Chloe Cunnings, 29 years old, a lively, bold, easy-going, smart, talkative and uncomplicated woman. Probably light-skinned (as she sunbathes in an effort to get a tan and ends up badly sunburnt); not particularly punctual or tidy; loves chocolate. Graduate in Linguistics and speaks several languages, but currently works as a cook at the Moroccan restaurant Laziz. She has a passion for Middle Eastern culture and takes Arabic lessons in her free time. She has been in some relationships, but none of them has ended up well, so she is single; first has a crush on her classmate Leonard, but finally falls in love with the Egyptian tour guide Salah.
The heroine's best friend
Emily Adams, 30 years old. She is frequently anxious, claustrophobic in a crowd, overcautious, punctual, warm-hearted, with very high moral standards. Likes Indiana Jones; dislikes insects, lizards and Leonard. Graduate in Anthropology, but works as a history teacher in a secondary school. She has recently joined Arabic lessons with Chloe but is terrible at languages. She has not been in any serious relationship, is prophesied to marry an Egyptian and falls in love with Mario.
The sensitive friend
Mario Ozman, 28-year-old fellow student at the Arabic lessons, tall and good-looking, reserved and sensitive; a native Egyptian, but has been living in the UK since he was a baby; secretly in love with Emily; runs a small Egyptian food shop. He joins Chloe and Emily on their trip to Egypt and rescues them from an unfortunate situation.
The heroine's over-concerned flatmate
Page Steward, Chloe's flatmate and friend, talkative, sceptical, a nurse and thus over-concerned with health issues regarding Chloe's trip to Egypt. Likes to give any kind of advice, whether required or not. Has a stable life; is in a relationship with Steven, who proposes while the others are in Egypt.
The flatmate's boyfriend/travel agent
Steven Wright, a travel agent and Page's boyfriend; balances Page's anxious personality with his patience; helps to organise Chloe and Emily's trip. Proposes to Page.
The arrogant classmate
Leonard Pilkington, an attractive English guy in his thirties, recently employed by the British Council as a Regional Development Editor at their premises in Cairo. He has expensive taste, is arrogant yet charming; when it comes to the point, he is a coward; meets Chloe and the others at the language school in Cairo, which he joined in the hope of meeting women; tries to seduce Chloe when he realises she has a crush on him, but quick to set his sights elsewhere when she goes missing.
The tour guide/the heroine's boyfriend
Salah el-Din, an Egyptian tour guide, tall, smoker, grumpy but warm-hearted. Initially has a very low opinion of Western women; however, this attitude changes when he meets Chloe. He does not show his feelings for her until the very end when he, together with Mario, saves Chloe and Emily from their unpleasant situation.
The tea-leaf reader/landlady
Saida Abdl Karim, Egyptian tea-leaf reader and landlady of Chloe and Emily's flat in Cairo; short, chubby, middle-aged. She is always sniffing around in their flat to check everything is in order. She prophesies that both Chloe and Emily shall marry an Egyptian.
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Chloe Cunnings, a lively and easy-going young woman, and her dark brown-haired, brown-eyed best friend Emily Adams decide to spend their holidays in Egypt in order to improve their Arabic skills and to see the countrys famous buildings and bazaars. Their dark-eyed friend Mario, whom they know from their Arabic lessons back in London and who secretly has a crush on Emily, joins them in their trip. At the end of the Arabic course, in which they get to know the blond-haired and blue-eyed Leonard Pilkington, the four of them set out for a Nile cruise, led by the brown-eyed tour guide Salah. Salah, who formerly had a low opinion of European women, must confess his feelings for the grey-eyed Chloe. Chloe, however, has a crush on Leonard, and only finds out later about her feelings for the tour guide. Yet both Chloe and Emily seem to follow the prediction of Saida, their landlady in Cairo, who prophesies they will each get married to an Egyptian.