Do and don't in Egypt

Are you living in Egypt? We need you to share your experience of the local customs :)

Is it difficult to adjust to the local customs in Egypt?

Could you please share with us a list of the do's and don't's in Egypt?


Well , all depends where are you from , your religion and your gender

I have a similar question. I am a 32/m executive considering moving to Egypt with my wife and 2 kids. Moving to Egypt is no biggie for me - I sit in a nice office all day, but I am a little worried about my wife. We are from South Africa which is a very liberal, free country.

Can you tell me a bit about some of the liberties she may have to give up in Egypt? I know it's a "western" country too, but I also know it may not be too easy for her given the different culture.

We are not strict Christians, but have christian beliefs.

My situation is very similiar to Rod's, will appreciate some info.


Hi ive lived for a while in Egypt and what i can suggest to everyone is to learn Arabic.
women in Egypt are quite free, it depends on  what you mean for freedom.
the aspect that i found more difficult was that i couldnt freely kiss and hug my bf in public....because of the muslim traditions, but i think it depends on the place you go.
i think in sharm they dont care about that.
i recommend you to learn something about islam, the most beautiful religion...and try to make friends among Egyptian people. they are so disposable, kind and simple.
if ur wife is used to wear tight and sexy,tell her  be prepared to be considered a cheap woman...and no Egyptian good and sensible woman will make friends with her. as much as you try to go closer to their traditions, Egyptians will be very happy with you.
something bad of Egypt is that its soooooo polluted and the air sometimes unbreathable but i think it depends on where you live. also the hygienical condition are discussable....
but Egyptians are very nice people.
oh another thing about the people....they dont have the habit to give you a date by 15.15; they will tell you " see u this afternoon" and maybe you see them coming by 6...
but they are soooooooooooo nice people. make friends with them, you wont regret


oh well, i am not sorry at all or even feel guilty for taking a position about religion. To me Islam is the best religion and i believe that egyptian people have a HUGE heart...
anyway, i am a muslim and you will never hear me saying anything bad about my brothers and sisters.
Egyptians have faults and prises as every people in this world, evitating them will not make you feel better. try instead to integrate with them and you will discover something very great. but, you of course think that you have the truth in your are free. do you feel happy?
ehm....about the message you replied to my post, and imagine you were reading it instead of me. would you feel offended?
think more
pray more
less shopping



I'm an American woman who's lived in Egypt for a year. I'm a Christian, so of course I disagree with those who say that Islam is the most beautiful religion of all--and I expect Muslims to disagree with me when I say that Christianity is the most beautiful religion of all. If we all agreed, we'd all be the same religion. That's life.

I love living here in Egypt. I have had to make some adjustments, but I knew that before I moved here, and I wouldn't have moved here if I wasn't willing to make those adjustments. Back home, I wore sleeveless shirts all summer, and my jeans were relatively tight. Here, my sleeves are always at least 3/4-length, even in the middle of summer, and my jeans are loose. (I've found that loose pants are more comfortable anyway, so I'll stick with that even when I go back home!) I've found that if I show respect for Egyptian culture and the Muslim religion, even if I mess up from time to time, Egyptians are very friendly. They'll overlook my faux pas because it's clear that they occur from ignorance, not from arrogance. If you come here determined to dress like you did back home and act like you did back home, you will be miserable here. If you come here viewing it as an adventure and willing to adjust to local norms and learn a little bit of the language, you'll adapt just fine.

I do spend most of my time in Maadi, which certainly colors my experiences here. I don't have the opportunity to interact with many Egyptians who aren't accustomed to seeing expats on a daily basis. But even when I have been away from Maadi, I've had no problems. I ride the metro to get downtown, and I've never been harassed on it, even when I didn't ride in the women's car. I take taxis (I'd recommend that you only take taxis to well-known tourist locations until you learn where you're going and enough Arabic to tell the driver "turn left," "turn right," "go straight," etc.), and I've never had a problem with them, either. I walk all over Maadi. I've had a few comments--including one marriage proposal--from strangers on the street, but it's nothing I can't ignore. I've never been touched by an Egyptian man, other than shaking hands when I initiated it.

I like it here. If you and your wife have open minds, you should do fine.


I am an Egyptian physicist who works as a research assistant in Korea and I am so close to get my M.S. degree. Really I appreciate your beautiful words about Egypt and Egyptians. This is my blog and I will be happy to share my ideas with all of you.

In egypt is very ignorant country. I travel enough over world, but hen someone start with stupidity answer as is economical problem etc. Isn´t!!! Is human site only! I was many years in much more worse countries than Egypt and must say that people is more nice, more friendly (I mean real not blame) more happy for any help - learn more fast work more hard. They try more learn about others, take informations etc. Ironie is that egyptians thing about self too high, but most of foreigners is not in same meaning. I read every week a lots of discussion on english, german, russian and another sites and most of is only negative. Do you thing why? Most of negative only about Egyptians (not Egypt like a country). And as I spend here long time before living also for work I must agree.

First of all, I would like most of you to read the terms of using this forum..this is not the place where we discuss our opinions about religion and politics, or which is better being a christian or muslim, or an egyptian or a western!! Come on, if you don't have some useful and positive information to share, I suggest you keep it to yourselves! I myself is a muslim arab who dresses freely..I am considering moving from Dubai, which has a large western community and hence a liberal way of life in some parts of the country, to Cairo. Here's what I think..You should always respect the tradition of the country you live in, and depending on which part of that country you are. For example, if you were in Maadi, you will find yourself less obliged to dress discreetly than if you were in Old Cairo. If you think about it, you do the same even in America or Europe..I mean most women there wouldn't consider going shopping in a bikini, would you? To every place, there is the most appropriate way to dress..As far as people staring at you, it's totally normal..I hate it myself, but wouldn't a european stare at a veiled woman roaming around in Europe? Believe me, people will always judge other people wherever you are. Most europeans and americans look down at women in veils considering them coming from another planet, the same way a typical arab would look down at a woman barely wearing anything at all! and if you are a blonde, you will definetely attract attention..Think of it in a positive manner...You would then cherish living in that part of the world! My advice to you Bianca.ion, broden up your mind,remember you are in Egypt to make money, and remember in life you make compromises..Do you want the cake and eat all!!? So dress sensibly. Ignore comments if you hear them..although I think Egyptians have a great sense of humor, and cute flirting  words! That said, you are denying yourself the pleasures of the adventure! Do not advice expats not to go to public places such as the ones you mentioned..Live every moment of your life, and visit every spot in can learn a lot by doing so. I myself is considering renting a house or apartment in a neighborhood with an international community. At the same time, I will not avoid dealing with Egyptians, or going shopping in other areas of Egypt..I will have to choose my clothing for the day depending on where I go. As for egyptians being ignorant, here's a message to Mosu...I studied in the United States and had some very good and modest Americans who were so ignorant to believe that I, beign an Arab, lived in a tent and used camels to get around..Being exposed to other cultures even by just reading the right books, allows you to become more knowledgeable and definetly less ignorant..I wish you all the best!

hello all, first of all I like to give simple example if we have box with different colors for each side and we asked different people whats this box color, so every one will tell the color which he/her see, so before any one judge egyptian first have to know about egyptian traditions, personality, different social types in egypt, finally every where there are good and bad people and if you respect people sure they will respect you,
I have experience for my self i would like to share it with you, by nature am not talkative man so most of people think that I am proud of my self or supercilious while I am not after time when they treat me they told ohh you are a good man we were think some thing different
so all of us have to let enough time to understand how things running in this community and culture


I think we diverted from the topic of How is Egypt as a country to live? Instead most of us got busy is talking about religion.
Lets not talk about religion because by virtue of birth we come as Hindus, Muslims, Christians etc..
Well I have been Egypt for the last 5 months and have experienced so many things.
To start with, its a relatively safe place to stay in. I live in Heliopolis and work is Nasr City, unlike Maadi and Zamalek where many expats live.
Both Heliopolis and Nasr City are safe places. Being a foreigner (Indian) I do get to listen to comments in Arabic which are meant to be ignored as I dont understand Arabic and makes my life easy. Heliopolis has City Stars the biggest Mall in the country, takes care of your Groceries and shopping. Movie theaters, starbucks etc...everything   

You can wear what you want to wear except for ultra revealing cloths like shorts and deep necks. Though I have seen local Egyptian girls wearing Sleeveless tops and even for that matter tight fighting clothes. Local Egyptian girls wear tight inners which are ultra tight actually which stick to the body, there can be nothing tighter than that. You can wear tight jeans, capris, skirts and even sleeveless tops.

Walking on the streets is not a problem...Since I am an Indian I heard a lot of Egyptians asking me about Indian movies and film stars especially Amitabh Bacchan. few Egyptians have even greeted me in Hindi, while the others have said "Hindi welcome to Egypt"
language is a problem but still you can communicate though there is a need to learn Arabic.
When traveling its good to take cabs. there are cabs which run on meter reading and the once who run without meters (black and white cabs). Both are safe. One might need to bargain with the black and white cabbie for correct amount.
It is advisable not taking the public means of transport "bus".
People drive like crazy here so if you plan to drive, not a problem just drive an automatic.
As any country Egypt gives you various experiences and broadens your scope. Just live it!!!

I am a single parent about to apply for a teaching job in a private school in al rehab, does anyone have an advice for me or know of anyone in a similar situation - will I face prejudice - am I even likely to find a job?

my dear asian girl, you should try to wear a scarf over your head and you can go out in the evening and then let me know what happened :)

Muhalima, you don't really believe that even a full veil with niqab will save you from harassment, no?!

Just check here, if you do:

The harassment that they mention there took place 3 years ago, but I doubt very much that much has changed.

Best regards,

dear Nicole, thankyou very much for the link, i read the whole article but i  must say that something like that never happened to me while i was in Egypt...i am a muslim and i know that its better for me not to look at any man in the street because they will think that im an easy girl. i was watching the ground or the environment around, and my man was there to protect me if anyhting bad happened. but i am a european too, and i am disgusted by the men who disturb the girls in the street or wherever, and i do believe that girls should take the power over their dignity and report any episode of harassment to the police, or the other men around them(there are a loooooooooot of good men in egypt!!!!) should have to say something. so if Allah wants, when i will live in Egypt, ill try to do something for women to defend themselves from bad man. last but not least, what is perfume for? what is make up for? is it not to attract men? so dont complain of men if you are the one who wants to attract them.
men who disturb women with hijab or niqab are not men...they are just male. and they should shame about themselves.
regards,  Salima

Are you insinuating that women who do not cover themselves should be targets for sexual abuse. Women dress nicely and wear perfume for their own pleasure. I would never dream of dressing for a man's enjoyment or titillation. I respect the fact that you have the right to your personal opinions, but I think it has been pointed out to you, on this forum, that readers have understood your message (DO'NT DRESS PROVOCATIVELY),and it is not necessary to continue in this vein. Religious propaganda has no place on an expat forum. Religion is an entirely subjective matter for most people. Personally, I find these kinds of posts deeply offensive.

I have to say that things are more easy going than they have been while I lived in Kuwait.
Here, like you say, when you don't look ate the men, they usually go on and look for the next girl.
In Kuwait there were more really rude people and I was many times going for verbal confrontation and asked them if they would like it, if a man would say these things to their own women. Not that it helped much.
Here, I just ignore them.
I don't cover up, but usually wear nothing short or tight when out alone.
In a way it helps that this is a tourist hub, in others it don't (men think all women are easy prey).

Then again, you find lots of morons in any country :)

hehehhehe thats right girl! i come from the land of morons....italy............imagine?

Oh yes, I can.
Lived 3 months near Livorno ;)

muhalima :


I love Egypt, too!
And by the way!  All husbands are THE BEST IN THE WHOLE WORLD, till they start to be BAD !

hehhehehe :lol:    you are very nice my friend...are you living in Egypt?  you know you look a little bit like Angela Lansbury? :rolleyes:

muhalima :

hehhehehe :lol:    you are very nice my friend...are you living in Egypt?  you know you look a little bit like Angela Lansbury? :rolleyes:

Yes, I am living in Egypt now!
And people says that I look like Marlyn Monroe, but sure I look like Vali Bilic.
And that with husbands I am right!  I have changed 2 till now, and maybe could be more, I don t give up so easy, all are the best in the beginning and succeed to be bad, final!
But who knows?

dear friend

nothing to worry . i am here for the past 3 years . no major cultural change . people are honest but lazy . climate just like in delhi . food habbits are slightly different but we can manage . a safe place like india to live with some touristic attraction


I don t agree that Egyptians are lazy!  Really I don t!
But what to do around 80 millions people in an area where all is sand? I appreciate them for how much they fight to survive!  most of them I mean.
And If I remember well, India has a wet climate,with mild wet winds, and a lot of rain, here it is dry and no rain!
So, Egypt is Egypt, cannot be compare with any other place!

Hello Rod & Tania
going back to your initial questions. Egypt is one of the most liberal islamic countries (I, myself have 8 years of experience in EG,- my wife 1 so far). Women can move alone (in crowded areas however not recommendable) around for shopping etc. Big communities of foreigners exist, in which women & kids can meet, chat and do activities (german, british, swiss clubs...and much more). Sport-clubs are not an issue and afordable for playing all kinds of sports (golf, tenis, squash, horseback-riding etc). There are german, british, american & french schools. In other words: it is family friendly.
Some comments of previous posters however are right. Women can easily get molested. Unfortunately "some" men think foreign women are easy women (I think they have seen too many bad movies). Anyways. If you have the patience to support traffic & pollution. If you bear in mind, that working in EG is very, but very different from working in Europe or South Africa, I think you will enjoy yourselves in EG.
Cheers, H

Dear Tamit and Eisbaer,

many thanks for your suggestions, I'm searching for any kind of usefull information, moving to Cairo in a very short time.



Great info here from all!  I wish I'd have been able to read something like this before my first time working in Egypt.  My observation has been that it's a lot easier for a man than it is for a woman.  You cannot leave religion out of your search to understand Egyptians and the culture because it is central to their lives, no matter whether they're Muslim, Coptic Christian, or Evangelical Christian.  Egyptians seem to be happy if you're Christian.  Their concern seems to be more about those who don't know God.  If you are non-Muslim you must be very careful not to do anything that could be interpreted as trying to convert a Muslim - it's illegal and the punishment could be severe.  Discussions about religion are generally private.  From what I've seen I think it's probably safest for women to always be accompanied in public.  The whistling and gestures are common but it rarely goes beyond that, though bad things can and do happen.  In all but one case that I've personally seen the man was not from Egypt (there are a lot of people who come in from other parts of Africa, some illegally) though in the one case it was an Egyptian military guard in Maadi who physically accosted the teen daughter of an American diplomat (about 300 meters from Cairo American College).  Keeping an open mind is crucial.  Egyptians generally aren't lazy.  They know that things take time in Egypt and know that they often have to wait, so are much more patient than westerners.  I think that's often seen as lazy but it's more that they're smart enough to see that there's no sense in beating a dead horse.  After my first time working in Egypt I went home and was so frustrated at how intense people are in America when so many things they're stressing about are things they can't control.  They probably think I went to Egypt and came back lazy...

campingguy :

they're smart enough to see that there's no sense in beating a dead horse.

Nice expression :)

Does anyone here help me I'm Filipino, and I have an employer there in Egypt, and he apply me for working visa, he get approvel from Egypt to enter and finish documents in 1 month, do I need to apply pre-arrival visa in going there?...

michellegib :

I am a single parent about to apply for a teaching job in a private school in al rehab, does anyone have an advice for me or know of anyone in a similar situation - will I face prejudice - am I even likely to find a job?

My own advice that you must have home @ Elrehab , because it is a big compound on the high way,
but at this compound you will find ALL of your needs, life needs, even if you will decide to have a visit our from Elrehab ; they (elrehab city management) they offer busses from many points in Cairo to Elrehab & Viceversa, wishing you all success, good luck,

Can u all just stop fighting and talk about the subject to this forum and not about etnicitets, religion, tradition etc..
Let the people dicide for them self what they want to be.
Just be yourself

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