Modern Standard Arabic is used in schools, government offices and the media. In practice, Darja, the local Algerian dialect of Arabic, is more commonly used and varies from one region to another. French is very commonly used in business, though this is less true outside of Algeria’s main urban areas where Arabic or Tamazight will be used in all aspects of daily life. English is becoming increasingly attractive for young Algerians though its use still remains limited.
Tramway and metro systems have been introduced in recent years to improve urban transportation in Algiers in addition to offering an alternative to traffic congestion. The Algier’s metro extension to El Harrache was completed in mid-2015, and the extensions to Aïn Naadja and the Lower Casbah are set to be completed by the end of 2017.
Tramway projects are also under way in other cities and are due for completion over the coming years. Other forms of public transport are popular. Buses, operated by private and public companies, offer affordable fares, and efforts have been made to improve comfort. Beginning in 2015 buses operated by ETUSA began offering free Wi-Fi to passengers.
Taxis remain the most common way to travel. They are easier to find in big cities and also operate longer trips on specific routes. Taxis are fairly cheap but negotiation for trips outside specific routes is often necessary.
Road congestion remains an issue in big cities, as traffic can cause significant delays and trips need to be carefully planned during rush hours. One of the largest infrastructure projects ever completed in Algeria, the East-West Highway, has drastically improved connections across the country as it crosses the northern section of Algeria, from Morocco to Tunisia. Some portions are being revamped, however, causing small delays.
The country is well served from Europe, with many carriers flying to Algeria’s major cities. Domestic routes are operated by Air Algérie and Tassili Airlines and they offer frequent flights between the major cities.
Algerians are warm and welcoming, with hospitality holding high value. It is customary to say “salam” or “as-salamalaykum” (peace be upon you) upon entering a store, business or home. Greetings rituals vary based regionally, but generally people greet each other with two kisses on the cheeks and a handshake. Many, but not all, women will shake hands with both men and women, so men should wait for the woman to initiate the handshake. Discussions are often oriented towards personal life, family and professional projects.
Business hours are from 8.00am to 5.00pm, with a one-hour lunch break usually taken at noon. Public administrations are open until 4.30pm. During the month of Ramadan, companies allow their employees to leave early. Since 2009 the weekend has fallen on Friday and Saturday.
Algeria is a diverse society with roots in Arab, Mediterranean and African cultures. Regional identities are very strong, with each region having its own traditions and character.
In urban centres the business dress codes for men are similar to prevailing norms in Western Europe and North America. Dress codes for women are slightly different and can vary from liberal to conservative. Female visitors should pay attention to ensure that their shoulders, knees and chest are covered. Outside of major cities, traditional dress is usually the norm and travellers should dress more conservatively.
Tipping is not very engrained in the culture and is not generally expected. Nevertheless, should you decide to tip, it is very appreciated by locals whether in the taxi or at a restaurant.
Visa applications are usually conducted by visitors in their country of residence prior to arrival. Business visas require a letter of invitation and proof of accommodation. Along with valid travel insurance, this is usually enough to receive a visa for up to three months.
Algeria uses 220-V, European-style twopin plugs. Both US- and UK-style plugs require adaptors.
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