It’s no secret that marriage in Egypt is unlike marriage in the West. In this post, some aspects of marriage in this country will be shared that you might not think of unless you experience them. Of course, there are more than these 4 facts. But as an expat, you might find these in particular to be very surprising!
1 – You’re tested before marriage for…..diabetes.
Assumedly, the majority of people that marry here are virgins -not just women, but men too. So STDs aren’t a public health concern in Egypt like they are in the US.
There are no billboards about AIDS, no commercials warning you that condoms won’t protect you against Herpes or any public ads of the sort. At the time of our required medical exams, you might wonder What exactly are we being tested for?
After having blood drawn and screened you may be thrilled to find out that yay- you don’t have…..elevated sugar? Why whether or not you have diabetes should stop you from getting married is a mystery, but being screened for it’s required to obtain authorization by the government to be wed.
So if you don’t want any problems….. don’t eat cake or drink juice before your prenuptial medical exam.
The hospital doctors never confirmed whether elevated sugar will really prevent you from getting married. After all the hassle of finding the right hospital to have the test done at and the long waiting times, it’s not worth asking. But seeing the way people gain weight after marriage in Egypt and worldwide, it might be better to be tested for diabetes a year after the wedding, instead!
2 – Domestic safety is not a “cause” of concern.
In Egypt, especially in Cairo, you live very close to your neighbors. Rarely if ever do you hear couples shouting at each other, and there’s something to be said for that in high rise life where privacy is minimal.
Depending on where you live, you might have security guards or officers that are stationed throughout your neighborhood. When there was a fire in a building across the street, the guards were the ones that alerted the residents and helped to evacuate the building. The fire department took a long time to arrive. Maybe the delay was due to heavy traffic, or the high number of calls in a city populated by 25 million people could have been to blame. Either way, this incident was just a reminder that in Cairo, the safety in communities can rely heavily on the residents.
When it comes to domestic violence in Egypt, there is no understanding that emergency services will absolutely intervene. The majority of men here would be too ashamed to call the police if their wife were to attack them. Many women would also be ashamed to call the police as well and could be afraid of being blamed for making their husbands angry, if not by the police by their own families. A case occured amongst neighbors where the wife’s family appeared to intervene and plead with the husband to stop ongoing abuse. It didn’t help the husband’s behavior, and the neighbors were also aware but no one did anything. Everyone just seemed to mind their own business, and she eventually left.
In general, domestic life in Egypt feels safe, so much that you may never bother to learn how to call the police or what the emergency number is. But if you could end up in circumstances where you’re not safe this subject should be considered. Many people in Egypt will tell you domestic violence is wrong, but it’s unclear what’s done about it if it occurs or if it’s swept under the rug. Maybe it’s rare, or just ignored, or maybe it’s managed as a family issue rather than a community affair.
3 – Homemaking in Egypt has a more profound meaning
If you’re a woman that’s described herself as a “homebody” you might love being married to an Arab.
In Egypt, homemaking takes on a different meaning. While there are many career-minded women, there are still many women that get married and barely leave their houses. Their whole lives are literally dedicated to serving their families inside of their homes.
Imagine this: You go to a job interview shortly after your move to Egypt, and the interviewing manager asks why you’re living here. You tell him you’ve recently been married here and he asks you, “How do you plan to work as a newlywed? Marriage is already a full-time job.” You’d think it was a little inappropriate, wouldn’t you? You may even laugh a little. Women get married and continue on with their careers every day as though nothing’s happened, don’t they?
After being in Egypt for a couple of years, you’ll understand that for many women here, their role in their home defines their entire existence. You can resist and carry on as a working wife but you’ll learn that working in Egypt as an expat, let alone being a woman, has an interesting set of challenges. The next related fact is of especially high importance when it comes to marriage in Egypt.
4 – Residency Obtained Through Marriage Doesn’t Automatically Make You Eligible for a Work Permit
When you immigrate to the USA, if you’re granted residency through your spouse you’re also granted a work permit easily. That’s not the case Egypt. In fact, the temporary residency stamp that’ll be slapped inside of your passport after obtaining the Egyptian government’ s approval will read in big bold letters: WORK NOT PERMITTED.
You have to apply for a work permit in Egypt through a separate process, typically through an employer. You’re asked for a Certificate of Experience from your last employer in your home country. This certificate is a document that certifies for how long you worked at your last employer, what positions you held and your pay, and doesn’t exist in the U.S. and some other western countries. A college degree can be produced in place of the certificate.
Many employers don’t like going through the tedious and costly work authorization process and will flat out refuse to pull a permit for foreign employees or have the employees pay a third party processor to pull it. Working illegally in Egypt isn’t thought of as a big deal but it puts both the employer and employee at risk for fines, loss of rights, and other issues.
The value of the Egyptian currency may also have you wonder whether it’s even worth all of the hassle, and it could be more lucrative to find a position based in your own country that will allow you to work remotely.
Do you have any thoughts to add on being an expat married in Egypt? Or, do you have questions? Let us know in the comments below, and we’ll be sure to answer!