Obviously it is not within the scope of any internet site to cover those centuries, with great detail, nevertheless, "SINA TOURS", the most informative guide to Egypt on the World Wide Web, has given the correct guidance and information provided by this site. Visiting Egypt can turn out to be one of those lifetime dreams that you can never give up. We have defined Egypt through many perspectives.

 
                                                                                                                                                               
 

GETTING HERE

Air
Egypt can be reached by all means of transportation, air, sea and land. There are direct flights from all over Europe, New York, the Middle East, most of Africa and some of the Far East countries. Otherwise, connections can be made mainly in Europe. Besides the main international Airport at Cairo (which has two terminals, one for the local Airline and the other for almost all other international airlines) there are airports receiving international flights at Alexandria, Hurgada, Sharm El-Sheikh and Luxor. Most tourists prefer to arrive at Cairo airport then find there way around the country but most charter flights from Europe, head directly to other smaller airports.

Sea
Any port on the Mediterranean Sea, can be a starting point for a ship to Alexandria or Port Said. Alexandria, is the more common choice. There are also ferries traveling from Saudi Arabia and Jordan crossing the Red Sea to Nuweiba.

Land

Land travel to Egypt can be achieved from all countries in North Africa through Libya or from the Middle East countries through Israel. Sudan is also a common land entry point for most of the middle and southern African countries.

Visas
It is much easier and cheaper to get your entry Visas in Egypt upon your arrival than getting them in the Egyptian consulate in your country. A tourist visa costs something like US$ 30 and is valid for at least one month to three months. If you plan to stay more than that, you can be given an extension to your visa at the Mogammaa. It is the huge building in Tahrir Square.

 
                                                                                                                                                               
 

ARTS

Mother Of Arts
The arts in Egypt have roots that go way back into ancient times. Many artifacts have been produced over the span of time, and still remain in good shape today. Over the centuries, Egypt has witnessed the intrusion of a multitude of ideas as a result of the numerous invasions, and so much of the art that exists today has been subtly shaped by these influences. Nevertheless, Egypt unquestionably belongs to an Arabic Islamic tradition and by extension so does its art.

Literature
Today, the arts in Egypt, whether in literature, music, cinema, or the visual arts, continue to flourish and expand, reaching new ideas and horizons. In literature, Egyptian writers are the most celebrated in the Arab world. Modern Arabic literature is said to have been shaped through the writings of Yehhia Haki, Yousef Idris, Taha Hussien, Gamal Al-Ghitani, Sekina Fouad and of course the Nobel Prize Laureate Naguib Mahfouz. Mahfouz’s writings about Old-Cairo, the social lives of the lower class, the coffee shops, the alleys, have not only won him international recognition, but have altered all together the style of Modern Arabic Prose. Naguib Mahfouz’s books are translated to all languages and could be found in every book store. For a thorough understanding of Egyptian culture we would recommend his Cairo “Trilogy”.

Music
In Egypt, music can always be heard. Whether it's coming from a taxi, a coffee shop or someone singing in the streets, you can’t miss it. A voice you’ll definitely get to know is that of Om Kolthum, the most celebrated female singer in the Arab world. Om Kolthum was 73 years old when she died in 1975, and was given one of the largest funerals in history. Her voice is not only the voice of Egypt, but the voice of the Arab world. Everyone from the humble cafe owner, to the rich business man, craves this lady’s deep strong voice. If you don’t get a chance to hear her, do buy a tape or two, you won’t regret it. Another classical legend is Abdel Halim Hafez, who is her male counterpart. Again his epic songs about love and despair fill the Cairo air. Unfortunately, Hafez died young at the age of 48. On the other side the new rhythm of Amr Diab, Mohamed Foad and Hakim represent the pop side of the Egyptian music scene. A massive drop from Um Kalthum and Abdel Halim, nevertheless the younger generations seem to love them.

Visual Arts
In the past Egyptian painting was represented through the works of Ahmed Sabry and Hamed Abdallah. In the realm of sculpture, Mahmoud Mokhtar wa s definitely on the top of the list. All three artists are now long gone, but their work still remains in the Museum of Modern Egyptian Art, along with the work of many contemporary Egyptian artists. Today, the Modern Art scene in Egypt, works in mysterious ways. Most of the celebrated painters and sculptors can be divided into two categories: those who have little to offer but conventional, representational and academic work, and, on the other hand, a more recent circle of contemporary artists who are willing to explore and play with new medium and style. Their work is new, Egyptian and interesting. Try going down town to private galleries like Mashrabeya, Karim Francis, and Cairo-Berlin for the more intriguing exhibitions. Among the exceptional contemporary Egyptian Painters are, George Al-Bahgoury , Adel Al-Siwi, Hassan Soliman, and Mohamed Abla.

Cinema
As for Cinema and Film, Egypt has been considered the leader of the Arabic film industry for over five decades now. Among the celebrated Egyptian Actors, are Omar El-Sherif ( who has achieved international recognition in films like Dr. Zhivago ), Adel Imam ( Egypt’s leading comedian ), Adel Emam, Nour El-Sherif, Ahmed Zaki and Mahmoud Abdel Aziz ( also a comedian ). The most celebrated director is, by far , Yousef Shahin, who just recently received an award at the Cannes Film Festival for his film “ The Destiny ”. Another talented director is Dr. Khairy Beshara, with films that focus on more contemporary Egyptian issues. Nevertheless, Egypt’s reputation as the leader of Arabic Film, is prone to challenge, and might not last as a result of the apparent decline in quality during the past few years. As with music, the latest productions, involving young comedians such as Mohamed Heneidy, have taken a large step back in terms of seriousness, content and subject matter. Strangely enough, these movies still managed to receive good reviews, and of course, massive support from the young generations.

Dance
With just a few shows every now and then, the Contemporary Dance scene in Egypt is definitely over shadowed by belly dancing. Egypt is the belly dancing capital of the world. With the local oriental music providing an ideal rhythm, Egyptian belly dancers out-number actors, artists and musicians. Some dancers achieve immense popularity and go on to become movie stars. The two most celebrated belly-dancers are Lucy and Dina. Both dancers put on virtually nothing during the shows, and have a lot to offer! You can catch some belly dancing shows at any of the five-star hotels, and the night-clubs at Al-Haram St. You might even want to squeeze in some belly dancing lessons. Furthermore, there is the male oriental dance performed with wooden staves in a mock fight. There is also the Sufi dance, which is performed by some adherents of a Muslim mystical order, and is more a form of worship than a dance. In this Sufi dance, dancers spin round and round wearing brightly colored clothes.

 
                                                                                                                                                               
 

CLIMATE

The Land Of The Sun
Being in the desert, Egypt's climate can be summarized in three words, hot, sunny, and dry. There are basically two seasons : a hot season from May to October and a cooler season from November to April. During the summer temperatures may reach 44'C, while winter is generally cool with temperatures ranging between 13'C and 21'C, during the night it can get colder and drop to 5'C or 6'C. When in the desert, wide temperature variations occur. For example it can get as hot as 46'C during the day, and then drop to 5'C by night time.

The Mediterranean coast

receives the most rain about 300 mm per year. In southern Egypt several days may elapse without any rain at all. During April and May hot dry winds and sandstorms known as the Khamaseen blow frequently, turning Egypt into one orange dusty cloud. As you move south temperatures tend to increase, making Aswan the hottest city in Egypt. Unless you don't mind the heat we would suggest t hat you plan your visit to Egypt sometime in between October and April when the weather is absolutely beautiful. As compared to other parts of the world the climate in Egypt is considered superb.

 
                                                                                                                                                               
 

CULTURE

7000 Year's Culture
Religion and family life make up a cornerstone of Egyptian culture. Its religion, Islamic or Christian, provides the strong unifying bond between family members, friends, as well as strangers. Egypt is one of the very few nations left in the world, where strangers actually greet each other in the streets. In short, the life of an Egyptian usually revolves around the dictated values of his or her religion. Nevertheless, the dichotomy that is inherent in the Egyptian way of life cannot, by all means, be underestimated.

In the rural areas, the inhabitants still live the traditional life of their ancestors. The villagers , more commonly known as the " Fallahin " , depend entirely on agriculture and live in very modest mud-brick houses. These mud-brick houses usually consist of just one large room which holds the entire family. In t his patriarchal community, decision making invariably falls to the head of the family, namely the husband. Male chauvinism is also an inherent part of the community and young girls are given very little freedom as compared to her brothers.

Family ties are very strong, and neighbors are usually treated as family. Sexual relations between unmarried couples are strictly forbidden, and are looked down upon as being unchaste, as well as a great religious offense. For Muslims, drinking alcohol, gambling, or eating pork are also strongly forbidden . This traditional system of Egyptian values managed to find its way into the urban societies, but with a few variations here and there, urban communities tend to lead a more modern and westernized lifestyle. As you move up the social scale, this westernization seems to increase, and of course with McDonalds just around the block, the younger generations have completely adopted the “ American ” way of life , creating a huge gap between parents and their younger , more “open-minded” children.

The two largest cities are Cairo and Alexandria, and because of the extreme centralization we have in Egypt, both cities are the heart of the country and everything revolves around them. Urban migration has been too common in Egypt for the past 20 years, stretching Cairo’s population beyond all limits. In general, Egyptians are renowned for there kindness, patience, and extreme sense of humor. They are extremely patriotic, and any offense to t heir nation, culture or religion will not be tolerated. On the other hand, you’ll notice that they are extremely helpful, friendly, and always smiling. Many Egyptians speak English as a second language, ( some speak French ), and so communicating with them should not be a problem. Egyptian men love to flirt, to smoke " Sheesha ", and most of all they love soccer. The two most popular soccer teams are " Ahly " and " Zamalek ", mention them and you’re bound to strike a conversation.

Watching soccer is probably the number one form of male recreation in the country, along with going to "Al-Ahwa " ( the coffee shop ) to smoke " Sheesha ", play backgammon, and drink tea. To socialize with the men, it's usually about politics, women, or soccer. With women, it's usually just gossip or cooking. Most of Egyptian women are housewives, with the husband providing all the income. Only among the upper class and the younger generations you'll find working women. As far religion is concerned , most men and women are considered religious , with just a few extremists here and there . You may recognize the extremists by their long unshaved beard and very short hair.

Usually they have a spot of dead skin on their foreheads from excessive praying.

Unlike what is said, there is no threat from these people, they simply mind their own business.

You’ll notice that the people are quite conservative when it comes to dress code. They don’t wear shorts in the summer, even though it gets really hot. Only in summer resorts, by swimming pools, or by the beach may you see them in shorts and swimsuits. Rural men wear long white robes, known as " Galabiya ", while urban men wear pants ( often jeans depending on how westernized ) and shirts. Most Egyptian women are veiled, covering their hair with a piece of cloth, known as " Hejab ", and wearing long sleeves. Nevertheless with the increasing westernization, many have discarded the veil, and dress normally like European women on the conservative side. As with the younger generations, they just follow the latest “ American ” fashion trends: Levis, hot pants, tight shorts, tight skirts, bikinis etc...

 
                                                                                                                                                               
 

DEMOGRAPHY

Human Structure
Over population is Egypt's most immense problem, with 63 million people, it is the most populous nation in the Arab World, and next to Nigeria, it has the second highest population in Africa. From 6 millions in the year 1880, it is expected to reach 80 millions by the year 2005. The annual growth rate is 2.2% while, thanks to the Family Organization Program (FOP), it dropped 6% from the 1985 rate. Nevertheless, this amounts to over one million people each year.

Egypt is a highly centralized country, 96% of the population lives on only 4% of the land, and due to the rapid urbanization of the past two decades, 18 millions of the 63 live in the Greater Cairo area, and 6 millions live in Alexandria, while the rest are scattered along the Nile Valley. Despite the improvement of Egypt's Economy, the increase in GNP is immediately consumed by the increase in population, in other words, if the population growth rate does not decrease significantly, there is no way the economy will improve.

The government is trying, in vain, to cope with exploding population, in terms of schools, health facilities, accommodation etc. The past five years have also witnessed effective attempts of decentralization, residential areas have been constructed outside Cairo, as well as highways to take you to and from Cairo.

 
                                                                                                                                                               
 

ECONOMY

The four pillars of the Egyptian economy are oil and gas, Suez Canal revenues, remittances from Egyptians working abroad and tourism. The resources are vast, but the ever-increasing population eats them all up. Egypt had been a feudalist economy for a very long time and prior to the revolution of 1952, its economy was based primarily on farming, with very little industry.

The 1960’s saw an increase in industrialization with the construction of the Aswan High Dam. Under Gamal Abd-El Nasser's socialist regime, the majority of large industries were nationalized. In the 1970's President Anwar El-Sadat introduce his "Open Door Policy" which encouraged a free market as well as trade with Europe and the United States.

This gradual economic reform has been continued by President Hosni Mubarak and the 1990's have witnessed a high degree of privatization, in an effort to diminish Nasser's public-sector and introduce a new flourishing private-sector with its own new stock exchange in down town. The Egyptian currency is the pound. It comes in half-pound notes, one-pound notes, five-pound notes, ten-pound notes, twenty-pound notes, fifty-pound notes and one hundred-pound notes.

 
                                                                                                                                                               
 

GEOGRAPHY

"Egypt is the gift of the Nile" as Hwrodotus once said
Almost 98% of the Egyptian population lives on less than 4% of the land, which would be the narrow strip of land that borders the banks of the Nile River. The rest of the country is pretty much desert, with the exception of some oases here and there, particularly in the western desert. Egypt lies on the northwestern corner of Africa. It boasts a long coastline on both the Mediterranean Sea to the North, and the Red Sea to the east.

The Nile flows to the North, from the bowels of Africa, cutting into the Sudan, where Egypt borders the Sudan, up until it spills into the Mediterranean. North of Cairo, the Nile is split into two main branches: Damietta and Rosetta, creating the fertile Nile delta. The Nile basically splits Egypt into two unequal segments: the western desert which is the larger portion, and the eastern.

To the west of Egypt, beyond the western desert, lies Libya. Sinai, the triangular peninsula situated in the top left hand corner of Egypt, is said to be in Asia. Sinai is bounded on the north by the Mediterranean, on the west by the Gulf of Suez and on the east by the Gaza strip, Israel and the Gulf on Aqaba. It is mainly desert but has some of the most beautiful underwater habitation. Apart from the mountains of Sinai, the land in Egypt is relatively flat.

Mt. Catherine is the highest point of elevation, measuring 2650 meters above sea level. The Qattara Depression is the lowest, measuring 133 meters below sea level. Egypt occupies an area of 998,000 square kilometers, of which 96% is pure desert. With a few oases here and there, most of the farmland of Egypt is limited to the Nile Valley and Delta, which have rich fertile soils. The vast majority of remaining land is covered by infertile rocky or sandy soils that are unsuitable for agriculture.

 
                                                                                                                                                               
 

LANGUAGE

Egypt’s official language is Arabic, however, the Arabic spoken in Egypt, known as colloquial Arabic, differs from that of Classical Arabic, which is the lingua franca within the Arab world.

The colloquial Arabic that you'll hear in the streets has a completely different dialect, as well as an altered, more-simple vocabulary, from the written Classical Arabic. Although the Cairn dialect of colloquial Arabic is the one most commonly used in Egypt, regional areas have their own dialects, which differ in sound.

The Bedouins, who are the nomads of the western desert and Sinai, speak their own different dialect. Berber, on the other hand, is the language spoken by the people that inhabit some of the villages of the eastern desert.

As a second language, many Egyptians speak English as well as French, so communication should not be a problem. Maps and street signs are usually written in both Arabic and English.

 
                                                                                                                                                               
 

RELIGION

The Blessed Land
The official state religion of Egypt is Islam. Muslims make up more than 95% of the population, whereby almost all of them follow the Sunni Islamic sector. The remaining 5% goes to the Coptic Christian Minority, a few Roman Catholics, Armenians and a very small Jewish community consisting of less than one hundred members. Fortunately, Muslims and Copts enjoy a peaceful coexistence in Egypt. Intermarriage however, is strictly forbidden by both doctrines.

Being a Muslim does not entail much. All the underlying principles of Islam are presented in the Qor'an, which is their Sacred Book. Islam in Egypt is not only a religion, but it is also a way of life. It underlies most social and family activities. It is the foundation for most traditions, and is a major force that has shaped both government and law.

If you visit Egypt during the Holy month of Ramadan, you can probably sense the Muslim spirit the most. When visiting the Mosques of Cairo, you will be required to take your shoes of, in respect to the Holy setting. We ask you to cooperate with such traditions and to respect the Islamic religion at all times while in Egypt.

 
                                                                                                                                                               
 

TRAVEL TIPS

Dress
Don't wear anything too revealing around most places in Egypt. Make it conservative unless you welcome the attention that skimpy clothing will garner. People in some cities and rural areas are not used to seeing a lot of skin (even with men), so please cover up unless you're on the beach in a coastal resort like Sharm

El-Sheikh or Hurgada where this is more the norm. In areas like Islamic and Coptic Cairo you should respect local custom by wearing more conservative clothing.

 

Archeological Sites
Do have a guide with you when exploring archeological sites in the desert. You can get lost and that isn't funny.
Do stay with your guide at all times as some sites are in critical condition and have areas that are in danger of collapse.
Do wear a hat or scarf and sunscreen to protect your self from the sun when visiting in summer.
Don't climb on or touch any of the monuments.
Don't take photographs where you're not supposed to - the flash from your camera may cause irreparable damage.


Public Transportation
Ladies... do sit next to other women on public transportation.
Ladies... do enter the car assigned for women only (first two cars) on the metro, as other cars may be too crowded.
Do bargain the amount you will have to pay the taxi driver before getting in as some take advantage of tourists (but no fighting, please).
Do shout out the name of the location that you're going to when hailing a taxi.
Do look both ways before crossing the street even if the sign says, "walk".
Don't get on overcrowded buses. It's anything but comfortable.


Ladies
Do be prepared for unwanted attention especially if you're traveling alone. You'll probably be hissed or whistled at in the streets on a fairly regular basis. If you just ignore, there shouldn't be any problems. Egyptians just like to have fun.
Do try not to walk by yourself, always have someone with you, especially if it's down a dark alley. Crime is extremely rare but, just as should always be the case, why take unnecessary chances.
Don't act too friendly toward men you barely know as it could be misunderstood.
Don't talk back to attempts by strangers to talk to you - simply ignore them.


Couples
Do feel free to walk arm-in-arm or, at most, holding holds. (Same sex couples should be even more discrete as homosexuality is far less accepted in Egypt as it is in Western countries)
Don't hug or kiss in public as it may cause problems. Again, holding hands should be as far as you go in public.
Don't be surprised if you see Egyptian men walking arm-in-arm or holding hands as a sign of friendship.


Entering Mosques
Ladies... do wear something to cover your hair when entering a mosque (most mosques provide a scarf for covering your hair at the entrance).
Do wear long decent clothes, covering legs and arms. (This includes men!).
Do take off your shoes before entering or wear shoe covers which can be obtained at the entrance of some mosques.
Do respect the mosques, they are sacred places, and any attempts of smoking, drinking, or sexual behavior in or around a mosque will not be tolerated.
Don't go where you're not supposed to for a couple of reasons: 1. Egypt is one of a just a few Islamic countries that allow non-Muslims into their mosques so staying in designated areas will help preserve this privilege for future visitors: and 2. Some of the mosques are very old and some areas may be in need of repair.
Don't visit during prayer time.


Swimming
Ladies... do wear swimming suits on beaches, but survey your surroundings a bit first. Some places are not used to seeing that many tourists and that quick glance around will let you know if others are wearing bathing suits.
Do wear sunscreen at all times - the Egyptian sun can be merciless at times.
Don't sunbathe topless - it is not common in Egypt and it may cause too much attention.
Don't swim wherever there's a black flag up as it means the water is too rough. In the north coast the sea can sometimes be quite dangerous.


Snorkeling and Diving
Do wear sunscreen lotion.
Do stay with your guide, it's not fun getting lost underwater.
Do bring an underwater camera so you can share the amazing things you see with your friends when you get back home.
Don't touch the fish - not all are friendly or harmless.
Don't break, take, or remove any of the coral.
Don't drink and dive!
Don't feed the fish.
Don't fish.


Off-Reading
Don't go off the beaten track without a guide. There are still some landmines buried out there in some parts of the Sinai and the North Coast and not all are marked.
Don't go too far without a guide. The desert here is vast and you can too easily lose your bearings.


Money
Do use common sense.
Do exchange your money in banks or exchange offices.
Do carry around a lot of change: it can be useful when tipping and bargaining. (Only tip when you feel that the person deserves it - just like back home.)
Do use traveler's checks and credit cards - they are accepted in most tourist areas.
Don't carry around a lot of money. Theft isn't common, but one can never be too sure.
Don't put your money or wallet in your back pocket when entering busy or crowded places.
Don't show that you have money.


Photographing
Do take lots of film or extra memory cards - you'll want to take pictures of everything you see.
Don't take photographs of military areas, bridges, embassies, or airports.
Don't use flash photography when photographing ancient monuments.
Don't photograph crowded areas or packed buses or street litter, as some people can be offended.
Don't take your cameras where you won't be using it - entrance fees for cameras cost more than for people.


Driving
Do carry your international driver's license at all times when driving.
Do avoid coming close to buses and other forms of public transportation. If you want to pass them, make sure they know you're there by flashing your lights and honking your horn.
Do check for crossing cars and pedestrians at all times - even when you have a green light.
Do what the traffic policemen say - even if it goes against what you've been doing all your life.
Don't try to come close to diplomatic convoys - reduce your speed and keep away.
Don't exceed 100 km/hr on highways.


Customs
You may bring in modest amounts of anything for personal use, except, obviously, illicit drugs, weapons and items of an obscene or subversive nature. Up to one liter of alcohol, 200 cigarettes and a reasonable quantity of perfume is permitted. In addition, you may purchase one liter of alcohol upon arrival at Cairo International Airport Duty free shop and another 3 liters along with 3 packs of cigarettes within 48 hours from any of the duty free shops around Cairo. Duty Free Shops upon departure offer shoppers a reasonable range of spirits, cigarettes, perfumes and gifts. Alcohols and cigarettes are cheaper than all European Duty Free prices.