Egyptian diaspora

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This article is about the contemporary North African ethnic group. For other uses, see Egyptian (disambiguation).
مَصريين Masˤreyyīn
ϩⲁⲛⲣⲉⲙ̀ⲛⲭⲏⲙⲓ han.Remenkīmi
Total population
ca. 88 million (2008)[1]
Regions with significant populations
 Egypt 81.3 million (2008 census estimate)
 Libya 2,000,000 (2012)[2]
 Italy 125,000
 United States 800,000 - 2,000,000 (2010)[3]
 France 300,000 (2009)[4]
 Saudi Arabia 1,700,000
 Jordan 550,000[2]
 Kuwait 500,000[2]
 United Kingdom 147,02 (2000)[5]
 Greece 60,000
 Canada 47,375[6]
 Germany 45,000 (2011)[7]
 Australia 40,000 (2011)[8]
 Netherlands 40,000
 Algeria 30,000
 Qatar 180,000 (2014)[9]
Egyptian Arabic
Sa'idi Arabic
Coptic (near-extinct)
Mainly: Islam

Egyptians (Egyptian Arabic: مَصريين  IPA: [mɑsˤɾejˈjiːn]; Arabic: مِصريّونMiṣriyyūn ) are the inhabitants and citizens of Egypt sharing a common culture and Egyptian Arabic language.

The phenomena of Egyptians emigrating from Egypt was rare until Nasser came to power after overthrowing the monarchy. In the 1980s many emigrated mainly to Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia to work, this happened under different circumstances but mainly for economic reasons. A sizable Egyptian diaspora did not begin to form until well into the 1980s and today it is estimated that about 6.5 million Egyptians live abroad.[10]


According to studies conducted by the International Organization for Migration, migration is an important phenomenon for the development of Egypt. An estimated 8 million (2012) Egyptians abroad contribute actively to the development of their country through remittances (US$ 12.6 in 2011), circulation of human and social capital, as well as investment. Approximately 70% of Egyptian migrants live in Arab countries (1.7 million in Saudi Arabia, about 550,000 in Jordan, 2 million in Libya, 500,000 in Kuwait and 180,000 in Qatar[9] with the rest elsewhere in the region) and the remaining 30% are living mostly in Europe and North America (780,000 in the US, and Canada and 200,000 in Italy).[10] There is also a large Egyptian population in Australia.

Generally, those who emigrate to the United States and western European countries tend to do so permanently, while Egyptians migrating to Arab countries go there with the intention of returning to Egypt.

Prior to 1974, few Egyptian professionals had left the country in search for employment. Political, demographic and economic pressures led to the first wave of emigration after 1952. Later more Egyptians left their homeland first after the 1973 boom in oil prices and again in 1979, but it was only in the second half of the 1980s that Egyptian migration became prominent.


Egyptian emigration today is motivated by even higher rates of unemployment, population growth and increasing prices. Political repression and human rights violations by Egypt's ruling régime are other contributing factors (see Egypt - Human rights). Egyptians have also been impacted by the wars between Egypt and Israel, particularly after the Six-Day War in 1967, when migration rates began to rise. In August 2006, Egyptians made headlines when 11 students from Mansoura University failed to show up at their American host institutions for a cultural exchange program in the hope of finding employment.[11]


Egyptians in neighbouring countries face additional challenges. Over the years, abuse, exploitation and/or ill-treatment of Egyptian workers and professionals in the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, Iraq and Libya have been reported by the Egyptian Human Rights Organization[12] and different media outlets.[13][14] Arab nationals have in the past expressed fear over an "'Egyptianization' of the local dialects and culture that were believed to have resulted from the predominance of Egyptians in the field of education" (see also Egyptian Arabic - Geographics).

A study by the International Organization for Migration on Egyptian diaspora in the US, UK and Kuwait found that 69% of Egyptians abroad interviewed visit Egypt at least once a year; more than 80% of them are informed about the current affairs in Egypt and approximately a quarter participate in some sort of Egyptian, Arabic, Islamic or Coptic organizations. The same study found that the major concerns of the Egyptian diaspora involved access to consular services for 51% of respondents, assimilation of second generation into the host country’s culture (46%), need for more cultural cooperation with Egypt (24%), inability to vote abroad (20%) and military service obligations (6%).[10]

The Egyptians for their part object to what they call the "Saudization" of their culture due to Saudi Arabian petrodollar-flush investment in the Egyptian entertainment industry.[15] Twice Libya was on the brink of war with Egypt due to mistreatment of Egyptian workers and after the signing of the peace treaty with Israel.[16] When the Gulf War ended, Egyptian workers in Iraq were subjected to harsh measures and expulsion by the Iraqi government and to violent attacks by Iraqis returning from the war to fill the workforce.[17]


  1. ^ of which ca. 4 million in the Egyptian diaspora. Newsreel. Egyptians count. 2007, Ahram Weekly. 5–11 April
  2. ^ a b c Wahba, Jackline. A Study of Egyptian Return Migrants. February 2011.
  3. ^ Talani, Leila S. Out of Egypt. University of California, Los Angeles. 2005.
  4. ^
  5. ^ UK census
  6. ^ Statistics Canada. "2011 National Household Survey: Data tables". Retrieved 11 February 2014. 
  7. ^,,1839207,00.html
  8. ^
  9. ^ a b Qatar´s population by nationality -bq magazine. 2014.
  10. ^ a b c Migration and Development in Egypt: Facts and Figures, International Organization for Migration, 2010, retrieved 2010-07-21 
  11. ^ Mitchell, Josh. Egyptians came for jobs, then built lives. Baltimore Sun. August 13, 2006.
  12. ^ EHRO. Migrant workers in SAUDI ARABIA. March 2003.
  13. ^ IRIN. EGYPT: Migrant workers face abuse. March 7, 2006.
  14. ^ Evans, Brian. Plight of Foreign Workers in Saudi Arabia.
  15. ^ Rod Nordland (2008). "The Last Egyptian Belly Dancer". Newsweek. Retrieved 2008-06-02. 
  16. ^ AfricaNet. Libya.
  17. ^ Vatikiotis, P.J. The History of Modern Egypt. 4th edition. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University, 1992, p. 432