Egypt Culture and Traditions
Egypt is a country with an immense cultural mix, In every major city in Egypt you will
find traditions that remain from the time of the Pharaohs, and in other parts you will find
pure tribal customs that were brought in by many invaders throughout the centuries. That
contradiction and contrast between areas of Egypt, when you compare it with other
Middle Eastern countries, is what makes Egypt seem advanced against some of the
others. Yet here you will find that the customs and mentality tends to be full of warmth
towards visitors and foreigners. I guess this could be the secret why Egypt is considered
the most attractive country in the region for travellers. The pure nature of the local
Egyptians pops up whenever you need help or when they invite you into their homes and
when they hardly know you, or when they smile in your face! All of that makes a visit to
Egypt a wonderful and unforgettable experience.
Egypt's population is around 71 million. Around 62 million of them are Sunni Muslims
and about 8-9 Million are Coptic Christians (Christian Egyptians), although public
statistics indicate that they are not more than 7 million. Whether Muslim or Copt, the
Egyptians are moderately religious and religious principles are quite noticeable in their
daily lives. Here each family member is responsible for the integrity of his or her family
and for the behaviour of other members, creating an environment that would be envied by
many people in the West. Here they are very close to each other, family ties are far
stronger than in the west, and that is why you will find any major city in Egypt is a lot
safer than any western metropolis.
Yet when travellers come to Egypt they are often apprehensive, their views of Egyptians
and Arabs, fomented by unkind and untrue media stories, often bear no relation to
reality. Travellers, when they meet Egyptians are often surprised by their friendly,
hospitable reception and take home with them good feelings about Egypt and its
Egyptians form a society of a mixture of Middle Eastern family standards, taken from the
different religious rules, whether in Islam or Christianity, it creates a sort of background
that can colour their decision-making in a way difficult for foreigners to understand, yet it
is precisely this training that makes Egyptians some of the most charming and helpful of
hosts. By understanding the culture and with consideration for your hosts, you can be a
welcome guest in Egypt.
In general, Egyptians are most accommodating and they will go out of their way to help
you and respond to any questions you have. Most Egyptians require little personal space
and will stand within inches of you to talk! You will find that whenever you start talking
with an Egyptian, you will inevitably draw a crowd, and often the Egyptians will start
discussing, among themselves, about the correct answer to a question.
Click here for Some useful Arabic words.
Although most of the Muslims in Egypt do not drink alcohol they don't object to others
drinking, but doing it in reasonable amounts. In Egypt people don't eat pork, and rarely,
when you find a place that offers pork, is there much choice on the menu.
Egyptians like rest of the Muslims all over the world fast at holy month of Ramadan, it is
the time when they all come close to each other and respect each other, it is the time
Egypt stay awake at night.
During this month, donations, almsgiving and charity would be at its highest rates, it is
the time for forgiveness and love. It is a wonderful month.
Interested to know about Ramadan?? Click here to know more
In Egypt there are hardly any restrictions on foreign women. Ticket lines, for example,
are occasionally segregated, women line up with other women (especially as the lines are
usually shorter). On the underground lines, the first car is usually reserved for women,
especially elderly ones. For men, speaking to an unknown Egyptian woman is a breach of
etiquette, so take care in any liaisons you form because some families still follow ancient
traditions. Crime in Egypt is nearly nonexistent, and violence is usually limited to family
feuds. However, in tourism areas some pickpockets and petty thieves may exist, so be
careful and remember that the ever-helpful tourism police are usually nearby. Women
must be cautious, especially in out-lying areas. Stay completely away from drugs and
leave yours at home.
What to do when you are invited by an Egyptian???
Egyptians, if offered anything, will refuse the first invitation, which is customary, so
therefore (unless you're dealing with Egyptians used to western frankness) you should do
the same. If the offer is from the heart, and not just politeness,it will be repeated. If you're
invited into a home, especially in small villages, and have to refuse, the householder will
often press for a promise from you to visit in the future, usually for a meal. If you make
such a promise, keep it, for having foreign guests is often considered a social coup. If you
fail to arrive, your would-be host will be humiliated. To repay invitations, you may host a
dinner in a restaurant, a common practice.
Tipping is Way of Life in Egypt
Tipping is a way of life in Egypt, if someone does something you would consider as an
extra effort, he expects to be tipped. You should only tip if you feel you want to, you are
under no pressure to do so, but it would leave a good impression, and many Egyptian
people survive on very little.
Tip appropriately and please, don't give small notes or coins as a tip to people who helped
you all the way throughout your trip, such as drivers, tour leaders, and tour escorts, it
would be an insult to them, Also, do not offer tips to professionals, businessmen, or
others who would consider themselves your equals, as you may seriously offend them by
Women in Egypt are quite beautiful! The Egyptian woman is well educated, spending a
great part of her life being cherished and looked after by her parents until she gets
In Egypt 85% of the girls will keep themselves virgins until they get married, this is a
common choice in the Middle East, as men usually believe that this is a sign of morality
and good karma. 90% of Egyptian men prefer virgin women to marry, and I still can't
understand why they would be ready to give up on this belief easily, if they were going to
marry a non Egyptian girl !!
in Egypt will find plenty of girls wearing a scarf, it is common these days among many
families. Nowadays in Egypt, many women wear a head scarf, demonstrating either
modesty or Muslim piety. One reason many young professional women favour this is that
it tends to discourage male advances, physical or verbal.
It is very important in Islam that the woman is less seductive to a stranger and shows
modesty. You may find it difficult not to impose your western concepts of feminism on
such an inherent part of life. From the 1930s onwards, Egyptian women began to enter
into business and many professions, and by 1965, thanks in part to social changes
affected in the course of the July Revolution, Egypt could boast a far higher proportion of
women working as doctors, dentists, lawyers, professors, diplomats, ministers, or high
officials than might have been found in the US or in any European country outside of
Women travelling alone into Egypt:
Foreign women travelling alone in Egypt are generally very safe, however they will be
noticed much less in larger cities than in smaller towns or in the countryside. Should any
problems, or difficulties arise, help should be sought from the police or any shopkeeper in
the vicinity! Women shouldn't walk alone in isolated areas, which is true in any other city
or place around the world. Though most male advances are innocent and harmless,
women should not accept these advances from strangers. And dressing appropriately is
just plain common sense!
Places of Worship:
All famous and major mosques are open to tourists, except for when services are in
progress (the main service is on Friday at noon). Keep in mind that a mosque differs from
a western church in that Christian churches are considered houses of God, while mosques
are more a gathering place for the faithful of Islam. All visitors to mosques, mausoleums,
and Madrassas (religious schools) must remove their shoes! Most Muslims walk around
in their stockings, yet sometimes in those mosques that are major tourist attractions,
canvas overshoes are available; a tip of 50 PT to 1 LE is in order for the people who put
them on for you. Women must cover bare arms. There is no need to wear a hat, or to
cover hair. Men and women should wear a long shirt and long trousers when you visit a
The business and secular community in Egypt operates under the Western (Gregorian)
calendar (B.C/A.D). But other calendars have official status in Egypt. The Islamic
calendar (A.H) is used to fix religious observances and is based on a lunar cycle of 12
months of 29or 30 days. The Muslim year is thus 11 days shorter than the year according
to the Gregorian calendar and months move forward accordingly.
In the Gregorian calendar, for example, April is always in the spring, but in the Muslim
calendar all months move through all seasons in a 33-year cycle.
The Coptic calendar (A.M) is based on a solar cycle and consists of 12 months of 30 days
and one month of 5 days. Every four years a sixth day is added to the shorter month.
Many farmers, for planting and harvesting crops, use an adaptation of the Coptic
calendar. The authorities of the Coptic Orthodox Church use it.
Major Public holidays:
1st day of Spring (2nd It is called Sham El-Nessim day (Just avoid
Monday after the Coptic going out on this day to national parks and
Easter day) the zoo)
25th April Sinai liberation day
1st May Workers day
23rd July 1952 revolution day
6th October Armed forces day, victory day 1973
13th October Suez liberation day
23rd December Victory day
Eid El-Adha (Sacrifice feast Comes right after the pilgrimage season, it
) lasts for four days
comes right after the Holy fasting month of
Eid El-Fitr (Breakfast feast)