Sa'idi people

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Upper Egyptians (Sa'idis)
Total population
ca. 32 million (2008) 40% of Egypt's total population
Regions with significant populations
 Egyptca. 21 million (2008 estimate)
Sa'idi Arabic, Egyptian Arabic, Sahidic Coptic
Mainly: Islam, Coptic Orthodox Christianity, Sufism and a small minority of Bahá'ís.[1]

A Ṣa‘īdi (Egyptian Arabic: صعيدى‎, Coptic: ⲣⲉⲙⲣⲏⲥ Remris) is a Southern person from Upper Egypt (Arabic: صعيد مصرṢa‘īd, Coptic: ⲙⲁⲣⲏⲥ Maris).[2] Approximately 40% of Egyptians live in Upper Egypt, and "80% of Egypt's poverty is concentrated in Upper Egypt".[3] Millions of upper Egyptians have migrated to Lower Egypt for work opportunities.


The word literally means "from Ṣa‘īd" (i.e. Upper Egypt), and can also refer to a form of music originating there,[4] or to the dialect spoken by Sa'idis. The Arabic word Ṣa‘īd, as a geographical term, means "highland, upland, plateau".[5] The suffix "-i" denotes the adjective. The word Ṣa‘īdi is pronounced in the dialect itself as [sˤɑˈʕiːdi] or [sˤɑˈʕiːdej] and the plural is [sˤɑˈʕɑːjda] or [sˤɑˈʕɑːjde], while pronounced in Egyptian Arabic (Northern Egyptian) as [sˤeˈʕiːdi] and the plural is [sˤɑˈʕɑjdɑ].

In the Sahidic (Upper Egyptian) dialect of Coptic, the name for a person from Upper Egypt is ⲣⲉⲙⲣⲏⲥ (pronounced rem/rīs) meaning "person of the South" or ⲣⲉⲙ(ⲡ)ⲙⲁⲣⲏⲥ (pronounced rem/pma/rīs or rem/ma/rīs) "person of (the) place of the south (i.e. Upper Egypt)" [6].

Stereotypes and jokes[edit]

Ṣa‘īdis and their dialect are the subject of numerous Egyptian Stereotypes and ethnic jokes mainly by the Upper Class Egyptians who owns business in Egypt's major cities and used to hire Upper Egyptian workers in Construction fields. They are popularly assumed to be rural simpletons, physically stronger and less clever than other Egyptians. An example of such stereotyping is the box office hit Ṣa‘īdi fil-Gama‘a al-Amrikiya ("A Sa'idi in the American University", i.e. the American University in Cairo) (1998) starring Mohamed Henedi.[7], where he seemed less fashionable, less clever than the other Egyptian students of the AUC.

Religion in Upper Egypt[edit]

The majority of Upper Egyptians follow Sunni Islam though the region also has a significant Christian population and a rich Coptic Christian history. For instance, Sahidic was the leading Coptic dialect in the pre-Islamic period. In the last few decades the high proportion of Coptic Christians in Upper Egypt has enabled some Christians to hold prominent political posts there. For instance, Qena Governorate had a Coptic Christian governor in 2011.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-01-23. Retrieved 2010-09-10.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ Abu-Lughod, Lila (2006). Local Contexts of Islamism in Popular Media. Amsterdam University Press. p. 24 pages. ISBN 90-5356-824-7.
  3. ^ "Young People in Upper Egypt: New Voices, New Perspectives".
  4. ^ Zuhur, Sherifa (2001). Colors of Enchantment. American University in Cairo Press. p. 456 pages. ISBN 977-424-607-1.
  5. ^ Wehr, Hans, 1979. A Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic. Ithaca: Spoken Language Services Inc.
  6. ^ WE Crum, A Coptic Dictionary, 1939, p. 300
  7. ^ Sa'eedi fil gamaa el amrekeia on IMDb