Beyond Pyramids & Pharaohs, the People Are Egypt's Real Treasure
Updated: May 9
What you don’t know about Egyptian people is they are some of the kindest, funniest, and most inspiring people you will ever meet. There’s so much more to Egypt than Pyramids and Pharaohs. You may arrive as a foreigner, but soon after, you are family. The people are the real treasure of Egypt. Here are seven ways Egyptians inspire me.
Nicknames are important in Egypt. I used to have a few growing up — Lizard, and Wendall, for example. But in Egypt, there’s a sweetness to the art of nicknames.
I often take taxis, and I’ve begun to notice a curious thing — the names of people on the driver’s mobile phone. I’m in the backseat, so I can see names come up on the driver’s phone. A few of the names I’ve seen are my heart, the queen, my rose, and my soul…so lovely and expressive.
Egyptians put off their plans to help you with small things or big things. If you are ill, they drop everything and come to take care of you and won’t take no for an answer.
I’ve been sick the last week, and five friends offered to bring me groceries, medicine, and otherwise sit with me. They make sure you eat well, give you home remedies for wellness, and check in with you twice daily.
Another example is when I lost my wallet on a bus. One woman was so concerned about me that she handed me some cash and insisted I could stay in her spare bedroom if I couldn't afford my rent.
Egyptian generosity is legendary. My previous landlady used to invite me for lunch on Fridays. Afterward, she’d send me away with a huge plate of mahshy (a local dish of stuffed vegetables) because she knew it was my favorite.
Egyptians welcome you to their home like a Pharaoh and even make sure you have house shoes or slippers upon arrival. After lunch, if you’re tired, they won’t let you leave but rather insist you nap instead.
If you are lucky enough to have a circle of Egyptian friends, you know they show you kindness and care at every opportunity.
Birthdays are serious business for Egyptians, and it’s not uncommon to throw two or three parties for one person!
You will feel like the Queen of Egypt if you have a birthday in the land of Pharaohs because the joy and spirit of Egyptians can’t be contained.
#3 No is not an option
Egyptians don’t say no; they say inshallah (if God wills it) to preserve a sense of optimism and your feelings.
In turn, they won’t take no for an answer from you!
Don’t even think of trying to pay for lunch, refuse an invitation, or another helping of food. It’s an endearing quality when you think about it and one of the things I love most about Egyptians.
Egypt can be a challenging place to live — from electricity cuts to insane traffic and severe weather; it’s never boring.
When things get tough, Egyptians love to joke around. Humour runs in their veins, and they make an art of it.
Egyptian Arabic has hundreds of phrases to tickle your funny bone. For example, “Temot El-Raa’sa We Westaha Beylaa’b.” “The belly dancer dies while her waist is still moving” is the more comic Egyptian version of “old habits die hard.”
#1 Ahh, romance
Egyptians are more romantic than Shakespeare ever dreamed — translation: they make you feel super special.
Arabic is a decisively poetic language, and many Egyptians make excellent use of this. Everyone has their own love language, but Egyptians are next-level romantics.
The treatment is on point, from poetry to teddy bears to chocolate & flowers. Coming from the West, where Netflix and a pizza are the standards, I’m inspired by Egyptians enthusiasm & flair for romance.
In the end
Egyptians have inspired the world through art, monuments, inventions, and a zest for life for thousands of years.
People from around the globe travel to Egypt to witness the history of one of the world's greatest civilizations.
I’m lucky to live here because Egypt is my little slice of paradise.
I leave you with a snippet of an ancient Egyptian love poem to ponder.
The Flower Song
To hear your voice is pomegranate wine to me:
I draw life from hearing it.
Could I see you with every glance,
It would be better for me
Than to eat or to drink.