Originally Posted by Tunisiano
The Maghrebine (north African) countries are pretty similar in ways but different in others. Tunisia is a liberal country and I would say, along with Lebanon, is one of the more liberal countries in the Arab world. So it's not unusual to find a lot of cafes where men and women mix, although I haven't been to that many small villages in Tunisia but in the larger cities (Hammamet, Soussa, Tunis, Sfax, Djerba) it's not uncommon. But you still have of course the "men only" cafes, where you see them playing cards as well as backgammon, and chess. Tombac is still smoked by the older generation but the younger people are more into their flavoured molasses. Mint tea with pine nuts or coffee is usually taken with it. But you do get cafes where you have the options of milkshakes, sodas, non-alcoholic cocktails, etc. And there are of course a few restaurants where you can go out to order a meal and then enjoy a shisha (I don't think I've ever seen anyone order one before eating).
If anyone here does go to Tunis I would recommend the Cafe des Delices in Sidi Bou Said - http://www.npo.fr/tunisie_2009/photo...i_Bou_Said.jpg
There are no funny customs like passing the hose a certain way or anything like that, nothing I've come across anyways
I'm guessing Morocco is pretty similar to Tunisia as to the above, and from what I hear from my friends Algeria and Lybia is more segregated.
I think you are right about Tunisia being much more liberal then most Arabic countries although I have never been to Algeria or Libya so I can't say much about those places. Tunisia is sort of interesting in that it's the only Arab country I've been to that has a definitely European cultural influence that hasn't decided to throw it's own culture out the window and become just another crassly materialistic based society. Sfax & Djerba are great towns and the later is a place that i've done some work in that went well.
Sfax has a cafe that I liked a lot that because you can see live traditional Arab music and they never play that annoying pop crap that seems to be everywhere these days. They also served great food and really rich and creamy vanilla moassel with a strong molasses taste that I assume was locally made.
Overall i'd say that while Syria is my favorite place to go outside of Europa Tunisia is uniquely appealing and totally different then any place else i've been to.