Sitting at the northernmost bulge of North Africa and thrusting toward Europe, Tunisia is Africa at its most Mediterranean and Arabia at its most cosmopolitan. From its earliest days Tunisia has been open to influences from abroad; all the great empires of the Mediterranean basin have ruled Tunisia, leaving fascinating vestiges of their rule.
Tunisians are warm and hospitable, but for the uninitiated there can be pitfalls galore in social interaction. For example, candour and honesty are not valued as highly as respect, dignity, and avoiding stigma. Furthermore, while the Tunisia that visitors tend to see is modern, progressive, and prosperous, local tradition still holds great sway. A large number of Tunisians believe in the power of blessings and curses, explain difficult times as maktoub (fate), and view illness as the result of maliciously intended magic.
Culture Smart! Tunisia will start you on the path to understanding this complex, rich, and fascinating culture by opening a window into the private lives of Tunisians, to show how they behave at home and how they react to foreign visitors. The brief historical overview provides an insight into the way the past has helped to shape the Tunisian present.
There are chapters on customs and traditions, with advice on how to make friends and avoid faux pas. For the business traveler, there is practical guidance on how to get things done, and how to make the most of the opportunities that present themselves.
Creating a circle with the thumb and index finger, which means “OK” in many countries, means “zero” or “bad” in Tunisia. And, if you must point at someone, place the index finger under the middle finger when you do.