Strange Egyptian traditions, behaviors and mentality

Before many people asked me about Egypt and people there. And now i will explain. It was one of my most unusual and most interesting experiences (so-called «negative» situation for me also interesting).

Now i will write about most remembering points of Egyptian people mentality… Firstly — it is my personal experience and can be different from other people/tourists experiences… But i am far not standard «tourist» and traveling by myself and very well contact with locals.

If some readers (especially Egyptian) have patriotic feelings i am very sorry… I am not patriot or fanatic of anything (but before i was) as i thought… But always NOT against if there is some people are patriot or fanatic… It is the theater summary called the life and it seems more interesting if there many several/different colors and sounds.

At sum i spent 6 amazing months (winter-spring of 2014-2015) at 2 Arabic countries — Egypt and Jordan. And Egypt was first Arabic country for me. At sum i travelled around Egypt for 3 months and 3 weeks — 141 days… Earlier i spent at sum about 3 years in other Muslim countries and regions — Middle Asia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Turkey, Iran, Caucasus region and several muslim provinces at other countries.
So before i have enough experience and i know enough about Muslim rules, philosophy and so on.

I publish in russian language 5 pages about this topic (with more details) — «Часть первая о странностях поведения египтян, обобщающая» (это ссылка на вводную статью на эту египетскую тему для русско-язычных).

  • CONTENTS:
  • Philosophic introduction.
  • Alcohol drinking muslims.
  • Bakshish everywhere.
    • But !!! There is also many good people (i should say that positive info).
  • Very often lie (or it’s local strange joke?).
    • Word «Yes» easily can be converted to «Probably yes» and «Not».
  • Big percent of impolite persons.
  • So much police, army block-posts, controls and convoys for tourists.
  • So much shugar in any cup of tea or coffe.
  • Some other strange points and moments.

Philosophic introduction

Do you know — for example — if your father are rich person it is NOT reason for you to be proud about your personal richness.. Because to be proud about your richness you must be richer than father.
If your father are very clever — it is NOT reason for you to be proud about your personal IQ… Father is father, but you is you.

And most usually (sure just in my opinion) proudness are not make you better but just stopping you in your development.
And same with citizens of your country. If there is most of the people playing football very bad — it is NOT reason to be really sad. Because (firstly) there is many other games.

And secondly (another example) — people in many other countries play football (or other game) better than your country/region/city. Why not be happy for other people even they are not from your family/country/planet?!?!?!

There is NO real reasons to be sad about anything… Because life always continue — with you or without you… But continue.

It was long introduction)))

Alcohol drinking muslims (and hashish smokers)

Only in Egypt (and little bit in Jordan) i saw muslim people who pray (some time i saw it, some time they just told me that) but at same time they told me — some time they drink beer or vine (1-2-3 times for a month or so) or even vodka. I meet/talk (or even stay at them house) with about 20 persons.. I was very surprised… Ok.

Only in Egypt about 5-10 times i had talking with several muslims which want convert me to islam and at same time they smoke hashish (or honestly told me that they use it sometimes)… In that situations i was more surprised. They wasn’t shy.
Of course some people who drink alcohol they also wish convert me to Islam during our talking.

Специально для русско-язычных есть статья об этом странном исламе по-египетски и об их трактовке слова «ДА» (this link lead to text in russian language about Egyptian style islam).

Bakshish everywhere

Only in Egypt shoe polisher (mens who clean shoes on the street) offer me to polish my sandals!!! Polish sandals!!!… About 3 times it was on streets.

Only in Egypt i saw so many times when locals asked me «bakshish» (tip) (but usually it is only in touristic places, but not very often in not-touristic places).
Sometime asked for nothing. For example — after 2 minutes talking on the street (and by his own initiative) can ask me any souvenir for memory — for example.

Only in Egypt i saw situations like that:
For example super interesting Egyptian museum (and it was most most super-interesting museum i ever seen before). Inside there are toilets.. There is NO official payment/fees. But staff (who cleaning toilets) stay beside toilet entrance and asked some bakshish/tip.

But seems asking baksheesh it is very deep in Egyptian philosophy and mentality (for example in Jordan only few times some people asked me that) because even in such very official place like a main museum of country allowed to ask bakshish.
I saw similar situations (with «toilet’s baksheesh») also in several important very ancient temples in Luxor and other places.

Only in Egypt (and Jordan as well) i saw drivers (about 5 times) who took my pen (or any other small thing) after lift me at his car — because i have nothing to pay because i traveling by hitch-hiking… They took it even i say before them — i have no money.

For example ones in Egypt one far not-poor men lift me by his car and finally took my simple pen which i offer him before sitting inside car.. He is owner of hotel in Sinai (how he told me) and he lift me by his rich car… But i will not be very surprised if this driver haven’t any hotel, because egyptians very often saying lie and false (about this point you can read some below).
Also, somewhere in Egypt locals after minimal help asked me pen (or any other souvenir).. They can take it also if i told them «It is my last pen.»

I think only in Egypt and Jordan (but in India as well) i was many times in situations like this. When i walk along the street or main road drivers stop in front me by his own initiative and ask me «You need help??»… I answering «Can i go there with you by your way till your place??». And they answer «How much do you will pay??»… So if has some money to pay — will help, if no money — no help.

Есть также статья на русском языке об этом явлении бакшиша в Египте и прочих мелких странностях (this link lead to text in russian language about bakshish in Egypt).

!!! But there is also many good people

But also there is one very big contrast.. To be honest i must say that… 2-3 times on the streets of Cairo people (when i simply asked them direction to somewhere) give me little money (for example 10-20 pounds which are =2-3 $) although i never told them about my finance problems (i asked them just about walking way). And i don’t think they had seen me before.

And of course many people in Egypt (and Jordan) are hospitable, some time very much (some of them host me for 1 week and one Egyptian guy host me for 3 weeks in Cairo city, capital of Egypt)… In my opinion it’s very huge contrast between good and other type sides (but mostly among Egyptian citizens, among other arabian people i think less).

Very often lie (or it’s local strange joke?)

Only in Egypt i had talking with so much number people who lie… So much… Maybe it is some kind of joking??? And i did not understand it??. Maybe — who knows.

For example one men (at whose house i stay in Luxor city) bring me to house of his friends.. Very big house — 3 floors with gardens. And there one guy (about 25 years old) during our serious friendly talking say me very seriously — he are owner of this house with all that animals and gardens around.
When he leave us my friend told me — that guy are not owner of house and nothing here belong to him… He just worker here!!! At least one of them say me very wrong info.

This example was one of the first in Egypt for me that’s why i remember it so good… And there was many situations when locals say far not truth. Even it’s not give them any dividends. They want just give wrong info… May be after that they laugh about how they wrongly informing foreigner person)))

It was one of main reasons why i not learn Arabic language (i just remember some words and almost half of words i know from Turkish language — because they use many Arabic words). Although according moderate modern people i have not so much emotions (but i have human’s nature with human reflex).

In russian language page aboutr impolite egyptians can read here — Вруны, драчуны и другие НЕвежливые персонажи.

«Yes»  «Probably yes» ≈ «Not»

Only in Egypt and Jordan i saw that. When people say «Yes» usually it is means «Probably yes» or «Not final yes» or «Ok. Let’s talk and after i will say final yes»… And in any moment that «Yes» easily can convert to «Not».
For example — many times i enter to shop and had talking like that:
— Do you have internet at your computer?
— Yes.
— Can i look something in may e-mail and Facebook??
— I have not internet. Only computer.

Another type of dialog which many times i talked in cafe with barman:
— Do you have a cacao???
— Yes.. We have Nescafe, Arabic coffee, and so on…
— But cacao do you have??
— Not. Cacao we have not.

Or on the city street local guy (or even not young men) invite me to his home to stay overnight… But it is far not guarantee.
Need time for him to analyze about situation. Before realizing his words hospitable guy need talk with me about 1-2 hours… He want show me to some his friends. He need time to analyse (even before invitation we talk about 10-20 minutes).
And maybe after that he really will take me to his house. And usually (or in medium) about 20% chances for realizing his words about stay at his house.

So that situations some teach me how i must be careful with obvious invitation. Otherwise, just spent time for talking… After this talking can appear another guy who as well invite me to his home but most probably it is far not guarantee.

Big percent of impolite persons

Only in Egypt (as well can say in Russia too but there is some different style) i saw so many times when people argue or fighting on the streets or inside some public places… Sometime fighting by hands, sometime by words in very loud voice. So much often i saw it.
Almost every day on the streets of Cairo i saw drivers who argue with other drivers about conflict situations. But that conflicts was mostly very small. And guys argue almost about nothing.

Only in Egypt (and may be in India and Russia) i saw so big percent of impolite persons (of course far not everyone is impolite).
Very often i saw how fast mood of Egyptian men (as well Jordanian Bedouins) can change from good to bad. I never saw before that very often fast changes of mood.

Only in Egypt some locals very often tease and banter over somebody (but in India less) — for example over my person. But i have NOT very much emotions. So i can endure and it is very interesting psychological experience… For example i search on the bazaar (suq/market) some damaged fruits/vegetables (which are nopt for sale). Some people give me and after that they took my cap, move cap around my head, press cap deep on my head, and so on.
Cases on bazaars had been just 2 times but in many other places i had been in similar situations with teasing and bantering.

This situation (with teasing, and arguing/fighting on the streets) show very huge contrast with Caucasian people (almost from all tribes) for example. It is difficult imagine there at Caucasus.

Only in Egypt (and India as well) people on the streets so much often look directly to my eyes without any shy. And watch and examine me. So many times.

So much police, army block-posts and controls

Only in Egypt i saw so much police and army block-posts. Police are so much.. Even there is not dangerous (i have experience and can recognize it) police almost will always say me — there is dangerous.
And many times they didn’t allow me go to nature (small mountains for example) because it is wild and alone i can lose even i say them many times — i am very experienced.

Even for Moses mount (very pilgrimage place and popular mount in Sinai) they didn’t allow walk alone tehre. And told me — i can visit it only with local guide!!! Even trail going follow camel way and wide of the trail are 2 meters in middle.
It is very popular and touristic object and every night many people/pilgrims climb there (night because they wanna see sunrise)… But finally i climb there alone in day time.

Even police sometime don’t allow me walk follow main road with asphalt. Usually they asked advise from higher boss and often put me to bus for free.

Only in Egypt i saw situations with police convoy following jeeps with tourists — for example in desert areas.
For example police convoying 3 jeeps with tourists from El Faiyum city to Wadi el Hitaan (Wales valley — very beautiful unusual place) stay with them night (but sleep at some different places)… And at morning they divide (i spent that night with them i and saw that).

Jeeps with tourists in mourning going to west much deeper to desert and to other province (Giza governorate) and police return to El Faiyum (because they can’t enter to other province).
But next about 100 km jeeps will be without police convoy!!!. In very deep and wild desert! There is no asphalt and any settlements!

For russian-speakers this topic about egyptian police can read at special page Полиция, охрана, и прочие «режимы чрезвычайного положения».

So much shugar in any cup of tea or coffe

Only in Jordan and Egypt locals put to tea (coffee and other hot drinks) so much shugar… So much!!! Before never seen that much… When i say to locals «Please without sugar» they sometimes can bring tea (or other drinks) with sugar.. Because it is like habit — put sugar by default.

Or locals give me tea and say me «It is without sugar».. But in fact there is some sugar (may be like a «European standard»).. When i say that they answered «Aaah. There is very little sugar.. For us it is NO sugar.»

And on my question «Why you put so much sugar??» locals many times answered me «Because our life are not so sweet»… Other people answered «We drink it for many years and we can not change it».

Some other strange points and moments

Only in Egypt i saw so much people who love to work at night even in day time working place are free. Even it is winter and far not hot… I think main reason are — in summer very hot (and people love work in cold time) and this schedule continue to winter time.

Only in Egypt i saw so much lazy people… I think here main reason are very hot climate. Very hot and difficult do activities… Just relax in shadow. And better relaxing with smoking «shisha» (or narghile=kalian) which didn’t add health to smoker and surrounding population. And after this relaxation body need to relax from this unhealthy product.
May be not all Arabic mens smoke «shisha» (kalian) but it seems as most of them.

And only in Egypt i saw landscape like this on the photo:

Interesting behaviors of egyptians

Local womans don’t walk to down for food/bread to market but waiting for special servicemen who bring bread/food, put it to basket and took money from there.

But Egypt (how i think) have a biggest number of most interesting ancient objects among other countries on this Earth planet… And it is almost totally cover all minuses (so-called minuses) about which i wrote before in this topic.

I highly recommends Egypt!!! Especially traveling by hitch-hiking and TRY to stay with locals (and not only couchsurfing) and sometimes talking and visit local police stations!!!

And i am very thankfull to all Egyptians who help me for any small thing!!! Thanks a lot!!!

Brothers and sisters!!! Thanks for reading this topic!!!
And i am again very sorry if disturb some feelings of some people.

Life continue!!! Go on!


As well in english i wrote a special text «Differences (and similarities) between turks and egyptians».

Links to another my texts in english can find at english version of my web-site.

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