Expat FAQ

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How should I tip in Africa and the Middle East?

Tipping is complicated, and is only made more so when traveling somewhere new. Standards are different almost everywhere you go, and different establishments often have different tipping expectations.


Tipping rules vary by country, by region, and by scenario. In some places it is expected, while in others it is an insult. Many African countries have no set rules for tipping and etiquette for tipping in South Africa and northern African countries may also differ from central African nations. Tipping is usually only expected at establishments with waitstaff, not at take-away food counters. It is not uncommon for service industries to expect forgeiners to tip where locals do not.

When you travel to Africa you should leave a 10 percent tip in most restaurants and tip baggage handlers the equivalent of $1 per bag. Housekeeping staff at most hotels should be tipped $1 to $2 per day.

A service charge may be added to the bill and no additional tip is required. The menu may note that the service is included, meaning that the prices listed in the menu already have this charge built in.

Here is a basic guide for what to tip in several African countries.


Tipping is known as baksheesh ("present") and is a baisc part of travelling and living in Egypt. Keep small increments of Egyptian currency to tip bathroom attendants, museum guards and anyone who offers you services that you have requested.

In restaurants, the tip may already be included in the bill, but it is common to add 5–10 percent for good service. Tip bartenders a 1 dollar per drink.


Tipping in Tanzania often bolsters low wages. Some service oriented positions rely on tips. Tips are expected at high-end luxury hotels and lodges, and appreciated at moderately priced safari lodges.

Tips are not expected at restaurants and hotels frequented by locals. Most tourist lodges and hotels will have tip boxes at the reception desk. You can tip hotel staff individually, place a tip for all hotel staff in the tip box, or do both. Tips can be made in local currency, USD, Euros, or Sterling.


Tipping was not customary, but more waiters now expect 10 percent of the bill. This is mostly expected of tourists.


Some restuarants include a service charge. Otherwise, a tip around 10 percent tip is acceptable. Moroccans themselves might only leave a small tip, just a few dirhams on a 150 dirhams dinner bill. Forgeiners are expected to tip more, and forgein currency may be accepted - just ask. Tipping should be done quietly, possibly with ae handshake-with-cash-in-palm move.

5-10 DH (dirham) is acceptable for bellmen and for people who guide you to your destination if you get lost. Round up taxi fares.

South Africa

Tipping is usually at a higher percentage in South Africa. A 10 percent service charge is commonly included in the bill. If not, tip up to 15 percent. Forgein currency is commonly accepted at larger establishments.


Restaurants will often add an automatic service charge to the bill, in which case an additional tip is not usually given. If they do not do this, 10 percent is an excellent tip.


Tipping was not customary, but more waiters now expect 10 percent of the bill. This is mostly expected of tourists.

Middle East

The tipping culture is often complex and subtle in the Middle East. People are naturally friendly and hospitable, but are increasingly expecting compinsation. Luckily, tipping is usually in small amounts and it's deeply appreciated.

Asking for doggie bags is not usually done in the Middle East. Uneaten food is taken home by kitchen staff or given to the homeless.

Here is a basic guide for what to tip in the Middle East.


Dubai's government adds a 10 percent service charge to all bills at hotels, restaurants, and bars. Tips are usually divided equally among staff, but in some cases go directly to management. Leaving a cash tip provides the best chance of the tip going to the server. Some patrons will leave a small cash tip on top of the service charge, generally no more than 5 percent for excellent service. If the bill does not include a service charge, adding somewhere between 10-15 percent is customary.

Tipping is not generally expected on drinks orders. You can roundup the bill by around 5 percent for good service.


Restircitons on visitors (i.e. Americans must be on a guided trip) may mean that a tip is already included in the payment for the tour. If restaurant service is really good you can leave a few more dollars. Sometimes, a small gift is more appreciated than currency.


If service is not included in a restaurant bill, a tip of about 10 to 15 percent is expected. To find out if service was inlcuded, you can ask or look on the bill for "service (not) included". There is an unwritten rule that no tip is required if the owner of the restaurant serves you.

For pizza and similar food deliveries, the delivery boy is usually tipped 5 to 10 percent of the bill, or a flat NIS 10.


Service is almost always included in the bill. You can add a cash tip of 5 to 10 percent for excelletn service. Forgein currency may be accepted.


Tip about 10 percent of the bill. In a nice restaurant, you might want to discreetly give the maitre d' a tip up front to ensure top service, especially if you're in a group. If you've enjoyed the musicians, give them $5 or so.


Leave a 10 to 18 percent tip at mid-range to expensive establishments. A 10 percent service charge may already be included on your bill.

Saudi Arabia

Tips are usually not included, so tip 10 to 15 percent of the bill. Most workers are foreigners from places like India or the Philippines and they depend upon tips to support their families.


Service charges are usually not included, so tip at least a 10 percent, or 15 percent for excellent service.

United Arab Emirates

Cosmopolitan restaurants in the cities in UAE expect a tip of 15 to 20 percent. At the high class "seven-star restaurants" tip the maitre d' 50 to 100 dollars to ensure superior service. Unlike elsewhere in the region, don't tip bathroom attendants in the United Arab Emirates.


Most casual dining only requires a tip of a few dollars, but top restaurants expect at least 10 percent. Forgein currency is often acceptable.


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