Saturday, 18 July 2009

Visiting Egypt during Ramadan

Ramadan is a great time to visit a Muslim country. don't forget Egypt isn't just about antiquities but also about the people and the culture. Over 80% of the population are Muslims the rest being Coptic Christians and even the most lax and laid back make a special effort during Ramadan

Effects on tourist visiting sites - none what so ever, drink what you like, eat what you like, smoke what you like. I think it is nice not to smoke in a car when the driver is fasting but actually I think it nice not to smoke in a car full stop. Some drivers are very macho about their fasting and like to show how strong willed they are.

Effects on tourist in hotels - none what so ever, often the Christian staff do day time and Muslims night so don't assume everyone you see is fasting

Availability of alcohol - reduced during Ramadan although this is generally sold by Christians it does stop during Ramadan and strict Muslims will not handle it. 5* hotels are not affected.

Effects on tourists non tourist sites, banks, etc these often keep different hours during Ramadan generally closing for Iftar (the sunset meal) so just remember to go early in the day

Effects on tourists traveling, if you have a private driver and are traveling at sunset do suggest he stops to break his fast otherwise no effect what so ever

Interesting things to see

those better off supply food for Iftar in the streets for the poor, it is quite amazing seeing all these roadside camps, you may be offered something there is no problem accepting, just have a couple of dates

family meals, if you get invited to Iftar go, some of the meals are fabulous, the best cooking happens at this time, they try and break the fast with dates

all the old TV programs get recycled, some have subtitles but anyway it is fun to watch the over the top dramas

the mad race on the roads to get home for Iftar and the dead silence on the roads during Iftar

the lanterns, lights, flags and paper mosques put up by the children to decorate their homes

everyone in the country united in celebrating a religious event. This is the aspect I love. Everywhere you go being offered good wishes, people supporting each other, the children excited doing their first fast (they start off doing half a day fasts and it is a big event). Not everyone fasts, sick people, nursing mother and small children do not.

So don't be put off visiting because it is Ramadan, join in the celebrations


Shemsu Sesen said...

Great post. It would never have occured to me to visit Egypt during Ramadan, but now you have me leaning in that direction!

I was there back in '97 and hope to make it back again in the next few years. I will be sure to check with you before I do. Your environmental and human resources policies are very much in line with my own values.

You are a true Bodhisattva of the Earth!

Anonymous said...

(Don't forget Egypt isn't just about antiquities but also about the people and the culture.)
I do agree with this statement. Visiting a place means a journey to new people and different culture. If you add the time factor (Ramadan or what so ever), it will be a different special journey. You should travel in a different way.
The most interesting for me is your statement about people supplying food for Iftar in the streets.
Visiting other country means respecting their rules and ethics. So, tourists will be civilized if they did not smoke or eat in streets or common places during day of Ramadan.
Thanks for this post.