"Siwa is different. its general outlook, the architecture of the houses, the
clothes and features of its inhabitants, their language, their attitude toward
strangers and their way of life inside and outside their houses all remind us
that we are no longer in the Nile Valley." Dr. Ahmed Fakhry
305 km southwest of Marsa Matrouh and 550 km west of Cairo, near the Libyan border with a population of about 27'000 inhabitants, Siwa is lying some 72 feet below sea level.
Siwans are mostly Berbers, a people that have lived in North Africa between western Egypt and the Atlantic Ocean for as far back as records of the area go. Berbers call themselves Imazighen (singular Amazigh), meaning "free men".
Siwans have their own traditions, customs and crafts. They continue to have their own distinct language known as Siwi, a Berber dialect, but most of them speak perfectly Arabic.
Most of the inhabitants of the Oasis live in the city of Siwa itself. The rest are spread across over 10 smaller villages, most of them along the main tracks to the Bahariya Oasis.
Agriculture is the major industry in Siwa and most of the crops are dates and olives. The dates are among the best to be found in all of North Africa. The Siwans do not waste any part of the palm tree, using it as roof beams, furniture, mats and baskets.
The Siwans in special occasions eat the heart of the palm and offer it to honor distinctive guests. Since the palm is a dear property to the Siwan, offering its heart means a great sacrifice.
Olives have been important also to the Siwan economy since antiquity. Olive oil is still made in the area using stone crushers. It is a typical souvenir together with olive oil soap, and they are available in shops around Siwa.
“Siwa cannot be said to have fallen from its high estate, for it is probably much as it was when Herodotus, Strado, Diodorus, Plutarch and Pliny thought it worthy of mention; only it has stood still while the world went on”Wilfred Jennings-Bramley
Siwa offers the visitors a wide variety of cultural and historical attractions. Great historical events have taken place in Siwa. Perhaps the greatest story of all was the visit of Alexander The Great who was declared Son of Amun (Zeus) and Savior of the Pharaohs in the Temple of Amun after having made a long and exhausting eight-day journey, following the footsteps of his predecessors Perseus and Hercules.
Town Center, Siwa. Phone: 046 460 13 38
In the post office building. Phone: 046 460 10 08
2km south of the city. Phone: 046 460 04 59
Post and Phone Offices are situated at the same crossing like the Tourist Office.
The Internet Café is one block down from the Post Office, opposite the town hall.
There is a bancomat next to the Banque Du Caire, across from the Tourist Office.
Strangers are welcome in Siwa. Siwans have proved to tolerate the change that comes along with visitors. However these too should be responsible of their actions while in Siwa and other oases communities. Respect to their own religion and customs will be very much appreciated. In return for their natural generosity, a sence of modesty is the best way to show gratefulness. Try to follow the desert attitude, you just might love it...