In Praise of the Middle East Squat Toilet in Sinai

squat-toilet-sinai-photo The eastern squat toilet is the world’s perfect eco-toilet. Come and look inside.

Some people think they’re primitive, but I love them. The hole-in-the-floor Middle East squat toilets can be found in Turkey, Syria, Jordan and Egypt –– and likely in other Middle East countries I’ve yet to visit. They’re used in China too.

Not common in Israel where the standard flush toilet is in use, I recently re-encountered the Middle East toilet in Sinai, Egypt, when staying at a bare bones sort of desert retreat run by Bedouin. (We stayed in huts with no electricity, no running water. No TV, no iPods…)

Contrary to what spoiled westerners might believe, squat toilets are extremely clean, are the answer to the toilet-paper-saving bidet, and in the natural squat position, our bodies are best aligned to the right position when we relieve ourselves. In short, they are environmentally-friendly.

squat-toilet-sinai-1

Over in Israel, water-saving buttons on western toilets mean that about half the water is flushed down the drain than what’s used in the US; but when you use a squat toilet (I’ve seen them in peoples’ homes in Syria, not just in public locations), much water is spared from going down the drain.

And you never use toilet paper. You just turn on the spigot to help you wash your private parts, and make sure the area is clean for the next person.

aquat-toilet-sinai-egypt-photo The toilet looks discolored or unclean. What you see is mainly sand and soil residue brought from the outside in.

What’s essential, after the fact, is making sure you clean your hands well with soap and water in a sink; you’ll find that at rest facilities you’ll be handed paper after you leave the lavatory. That’s for drying them.

squat-toilet-middle-east-photo The view from the toilets looking out to the Red Sea and Saudi Arabia.

At this particular place we were in at Sinai (Kum Kum 3), water runoff from the sinks and showers went to watering plants outside the bathroom areas. A great idea for recycling water at one of the driest places on Earth.

hoosha-hut-sinai Our bare bones, low-impact desert hut. No running water. No electricity. No air con with nights so hot you feel like you are in a tumble dryer.

To get yourself ready for the squat toilet experience, see a tutorial on YouTube which also suggest ways to strengthen your thighs for maneuvering:

YouTube Preview Image

More on green toilet talk:
Your Toilet May Be Overflowing
Green Prophets Start At Home… In The Bathroom
Jordanian Water Campaign Going To The Home

All photos: Karin Kloosterman. Free to use with link back to Green Prophet.

19 thoughts on “In Praise of the Middle East Squat Toilet in Sinai

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  7. yaikcergar

    I think the most difficult thing people inexperienced with squat toilets contend with is how to drop their drawers and keep them out of the line of fire, from either end.

    Reply
  8. danbloom

    squat toilets are de rigeur on Japan and Taiwan, too, on daily 24/7 basis. Been using them since 1991. Aficionados claim they are better for hygiene. i have no problem using them now. part of daily life here

    Reply
  9. danbloom

    squat toilets are de rigeur on Japan and Taiwan, too, on daily 24/7 basis. Been using them since 1991. Aficionados claim they are better for hygiene. i have no problem using them now. part of daily life here

    Reply
  10. Jeffsam9

    You need to get a hand held bathroom bidet sprayer and you will be in Heaven. For those of us who really like to be clean it is the best invention since the toilet. It is so much better than a stand alone bidet and this is why: 1. It's less expensive (potentially allot less) 2. You can install in yourself = no plumber expense 3. It works better by providing more control of where the water spray goes and a greater volume of water flow. 4. It requires no electricity and there are few things that can go wrong with it. 5. It doesn't take up any more space, many bathrooms don't have room for a stand alone bidet. 6. You don’t have to get up and move from the toilet to the bidet which can be rather awkward at times to say the least. Available at http://www.bathroomsprayers.com

    Reply
  11. Karin Kloosterman

    The pig business happened to a friend of mine . . . and he said the pigs chased after him wanting more!

    Guess that’s why Jews and Muslims won’t eat pigs. It’s quite gross to eat an animal who consumes human feces, no? It feels a bit like cannibalism.

    Reply
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