What is Khartoum like for a British guy

I am considering a role in Khartoum, can anyone help with the following.

Cost of Living i.e food fuel electric etc
Property rental costs and areas that are good for expats i.e. compounds etc
Can women from europe find jobs
Are there nice hotels and bars to social evenings
How safe is it?
Can you live with a girlfriend hassle free or is the country very Islamic towards this.
Finally whats the best part of life there

Thanks for any help.


Hi there,

Learn Salaam aleikum and answer Aleikum Salaam ! Counting one to ten: " o-ahid, it-neen talaata arbha chamsa sitta saaba tamaania tissa ashera in Arabic, then the days of the week and other phrases...Sudanese are extremely happy if you speak a mouth full of basic Arabic..and they directly start teaching you more..they just start dancing in circles and clap their hands when a foreigner knows a little of their language...no joke..I mean it!

You have chosen a lesser attractive place indeed for assignment. The climate is VERY HOT dusty and dry all year round. It may never rain there during your stay and public cinemas therefore have no roof. They look like ancient Roman arenas.Usually showing French old films and a lot of Indian Bollywood films for the country itself has no movie industry.

Egyptian movies are lesser wanted because the Sudanese and the Egyptians do not like each other very much. The Sudanese are Nubian and the Egyptians are  of Semite stock. It is a historical dislike because the Egyptians enslaved the Nubian for centuries and this will never be forgotten there.

Life comes to a complete halt from morning 9 o clock till evening 6 o clock and everyone lays down in shady places. Mid-day is sleeping time and the city awakens in the evening and is open till midnight. Kids go to school in late afternoon until late evening.

Night life is sparse and there are some bars in the foreign residential areas and you have to be a club member which is no problem to get.

Sudanese of Khartoum ( and everywhere else) are a friendly and relaxed people and seem to be quite wealthy. They are kind and generous to foreigners and respect foreign women, as long as they wear decent clothes that cover all female features properly till down to the ankles.

A man can wear shorts and a woman not.  Yet it is better to wear also the local white kalabiya and a white turban...the Sudanese will cry out in happiness if you do. No socks, no shoes ...just leather sandals.Everyone is eager to invite a foreigner into his home and give him the best of food and drinks (fruit juice and tea that is...no alcohol). Do not try to pay a bill when someone invites you for a meal into any restaurant. It is an insult!

Still some Sudanese drink also beer that is available at some places but this beer is strong and made from Sudanese millet and it causes a quick hangover. Ice cold guava juice and orange juice is available at every street corner and you must drink a lot to keep up with dehydration.

I like Soudan...I traveled all over it and met fantastic people everywhere. Also the police and army are very helpful and much concerned about your welfare. A guest in Sudan is actually like a king. Do not talk politics ...never! Also if a Sudanese starts it up. Do not entertain. Pretend not to know and not to care. If they talk Israel or any other issue..just say...I don't know much about it! Very important!

Landscape is boring but the people are fascinating.
Sudanese food is delicious and eaten with the right hand while the left hand stays away from the dining plate! Usually it is Khisra...a sour large kind of very thin white bread that is taken  and ripped into pieces between the fingers as a spoon and one eats everything with a piece of it. Excellent lamb ragout is served with seasonal vegetables...mostly ladies fingers and pumpkin pulp and kilos of boiled onions. Beware of the chillies...they are really burning holes in your tongue!

I heard some rumor of dissent amongst Sudanese students who tend to turn more radical lately...I have no clue whether this applies against foreigners too.
I wish you all the best.
Take care!

yours grandpayeti

Thanks for that I appreciate those answers though not al topics covered thanks anyway for the ones you did and the extra info.

O.K....then... I love writing and it is rain season here in Nepal.... in Farawayistan.

I know that I have not answered all because for some questions there is no answer available...even from foreigners who still may be in Sudan...I think besides the Diplomatic Corps....not many. A few German & Austrian Engineers but whether they are still there I should not know. I lost contact with expat friends in Sudan when the Darfur crisis unfolded. Maybe some have left the country because of this. The president of Sudan was charged with  genocide and this did not improve the relationships with foreign nations.

However...the average Sudanese does not care much about politics...except the younger generation. (with whom discussions are better be avoided if you stay there)
Are you allowed to tell me what your assignment will be in Sudan, so I can maybe figure out more advices?

I do not mind if you can not answer this one. I would understand.

Now to your catalog of questions:

1.) Costs of living, fuel and electric.
I do not know the exact tariff for this...no data. But I know that fuel is very cheap...about half of the world price because of trade of Sudan with Saudi Arabia, Peanuts, cotton, tropical fruit, millet and other grains versus cheap crude oil. Refinery is in Port Sudan. Sudan is the worlds largest cotton and peanut producer...only the West does not receive it. The clothes (usually white dresses) for all Arab Nations are made of the strong white cotton of Sudan. That is why the country is quite wealthy. Arab Nations receive crude oil to a special trade arrangement and much cheaper that OPEC) The Arabic word for peanuts is Fhool Sudani, which says it all. (menas sweet beans of Sudan) The production is twice as high as the peanut production in the USA. Even China imports its peanuts from Sudan!

2.) House rent may be a bit costlier for you because it is recommended to stay in the sub-orb where expats and diplomats are residing...that are all luxury villas there. I can not recall the name of the sub orb but it is in eastern Khartoum and very sophisticated...think about three quarter of a villa rent in Europe and you may get close. Staying in central Khartoum is not recommended at all...it never was for expats.
(except in Hotels for short term and that is very cheap)

3. I don't think an expat woman can find a job there...except maybe as teacher or nurse. If she is an academic who can give any lectures there may be place at the Khartoum University...I really do not know anything else she could do. Also in Sudan is a large group of job seekers from the South, the Dinka's and Galuor's  and other southern poor tribal groups They do the servant jobs for the Nubian. The Nubian are the high caste of Sudan and Khartoum's majority population. They are fair and almost yellow with  Asian alike almond eyes and the southern people are really the darkest people in the world. Nubian look down on them and consider them inferior.

There a good hotels in Khartoum but generally no bars. There is a lot of dancing and drumming and folk events going on in the evenings and night at many places.All in the open ...not inside...too hot still. It is very funny and exciting to join. People get nuts with laughter if you do. They just love it and men will dance with men...holding hands and jump around. No women is allowed to hold hands with a man and kiss in public...only men ha-ha! (it is nothing gay or so...it is just customs)Even if yo ask a traffic policeman a direction...he takes you by the hand and walks to the desired road head.Do never pull your hand out of a Sudanese's hand if he want to hold it and walk with you! It is considered very impolite and insulting!

Must be hard for a British man I think...ha-ha...maybe?
Speaking about British...Sudanese have a special relationship with British people ever since the Mahaadi kicked General Gordon's butt out of Sudan along with his entire expedition corps during Queen Victoria's reign. The gun boat of General Gordon and his love letters received from Queen Victoria are on display in the Museum of  the Suburban with the name Omdurman...which is a separate municipality and market place attached to Khartoum to the south where the Red - and the White River Nile meet. School Kids are still lining up every week to see the gun boat and learn about it...it is a national thing of pride! Up till today kids have to learn about this victory in history classes so the Sudanese still smile when they meet British people because they enjoy this.

They call a black and white common rook ( a kind of crow)that is very common seen all over Sudan, where scraps  and garbage are to find with the name "Eengalesi". This will be your nickname too behind your back...no ill intend... they still will tread you with respect, because their Suni Muslim Religion teaches them tolerance and to be polite to foreign guests in the country.

A genuine Sudanese will never indulge in terror attacks as a suicide...it is not their nature. But beware of other Arabs who study at Khartoum University, they may be different. Khartoum - and Omdurman-University are the largest in the African Muslim world and Muslims of all Arab nations are found there.

I am afraid you have to join the expat diplomatic corps club in the sub orb and get drunk there. Belly dancing and brothels are in Port Sudan...but the girls are all Ethiopian and not very hygienic.

Any more questions besides the ones you have already published? Feel free to ask. I do this job here because I love the Sudanese for who they are and maybe if other expat read this here, they see more clearly how distinguished and interesting the Arab speaking world can be. I thank the Sudanese that I learned Arabic well.
Without them I would have never cared about this language.


Grandpayeti, thanks for your valuable information ! :-)

Good info, I just don't agree about the bad blood between egyptians and sudanese. for one, there is a huge sudanese community in Egypt, for 2 Egypt and Sudan were actually one country, a kingdom till 1954 I think. Sudanese are generally very kind people and I have never felt any hatred towards my person or any egyptians I know.

Exactly!! my neighbour's wife is sudanese and we like her soo much! who said anything about hatred between egyptians and sudanese??? \:)

It is louk boutiful to me becauce I dont know britsh
may be you can send me sam photo

thats really true! i have been to egypt many times they are very welcoming and they are welcomed here aswell ,,plus we are the biggest fans of the egyptien movies and music,spechially music,, and guess what we have small pyramids too in al bajrawia ;),you will also enjoy some of the african waterfalls in here, real safari !

That a brilliant piece of information Grandpayeti, it is a good observation of holding hands and stuff. Such tips would help gel with locals quick and well.
Well I heard a lot of negative things about the place and without thinking or even inquiring denied a good business proposal. I dint even bother to check the rules or papers or whatever. I heard Sudan, Africa and I denied it as according to inappropriate information.

Now Grandpayeti, can you please let me know the basic rules to start a business there? [Like for example, if you have to start a business in Oman, you have to have a Omani sponsor and 30% of your staff have to be Omanis] How it works for a construction company? [For example, the market for construction in Dubai is excellent now cz of 2020 expo, but in Bahrain its low]. Hiring people a problem? [Getting a visa now in Oman is like getting your Doctorate due to Omanization] Can we easily import our own people without visa problems?

Please give me information on these views Grandpayeti

@ BK3 > Please note that this is a very old thread (2009)  :whistle:

I will advise you to start a new thread with your questions on the Sudan forum as it will help you to receive some interesting information from the other members.


Priscilla  :cheers:

woooow. sudan seems to be a good place to stay. thank you for the information above grandpa


You have post on an old(2009) inactive thread. I suggest you open a new thread to get the latest information from members.

New topic