20 Myths Foreigners Believe About Egypt & Egyptians

Haven’t you ever traveled abroad, and everybody was overwhelmed by your nice attitude? They couldn’t believe you were born to Egyptian parents, and been raised in Egypt? They couldn’t imagine that you spoke English or any other foreign language, and so they kept asking if you were the only bilingual in Egypt? And haven’t expected you to be so warm, open-minded, and friendly to everyone?


It’s hard to tell why foreigners are so skeptic, and have so many misconceptions about us, or who’s fault it is; is it the media’s? is it ours? or that the world is so ignorant about how we Egyptians really are.

That’s a list of raised questions, and misconceptions that myself, along with Egyptian friends of mine have encountered during our travels… Does any of them sound familiar? (Photo courtesy: sboneham)


   1. We live in the desert

It’s true that more than 90% of Egypt’s land is desert, however we live in the remaining 10%, in addition to lots of desert reclamation works that have been undertaken over the years, making it possible for us to live there, therefore we live in cities, have buildings, and proper infrastructure, (Peaceful Desert of Fayoum by Ramy Alaa)


   2. We live in tents

Accordingly we don’t live in tents, and are not permanently camping (Photo courtesy: Photos By Clark)



   3. We ride camels to work

And so we do not ride camels to work, we ride cars, or use public transports. Sadly you won’t spot camels around the city, or stop a camel to take you to your destination. We don’t have a camels parking lot as well (Camel chilling out by Giza Pyramids by Chris Ford)


   4. We wear galabeyas to work

Egyptians do not adhere to a dress code like Gulf-ians do, in fact it’s difficult to identify Egypt’s traditional dress code, as each part of the country has their own traditions, dialect, and dress code. Even galabeyas worn in villages are no where similar to those worn by bedouins, or upper Egyptians for instance. Unless it’s a white or a dark galabeya for men, or a dark one for women while covering their heads, if you decide to act like a local by wearing one, the locals will easily spot you, know you are a tourist, and probably tell you “Eh daaaah ya khawaga” (Photo courtesy: Son of Groucho)


   5. Everybody’s living next to the Giza Pyramids or can see them from where they live

Egypt has a total area of 1 001 450 kmwhich explains how big it is, and how “sadly” it’s not possible to spot them from everywhere

pyramids - fb

   6. Egyptian women don’t go to school and are all housewives

I honestly cannot think of any Egyptian woman I know, or not know who doesn’t work (Photo courtesy: Nicola Albertini)


   7. Egyptian women don’t drive

If you know any Egyptian guy he sure has complained to you about Egyptian women’s driving -seriously that’s total hoax, guys blame their bad driving on us -sigh (Photo courtesy: Mattia Panciroli)



   8. When bored we take a dip in the Nile

Swimming in the Nile is not an activity that we do, it’s actually very dangerous (Photo courtesy: Eddie Crutchley)


   9. Egypt is all about Pharaohs and the Red Sea

That’s not true as we have mountains to climb, trails to hike, oases to discover, outstanding Mediterranean sandy beaches to splash in, unspoilt nature to marvel at, adrenaline pumping activities to experience, drool-worthy food treats to eat, you name it (The White Desert by Marc-Olivier Bergeron)


   10. The capital of Egypt is either Hurghada, Sharm El-Sheikh, or Luxor

Probably it’s not their fault as charter flights from around the world land in these cities, and not so much attention is given to Cairo “The City that never ever sleeps” (Photo: Divers in the Red Sea)

egypt 1 - fb

   11. All Egyptian women can belly dance

Not really, some have the hardest time twisting their belly, or moving it from one place to another…True story (Photo courtesy: Eleda 1)


   12. We speak nothing but Arabic

A significant percentage of Egyptians speak English, a good number speak French & German, some others speak other languages such as Italian, Russian,…(Photo courtesy: Asim Bharwani)


   13. Our sole shopping outlet is Khan El Khalili

We have malls, and department stores, the only street shopping we do is basically to buy fruits and vegetables, and Khan El Khalili is more of a touristic market that we barely go to (Khan El-Khalili by Dorli Photography)


   14. We are not friendly to foreigners

We are the exact opposite, Egyptians are one of the most hospitable and generous nations in the world, extremely friendly, helpful, and would never make you feel lonely -don’t be surprised if a stranger interrupted your conversation to give you an honest feedback about something that s/he is not even part of, hehe. (Photo courtesy: Peter Morgan)


   15. Egyptian food is non-vegetarian

Believe it or not, our main dishes are vegetarian; Foul Medames (fava beans), Ta’meyah (a.k.a. falafel), Betengan Ma’li (fried eggplants), Mekhalel (pickled eggplants) or Messa’aah (eggplants cooked in an authentic Egyptian way a.k.a Moussaka), Bessarah, Koshari (a mix of rice, pasta, chickpeas, lentils, fried onions, tomato and garlic sauce), Fatta (rice with moisten bread, garlic and tomato sauce) & Molokheyah (you have to try it to know what it’s like), Stuffed Vine Leaves, Zucchini, Eggplants and Bell peppers.(Ta3meya frying by Christopher Rose)



   16. Egyptians & Arabs speak/read Persian because both are the same

Yes Persian, not Farsi, as I was once asked. Though Arabic and Farsi are written from the right hand side, and both alphabets look similar, however Farsi has little to do with Arabic some common words, and their alphabet has letters that are non-existent in the Arabic one (Photo courtesy: Walters Art Museum Illuminated Manuscripts)


   17. This one goes to Arabs: The best way to initiate a talk with us is by reciting kol afashat el aflam el masry

I bet you have all experienced that while traveling abroad, or meeting an Arab for the first time, the way a conversation is usually initiated, an introduction is made, or ice is broken is by reciting 2afashat aflam specially Adel Emam’s, El-Lemby’s, El-3eyal Kebret’s, or Ismail Yassin’s. Mmmm, sadly it’s getting really old, doesn’t work all the time. (Photo courtesy: thejuniorpartner)


   18. Arabic is Arabic there are no dialects, all Arabs can understand each other

Al Arabeya Al Fusshha is the same, however we do not use it in our day to day communication -whoever does is made fun of, lol-, each Arab country speaks their own dialect, some of them are understandable, and some are not -like Moroccan, Algerian, and Tunisian so when we communicate, it’s whether we speak English, or French. (Photo courtesy: Tribes Of The World)


   19. Non Muslims cannot enter mosques in Egypt

Seriously enough with rumors! All you need to do is 1. respect the sanctity of the place, 2.for women to completely cover up, 3. for men not to wear shorts and at least short sleeves, and 4. for both to take off their shoes, and voila you are inside a mosque –note that in most mosques women would easily find an outfit to cover up (Photo courtesy: Alessandra Kocman)

Did you know that? To enter the Vatican City you need to cover up as well… Men are to wear long pants and at least short sleeves, and women are to cover their shoulders and knees


And #20 goes to….you tell us!

Our Readers Comments

  1. Actually, I had seen camel parking lots, one at the back side of El Farukia Towers, and one at Nazlet el Samaan.

    • that because nazlet el samaan is the nearest area to the pyramids
      all around pyramids is a place for tourist
      i’m 22 years old living in cairo never went to pyramids or ride a camel

      • I would be shame to say that I live in Cairo and never went to the pyramids. And El Farukia towers is at Masr el gedida, very far from the pyramids (not a place for tourist but a place for everyone) and i had seen a parking lot for camels.

        • of course there is a place where camels reside, however we park cars not camels, hehe
          Never heard of El Farukia towers, but u haven’t been to the pyramiiiiiiiiiiiiiiids!!! u must be kidding me, come onnnnn it’s a MUST!

  2. They do believe that we don’t have facebook

  3. I am living in Egypt since 2004 up to now. I never feel that am away from home. Because Egyptians are the most heartiest people I ever met in my life. So friendly & kind. There are some bad people, but every where in the world we can find bad people.
    Egyptians are very strong people too.Same nervous. But they forget their anger in the second minute.

    Same elder people are mostly respected by Egyptian younger generation(Mo addab). It is very rare to see in the other countries of the world. Most wonderful thing is they will invite to anybody for there meals or drinks without any condition(Rich,poor,Egyptian or a foreigner).

    I love Egypt & Egyptians.

    I love Egypt & Egyptians.

    • I’m an American, been living in Egypt now for 7 years. I’m teaching English and love my life here. Egyptian people are so loving and if they become your friend it is for life. God Bless Egypt.

  4. Same Egypt is a beautiful country to live in safe and All the facilities we can get as we wish. What we are getting from any other country as foreigner.

  5. many ppl from outside egypt , asked me before , do u eat with ur hands they mean using no forks nor spoons or any of that ?

    no we are civilized ppl we are living a normal life just as u do , we eat as u eat we drink as u drink we even wearing as u wear !!

    • I knooooow, it sometimes get funny and sometimes super frustrating, i hate it when they make me feel like an alien!

      • Yes.. they sometimes act that way..

  6. An American was speaking to me and said: “I was yesterday at the theatre and I saw this movie. Do you known what is a movie?”

  7. #20: that we dont all pronounce P as B and B as P 🙂

  8. All women and girls in Egypt are covered in black from top to toes like Saudi Arabia 🙂

  9. “Have encountered during OUR travel” not “their travel”. Persian is not a language (LOL); it’s called Farsi. And I would not say that Farsi has nothing to do with Arabic. Simply not true. There are so many common words between Arabic and Farsi. Otherwise, a funny article.

    • Thanks Noha actually those who asked me literally said do you speak Persian, and not Farsi :), probably i should include that too -true story walahi
      Yes our sounds more correct, will change it…
      Thanks 😉

  10. That we still live in the age of “Al Hareim”.

  11. Woman and man, cannot drive! It’s the worse country of driving, no one abbey rules, or there are no rules.

    Not friendly to foreigner? friendly…They see foreigner as money sign $$$…)))

    And true, before I came to this country, I thought it’s retarded country with no fun….I was wrong.

    The main thing this country need to clean rubbish…it’s absolutely filthy country…and ofcouse driving

    • Well your words are completely true. Driving in Egypt is not as driving in any other country as roads are broken, traffic lights are rare, people on the road organize with each others to avoid accidents, this who can drive here can drive anywhere. Drivers used on this for generations, so what you should do while driving is considering everybody as assholes. This is gonna work trust me.

      • Yes I drive, and know exactly what you are talking about! 😀

      • I know or feeling bro :-). I guess we live the fast and the furious every single day in the streets driving our way to home or work or any other place use a Taxi it is better for or nervous system 🙂

  12. that wer all muslim!!! so it cms as a shock to kno that we hv a christmas official holiday just not in december xD and that wearing veils is compulsory for women!!! and that we don’t raise dogs as pets!!!! XD one young lady was quite surprised wn i mention im a fourth generation non-veiled female in my family and that veils stopped being compulsory since the 1920s! also its a surprise wn they kno women hv have had the right to vote since the 1950s!

  13. I work as a travel expert (on the phone) for Candian and American customers and I get TONS of these false beliefs about Egypt each time I let them know that I’m Egyptian and I live in Cairo.
    Once, one of ’em started the conversation asking me where I’m located?
    – Cairo, Egypt
    – So you’re talking to me now from your tent? (sarcastically)
    so i had nothing to say but:
    – No actually am talking from the company’s tent 😀

    And i get always those who get shocked that I’m Egyptian and I can talk in English fluently.

    Regardless the reasons, it’s annoying facing this all the time.

  14. – One time I called a company in UK to ask for the price of a special rope for my windsurf and the guy was shocked that we have windsurfs and he actually thought at first I needed better kind of rope for the tents we have because lately the climate change made sandstorms stronger and more frequent…

    If you asked anyone in the US where is Egypt or any other country they wont know so its not our fault :).

    • Yeah lots of Americans are insanely ignorant I am afraid, try to overhear a conversation between American tourists while sightseeing you will be amazed at the kind of questions they ask, and how they make fun of history!
      UK!!! Didn’t see that coming…

  15. one of my foreign friends asked me if i use laptop to chat with him i said yes so he was confused how i have electricity in my tent to charge my laptop 😀

  16. Pfft try living in Luxor…. as a foreigner this is not so much fun… 10 years I’ve been here and I swear each year their minds get more and more closed!!!

  17. This article brought tears to my eyes , as I’m currently live & work in ( Ajman , UAE ) . not only the article , but the comments as well , i have read every one of them ( top to bottom ) , these words made me remember a lot of good , great , awesome memories .

    Thanks a lot for that heartwarming feelings you gave me 🙂

  18. It is not related to Egypt but to Islam. An Italian guy thought that Shisha is an Islamic practice!

  19. I guess another stereotype would probably be: “Egyptians are Muslims,” or even “”Egyptians are Arabs.”

    However, these are simplistic views, because like most countries, there is a significant degree of ethnic and religious plurality in Egypt.

    For example, Alexandria was one of the earliest centres of Christianity, and many Jewish people have lived in Egypt throughout history, and there are many other examples of Egyptian ethnic and religious plurality.

  20. What you are doing is wonderful to Egypt. Keep on the good work. I like the site and got plenty of info to better tour Egypt (Being an Egyptian !).

  21. I am Canadian…have traveled and stayed in Egypt 4 times. I was guilty of “some” of the things listed…and it’s ok…. As humans we all tend to form judgements about other Countries based on our education,or therefore lack of. I was very ,very fortunate to travel and be there and live an experience that will not only live in my memory forever ,but in my heart as well. I will always consider Egypt my second home- and feel blessed to have lifelong friends (whom I consider my family) and to return again until I can no longer walk. …I LOVE EGYPT and Egyptians!! P.S. You should hear some of the misconceptions about Canada..lol.. don’t take it person ally…

    • hahahaa…could you please share with us some of the misconceptions about Canadian? 😀
      you’re welcome in your second home anytime, and we will be always happy to welcome you 🙂

  22. According to Dr. Tawfiq Ocash Al-Faraeen TV channel owner, CEO, top analyst, and broadcaster, the parking of the Caw costs 10-20 EGP.

  23. #20


  24. All music in Egypt is like that in the Arabian Nights atomsphere!

  25. I went to UCLA for a summer abroad… I’ve met many people from all over the world (China, Japan, Germany, Americans, Russia, France…) and most of them had asked me “How did you come here to the U.S.!?” They actually don’t know we have planes and airports… it was so funny to me… I was like no we have facebook and we have cars and laptops and we are more civilised than most of people think! But people in New York were more aware that we are civilised and they asked me about the country after the revolution…

  26. To be sincere, Egypt is a nice place, i live in cairo on business visit and this is my seventh (7th) times to visit, my first visit i stay in a hotel, Marriot at Zamalek, after then i got a flat that i pay excess and traveled and come back to the flat. egyptian people re down to earth nice, friendly, cheerful and crazy.. lol some re corny, some re ignorant and some are just hateful.. i know u find these everywhere in the world. but i have been to 6 country in my whole life, if i am to rate egypt from 1 to 10, i will give Egypt a 10 during Hosni Mubarak and a 4 after the revolution but presently i will give egypt an 8 with the present government (President Sisi).. Long live Egypt.. God Bless Egyptians.

    • thank you very much, let’s put politics aside and just admit that Egypt is indeed a beautiful country 🙂
      Always happy to have you in Egypt 😉

  27. Funny myths)) I use some of them to tease my Egyptian browny friend))
    A lil off-topic : when I was in Denver, in USA, one woman asked me if we have phones in where I live (Tyumen, Siberian part of Russia). She was surprised of how I can live next prisoners in wild forest and cold (many years ago they used to send political prisoners to settle cities in Siberia). Another 2 guys asked if it’s hard to cross the border between Russia and Siberia.
    American students once asked my German friend if she saw Hitler?… She is 30 year old.

  28. You can’t see the pyramids mostly due to rampant, poorly-regulated building and smog.

  29. Egypt is my second became my second home. Since 2008 I was 19 time in this wonderful country and I love it. My english is bad and so often I don’t know the name from every place where I was but I saw alot and Egypt makes me happy ?

    • Thank you 🙂
      Always happy to welcome you in your second home 😉

  30. Some British guy was shocked when he found out that we have access to the web in Egypt
    another guy who was Swedish didn’t believe that there are programmers in Egypt he even asked me about the programming languages that we use assuming that we use something other than the worldwide used programming languages “Oh, you use C++ in Egypt?” 😀

  31. I’m British. ..but lived in egypt for 21 years now…I had a problem with my daughters school and had to send her to the uk for a bit. The kids there were asking her about many of the things in the article….articled in the end she got so fed up that she did a presentation on her life and family. The opening of the presentation was ‘my name is ***** and I am egyptian and my neighbours are not goats and I do not own a camel’
    All the kids in her class were shocked that she lived in a villa…and went to a school with a pool!

  32. They think we’re born with an arab accent ?

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