My cuz and I are both Cypriot muslims and are quite aware of the culture to a certain extent although we are born in London. We had the most uncomfortable week both in our hotel, the Pyramisa and outside. There were two pools both of which only have locals. The women are all covered up so when we wanted to lie in our bikinis, became very uncomfortable as we became the only two people on show! Needless to say, we did not want to go out to the pool every day but relaxing was also something we came on holiday for. I have just read that if you are somewhere appropriate ie. your hotel pool that you are ok to dress as you please. We were heavily intimidated by the youngsters who had no respect for us. They were making comments and using goggles to leer at us under the pool. While sitting on our own balcony, we again became something to look at by locals in a window right next door. They do not feel embarrassed at any time and will carry on standing there for ages. The men at reception could not be bothered to help us and we were constantly battling with people about prices of taxis, and generally when we just walked to the local shop to get water (we were wearing long dresses, nothing skimpy). It is a shame we felt this way but was completely suffocated by the end of the week and couldn't wait to get out of there. It prevented us from going to see a lot of sights.
I hear this a lot. And every time "We were dressed appropriately."
Being an "Egyptian Woman" is not just in what you wear, it's in Attitude. There's an impression that Western women are very permissive. It's not so much a "Western Women are Promiscuous." Rather it's a "Western women won't want to cause a scene." This is doubly the case for Asian women. And in part? It's kinda true. You WON'T speak up, You won't make a scene. You'll be nice and polite because you're so scared of offending someone.
Millions of Egyptian women manage to move amongst the men of the country without getting eyeballed, catcalled, pawed or commented to. They don't have to cover their head or keep their eyes down. It's an Attitude. It's that an Egyptian woman will not hesitate to bark a man down if she has to. She has No problem saying "No." Or "Stop That." And saying it loudly and firmly enough that the message gets across.
If you are here with your husband? Stick together. Typically, married couples, the woman will keep a gentle grip on her husband's elbow and they walk side by side. Make sure he's assertive enough to stand up for you.
Look at it this way. At the point that you are offended; it's permissible to be offensive yourself. If you are touched inappropriately? Pull away from the person, make stern eye contact and say.. rather loudly and firmly "Bas." Which means "Stop."
If you're getting hounded by a group (Young guys, I'll admit, tend to travel in packs) whip on them and ask very loudly "Inta Muslim?" Which means "Are you Muslim?" That's usually enough to remind them and to let them know that you will, in fact, make a scene.
If it gets really bad, there's usually a police officer nearby.. in Houssein (Khan al Khalili) they're in the main square near the cafe's.. look for a white Uniform. Usually just getting within eye shot of one will send an insistent man or men on their heels.
The Epaulets on the shoulders tell you the rank of the police officer. Blank black epaulets are the lowest rank, then they receive Stripes. Officers have Stars...up to 3. If you see one with three stars and an Eagle on his epaulets, he's a director, and very likely only in uniform for a specific reason. Most of them speak some English, tourist police specifically tend to speak pretty decent English (Though they may not initiate a conversation with you in English.)
Undercover officers will not be in uniform. If you are approached by a man not in a uniform asking to see your passport, ask for his ID first. They are obligated to show you their ID Card on Request.
You don't have to be rude or use bad language. But don't be afraid to be assertive, and don't be afraid to protect yourself. If you are meek in your speach and manners, then it's a vulnerability and people will treat you that way.
And if you find yourself in a situation like the girl on the felucca (For goodness sake don't take a felucca by yourself!) don't simply move away. If he speaks enough English to tell you all those dirty things, then he understands enough when you say "Stop. Don't say another word, and take me to shore. Now." Many of the Felucca pilots are either from other countries or from more rural areas of Egypt, and as rough as it sounds, if you treat them like hired help..put them in their place, they will behave.
Egypt isn't just a look or a place, its an attitude. Demand respect without being vulgar, and you'll get it.
I'm not talking about Charm'el Sheik or Urgadha. I haven't been to these touristic places. I've lived in Alexandria, Cairo and a traditional town called Tanta. I'm a woman and I was out alone a lot, so the first tips I give are for women alone.
-if you are a woman alone and need to take a taxi don't take the first one that is eager to get you into his car. Wait for another one who is less pushy. and certainly never sit in the front of the car, not even if there are other people inside the car in the back. (he can throw them out first) Don't get to friendly with the driver, keep your distance, but be polite of course. They don't always know what the boundaries our with Western Women. So if you get friendly they can think anything is possible with you.
- if anyone talks to you on the street or tries to sell you something you don't want, just keep repeating 'imshi' wich means 'go (away)', or say 'lalalala' wich means 'no no no' If you're accompanied by a man, people will not talk to you, they will address themselves to your partner.
- try to keep in mind that whatever they try to sell you, they usually ask 10 or 20 times more because you're a tourist.
- as a woman it is not accustomed to go outside without a man by your side after 9pm or 11pm (the hour depends on the place you are at) If you do than they think you're some kind of hooker because they aren't used to such behavior.
- as a woman it is not accustomed to smoke in public or wear clothing that leaves your arms or legs uncovered. (if you are accompanied by a man, you can permit yourself a bit more) If you do they might think you're some kind of hooker because they aren't used to that either.
I did never wear a scarf. Normally it's not necessary. But if you feel safer doing so...you can of course.
- if you ever feel you are in danger (for example inside a taxi, that is not taking you where you want to go) yell as hard as you can to the people in the street. People are very religious and it should be a safe place. The worst thing for a criminal is that people find out. (well if they don't care about Allah seeing it) And tourists are well protected. People will call the police or help you. You can also pretend you are calling someone with your cell phone or get very angry. They will get scared. If guys do something to you they will usually think it's normal for Western women. But know that in Egypt it is very very uncommon for a guy to touch a woman. (even his own wife he won't touch in public, except for the more modern young people). In Egypt it is common that guys show a lot of respect towards women. If they don't, that's because they think things are different with foreign women. They get this image from tv.
So if a man ever touches you (even give you a hand), react heavily. They will soon realise that they should treat you with respect.
- try to learn some Egyptian words, this can help you a lot.
You can usually use a wireless internet connection in popular coffee shops.
- if you ever need help with something, for example a train ticket when everything is sold out or anything that needs to be arranged. You can try to get a police guy to help you for money.
-if someone tells you '2 minutes', be aware that it can be 2 hours. People don't really care about time in Egypt.
The people are very nice though, and in general it's a safe place, if you stick with the behavior rules. Because they are very religious and Allah sees all.
- Never ever take pictures of military people or buildings. Also if you take pictures of people on the street, always ask if it's ok.
The sun comes up before 6am and usually goes down around 4pm (depends a bit on the place you are at)
In the summer they have airco in almost every building. (they sometimes even make it terribly cold) But they don't clean their airco's regularly. I had a big problem with My sinuses during the summer period because of this.
Egypt comes to live at night. The local people hate the sun and try to stay in during the day.
When traveling, you have to be prepared to experience anything, however unpalatable it may be. It will take you out of your comfort zone and adds to a rude awaking. It's part of life..and not the good side of it.
I'm a single female traveller from Asia and I believed I dressed appropriately - jeans, jacket and a cap.
My first encounter was in Aswan at the Nile river when a Nubian Felluca captain ( he claim so ), started to chat up with me. I gave alot of yes and no answer, just hoping he get lost and let me enjoy my time in peace. The more he talked, the more irritating I get, when his chat turning into an invitation of sex in his Felluca, saying I have smooth skin and start touching my hand. I was shocked and quickly excused myself. He ended his conversation saying that he already feel hot by just talking to me. OMG! he and his self fantasy.
Second is in Cairo, Khan el-Khalili market. I was looking for some handcraft, and the owner said he had more item in another stall just around the corner. I followed him. Silly me- I admit. It was an isolated shop, where he pretended to show me the stuff, while try to touch me. I pushed him away and leaved the premise. I glad I foud the way out because the market is quite a labyrinth.
Even asking for Metro line direction, the staff will took the opportunity to caress my hands. Whats wrong with the male species in Egypt?
Ladies single traveller out there, don't trust any male local. Do not ask any man for directions, they might lead you to some isolated place where you could be harass. Even the tourism polices are not reliable. Just keep a distance from them. Invest in a good map, travel in group and is OK to be a rude tourist.
I am an egyptian woman who have been living half my life in Egypt and the other half in the USA so i have been heavily exposed to both cultures and I would like to explain a few things to ladies visiting Egypt. It is an islamic country with relatively conservative ideas, Egyptian women are not really oppressed or anything there, in fact they participate and share everything with men they just have a conservative dress code that have been there forever, that is why when some Egyptian men who are used to see all the women they know covered from top to bottom lay their eyes on a beautiful blond lady with blue eyes and shinny hair which is so far from the way they look in Egypt that really catch their attention and make some of them act improperly either verbally or physically. A deeper look into the Egyptian society also reveals the fact that Egypt has a very diverse social structure and if u live there long u will meet those who r living and thinking in a very liberal western way of thinking and those who do not care and do not pay attention to what people wear, say or do and those who r less educated and more deprived of all life joys and those r the ones who can cause these type of in appropriate behaviors. As an Egyptian my golden rule that i always followed and have managed to protect me from harassment is very simple , i used to wear the right thing in the right place so if u on a private beach in Sharm or Hurghada a disco or a fancy restaurant wear what u want but if u r visiting an open area or walking in the streets where u will be exposed to all social level of men wear a conservative outfit just something a bit loose and not revealing much will do and u will be totally safe.
Bring your own toilet paper, some water and some 1Egyptian Pound notes wherever you go. You have to pay for the toilets in most of the places (even though you have paid for the entrance fee!), sometimes no water and toilet paper. When more than one cleaners or attendants will be in the toilet, each one of them will ask for the toilet fee!!.Oh my. The toilets in Egypt mostly are not the `sitting` toilets and the floor will be wet. This is the picture of the common toilet in Cairo. If possible, go to the toilet before you leave the house/hotel or restaurants.
I have travelled in many African and Arab countries and I have never had the hassle that I did in Egypt last week. In 1 week both me and my friend were grabbed sexually by men whilst walking - once in Luxor and once in Cairo (yes we were covered in loose, long, plain clothing). One of the times we were in a mixed group - these men have no fear. I agree with other contributers - yes do shout after them - they look surprised and frightened and ran off. We saw 2 men jacking off and were continuously hassled verbally wherever we walked. So much for being good in Ramadan. A friend who lives in Cairo says it is getting worse - and advises to keep a good space between you and Egyptian men, even if this means stopping and changing your course. The teenage boys seems to be worse - having said that one of our attackers was a fat, bald middle-aged man in a suit.
Its actually really hard after a while not to let this ruin your holiday - but remember the sights are truly wonderful here and some of the locals who are not obviously fishing for the ubiquitous tips are genuinely nice open people.
once you are being touched by anyone in street or wherever , Never hesitate shouting so loudly , vulgar words are acceptable here , yes , and you will not loose respect , God , the guy touched you !
The point here is there are a bunch of people thinks that western women do not mind being touched and the worse some of them think that women enjoy it !
when shouting , you are giving him a lesson that he will never forget , he will never forget the shame he got when shouted at him at the public , and he will think too much before doing such things with other tourists .thus you are protecting yourself and other female tourists from such *****..
and trust me , he wont dare to look at you , and he will go away so quickly feeling that all eyes are killing him ..
An warning regarding how a woman should dress in Egypt comes with the usual preparation kit for the travel.
Still I've seen many tourists around dressed inappropriate for a Muslim country with its strict rules regarding the women dressing code.
Many tourists say that if you dress with a mini skirt the locals will treat you bad.
It can be, but I think that the main reason for dressing properly it should be the respect for the local culture and for their values. No one is saying that the women should cover their body entirely, but just dress decently.
After all we are visiting their country and we are only guests.
OK..so if you're staying at a 5 star-hotel, or sitting around in one of their fany pubs, restaurants or going out to a nightclub then you can dress as you please, especially if you have a ride there. However, in broad daylight, and in public places (near mosques, in souks, etc..) try to be a bit conservative in the way that you dress. You'll feel more comfortable.
Many people say to beware of Egyptian men, and although I would agree I believe it is important not to tar all the men in this beautiful, hospitable country with the same brush. The simple fact that you are entering an Islamic country means that the culture and attitudes of the people will be greatly different.
When alone in Cairo I only had good experiences with the men. They'll stare at you openly - they are curious and the vast majority will be absolutely harmless. Egyptians are very tourist-friendly and will not accept people behaving inappropriately to westerners in particular. If someone is making you uncomfortable tell them to stop. If they continue raise your voice - you are never far from a sympathetic local.
Blondes or those with blonde children should be aware that their hair is wonderful to Egyptians, and it may be touched. There is no harm meant by this, blondes are a novelty to locals.
You will often be asked if you're married. If not, wearing a wedding band and saying you're married may help. If you are with a male friend ask if he can be your 'husband' for the trip. This makes dealing with the more over-friendly types easier. Covering your legs and arms will help you blend in more.
Cairo is wonderful, and I hope that no women are put off visiting by what they hear about Egyptian men. Egyptian attitudes to foreign women are for the greater part respectful and polite. I never felt unsafe, just uncomfortable while I got used to the attention -it soon becomes obvious that they're not about to jump you, they just find you interesting.
this thing is done everywhere in the world,but it is not harrasment by speaking or stoping.
just by looking to you.,dear female try to wear something not offensive while you are in Egypt we are a muslim country.
Avoid wearing hot shorts,clothes which show more than hide thats if you dont want millions of eyes looking to your body.!
Respect people walking they will do the same but dont be afraid from anything else,just the eyes.
I went with my girlfriend in the very hot month of August.
The men in Cairo have a very stunted view of Western women; not as a consequence of religion, but because of the media they are exposed to.
If you are a female traveller to Cairo and wish to avoid unwanted attention, please cover up, perhaps with a shawl.
As you know, when u r in Rome, Walk like the Romans do. Eventhough Egypt is kind of liberal and a touristic place, still it is part of the arab islamic community. This takes us to the fact that public display of affections is not so much appreciated in the streets. You might not be stopped by the police (it is illegal but they let you go), but you will be harrased for kissing your partner and many will be watching the scene.
Be patient till u r not in public.
Have Fun, kiss much.