The Sinai

Tipping ‘’Baksheesh’’ in the Sinai

old man, south sinai, ras sudr-7714033.jpg
old man, south sinai, ras sudr-7714033.jpg

A Way of Life

Baksheesh is an established way of life in Egypt. When one starts to understand how it serves as a vital part of the social insurance system for Egyptian workers it can stop being an inconvenience and become a life-affirming experience for everyone involved. 

Everyone likes a bargain. No one wants to get exploited or ripped off. When someone expects baksheesh from someone who doesn’t want to give it the encounter becomes sour for everyone. Come to the Sinai ready to give baksheesh on your own terms. Think about it beforehand and prepare yourself to be willing and able to give it when the moment arrives. 

Be aware of how others may perceive you

As a traveler, you may feel you are not wealthy and need to be very careful with your money. However, you will not be perceived like this by local people. They see anyone with the resources and ability to choose to leave their home and go to another country as rich. 

Salaries in Egypt

Salaries in Egypt are not enough for a living wage, especially for people supporting families. They need to be supplemented through private enterprise and baksheesh. For instance, teachers earn their money from supplementary private lessons out of school, not from their meager pay. Workers, particularly in the tourist industry, are dependent on baksheesh to make ends meet. Besides being necessary to sustain people economically tipping is polite good manners in Egypt and is an easy way to cultivate respect and goodwill. 

Some people, particularly the Bedouin, may not want to make their needs known. Make a point of intentionally tipping such people while thanking them specifically for the time, services, and expertise they have given. 

How much? 

In restaurants, check the service charges. 12% may be added by the restaurant plus a 13% Government Service Tax (GST).

Small local restaurants in Dahab often don’t have these extra service charges.

An additional tip of 10-15% will still be appreciated by the waiter, especially in these smaller restaurants.  

A driver, housekeeper, or waiter could be given a 50 EGP ($1) tip for a small service and double that for a job well done. Bag carriers, toilet attendants, and road sweepers can be given half this but why give the guys with the worst paying jobs less?!

A plumber or carpenter who does a good job could be given an extra 100 – 300 EGP depending on the quality of the job.

Taxis fairs in Dahab can vary from 30 EGP for a couple of minutes ride to 80 EGP from one end of town to the other to 250 EGP for a ride to the Blue Hole. Beware of drivers who try to charge per person, but it is polite to give a more generous tip when you fill-up the taxi.

Basic Guidelines 

  • Tip small and often. 
  • Look for opportunities where a generous tip will go a long way.
  • When tipping make eye contact and express genuine gratitude for the service. 
  • Don’t be obliged to tip in situations that are unprofessional or uncomfortable.
  • Remember a little can go a long way in the Sinai.

Whoever is kind the the poor lends to the LORD,
and He will reward them for what they have done.

Proverbs 19:17

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