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Egypt: Modern Egyptian Culture


Modern Egyptian Culture

See also our complete Travel Guide for more Information on Culture.


Adam Henein by Lara Iskander

Adam Henein is one of Egypt's best known artists, and commissioner of the Aswan International Sculpture Symposium

Arabic Music by David Scott

Music has been a part of Egyptian culture probably since its beginning.

Ahmed Askalany's Incredible Palms by Heba Fatteen Bizzari

Installation work is becoming a more common form of artistic expression. One might think of Ahmed Askalanys Installations as folk art, but that is incorrect because there is no artistic tradition in Egypt of weaving animals and people from palm leaves. Askalany is the first artist to do so in his hometown near Qena in Upper Egypt, where basket weaving using this material is an important cottage industry. Palm leaves are plicate (that is, have parallel folds) and segmented with a central rib.

A Bedouin Dinner in the Sinai by Julia Kaliniak

A Bedouin Dinner in the Sinai is good for more than just a little food. It is a cultural and learning event, and sometimes the ride to get there is not bad either.

Cairo's Gold Mine of Used Books Still Offers Treasures by Dr. Maged El-Bialy

The Soor El-Azbackaya zone is a little known bookseller area in Attaba near downtown Cairo. Almost all subjects in all languages can be found within the hundreds of ceiling-high stacks of books inside the small metal shacks run by various used booksellers.

Children in Modern Egypt by Catherine C. Harris

Children in Egypt have much in common with children in the United States. They are required to go to school, they must observe family rules, they enjoy popular foods, and they recognize fashion trends. However, if one takes a closer look at the children in Egypt, they will find unique facts that make Egyptian children interesting in their own right. What do Egyptian children watch on television? What music do Egyptian children most enjoy? What do Egyptian children do for fun, as a family and with friends?

Coptic Christians of Egypt, An Overview of the by Lara Iskander and Jimmy Dunn

The word Copt is an English word taken from the Arabic word Gibt or Gypt. It literally means Egyptian. The Arabs, after their conquest of Egypt in 641 AD, called the population of Egypt Gypt, from the Greek word Egyptos or Egypt. The Greek word Egyptos came from the ancient Egyptian words "Hikaptah" (Ha-Ka-Ptah), one of the names for Memphis, the first capital of Ancient Egypt. In contemporary usage, the term "Coptic" refers to Egyptian Christians. Today, Copts form almost 13% to 15% of Egypts population though they are not ethnically distinct from other Egyptians as they are fully integrated into the body of the modern Egyptian nation.

Egypt's 1960s Remarkable Virgin Mary Sightings by Amargi

While all in America were watching the Chicago riots, or viewing live broadcasts from Vietnam or were being mesmerized by the Watergate hearings, the Mother of Jesus was appearing for tens of thousands to see in the land of the pyramids at a Coptic church constructed to commemorate the area in Egypt where she had come with Joseph and Jesus.

Egyptian Arabic Jimmy Dunn writing as Ismail Abaza

Most people visiting Egypt have no language problems because Egyptians are usually adept in at least several different languages

Egyptian Food by Joyce Carta

Like any crossroads culture, Egyptian cuisine has picked and chosen those ingredients and food that grow best as well as best meet the flavor and nutritional needs of their people. Bridging Africa and Asia as it does, Egypt has a lot from which to choose.

Egyptian Hajj Painting by Sonny Stengle

The hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca, a central duty of Islam whose origins date back to the Prophet Abraham, brings together Muslims of all races and tongues for one of life's most moving spiritual experiences. Since the 7th Century, the Hajj, or Great Pilgrimage to Mecca, has been a lifelong goal of devout Muslims throughout the world.

The Egyptian Middle Class by Jimmy Dunn

Most tourists to Egypt experience the country's middle class, one of the most interesting population segments. These are the Egyptians who to me seem most to embrace the modern world, and they are numerous and visible, educated as well as informed. They are the tour guides and travel administrators, technology workers, government employees, shopkeepers, artists, journalists and engineers, doctors and bankers. They are not hard to spot, with their cell phones and new cars, at McDonalds or in the new glittering malls. They can be found at the upscale coffee shops discussing politics or economics, and at the hot night spots talking fashion and the latest movies.

Egyptian Porcelain Center: A New Showcase for Egyptian and World Artists by The Egyptian Government

The Egyptian Porcelain Center is a new beacon of culture and art that enables talented artists, researchers and artisans to delve into the great Egyptian heritage, emphasizing its identity and reviving its time-honored heritage. The center shoulders the responsibility of cultivating conventional handicrafts that have thrived over earlier epochs.

The Egyptian Wedding by Dr. Maged El-Bialy

You may ask why am I writing an article about Egyptian weddings. You may think that an Egyptian wedding is like any other wedding, but I can assure you that an Egyptian wedding is a very special historical ceremony. It is the most important ceremony for Egyptian females. I am sure that there are certain rituals for marriage in many parts of the world but the Egyptian wedding ceremony has been carried on from generation to generation since the times of the Pharaohs. While there are many western aspects, the enthusiasm and grand festive atmosphere of an Egyptian wedding is simply amazing.

Eid: Celebration for the Young and Old by Mohamed Osama

The word Eid is an Arabic name to mean a festivity, a celebration, a recurring happiness, and a feast. In Islam, there are two major Eids namely "Eid al-Fitr" (Festival of Breaking the Fast) celebrating the end of Ramadan and "Eid al-Adha" (Festival of Sacrifice) which coincides with the Hajj and commemorates prophet Abrahams sacrifice of a sheep in place of prophet Ishmael.

Islam in a Nutshell by Seemi AhmadIslam,

Christianity and Judaism all trace their roots to the prophet Abraham and today are the three great monotheistic religions practiced worldwide. Islam preaches moderation and abhors extremism, terrorism, fanaticism, oppression and subjugation. True and faithful Muslims are committed to living according to the Quran and to tolerance, charity, hard work and cooperation with others.

Koshary by Heba Fatteen Bizzari

Imagine, mixing into a single dish, pasta, rice, lentil, chick peas, onions and garlic and adding to this chili sauce. The idea sounds horrific, until one tries out an Egyptian favorite called Koshary. Koshary is a traditional Egyptian meal that consists of a strange combination of macaroni, spaghetti, rice, black lentils, chick peas, garlic sauce and a spicy tomato chili sauce, all topped with fried onions. It is sold from carts by street vendors, in restaurants or even made at home and each is considered a different taste experience.

The Legends of the Cretan House by Dr. Maged El-Bialy

The Cretan house is very well known in Egypt, and outside of Egypt as the set for a tryst and murder in the James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me. It is situated behind Ibn Toulon mosque in historic Cairo, and was turned into a museum some 70 years ago.

Marvelous Melokiyah by Mary Kay Radnich

With its location at the northeast corner of the African continent, Egypt is truly a crossroads of Middle Eastern and North African cuisine. Very few foods are completely unique to Egyptian cooking and perhaps the most unusual of these foods is the green known as Melokiyah.

El Misaharaty: The Ramadan Drummers by Heba Fatteen Bizzari

The natives must be restless. Are those drums I here? Ramadan has a mysterious tradition that has come to be associated with it for various reasons. The Misaharaty (Musaharati) is one of the oldest, most deep-rooted traditions found during Ramadan. El Misaharaty is the name given to the person who walks and beats a drum in residential areas to wake people up to eat their sohor (a meal eaten before the beginning of the fast) before morning prayers. Yet, today, this ancient practice seems to be in decline. El Misaharaty is always accompanied by the children of the neighborhood who enjoy helping him in beating his drums and calling out.

Modern Egyptian Houses by the Egyptian Government

A pictorial of Modern Egyptian Houses

Modern Egyptian Pottery by the Egyptian Government

A pictorial of Modern Egyptian Pottery

Moulids! by Lara Iskander

"Moulid", meaning birthday in Arabic, is a celebration of a holy person. It is celebrated by Muslims and Christians in Egypt to honor their Saints. Although most Moulids are Muslim, some Coptic Saints are also honored in similar celebrations. From May till October, Coptic Moulids take place from the Nile Delta to Assyut. Islamic Moulids are regulated by the Lunar Islamic Calendar. The Moulid is not considered to be a proper custom by many Muslims as it is not part of the religion, but rather a popular tradition of the Muslim life.

The Mysteries of Qurna by Sonny Stengle

There are eight thousand fellahin, or peasants, living in Qurna, across the Nile from Luxor, all massed together in five clusters of houses built on and around the tombs eight thousand people living, literally, on the past!

Naquib Mahfouz's Classic: Bedaya Wa Nihaya, A Review by Adel Murad Naquib Mahfouz (1911-August 30th, 2006)

We morn the death of Egypt's legendary writer today with a review.

Never Mind, Just Crossing the Moon By Arnvid Aakre

I've always been fascinated by Egyptian evenings when the moon has reduced itself to a slim crescent, as here one can actually imagine oneself sitting in the moon - due to its more horizontal angle. This indulgence in whimsical imagination isnt possible, where the same moon is hanging nearly vertical.

On Understanding Egypt by Ralph Ellis

For many people, and perhaps most of all for Americans, Egypt is a very misunderstood country. As an Islamic country, bordering the Middle East but actually in North Africa, it is an Arabic republic, but at the same time, altogether different than any other. This is due to its 5,000 year old heritage, as well as its strategic location and other unique attributes. Current analysts often refer to Egypt as a "Moderate Islamic State", but in characterizing Egypt in this manner, one really fails to grasp its essence as a modern member of the world. community.

Party for the God in Luxor by Jane Akshar

Here in Luxor in the village of Al Gezera El Bariat we just had a Party for the God. This was the second one we have held. The first was to give thanks for the successful building of the flats (apartments) and this second one was to give thanks for our first year. It is also meant to ward off evil eyes, a holdover from Egypt's ancient past. The locals believe that jealous people can have a detrimental affect on others and so they will often have some kind of religious ceremony to negate this. These are really joyous occasions that, if one is lucky enough to find one going on, can be fun for tourists as well.

Egypt's Rafat Wagdy by Heba Fatteen Bizzari

Earning a living in Egypt as an Egyptian can be daunting. Many, Egyptians do not work at a regular company on a regular schedule. They frequently have more than one sources of income in order to meet their living expenses. Tourism is an important source of income for any number of Egyptians, though the majority of those who earn their living in this manner do so indirectly, working in restaurant and shops that cater to tourists and in just about any endeavor that might attract the occasional tourist.

Ramadan in Al Hussein Square by Seif Kamel

Its Ramadan in Egypt, a festive time, and no better time to visit Al Hussein Square and the Great Khan el-Khalili bazaar.

Ramadan in Egypt by Sameh

ArabSpending the holy month of Ramadan in Egypt is different than elsewhere. Other than the rituals practiced during that month, certain social habits of Egyptian Moslems are much different than anywhere else. Since long time, Egyptians adopted certain social habits during that month, which are not directly related to religion.

Ramadan in Korba, Heliopolis by Seif Kamel

It was a great night in Korba, Heliopolis, with celebrity guests, as the locals show just how much fun Ramadan can be.


Ramadan Lanterns in Egypt by Heba Fatteen Bizzari

Ramadan is the main ritual for all Muslims in the world, but to the Egyptians its the magical month that, accompanied with all the mysterious traditions that have become associated with Ramadan, often has no intrinsic link to religion. Some believe that many of the traditions are even incompatible with Islam. One of these magical traditions are Ramadan lanterns (Fawanees, sg. Fanoos or Fanus), which are now frequently made from recycled tin cans or plastic lanterns that play the latest popular music. Lanterns and lamps of various kinds, hues and degrees of brightness, have always been special to the Egyptians.

The 8th Annual Scupture Symposium for Stone in Aswan

by The Government of Egypt with revisions by Jimmy Dunn

The Sculpture Symposium for Stone in Aswan, sponsored by the Culture Development Fund and supported by the Aswan Governorate, produces works of art that may be found in the Open Air Museum. The open Air Museum covers 10 feddans on a hilltop overlooking Lake Nasser and Philae Temple. There are also already plans afoot for the establishment of a sculpture park. The land has been allotted by the governor. Awan is also to have a number of studios available to sculptors for a nominal sum. There will be a large workshop, with an overhead crane, compressed air and electricity, with a gallery attached.

The Sebou Ceremony Welcoming a New Born Baby in Egypt by Heba Fatteen Bizzari

Welcoming a new born in Egypt is accompanied with pride and great joy. There is a special significance associated with the divine blessing of both the father and the mother who have just sealed the sacred union of their marriage and ensured the continuation of their family's line of decedents. The Sebou' (meaning the seventh) is one of Egypt's oldest and most cherished celebrations. The family gathers a week after the birth of a baby of either sex by either Coptic or Muslim families from all status-groups, rural and urban.

Sham el Nessim, Egypt Spring Festival by Heba Fatteen Bizzari

More than a few Egyptian traditions today derive from very ancient times, including the holiday known as Sham el Nessim, which may have been celebrated as early as 4,500 years ago. For Egyptians, Sham el Nessim (Sham el Nisseem, Sham el Niseem), literally meaning sniffing the breeze, marks the beginning of the spring. It falls immediately on the first Monday following the Coptic Easter and it was related to agriculture in ancient Egypt which contained fertility rites that were later attached to Christianity and the celebration of Easter. It is believed that the Egyptians were the first to celebrate this occasion.

Sheikh Yusuf al-Haggag, His Mosque and Moulid In Luxor

by Jane Akshar

A Moulid, meaning birthday in Arabic, is a celebration of a holy person and in Egypt these celebrations are held for saints of both the Islamic and Christian faiths. Most are Islamic and are governed by the Lunar Islamic Calendar. Though many consider these not to be proper customs, they are nevertheless popular traditions of the people. Probably the most important Muslim celebration is the Moulid el-Naby (the Prophet's birthday), which along with a number of other important Moulids is celebrated throughout Egypt. However, many others are more local in nature, such as the Moulid of Abu al-Haggag (Sheikh Yusuf al-Haggag) which is held in Luxor, where a mosque dedicated to him and dating to the 13th century may be found incorporated into the ancient Temple of Luxor.

Umm Kalthoum by Lara Iskander

Take Elvis Presley, Frank Sanatra, Buddy Holly and the Beatles and combine them all and they might be as legendary as Umm Kalthoum is in Egypt. Her Museum next to the Nileometer gives one additional reasons to visit Rhoda Island. Umm Kalthoum occupies an undisputedly unique position in Oriental songs. She was known in Arabic as Kawkab Al-Shark or Star of the East for she was a most powerful symbol in the Middle East. She was also called El-Sett for she was seen as The Lady. Regarded as the most gifted female voice of the twentieth century, she had a popularity that knew no boundaries and was as phenomenal as was her voice. She was born into a poor family in a small village, east of the Nile Delta in 1904.

You Don't Have to Go to the Khan El-Khalili by Dr. Maged El-Bialy

True. You do not have to go the Khan or Hussein to buy pottery or hand made products. If you are the type of person who does not like to go to crowded places then Bashayer and Om El Saad are the places to be.

The Zar Ceremony by Heba Fatteen Bizzari

"The purpose of the Zar ceremony is to cure mental illness through contact with the possessing spirits which cause maladies. Though there are several methods for dealing with psychological disturbance, the Zar is the last resort which is supposed to have powerful therapeutic effect for several kinds of ailments," writes John Kennedy in Nubian Ceremonial Life. It should be noted that this ceremony is not widely practiced in Egypt. The Zar ceremony is most prominent in southern Egypt and is practiced further south into the Sudan, though in fact it may be performed anywhere in Egypt.

Last Updated: June 22nd, 2011

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