Meeting and Greeting

Algerians greetings can get very lengthy. This is all part of cementing a relationship and showing concern for others. So besides the handshake, ask about family, work, the house, the weather, etc.

If someone continues to hold onto your hand(s) after the initial handshake, this is a sign of warmth and friendliness. Friends and family will also exchange kisses on the check.

Some things to keep in mind

MEN: When a man meets a woman, give a nod and wait to see if she extends a hand. Avoid prolonged eye contact with women and do not ask personal questions.

WOMEN: For women visiting Algeria note that religious men may not shake your hands - this is not a sign of disrespect but it's to show honor.

Names and Titles

Algerian society is hierarchical in nature, thus the use of titles is important. When you are introduced to someone, call them by their honorific, professional, or academic title along with their surname (you may use titles in either French or Arabic).

Common titles are "doctor", "professor", and "lawyer" in English or "docteur", "professeur", and "avocat" in French. Some religious scholars may be called "Sheikh"


Gift Giving Etiquette

Gift giving is a part of Algerian culture to strengthen bonds of relationships. The gesture of giving is more important than the gift. Gifts are not usually opened when received. Give gifts with the right or both hands.

When invited to an Algerian's home, do not bring alcohol unless you are very sure they partake. To be safe, bring pastries, fruit, or flowers. Children love getting candies or some other type of sweets.

Roses or tulips make good gifts whereas violets symbolize sadness, so don't bring those.

Dining Etiquette

Algerians love both hospitality and food. If you are invited to a home consider it an honor. Because chances are your host will more than likely be a Muslim, keep the following in mind:

    1. Don't bring alcohol.
    2. Dress modestly (especially women).
    3. Take off your shoes at the door.
    4. When you enter a room with people always greet the eldest first. Then move around the room from your right greeting people individually.

Table Manners

Depending on the host and the place where the meal takes place, you will find yourself either sitting at low couches around a big table or on mats on the floor around a low table. Men and women will be seated separately.

Couscous is eaten with a spoon while stew is eaten with a fork, otherwise food is usually eaten with the hands, so be sure to wash your hands before and after the meal. Only use the right hand for eating and passing dishes. If you're not sure what to do, observe and follow the people's lead sitting near you.

You will be urged to take more food. Start off with small portions so you can take more from the main dish so you will appear to have eaten a greater quantity than you really have. If you feel full, leave food on your plate or it will be filled up again.

It's polite for a woman to offer to help the hostess with the preparation of food, or clearing the table afterwards. This will most likely be declined, but the offer will be appreciated.