Another institution found throughout the Middle East is the coffeehouse. Traditionally, coffeehouses are visited by men, who sit and drink coffee or tea, play backgammon, and smoke the water pipe called shisha in Egypt, but also known as a hookah or nargila. The pipe is filled with tobacco that is flavored with honey, apples, mint, or other sweet flavors. The coffeehouses have long been a place for discussion, recitation or the Qur’an, and the telling of tales by storytellers. When radio and television transmissions were first introduced to the region, men would gather at the coffeehouse to listen to the radio or watch the television. Often, the patrons of each coffeehouse would contribute toward the purchase of the radio or television since it was too expensive to own them individually. At present, most Egyptian middle and upper class families have their own radio and television, but the coffeehouses remain popular.
Egyptian television broadcasts a number of popular programs. Many are based around traditional folk tales, lessons from the Qur’an, etc. However, Egypt is also famous for its soap operas, which are broadcast throughout the Arab world. Egyptians enjoy watching sporting matches on television, particularly soccer matches, which are played throughout the country. Concerts by famous singers are also broadcast on the radio or television.
Egypt also has one of the most active movie making industries in the world, producing between sixty and one hundred films every year. Egypt also receives movies from overseas. However, such films are often edited to remove offensive material. The film industry has created film stars who are just as popular in Egypt as many of the Western movie stars are to people in North America and Europe.
Advertisment for a western film in downtown Cairo. Egypt has a very active cinema industry of its own.