Egyptian culture boasts seven millennia of recorded history. Ancient Egypt was among the earliest and greatest civilizations during which the Egyptians maintained a strikingly complex and stable culture that influenced later cultures of Europe, the Near East and Africa. After the Pharaonic era, the Egyptians themselves came under the influence of Hellenism, Christianity and Islamic culture. Today, many aspects of ancient Egyptian culture exist in interaction with newer elements, including the influence of modern Western culture, itself influenced by Ancient Egypt.
There is no such thing as a unified “Egyptian Culture”, for the simple reason that Egyptians form a multicultural society, where modernity and western customs flirt with traditions, where religious practices are moderate but where religion is still deeply anchored in the everyday life of the Egyptians…
However, Egyptians from all social strata, religious beliefs, or ethnic origins share a remarkable attachment to important social values, such as:

  • Family: Egyptians consider their family as an integral entity which they have to protect. Don’t be surprised to notice that an Egyptian feels responsible for his whole family and the behavior of his siblings, his parents, his cousins, etc.
  • Friendliness and Humour: Egyptians are known to be the most funny, friendly and helpful nation of the Middle East. They will go out of their way to help you in any troublesome situation, always with a smile. If you’re sensitive to their humour, which is renowned world-wide, you’ll be surprised to see how far a smile or a joke can take you in Egypt.
  • Sports: and most of all, Football! Egyptians love playing but also watching football. The biggest and most popular national football clubs are Al Ahly and Zamalek, both of which are based in Cairo.
  • Folkloric Dances: Egypt is famous for its authentic and beautiful heritage of customs and traditions. Those are especially observed in the religious events and during the month of Ramadan.

Egypt is also known for the varied forms of folk art and dances, proper to each region of the country. While inhabitants of Suez, Ismailiya and Port Said are famous for group dances accompanied by music played on the traditional “semsomiya” [an old traditional string instrument], the southern population of Al-Saeed are known for their “logging” and equestrian inspired dances. Nubian dances are probably the most colorful and joyful folkloric performances; Nubians wear colourful costumes and dance to the enticing rhythms of Nubian songs. The folkloric Sinai dance is one where the dancers wear beautiful hand-embroidered dresses and perform a sword-dance.
Moreover, Egypt is a lively artistic scene, world famous for its music, film, theatre, and TV industries. And although it could be considered as having a bigger impact on the Middle East and the Arab countries than it does on the Western world, it is important to underline that Egypt has contributed to the world cultural heritage through iconic figures such as the 1988 awarded Nobel Prize for Literature Egyptian author, Naguib Mahfouz, the acclaimed movie director, Yousef Chahine, the Egyptian actor Omar Sherif, and the most famous Arabic diva of all times, Umm Kolthoum, only to name a few.
Egypt has also given the world acclaimed scientists and thinkers such as Ahmed Hassan Zuweil, winner of the 1999 Nobel Prize for Chemistry, and Sir Magdy Yacoub, an acclaimed surgeon, a heart transplantation specialist and renowned professor of cardiothoracic surgery at Imperial College in London.
Egypt is a recognized cultural trend-setter of the Arabic-speaking world, and contemporary Arab culture is heavily influenced by Egyptian literature, music, film and television. Egypt gained a regional leadership role during the 1950s and 1960s, which gave a further enduring boost to the standing of Egyptian culture in the Arab world.
Egyptian identity evolved in the span of this long period of occupation to accommodate Islam and Christianity; and a new language, Arabic, and its spoken descendant, Egyptian Arabic.
The work of early 19th-century scholar Rifa’a al-Tahtawi renewed interest in Egyptian antiquity and exposed Egyptian society to Enlightenment principles. Tahtawi co-founded with education reformer Ali Mubarak a native Egyptology school that looked for inspiration to medieval Egyptian scholars, such as Suyuti and Maqrizi, who themselves studied the history, language and antiquities of Egypt.
Egypt’s renaissance peaked in the late 19th and early 20th centuries through the work of people like Muhammad Abduh, Ahmed Lutfi el-Sayed, Muhammad Loutfi Goumah, Tawfiq el-Hakim, Louis Awad, Qasim Amin, Salama Moussa, Taha Hussein and Mahmud Mokhtar. They forged a liberal path for Egypt expressed as a commitment to personal freedom, secularism and faith in science to bring progress.