Quick insights into Tunisia
Last summer, we had a young (18 years old) intern, Hana Nefzaoui, joined us for a few weeks.
Despite having no experience in research or culturalisation/internationalisation, she grasped the concept of what it means and involves pretty quick and well.
We sat down talking through the work we did at Beyō Global for our clients and went through some of the output and deliverables we created for our clients.
As a young Italian of Tunisian descent, Hana passionately wanted to write articles which provide insights into both countries: Italy and Tunisia.
You can read Hana’s quick insights into Italy here.
by Hana Nefzaoui
Tunisia is a county in Northern Africa. It has a western border with Algeria and a south-eastern border with Libya. Tunisia is politically united with the other states of North Africa since 1989. This institution is called the Maghreb, which includes Morocco, Libya, Algeria, Mauritania and Western Sahara.
Tunisia is a parliamentary republic divided into 5 regions with 24 capital cities. The principal capital is Tunis. Other principals cities are: Hammamet, Tabarka, Sfax, Qayrawan, Biserta, Gabès, Tozeur and Douz.
Standard Arabic (or Literary Arabic), is the official language in this country. However, the nationally recognised language is Tunisian Arabic (or Darija), which is widely used for daily purposes. It is considered a set of dialects of Arabic which has no formal body or standards (closely related to the Maghrebi Arabic dialect and was influenced by Turkish, French, Spanish, and Italian over the years).
The majority of Tunisians are also fluent in French due to the French presence in this country for around 75 years since 1881. French is a compulsory language in schools where it is taught to children from the age of eight. French is also used on shop signs, menus and road signs, as well as Modern Standard Arabic.
Date and time
The 24-hour clock is more commonly used in Tunisia, with preferred date format as DD/MM/YYYY.
Tunisian Dinar is the official currency of Tunisia. The international code is TND, although the abbreviation DT is often used in Tunisia as it is derived from the French 'Dinar Tunisien’. The dinar was introduced in around 1960 to replace the French franc. Its sub-unit is milim.
Just like most of the European countries, decimals were separated from whole numbers using a comma.
Tunisia prefix (country code) is +216. Unlike in Italy where all phone numbers have 10 digits long, a phone number in Tunisia is composed of 8 digits and it starts with number 2 or 5.
Cultural values (religion and festivals)
Nearly all Tunisians are Sunni Muslims with Islam being the official state religion of Tunisia.
Tunisians take their religious festivals very seriously. Four of the most important religious holidays in Tunisia are: Eid al-Fitr (to mark the end of Ramadan), Ramadan (a holy month dedicated to prayer and fasting), Eid al-Adha (also called the ‘Festival of Sacrifice’, the second most important festival in the Muslim calendar) and Mawlid (the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad).
Each year, these festivals fall (nearly) on the same day of the Islamic calendar, a lunar calendar. The dates vary widely from year to year on the more commonly used Gregorian calendar, a solar calendar.
Apart from Ramadan where they fast for about 18 hours a day, during these festivals, streets in Tunisia are decorated with lights. Tunisians dine and stay together until late at night. They make sweets and eat traditional meals.
Cultural values (family)
Tunisia is very much a collectivist society. One of the most important cultural values in Tunisian societies is family-oriented collectivism.
In Tunisia, there are many small villages. Everyone knows each other in these villages. Tunisians consider neighbours as their close friends. They stay together like a family.
Tunisian girls do not live with their families for very long as they get married pretty young (e.g. 16-19 years old) and then move in with their husbands. The average age that men get married in Tunisia is 28-32 years old.
For Tunisian people, weddings are very important. In fact, it could last for 6-7 days:
Day one or two days (depending on how much the families can afford) is/are dedicated to celebrating the beginning of the wedding
Day three to celebrate the couple
Day four to celebrate the bride
Day five to celebrate the groom
Day six to celebrate the wedding where they exchange the faiths
The final day (after a week) to celebrate the new couple
In Tunisia, there are three major telecom operators: Tunisia Telecom, Ooredoo Tunisia and Orange Tunisia. Tunisia Telecom is a local company, while Ooredoo is a Qatar company that is also based in Tunisia. Orange, on the other hand, is the biggest French telecom company.
To date, Ooredoo has the most subscribers, followed by Tunisia Telecom, then Orange Tunisia. This might due to the fact that Ooredoo invested heavily on TV and street advertisements. In addition, its SIM cards are easily accessible. They are available to buy in most places such as airports, railway stations and shopping centres.
Most Tunisian older generations do not tend to travel much. Their holidays mostly involve going to the nearest seasides. When they do travel a long distance, normally it is to visit their relatives. They would often book their holidays by visiting a travel agency. This applies to young generations where they also prefer booking via travel agents instead of digitally.
Tunisians are used to pay everything with cash. Most of them do not own a credit or debit card.
Transportation companies (bus, train)
In most countries, public transportations such as buses and trains are cheaper than a taxi. It is not the case in Tunisia. Tunisians, therefore, prefer taking taxis instead of trains and buses. Taxis are their main transportation because the majority of the locals do not have a car or even a driving license.
Tunisians shop almost everything in markets: From fruits to clothes. It is cheaper and there is always a market once a week in every town, near their home. A big population of Tunisians is farmers so most of them would sell their products weekly in these markets.
Technology and social network
Tunisia has one of the most developed telecommunications infrastructures in North Africa with broadband prices among the lowest in Africa. Not everyone in Tunisia has a mobile phone but for those who do, they tend to use it a lot. The majority of people still use a laptop or desktop to access the internet. It is common for some Tunisians to go to libraries to use a computer or access the Internet.
Nine out of ten Tunisians have a Facebook account. It is the most popular social network in the Arab world. They post and share almost everything on Facebook: Photos, videos, emotions. On the other hand, Instagram is the second most used social network in Tunisia. WhatsApp is not as popular in this country as in Italy or Europe. Many young people do not have WhatsApp installed on their phones.
If you want to learn more about Tunisia or its neighbouring countries, get in touch with us.