Social Profile

Nightlife: Sophisticated nightclubs, discos, casinos and good restaurants can be found in Cairo, Alexandria and most large towns. The nightlife in Luxor and Aswan often includes barbecues along the Nile.

Shopping: The most interesting shopping area for tourists in Cairo is the old bazaar, Khan-el-Khalili, specialising in reproductions of antiquities. Jewellery, spices, copper utensils and Coptic cloth are some of the special items. There are also modern shopping centres available, particularly near Tehrir Square. Shopping hours: Winter: Tues, Wed, Fri-Sat 0900-1900, Mon and Thurs 0900-2000. During Ramadan, hours vary, with shops often closing on Sunday. Summer: Tues, Wed, Fri-Sun 0900-1230 and 1600-2000.

Special Events: For a complete list containing organiser details, contact the Egyptian State Tourist Office (see Contact Addresses section).

The following is a selection of special events occurring in Egypt in 2004:
Feb International Fishing Competition, Hurghada; International Egyptian Marathon, Luxor.
Jul International Documentary Film Festival, Ismailia.
Jul 20-Aug 19 Shopping and Tourism Festival, Cairo.
Aug Al-Ahram International Squash Competition; Sharm el-Sheikh Festival; International Folklore Arts Festival, Ismailia.
Aug 20-28 International Song Festival, Cairo.
Sep International Experimental Theatre Festival, Cairo; Festival of Perpendicular Sun, Abu Simbel.
Oct Opera Aida Festival; International Egyptian Rally Festival; Egyptian International Bowling Competition.
Oct 15-25 International Film Festival, Alexandria; Wafa’a el Nil Festival, Cairo.
Nov Arab Horse Festival, Cairo; Festival of Tutankhamun Tomb Exploration, Luxor.
Nov 1-10 Arab Music Festival. Dec-Jan Coptic Christmas (although the day itself falls on January 7, festivities take place throughout the months of December and January in the Coptic quarter of Cairo). Dec 15-25 Cairo International Film Festival.

Social Conventions: Islam is the dominant influence and many traditional customs and beliefs are tied up with religion. The people are generally courteous and hospitable and expect similar respect from visitors. Handshaking will suffice as a greeting. Because Egypt is a Muslim country, dress should be conservative and women should not wear revealing clothes, particularly when in religious buildings and in towns (although the Western style of dress is accepted in modern nightclubs, restaurants, hotels and bars in Cairo, Alexandria and other tourist destinations). Official or social functions and smart restaurants usually require more formal wear. Smoking is very common. Photography: Tourists will have to pay a fee to take photographs inside pyramids, tombs and museums. Tipping: 10 to 12 per cent is added to hotel and restaurant bills but an extra tip of 5 per cent is normal. Taxi drivers generally expect 10 per cent.

American-style snack bars are also spreading. Local specialities include foul (bean dishes), stuffed vine leaves, roast pigeon, grilled aubergines, kebabs and humus (chickpeas). Restaurants have waiter service, with table service for bars. Although Egypt is a Muslim country, alcohol is available in cafe-style bars and good restaurants. The legal drinking age is 21.