The Western-style handshake is standard practice in business environments. However, it may happen that a woman does not offer a handshake, in which case the man should not extend his hand. Similarly, while close friends and relatives often greet each other with a kiss on both cheeks, some women may not accept kisses from men. The level of conservatism can vary significantly across the country with regards to attitude and mannerisms, with notable differences between Tunis and more rural areas.
While dress code varies across the country, it could be classified as slightly more conservative than Europe, and generally more liberal than most other Arab countries. Western-style clothing is common in Tunis and many other urban areas, but in rural areas traditional clothing is still widespread. However, since the 2011 revolution more and more women are wearing headscarves, even in big cities.
Modern standard Arabic is the official language and is used in government and the education system. However, everyday discussions take place in the Tunisian dialect, which borrows from French, Spanish and Italian. French is also spoken by the vast majority of Tunisians, making the country unofficially bilingual. Today, English is also making inroads in the business community, but is still far from commonly spoken.
Western European, Canadian, Japanese and US citizen visitors are permitted to stay in the country for up to three months without acquiring a visa. It is recommended to check visa requirements before departure. Generally, nationalities requiring a visa can obtain them through a Tunisian embassy or purchase them at the airport upon arrival.
Internet & Electricity
All the major hotels in Tunisia are equipped with internet access, and most of the business hotels provide high-speed, fibre-optic connections. In addition, many restaurants and cafes offer wireless service. For electronic devices, sockets accept continental European, two-pin plugs.
Tunisia’s international country calling code is +216, with regional city codes of 71 for Tunis, 73 for Sousse and 74 for Sfax. The three mobile phone providers are Tunisie Telecom, Ooredoo and Orange Tunisie. The 4G networks work well in major cities and the 3G networks are widespread. An ID or passport is required to purchase a SIM card, which can then be topped up electronically or with scratch cards at very reasonable rates. Mobile phones are preferred by most, as the installation process for a fixed line can be quite lengthy. Public pay phones are also available and can be recognised by their blue signs.
The local currency is the Tunisian dinar. One dinar consists of 1000 millimes. The US dollar bought 2.43 Tunisian dinars around mid-2017. ATMs are readily available throughout the country, and major international credit cards are accepted in large retail chains and restaurants. The dinar is non-convertible and its export is forbidden by law.
There are no preventative health measures that need to be taken prior to a visit to Tunisia, such as vaccinations. In the country you will find many public hospitals that can perform basic services, if needed. Visitors looking for top-quality care can locate private clinics, which are well known for their competitive price compared to Western clinics. There are also a large number of pharmacies in the cities.
A typical work week runs from Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5.00pm. However, during Ramadan and the summer months of July and August, working hours are from 7.30am to 1.30pm. This special working regime is commonly called séance unique. For the weeks of Ramadan, most shops and restaurants will be closed during the day but open after sundown until the early hours of the morning.
Tipping is not mandatory in local cafes, restaurants or taxis, but many Tunisians will leave some of their loose change when paying a bill. A 10% tip is enough in restaurants that cater more to tourists.
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