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Q. I heard that locals there are unfriendly to American. Is this true?

Americans are very welcomed and well-received in countries like Egypt, Jordan and Syria and even--believe it or not--Iran. They are the most favored and most loved Western nationality in those countries. People in those countries love to see Americans, extend their greetings, chat with and extend a helping hand when asked.

Q. Is it safe for a single woman to travel to the Middle East without a man companion or a husband and how would I be perceived?

Yes, of course it is safe, and you would not stand-out being alone. In addition, our staff is there to cater to your safety and comfort. Also more than 55% of Egypt Tours & Travel clients are women traveling alone.

Q. (Women ask:) Do I have to cover myself or my head? I want to respect the culture and I do not want to offend anyone when I get there.

Americans see the covered women of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Yemen and Iran and think that in all Middle Eastern countries women are required to cover themselves. This is not really true. For example, in Egypt more than 60% of the Egyptian women are not veiled. Even among those that do wear veils, most wear just the head-cover and not the full body veil.

Q. It seems that in the Middle East, the culture is so conservative. I wonder if I'll even feel comfortable wearing shorts?

Many Middle Eastern cultures are much more open and liberal than most Americans assume or think. Did you know that women in Syria and Lebanon serve in the military and police force? In Egypt, women work, smoke, drink alcohol, go to clubs and discos, wear shorts, tight jeans, and miniskirts, etc. In fact, in these countries, you may also come across some strip clubs and topless bars. In Egypt, there are topless beaches at some of the Red Sea resorts. Of course, this is not to say what you should or should not wear in the Middle East, but it should show you that American tourists, men or women, can wear shorts in Egypt, Jordan, Syria, etc., without having a problem and without offending the locals.

Q. I'm concerned about the Moslem militants and the possibility of tourists or foreigners being attacked.

Although this happened once in the past, the Egyptian, Jordanian and Syrian governments quickly retaliated and crushed the movement that was responsible. The Egyptian government is quite proactive in protecting their citizens and visitors. When traveling to countries like Egypt, Jordan and Syria, you are not taking any more risk by traveling there "safety wise" as opposed to traveling to any other country in Europe, South America, or the Far East. A country like Egypt gets visited annually by about 6 million tourists--that is slightly more tourists than a heavily populated city like Darien. These tourists come from all over the world--England, France, South Africa, Spain, Germany, Canada, United States, Switzerland--and all of them travel in and out of the country safely. Egypt has about 162,000 Americans or U.S. citizens that live and work in Egypt. These Americans work for places like the U.S. Embassy, the American University in Cairo, American companies like Motorola, Pepsi Cola, Coca Cola, McDonald's, Kentucky Fried Chicken, General Dynamics, and Pizza Hut, just to name a few. They do their daily chores, send their children to schools there and they mix and mingle with the Egyptian population on a daily basis. We usually tell worried customers who are unsure about the safety of traveling to a country like Egypt, that when those Americans begin packing their things, then it is time to delay your trip to Egypt until conditions would be better. But you can be sure that these resident Americans are comfortably and safely living and working in Egypt today.

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Dear Ash:

Brenda and I would like to thank you for all you did to make our stay at the Mena House and in Egypt comfortable. The room was wonderful. I also appreciate all the accommodations made to assure that I was transported to my meetings.

As with all trips of this nature, there is never enough time to see and experience everything. Brenda and I hope to return to Egypt to tour at a more leisurely pace.

We hope all is well with Manal. She did an excellent job as a tour guide under difficult circumstances.

Thank you again for all of your assistance.