My time in Egypt is coming to an end, but I do want to say a few words about socializing in Egypt. It seems rather different from in America.
In America, when people visit you, you are expected to entertain them. As a host, you plan activities for your guests (movies, group games, etc.) and provide snacks or a meal, but ideally the food will be prepared ahead of time so you can devote all of your attention to your guests. In addition, you must make sure everyone is always talking.
As a guest, your job is to enjoy the activities, and be sure you’re not too quiet. You should pay attention to the activities around you, and shouldn’t check your phone or make a phone call unless it’s urgent. If you don’t talk enough, you will be labeled as odd, shy, and possibly unfriendly. Basically, there can’t be silence when visiting.
I can’t say for certain, but there seem to be different rules in Egypt. Perhaps some of that is because I don’t speak much Arabic, so people don’t expect me to talk much. However, it does seem that, even amongst the locals, it’s alright to sit together in silence for several minutes. It’s fine for visitors or hosts to take a phone-call. If you’re visiting people you know well, and you’re there for several hours, you might even take a nap on their couch. Socializing feels much more relaxed in Egypt. (Ok, maybe socializing isn’t stressful for most Americans, but I have difficulty talking all the time, so I often find it stressful.)
One thing you almost can’t do, though, is refuse food or something to drink. In America, you offer food, but you sort of expect that most people will refuse it (I think because so many people have food allergies of one sort or another). In Egypt, though, you don’t refuse food. Or tea. Tea with ‘biscuits’ (the British kind) is very important in Egypt (possibly an influence from Britain). If you’re not visiting over mealtime, then you will be offered tea – and I think it would be considered a little bit rude to refuse. Mind, I’m not certain of the rules – these sorts of rules usually aren’t written down or put into words. This is just what I’ve picked up from observations.