The Safety of Foreign Women in Siwa Oasis, Sexual Harassment in Egypt and Western Travel Bans

Sent On: 
Wed, 2017-10-11
Newsletter Number: 

On September 30, 2017, a female South Korean tourist (36) was killed by an Egyptian man (27) in Siwa oasis, in Egypt’s Western Desert. She was living a very isolated life and had come to know the man over the internet. They had been together in Siwa for two days when a quarrel resulted in him stabbing her to death with a knife.


The death of the Korean woman resulted in a discussion about the safety of foreign women in Siwa, a popular hub for tourists and foreign long-term residents, and whether Western travel bans to Siwa are justified or not.

Egypt is known to have a major problem with sexual harassment: According to a UN report, 99.3% of women in Egypt are subjected to sexual violence, made worse by a common culture of victim-blaming. Siwa oasis is no exception to this culture, which impacts both local and foreign women residing in the area.


Given the fact that most Western travel advisories mark Siwa and its surroundings as a no-go area, the impression given is that general security seems to be a concern. That said, local investors underline that the oasis is safe and that the travel bans are doing more harm than good.


People in Siwa, including foreign women, believe these travel bans should be lifted. Cornelis Hulsman, editor-in-chief of Arab-WestReport and deputy Chairman of the Center for Arab-West Understanding, has been a long-time advocate of lifting the travel ban on Siwa.


The Siwa Oasis

Photo credits: (“Juba Spring Siwa Oasis Cleopatra Bath”)


Yet, this does not mean there are no problems. One female foreign resident in Siwa says: “In the past, the fact that all Siwans knew one another meant that there was an added layer of safety. However, with the influx of Egyptian transient workers in Siwa over the last few years, this sense of communal familiarity has eroded.”


I have written an extensive report about the safety and travel bans in Siwa with more details. For this reportplease click here. For an overview of the travel advisories of different countries please click here.



Jasper A. Kiepe,

Journalism Intern Center for Arab-West Understanding