HUGE Memorial Day Language SALE (60% OFF - Ends Monday): CLICK HERE
The Mezzofanti Guild Language Learning Made Simple

12 Lessons Learned Proposing To An Egyptian Girl Who Only Spoke Arabic


It’s time.

I’ve been here in Korea for two weeks and I’ve been hearing quite a bit about cross-cultural relationships as there seem to be so many foreigners here dating Korean men and women.

Hearing about the cultural differences and challenges they face has really made me reflect a lot on what I learned from almost getting married to a girl while I was living in Egypt – a girl who didn’t speak any English.

Yea that’s right. Our relationship was entirely through my second languageArabic.

I said I’d write about it eventually and here it is; forbidden love between a Middle Eastern girl with no English and a bloke from Australia learning Arabic, as well as the important lessons learned from the whole experience.

Forbidden love?

Well, not initially. 

At first there was nothing forbidden about it at all – we met, we did the right thing and approached her father for permission, he gave us the green light, preparations for the engagement ceremony were made – everything was perfect.

That was until a bunch of unforeseen problems came our way that threw a spanner in the works and brought the whole thing to a halt.

A short-lived fantasy.

It was a heartbreaking end and one that neither of us wanted but in the end it wasn’t our decision to make.

So…

Today I’ve decided to share a few lessons with you that I learned from the whole experience.

It should give you some idea of what’s usually expected in Egyptian society if you ever meet the man or woman of your dreams. Enjoy!

Note: This is what I personally learned from my own experience and those of my Egyptian friends. I realize that there may be slight differences depending on how conservative the family is, whether they’re Coptic or Muslim and what area they’re from.

If you’ve had a similar experience please share it below!

Learning Arabic? Take a look at my other site: TalkInArabic.com.

 

1. Shortly after you fall in love, the father’s permission to date his daughter must be sought

…with the expectation of marriage.

Some guys in the West still have the decency to talk to the girl’s father before asking her to marry him. I take my hat off to you blokes for doing that.

In Egypt (and I suspect all over the Arab world) this is something that needs to be done right at the start when you start dating.

I went on two ‘dates’ (by that I mean hanging out in populated areas getting to know each other) with this girl at which time she told me that I needed to meet her father and request his permission to continue seeing her. It was either this or we stop seeing each other altogether.

This carried the expectation that we intended to get married. I had to make a serious choice then and there, without even knowing this girl properly, about whether or not I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her.

Sounds crazy, huh?

Now, this may differ for others but in my situation I was told to dress nice, come to their home and sit down for a lengthy interview about myself, my plans and my intentions with the man’s daughter. It’d be an opportunity to make a verbal contract of sorts between the father and myself.

I was pretty scared at this point.

Traditionally, this kind of negotiation over a bride-to-be is done with both peoples’ parents there and I suspect in a lot of areas (especially rural places) it’s almost like a business transaction. For Muslims especially there’s the issue of a dowry which can be money, gold and assets.

Because I didn’t have family with me and no one present to confirm who I was or if I could be trusted, the father had to contact Egyptians who knew me back in Australia to verify everything.

I was fortunate that I had these people to back me up. I’m not sure how somebody else with no ties to an Arabic-speaking community could get around this.

He asked me questions about everything – particularly finances.

We put pen to paper about my present and future financial situation including debts and assets, details about how much the engagement ring and ceremony would cost, the wedding and gold, the honeymoon and then of course, where we’d be living and how much that would cost.

There were lots of questions about religion and family too.

This meant everything about my mother and father, what they do and whether or not they’re together, as well as the extent of my religious commitment.

At the end of the very long discussion the girl’s father concluded by simply saying “Tayib, ana mawafi2” (Okay, I agree).

From then on I was treated like part of the family.

Lesson learned: Guys need a serious set of balls if they want to pursue a girl in the Middle East and a good story to back themselves up when being interviewed by the father.

 

2. Blokes are expected to have a stable career and an apartment before marriage

Egyptian men marry late.

By ‘late’ I mean it’s common for men in Egypt not to be regarded as ready for marriage until they’re well into their mid-thirties.

The reason for this is that it’s expected that you’ll already have a stable, secure job and an apartment to offer the girl you want to marry. When you meet her father to request permission to see her right at the start, he’ll want to be confident that you can provide all this from the get-go.

This is not only for her comfort and security but for the kids you’re expected to have shortly after.

I was lucky enough to have a rare instance where her father gave me his approval even though I didn’t have an apartment or a stable job at the time but this was only after I explained my short to mid-term plans in extreme detail.

Even then he was hesitant and had to phone an Egyptian friend of mine in Australia (the woman who taught me Arabic who I also call my second mother) to verify that I was telling the truth.

I have Egyptian male friends whose fathers actually saved up for years to buy their sons an apartment (usually in the same building as their parents) to make it easier for them when they wanted to marry.

Lesson learned: Start getting your act together big time (settle down and find a stable job) if you want to find love in Egypt.

 

3. There are lots of terms of endearment (pet names) in Egyptian Arabic

Every language is full of pet names people give to one another when they’re in love.

Here are just a handful of common Egyptian Arabic expressions that we used to say to each other a lot:

(Note: The numbers used in the transliterations represent sounds in Arabic that have no English equivalent. (E.g. ‘3’ = the guttural ‘ain sound (ع)). For the rest, read this for an explanation.)

7abibi – 7abibti (حبيبي – حبيبتي): This is the most common term of endearment right across the Arabic-speaking world. It simply means my love or my darling.

The man should use the feminine form when addressing his girlfriend/wife.

7abibi is also frequently used between friends, members of the family or young children. Sometimes, particularly in songs, you’ll hear the masculine form used toward women as well.

ba6a – (بطة): Duck. I’m not sure if this just an Egyptian thing or if it’s common in other places but this is one way to call somebody cute (ya Bata!).

My girlfriend used to call me this one a lot, especially when I said something silly (i.e. frequently).

7abib 2albi – 7abibat 2albi (حبيب قلبي – حبيبة قلبي): Love of my heart. 

This is another way to use the word 7abib. In Egypt, the word for heart is pronounced 2albi whereas in the Gulf it’s pronounced qalbi.

3omri / 7ayati – (عمري – حياتي): My life. These two words can be used pretty much interchangeably.

When used in a vocative way (ya 3omri), it’s just a short way of calling someone your everything. You can also use it with 7abib to mean love of my life.

mozza – (مزة): Sexy, babe. Be careful using this one. It can be taken as really rude if you say it to a girl who doesn’t have a playful nature or the right sense of humor. Never say this to someone you don’t know for obvious reasons.

We actually made our own hybrid word where we took the ending off the English pet name sweetums and attached it to mozza – mozzums. 🙂

bamoot feek / feeki – (بموت فيك): Literally translates as I’m dying in you. It basically implies something like I love you to death.

It’s a strong, emotive statement that you hear in songs a lot.

ba7lam bik / biki – (بحلم بيك): I’m dreaming of you. Self explanatory.

ba7ebak 2ad il-2amr / il-dunya kulaha / il-ba7r – (بحبك قد القمر – الدنيا كلها – البحر): I love you as much as the moon / the sea / the whole world.

We used to playfully argue with each other about who loved who the most while trying to find bigger things to compare our love to (yeah I know it’s lame, right!)

I love you as much the sea… Then I love you as much the moon. Well, I love you as much as the whole world!

You get the idea.

bitganini – (بتجنيني): You’re driving me crazy. It doesn’t need much explaining as it works the same way in English.

I could easily list off a dozen more terms and expressions but I think this will do. 🙂

Lesson learned: Being in a relationship with someone who speaks another language teaches you a lot of their romantic terms and expressions.

 

4. Even in a poorer society people can be very materialistic

I used to have this romanticized notion that materialism was something that only Western and East Asian societies suffered from, and that eventually I’d marry someone from a poorer part of the world where it’s not an issue.

Money and assets would never come between us I thought.

Given the fact that most people in the Middle East are quite religious and a huge emphasis is kept on one’s spirituality as more important than anything else, there’s still a heck of a lot of status given to people with wealth.

Let me tell you something – in poorer parts of world it can be just as much of a problem as it is in wealthier nations (sometimes much worse).

Now I’m not trying to generalize at all (apologies to anyone if this comes across as offensive) but one thing I did learn in Egypt is that it can be a huge obstacle for couples.

As I’ve already said above, men are judged quite harshly on what they own and what their status is. A man is even judged on how much gold he gives his bride at the wedding.

Even though my bride-to-be’s family knew I had very little at the time, to many of her extended family I was regarded as someone of a much higher status for the simple fact that I was from a Western nation.

In reality of course I wasn’t any different from anyone else.

Lesson learned: Even in a country like Egypt where religion and family are number 1, possessions and status can still be a huge factor.

 

5. You’re not just marrying the girl – you’re marrying the family

This is not unique to Egypt.

You have to accept the fact that this is not about two individuals tying the knot and living happily ever after alone together.

It’s about the union of two families – and this includes all the extended relatives as well.

This was one of my biggest concerns while I was planning to get married to this girl – neither she nor her family spoke a word of English and my family are monolingual English speakers with no interest in foreign cultures or travel.

My family criticized the hell out of me for my decision to marry this girl.

How would I introduce my family to these people? It had to happen eventually.

They’d never come to Egypt.

Who of my own family and friends could I invite to the wedding?

You can imagine the thoughts running through my mind. Even though it never got far enough for it to be a serious issue, it would have most definitely been extremely difficult.

Lesson learned: Unlike the infrequent visits to the in-laws that people are used to in the Western world, you can expect to see them constantly in Egypt.

 

6. Egyptians are generally very conservative

So you can’t even kiss her until you’re married?

As a general rule, for both Muslims and Christians in Egypt any kind of intimate contact before marriage is a big no no.

In more relaxed, less devout families, hand holding and one-arm hugs can be tolerated to a certain extent but that’s about as far as it goes.

This doesn’t mean that rules aren’t broken however.

Premarital sex does happen in Egypt and across the Arab world in secret (sadly this puts girls’ reputations and even lives in danger).

I was very reluctant to initiate anything more than hand holding in the early part of our relationship.

Lesson learned: Egypt is very conservative even though rules are often broken.

 

7. There are some feelings you can only fully express in your own language

Even at a high level of fluency in a foreign language as I have with Arabic, there is still so much emotion and thought that can’t be completely expressed without your native language.

I don’t care how fluent you say you are, you will eventually experience this.

I had so many times where I’d want so much to express a certain attitude or feeling to this girl – whether it was happiness, anger or sadness – but I couldn’t articulate it in a way that truly reflected what was going through my mind.

I’m not talking about being able to say I am happy or I am sad – I’m talking about all the various, detailed shades of those emotions.

It can be frustrating to be feeling something and not able to properly express it to somebody.

On the plus side it did teach me to express a lot of things that I previously didn’t know how to because I was always forced to search for ways to say them.

Lesson learned: Being in a relationship with someone who doesn’t speak your language really teaches you a lot about properly expressing yourself in their tongue.

 

8. Friends and family will often plant seeds of suspicion over the ‘green card’ fear

This annoys the shit out of me.

“Dude, she probably just wants citizenship.”

While it is a genuine consideration, hearing things like this really plants seeds of doubt in your mind and causes you to be overly suspicious.

If you can’t trust the girl then it’s over already.

I had made my intention known that I wanted us to stay in Egypt and she was fine with doing that. She was marrying me for me and didn’t care if we stayed put or ended up in Australia.

Now, I do actually know Egyptians who have done this (nearly all of them are men who married foreign girls). It happens.

You can ascertain fairly early on whether or not somebody truly finds you interesting and genuinely loves you or is just looking for a free ride.

Lesson learned: Some people are indeed exploitative but don’t let suspicions ruin your relationship.

 

9. The only place you’ll find a moment of privacy in Egypt is in the bathroom

…and no you can’t take her in there! 🙂

You think you’re going to take an Egyptian girl on a nice, quiet date somewhere and be left alone?

Hah, good luck with that!

There’s no such thing as privacy in Egypt (unless you’re in the loo).

We had a romantic spot in Cairo by the Nile where a lot of couples go but the place was supervised at all times by older Egyptian men.

The last time we were there they harassed my girlfriend and called her a prostitute because they thought it was strange that she was there with a foreign guy.

You really can’t get away from this.

In terms of size, Cairo has a population the size of the entire population of Australia. I can count on one hand the amount of times we were truly alone for a brief moment.

Lesson learned: There’s no such thing as privacy in Egypt. Dates always happen in groups.

 

10. Guys, be prepared to buy lots of gold if you’re serious about your bride

Egyptian women love gold.

These traditions actually go way back to ancient Egypt.

So after the scary talk you have with the girl’s father where he asks you a bajillion questions and finally agrees to allow you to see her, you head out and buy the first piece of jewellery – the dibla (دبلة).

This is basically what we in the West think of as a promise ring – engaged to be engaged.

For the engagement ceremony you’re expected to buy a much nicer ring – the khaatim (خاتم). This is what we in the West usually buy when we propose but in Egypt there’s a huge, planned ceremony that goes along with it.

Finally, there’s the shabka (شبكة).

We get off easy in the West only having to buy a wedding band. The shabka is more than just a ring – it’s a set of gold jewellery (necklace, bracelets, earrings, etc.) to go with the khaatim you buy for the engagement.

People judge the groom on how expensive and nice this jewellery is.

No pressure or anything fellas.

This is on top of all the other wedding expenses that the man has to come up with.

I bought my girlfriend the dibla but never made it as far as the khaatim. I’m kinda relieved!

Lesson learned: Egyptian women are high maintenance 🙂 Be prepared to shower them with expensive gifts.

 

11. Religion matters.

I realize that a lot of people reading this are non-religious.

Atheism and agnosticism aren’t really understood and certainly not respected in most parts of the Middle East.

In Egypt (and in pretty much every country in that region), Muslims marry Muslims, Christians marry Christians and Jews marry Jews.

Dating outside of your group can have nasty consequences for a lot of people.

If you describe yourself as having no religion, the reaction you’ll get varies from place to place and depending on who you’re talking to but you can be guaranteed that it won’t earn you any respect.

There’s also quite a lot of negativity toward other polytheistic religions (e.g. Hinduism) as well.

Lesson learned: Only date those with the same religious views as yourself and if you’re an atheist or agnostic then you’re probably best not to try.

 

12. Being in a monolingual relationship using your target language will catapult you toward higher fluency

As you’d expect it to.

I credit this girl as being one of the main reasons why I went from being an intermediate speaker of Egyptian Arabic to an advanced speaker. It changed me in so many ways.

See, I actually moved in with her family for a while when I lived in Egypt so I was with her and her family every single day from the minute I woke up till I went to bed.

It wasn’t your average immersion stay. 

Rather than the usual, general topics of conversation when you stay with a host family, we were discussing our future together, all our engagement and wedding arrangements, our political and religious views, our feelings and so on. The content of our conversations was advanced and therefore I was forced to move up to a higher fluency level.

When I went home to Australia we maintained contact via Skype and telephone several times a day for a whole year.

I used to write her love letters in Arabic too.

I remember sitting in an Egyptian coffee shop once trying to come up with some lovey-dovey stuff to put in this letter for her and having the young Egyptian waiters teach me poetry to make it sound more romantic.

This kind of relationship does wonders for your target language skills. It really starts to become part of your identity.

Lesson learned: Not that I’d ever seek a relationship just to improve my language skills but it really does take fluency to a whole new level.

 

So what happened in the end?

Simply put: I was hit with a few financial obstacles back home in Australia that put a longer delay on our arrangements.

We could still have made it work but she would have had to sit around waiting another 6-12 months for me to return to Egypt and the family wasn’t happy about that.

In the end, her parents cancelled the agreement.

There’s no way around this in Egypt – when they say it’s over, it’s over.

It was a sad and abrupt end but she’s got a family of her own now and things have worked out well for me too.

Are you thinking about learning the Arabic language? I made a few recommendations in this post for what I believe to be excellent resources.

I also wrote about why Arabic is nowhere near as difficult as people say it is here.

Have you had a similar experience dating or marrying into another culture? Was it through another language?

Share it in the comments section below! 🙂

 

This was written by .

 

Comments

House Rules: I love comments and feedback (positive and negative) but I have my limits. You're in my home here so act accordingly. No advertising. Links will be automatically flagged for moderation.

Got something to share?

  1. Fascinating insight Donovan! Loved it. Definitely some new things here about Egyptian culture that I didn't know.

    Niel

    1. Thanks mate 🙂

      Glad you liked it.

    2. I would like to communicate with you sharing my exoerience. Im egyptian male married with forigner. I have done totallt oppsite to escape from all that.
      Skype:momo2619

    3. I am an egyptian woman and this is a hilarious insight .
      These kinds of traditions are often broken and it depends largely on the girl and her family . Girls nowadays are more into long term love relationships rather than just know the guy shortly and quickly be engaged . We take our time to have a love story although it is really tough to defy the traditions about this and the family urging me to get married haha

    4. Dude: excellent read. Thanks so much!!!

  2. Really interesting, Donovan… thank you for sharing. One aspect of this that strikes me as being very difficult is making a commitment before you even know whether you want to make a commitment, since you don't know the other person–very different from how things are done in the US or Australia. My boyfriend is Brazilian, but speaks good English, so my Portuguese hasn't improved as much as it might have. But we have had many misunderstandings that have arisen from the idea that since we're both speaking English, the other person should understand what it is we're trying to say. There's definitely more to language than just the dictionary definitions of the words! In my boyfriend's particular culture within in Brazil (I think things are different in the rest of Brazil), it's sort of the opposite to your experience… I have been accepted very casually by everyone. Most people never marry legally, so the lines are pretty blurry and I am introduced as friend, girlfriend, fiancee, wife–whatever the person speaking chooses. Everyone keeps asking when I'm going to have a baby–and I don't even live in Brazil, I just visit! My "father-in-law" is very conservative and religious, and even he doesn't seem to blink an eye. When I told my boyfriend that my parents are religious and don't believe in premarital sex, he thought I was joking.

    1. Hi Uma,

      That's interesting to hear your experience. I don't know much about Brazilian culture admittedly. Seems you have your own challenges as well!

      Thanks for sharing 🙂

    2. Uma americana, Oi! Tudo bem? Eu estava em sua situação. Mais ou menos. Eu tinha duas enamoradas brasileiras, e eles eram paulistas. Por isso, falo o português com um sotaque paulista.

      Hey! How are your? I was in your situation. More or less. I had two Brazilian girlfriends, and they were from São Paulo. That is why I speak Portuguese with a paulista accent.

      The first girlfriend spoke English well and preferred English, but sometimes lapsed into Portuguese. The second spoke English badly and preferred Portuguese. That’s when my Portuguese took off. I became fluent in a matter of months.

    3. haha brazilian gf is the opposite of what this situation sounded like.

  3. I can vouch for numbers 7 and 12, having dated both a Spanish and Russian girl. It's frustrating not being able to fully express your emotions in a foreign language, especially when involved in a romantic relationship. Although this frustration is a huge motivator for me to reach the next level of competency.

    1. Wow. Spanish and Russian.

      That would have been a big challenge for you dating women from such different cultures. Spanish people always seem so vocal and expressive whereas Russians are so quiet and reserved.

      Did you find that was the case in your experience?

    2. I dated both as well, and I am quite proficient in both languages. The Spanish being vocal and Russians quiet is not my experience. My experience: Spanish is harder to date or get. Russian is easier and warmer (not louder), bit more intellectual… Russians are better educated by average (I think they hold 2nd position after Koreans in tertiary education penetration ) Sex with Spanish is better more animalistic yet not as playful.

  4. I studied Arabic in Jordan for 2 months this past summer. While I didn't have any romantic relationships, I did get to stay with a host family. Unfortunately, everyone spoke pretty good English (except for the mom), so I didn't really speak Arabic as much as I should have.

    Anyway, I just wanted to comment on #11, because I saw how big of a deal it was there. I know I live in the western world (US, specifically), but I guess I thought that the rest of the world would still be pretty liberal. However, several times I was able to have conversations with my host sister and her friends (early-20s) and what I learned was really interesting. One of their favorite things to ask me was how I like the Jordanian guys, but I always told them that I didn't know– girls aren't supposed to talk to guys or it's bad for the girl's reputation and the guys will get the wrong idea. They thought that was pretty funny…

    Also, once they asked me if I would ever date a Muslim guy. I told them that it wouldn't bother me at all, but if religion really mattered, I don't think he'd be interested in dating me anyway. I also told them that my current boyfriend was a different religion and they were pretty surprised. They just told me that they had to marry Muslim guy. I asked them if that's what they wanted to do and I think the question confused them. They just looked at me for a second and then said, "it doesn't matter if we want to or not… We have to marry a Muslim guy."

    1. Hey Melissa.

      That's cool that you got to spend time in Jordan. I'd like to head there myself sometime after my time here in Korea. I've heard it's beautiful.

      It is actually acceptable to them for a non-Muslim woman to marry a Muslim guy, but a guy who isn't a Muslim can't marry a Muslim woman. I should have mentioned that.

      Interesting insight hearing about their response to your question too.

      How's your Arabic now after your stay?

    2. Hi Melissa,
      I would like to give you some reflections about your last part as I am a Muslim woman in Egypt. In many Muslims countries, religious habits became tradition rather than a religious act for many people, however so many others as well question themselves and ask why i am doing this. Islam gives the choice to do or not do, we chose to accept these believes and practice what we can and postpone what it's difficult until we can do it later. Everything has a logic behind, even if some little things we don't know the logic behind it but by time we get it..

    3. Hello iam american woman residing in egypt with my kids most all married egyptian girls ive had no problem i have another boy looking for a nice smart girl like him if you know of a girl would like to stay in egypt hes got his own flat very hansome american passport

  5. Great Read. Thanks!

    1. Thank you 🙂

    2. Hello guys it’s really awsome to read this thank you

  6. Wow, just wow. I briefly dated an Iraqi girl here in the Netherlands last year, and now I see why things didn't work out. Haha, it's really easy to not take into consideration one's culture. I'm currently dating an Hungarian girl and things are a lot smoother. In fact, Spanish and Hungarian cultures are very much alike, I'd have never thought that so that's maybe one of the reasons things are working out nicely now.

    Anyway, I loved the story! Glad you've both landed on your feet.

    1. Thanks Ramses! 🙂

      Me too.

  7. That was a fascinating insight into another culture! Excellent, excellent work, Donovan, you really write some kick-ass blog posts, I'm constantly impressed with the quality.

    I've always had a bit of a thing for middle-eastern girls, particularly Lebanese, and I've heard Lebanon is the most liberal of the middle-eastern/muslim countries–do you know anything about this? I'm agnostic, I wonder if it would be feasible at all to date a Lebanese girl…

    Cheers,
    Andrew

    1. Thanks mate.

      You can find a lot of Lebanese and Syrian Maronites (Catholic) who are quite liberal for sure. Lebanon's been known as the 'Paris of the Middle East' because of it's French influence – it's definitely not as conservative and strict as Egypt is.

      You could casually date someone from there but the marriage thing would eventually become an issue because the family would probably disapprove of it.

      The area's becoming more and more fundamentalist though. Lebanon and Syria have really gone backwards in recent years.

      I actually did date a Lebanese girl in Australia who was from a Muslim family about 7 years ago. Her father found out and wasn't too impressed to say the least.

    2. Ok, thanks, well that's about what I expected, and yes it's really disappointing to watch formerly progressing countries like Lebanon regress, it seems to be a pattern recently, and not just in Muslim countries (e.g. Hungary and Ukraine).

      Cheers,
      Andrew

    3. My cousin is an athiest and he is engaged to marry a Lebanese girl who is orthodox Christian. I guess it depends on the girl and the family.

    4. Lebanon is an interesting case. I'm Lebanese and my family is part Catholic, part Muslim, part Agnostic. Lebanon is much more liberal than the rest of the middle east. None of the girls in my family wear the hijab, and religion never really factors into family conversations. My family even lets me listen to heavy metal music and encourage me when I play musical instruments (a big no no to conservative Muslim families). Having said this, certain families in Lebanon are EXACTLY like the Egyptian family mentioned above, but there aren't as many of them in Lebanon.

    5. Being Lebanese, I can tell you my family never cared who me or my siblings dated.

  8. Thanks Donovan for the interesting information. I like to read about different cultures and approaches. As an American speaking different languages, most of the time I do not have language barriers, however with Arabic, it's a little bit difficult I admit. I found this amazing application for mobile (I am an iPhone fan, but they have it also for android), it's an online Arabic-English dictionary a very useful one when you want to look up a word in Arabic. http://www.aljazem.com/

  9. Donovan,

    You've had me waiting for this post for months, if not longer. I remember at some point in a previous post you made a passing comment about your girlfriend in Egypt and how you'd share the details in the future. Finally!!!! By the way…if memory serves…I'm still waiting to hear more about the girlfriend that almost got stuck in Turkey.

    I must say getting pre-engaged on a third date must be a scary process for someone in their early twenties. There's no way I could have (or should have) committed to someone after 2 dates. I'd be on my 4th or 5th marriage at this point (I know, I know, divorce would not have been an option for me in Egypt).

    This occurred a few years ago already, correct? Do you know how (or if) society has changed in Egypt in the last couple years? Do you see this structured marriage process changing at all? Do women in Egypt want it to change?

    My experience in Latin America is that there is huge societal pressure to get married young (not anywhere near as much as your article describes in Egypt). My friends who were married in their early and mid-twenties are now in their mid-thirties and divorced or miserable in their marriages. In the case of one of my closest friends, I knew her husband before they were married, and I could see it was a mistake even then. She just mentioned recently she's getting divorced and I congratulated her. It shocked her a bit until I pointed out that both she and he were miserable in the marriage. That part was mutual. Even when a marriage didn't exist she felt that she'd failed somehow by getting a divorce. But now, she, her ex- and their son are enjoying life much more.

    I'm still negotiating with my wife (albeit extremely unsuccessfully) for her to accept that a Brazilian, an Italian, a German and perhaps a French girlfriend would be a huge boost to my language skills. She's stuck on this damn monogamy thing. Unfortunately I doubt that I could get away with "begging for forgiveness instead of asking for permission."

    Hope you're having a blast in Korea!

    Jared

    1. PS

      Just remembered, I had a Korean friend right after university. She was going through a serious crisis because she had grown up as American but her parents were forcing a Korean husband on her. She didn't like the guy at all and was not having a happy life at the time. I think she got married to him.

      Have another close friend, Indian, who grew up completely in the US and until she was in her mid to late 30s her parents (whose marriage had been arranged) were looking at arranging her marriage for her. She resisted but I know she's struggled with going against her parents so directly.

      Jared

    2. Thanks Jared! 🙂

      Looking back now I wasn't ready for marriage and as you say, it probably would have ended down the track.

      Egyptian society has rapidly gone downhill even since I was last there. They've elected a fanatical party as their government and women have far less freedom now than they did back in the 60's. It's really sad what's happening over there and I know a lot of people – not just girls – who want to leave.

      haha. Good luck convincing your wife on that one! 🙂

      Thanks for the well wishes.

    3. Fair play to you Jared. (for unconventional marriage sincerity).

    4. In more Urban area there is actually a huge pressure to marry early for both men& girls ,and for girls in all social level they want her married b4 she is in 30's ,some areas girls get married b4 she is 20

    5. I'll have to join you in believing that Donovan must have had a great amount of courage to take that step after only a couple of dates, specially if he didn't know her long before. Nonetheless, it was a very decent thing to do.

      Divorce actually is an option and exists in Egypt and is acceptable (however, frowned upon by society) among Muslims and as for Christians, it does depending on the sect. they follow.

      As an Egyptian, I don't see much change in the way people think about things. The structured marriage is still as Donovan described it. The thing about structural marriage, it was intended to show that a man is serious about a marital life and that he can support a household. However, society went way overboard with it when more emphasis should be placed on how pious, kind, and good the individual is. A woman's dowry in Islam could be as little as 25 piasters and the amount should be determined by her. The "shabka" is supposed to be a gift from the groom to his bride as mentioned above and the amount should be determined by the groom. Since society has grown so (and it really hurts to say this) materialistic, parents from both sides take matters into their own hands, which at this point makes it seem to me like a barter and demeans the beauty and the meaningfulness of these requirements. Instead of the balance and flexibility religion has created to ease marriage and at the same time making women precious, it turned into an auction by society followed by a showcase (i.e. The Wedding Day – that's another story).

      Bottom line: As an Egyptian female, I do not agree with the way the structure has been manipulated by society, but in its original form, I am perfectly ok with it. Even guys I know who want to get married do not oppose the concept, they are just against the great amount of money their in-laws would be requiring to accept marriage.

      Here there is also societal pressure to get married at a young age, but people end up getting married older anyway. I guess mid-twenties is a good time to get married but for your friends, I am curious to know more… did they have arranged marriages, did they get to know each other, or was it a spur of the moment thing (aka "love at first sight")? I am also interested to know what kind of challenges did they face?

    6. Hi Amy,

      Thank you for your enlightening and beautifully written comment. I had the pleasure to read it.
      I also like the fact that you separate tradition from the original concept, with which I totally agree and find intrinsically beautiful.

    1. How long ago was this? I wonder how many of us people that get into language learning have a similar beginning. My first foreign language was French, how I really took it to an advanced level because of a very serious relationship with a girl as well. Once the long distance took that apart, learning other languages was much easier for me, having had such a strong base in French. My story isn't nearly as complicated or interesting as yours though, because French culture is similar to US culture in many ways.

  10. Great post! Similar thing happened to me in Morocco. So many layers of awkward ensued. We learned earlier on in the process that it was not going to happen. But, boy, did my Arabic improve!

  11. Dear friend Asalamo Alikum my name is Khan from Pakistan currently I m in Riyadh Saudi Arabia. My girl friend is egyptian and she live there we saw each other on Internet 5 years ago and still we r touch. Her family want me to live here in Egypt nd buy flat for her etc etc. so it’s necessary for every person how want to marry there.

  12. you must have really liked the girl to withstand all that ! but in my opinion it wasn't going to work out anyways,I am an Egyptian girl so I know 😀

    1. we killing love by materialistic here

  13. Wow, Donovan, you really understood the Egyptian culture. As an Egyptian, I want to tell you that it's too bad even for us Egyptians.

  14. Hey, i could marraige with an egyptian girl 🙂 and we live in Love now too and waiti g for a kids 🙂

  15. Hey I’m an Egyptian girl and I’ve been reading this and some of the stuff soud just terrible. It looks like you’ve encountered – like you said – a really conservative family or side of the country and I’d like to talk to you about the whole thing it’s not like that in a lot of families and regions.

  16. It seems like minds are set to think that the Arab world is all narrow-minded and all marriage are a freakin business deal

    1. Let's face it Marriage is Hard as hell in Egypt ,
      The hardest part is the family part ! its puts men under extreme Mental Pressure !

    2. the "يا بني احنا بنشتري راجل" kind of families

    3. Salma, don't cheat to yourself… I live in Egypt since 2 years and marriage here is exactly a very huge BUSINESS DEAL. Virginity here have price (very huge, but anyway have price).
      I'm western woman and I cant find another word for describe it.

  17. Hi.

    I know nothing about Eygption culture or way of life which is wrong of me … i met an eygption girl on holiday in eygpt, things were going good.
    We flrted, spoke to each other daily through whatsapp, spoke on the phone not as often has i should have 🙁 generally started getting feelings for her.
    I went to Cairo to see her, see how things could develope between us …. When i got there i called her to say i was there and when we could meet up, her first words were YOU LIVE IN ANOTHER COUNTRY … we still had five minutes on the phone laughng and giggling but then i heard the mother in the background (I never hear the mother) since that phone call we have had no contact at all, i never seen her while i was there, she dosnt answer my calls or messages.

    I dont know what happened, its kinda mind boggling what happened … i hope she is safe & well and that one day she will tell me … i do miss her, she got into my life in a shout period of time.

    1. well hearing the mother is not good that means she got caught yes in egypt dating is forbidding by the parents so i think she got grounded and grounded in egypt is like prison maybe prison is better

    2. Doha, I think you are exaggerating a little bit or talk about your experience. It depends on the age of the girl, they type of the family, etc.
      Anyway, I think in John's case that the girl wasn't serious enough.

    3. Hi Nevin

      She is young, you could say a child at 22 … Thanks and your right " she's not serious"
      We have been talking on and off for a year now, every couple of months I or she would get a text from each other and I would call her but she would stop always after a couple of days, after gôing to cairo last year and not able to see her I would think she would understand my be sceptackle off going there after 3 days off talking between us.

      There is words that should be said between a couple that should only be said with a future or really want a future ……. Actions speak louder than words'!!

    4. Are you able to tell me her name at all and what religion. My fiancé is Egyptian and lives in Cairo and uses whatsapp too. Can track get for you and see if she is safe?

    5. Bro …. cairo is 25 million ppl !!!

    6. 🙁 so sad … but i love it ♥ my dream is to visit all the countries and fall in love with one guy . it well be grat .. maybe it happen to u but iam sure u felt agood feeling .. AND (انشاء الله ) IT MEANS (BY GOD WILLING) U WILL MEET HER SOON AND MARRY HER AND HAVE CHILDREN

  18. i really lmao i`m egyptian 2 and seeing what we do in foreigner`s eyes was awesome like seeing it for the first time i really felt like living with u
    PS: what a shame egyptian girls r great in bed 😀 just kidding 😛

    1. what a shame, egyptian girls r great in bed.
      so can you prove that 😀

  19. poor boy 😛 im so thankful for living outside egypt!! yeah im an egyptian girl but i was born&raised in kuwait……when i came to egypt first time i was pretty much chocked by all that stuff….now im 24 years old and the only question i hear is :when you will get married? looooooool %90 of people here believe that women must get married early and stay at home.They do not accept the fact that im too ambitious to be married :s and trust me when i say i won't get married to an egyptian guy…… they are so boring&too much controlling.I'm not finishing my masters to stay at home!

    1. Wont it be very difficult to marry someone that is not Egyptain? I know what its like to fall in love with someone from another culture, its hard, to have to say goodbuy just cause of cultural differreces and religion

    2. I don't think ,it's too much different between Egypt and Kuwait ,my friends are there and they tell me it's the same thing

  20. Thanks for sharing. This is especially interesting as most intercultural experiences of this kind, that I heard of, are about a european woman and a man from that part of the world. And few of them have a happy ending.

    It sounds really harsh to have to decide after such a short time. After all, it is one of the most important decisions of a lifetime.

    And it is quite surprising that the traditions and social expectations are so hard not only on women but as well on men. Waiting for so long or destroing someone else's hopes, need to gain a lot before marrying instead of building the future together, buying so much gold while other investments would make more sense… Why does this system still work when it is difficult and mainly unpleasant for both sides?

    1. This system from an Islamic perspective was created to provide ease and flexibility for the couple and at a time where females were considered to be a shame upon their families and buried alive, made them precious and gave them a right to it. Originally, a man is required to make a place of living available to start his own family. As for the dowry, by religion, it could be as little as 25 piasters, but the figure should be specified by the bride. As for the "shabkah", it is a gift from the groom to the bride and as such, the amount should be determined by the groom. Everything else should be an agreement between both families.

      Unfortunately, because all of the above represent the wealth status, it has become a bargain and about greed and showcasing the new spouse. So, it is the ill twist society placed on what was intended to be something beautiful that made it this unpleasant.

  21. Thanks for your experience,Now I fall in love with 1 Egyptian guy,,of course he can’t speak English,,This is big problem for communicate ..I am Thailandia and also I cant speak English well.Our relation ship only He will hold my hand and hug me some time…even kiss we are never…mostly we met each other in Shopping mall and talking by 25 percent of IEnglish and 10 percent in Arabic….What’s going on??

    Problem is I happy too much when I stay with him even just only 10 minute,,,,,

    He ask me for going to study Arabic language,,,and change my religion to be Muslim,,,He said Allah give me to him…(At first time we date by 3 person another one is his friend who translate Egyptian language to English)

    1. It\’s not really my place to give relationship advice but I\’m not sure converting your religion for him is a good idea. 🙂

    2. think before u make decision 2 marry him, coz someone who loves will except u the way u r vsout changings

  22. I can relate to this post. I am an Egyptian Canadian who grew up in Canada all my life. However, I was very immersed in Egyptian culture, as my parents did their best to make sure my siblings and I had similar religious and cultural upbringing to what we would have had in Egypt.

    I met my caucasian bf in University and my parents WERE NOT happy. They even told me to get out of the house at one point. Eventually, they decided to give him a chance. We were then met with more conflict, when certain expectations were not met. They expected him to sit with my father and have "that talk" about his future intentions. Of course, my bf did not know this was expected, and simply didn't know why they "hated" him so much. I felt caught in the middle of two cultures, unable to explain to either side why there was so much hate and misunderstanding.

    Our relationship was tumultuous. Our relationship was passionate. Our relationship was filled with laughter, but our relationship was DIFFICULT AS HELL. With a lot of sacrifice and negotiation and "meeting half way", we eventually made it work. We are getting married (8 years after we met). We did not want to be pushed into marriage just because the culture does not allow "dating without engaged parties". We fought the culture. I was lucky because I live in a country where I can be a strong, independent woman without as many consequences as I would face in Egypt….BUT IT WAS STILL SO DIFFICULT.

    Now that we are engaged, everyone is so happy! The conflicts have died. Our relationship seems to run a lot smoother.

    I feel very proud that we stuck things through and did things our way. It has made me more confident in what our love can endure. Sometimes it's worth it. I can understand that it may not be the right choice for everyone, but for us, merging our two cultures has taught both sets of parents to be more tolerable. I feel like our love for each other has been a vehicle for breaking down cultural barriers that often stand in the way of young couples in love.

    For those of you that have found someone that is worth keeping, I encourage you to stand up for yourself. It was worth it for me, and I would do it all over again if given the chance.

  23. One of the big barrier in dating a foreign woman is their language! If you really love that girl, go make an effort and study/learn their language. And after that, teach her your language. All's fair then.

  24. Thanx read it all and u guys are mistaken about the way its put across.In Islam we have a standard and will not drop that standard to suite any one from any place in the world . Dating is not permissable so u go against the grain and make up your own stories.Respect our Deen as its pure and clean unlike others who break every law of God and follow their own desires and wants to compare an impure life to a pure life cumon get a life.So u havent experienced true Islam u will be amazed at the teachings and cleanliness it has to offer. Stop dating and see the realities of life and its all about obeying Allah and following the teachings of the prophet Muhammed PBAH.

    1. I don't really "date" either.

      I'm a conservative who believes very strongly in the importance of marriage. It's got nothing to do with Islam.

    2. It is important to date and get to know each other first, before deciding if that is the person you want to settle down with for the rest of your life. If you're not satisfied with the person, you will be in a miserable marriage.

    3. we call that "engagement", its the period before marriage.

    4. I'm so sorry but I would rather date 10 guys until I find the person I want to spend the rest of my life with rather than get engaged to 10 guys! Engagement is a serious commitment. I'm not saying that dating a different person every week is what people should do, but don't just get into a commitment as big as marriage or engagement without even knowing the other person. Marriage is a serious thing and before getting into it you should be sure that you want to spend the rest of your life with this person and that your personalities are really compatible. I wouldn't want to get married and then find myself divorced or living a miserable life and raising children in a home full of negative energy.

      I'm an English woman, grew up in the US, and currently happily married to an Egyptian man (after dating for a while then living together). We've been going strong for 2 years and I know that this was the best decision I made. He's my best friend, he respects my culture and shares my beliefs (which is strange to many people since I'm Agnostic and so is he).

      There are exceptions to every rule, and I'm happy that my sweetheart and I are one of the few.

    5. Well said Haroon. People should not slag Islamic culture. Islamic does not allow dating and premarital relationships. In Islam, unmarried man and a woman can not be alone.
      This is our faith and culture. Irrespective of whether you are Muslim or Non-Muslim,
      you are free to do what you want but you are not free to criticize Islam and Muslim culture or any other culture for that matter.I admire how eloquent and respectfully Donovan spoke about his experience in Egypt.

    6. Hahaha “cleanliness” HAHAHA Are bodies cleaner without the heads too? You sound like a maniac. Dating is how people get to know each other and fall in LOVE. This is what keeps humans from beheading and throwing other humans off of buildings. But I know, your book… Your book, their book, some other maniacs and their book. Who wrote those books? Other maniacs. And you have the nerve to say “get a life.” Why, so you can use that life to create a walking explosive device in the form of a brainwashed zombie? How many killings could have been avoided if less people cared about your stupid books and actually loved each other???

  25. Cool man

  26. Hi Donovan, Thank you for sharing! One of the best blogs I ever read before. I feel so bad it didn’t work between you and the girl you fall in love with in Egypt.:( Egyptian wives are so committed to family and have great values . I am 40 years old Egyptian woman who grew up in Egypt and moved to USA when I was 20. I hated how women were treated in Egypt. I hated how girls couldn’t fall in love or date without having a ring on their finger and chaperoned everywhere they go.

  27. . The 20 years I lived in Egypt, it felt like living in a prison. I thought that when I move here in California that my family would learn to be liberal and open minded but that didn’t happen; instead they arrange for me to get married right after I moved to California. 10 month later I was married to this Egyptian man that I barely knew. It took a very bad marriage and almost losing my live by an abusive Egyptian husband for 7 years to break away from all the control and traditions. I still love my family because honestly under all the control they display because of fear or whatever, I know they mean will. I know they love and care so much. I look at my daughter who is 16 and see the life that I’ve could’ve had a young girl if I was just allowed to be myself. She plays sport, goes on trips, make choices in life. I see a beautiful young girl that can reach the stars because she is not control by fear.

  28. Thanks a lot for these important lessons. The differences of languages and cultures normally make a relation more interesting, and I believe many of the people reading and writing here agree that multicultural relations and marriages are the one to be always more common in future.
    I am German, but I was married 17 years to a South Italian woman. And most of the things you mention in the 12 lessons happens already in South Italy, and not only in the MENA Region. Perhaps I was young enough, not knowing what will expect me etc.. but I lived a wonderful years and have two fantastic children, who live inbetween the borders of Italy and Germany.

  29. (Continue…. )
    Where is the point now? Since some time I live in Egypt. And recently I am fallen in love with a Egyptian female.
    Can somebody imagine, that even knowing all of this, surely not in detail and, depending on the her families traditions, why I shouldn't run away? For me is enough to look in her eyes to know why.
    There is a big advantage, I guess, to have a certain age and be a little more cool also in relation to her father. Funny thing is, that we dated (under cover of working together) a lot, but the last times even at her home. I didn't meet directly her parents, but both we know to be in the same place.
    When you start to face all this, and start to realize what "need to be done" in order to get into relation here in Egypt, yes, you must a have a GOOD REASON, A LOT OF PATIENCE, and more over a INCREDIBLE PASSION FOR DIFFERENT CULTURES.

  30. welcome to the desert of real, as an Egyptian guy i preferred to stay single

    1. Yes I understand what you mean, had the same conversation with an Egyptian diver in hurghada who told me by the time he saves enough money for a marriage to an Egyptian woman he could own and run his own business, which he is doing now and still single.

  31. Thanks Donovan for your Arabic Lesson, I get called bata a lot by my Egyptian man and I hate it, I surmised it meant duck because he said it wasn`t a chicken but didn`t know the English for duck, this went on for three years, so thanks for confirming it. It is not the most flattering endearment I prefer habibi or mozza, your blog was interesting to read and I am glad there is no abuse on this forum as there is on others.

  32. I am an egyptian whp lived most of his life in the states ….. I kind felt every single word you said since i have been throught that via several relations with Egyptian Girls … It's so complicated and people there are so materialistic they only value u for what u have not what u r. I am fortunate enough to have a good life and decent career and future, but i don't wanna fell that any women is getting married to me because how good my salary is or how much gold i can give her. Egyptian girls have no emotions they just look for another daddy … Who can buy her whatever she wants and act as a magic lamb for her dreams. Even families are treating their daughters as a good or something for sale, they wanna make the most money out of their daughter's marriage.

    My advise to anyone egyptian or non egyptian stay away from marrying an egyptian girl … Get someone who love u for who u r not for how much u got

    1. Interesting post Ayman, some good points raised, I think this is true of most muslim countries, middle east and south Asia, The better looking fair daughter is supposed to reach the to of the marriage market regardless of any personality she may or may not have. I do find egptioan women to be a bit hostile they just stare you out or hurl looks, not very friendly wheras in Turkey or Tunisia other women have been friendly and welcoming, It gives you an insight into their lifestyles too as they want to exchange views.
      I have heard a few Egyptian men say they dislike Egyptian women for wives as too much blah blah, their views not mine. So Ayman, would you advise foreign women against marriage with Egyptian men? What are your views?

    2. correction, it was meant to read top of the marriage market

  33. Hi Donovan, I really appreciate your sharing your experience. As an Egyptian/Libyan-American I have found myself explaining the most traditional/conservative version of Egyptian dating to my American friends and it always amazes them. In all honesty, I think that some of the traditions are simply practical (eg ‘guy should have a job and a home of some sort), but the fact that you had to have the ‘agreement’ talk after having met her only twice is a bit extreme on the conservative side. Most of the time they just have you over for dinner to see what you’re about, but literally putting pen to paper on your finances is a bit invasive. You’re right about the materialistic aspect, but I will also say that it works the same way the Western world does: new money is flashy, while old money would likely appreciate things and play down their luck (for fear of the evil eye, etc). The rules are broken frequently when it comes to privacy, but alone time is definitely tough to come by in Egypt, even if it’s just time for yourself….lol…. Kudos to you though for giving it a try, most men would run screaming and thank you for emphasizing that this is your experience and it may not be everyone else’s. cheers.

  34. I think so I will also face same scenario like ya
    I am in love with girl from cairo ( egypt) ..we started talking on fb year ago..I am planning to meet with her next year she also agreed on it..she is girl of very nice nature,cute,sweet, loving caring all things good about her 🙂 She has very good loving friends and very good family and she passes her most of time in college attending lectures,back to home, cooking cleaning etc…I am afraid if tomorrow we agreed ro marriage will she leave egypt for me or she n her parents will only agree if I settle with her in egypt? she loves her country, friends and family very much n dunno much what is happenning outside in world ..She loves me also so much but I dunno what future will bring any suggestion and avdices are welcome 🙂

    1. Hi Silentkiller,

      Now that almost five years have passed, I would love to know how it went.
      I bet other dear friends of this blog would like to read more about your experience. Could you share your experience?

  35. It seems this is a trend in Egypt they want gold for engagement when you go back to ur native country they call it off. or u must buy a flay in their country i think it is a rip off

  36. I’m egyptian =D and 100% sure that her family was after you for just money sorry but its true if she’s really into you she would never let you and you left all the classy places in egypt and went for cairo REALLLLY its like arezona in us I guess more worse , next time come in 6 october city go for cairo runners play tennis go to alex or red sea don’t wast your time in egypt have fun

  37. I'm a Muslim Egyptian Girl, and I can't agree less with wt u said cz its all true! but, since u knw arabic now, have u heard of the word "TADBISA"? plz we r living in the modern society now how cud u obey the girl when she asks u to meet her parents so soon n wt the hell ask there permission to see her? how old was she anyway? But I'd understand ur excuse for doing tht (u knw ur a foreigner n ur experimenting sth new just to see how far it'll go). n let me tell u tht its so true tht egyptian and arab girls all think of money, gold n shit. they dont wanna marry the guy himself, they wanna marry his car n his apartment. but in ur case her father agreed immediately n didnt rili care about all this cz u got sth waaaaaaay more important ( ur passport dear), u have ur entire future, ur wife's ur children n the next generation's future secured! even if u were planning to live in egypt u'll still be living as a foreigner where u earn the highest salaries!! i dunno how ur relationship rili was, i dunno this girl, but i do knw the egyptian girl, the typical one! how cud u marry someone or get engaged to someone tht fast if u still dont knw him (doesnt tht raise alot of question marks?!) ! n btw i dated a german n an english guy b4, both sex n religion were the only obstacles, although i was totally convinced with there opinion tht sex is important b4 marraige as they discovered tht most of the divorces in egypt r bcz of sex! but i still respect my religion! n btw both were atheist!

  38. Hiii Donovan that was an amazing article I enjoyed reading it alot, I'm an Egyptian girl and you were right about most of the things that you mentioned, but there was some other things that depends on the family and I think you mentioned that 🙂

  39. I've been dating this Egyptian girl for 2 years now and once we decided to spent our life together her family says I need to do the custom of buying her an apartment. Even though I'm from the Gulf I do find it a bit wierd and once I approached her about my views we ended up with a big fight and we don't talk anymore even though I'm trying to fix things. Egyptian girls can I get a feedback on this pls

  40. هل تقرأ العربية وتفهمها جيدا ؟ لأنني اود ان اتحدث معك بالعربية 🙂 (
    ام اكتب تعليقي بالانجليزية ؟

  41. Donovan my man very interesting story!!

    and this made me asking help. I met this girl over Facebook and fell deeply in love with her, she lives in Iraq and she also wants to be with me but the religion difference is the problem as she is Muslim and I am an Indian hindu guy so she is very scared of the results..and she is not allowing me to go see her in Iraq becuz she believes that her family will kill.. I don’t know if it makes a sense.. need to ask u if this is really a big issue loving a Muslim girl? man who saw religions before having feeling for someone.. please suggest me ideas that can work for us to be together.
    Thanks

  42. hi and how are you ? I think love can do anything it means learn to give and be patient. u absolutely say facts about middle east but I you do not tell us about the reason for each of them and you can success and get married. family is number 1 in middle east not the money and all what you mentioned in your story because her family want to be sure that the new family will not fail.every new project need money and a good people who you trust if you really care about the future.poor people and rich people get married nothing is related to how much you have its about how u are smart to manage yourself and take the responsibility of take are of your new family.you are already have my email feed me back if u like.till then good bye and good luck

  43. I read this and despite of being Egyptian but you opened my eyes to things I haven't faced yet but thank god you described them 🙂
    relationships in egypt is so complicated and this is just frustrating. everyone wants to meddle in your life, as u said that you marry the family because they just don't want to let you believe that you're independent with their girl. and their problems become yours too. it maybe rude for me to say this but good for you that that didn't work.

  44. هل يمكنك كتابته مرة اخري باللغة العربية !؟

  45. actually not all Egyptian girls like that ………. don’t generalize that man -_-

  46. Yeah Egyptian girls, hurry up and get you a "superior" Neanderthal so that he can turn you into a dog and force you to commit vile sexual acts to please their disgusting desires. Yes, they are all like that. Ever seen "Facial Abuse'? Yes girls that can be you too. Did you also know that the Neanderthals aren't even human?

    1. Hilarious! What are you, ISIS? Because you comparing all Egyptian women to actors in a porno is like me comparing all Arabs to terrorists. Ummm… you are technically a descendant of neanderthals, genius. Hate to break it to you. And actually, if you want to get into “superior” men all over the world have been treating women that way, and it’s pretty bad in the Middle East. So again… you are hilarious! Why don’t you educate yourself and then some day you can actually leave your name on your comments?

    2. > some day you can actually leave your name on your comments?

      Odd comment considering you’re leaving different comments under fake names and emails (I can see your IP).

  47. ما الذى اتى بك الى دولتنا الحزينه 😀

  48. Hello There,

    I am an egyptian male, i read your article and that is 100% true.

  49. I must agree with number 7 and 12. Lol! I spoke English and my boyfriend didn’t have even one word of Arabic. There were moments when all my vocabulary failed me and I couldn’t tell him how I felt about something. It was frustrating for both of us but for me in particularly, especially that I had to replace the words with screaming. And yes, my English simply skyrocketed when I was dating him.
    With other things, I think u fell for a young girls who couldn’t really grasp the cultural differences and couldn’t handle them. Here’s lesson 13 for u, go for older and mature, independent business professionals. And don’t go for a child who still lives with mom and dad. Go for independent and older women. Good luck next time. 😉

  50. man iam egyptian but most of the opticals that you had is one of the reasons that i dont think of getting married any time soon .. man well wrote really like it

  51. man iam Egyptian but most of the optical that you had is one of the reasons that i dont think of getting married any time soon .. man well wrote really like it

    ** sorry spelling check wasnt on 😀

  52. Things could have been much easier if you dated someone from a different social class. She doesn't know English? seriously? and there are many places you can be alone at on a date, this romantic spot on the nile you went to is the most unromantic place anyone could ever go to! there are other places, decent restaurants in Zamalek, clubs in Mohandesin and Ma3adi and other places in New Cairo. I realized that she comes from a below-average background the moment you said she called you "ba6a". I'm sorry for being judgmental but I was so provoked by this. You made a really bad choice here!

  53. Hi Donovan , i'm an Egyptian girl who doesn't LOVE gold & doesn't care about Shabka 🙂

    i thought a lot about dating foreign guys , because Egyptian culture & most of Egyptian men are really annoying , until one day i had the chance to go in a couple of dates with an American & he was annoying too 🙂 , so i guess it is about the person himself , not just the culture

    i want to comment on No#4

    in several occasions when i was in the beginning of a marriage project (and it is a project) i tried to just forget about all the financial stuff , but i found out that the groom to be felt suspicious , he said something like , why would you give all this up if something wasn't wrong with you , so even when the girl is trying to support the guy & help him with the financial details , he tends to be such a jerk /:

    lesson learned : you have to be a materialistic beast in order to be respected by Egyptian guys 🙂

  54. another comment :
    i can't believe some of the comments made by Egyptian girls here , so judgmental , such snobs !!
    we are unbelievable , you are better off !

  55. This is really funny. Good luck next time.

    Mai, egyptain girl

  56. Dude, I am sorry for your experience. But really, it’s so difficult for west men to get engaged to women from middle east countries. You was very close man, your experience was about to succeed.
    Anyway, who knows what is the best for you!!

    Good Luck

  57. I think you're very lucky that you fell in love with a Christian girl. If she was a Muslim, then that would've been a whole other crisis. The girl you were with was obviously from an extremely conservative family I'm assuming as it would've been much more flexible if she was going to an international university or from a more westernized social group in Egypt where dating is tolerated and everyone I know has had long term relationships without the need to meet the parents until you're serious (keep in mind that I'm actually still in college too). That doesn't mean that Egyptian parents aren't ridiculously strict and there is no such thing as for example; a muslim dating a christian! That would be equivalent to committing suicide. But the Arabic language is a beautiful language and you're lucky that you got to learn the Egyptian dialect as well. Egypt is quiet different now and I hope you get to visit again soon!

  58. Hey,
    Great to read mate! I am an egyptian woman myself married to an Austrian..I laughed at the parts of the arabic love terminology you used and I feel bad for the challenges you have been through. Having said so, the only thing I want to point out to, although you have already done, is that there is no generalisation! My husband did not get me any Gold, only a ring for a modest price, my father bought me the flat where we live in Egypt, yet the inquiries about his work and future perspective were important for the family to assure them I am not going to be abducted by a foreigner who will kindap the children and take refuge in their embassy (unfortuantely this happens sometime as well). What makes a great difference though is the social background. Yes, egypt is a class-based society. Yet you cannot generlise either. Still you fill find people from upper classes still sticking to requsting Gold (or dimonds actually) and insisting on lots of materialistic arrangements. yet, the poorer the families are, the more (relative here) they will ask.
    Egyptians can go out alone, make out and have one-on-one free time…again, it depends really on where you have been, and the background. It is as if you have people belonging to different cultures..so, again it depends on who and where you are with.

    good to read though

  59. well, that must have been a hard shot for you, marriage system here is soo hard, those 12 Lessons would have been 12000 lessons if you went on and got married, good thing that things worked out for both of you :), I just wanted to ask, did you get her permission to post this picture? because that may cause her a lot of problems if this photo fell into the wrong hands, (remember the prostitute part? it can happen online too)

    1. totaly agree

  60. اشطة يا رايق ..

    1. بس يا عرص ..

  61. I can imagine how odd it was for you to deal with such traditions.I am an Egyptian girl I know what your talking and it is sad for me. I do really hate these traditions and stuff. I am working hard to get a scholarship to study abroad in a more open minded society . You can't imagine how horrible it is for a girl like me to live in that extra conservative society. As I am an atheist and I am in love with an another atheist guy. I think you can imagine how stressful it feels like and the danger I'd be in if my family knew about these stuff.

  62. Hey, Im a Greek Living in Egypt. I face a huge problem with society. I have to take care of every move I make. Its like I cant see myself living with them. We dont have common thoughts. Theyre very narrow-minded which makes me hate living in this country! I dont usually post a comment on a blog or something but I felt sorry for falling in love or thinking that you could fall in love with such an egyptian girl/boy. Thank god that you didnt enter this battle. However, I liked 'It's like youre marrying the whole family not the girl' I truly agree. Thank you for sharing these facts about Egyptians.

  63. Hi Donovan,
    I really liked your article and your respectful way. I'm an Egyptian Muslim religious girl who currently lives in Canada for 4 years now and planning to go back home soon and get engaged to the love of my life. Just wanted to say that most of the modern Egyptian girls now are more dependent, modern and understanding. Yes, the majority is, unfortunately, materialistic and like expensive gifts and gold and shabka, but there are many Egyptian girls who understand that all this is nothing but bullsh*t and there are parents who don't like to put so much pressure on the man proposing to their daughter as long as he's a real man in terms of responsibility, manners, personality, love and religion. It just happened that you fell for a very traditional family 🙂

    Best of luck

  64. i really must thanks you MR donovan not for the article only cause i agree with some of its point , but also for giving us a chance to know this huge number of Egyptian women who just hated their country and traditions and may be sometimes their families just because of sex ! and i just can say that most of them were surprised and charmed by the very liberal life in western countries which from outside very bright but inside its too dark 🙂 may be cause of raising outside egypt in western countries or such so , but all what i can say , that i lived most of my life in UAE (Dubai ) , visited Italy , China , dealt with lots of nationalities , cultures and so on but i’ve never been shamed of my culture! EGYPTIAN AND PROUD ! and after reading these comments on this article believe me i changed my opinion and will not raise my children in the future outside egypt , for a long time i thought that i must raise them in other country where there is more open minded people , another atmosphere , now unfortunately i think their roots are more important than liberal , open minded attitude , all these things are useless . at the end it was nice to read this exprience 🙂

  65. I totally feel you man !
    Even being an Egyptian doesn't help as much 😀

  66. I read your post and enjoyed every word of it, i am an Egyptian myself and as you have described, our society culture would sound strange to a stranger for the first time, i am glad it all worked out fine for all parties at the end.
    You must have noticed there are different layers of Egypt, and the deeper you dig the more it reveals it value and purpose.
    Thank you for a detailed honest report, I am a father and a grand dad who is proud to be Egyptian 🙂

  67. then you have to pray for us egyption men 🙁

  68. i loved reading your experience. but as an egyptian girl who suffered from these rules as well. my boyfriend proposed three years ago and they refused him after that interview =D even my dad asked him about what the father of his grand father was doing. this is normal in Egypt. i know it is annouying but the parents find it the best way to secure their daugther's futur as divorce is widly spead now among the youth. and as you know that being a divorced lady in Egypt means she is dead or rarely when she gets an other chance. but talking frank, not all the families are like that in Egypt. it depends on the social and educational classes. and by the way not all the familes says no dating before engagements . this only happens with the blind dates. now a days, most of the girls in the middle and higher class choose her boyfriend and they date up-till they feel really like they want to be staying forever. besides, i disagree about that statement '' when the family say it is over, then it is over'' yes the families say that, but not all the girls follows that, i have been fighting with my parents for three years to convince them with my boyfriend and i know girls who really fight, if this girl truly loved she would have fought for you

  69. what really confuses is that according to Islam and prophet mohammed sayings you should care most for religion and morals in a man proposing to your daughter ,but what really happens is that this is the last thing to be considered after MONEY .. finally dear Donovan , all of us here in Egypt suffer from this .. your financial capabilities is the determinant whether you can have a relationship or not 🙁

  70. if you reverse it , an Arabic guy with non-arabic woman , it will be very easy for him to do all theses stuffs .

  71. This is just BRILLIANT! I’m an Egyptian girl, and I agree with 90% of what you mentioned.

    You summed it all up in one word, “Business Transaction!”

    Unfortunately, parents usually mis-use their rights of giving advice. However, the religion of Islam came to destroy all these habits, and most people do not practice what they preach. A girl has to have her parents approval to get married; she’s obliged to do so upon Islamic teachings, but too bad parents use this against her, forcing her to marry someone THEY want.

    Egyptian men do marry at a very high age, but so as women as well, now because of all the freakin’ demanding regulations!

    Egyptians are drowning in a pond of materialistic world; all they think about is MONEY MONEY MONEY!!! Every dad treats his daughter as if she’s Paris Hilton. To hell with that! :@

  72. By the way i’m an egyptian girl and i totally agree with most of what you said but have you thought about what you look like to them … True we are very strict with our religious beliefs and with good reason so premartial relations are non negotiable to a ” good woman from a good family” , bnt nas y3ni ..
    People arent materialistic but i dare you to find a girl who’s willing to sacrifice her status for any guy while that’s philosophically romantic it’s rarely seen in REAL life .. Everything about privacy and marrying an entire family is true though .. You dont just pick a girl or a guy for that matter , you pick a family because as family goes here they’re usually very close .. I totally agree with you though , you should marry someone like you , in terms of religious beliefs , mothertongue and general beliefs .. Not to mention unless you’re head over heels for someone , it’s pointless trying to get through all that red tape ..

  73. Dear Donovan
    صباح الفل,
    اتمنى ليك انك تكون اتبسطت او على الاقل اتعلمت من التجربة اللى انت خضتها
    و اتمنى ليك انك تلاقى الزوجة المناسبة فى المستقبل

  74. First of all , I'm really amazed about the level you've reached in learning Arabic , I really hope that one day I could be fluent in English like you did in Arabic , that "Ba66a" part made me laugh a lot , that's the exact term that me and my fiancee call each other 🙂
    The second thing I noticed is that you are an accurate observer , what you wrote pretty much sums up the deal about relationships in Egypt , for example I'm a 24 years old Egyptian and I'm engaged , the only thing that helped me to be engaged in such young age is the support I got from my father , and by support I'm talking of course about financial support , either for the "Shabka" or buying an apartment for me , or even for the future arrangements for the wedding .
    I always though that I will break all these rules someday and that I would find the perfect family that will not follow theses silly traditions , but that was just a fantasy , may be one day I'll actually break these rules as a parent .
    This is really a frustrating reality for us , every father needs to know that his daughter will have a good standard of life and you can't blame them for that , you are not in the west , it's very hard to live on your own in Egypt , and it's even harder to support a family .
    But on the other hand , Egyptian Youth don't get the chance to provide all the things needed for marriage , like the apartment and the gold etc. that's of course because our countries low economic status .
    Another thing to be said is what you've noticed is completely the opposite of the Islamic instructions , Islam instructs people to get married as a young , and not to look to the wealth or beauty , It's ironic that early muslims used dates as dowry while now even lots of gold wouldn't be enough .

  75. أحسنت التحليل.. متفق معك تماما.

  76. Dude,

    I am Egyptian, and I just been in love with just ONE girl from Egypt before and I really liked it so much, but you made it clear. I am very sorry for the it ended up with and wishing you best of luck, you gotta join us here in Hong Kong you might have a new life, thanks for these honest and clear explanations 🙂

  77. you're damn lucky that your relationship with her have failed 😀
    If you have stayed in Egypt, you would have gone crazy & planning to suicide (or killed already) :XD
    Greetings from Egyptian guy!

  78. Hi Donovan,
    I'm from Egypt ….. and all that are right , totally right and normal …. but if you are serious about the relationship you can go back when you ready,as soon as possible of course, when they say it’s over, it’s NOT over yet until you gave up.
    Trust me 😉

  79. i agree with the most of it but specially totally agree with that language barrier thing, as i am an Egyptian who had a relation with a foreign Girl speaks English and i can say that my english is perfect. i use it in all aspects of my life but yet some expressions and cultural issues couldnt been translated at all. like your favorite movie,song, tv show from your childhood. and it goes both ways of course

  80. Egypt is diverse community , so u cant generalize that way.

  81. hi there , first of all im Egyptian and what the hell was u thinking marring an egyptian girl that doesn’t speak english ? im sure the Australian ladis (mozaz) are much more beautiful , but its love what you gona do .

    your feed back is great even if im sure if you had luk with onother more educated female it was going to be easier , but the problem of finance and gold and family and religion will stay the same N.B: even if we are from the same group marring an egyptian is as hard as hellllllllll.

    hop u found love and happens some where else.

  82. OM EL 7AK 😀

  83. I’m an Egyptian girl who grew up in a western country and even though I I’m perfectly bilingual and probably more western in my thinking than Egyptian, I can say that a lot of these problems are still realities! Particularly the religion thing. It sucks when you meet a guy you really like but have to nip it in the bud right there because he happens to be agnostic/atheist or even a-religious and you know your family would just die at the thought. lol

  84. While I agree that this is the case for the average Egyptian family, things do vary by class/ region. It is a good read, but it does not reflect ALL Egyptians. There is definitely a less conservative sector who is much less concerned with religion (if at all).

  85. The Relationship all over the world is a combination of more than one factor, maybe the weight of each factor differ from country to country and Culture/Family is part of this combination BUT the dominant factor should be the Person him/herself to make it successful relationship.

  86. Thank u for the nice article. I am from Czech Republic, I accepted Islam few years ago and my husband is from India. So my life become a bit complicated bcs of all these changes but Im enjoying everything. 🙂 Me and my husband comunicate in english but its not a mothers tongue for neither of us so sometimes its really complicated to understand each other especially when it comes to emotions as u wrote abt it. I went to india for few weeks and the marriage was made there and I must say that it works a similar way in India as u said it is in Egypt…especially when it comes to privacy 😀 And yes its very irritating to hear all people around u talking abt how the love of ur life is in fact just trying to use u…I stopped talking to many people around me bcs of this but I dont regret it…thats life…I lost some people but I gained a great husband 🙂 Thank u again for nice article I really enjoyed reading it. 🙂

  87. I'm married to Egyptian man for 2 years now. He doesn't speak nor English nor none of my native languages (Ukrainian/Russian). You wrote so many things which I experienced in my life. My Arabic is getting better and better every day. From time to time I do lack words when I want to express my feelings. Those moments I start speaking Russian to my husband 🙂 And it's nice that he doesn't get it if I'm angry 😀 But I should say that marrying Egyptian man is much easier than marrying Egyptian lady. Almost all of the marriage problems we solved in a Ukrainian way. Sure my husband as real Egyptian man is trying to cover all our expenses on his own but we got married before we got an apartment, I refused to get any gold except wedding ring plus he doesn't feel that we have to visit his family members on every occasion.

  88. Dear Donovan,

    This is cannot be generalized and I think customs and traditions if not harmful should be respected to some extent.

    If you expect people should accept and respect your views whatever it is, so I think you should be ready to give the same.

    also if it happens that I visit Australia and have a bad experience with a bunch of people this doesn’t really mean that all the Australian Society are like them.

    So please everybody do respect us and do not generalize.

    I guess you have heard this Arabic saying before “لولا اختلاف الأذواق لبارت السلع” means if there isn’t different tastes so goods won’t be sold.
    so every society have it’s characteristics, negative and positive sides and it’s you who decide whether it is suitable for you or not.

    Thank you,

  89. يا بوب وانت كان ايه الي رماك الرمية السودة دي 🙂

  90. As an Egyptian single guy approaching his 37th year, I really enjoyed reading this. It is very true and balanced analysis. Unfortunately I belong to a country where “5 years engagement” and “40 year old virgin” are not comedy movies, but they are sad facts.

    Egyptian blokes face almost the same obstacles you faced. Being a foreigners made things even worse for you. You haven’t missed much.

    Cheers

  91. Sounds like u got stuck with a realllyyyy poor really conservative family .. it’s not like this at all in egypt lool u were just so unfortunate

  92. Hahaha! Am an Egyptian girl but I don't love gold. I ADORE Diamonds 😛 Well, seems like you didn't really enjoy that relationship. But tell you what, the girl was playing you from Day 1 when she told you to meet her parents to have their permission.

    You're overgeneralizing, am afraid. Not because you met a girl, who surprisingly does not speak English, you'd think that you know it all about Egyptian girls and relationships.

    Her language barrier, for example, was very telling of her poor socio-economic status. Thus, you at least needed to meet other girls to make a constructive idea about how things go in Egypt.

  93. Believe mate, you are so lucky.. They haven't cancelled the agreement because their daughter could be waiting for 6- 12 months as you said, it is because they knew you are not rich as they expect any western fellow to be. Egyptians worship money mate, ask your other Arab mates and they'll tell you.

  94. I'm an Egyptian girl, knowing the girl doesn't mean kissing or touching her, we have an engagement period in which we can get to understand each other. About the amount of gold, I admit that some families exaggerate, specially in south Egypt, but not really all the families do. (Batta) made me really laugh, it shouldn't be used with men but only for women, and not even for elegant women. Sorry for my bad English, cause I was in a french school

  95. I am from Egypt
    I am an atheist
    and yes everything here is mostly true
    except for the privacy part that is
    i mean yea you can't get sometime alone with your girl
    but i'm guessing that she chose the places, eh?
    because there are some places here and there
    cafes, streets, etc

  96. As an Arab and ex-muslim, i would sadly approve most of the above mentioned, people in middle east are still attached to religion, their acts, ideas,
    even their daily talks are affected by religion.
    One thing i have to differ that in some areas like my Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, And Tunisia you can see more liberal people who is closer to the rest of the modern world culture, for instance my parents and family accepted me being agnostic after some few friendly discussions, i would imagine this will get you killed somewhere else. And i dated girls in both Damascus and Beirut when i was student, from other sects they where fine with my religious views, am not saying the levant is Europe but things are much better in matters of accepting the others, maybe because we have many religions other than muslims/christians thing (like alawit,murshedi, doroze,etc).

  97. As an Egyptian I have to say you were very spot on. It is very difficult for Egyptian guys to begin with so I can imagine how trying it was for you as a foreigner, I'm actually surprised your relationship went as far as it did 🙂 great read, excellent points especially about the lack of privacy. In Egypt someone is always watching and judging. I aught to point out though that we Egyptian girls do love our gold but not as much as diamonds 🙂 cheers and keep up the excellent writing

  98. hi Donavon,
    honestly most of what you’ve said is right, i have been in relation with latin american girl, everything was good till the point that i was about to put rings of engagment for her, her environment ruined everything only two months before my visit date, it was like everything gone crazy and they (i mean her family) intended to ruin everything very fast before i come for her, they forced her to leave her religion (islam) that she has chosed (((voluntary))) before i told her that i want to marry her, they are catholics, her environment is brutal stinky, i don’t know how western people accept to live so, anyhow what happened has happened but i learned something that it doesn’t matter your language it doesn’t matter the country, it only matters how realy every partener wish to make it successful, no matter the material no matter the place no matter the people, it only matters you and her, ONLY!

  99. You Search all over the world and you don't found an egyptian gril to married

  100. hey im egyptian but ive lived in both western and middle east countries and i am a muslim girl.. i just wanted to say that in egypt and actually more specifically it depends upon the family but sometimes when its over its NOT OVER u just have to rush or try harder with the arents ive had cousins and friends who their parents refuse to even meet their bf's and then agree after proposing for the third time!! so imagine by u already have proposed and engaged talk to her if she really loves u she can wait for u and try to convince her parents and good luck in ur life 🙂

  101. I really love how you narrowed it down to bits and pieces with such accuracy like youre an actual citizen. but aside from this, how about you blog about your stay there and how was your life like, how did you find the people there, what did you do when you 2 got harassed especially when you were on a date. and your egyptian male friends how was the situation according to them and are you still in touch with them or not. that would be nice since I would like to see it from a different perspective and who better to do that than a foreign guy who lived in egypt.

  102. I'd like to respectfully disagree with this. I mean, you mentioned at the top that this is your own personal experience and whatnot, and I must admit it's wonderfully written, however I don't agree with most of it. I'm an egyptian girl, and almost half of this isn't true. We're not materialistic, you don't have to jump into the marriage talk right away, and definitely it's not all about the gold and what you have to offer in terms of finances. I think you got involved with a very conservative Egyptian family, but that's not at all how it usually is.

  103. guys just imagine!!! egyptian teenagers are supposed to make it through all of these opstacles to get the woman they love…daaaaymn!
    i'm egyptian & i don't think i'll ever love some girl that much that make me endure all of that family shit 😀

  104. Im Egyptian, spent my whole life growing up there and my whole family is Egyptian and this is a very one sided view. This probably happened in a more traditional (lower class) Islamic area. Where I grew up this would never happen! Most Egyptians I grew up with and know are extremely westernized, open minded, well traveled and educated. So to say things like "There’s no way around this in Egypt" is you putting us all egyptians in one nut shell. It really makes me angry, articles like this piss me off. Hint, if the girl cant speak english, Shes probably from a poorer more religious traditional family hence the terrible experience. NOT ALL EGYPTIAN FAMILIES ARE LIKE THIS!! I want people to know that alot of families in Egypt marry foreign people all the time and its no big deal at all, its just like being in canada or the U.S… u can date and do what you want and never have to meet the dad unless you both wanted that, none of that crap you went through!

  105. This funny! Well I am Egyptian female married to an American who does not know a word in Arabic… We have been married for almost 9 years. Egyptian society is very materialistic I never understood how! Poor people who can’t have sex should make it easier to get married not hard! When I married my husband he did not have money! He could not even afford his airplane ticket to come see me for the first time( we met online!!) he had to sell his laptop to fly across the Atlantic Ocean to come see me! I wanted to marry a man who loves me that much I did not care how much he makes or if he could afford a house. All I wanted is a hard working man who is loving and trust worthy. I married my husband after dating online for one month! When I saw him my restless soul finally felt home. We have been married for almost 9 years and we have 2 beautiful kids. I was right to choose this wonderful man with his modest circumstances because now he owns a very successful business. And I am a doctor! You can make money, but you can’t make people!

    1. Hi Sally
      Lovely story Masha’allah, I’m going through a very similar story to yours so would be great if we could communicate somewhere else as I have some questions and concerns to share 🙂

      Looking forward to hearing from you

    2. Nice story and a very true thought, that last one. Money comes and goes.

  106. man i’m egyptian and i want to say that what you write here is the truth the only truth and nothing but the truth , good work keep going :))

  107. I am also Egyptian, you wrote down the whole truth that we also suffer in Egypt when we want to marry 🙂 Good Work and keep on.

    Good Luck, 🙂

  108. you hide the girls faces in the picture [and i respect that] , but when i shared your blog in Facebook it got the image with the faces , you must be having the original image embedded here somewhere

  109. too bad u had such in experience but it's not really the way it is all the time. i'm an Egyptian girl and my fiance lives in america, when he came to propose my parents didn't talk about his financial status just few chatting over his work and his family, which is only to make them know him better after all they should feel comfortable as they are giving him there daughter (me).
    in islam we have some rules, men shouldn't touch the women till they get married, and this is only coz islam cherish women, we r so precious and should be treated like queens (if u went to england u wont be able to shake hands with queen elizabeth for instance)
    the thing is, in islam we make the engagement so the two partners know eachother more, it's like a legal commitment to know the woman or the man better and ofcourse their families as well, family bonds is something that we appreciate in egypt very much.
    my fiance and i had a nice, warm family engagement party , where we bought wore our rings in (debla) and actually my parents never put a certain amount of money for it, in fact my fiance told me, "just buy whatever you like" 🙂
    he had no apartment when he came to propose, and after a while he was able to buy one. we went out together…had lunch…been to the movie and made many activities together with holding all respect for eachother, and actually this helped alot in making our inner feelings for eachother grow and now we really can't wait to be joined together in one home.
    my finace had to go back to america after 3 weeks only, he wont be able to come back except after 8-10 months 🙁 so now we just call and waiting desperately for us to be joined again.
    i'm telling you this story only to tell you that people aren't always the same, for me what an egyptian women is looking for is to be with a real MAN, someone to protect her, be her father , brother and friend, someone to treat her like she's the only lady in this life…to be a good father of her kids and to embrace her =) i'm really sorry for your bad experience and i really wish you have a good life and better chance

  110. Hello! I stumbled across your blog and I'm sorry to hear about what happened to you. It's true that marriage in Egypt is extremely difficult. Your story more or less reflects everything wrong about the Egyptian culture when it comes to marriage. In fact, because of all the difficulties of getting married, lots of men resort to awful things like sexual harassment and porn addiction.
    Thing is, it differs a bit depending on social class, but it's more of a business deal rather than a marriage.
    I really enjoyed reading this. Thank you for shedding light on such a subject! I have a blog about Cairo myself 😀
    Have a great day!

  111. hhhhhhhhhhhhh now you know the heroic story of every Egyptian guy want to get married. its need a lot of effort and money to do it . but at last i think our girls deserve it . you are talking bout girl never touched by any man before (for eastern communities its a big value).
    a girl that ill raise your kids ..manage your life and will be your support all the life.
    now in egypt our generation live some western relationship but in fact our respect as men goes to the girl that maintain the bounries.

  112. *Message 1 of 2*

    I'm gonna go ahead and be the guy who experienced (almost) exact opposites with most points you made Donovan 🙂 — All respect coming from me though, as you maybe agree, no two people experience a situation exactly the same.

    I'm an American guy who married my Egyptian wife at the age of 23, we're just coming up on our 3rd year anniversary in a few months. I'm from the southern region of the US and up until recently, had never left the US at all; I grew up in one state and went to university in that same state — this is where I met my wife. I say all this to emphasize how little I could be considered as a 'worldly' guy, multi-cultural, all those similar phrases. I have only obsessed over eastern culture (India, Middle East, Asia) through books and music, that's the only quantifiable knowledge I had of the east.

    My wife comes from a very liberal family; and I mean that in a strictly political sense. I do not mean liberal in sense of an easing in moral and religious standards. I am also a liberal, though from an American perspective of course. I would now come to the conclusion that her family is much more progressive and completely surprised me in how much I have learned from them in terms of complete acceptance of outside cultures, religions, and lifestyles.

    My parents are conservative, her parents are liberal. I was never baptized and was raised without religion; though it was always "known" that we were Methodist should anyone ever ask. We never attended church. My wife's family is Muslim. I LOVE coming into contact and reading comments all throughout the internet from very conservative Muslims who deem situations such as mine as haram (sinful) and reflective of how her family must be failed (?) devotees of Islam. All this does is reinforce how much I am in love with the open arms attitude, complete acceptance and love that her family shows toward me.

    I must say though that, in my situation, it was better to be of NO religion and agnostic in attitude, than be a die-hard christian who will not budge on his beliefs. If I was, my life experience would tell me that I probably would not be so excepting of her families devotion. So the acceptance goes both ways; it certainly is not only seen coming from the Middle Eastern side of the equation. You may have experienced that as well, as you stated the reluctance of your own family, though you didn't go too much into detail so I won't paint a picture I don't know fully.

    Her immediate family speaks both Arabic and English. My wife was raised in dual English and Arabic education. Her entire family tree (at least the last century) has been based in Egypt, so their social and political outlooks completely destroyed this engrained dichotomy that there is such a thing as a "western" perspective and a "middle eastern" perspective. My wife and her siblings were raised with the same shows I watched as a kid, liked the same little kid pop music I did, PLUS them being raised on all the popular Egyptian culture, whereas I was not. So my situation lent itself an implication that I am most likely far more naive and contained in regards to being in tune with "the world". I no longer believe in the idea that late 80s/early 90s (my generation) middle eastern babies are cloaked in this closed off world deemed as the 'arab counties'.

    My wife immediately made sure (she loves pointing out how unworldly I am! Ha!) that I understand she and her family are Egyptian and not Arab. Her peers and friends also backed up this belief. Egyptians do not like to be called Arab, and rightly so. Egyptians have an entirely separate culture and history of their own; when it comes to relations with the Arab world = they only speak Arabic, and it ends there.

    *Comment continued below*

  113. *Comment 2 of 3*

    To be completely frank and upfront, I spent most of my high school years in love with traditional cultures, Native American traditions, Eastern ideas, Indian raga music, aspects of Hinduism, and the Grateful Dead = so you can draw your conclusions from there. I can rightly state that I have always been searching for knowledge from other parts of the world and religions outside of Christianity and Judaism. So this background could easily be shown the door from a Muslim perspective, I am not ignorant to the fact that not all Muslims are moderate. BUT I certainly have learned more in my life since meeting my wife's family than ever before, and have come to the conclusion that there is a much higher percentage of open armed Egyptian families than I could ever imagine. Meeting my wifes childhood friends and families reinforced this over and over.

    I'm not here to debate the merits of tons of gold, gold, gold, presents, dowries, and the paragraph upon paragraph that you wrote about the importance of these customs. This custom exists in the United States, Asia, India, the Middle East, and all over the world. Any family from any country could concern themselves with these customs just as easily as not concerning themselves with these customs. My experience of marriage to an Egyptian women did not coincide with any forceful natures what so ever. Her father is one of the most respectable men I have ever met, and never once has pressured me into a slew of interview questions about my life and fiances. Her family, much like mine and most US parents with 20-something kids, approached our marriage with the idea that – if you two are getting married, you must be prepared for it financially and be prepared for the independence that comes with that. So naturally, you shouldn't be getting married if you don't have a career and ambitions lined up. I got to know her father deeply over the years past, this relationship gradually got closer and closer because of our shared interests and outlooks in life. It was never forced, nor was I looked at as a lesser person. I have learned so much from him, and he calls me his son.

    It is very true about husband/wife nicknames, though me and my wife don't take it to the extreme of talking in baby voices to each other. There's no need to overwhelm the Latin spelling (abcde..) of Arabic words with tons of numbers though. This is only a recent phenomenon with the advent of the internet and is akin to texting language (LOL, etc..). So there are no real formalities involved with this. It differs from person to person. I am her Habibi and she is my Habibty. I love the word Habibty! and I love calling her that. In day to day conversations, your best friend is your habibi, the friendly cashier at the store is your habibi, it is very lax in usage. Anyone with a kind heart is your habibi/habibti.

    *Comment continued below*

  114. *Comment 3 of 3*

    Our act of marrying early did not imply an expectation for Egyptian daughters to quickly find a husband and be a stay at home mom. We both work in the art industry, met at art school, and rightfully so, she is so much more gifted than I am, I learn things every day from her. She holds her ground in our relationship, if not more, than the ground that I hold. Marrying me did not affect her female independence at all. Those traits were what attracted me to her in the first place. The young women in her family do not wear a hijab. Though I do see scarfs as such a beautiful thing, and Middle Eastern women are an exemplification of beauty. I have since lived extensively in both Egypt and the states, back and forth. Walking around Cairo shows you that 50% of the young generation do not wear scarfs, and 50% of the young generation do wear them. The Cairo population is as modern as any major city in the states. It is a healthy mix of all walks of life. I love it there. I have never been more accepted than when in Cairo and have never been talked down to because I am from a different country. Me and my wife walk around hand in hand without an issue. I think it is all about how you would like to be portrayed. If your relationship outwardly shows your love for each other, and each of your unique personalities are displayed with positivity, the people walking alongside you on the street will respect you. In any country, in any part of the world, you will encounter assholes. That is expected. There are assholes everywhere, but they do not define the culture of a society.

    The opinions of pre-marital sex is present in all religions. I can only respect a women who believes in waiting for her true love. My experience has lead to us in being able to freely date one another. The prospect of asking for her hand in marriage, talking to her father, only came about when we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. I did not need to ask permission to simply get to know my wife. Asking for a women's hand in marriage should be done by all guys, no matter the country. This of course excludes families that may have since grown apart in contact, but in my situation, my wife's family is very family oriented, and I love that about them. I love being a part of her very close and personal family. That is another thing I have experienced much like you, Egyptian families are generally very close to one another, they stay under the same roof together for this quality.

    I am continually learning Arabic; this started from the moment we met. I knew no Arabic before meeting my wife. I am continually being shown the love that sensible Muslims have for their fellow human beings and humanity in general. I probably ask her parents more questions than they ask me, I can't get rid of this enthusiasm to learn everything I possibly can about Islam, the history of Egypt, and the cultural qualities of modern and traditional Egyptian life. My wife's parents ultimately leave my religious inclinations to my own decision. But much like any husband from any part of the world experiences, my wife keeps my ego rightfully in check, and constantly reminds me who the boss of the house is, haha.

    But as any relationship blooms, I make sure I give my all to my wife and make sure she is taken care of, shown respect, and most of all knows of my complete devotion to her. We're here for each other, and that quality is true for any relationship no matter what country either of you are from. We have promised to never let the negative and outdated traditions of my own country and her own country to get in the way of each other. Love comes first, and social pillars such as morals and religion will comfortably fall into place AFTER the love is experienced. If you respect one another, each of you will learn so much from each perspective that is brought to the table. Coming from different upbringings and customs will make a relationship so much more interesting in the end. I love being different from her, and she loves being different from me. We are ultimately united under the promise of utmost care for one another.

    Ana bahibak ya habibty.

  115. i'm egyptain : you are sooooo right in every word , fuck them off

  116. I didn't see the other comments, so excuse me if this is a repeated question: Seriously, what did you like about Egypt?! I'm Egyptian and I (still) hate Egypt and Egyptians like hell, even though I've immigrated!!

  117. great experience you touched every aspect of our Egyptian life

    انا عمرى ما قريت مقال بالطول ده قبل كده
    بس المرة دى قريته كله
    “انت لمست كل جوانب حياتنا”
    thanks for sharing

  118. hahaha omg you are so funny especially when you said you are not only marrying her but you are marrying the whole family i started dieing lmao…and duck haha even though am egyptian it sounds a little funny in english …and having privacy only in the bathroom sooo truee omg loll i love this article xD

  119. you are lucky that you left her god damn Egyptian girls , they are not simple you need lots of stories to tell and don't forget the religion stuff OMG that's why i wanna immigrate

  120. Naturally this question only arises in our modern context in which Muslims and non-Muslims are in interaction; people fall in love, and they want to get married; and now they are asking: Why can’t we?

    For a Muslim man to marry a non-Muslim woman who is deemed to be a person from the People of the Book, Christian or Jew, many Muslim scholars say that this is permissible. However, other scholars say that it is makruh, which means that it is objectionable but not absolutely forbidden.

    This is not necessarily a minority opinion; it is held by a large number of scholars. The Quran in chapter five, verse five says what means:

    {This day all clean things has been made lawful to you. The food of the People of the Book is permitted to you. And your food is permitted to them. And permitted to you are chaste women, be they from among the believers, or from among those who have received the Book before you, provided you become their protectors in wedlock after paying them their bridal-due, rather than going around committing fornication and taking them as secret-companions. The work of he who refuses to follow the Way of faith will go to waste, and he will be among the utter losers in the Hereafter.} (Al-Maidah, 5:5)

    This now at least refers to the Jews and Christians and it could refer to other communities as well who are based on a scriptural faith, as opposed to let’s say primal religions that do not necessarily follow what Muslims would deem to be a revealed scripture such, as the Old and New Testaments.

    Because that permission was given in the Quran for men to marry the chaste women of the People of the Book, many think that literarily it is OK to marry any Chritsian or Jewish lady.
    Omar (may Allah be pleased with him), the second caliph, saw that this was happening a lot and the Muslim women couldn’t find husbands because the men are marrying other women, which happens now too, so he put a stop to that and some follow his opinion and say now it is not a good idea and so it is objectionable.
    Often the question is put to us in this way: If a man can marry a woman from the People of the Book, why couldn’t a woman marry a man from the People of the Book?

    It seems to me that the best solution to this would be to say that those who are trying to follow their faith in a very intent manner and want their children to be brought up in the faith and so on, well then they should marry fellow Muslims because that’s the way of insuring that their children would be brought up in the faith; they wouldn’t be confused between this religion and that religion in the same household.

    On the other hand, if people are not so connected to the faith, such that they can easily fall in love with somebody else; they find this to be welcome and possible, well then if they want to marry outside of the faith then they have to be aware of the consequences.

    If they are not as committed as they are at the moment and they were to then marry someone from outside the faith then this will entail a lesser commitment at the household level. In what sense can we then expect the children to be brought up on the faith?

    Men and women should be weary of going forward with such a commitment.

    Brother Waleed Ahmed Najmeddine, a consultant at Ask About Islam, added:

    Interfaith marriages are generally not allowed in Islam except under certain conditions:

    {Do not marry unbelieving women (idolaters), until they believe: A slave woman who believes is better than an unbelieving woman, even though she allures you. Nor marry (your girls) to unbelievers until they believe: A man slave who believes is better than an unbeliever, even though he allures you. Unbelievers do (but) beckon you to the Fire. But Allah beckons by His Grace to the Garden (of bliss) and forgiveness, and makes His Signs clear to mankind: That they may celebrate His praise.} (Al-Baqara, 2:221)

    With respect to the Muslim man marrying a non-Muslim woman from among the People of the Book (Jews and Christians); Prophet Muhammad’s wife Maria was a Copt from Egypt. She later embraced Islam before their wedding.

    It is permissible for the wife to maintain her Christian or Jewish faith even after marriage, however, because her Muslim husband has an acceptance and love for prophets Issa and Musa, peace be upon them, and the traditions of Christianity and Judaism. Christian and Jewish men, on the other hand, are not required by their faiths to love or respect Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) or the traditions of Islam. We must consider who we are and why we wish to marry a particular person:

    {Women impure are for men impure, and men impure for women impure and women of purity are for men of purity, and men of purity are for women of purity: these are not affected by what people say: for them there is forgiveness, and a provision honorable.} (An-Noor, 24:26)

    A non-Muslim man is in a position to enforce his will upon a Muslim wife. Although he may not be the type to hinder her from practicing her faith, or to force her to follow his religious traditions, there is the matter of raising children as Muslims or Christians/Jews.

    If the man does not wish to raise his children as Christians/Jews, or does not care much about religion one way or the other, then she might ask herself why she would marry someone like that, unless of course, she is of the same mind. This is a type of kufr (disbelief), and “after kufr there is no need for discussion about sin”.

    Brother Maan Khalife, Ask About Islam staff member, added:

    What we have to pay attention to is the word “chaste” in the above quoted verse (5:5). This means someone who did not have any sexual relationships before marriage; was divorced, or widowed and had only relationships within marriage.

    It is the duty of the scholar or imam performing the marriage to read that verse and also inquire not from the woman because that would be inappropriate, rather from the man and to remind him of what Allah said in His book, which is to marry a chaste woman, whether Muslim or non-Muslim.

  121. waw i enjoyed but at the end i felt sorry for what happened but than yes this is life and you had written great learning informative to all of us

  122. That was really amazing! I'm an Egyptian Muslim girl and I can definitely say that most (if not all) of what's mentioned here is true! Muslim girls just cannot marry of different religion unless either one of them changes his religion to match the others', this is due to the fact that we were ordered so in our Qur'an. Of course we weren't ordered to change religions but those who are careless enough about their religion might. We call those the ones with weak faith. Men shouldn't either but because the obstacle of 'whose religion the future kid will take' is solved (since he always takes the father's religion) they go easy on that one.
    Also I wanted to ask you were you were living in Cairo and why you were wearing a "Galabeya" ?
    I really did enjoy reading this and I had a few laughs specially at the part of "Bathroom is the only place for privacy" Actually not even there for sometime you'd find people knocking on the door telling you to hurry the hell up 'enty bt3mely a gowa? bt5ter3y el zarra" and stuff.
    Anyway, I'm looking forward to reading more from you.
    Enjoy! ^^

  123. Well ,iam an Egyptian and live in usa I had an Egyptian girl friend but I could not meet her ,loved her very much but could only meet me at the hospital whenever she brought her mother to me then I left to usa and got a PhDs and opened a clinic try iced desparetly to see wher she is gave up married a candian and have a wonderful son physician but still want to know where is my first love exits in Egypt.i agree dating in Egypt is tough
    Name is Hanna

  124. To every rule there are exceptions, but these are not as rare as most apparently believe! I am an Egyptian woman who is happily married to a European (7 other women in my extended family are also happily married to westerners). We met in Cairo, dated for 2 years, got married and now have grown up children. The one factor that makes any marriage a success, and particularly an mixed-culture one, is ‘the meeting of the minds’ as well as love. Both parties have to be open-minded, willing to compromise, and strong enough to stand up for each other in face of any social or cultural pressure. You both agree on your own ‘rules’, draw the lines and permit no one to cross them. To arrive to that point the couple need to be also intellectually attuned. A partner should also be a ‘best friend’ with whom one can think aloud. Marriage/relationships based on blind-folded passion alone starts with a limp and eventually keels over. As for language, that was a compromise also, we speak English at home: my second language, my husband’s third). I am sorry you had such a difficult experience.

  125. hey there, honestly i am gonna say that you are really brave to date arabian girl, i am an arabian girl but not an egyptian, i am a yemeni. here in our culture arab girls dont date foreigners especially from the west, we only date our people which means arabs as well, i dont date any guy because i am still young and we dont date like dating in the west, our parents match us together and if we like each other then the wedding will be held, before we do "ta3aruf" which means knowing each other and im sure you know it, then after that we arrange the marriage and the mahr, the mahr depends on the daughter/the father and its not always the same , but maybe in egypt the mahr is too big and yeh i admit it , but it depends on the family, do u know why the mahr is big? its because the father will give his daughter to a man that soon to be his daughter's husband and before letting go of his daughter he has to make sure that his daughter gets the best 😀 maybe sounds a little bit weird but its true! anyway thanks for sharing your stories!

  126. Hey there! This post could not be written any better!
    Reading this post reminds me of my old room mate! He always kept talking about this.
    I will forward this post to him. Fairly certain he will have a good read.

    Thanks for sharing!

  127. Every weekend i used to pay a quick visit this web site, for the reason that i want
    enjoyment, for the reason that this this site conations in fact good funny material
    too.

  128. What u mentioned about marriage in Egypt is completely right because people are materialistic and when it comes to marriage parents start negotiations like they are selling a property or a car or even a cow not THEIR DAUGHTER !!

    they only care about making the most of the marriage deal by asking for money , gold , car , apartment …etc

    that's why men use the prostitutes to help them instead of paying that much money .

    And unfortunately , the percentage od divorce in Egypt is 40% so even after you pay all this money and the deal of marriage is done IT MAY END WITH DIVORCE and you lose all you pay and their another hard time when you want to divorce because you may pass through legal problems in the court also if you have kids this is another problem .

    SO WELLCOME TO THE STUPIED , MATERIALISTIC , IGNORANT ARAB CULTURE …. LOSERS …. I AM EGYPTIAN AND ARAB

  129. Man,I’m an Egyptian and You have killed it .Most of the marriages in Egypt -if not all of them – are the way you’ve told it ,but seriously religion is really what’s screwing us here .

  130. What the..! This actually may drive away any foreign fella I might set my eyes on after reading it :'D you know, for the "citizenship" and so.. 😛
    buuuuut, not all the Egyptian girls like Gold btw! take me for an example, I prefer it in Silver :3 😛
    no really, recently alot of girls think of "Shabkaah" as the same traditional way, now days. + You would've been quite fascinated with what was waiting for you after the "Shabkaah" thing ! xD
    you got away with what's left in ur pockets, dude. x'D

    Just a question though, you said she had nothing to with English -neither had her family-, so how did you two get to know each other ? and, you know, get to promote to such a whole-high level in your relationship that fast too considering the huge diffrances bet. the two of you? and, of course, the sitiuations with her family? despite that, God bless you! You lived in here -Egypt-, almost got married to a FAMILY which you've nothing in common with, and you're still breathing with a heart still beating, with no curses and so.. yet :D!

    P.S: The lovey-dovey parts.. yeah, lame!! -_-

  131. "recently alot of girls *don't think of "Shabkaah" as the same traditional way…"

  132. HAHA , bottom line
    Screw Egypt , screw dating and marriage -_- !

  133. dear friend
    i'm a girl from Egypt – Alexandria
    first sorry about that
    but you must know not all family's like this in our country
    You fell victim's family loves money
    There are a lot of families dont think in a civilized but not all families
    My brother is married from Romania and his wife work here in Egypt, in the opera, they very happy in life here
    We dont interfere in their private lives never
    she is also not a Muslim she's a Christian
    my brother Muslim and his wife Christian, but we did not say why marry a Christian!
    All we wanted was reassurance that they love each other
    I apologize to you for what happened to you here, but not all of us so

  134. I love Egypt and generally I found Egyptians nice and friendly. Being a Muslim, I found it a nice place to live. That was in 1989, I was 18 years and I was training in Egypt air. I got to know a girl who worked with Egypt Air. She was a nurse. She worked Egypt Air in the morning and Ain Shams Hospital in Cairo in the afternoon.
    Her name was Fathiya Ahmed Galeb. If anyone knows her, I would love to have her contact details.
    My name is Hassan and my email is [email protected]

  135. Plus, there’s a lot of Egyptian guys who will kill you since males outnumber females in Egypt due to females being killed in mass numbers. Also, keep in mind that Egyptian girls will get married off to Egyptian guys only because there’s a lot of them.

  136. I just read this i married an egyptian man in my country married 8 years sadly he died im now living in egypt and its really hard here not many speak good english also the culture is different
    my inlaws are terrible to me.
    life in egypt is a learning experience

  137. as an egyptian girl I agree on all this .. but it doesnt mean that all girls, families & situations are the same in egypt.
    I had boyfriends n my family knew
    gold and jewels aren’t life … but its more like a gift for marriage n a chained money for the future if troubles are faced
    I am a muslim n yes I’d prefer to marry a man like me .. it would make life simpler for me atleast .. i mean if i loved someone who isn’t muslim I cannot marry him.. ihe is free with his believes but I don’t wanna take him where he shouldn’t be.

    n no it wont be like two families getting involved .. just me n him against the world!

    I guess u only picked the wrong choice of yours..

    but its not the end of destiny

  138. Hello, Donovan!
    I am sorry to hear about your heartbreaking experiance, especially that money was the cause. well, your post is about right by 85% I think. In my perspective as an Egyptian who lives in USA for over 10 years~ just saying this so you don’t say that I am closed minded or anything like that 😉 but not all Egyptians are materialistic. I think you just fell in love with people whom are extremely poor, and believe that money will support their daughter if divorce or anything happened; you must look at it from their perspective. I mean in western society you can get married today the you are divorced tomorrow. And yes in Egypt they are very conservative only because it’s an Islamic countries; some Christians are forced to be covered in clothe because of their religion but as far as no sex before marriage, so that is because we follow the bible rules! There are so many Egyptians Christians who are married to an American guys and did not break the rules eventhough they live in USA. Here in USA people are materialistic too they judged you based on what brand name are you wearing, which car you drive, Etc I really think it’s disrupted world, sadly!

  139. hahahahah you really made me laugh man x) o b3den enta fen kont fe masr y3ni that pic with the galabeya xD omg hahahaha where da hell were yaaa x) xD but i felt sorry for you and for things not working but oh well… 😀 many things are true though 😀 and even so i dont want an Egyptian man, i dont think i’d ignore those basic things when “marrying an Egyptian girl ” hahahaha but many families are understanding and felxible with gold issues or similar not very very important stuff..ya batta [wtf hahaha] 😀 am sorry its just funny coming from a foreigner , 7yatti 3alek hahaha god knows what else you been through x) 😀

  140. I'm really sorry it didn't go well for you, most of what you described here is associated with people from the rural areas or low social levels in Cairo which can be a great obstacle for a lot of upper middle class that are a bit westernized let alone a foreigner. I hope the best for you next time ,Egyptian or not .

  141. wow it's hard to get a relation with an egyptian, but i dont know what to do , this girl is working on emore month her in Peru and she is so nice at me and i am starting to love her . but she denied to stay until December cuz she had a boyfriend and she's just broken up with him and i want to try sth with her but i dont know cuz her father has a lot of power even she is scared and she was suppossed to marry her exbroyfriend and dont know ?? any advises?

  142. This is insightful. My boyfriend is from Egypt. He’s a Muslim and I’m a Christian. We’ve had our fair share of arguments, because of cultural differences and religion, but at the end of the day, we put all of it aside and focus on how much love we have for each other. When the time comes though, for us to meet each other’s families, for sure it will be difficult for us. But I still hope and pray for the best. 🙂

    1. My thoughts as an Egyptian guy. If you’re constantly arguing with your boyfriend because of cultural and religious issues, that tells me most or all of the issues are coming from his end since I don’t think you’re trying to tell him what to do. He seems like an abuser and bigot who criticizes you relentlessly and is trying to mould you into something acceptable to him. This is very common in relationships between Egyptian Muslim men and Western girls. They’re not based on equality, but on change and accommodation on the girl’s part. I advise you to put a lot of thought into what you’re doing, a little pain now is better than a world of inescapable pain later.

  143. This is a fantastic post. It really hit home with me as an Egyptian. As an agnostic native English speaker and emigrant I am very out of touch with my home culture, which I’m reminded can be quite misogynistic and suffocatingly religious. Controlling, constricted, hypocritical, bigoted, archaic, gossip-based — you name it. The girl’s dad was a money-worshiping daughter-monger from hell and I’m surprised you stuck to the process to the end (as well as by her lack of resistance to him?). My own experience is that Egypt is a miserable place for anyone who’s out of the norm — coming to Canada was like breathing for the first time. Sometimes I think of renouncing my citizenship.

    I must say though, that there are cultures even more repressive and primitive than ours. I was involved with a Hindu Indian girl over the summer and the mutated turds who pass for parents over there, animalized her as soon as they found out I’m “Muslim.” I was not even up for consideration for longer than two minutes. She was slapped around for the first time in her life, threatened with disownment after 24 years of total obedience, and had one suitor after another shoved down her throat until she got married. At her wedding she cried her eyes out while her family took pictures. Of course, she’s miserable now. In Egypt this might be done by peasants, not by wealthy, well-educated and prominent folks like hers, and it’s nowhere near as common. If I thought a woman in Egypt is treated like a child, in India she is treated like a prized piece of livestock.

    This post made me realize that it will be incredibly difficult to find an Egyptian girl who thinks anything like I do, and yet if I fake it with someone then I will be married to the same oppressive culture I escaped from — in her family, entrenched in her mind, passed on to the children. There are lots of nice Egyptian girls, but if you can’t live a normal life with one they’re not worth it.

  144. I am Egyptian Female and Proud, Sorry for your experience , you have mentioned right things though and it goes for us as well. I myself hate the involvement of the families but I dated Spanish guy and I found the same!! I hate the fact we can not have privacy except in the bathroom, even i think we cant have it in the bathroom nowadays :D. About the materialism , I believe that it depends on the families and their background, even though its major in Egypt but I personally do not have this in my family, my dad was telling us (me and my sisters) We are buying a man so we don’t care about how much he will pay for u or get u as a gift for marriage! so my father was totally the opposite, no interviews, but of course we have to get to know each other! on more thing! I found out that most of the mothers in Egypt are controlling their sons and their husbands which is really ridiculous but I can realize that most of the Egyptians currently they go for Moroccan or Russian and polish women! which is very poor thing! I believe Egyptian men became very weak and not strong enough to marry or handle an Egyptian woman! Because I believe we are still different, we are very independent women, we are strong have dignity, pretty, Pharaohs 😉 and the most important thing we are so funny, have good sense of humor 😀 😀 xoxoxo

    1. ?? of course Habhob, Just preparing to travel to egypt this month.
      Donovan post is really helpful.

  145. I liked the whole story of how you almost married an Egyptian girl. Sad to know your girlfriend family and dad could not have been patient and waited til you came back within a year. Just as awful that your parents just criticized you and did not really support you much. If you had married her would you have to have switched to the Muslim religion?

  146. Hello!

    Your article was very interesting to read. Any advice/tips/expectations on marrying a Muslim Lebanese man born in the West? I know traditionally women don’t ask men to marry them but he has mentioned several times that he wants to marry me when we’re financially stable. He already got me a promise ring but I refused to accept an engagement ring until we sorted some issues and he told his parents about us. We dated seriously for almost 5 years now, the main challenge is now informing his parents… He introduced me officially as his future wife to his brother but not the whole family just yet. His family is from Beirut, they’re all Muslim and when we were just friends I noticed how conservative his mom was. However she’s become more flexible with her son throughout the years in terms of going out to parties etc. And her flexibility with him has really given me hope that something could work out since she’s the tough one to please….
    I’m neither Muslim or of Arab / European descent and I’m Christian so I just want to know any tips/advice/expectations in getting married with this man. Unlike his mom, he’s pretty open; he has been wanting to do an interfaith marriage since he doesn’t believe in forcing me to convert to Islam but I know it will be difficult with his mom & the extended family. Another challenge we face is he has a big circle of Egyptian friends… All born and raised in Egypt. When we argue these friends are always in between trying to tell my bf he can do way better with an Arab or Caucasian gf and that he should forget about me because I’m an “inferior” race plus I’m not even Muslim. Also after hanging out with this circle a lot they have been discouraging him to teach me Arabic but I learn my Arabic from some Egyptian girl friends I have and they don’t have much advice to give me. Anyway I want to confront the Egyptian about it because their closed-mindedness is affecting the relationship and I don’t know what to do because it would be silly of me to ask him to choose between me and his friends.
    Also are Lebanese parents like Egyptian parents? What do Egyptians do if the groom-go-be’s friends dislike the bride-to-be? What are the chances of us getting away with this in the West?
    I have a Lebanese Catholic acquaintance born and raised like my bf here in the West married to a Filipino woman…he told me he has a bad relationship with his mom for marrying the Filipino lady….but they seem happy & they’ve been married for 8 years now and have 3 children… His family has never been to Lebanon to meet the rest of the family on his side though.
    I was also wondering if I could be in the same situation with my Muslim bf and how do I avoid or fix mother-son relationship troubles?

    I really look forward to get an answer from you!

  147. I gotta say this kudos to you for putting up with her family’s whole racket. I wouldn’t have put up with it. I think the route I would have went is you either come to my country or we’re done. Ain’t know way I’d be letting her family make my life miserable. For example no privacy? Men harassing is on a date? Who does that? Like I said I think the key is make them play by your rules not there’s. And most likely the only way to do that is if the girl agrees to leave the country. Now having said all that it doesn’t mean you treat there family badly. You should always respect them. Just don’t let them run your life. My main concern would be just make sure I don’t get in trouble with the law so I don’t get kicked out of the country. But other than that the girls parents could kiss my well you get the picture.

  148. Yeah its true they are like North Koreans or Chinese people u can say and i say they are like Indian People in Marriage Family and they talk alot like the Indians they are like Indians actually but better and less more cleaner than them but they are so rude i’m wondering how France colonies their country Spain should must colonized their country not France Spanish People talk alot marry with family permission and keeping family in their lifes forever for rude and non-stop headache and hardworking people as well i dont know.

  149. My father is Arabic and my mother is a foreigner.
    The only thing my father taught me about relationships: “Never try to date Arabic women, you will never get anything from it”.

  150. I was born in Egypt from European decents father Greek mother French dont look Egyptian but speak it quite fluently, came to Australia when i was 20 went back in 2007 my roots are still there! I am now 67 live in melbourne married with 2 children a son and a daughter son is 36 daughter 34 my concern is my son he`s been in a relatioship with an Australian girl who broke his heart after beeing together for 4 years, he has never recovered and doesnt trust Ausies girls, he is good looking very health fanatic great career as accountant has his own place very honest and sincere but no luck finding the right partner, I know and my wish if he meets a nice girl from Egyptian back round who can be trusted and sincere she`ll be the happiest girl on this planet! but how? besides he wouldnt be happy if he knew i am writing this article! I am just hoping to get some reply from someone with that description and somehow put you in touch with him and start communicatig can only hope for the best?

  151. I’m Arab and Muslim not from Egypt but my bF is we have baby and not married .
    And our family okay with it I guess just was you luck lol. We are not all the same, you just have to make sure the women what’s her intentions if she is after marriage only some family’s are like that.

  152. Really interesting ! I am a girl from Albania and have 3 moths talking to a egyptian boy. He really looks a devoted person and very family oriented. But many times things get complicated,,, and that’s why I ended up reading this article. In fact I was searching on google about their culture, because I want to understand him more

  153. I wanted to keep my egyptian girlfriend as a guest in a hotel but they rejected it right away and said rooms cannot be shared..it was equally hard for me to not be around since I met her after 6 long years..any of you guys know a hotel where they wouldnt mind?

  154. That’s a good one. I am interested with an Egyptian girl and your post gave me some idea of their culture and I’m sure it will be helpful for me.

    p/s guess i love her..

    Thanks Donovan. Enjoyed reading it.

    1. Hi everyone,
      Thanks Donovan for this interesting post, really enjoyed your honesty and the way you approached your girl was truly decent.
      To tell you the truth there are few things which are wrong,yes we are considered religious Muslims or Christians, but what you mentioned depends ,first of all on the social background of your girl . This all about traditions which should be flexible according to the situations or the suitor himself .Yes some families out of fear they ask for certain things , in Islam the dowry is not fixed , but the less the better and the jewelry is just a gift from the husband

  155. My Egyptian girlfriend jus broke up with me because her father told her she had to. He has never met me, I dropped her off home one night after a night out drinking at the bar, her brother got very mad and told her parents about that. I don’t understand I love this girl to death, we talked about having kids and getting married, I felt like she was the one. I am of Asian descent(Laotion) . I don’t know if that plays a role in this event that just happened to me. Is there any way I can get her back I still txt her and all but its not the same, we are talking like we are normal like we never had anything. This is driving me crazy I love her so much. Someoen give me some advice on what to do next. She says she dont want to lose her family over me and lose me over her family. She is 18 years old and I am 23.

  156. Wow. The endind left me feeling blue.
    Such a great post, and an amazing experience you had. I went through a very similar one.
    My ex boyfriend is deaf, I am hearing, and I was learning sign language when I met him. At first, we went out as friends. But 1 year later, or so, we became a couple.
    I remember very clearly the struggle of trying to say something and not knowing how to. And he could never hear me, so sign language was the only way of communication we had.
    It was also hard when he met my family, since none of them spoke nothing but our “mother language”. But we were in love and it all worked out just fine in the end.
    We are no longer together, but we remain friends. And it’s a bless that I got a chance to be with him. Not only because of everything we lived together, but because of the insight he gave me about his community, his culture, and his way of living, as a deaf person in a hearing world.
    He taughted me a lot. Even when we were having a fight, ’cause that could never have happened if I didn’t know how to reply.
    So, yes. Intercultural and monolingual relationships that are carried in a different language than your own are hard. And beutiful. And a great way to become fluent.

    Hope to read more of this kind of posts soon.

    مع السلامة

  157. I met a Moroccan girl online, we fell in love & now I want to marry her,
    But first I need to take the permission of her father for that.
    Problem is,I live in dubai & all this have to be done on telephone.
    Any suggestions on how would I approach to her father?

    1. what is your nationality? if you’re not Syrian, Iraqi, or Palestinian you can have visa and go to meet her family directly, there is no other decent way to marry your girl. From my experience, if her family accepted to meet you there, they will make it easy on you, Moroccan people are very nice and friendly.

      If you can’t go to Morocco, your choices are very limited .. anyway you better ask her father to prepare a (personal invitation) for you.

  158. You are a good person! and I can tell that from the way you talk about your girl and how respectful you were to her traditions..

    Did she call you batta hhh , its like calling you (sweetie) so don’t worry she loved you!

  159. Hey guys …. I know this post is old but hopefully I’ll still get some replies and some positive feedback.
    So I am an Indian guy (Hindu) and I am 35 years old. I got married to an Indian girl 5 years before but our marriage has had lot of trouble in these 5 years, most of which was between my wife and my family (I do live with my parents or they live with me) for some reason she didn’t get along good with them and my sister (my sister is married and live with her husband). So long story short I got really tired of everyday problems and decided to get a divorce. That was that but what I really wanted to ask was that I met this Iraqi girl at work and I fell in love with her. I haven’t even said anything to her because of couple reasons and those reasons are kinda my question too so please help me out with those questions. First reason is that she is 10 years younger than me (she is 25) we are really good friends and talk everyday even take lunch together everyday and I have given her some gifts like on Christmas I give her chocolate all the time and all but do u guys think if there’s lot of age difference it will work? I mean I hardly know Arabic people and I don’t know what her family will think and I am not worried about a house or gold I have that to give to her and my second reason was that I don’t know Arabic but I am willing to learn. How long does it take to learn Arabic if let’s say I don’t know anything about it, So I can hold a decent conversation with her. Oh by the way she can speak very good English and we live in Canada.

    1. You would have to convert to her religion if you are interested in dating her.

    2. Thanks for replying, but she already has a boyfriend and their relationship is going good she was just shy to tell in the beginning and we are best friends now☺️

  160. DONOVAN,
    YOU HAD QUITE THE RUN HERE IN EGYPT, AND YOU MADE ME LOOK TO OUR MARRIGE TRADITIONS FROM A DIFFERENT POINT OF VIEW, ESPECIALLY AT THE INTERVIEW PART HHHHHHHHH WE GOT BAAALLS.
    BUT IN A SENSE I FELT THAT AT SOME PARTS YOU WERE CRITCIZING EVEN SARCASTIC RATHER THAN JUST TALKING ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE HERE IN EGYPT.
    AT LAST I WOULD LIKE TO ADD THAT YOU ONLY SAW A SINGLE CASE WHICH DOESN’T AT ALL SUMMERIZE EVERY THING AOUT THE TRADITIONS, AND THE RULES YOU IMPLIED BREAKING YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE, NOT COOL.

    YOU CAN LOOK ME UP ON FACE BOOK (+2-0100-857-0-857)IF YOU WANT TO RESPOND (I AM NOT FAMILIAR WITH HOW BLOGS WORK, I THINK THIS IS A BLOG)

  161. Hi Donovan.

    I’m just curious, not a pervert.. So when you said there is no privacy in egypt and that religion is very important, does this mean that you didn’t even hug/kiss or touch her at all?

  162. Thanks for this inspiring, open hearted, and very nicely written story 🙂

  163. My nearest experience is a relationship with an egyptian man( Tarik Yusuf/ Tarik U-suf), I’m from Colombia, we had been talking for almost a year, everything started in linkedin, as he wanted to be in contact with me and I did not see any problem as he has the same career than me and has similar professional intertest.

    So we writted each other on linkedin about our jobs and duties, later asked me for my whatsapp and all started.

    Just had one phone call from whatsapp at the beginning, and chat was very common between us. After that he asked for add me in skype, somethings e talked about engineer stuff, but some days the bizarre things began, cause he said he has no sound, was very common to call me at midnight or pretty early in the moorning in egypt (3 am) with a poor light, so he was like a shadow and without sound, enjoying showing himself in boxer and exposing him on camera.

    He blocked me in linkedin, also in facebook, saying that he does not like social media, found that silly ,but is bullshit he has his accounts.

    For the actions I see he was using me, he was just entertainment himself exposing in boxer,and trying to have naughty talks with me, hyding and making excuses about camera’s light, sound like he was not intetested to be listened by others talking with me.

    1. Well, I’m so sorry to tell you he was just using you to have sex chat and get some nudes from you.. nothing more. Watch out for dirty guys like him cause there’s MANY of them out there.

  164. Dude, i feel very sorry for you man. I feel ashamed kind of. I’m sorry that you had to deal with that bullshit man. I just wanted to say that’s not what all egyptians are like. I’m Egyptian myself and i can tell you religion, gold and all that shit doesn’t matter as much as you think. It all depends on what social class the girl’s family is in and how educated and civilized they are. I’m gonna be honest religion is a big thing, i don’t think it should be but unfortunately that’s how our country is. Also the whole privacy thing. Again, it’s all about who the family is, actually i think the older the parents are the more conservative and close minded they are, our generation at the moment, the new generation is a lot more understanding and “westernized” as you would say so we’re very accepting, understanding and tolerant of anyone wether their religion, sexuality, race, nationality, financial situation or whatever. Trust me, you’d be suprised how much the egyptian teenagers and millenials have sex and hookups…i’m telling you..A LOT. Sorry you had to deal with this shit man, hope you enjoyed your time in egypt though (i wouldn’t have if i were you honestly haha)

  165. Hello, i know that this is an old post. But i wish i can get some help from you, I am in the same boat like this poor girl who loved you. I have been in a relationship with an American man 30 years, and i am an Egyptian Muslim girl 25, we really love each other for more than a year and a half now, we met abroad and he came to Egypt to meet my family who were so rough on him, just as you said they need a flat a shabka and a lot of money, they want him to relocate and leave his job abroad to come and live in Egypt, and turn Muslim,, my guy agreed to do all that because he really loves me, but we cant find a good job for him in Caior, he is a professional English teacher. My dad even says that even after my guy does all that he might not let us get married because he doesnt trust my guy because he is no Egyptian,, like really ? why ? ,,, it is heartbreaking that although i am an independent grown up woman, i cant make the choice of my life, and cant choose my life’s partner,, even if we ended up divorced one day then at least i would have tried, but it is extremely unfair to just let go of my love and he is a very good person just because my father and brother doesnt agree 🙁 … the saddest part is that my twin brother is married to his love, a Russian white non-muslim woman 😀 ,,and no one said a word to him 🙁 ,,, to be honest, i am thinking of running away and marrying him abroad,,,it is my life ,,and i dont want to spend my years with someone else who i dont really love, and keep missing and secretly loving my man 🙁

  166. This is probably me thinking too much. But what do you suggest I wear when I am about to ask her father for a date? Should i just wear something nice, or are there some clothing that may impress him further?

  167. I’m an American married to an Algerian man. While his English is near fluent, I still feel sometimes he wants to say something that he can’t express to me. It frustrates both of us. I’m trying to learn Arabic but I doubt i’ll ever be as good at Arabic as he is in English. It’s really discouraging. 🙁

  168. Thank you for your pos. I had similar experience. I am Iraqi, and I was seeing an American for 2 years. a lot of what happened with you, he did not experience. he was lucky I was residing in the US. you are right about the commitment from day 1, and taking the parent permission to start dating. my family didn’t discuss marriage with him. they did that with me. things didn’t work out, but it wasn’t because of culture or religion. things may or may not workout between any two. I am glad things are working out for you…good luck with your next adventure 🙂
    Shahd

  169. I am an Egyptian guy living in the states, and I really like your post. It is amazing how you could describe the Egyptian “marriage business” that we, poor Egyptian guys, suffer from ! A lot of Egyptian girls as I saw in the comments are defending, but they all know inside their hearts that your words regarding the costs of marriage in Egypt are 100 % true ! And that’s why the number of Egyptian men getting married to foreigner women, even from other Arab countries such as Morocco and Syria, has been skyrocketing in recent years.

  170. I couldn’t agree more! Most egyptian women are gold diggers same as to her family and relatives! And yes you are marrying not just one girl but a bunch of idiots! Who will suck your wealth til you bleed shit. No to these kind of people! Happened to me and you and could possibly to anyone 99%

  171. I’m reading this and thinking to send the link to my british boyfriend, as I am a tunisian muslim girl, the traditions that you described are very similar to ours, it really helps to make him know better about it.
    My boyfriend is monolnguage and my english isn’t very good, but we love each other and I want to make him propose to me and don’t know how because I don’t wwant to make pressure on him, and at the same time I want him to move to the next step as we’re couple since 10 months.
    I’m sad that your story didn’t go well.

  172. Just curious, the guys who used foreign girls for a green a card…how did they manage to convince them and go undetected? I’m a British girl dating a Kurdish guy and people have said similar things to me , planting seeds of suspicion in my mind too 🙁 I had that brief thought at the very beginning as I’ve also heard stories, but didn’t think he was that type of guy…but when the seeds of suspicion have been planted, it’s hard not to be paranoid. What would red flags be?

    1. Hi Kay,

      Best way to find out for sure is to tell him you plan to move to Kurdistan with him (or somewhere else in that region). See if he’s still willing to see the relationship through.

      If he’s not willing to move *anywhere* to be with you, then probably has ulterior motives.

  173. Hi. I had an intimate relationship with an Egyptian man but I suspected he was already married to an Egyptian girl. He has written something in Arabic to an Egyptian friend of mine that might shed some light on what happened. I would like to see it translates as my friend is being vague about its content. I can take it if it’s nasty lol! My email is [email protected] if you could help me I would be so grateful. Thank you

Love languages?
JOIN THE GUILD:

Or click here for my Essential Language Learning Tools.

AS SEEN IN:

BBC