The Call to Prayer or Adhan, is a series of the five daily prayers, (known as the salah). The prayer is heard at dawn, midday, middle of the afternoon, just after sunset, and at night a few hours after sunset. The Adhan is recited by the muezzin. The muezzin is a chosen person appointed to call to prayer. The melodious call is heard from the top of a minaret. The minaret is the tall tower standing next to the mosque. In most modern mosques, the call is now given from a loudspeaker inside the musallah, or prayer hall from a microphone.
Responding to the call to prayer the worshipper rolls out his or her prayer carpet determines the direction of Mecca, and quietly recites the verses recited in the call to prayer. After the series of chants, the Adhan is complete and the faithful will continue on with their day.
Many tourist police or locals will wave at you & help you to find the best view in these tourist sites. However, while some of them are really friendly but many are asking for a tip for these services. So prepare yourself with many small bills or nice pens to give out to establish international friendship (many asked me for pens in Aswan & Luxor) . If you carry lots of pens like I did, please don't show all of them or you will hear a list of their entire family that want a pen : )
I list this under local customs because I think the practice is so widely found in all tourist areas, I conside it a local custom to pay tips or give "gifts" under various situations : )
It is pleasant to visit the country in which you are hospitably meet not only because you the stranger but also because you have arrived from the especially favorite by locals country. I felt such impression during visiting Egypt and especially in Aswan. Egyptians really love Russians! There are many reasons of such a feeling.
One of them - the Aswan Dam, which has been constructed at scientific and technical participation of the USSR. In 1960th and in the beginning of 1970th Egypt and the USSR were great friends. In a photo you may see me on a background of two arms. Hardly above there were portraits of heads of our states Gabal Nasser and Nikita Khrushchev.
During the walk on the Lake Nasser peninsula where the ferry departs for the Kalabsha Temple island, there are boat builders active in their craft. These vessels are built in a manner not unlike the ancient Egyptian ships. To ensure a leak-free vessel, rope is packed in crevices between the planks, for example. The purpose of these boats is likely fishing on Lake Nasser, but I didn't stop to determine this.
While in Aswan (and in Egypt in general) I noticed still so much poverty among the locals.
When the children there notice some Western tourist, they "assault you" asking for some money or some candies. Our guide told us it is better to give them some sweets or chocolate rather than money, otherwise they spend it and skip school in the morning!
It is very common that you will find Egyptians giving fives (your hand clapping on a friend's hand). They do this when you or them says something that sounds funny or looks funny.
So expect that through out your conversation with an Egyptian he will give you five and another five and another five.
So dont think he is crazy. and ladies, dont think he is trying to hit on you and hold your hand but rather he is showing appreciation to a funny thing you said.
A man kissing another man on the cheeks in the street is common cause this is the way Egyptian men greet each others. The strange thing is a man kissing a lady hi or goodbye. Some of my foreign friends asked me weather i am a gay and i was completly surprised cause i am not, they told me why do you keep kissing your men friends.
Dont fall into this trap
The Egyptian society is kind of a conserved one. This means that many things that are acceptable in the west, are not here.
If you are in a group with Egyptian people then try to avoid crossing your legs with your foot facing them. It is an insult. They might not tell you straight forward but rather their treatment to you will lack respect.
A very popular custom in Egypt is smoking a shisha.
A shisha is a small packet containing a rolled tobacco leaf, a small amount of molasses, and some apple flavour.
This is put in a type of 'water pipe' under a burning charcoal. You then inhale and the smoke passes through the water, cooling it.
The cooled smoke picks up the flavours of the shisha.
There are shisha parlors all over the place where people (mainly men) get together with friends for a quiet smoke and a turkish coffee.
I didn't try it, but wish I had.
A Whirling Dervish is a unique dance - a "religious ceremony transcending into performing art".
It is a dance performed by an order of the Islamic faith, and it involves the dancer whirling around and around continuously for minutes.
The dancer starts off slowly turning and gets faster as the music picks up pace. They spin and spin, lifting parts of their costumes up as they go.
It goes on for so long that you start to feel dizzy just watching - you wait with baited breath for them to fall over.....but they don't...they keep spinning and whirling.