March 23, 2007


Here it is, The Big List of Pro's and Cons about Egypt. Thanks to my sister, Eman and to Cairogal (Blue) for sending me their lists. Mine are in Green, stuff 2 or more agreed on are in Black.

If anyone who has visited or lived in Egypt has anything to add, please email me at Mom2dawood at yahoo dot com and I'll add it to the list. I'll start with the cons as not to leave a bad taste in your mouth!


Pollution, people do not value their country's cleanliness. They just throw trash, wrappers, bottles in the street as they go along as if it's one big trash can. Or toilet at that. This is my #1 peeve about Egypt!

Pedicure/manicure not necessarily the most hygienic conditions.

Hair coloring, straightening, etc. done w/ ancient and archaic tools, unless you pay more money at the really nice salons.

Produce 'can' make you very ill if you don't wash carefully, A lot of it is covered in mud.

If you area creature of comfort, or love your processed foods, getting Mac and Cheese becomes a treat, and Oreos are a delicacy. Yep, and your beauty products from home are $$ here, if available at all.

The air quality...burning rubbish, the black raindrops that fall in the winter, the horrible haze that clouds the pyramids (you know it's a good day when you see them clearly).

People sometimes take Islam for granted, being raised and living surrounded by it.

The tourists, and the tourist-based economy that forces the local population into a perpetual state of piss-taking and exploitation of any/all tourists, whether they come from the Gulf of Mexico or the Arabian Gulf. They will pester tourist to buy papyrus/braclet/postcards, whatever.

Cairo is noisy and dirty, and it truly never sleeps (except just at sundown during Ramadan).

Sometimes even the western stuff available here isn't really the same. (m&m's, pampers).

There are better 'international' restaurants opening up so the quality isn't always great, but it's not uncommon to pick up the mummy tummy at even a nice restaurant (chicken that was just a bit too old, improperly washed foods, etc.)

People are really hung up on titles, and it's reflected in the workplace of this highly class-ist society.

It's a constant battle of the "haves" and "have nots" in respect for the property of another as a result.

No policy is written in stone, so if you want something done, you normally have to pay up the baksheesh or rashwa (bribe) to make it all good.

The society is in great need of a social revolution. They often shift the blame from what's really wrong w/ Egypt, to Israel People love to blame the US and Israel for everything (and I'm not saying they're undeserving in some/many cases) but people rarely want to turn the eye inward, and examine their culture, the impact of cultural norms on the religion, the consumerist society ills, etc. If I could count the number of times Egyptians have openly criticized the US policy, but when the compliment is returned on Egypt, it's a bitter pill for them to swallow.

Taxis-they're dirty, they're often driven by dishonest men, they're dangerous, they almost run a family down, and then blame the family for almost being killed.

Sometimes Egyptian sense of humor not so fun if you're on the receiving end! ;)

Many Cairenes are hardened to the struggles of those on the street around them, human and animal.

There are lots of stray dogs and cats and there's usually some kid behind it harassing the poor thing.

People are always involved, in a negative way. Interfering in your friend's/sister's/brother's affairs is normal, and expected. the number of times I heard pure gossip repeated (supposedly w/ good intentions) in a highly intrusive manner the average yank is unaccustomed to...

Shopkeepers will always try to rip you off if they think they can.

Lying seems to be the national pastime, be it for avoiding conflict, not hurting someone's feelings, or just trying to snake out of something. My friend Vici used to say, "Many English-speaking cultures value honesty and truth, and use it often. The Egyptians value truth, so they use it sparingly."

Family is so important that parents often confuse their hopes w/ the hopes of their children. Sometimes children grow up deceiving their parents, so as to meet the high expectations.

Emotional manipulation-from family, in particular.

Traffic, traffic, traffic, Crazy drivers that don't know how to pick a lane or use a turn signal. People lay on their horns All. The. Time.

No one uses the sidewalk.

Flies, mosquitoes, and insects in general get on my last nerve.

While education is very important, it can be too intense. Kids have a lot of homework and many have tutors after school too.

Unreliable transportation timings if you don't have a car.

Work ethic sucks...It's hard to find workers who take pride in their craft.

Nobody wants to help you in the store and they tell you not to touch so your like ok, bye!- Eman, for me it’s the opposite. Sales people just hover over you in the stores making you uncomfortable. Same in restaurants, they just stand behind you and watch you eat sometimes.

Young guy's favorite pastime is cat calling. (flirting, whistling, making comments to girls on the street, mall, anywhere)

In some areas, it smells like an open sewer. The sewer system here in totally inadequate. It is intended to serve less than a million, and serves a population ten times that.

Dust!, It's everywhere.

Yea, sometimes it's too hot.

Most people only think inside the box.

Every time you go out you MUST wash your clothes b/c it gets so dirty, and shoes wear out fast.


Relaxed style of living (if you like relaxed, "il donya hat teer? Mentality)

Family is valued and employers recognize this

Adhan (call to prayer) 5X a day.

Cheap pedicure/manicure/hair straightening/sugaring and threading.

Fresh produce at a small cost.

Egyptians are friendly, and it's easy to make friends. They are truly hospitable. Egyptians are naturally passionate people who will almost always try to help you get where you're going even if they don't know Egyptians will do anything for friends and family.

The weather is sunny 99.9% of the time!

You can bargain at most places! It's fun!

Location, location, location...what more could you ask for than being center of the world...few hours and you are in Europe, Asia, or visiting the beauty of south Africa.
The Red Sea is beautiful, as is Upper Egypt.

Egypt has very little crime.

Amazing ancient architecture.

So much culture and history. This place is filled with it.

Cairo is NEVER dull. You can do a lot on very little money in this city. Many attractions and family type outings to be had; Museum, Zoo, Pyramids to name just a few.

Eating out can be cheap, and there's a wide selection of food types...fabulous Egyptian and Lebanese-style restaurants.

You can get a tasty meal for your buck in most areas...kooshary, mumbar, kabab...etc.

Ramadan! The festivities, decorations, celebrations, street fights just before sundown. (must have missd those CG!)

A little bit of Arabic and a lot of English goes quite far, and Egyptians are very accommodating in these matters.

Vegetable souks are fun (?, no they're not, Eman!)

Not everything is written is stone, so society is flexible.

Egyptians love to talk politics w/ foreigners...they usually distinguish between the American govt. and the American people (usually), unlike most Americans, who assume that the action of one government or one religious group speaks for any entire region, which is very much NOT monolithic.

Life is absolutely never dull...look around and you see a family of 5 on a motorbike, goats and donkeys co-mingling w/ pickup trucks and Fiats.

People have a sense of humor. You can always here a joke from a cabbie or anyone at that.

The pace of life...maybe the guys comes to fix your plumbing today, and maybe not. This cuts two ways. "Insha'allah I'll pay you for your services tomorrow."

Residents and Egyptians pay a fraction of the costs to stay in hotels, fly, etc.

Laundry dries in no time.

Fabulous seafood in Port Said and Alexandria.

Everything is fixable. Shoe or bag ripped? Trashing it out is unheard of. They don't have that "throw away" mentality that the US does. Nothing is wasted.

IF you are ever in trouble, there are always people around to help, Egyptians love getting involved to 'break things up'.

Women are respected, expecially mothers. It's usually safe for a woman to walk alone anywhere in Egypt late at night.

Kid's learn Arabic effortlessly.

No guessing if some food item is Halal.

GREAT diving in the Red Sea,if your into that. Beautiful sea life, corals and reefs.

Egyptians are generally quite knowledgeable about the rest of the world.

Academics are extremely important.

Family is everything!


  1. dutch_sister5:19 PM

    salaam mona,what a list! and I enjoyed reading it,and all the other posts of your blog.

  2. Nice, Mona!

    "Produce 'can' make you very ill if you don't wash carefully, A lot of it is covered in mud."

    You sure that's mud?!

  3. Thanks Dutch Sister! Lol CG, hmm...something to think about!

  4. Mmmmm...lovely post--even the "cons" somehow make me miss Egypt sooo much!

  5. waw ... a very good post. I am gonna put it in my blog's reading-worthy posts :)

  6. Anonymous1:28 PM

    Why do I always get a sense that Egyptians are never upfront and honest and are trying to get something out of you all the time.It is terrible to be so insincere, specially with your fellow muslims.What a shame that poverty has sapped our brothers (and sisters) of all dignity and self-respect.

  7. Anon, I know what you mean, but I hate to generalize about all Egyptians.

  8. It's fun to revist this a year later!


Thanks for commenting!