Belly dancing or oriental dancing is among the performances that tourists should see in Egypt. Some guidebooks say that if a tourist does not watch a belly dancer during his stay in Egypt, than he hasn’t visited Egypt.
The art of belly dancing goes back to the time of the Pharos. There are drawings on many of the temples and tombs of the Pharos that clarified the important part belly dancers played in ancient Egyptian rituals and celebrations. Their movement and their poses are very similar to modern Egyptian belly dancing.
However, modern-day belly dancing owes more to the European experience of Egypt in the 18th and the 19th centuries. The sensual movements of the Egyptian belly dancers who blended folk, gypsy, and Ottoman dances inspired the imagination of Europeans. This was largely due to their description that dancing was associated with prostitution, but this certainly is not true. Belly dancing is considered an art and there are even many schools around Egypt and even around the world that teaches belly dancing.
Maybe one of the most interesting aspects of belly dancing is the outfit which traditionally consists of squeezed bras, beaded hip bands, veils and flimsy skirts. These outfits are sold in many tourist shops especially in Khan El Khalili and many other places.
Many hotels around Egypt offer very entertaining belly dancing shows to their tourists. Usually the show consists of one or two dancers who perform a number of dances and changing their outfits before the beginning of every dance. In many places tourists are encouraged to participate in the dances and sometimes they have belly dancing competitions as well.
Although many tourists who come to Egypt enjoy watching whirling dervishes’ shows, little of them know the origin of this popular dance. Egypt whirling dervishes are members of the Mawalaya sect of Sufis, followers of a semi-mystical branch of Islam. Sufis were originally associated with poorness and self-denial and wore rough woolen clothes next to their skin and from the word “wool” or “Suof” in Arabic the Sufis name was derived.
The whirling dervishes, so called because of their ritual spinning dances, offer a rare glimpse of this otherwise underground phenomenon. The whirling dervishes perform marvelous shows. Dancers with brightly colored outfits turn like springing tops while a line of musicians create a hypnotic pulse, tossing their heads jerkily from side to side.
A lot of hotels and cultural centers offer whirling dervishes performances among their oriental show. However, the best place to watch whirling dervishes is in Al Ghuri complex located at the back of Al Azhar Street.
Cairo Dinner Cruises:
One of the most interesting night activities especially in Cairo is to ride a Nile dinner cruise at night. Riding in the river Nile has its own magical beauty and many of the boats that offer dinner cruises provide their passengers with tasty food and a wonderful entertainment show that usually contains belly dancing, whirling dervishes, and sometimes oriental or western live music.
Sound and light Shows:
Every major monument in Egypt feels compelled to present a sound and light show. These shows usually begin after sunset. It involves the monument being illuminated by colored lights while recorded voices narrate the story of the monument and its history. The sound and light shows are quite enjoyable and they include shows at the pyramids of Giza, the Temple of Kanak in Luxor, Philae and Abu Simble in Aswan. The shows are presented with numerous languages that include English, Spanish, German, Italian, Russian, French, and Arabic.
Opera and Ballet in Cairo:
There are many performances that take place in the new Opera house in Cairo specially with visiting companies and troops who come to Cairo to present their art. There are also some attractive performances in the Gomhyrya theatre.
The Egyptian ministry of Culture mounts a grand production of Aida, the opera written in honor of the opening of the Suez Canal. Previous performances have been held in the temples of Hatshepsut and Karnack in Luxor while the most recent venue for this opera performance was the pyramids of Giza.
Bars and Discos:
Despite being predominantly Islamic, there are many bars in Egypt beyond these in hotels. In Alexandria, there is the Cap d’or, a very stylish bar. In Cairo most of the night spots are in the neighborhoods of Zamalek, Mohandeseen, and downtown. Bars like Deals, L’Ambergine, Le Tabasco, and bull’s eye usually host a lot of wealthy young Egyptians and these places offer a huge variety of drinks and cocktails.
Cities like Sharm El Sheikh and Hurghada are packed with night spots and discos. You can know more details about parties that are taking place from magazines like Sinai Today or Red Sea Today, but don’t worry, there is action that is going on every single night of the week.
Cities like Luxor and Aswan have their nightspots as well. Luxor has many bars scattered all around the East bank of the Nile. There is a variety of bars that range in cost and style. There isn’t a single city or town in Egypt that hosts tourists and does not have a bar.
Many of Egypt’s five-star hotels have casinos that are open for non Egyptians only. (Passports must be shown at the door) All games are conducted in US dollars or other major foreign currencies. The dress code of these casinos is smart casual. Hotels with casinos include Semiramis intercontinental, the Marriott in Cairo, Nile Hilton, and Al Salamlek Hotel and Sheraton Al Montazah in Alexandria. However there are many other examples like Hilton Taba, many hotels in Sharm El Sheikh and Hurghada.
The Pharonic village in Giza provides quality time for all members of the family especially the children. The village is an ancient Egyptian theme park situated on the on the west bank of the Nile in Cairo, 10 kilometers away from the city center. Visitors ride in small boats through the reed of beds viewing scenes of Pharonic daily life recreated by costumed actors. The park also boasts a replica temple and some interesting museums dedicated to the Egyptian former presidents Gamal Abdel Al Nasser and Anwar Al Sadat.
The Cairo Puppet theatre located in the Opera square downtown presents traditional puppet shows like Sinbad and Ali Baba.
In some cities around Egypt many amusement parks have been built like Dream Park to the North of Cairo. There is also Aqua Park located 32 kilometers to the east of Cairo and offers water chutes, a wave pool, and a nice play ground.