Egyptian urbanites need little excuse to head to sunnier, sandier environments at every opportunity, but while Sahel, Sokhna, Gouna nad Sinai are the usual scratchers to our itches, this year, people have started too look further ashore.
It all started when our Instagram feed started to fill with photos of stunning Egyptian model Salma Abu Deif twirling around the Greek island of Mykonos in a campaign sponsored by Travco this summer. Then came two massive Egyptian weddings, including the one everyone couldn’t stop talking about: Karim Chiaty’s wedding to Victoria Secret Supermodel Ana Beatriz Barros.
(Photo courtesy of Salma Abu Deif/Instagram)
Fast forward to this September, and word on the street is that at least three Egyptian weddings and two engagement parties are happening over the Eid holiday, which probably explains why Instagram is full of island selfies, footsies and swimsies by Egyptians everywhere.
We’ve heard from guests that one very large Egyptian wedding was held in Mykonos, with the groom booking out three whole planes from Cairo for his guests and securing visas for all of them to attend his wedding. A trend that was no doubt started by the Travco/Karim Chiaty word of mouth.
(Photo courtesy of Tara Emad/Instagram)
The unprecedented influx in Egyptians has even got the locals wondering.
“One Greek asked me why there were so many Egyptians here and if everything is ok back home,” an Egyptian traveler in Mykonos told CG. ‘I told him, “don’t worry, we’re not trying to immigrate; we’re just here to party.”
(Photo courtesy of Ramez Youssef/Instagram)
Another reason for the influx is almost certainly that, as a culture, we do like to follow the trends, and with crowds moving further down the Sahel coast every year – remember when Marina was cool? – it’s only a matter of time before we either end up in Libya or have to switch to a different country.
“Walking through Mykonos Town, Paradise Beach or Olia in Santorini, you’ll hear just as much Arabic as Greek” said a well-seasoned Mykonos visitor. “I know it’s mean to say this, but Mykonos lammet awy.”
So that’s the appeal of Mykonos? And why this summer in particular?
According to our sources, it’s actually cheaper – you may need to sit down for this – to have a wedding in Greece than in Cairo, where wedding prices are getting ridiculous (with one hotel charging 800LE per person upwards). So despite Mykonos being one of the priciest and most high-end islands in Greece, many Egyptian couples are flocking there because they’ll get more bang for their buck - with a better view, too.
(Photo courtesy of Lara Scandar/Instagram)
Even if you’re not there for a wedding, your weekend may be cheaper than on the North Coast.
“If you don’t own a place in Sahel, you’ll spend anything between 2,500LE and 5,000LE a night for a bed,” said one seasoned traveller CG spoke to. ‘That’s not including at least 1,000LE a day on food if you want to eat out or party, and extras. With Greece, you can pay around 3,000LE for a flight, and stay at a posh hotel for 1,500LE, which means you’re still saving money compared to the North Coast.”
(Photo courtesy of Chantal Jabbour/Instagram)
Given how many Egyptians have holidayed in Greece, it’s hard to imagine that there’s an impending financial crisis or that banks have slashed international withdrawals to as low as $50 per month, so how is that so many people can afford Mykonos?
“Let’s just say we’re partying like there’s no tomorrow,” one source told CG. “When I’m in Sahel, I have to worry about car accidents and crowds for experiences that aren’t that amazing, but at least in Greece I get a quality holiday without bankrupting my family.”
By Samar El Shams