We had dinner with a couple of Egyptian friends tonight and conversation turned inevitably to the anti-foreigner comments we’ve heard so much about lately. One of my friends, from Sweden, asked just why Egyptians might think that foreigners would want to harm the country.
The answer was interesting. “I think some of them just don’t understand why you’re still here,” one of them said. “There was no security, the country was falling apart and we expected you to leave. There wasn’t any reason for you to stay – unless you were spies or journalists.”
It made me think. I can see the logic in that argument and it’s one I’ve addressed before – that bemusement I see in some people’s eyes when I say that I’ve chosen to live here, instead of my comfortable first world country. It doesn’t apply to tourists – Egyptians are justly proud of their country and would be equally bemused at someone who didn’t want to visit it. It’s just that living here and visiting are two completely different things.
So – and especially in light of all the things that have happened over the last two weeks – this is a personal list of just a few of the reasons why I love Egypt – and why I chose to stay:
- This is my home. I’ve lived here for two and a half years now and my life, many of my friends and my work are here.
- Egyptians: I’ve travelled a lot and I’ve never met a warmer, more hospitable, down-to-earth and downright funny bunch of people. (My standing joke about Jordan was that all the nicest people I met there were Egyptians.)
- Egyptian warmth and hospitality, part 2: apart from the countless “Welcome to Egypts’ you hear on any given day (up to and including the last two weeks) this is a country where a smile goes a long way. That’s the way life should be.
- The Egyptian sense of humour, part 2: whether it’s sly, bawdy, raucous, smart or just plain hilarious, everyone here appreciates a good joke. There’s very little that can’t be, or isn’t, laughed at.
- Cairo. I read and dreamt about this crazy, beautiful, fascinating city when I was a child and, so far, it’s never disappointed me.
- That it’s multi-layered and multi-faceted and never, ever dull – from the chaos of Cairo to the beauty of Siwa to the hippy charm of Dahab and the sophistication of Gouna. And that’s just a fraction of its charms.
- That nearly everything is open nearly all of the time, which makes life so much easier. I can buy my groceries at midnight if I need to, which takes away a lot of the stress of city living.
- The sense of community and the ease with which people relate to each other – things that have only been strengthened over the last two weeks.
- That there’s always time in the day – or night – for an impromptu gathering or spontaneous party or just a coffee and shisha with a friend.
- That all the Egyptians I’ve met have always been more than happy and willing to share all of the above with me 🙂
One final thing: if you’re outside the country and ever thought of visiting, don’t let the last two weeks put you off. A lot of things happened but, for most of us, the good definitely outweighed the bad. If anything, it’s made the majority of us, Egyptian and non-Egyptian, fall in love with Egypt even more…
29 thoughts on “10 reasons why this foreigner (still) loves Egypt…”
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10 beautiful reasons.
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This is beautiful!
I’ve lived in Cairo for 2 and half years, and still i think of it as my home. I was deeply sad when i learnt that our cozy and homely flat in dokki was sell out to an egyptian family, as still, nearly 4 years after leaving cairo, that flat was my sweet home.
Thank you for this wonderful positive piece!
I lived there 14 years; and it is still where my heart lives.
Now I live right next door. It’s like living in exile.
I never liked the idea of traveling alone in strange lands, but in Egypt i was never alone. Just attempting a few words of arabic which is aparently far beyond most tourists made people so gratefull and welcoming. Mostly i remember the children. Being very tall and striking kids always look to me with facination, and when i smilled back or asked their name or pulled a silly face (i am still a massive child at heart) the parents were delighted to see you engage with them. So differnt from the po faced pram pushers with sreaming kids in england. As a student of history, archaeology and politics i know that egypt is vital to almost half the world. It unites Europe, Africa and the middle east blending from all these clutures and yet still always remaining distincly unique. I am hoping that does not change now.
Thank you Wixy for your words about Egypt. I have worked with Americans, British people, Canadians and many other nationalitiies that are English language natives, and I remember many of them would ask me “So Egypt is an Arab country” and I am like; “well, we speak Arabic, it is our our native language now and has been for a long time, but we are not Arabs” and then they would ask me ” So it is an African Country then? ” and I would answer ” Well … not really. In the sounth of Egypt , we have the Nubians who are as blck as you would imagine an African could be … and they even have many tribal languages that we don’t understand ourselves … but Egyptians, including the Nubians themselves don’t consider themselves ‘Africans’.” And then, one of my American friends just asked me planely, ” Well then, what are Egyptians? What is Egypt? if not an Arab country or an African country, then what is it?” and I said” Egypt is simply Egypt. and Egyptians are just egyptians. we are not to be associated with any other group or race or religion or geographical situation or anything else … Egypt is a country on its own and It does not need to be associated with any other entity. ” and that is when those american, british, and canadian friends of min though of me and actually told me that I am “just pround” and it was very funny for me because I replied without even thinking ” Wouldn’t you be pround if you were Egyptians?” and then silence took over. And we have been friends since then and best friends till now. The “PROUD Egyptian” and the Americans, Canadians, British and all other “ENGLISH LANGUAGE SPEAKING” friends of mine. LOVE you ALL and PEACE BE UPON YOU ALL. xoxo
Deep thanks from an Egyptian, and “welcome to a free and democratic Egypt” 🙂
thank you 🙂
🙂 it is from nice words what i have heared about Egypt and thanks by every letter it is wrote
and be sure who walk step for us we walk two step for him and who like us one time we like him two time more ,
it is this mix betwen kindness and sence of humor what in Egyptain 🙂
thanks, ahmed. i didn’t mention the kindness – another very big reason to love this country.
You nailed it! I couldn’t have said it better myself. ;] I live and work in Luxor six months of the year and always find myself missing the place when I’m elsewhere. Egypt really is about the people–and wonderful, funny, warm, welcoming (and sometimes exasperating!) they are. Thank you for the post.
Thank you Marie for your post too. You are most welcom to our country dear, you , your friends, your family and all your beloved ones always and forever. xoxo
I couldnt agree more, Egypt has been always very welcoming with tourists, expats and visitors in genera… lets how it doesnt stop now, ana ba7eb el masr and I hope it will never change! 1year and 2 months here so far… looking fwd to muuuuch more of this egyptian mojo!
Thanks for posting this, a beautiful list. I completely agree!
I’ve always envied people who lived in Eygpt. I’ve never visited and wish to do so one day. That partbof the world just fascinates me. I think it’s utterly magical. I think Egyptians are some of the funniest and kindest people.. I pray I can visit one day. God bless the country, and the people…
Rola – I hope you do get the chance to visit one day – I’m sure you would be very welcone.
Thank you for the ten reasons why YOU love Egypt … Well, we all sure love you back. enjoy your life in Egypt and live it to the most. I like the idea that you were- or probalbly are – able to go to different parts of Egypt. Isn’t it an amazing country? just the variety of the different natures, the different mini-cultures in the differnt natures in differnt parts of Egypt, the different way people talk, the different way people eat, the differnt way people express thier love to you, the different foods around Egypt, the differnt clothes and dresses of women and men too, the children, even though they are also differnt according to which part of Egypt they come from but still all amazing, all inquisitive, smart, funny and just playfull or maybe mischievious sometimes. If you look at thier faces, even with the most unfortunate sometimes, you find then smiling back at you and not just at “Forigners” but at us the locals too; the Egyptians too… It is just an amazing country … I thank you for your 10 reasons. I thank you very much for your conclusion at the end of your article. xoxo
thank you all for taking the time to comment. this is an amazing country – i’m glad that so many of us feel the same way…
I will add this to the FB page… if you want to be an admin just send me a msg 🙂
I think it will be great for morale and might counter-balance some of the negativity towards foreigners.
Do it backwards: (the weakest) 10- #1 (the strongest) reasons
10. Delivery 24-7
9. Location: it’s the door to the Middle East.
8. There’s Salsa here. Music from my tiny island rocks here!
7. Precious archaeology and history.
6. You can always find someone to speak to you in your mother tongue in Khan el Khalili.
5. Egypshions have a great sense of humor. Just read G-Mag.
4. Seem to be a lot of possibilities and attracts amazing people.
3. If you’re bored you can always find something to do in Cairo!
2. Egyptians are very welcoming and extremely helpful.
1. I can see camels and sheep on any given day.
Do you remember me? I’am sure you don’t. I’m Jonathan’s mother. you are a realy good person. Thank you for what you said about Egypt, really Egypt is the mother of the world.
I am afraid, this piece of literature does not reveal any unknown facts. Very smart comment from Dahlia F who puts “delivery 24-7” on the first place in list of reasons why she wants to live in Cairo. I happen to live in the UK, the above mentioned “comfortable first world country”. Well, not really – or not anymore. You can not get here an excellent service for your money, or if it is an excellent service, this is outrageously overrated in price. “England. Typical. Even drug dealers dont work weekends” – it says it all. National TV does a fantastic job in making people more and more dull – I could not believe when first time I saw an advert for ASDA suggesting females to check online if they really got their goods from ASDA for 10% less than at other places, and if they did not, they are entitled for refund. Wow! So would they REALLY go online for the sake of their miserable halfpennies??? Would you too?
No surprise for me whatsoever that someone from “first world country” (i.e. probably having a (half)decent salary) wants to live in a country like Egypt (especially when “those 2 weeks” are over). You want fun, you want respect, you want smile, you want service, and you want it cheap. It’s natural.
All The World Love Egypt ❤
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Two years into the revolution, and we want that sense of safety back. It will; come back. It’s gotta come back. Or it won’t be Egypt any more. Peace x
Thank you for your beautiful words, no foreigners can say the same if they never visited Egypt i guess, once u visit Egypt, it will just settle in your heart ! Love you, Egypt !
i,m tour operator in travel agency i like handle with foreigners , over then 10 years handle with them , they always straight away not deceiver and same time handle with different cultures