Page update - Aug 30, 2023
What can tourists expect on Friday (the holy day of week for Muslims) in Egypt? What are the restrictions for tourists on this day? What is open and what is closed? What to prepare for? Read the answers on this page.
Egypt is an Islamic country and Friday is a holy day in Islam. Most institutions have weekends on Friday and Saturday and work days from Sunday to Thursday.
Some institutions have weekends on Thursday and Friday. It depends on the working direction of the organization. If they work with European partners they rest on Saturday, so they have more days to interact with colleagues abroad. If the organization works with Islamic countries, they often rest on Thursday.
Egypt's labour law provides for the possibility of a 6-day work week if that is the agreement of the employee and the employer. In this case, the only day off is usually Friday.
It is customary to perform the most important Islam prayer on Friday. It is called "Salat Al Jumah" or "Juma namaz". The prayer is necessarily a group prayer, held in a mosque, and must be attended by at least 5 people, including an imam. Before the prayer, the imam should speak a sermon and hold a conversation with the believers.
Friday prayer takes at least an hour, usually 1.5 hours. Time of prayer is determined by the position of the sun, and varies every day, but always at lunchtime.
A true believer Muslim (male) should not skip the Friday prayer. In many currents of Islam, it is believed that if a Muslim skips this prayer five times in a row, he has lost the righteous path. Of course, there are good reasons for skipping, for example, if there is no mosque or/and imam nearby.
From the point of view of the Islamic canon, neither work, nor study, nor other worldly matters are reasons for skipping Friday prayer. However, notions have now changed, and some professions are exempt, such as if a doctor is on duty.
Nothing special. Almost all establishments are open as on a normal day. Only some stores and cafes may be closed at lunch for a couple of hours, the reason is simple - the owner (seller) has gone to pray at the nearest mosque. The sights work as usual, only mosques on Fridays are usually closed for non-Muslim tourists.
Nothing changes at all in hotels. The All Inclusive is not sensitive to religion.
Transport runs according to the schedule. The transport schedule on Friday can be special due to the heavier load on the day off. Traffic on the roads in Egypt is usually heavier, again due to the weekend.
Note! Traffic is denser during lunch, afternoon, evening, and night hours. In the morning hours on Friday, on the contrary, there is much less traffic.
Since Friday is a weekend, there are always many people in water parks, amusement parks, and shopping centers. We recommend planning any entertainment program from Sunday to Thursday (or even better on Wednesday).
In Egypt, they like to take groups of schoolchildren on guided tours on Fridays. Egyptian children are noisy, and the more so when there are 30 of them together. Some tourists are very annoyed by meetings with Egyptian schoolchildren.
An interesting moment, now there are no restrictions on the sale of alcohol on Friday in Egypt. Many Islamic countries, such as Tunisia, do not sell alcohol outside All Inclusive hotels on the holy day. In Egypt, alcohol is sold in stores and poured in bars.
Friday was very important in Islamic countries during their history. It was a day, and the mosque was a place where all the inhabitants of the neighborhood gathered and even people from neighboring villages and nomads came. It was the best place and time to deal with current affairs: to ask advice, to arrange for the marriage of children, and other matters.
The very name "juma" (Friday) comes from the old Arabic verb "ijta'ama", translated as "to meet" or "to gather".
Naturally, where all the surrounding men gather, there is the best place to trade! That is why there was and still is a tradition of Friday markets in many Islamic countries. Egypt is no exception.
The most famous are Al-Sayeda Zainab market in Cairo, Souq al-Goma'a market in Cairo, El-Dahar market in Hurghada. Such markets are traditionally called "Friday markets", but are now open all days of the week. But it is considered that the trade is busiest on Fridays.
A visit to such markets has its pros and cons. On the one hand, everything is very cheap there. On the other hand, there is not much to buy, because most markets are just large flea markets. And don't forget that this is a perfect place for pickpocket thieves!
- We have already mentioned pickpockets. But theft is not the only trouble that can happen to a tourist. Read our review "Dangers for tourists in Egypt";
- In addition to the holy day of the week Friday, Islam has the holy month of Ramadan, which brings its own features to the vacation. Details in our review "Ramadan in Egypt";
- Exchanging currency in advance for Friday is not necessary. ATMs works 24/7. Read all the details in out review "Currency exchange in Egypt";
- Major stores in Egypt have combined the American tradition of "Black Friday" and the Arab tradition of market day on Friday. Therefore, they often have sales and promotions on Fridays, which are called "White Friday", "Red Friday", and then all the colors of the rainbow. If you want to buy something, try Friday. Read our review of "What to buy in Egypt".
Have a great vacation in Egypt, and read our interesting pages about this country (see the list of the pages below).
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