From England to Egypt: MrsMahmoud
My name is Mrs Mahmoud and I am British woman married to an Egyptian man and we live in Dahab in South Sinai, Egypt.
1. Why did you move abroad?
I first came to Egypt on holiday in 2006 and I really fell in love with Dahab. I returned in 2010 and this time I fell in love with an Egyptian man. I came back to Dahab a few times to see him, and then I moved here in May 2012 and we got married in Cairo in February 2013.
2. How do you make a living?
I am very lucky as I still have the same job that I had when I lived in the UK. I work for GapGuru who are a gap year company and I speak to gap year students about their plans and I give them information about GapGuru’s fantastic overseas volunteer programmes and internships. It is amazing that I can do the same job I was doing in England from my laptop here in Dahab.
My husband and I also have a restaurant called Forsha’s Egyptian Kitchen which is currently the top rated restaurant in Dahab on TripAdvisor. My husband and my father-in-law run the restaurant on a day-to-day basis, and I help out with the social media stuff (and I spend most evenings in the restaurant chatting to our lovely customers).
3. How often do you communicate with home and how?
I speak to my colleagues in our UK office every day using my UK Skype number, and I talk to friends and family regularly on Skype, Facebook chat, Whatsapp and FaceTime.
4. What's your favorite thing about being an expat in Egypt?
Obviously my favourite thing about living here in Egypt is that I live with my wonderful Egyptian husband and I have been warmly welcomed into his family by his parents, brothers and sisters.
Dahab is an amazing place to live and my favourite things include the weather (12 hours of sunshine almost every day), swimming and snorkeling in the Red Sea, the beautiful beach at the laguna, the mountains, the stunning views across the Gulf of Aqaba, the Bedouin and Egyptian culture, the friendly people, and the general laid back atmosphere.
5. What’s the worst thing about being an expat in Egypt?
The political situation in Egypt does make life here in Egypt difficult at times and I’m sure many expats living here occasionally ask themselves whether it is safe to stay here. I have always felt safe here in Dahab though.
6. What do you miss most?
When I first moved here I missed going to a big supermarket and having a wide choice of food and wine, but I’m used to the markets and shops here now. I do miss decent red wine though!
Of course I miss my friends too, but to be honest I’ve had lots of visitors and I tend to see my best friend’s 4-5 times a year as they come to Dahab, or I’ll go back to England at least once or twice a year.
7. What did you do to meet people and integrate in your new home?
Initially I met some lovely British, Australian, Dutch and Russian women who were married to friends of my husbands. Then I met a British woman called Allie in October 2012 (Allie published a photography book called ‘Children of Dahab’ which I saw in a bookshop and then I looked her up on Facebook and we met up for a coffee, and we’ve been great friends ever since). Allie knows a lot of people in Dahab and she has introduced me to some other wonderful people who live here, and I have also met some lovely people who have been customers at our restaurant and have they have now become good friends.
8. What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?
I find it strange that the Egyptian and Bedouin children here don’t seem to have any structure or routine in their lives. They go to bed very late, and I often see children in our neighbourhood playing outside at 11pm.
I also find it strange (and incredibly frustrating) that there is so much litter and I wish that the government would introduce an efficient recycling system and encourage people to recycle.
9. What is a myth about your adopted country?
People think that the whole of Egypt is dangerous and that there are constant political protests and demonstrations on the streets. Yes there have been violent protests in some areas of the country over the past 3 and a half years, however SOUTH SINAI IS SAFE. Unfortunately tourism in Egypt has really suffered since the revolution in January 2011 which is such a shame as places such as Sharm el Sheikh and Dahab are safe and they are wonderful year round holiday destinations.
10. Is the cost of living higher or lower than the last country you lived in and how has that made a difference in your life?
The cost of living in Egypt is lower than in England and our rent, electricity and gas bills are considerably cheaper than in England. You can live cheaply here in Dahab, however there are some things which are more or less the same cost as in England such as meals in certain restaurants, wine, some groceries, and toiletries.
11. What advice would you give other expats?
For expats who are moving to Dahab I would recommend that they try something different during their time here – perhaps a new activity such as diving, freediving, kite-surfing, windsurfing, sand-boarding, rock-climbing, or they could climb Mount Sinai, attend some yoga or meditation classes, learn Arabic, or they could even spend a couple of hours a week volunteer teaching at a Bedouin nursery school. Dahab is a great place to try new experiences. I would also suggest that they try to get to know the local Bedouins and Egyptians and learn about the Bedouin and Egyptian culture and customs.
12. When and why did you start your blog?
I started my blog in May 2013 as I wanted to share my day-to-day experiences with my friends and anyone else who wanted to read it. I also want to give people a more positive perspective about Egypt and I wanted to dispel any negative perceptions that people may have about British women marrying Egyptian men.
I never imagined that thousands of people would read my blog, and I have been overwhelmed that people from all over the world have sent me messages telling me how much they enjoy reading it.
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