Egyptians are likely to feel very strongly about certain subjects – Palestine, Israel and Islam, for instance, and these should be treated diplomatically if they come up in conversation.
Some Egyptians are keen to discuss them, others not, but carelessly expressed opinions, and particularly open contempt for religion, can cause serious offence.
Whether you are right- or left-handed, the left hand is used for “unclean” functions, such as wiping your bottom or putting on shoes, so it is considered unhygienic to eat with it.
You can hold bread in your left hand in order to tear a piece off, but you should never put food into your mouth with your left hand, nor put it into the bowl when eating communally.
If giving baksheesh in foreign currency, give notes rather than coins (which can’t be exchanged for Egyptian currency).
They’ll latch on to you as soon as you arrive (at the airport in Cairo or Luxor), hail you on the street like an old friend (“Hey! ”), or say anything to grab your attention (“You’ve dropped your wallet”).
Typical tips might be £E1–2 for looking after your shoes while you visit a mosque (though congregants don’t usually tip for this), or £E5–10 to a custodian for opening up a door to let you enter a building or climb a minaret.
In restaurants, you do not usually leave a percentage of the bill: typical tips (regardless of whether the bill claims to include “service”) are as little as £E3 in an ultra-cheap place such as a joint, £E3–5 in a typical cheap restaurant, or £E10–25 in a smarter establishment.
Even in response to insistent offers or demands, try to avoid being rude or aggressive in refusing.
Intimate behaviour in public (kissing and cuddling) is a no-no, and even holding hands is disapproved of.