Beer has been brewed in Egypt for over thousands of years, yet the country’s strict alcohol regulations make it very difficult to obtain drinks.
Updated by Wendy Hung on January 9, 2023.
Despite the legal drinking age in Egypt is 21, during the month of Ramadan, alcohol is absolutely forbidden and only travelers with a foreign passport can purchase alcohol.
Original article written by Joey Gobran on June 29, 2020.
A law passed in 1973 banned the sale of alcohol to Egyptians during Ramadan and other holy holidays. Yet, if you really want a cocktail, it wouldn’t be impossible. Here are five things you should know about the drinking culture in Egypt.
1. Alcohol is considered to be haram, or forbidden, in Islam.
Islam is by far the dominant religion in Egypt. According to Index Mundi, it is estimated that 90% of Egyptians are Muslims, and 10% are Christian. In Islam, alcohol is generally considered to be forbidden, and since the country is heavily influenced by Islamic culture, alcohol is usually frowned upon.
2. Cairo is known to be Egypt’s most progressive city.
That isn’t saying much though. Yet, if you’re looking to find alcohol when visiting Egypt, your best bet is to stick to Cairo. Since tourism is a massive industry in the city, alcohol is easier to come by as internationally owned resorts and hotels almost always serve hard liquor and beer.
3. Do not drink alcohol in public.
According to gov.uk, drinking alcohol in the street and pretty much anywhere other than a bar or licensed restaurant is strictly prohibited and can, in some cases, lead to arrest.
4. Zamalek is a great place to go out at night.
Located in a district of western Cairo, Zamalek is one of the affluent residential districts in Cairo. Since many non-Egyptians actually live in Zamalek, it is known to home many foreign restaurants, bars and cafes, including various restaurants that are known for Mediterranean cuisine and cocktails. There are also various pubs and karaoke bars present throughout the district.
5. Beer has always played a crucial role in Egypt.
Despite the taboo drinking culture throughout the nation, beer in Egypt is thought to date back to the Predynastic period, prior to the year 3100 BC. Wine was actually preferred by the higher class in ancient Egypt, while beer was a staple of working class Egyptians and part of their daily diet. The modern beer industry in Egypt was founded by Belgian businessmen in 1897, with Stella (not to be confused with Stella Artois) being produced.