Phrygian is an ancient mode, but I think it's believed to have come from further east than Egypt. It sounds exotic because of the minor second and so long as the minor sixth is avoided can be altered by flatting or raising any other interval pretty much. It's still prudent to figure out which notes to leave out though. I've heard too much so-called fusion where every chord is altered, but the result rather than arresting and surprising is predictable and bland, more to do with calisthenics than music.
I have a book that goes over the same scales listed on that page. I'm so fond of chromaticism that for awhile I was obssessed with the Spanish 8 tone scale with it's four successive half steps. It's referred to in the book as a gypsy scale suggesting it may have been an attempt to approximate Indian tonality within a twelve tone system. There's also an odd Swedish folk scale I don't see listed there (or perhaps called something else) that had three or four half steps as well. I can hear it in Hedningarna's music.