirm meetings a few days in advance of actual meetings with business people. Be on time, as it is expected.

Meetings tend to be open door and include frequent interruptions. If a person comes in and starts a new topic, don’t try to return to the original topic until they leave.

Business relationships are driven by personal relationships.

Never schedule meetings between 11:15 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Fridays due to prayer times.

Gift Giving Etiquette

If you are invited into a Libyan’s home, good gifts include fruit, a small gift from your home country, or pastries.

Give gifts with both or the right hand.

If a man gives a gift to a woman, he should suggest it is a gift from his wife, mother, sister, or a family members.

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

Dining Etiquette

Dress modestly.

Remove your shoes at the door.

Don’t bring alcohol.

Accept offers of tea or coffee.

A short prayer may be said first.

A bowl of perfumed water will be passed around. Dip three fingers into the water.

You will be asked to take more food whether you are full or not.