Destination Egypt

The Western Desert

Siwa Oasis

This is an Egyptian oasis sandwiched between the Qattara Depression and the Egyptian Land Sea in the Libyan Desert. It is one of the country’s most isolated settle­ments with a population of 23,000.

Agriculture is the main industry in the oasis, though tourism has become a runner-up in recent times.

With respect to culture, Berber inhabitants in the oasis were talented in creating basketry, pottery, silverwork, and embroidery crafts. Dress styles were also of major significance, especially bridal silver and silver ornaments/beads women wore at events. As roads and television services made headway in the Siwa Oasis, all silver ornaments were eventually replaced by gold ornaments.

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Old Town of Shali in Siwa Oasis

Like most parts of Egypt, the Siwa Oasis has its share of festivals. The Sihaya Festival is by far the leading festival in the area. It honours Saint Sidi Sulayman, the town’s traditional patron. What happens during this festivity? The local men assemble on a mountain to eat, sing songs of thanks to God, and make peace with one another. The women remain in the village and cele­brate by singing, dancing, and playing drums.

Here’s a brief list of sights you might want to check out as you visit the Siwa Oasis.

Mud-brick houses in Shali, an old town

Desert sand dunes south of Siwa

Siwa salt lake

Temple of the Oracle of the Amun


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