In business meetings across Djibouti it is customary to exchange greetings and shake hands. However, in some cases women prefer not to shake hands; it is therefore best to wait for an indication from the person herself. Relationship building and creating a network is important in the Djiboutian business community, and meetings are often opened by having a casual discussion about a personal topic. The host will usually indicate when the business discussion should commence.
The dress code in Djibouti is very flexible. Due to the typically hot weather, suits and ties are reserved for only high-level occasions, with business counterparts usually sporting a shirt with no jacket. Traditional cultural dressing practices can be observed as well, which is the standard for women.
Most Djiboutians travel by way of public buses, which cost around DJF50 ($0.28) per route. The distinctly marked green and white taxis are available in most urban areas, usually charging a minimum of DJF500 ($2.80), although negotiation is possible. The Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway, inaugurated in January 2018, will facilitate passenger travel to Ethiopia. Djibouti is well connected via its airports for long-distance trips, with locations such as Cairo, Dubai or Khartoum to be added. Both local and international driving permits are acceptable, and traffic drives on the right side of the road.
A hepatitis A vaccination is recommended but not required when entering Djibouti, and visitors should drink only bottled water. Medical clinics are accessible without prior registration and cost DJF7000 ($39.20) per visit. Two well-equipped hospitals exist in the capital: the Bouffard French Military Hospital and Hôpital Général Peltier.
Djibouti is a secure destination, and most travellers can access the majority of the capital and wider country in safety. Nonetheless, it is advisable to avoid displays of wealth in low-income areas.
French and Arabic are the official languages of Djibouti. However, at home, the majority of the population speaks either Somali or Afar – the two main ethnic languages. English is also becoming increasingly common.
The dialling code is +253, and GSM telecommunications are readily accessible, with a substantial part of the population owning mobile phones. In 2018 4G+ networks were officially launched in the country. SIM cards can be purchased at any Djibouti Telecom shop for a one-time tariff of DJF1000 ($5.60) upon presentation of a passport or identity card. Mobiles can be topped up with DJF500 ($2.80), DJF1000 ($5.60), DJF2000 ($11.20), DJF5000 ($28) and DJF10,000 ($56) credit at mobile phone shops and convenience stores. Wi-Fi internet access is not yet widespread but is increasing, with cybercafes found throughout the capital.
A 30-day visa can be obtained online for a fee of $120 or upon arrival at immigration for $90. Visas can subsequently be renewed in the country.
The national currency is the Djiboutian franc (DJF), with a dollar-pegged exchange rate of DJF177:$1. Bank bills are available in denominations of 1000, 2000, 5000 and 10,000. Credit cards are not widely used or accepted. ATM access remains relatively limited, and not all cards are accepted. Foreign currency can be exchanged at authorised exchange offices, at banks and on some street corners.
Tipping is considered customary in Djibouti, with the typical tip in a restaurant or hotel usually being around 10% of the bill.
Djibouti uses the standard 220-V, 50-Hz network, with two-pin plugs.
The work week in Djibouti has been adapted to match neighbouring countries, with average working times running Sunday to Thursday, 8.00am-1.00pm and 2.00-5.00pm. Domestic public holidays include all Islamic holidays and Christmas.
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