Interesting things about Egypt
In Egypt you never really know 100% what is true and what is not…
Egypt interesting information
Locals, relationships and habits
Egypt is a mixture of both Islamic and European culture. The Islamic rules in Egypt are not as strict as in some other Muslim countries.
Muslims, Jews and Christians live in Egypt. More than 85% of native inhabitants are Sunni Muslims.
- You might see some Egyptians wearing traditional Egyptian long loose clothing with long wide sleeves. It is called galabeya, sometimes also spelled as jellabiya or jalabiya. Both women and men can wear it. South Egypt has a different looking galabeya than North. Galabeya in summer months is usually of white or beige color.
When a woman marries an Egyptian man she does not take his surname but keeps her own.
Egyptian men have 1 or 2 first names usually, and then after the first names 2 or 3 other names follow (dad, grandfather and grand grandfather’s name). They don’t have a ”proper surname” but only first names. So let’s say Mohamed Abdul Ahmed Abdullad Mohamoud.
Local Arab women should not talk to foreign men, nor spend time with them. If they did it in public, Egyptian men would not treat them nice.
Arab men shout at ”white” women at the street and act superior to them. It can be also because of the media in Egypt. In many old movies they feature white women as stupid or shallow. Another reason might be religion.
The so called “Orfi marriage” is very popular in Egypt. Usually an Egyptian man marries a foreign woman (often European). The man asks for her hand in front of minimum 2 witnesses and a lawyer and when she says yes, they are married now. The lawyer gives them an orfi marriage certificate.
Speaking of Orfi marriage, I was warned that if I ever wanted to accept it (which would never happen!), the man should never own the copy of the marriage certificate because then the woman belongs to him and she might not be able to leave Egypt ever again. A woman becomes the property of her husband and she has to do what he says.
- If a couple wants to stay at an Egyptian hotel, they need to be married. Or Orfi marriage, or traditional marriage. The rule does not apply to foreigners, though.
On a hotel page I saw this: Per Egyptian law, a valid marriage certificate is needed for Arab and Egyptian couples.
Shopping and money
- Compared to Europe, salaries in Egypt are rather low. But, on the other hand, prices are good, too. For example food, apartment rent and local transportation are cheaper in Egypt than in Europe.
Egyptian sellers can be very pushy. They will shout at you when you are walking close to their shops and invite you inside. Listening to that every few seconds at the street can get annoying.
Egyptians treat us Europeans as walking ATM machines 🙁
You need to negotiate prices in many souvenir shops unless “fixed price” is written there. Bargaining is really a thing in Egypt. Some vendors get offended if you do not try to bargain as it’s been a part of Egyptian culture for a long time. On the contrary, in some shops they won’t give you any discount at all. It’s becoming more and more common to have fixed prices in Egypt. However, I noticed that some vendors gave me a better price even despite of price tags on products I wanted to buy. So just try to negotiate but do not lose your temper.
When you buy mobile data, a month equals to 28 days and not 30 as we count in Europe.
Orange mobile data = a store seller told me he never recommends the package I got from his colleague as Orange company is lying about the amount of data you get for that price. They tell you that you get 16 GB but in reality you only get 8 GB for social media and emails. All videos and movies take double data. Egypt can be a mess!
It’s usually cheaper to get a new phone SIM card every month with data than just recharge data. Well, you pay more but you also get more data.
You can exchange eur and US dollars in some ATMs without having to go to a bank or an exchange office.
When renting an apartment, you often need to pay for electricity and water on top of rent.
If you move a wifi router from one apartment to another, it stops working. I never understood the way they work but you need to buy a new router if you change the location.
Tourist SIM cards sold at airports can be a scam. They usually work for 1 month only. Vs. local SIM cards bought at phone shops will work until you keep recharging them.
- If you take a taxi, it’s better to remember the car plate number or take a photo of it before the drive. I heard many nasty stories about how Egyptian taxi drivers treated white women. Not cool! Maybe try Uber app or look for a trustworthy taxi driver (a friend of a friend), just in case. And if anything happened, tell the driver you’d call the police.
- Taxi drivers honk at you when you are walking along the street. They do so to inform you there’s an empty taxi coming. If there’s 20 free taxis passing by, all of them will honk. Crazy! They honk even when you are not looking at the road or even when you are walking in the opposite direction. I found it too much. That was another annoying thing in Hurghada and Luxor, indeed!
Other interesting things in Egypt
Many Egyptian men smoke a lot.
- In Egypt, passports and ID cards are issued for 7 years. Not for 5, 10 or 15 years.
- Egyptian Arabic language is very easy to understand by Arabs of other nationalities because Egypt is like ”Arabic Hollywood”. Many movies and songs from Egypt are known all around other Arabic countries which is why for them it’s easier to understand Egyptian Arabic. However, Egyptians do not understand Arabic dialects/languages from other countries that well.
- Schools are closed for 3 months during June, July and August, but they are NOT closed at Christmas time.
- In Egypt, locals do celebrate New Year’s Eve with fireworks in city centers and hotels.
- Many flats in Hurghada burn out because of air-condition problem and bad electricity set up. When I was in Hurghada, I saw a woman crying telling me their new flat burnt out completely. Then I heard that it happens quite a lot, unfortunately.
- It’s always better to switch off electricity when leaving your apartment/room. And never leave air con on when you are not in your apartment. Just to be sure.
- Prison is supposed to be very hard for local prisoners. I heard that if something happens, policemen are usually in favor of tourists and not locals which is why Egyptians are scared of policemen.
- If someone is really bothering you at the street, just start to scream.
Friday is Egyptian holiday. That means that Friday is the ”holy day” with the most important prayer out of the whole week. All Muslims should go to mosque around lunch time to pray and listen to the mass for approx 45 to 60 minutes.
You can find English movies with Arabic subtitles on TV.
- Strong wind Khamsin/ Chamsin/Khamaseen blows for 50 days in a row in March and April. The wind should be dry hot and sandy but most of the time I experienced it rather cold. But well, I do not like wind at all and I always feel cold when it’s windy. I get goose bumps even when it’s 40 Celsius outside.
Kids wear funny swimwear at the beach. I found their overalls very cute and uncommon in Europe.
TIP: Wondering how expensive Egypt really is? Then don’t forget to check out my post about my expenses in Egypt.
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Did you know about all these interesting things about Egypt? Or were some of the things in the article new to you? Please share in the comments.