This page has pictures of people and other aspects of daily life in today's Egypt.
Here are some of my observations of Egypt society.
Beggars: There are some beggars that beg outright, but not that many. It was MUCH worse for instance in Kâmpuchéa (Cambodia). Even here in the USA, there are as many, if not more beggars around Harvard Square in Cambridge, MA, USA, than in most parts of Egypt. When I walked through Luxor, a group of children started to follow me. But they weren't begging, they were just interested in me and wanted to have their picture taken. One of them started to ask me for money, but the others immediately stopped him!
Many people don't directly beg, they try to get baksheesh for something, like having their picture taken, or giving you directions.
Hawkers: They are everywhere, trying to sell something. Some tourists don't like it and are really turned off by it. I don't think it is all that bad, it is not really much worse than in other countries. The locals have to make a living, and many Egyptians depend entirely on income from selling to tourists. If you don't want to buy anything, just make that clear, and don't get into a discussion with the vendor. If you start looking at their wares, they of course will try very hard to convince you to eventually buy something. If you want to get rid of them, just say firmly "No". If they insist, slightly raise your voice and emphasize "NO". When I had to do that once, one of the ubiquitous security guards immediately responded and told the hawker to back off, since I had said no (I could clearly make out what he said).
Bargaining: This is a must. If you don't bargain, you pay many times more than you should. To do this right, you need to first figure out what the real price is for what you want. What I did was first to go to one vendor that had what I wanted, and offered a very low price, less than half of what I thought was fair. I would then bargain, but never got even close to what a real price would be. I would end up leaving without buying. You have to really leave to see whether the vendor follows you and lowers his price even more. This will give you a price that you know this vendor will not sell for. At the next vendor, you'll start with a price somewhat lower than this lowest price, and slowly bargain up a little bit at a time. I may end up leaving another couple of times till I get a satisfactory price.
Some vendors start out with a price that is two to three times the real price, so you have to bring them down quite a bit. However, some vendors start with ridiculously high prices, ten to twenty times the real price. When I got one of these, I wouldn't even bargain with them, I just laughed and left, to show my disdain. For instance, I found out that silver earrings of the type I liked cost around 20-30 LE. In one store, the vendor asked for 375 LE. I just laughed and walked away. In one rare case I found a store where the owner gave you real prices right away, which was very unusual. He had a very nice pair of earrings, so I asked how much they were. He said that he doesn't believe in bargaining, they were 25 LE. I said OK and bought them. I got a small carpet in that store as well, again for a fair price without bargaining. But this was a one-of-a-kind experience.
This section shows pictures of people in Egypt. Few women are veiled, but many wear head scarfs. Many men wear the traditional clothes. Younger people generally wear western style clothes.
Women going shopping. Some women still wear the black dress and veil, but not too many. (726k) A group of young women, coming from school. (585k) A feisty looking kid. (476k) Local merchants with local transportation. (819k) Visit at a primary school in Luxor. (1.6M) Visit at a primary school in Luxor. Each class lines up in a columns. (1459k) Students in a primary school in Luxor, on their way to the class room. (1481k) In the class room. (1.5M) Street scene at the railroad crossing. (1332k) The barrier at the railroad crossing didn't face people too much. Everybody just kept walking across. (1.5M) Street scene. (1204k) Local youth in Luxor. Many of them liked to have their pictures taken. (1.8M) Local store with locals gathering for a chat and a sheesha (waterpipe). (1.6M) These kids followed me around for a while, asking to have their pictures taken. They didn't beg, they were just having fun. (1494k) Local kids in Luxor. (1421k) Local kids in Luxor. (1427k) A group of young women visiting the Luxor Temple. (861k) Close-up of one of the young women. They were all wearing head scarfs. (675k) Local men at our sunrise breakfast. (572k) Local woman baking bread in a traditional oven. We had sunrise boat ride and an early morning breakfast in a local village on the west bank of the Nile, opposite Luxor. (848k) Local woman baking bread in a traditional oven. (577k) Local woman. (688k) They were helping with the breakfast. (718k) An on-looker for our breakfast. (348k) Part of our breakfast setup. (812k) A young woman watching us. (964k) Doing laundry in the Nile. (915k) Relaxing from field work. (899k) Locals watching our cruise ship. (894k) Local kids waiving at our cruise ship. (626k) Rural transport. (695k) Local man. (518k) Relaxing in the local street café. (821k) Locals shopping. (840k) Local women in traditional dress on the street. (887k) Local street scene. (857k) Local in a date palm grove. (908k) Locals relaxing in one of the temples. (670k) Local street scene. (673k) Enjoying the sheesha in a street café. (677k) Enjoying the sheesha in a street café. (677k) Enjoying the sheesha and a chat in a street café. (781k) A local woman with a baby. (609k) Local street scene. (556k) Local women in modern dress. (521k) Locals in traditional dress. (554k) Older woman shopping. (790k) Young woman with toddler. (503k) Heavily veiled woman. (823k) Heavily veiled woman. (460k) Carrying a big load. (667k) Local kids in the Nubian village. (722k) Local kids in the Nubian village. (837k) Women in the Nubian village. (541k) Nubian woman in her house with our tour guide in the back. (514k) Handicraft in the Nubian village. (628k) Water storage jars. The clay jars keep the water cool through evaporation through the jar. (680k) Handicraft in the Nubian village. (564k) Prayer. (824k) Security guard at the Great Pyramid relieving himself on the pyramid. (600k)
Livestock was even in the cities like Luxor. There is agriculture along the Nile on the narrow strip of fertile land. Dade palms are the most common tree in Egypt.
You could frequently see livestock in the streets. (1.6M) Field work. (1023k) A vacant lot in a side street served as a parking spot for livestock. (1.7M) Local youth watching over a Cattle (Bos taurus, german: Hausrind, french: Vache). (1231k) Turkeys in a local village. (761k) Sugarcane harvest, watched from the hot air balloon. (755k) Sugarcane harvest. (785k) Sugarcane harvest. (1292k) Loading sugarcane with a balloon in the background. (609k) Vegetable gardens in the middle of Luxor. (1.8M) A cow on the bank of the Nile. It was covered with a blanket. (969k) Cows on the bank of the Nile. I don't know why they were covered with blankets. (964k) Domestic Sheep (Ovis aries, german: Hausschaf, french: Mouton) on the dock of the local ferry in Aswan. (848k) Some of the animals were pretty scrawny. (1179k) I think this tower is for pigeons or other birds. (992k) Irrigation pump. (723k) Irrigation pump. (1146k)
We saw fishermen all along the Nile. Some were using nets, some fishing rods.
Preparing a fishing net. (1067k) On their way net fishing on the Nile, all by man power. (739k) They were on their way to go fishing in the Nile. (866k) Getting ready to cast their net. (936k) Casting a net. (1064k) They were beating the water with large paddles to drive the fish into the net. (1032k) Fishermen on the Nile. (1103k) Resting during their fishing trip. (624k) Casting a net. (679k) Casting a net. (503k) Rod and reel fishing. (528k) Rod and reel fishing. (551k) Rod and reel fishing. (660k) Net fishing on the Nile. (684k)
Local Villages, Towns, and Cities
Cairo is the largest city, with lots of congestion. Aswan and Luxor were the other two cities that I visited. It was fun walking around the cities to get a feel of the town.
Housing in Cairo suburbs. As in many places, the top floor is unfinished, in anticipation of adding new floors. (1281k) Housing in Cairo. Lots of satellite dishes there. (1460k) Minaret of a mosque in Luxor. (1.7M) Local housing in Luxor, away from the tourist areas. (1.8M) Side street in Luxor. There was quite a bit of construction. (1.6M) A local village on the west bank opposite Luxor from the hot air balloon. (542k) I don't know whether this is an archaeological dig or a cemetery, or something else. (501k) Local village and ruins outside the Valley of the Kings. (720k) Local village and ruins outside the Valley of the Kings. (726k) A local village on the bank of the Nile. (854k) Local village on the bank of the Nile. (784k) Local village on the bank of the Nile. (1097k) A mosque on the bank of the Nile. (796k) A small mosque on the bank of the Nile. (557k) Local village on the bank of the Nile. (1099k) Local village on the bank of the Nile. (784k) Local village on the bank of the Nile. (786k) Settlement on the Nile. (963k) Industry on the Nile. (683k) View of a small city from the Nile. (561k) View of a small city from the Nile. (643k) A mosque rising behind the date palms along the Nile. (883k) Working with bricks. (1062k) Unfortunately there was a lot of garbage along the canals around Cairo. (978k) Housing in Cairo. (691k) In the Khan El Khalili Bazaar in Cairo. (1.6M) Hotel in Aswan. (568k) A torn-down house in the center of Aswan, used as a garbage dump. (873k) A mosque in the center of Aswan. (606k) Entrance to the mosque. (607k) Wrought iron on a building in Aswan. (1013k) Political advertising in Aswan. (724k) A beautiful small mosque in Aswan. (1343k) New housing complexes in Aswan. (887k) View over some small houses in Aswan with a big satellite dish. (1153k) A cemetery in the center of Aswan. (1044k) View of Aswan. (787k) Deteriorated housing in Aswan. (868k) A big suspension bridge over the Nile. (582k) View of the Nubian village behind the Satet Temple on Elephantine Island, next to Aswan. (751k) The Nubian village behind the Satet Temple. (691k) This village was not in very good condition. (795k) Some of the houses in the Nubian village. (868k) Chicken for sale. It was all very poor in that village, much worse than in any of the other villages that I saw. I visited this village on my own, not on the regular tour. I guess that the regular tour just doesn't visit the poorer villages. (747k) Very narrow paths between the houses. (757k) View through one of the narrow passages. (593k) As usual you see livestock on the road. (987k) This is how some of the Ancient Egyptian monuments end up. (1008k) Boats in the Nubian village. (1044k) Lots of garbage in the village. (1067k) The Nubian village that we visited with the tour was in much better shape, prepared for tourists. (435k) View over the roofs of the second Nubian village. (701k)
The High Aswan Dam is a huge construction project. The dam is almost 1 km (0.6 miles) wide at the bottom!! It is 111 m (364 ft) high. The area that the reservoir (Lake Nasser) covers is 6,000 km² (2,300 square miles).
View of the Nile downstream of the Aswan High Dam. (650k) View of Lake Nasser, the reservoir behind the Aswan High Dam. (508k) View of the generator station on the Aswan High Dam. (832k) View of the downstream slope of the Aswan High Dam, with the monument celebrating the Russian aid for building the dam. (649k) View of the downstream side of the Aswan High Dam. (688k) The Aswan Low Dam. (460k) Facts about the Aswan High Dam. (596k) Cross section of the Aswan High Dam powerhouse. (647k) Cross section of the Aswan High Dam. Notice the very shallow slopes and very wide base. (712k) Facts about the Aswan High Dam. (611k) Facts about the Aswan High Dam. (613k) The Russian monument. (698k)
Local shops are usually small shops that specialize on a particular product. In the tourist areas, it is mainly souvenirs, but also a lot of jewelry. I got some nice silver jewelry.
Stores in Cairo. (1429k) Street market in Cairo. (865k) Restaurant in Cairo near the Khan El Khalili Bazaar. (1.9M) In the Khan El Khalili Bazaar. (1.8M) Market scene in Luxor. (1.5M) Market vendor selling nuts, etc. (1.9M) A cobbler with his street side work place. (1.5M) A butcher shop with a bakery in the background and a fruit stand in front. (1.6M) Haggling over a bunch of oranges. (1.7M) Local butcher shops with some locals chatting. (1419k) Butcher shop showing his wares. (653k) Local fruit stand. (1.8M) Local fish store. It was a bit smelly around there. (1.8M) Delivery in the Bazaar. (890k) Local butcher shop. As always, the meat is hanging in the air. (1.6M) Hawkers and Peddlers in the Valley of the Kings. (962k) Local carpet and rug shop. (925k) Bread bakery. (692k) Selling tomatoes. (511k) Painting for sale. (713k) Mobile grocery store. (936k) Baking bread. (443k) Painting on papyrus for sale. (763k) Local barber shop. (694k) Bazaar in Aswan. (1027k) Jewelry shop. I got some nice silver jewelry in Egypt. (967k) Trying to keep the dust down. (953k) Restaurant in Aswan, decorated with flower petals on the floor. (744k) Bazaar in Aswan with a mosque in the background. (650k) Fresh vegetables for sale. (972k) You can't hustle all the time, now it is time for the sheesha. (708k) Look though the bazaar in Aswan. (841k) Glass blower. (1.7M) Spices store. (1.9M) The bazaar in Aswan at night. (1.6M) The bazaar in Aswan at night. (1.6M) Business at night. (1.6M) In a school for carpet weaving. It looked a little like child labor to me. (697k) In a school for carpet weaving. (617k) Street vendor with oranges. The oranges were very good. (821k) Street vendor with oranges. (796k) Street vendor with oranges. (866k) Street vendor with oranges. (1024k) Our tour guide is buying some oranges. (1076k) Tire shop, fixing a big truck tire. (643k) Mobile grocery store with nice, fresh vegetables. (1192k) Mobile grocery store, pulled by a donkey. (952k) One of our group bought some carrots and then fed them to the donkey. (1027k) Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pizza Hut in Cairo. (670k) Large outdoor restaurant, frying chicken and baking bread. It had nice fried chickens and very good bread. (965k) Chicken on the grill. (1.6M) The bread oven. (1.8M) Baking bread. (1.6M) Making paper from papyrus. (1.8M) Making paper from papyrus. (1.8M) Making paper from papyrus. (1.8M) Delivering milk. (985k) Peddlers at the boat landing at the Botanical Garden opposite Aswan. (1024k) Local farm stand. (808k) Stone sculpture artist in Aswan. (889k) Stone sculpture artist in Aswan. (875k) Stone sculpture artist in Aswan. (852k) Whenever the cruise ships stop here, the peddlers come out. They row their boats in the current of the Nile and throw their wares (shirts, rugs, kaftans, etc) onto the ship. You either throw it back or keep it and throw back money in the plastic bag. It was an interesting spectacle. (593k) The peddlers crowding around the cruise ship. (582k) A peddler showing a rug before throwing it up. (808k) There goes the bag with the rug. (672k) He is waiting to catch the return. (832k)
Security was tight in a lot of places. Here are some pictures of security personnel guarding museums, hotels, etc.
Security was tight everywhere. At each museum and other attraction you could see these blast shields with a guard armed with semi-automatic weapons. (549k) Armed guard behind his shield. (618k) Armed guards at the Temple of Horus. (698k) Armed guard behind his shield. (534k) Not all of them were regular police. (845k) Guards at the cruise ship. They were on the cruise ship throughout the trip on the Nile. (958k) Metal detector at the entrance to the cruise ship. There metal detectors everywhere (museums, hotels, ships, etc). (682k) Security guards in front of the Hotel Le Meridien Pyramids in Giza. (671k) Car inspection with mirrors at the drive to the hotel. The poles withdraw when the inspection is complete. (660k) Car inspection with dogs at the drive to the hotel. (663k) Security guard in the Valley of the Kings. (702k) Security guard at our breakfast in a local village across the Nile from Luxor. Every tour group has guards with them at all times. (480k) But they were not always real busy. (617k)
The feluccas are everywhere on the Nile. There are a lot of them dedicated to tourists, but lots of them are also used for everyday work.
Working felucca. (756k) Tourist feluccas. (536k) Tourist felucca on a sunset cruise. (590k) Sunset cruise on a Felucca. (442k) Sunset cruise on a Felucca. (411k) Private feluccas. (671k) Private feluccas. (694k) There are a lot of feluccas around Aswan. (489k) Tourist excursion on a felucca. (707k) Sunset on the Nile. (1.7M) It gets crowded on the Nile when all the tourist boats start their sunset cruise. (550k) Working Felucca, hauling building material. (720k) Local felucca at anchor, waiting for the next job. They are not only for tourists. (983k) In no hurry. (592k)
Traffic in the larger cities was pretty congested. Everywhere it was a mix of motor traffic and animals. Cairo was VERY congested. On the Nile, boats are ubiquitous, from small row boats, to huge cruise ships.
A small ferry on the Nile. They are used to transport people in a lot of places. (802k) Cairo is full of the VW Buses. They are running regular bus routes. (803k) Local traffic in Luxor. (1437k) Donkey cart. (899k) Bringing home the harvest with donkey power. (808k) This is mostly tourist transportation. (804k) Local boats. (909k) Local transportation. You can see these carts in many places, even in cities like Luxor or Aswan. (594k) Animals, in this case a camel, are a common mode of transporting goods. This one had quite a load. (1231k) The VW buses were the common scheduled bus transportation in Cairo. (970k) For better cooling they drove mostly with the motor compartment open. (807k) These little pickup trucks with cabins were also part of the public transportation system. Many of them were brightly colored. (794k) Street scene in Luxor. (786k) Local minibuses. (775k) Street scene. Traffic was sometimes really bad in Cairo. And the driving is very aggressive. It takes some getting used to. (1133k) Nothing moving here, and not just because it is a still photo. Traffic was very congested in Cairo, most of the time. (1.6M) Traffic in Cairo. (1484k) Various forms of transportation. (1.8M) Another mode of transportation. (1.5M) That little donkey had quite a load to haul. (1431k) Car ferry across the Nile. (1049k) An older version of a local people ferry across the Nile. (799k) Maneuvering for a place to dock the cruise ships. (642k) Traffic jam on the Nile. There were a lot of cruise ships docking in Edfu to visit the Temple of Horus. (664k) Tourist transportation in Edfu at the Temple of Horus. (834k) Horse carriage drivers, waiting for their tourists to come back from the Temple of Horus. (563k) Signs in the parking lot at the Temple of Horus in Edfu. (481k) Cruise ship on the Nile. (697k) Some of them were huge. (723k) Traffic jam in Cairo. (872k) Many people carry their load on their head. (561k) Men and women carry loads on their heads. (684k) Horse drawn carriage. (985k) The horse had nice patterns cut in his hair on his ..s. (806k) This was one of the smaller cruise ships. (442k) Local ferries on the Nile. (875k) Local ferry crossing the Nile. They were used in many places where there are no bridges. (766k) A lot of transportation on the Nile is done by hand. (927k) On their way home with the harvest. (1016k) Man power drives much of the transportation on the Nile. (685k) Local ferry in Aswan. These ferries were very cheap, costing only a few pennies. (992k) On the local ferry from Aswan to Elephantine Island. (622k) The local ferry on Elephantine Island across from Aswan. (731k) A convoy of tourist feluccas being towed because of no wind. (1.7M) Traffic jam in Cairo. (701k) He was transporting mud on his donkey, probably as building material. (884k) Colorful pickup truck. There were lots of these on the roads. (803k)
The most interesting tourist thing was the balloon ride. It was really fun. The show on the cruise ship was so-so. The camel ride outside Aswan was a lot of fun. I finally managed to relax on the camel and from then on it was great fun. Once you relax, the ride is real easy. I had taken a camel ride a few months earlier in the United Arab Emirates and had much more of a problem, because I had not managed to relax. This time it was real fun.
Inside of the Mena House Oberoi Hotel in Giza, close to the Pyramids. (988k) Flamingos at the Hotel Le Meridien. (831k) Tourist transportation in Luxor. (1.7M) Ready for the tourists coming from the cruise boats. (718k) Starting the inflation of the balloon. (508k) Inflation is complete, loading of the tourists starts. (424k) There are always a lot of the balloons up early in the morning. (352k) The big basket holds about 20 people. (297k) Quite a few balloons launched all around us. (357k) A couple of other balloons near us. (281k) Another balloon just below us. (483k) The burner is lighting up the balloon. (435k) It gets very bright when the burner is running. (420k) The end of the flight. A second load of people is already waiting to continue the flight. (535k) Entertainment on the cruise ship by a local music group. (614k) A "Whirling Dervish" performance. He kept rotating throughout his whole performance for about 10 minutes. (547k) The "Whirling Dervish". He kept taking off parts of his costume. (576k) The "Whirling Dervish". (560k) The "Whirling Dervish". (585k) The "Whirling Dervish". (594k) They are waiting for the tourists to take the camel ride to St. Simeons Monastery. (1063k) Ready to board the Ships of the Desert. (698k) Close-up of one of the decorated camels. I got used to being on a camel and really enjoyed it, especially when the camel started picking up speed. (560k) Nubian camel drivers on their way back to pick up more tourists. (518k) Our tour guide on the camel. She was not really all that comfortable up there. (725k) Bag pipe band at the Sound and Light Show at the Pyramids. (590k) This was our bus. At all stops we had similar buses. (566k) This was our cruise ship. It was very comfortable. The food was OK, but not excellent. (668k) Entrance fees were not too high, just the rate for commercial video was exorbitant. 35 LE are about $6.00. (851k) A boat with tourist coming back from the Philae Temple of Isis. (566k) At the Red Pyramid, there are not many tourists, so the security guards are a lot more relaxed. (819k)
Character study. (468k) Character study. (390k) Character study. (650k) Character study. (1410k) Character study. (634k) Character study. (394k) Character study. (529k) Character study. (608k) Character study. (560k) Character study. (477k) Character study. (534k) Character study. (504k) Character study. (494k)
Sunrise over Luxor. (417k) Sunrise over Luxor. (439k) Sunrise over Luxor. (474k) Early morning quiet on the Nile. (429k) Sunset on the Nile. (839k)