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With a few exceptions, tipping is expected in the tourist industry all over Egypt. But not only in the tourist industry, Egyptians also tip each other. It is very much a way of life and a cultural thing, which is worth remembering when travelling in Egypt. Most Egyptian workers in the tourist business receive rather low monthly wages, (in 2010 1000le per month would be a very good salary, with most workers, like waiters etc., getting around 4 to 500le per month) and they are thus depending very much on tips.
Tip if you receive good service and if it is a service you have required. (*)
When taking a Nile Cruise check your boat's policy for tipping. The Sonesta Moon Goddess policy, for example, asks you not to tip individuals but put what you think is justified, based on the level of service you received, into an envelope when you check out. It will be distributed to the entire crew.
Tipping is expected when using most WC (bathrooms). The norm is 50 piastres (1/2 of an Egyptian pound -$0.09 USD). Since you will probably not have any 50 piastre notes (they are hard to come by) you will be tipping 1 LE or $0.18 USD. This baksheesh (*) entitles you to some toilet paper (bring your own) and possibly a clean WC and keeps a person employed.
(*) Baksheesh doesn't actually entitle you to anything! It is a system practiced in many religious communities (but under different names) where someone who HAS will give to another who HAS NOT. It's a sort of informal 'welfare state'. Egyptians give baksheesh as a matter of course, the very rich, and also the very poor, give to those who are in a worse financial position than themselves. It doesn't always have to be cash (although more usually it is). I know one poor man who is always giving away cigarettes to one or two people who make a bee-line for him every time they come past, that's all he has to give them!
Although it is generally a Muslim 'thing', baksheesh is also now sought from tourists, because tourists obviously HAVE! To try and bridge the culture and religious 'gap' (where foreigners don't understand the practice) many lowly paid, or menial workers will offer some slight 'service' of one sort or another, in order to try to justify their asking for baksheesh. One Egyptian pound is enough to be of help when the recipient is earning 10 of them in a day! I really think that the vast majority of tourists can afford to give a pound or two here and there without breaking the bank. Helping our fellow man has its own rewards!