Dr. Basim Elhabashy serves as the CEO of Marbella Oases, a medical laboratory focused on the development of new drug-testing technologies. An avid traveler in his free time, Dr. Basim Elhabashy visits Egypt several times each year.
Egypt can be a complex place for a newcomer to navigate, although it is extremely rewarding. Experts recommend starting out by hiring a travel agent or tour guide, but since many make their living by taking advantage of tourists, it is a good idea to check reviews and get recommendations first.
Travelers can also avoid being swindled or overcharged by learning a few phrases and basics of the numbers system. Knowing how to state prices can help a traveler to negotiate in shops, which is the norm in the country, and a key skill to have in order to avoid paying tourist prices. It is also helpful when reading price tags, which often translate to a higher price for English readers than for Arabic readers.
Travelers should also be aware of tipping customs. It is common for locals to ask tourists for tips when they have performed any kind or courteous act, such as guiding a visitor across a street or giving directions. Savvy visitors know to refuse such service with a polite “La, Shukran,” which translates to “No, thank you,” though some locals will be quite insistent.
Despite this cultural norm, which can be off-putting to some visitors, Egyptians tend to be a very friendly and warm people. Starting conversations can be a great way to learn about the area and to gain insight into where the locals shop and eat, and these places are often the most affordable.