Security Brief for Cairo prepared on: Jun 26, 2017 5:06:39 AM GMT

Security Assessment Rating

Security Rating(s) may be company-defined and do not necessarily reflect iJETís Rating(s).
Elevated Risk Locations are defined as those cities or countries assigned a CSAR of 4 or 5. Baseline Risk Locations defined as those cities or countries assigned a CSAR of 1, 2, or 3.

Security Rating for Cairo: 
Overall Rating:
Sub-Ratings   1    2    3    4    5  
Security Services4
Civil Unrest3
    Security Overview of Cairo

Cairo, a city of approximately 18 million people, is fairly safe compared to similarly sized cities throughout the world. Petty crime - especially theft - has increased since the January 2011 and July 2013 revolutions that ousted former Presidents Hosni Mubarak and Mohammed Morsi, but violent crimes are generally rare and typically do not directly target foreigners.

In the wake of the July 2013 ouster of former-President Mohammed Morsi, jihadist groups have carried out several attacks in Cairo. These attacks have almost exclusively been against security forces and government targets, and the attackers have apparently tried to avoid civilian casualties. However, there are signs that some groups have expanded their campaign to include religious minorities, as evidenced by the 2016 bombing of the Botroseya Church in Cairo's Abbasiya district which left 25 people dead. Cairo has also experienced several low-level terrorist attacks by small, relatively amateurish cells and lone-wolf extremists since the mid-1990s, most of which have caused few (if any) casualties. Security measures surrounding airports, government buildings, five-star hotels, and major tourist attractions are generally adequate. Police may struggle to eliminate small, unknown groups, but are generally competent at deterring large-scale attacks.

All public protests, except those held on university campuses, were illegal in Egypt prior to the revolution of 2011. Protests have since targeted issues related to security conditions, the country's economic situation, and ongoing political tensions. Common rally locations in Cairo include Al-Azhar Mosque, the Presidential Palace, Tahrir Square, the Journalist Syndicate, and the Interior Ministry complex.

Westerners are likely to experience some harassment by Egyptians, usually aggressive begging or sales tactics. Women, particularly those with fair coloring, are almost certain to encounter sexual harassment by Egyptian men, regardless of how they dress. Covering arms and legs and walking with a male companion will help minimize, but will not eliminate, harassment. Verbal harassment is almost unavoidable, but physical assaults are rare.

The police, while numerous, are not well-trained or well-paid. The government maintains a Tourist Police force whose officers are generally deployed around major sites. Some Tourist Police officers may speak more English than their counterparts on the regular police force. Other security forces are only in the city to prevent civil unrest. Due to traffic conditions, police, fire, and ambulance response times are notoriously slow. The fire department lacks the equipment to put out fires in high-rise buildings.

The threat of kidnapping in Cairo is low.

Security Alerts & Advisories
    Warning Alerts
        Security: UPDATE 1: US issues electronic device ban for 10 airports across MENA region. Full implementation expected by March 25.
  • Incident: Electronic device ban
  • Affected Airports: Cairo, Egypt; Amman, Jordan; Kuwait City, Kuwait; Casablanca, Morocco; Doha, Qatar; Jeddah and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Istanbul, Turkey; and Abu Dhabi and Dubai, United Arab Emirates (map)
  • Start Date: By 0800 EDT March 25

Updated Information
The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued an official fact sheet on March 21 providing additional details on an electronics ban to be imposed on flights to the US. Under the new restrictions, passengers traveling to the US on nonstop flights from certain foreign airports will no longer be permitted to bring certain electronic devices into the aircraft cabins; such devices must be placed in checked luggage instead. The ban includes laptops, tablets, cameras, e-readers, electronic game units larger than a smartphone, travel printers/scanners, and DVD players. Mobile phones and medical devices are exempt, however. No specific details on the permitted smartphone size were released; DHS officials stated that phones the "approximate size of a commonly available smartphone" would be allowed onto aircraft.

The affected airlines were notified of the new requirement at 0800 EDT March 21 and have 96 hours - i.e., until 0800 EDT March 25 - to implement it. The measure will remain in effect indefinitely. The restriction applies to non-stop flights to the US from the following airports:

  • Egypt: Cairo International Airport (CAI)
  • Jordan: Queen Alia International Airport (AMM)
  • Kuwait: Kuwait International Airport (KWI)
  • Morocco: Mohammed V Airport (CMN)
  • Qatar: Hamad International Airport (DOH)
  • Saudi Arabia: King Abdul-Aziz International Airport (JED) and King Khalid International Airport (RUH)
  • Turkey: Ataturk International Airport (IST)
  • United Arab Emirates: Dubai International Airport (DXB) and Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH)

The airlines most likely affected include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Egypt Air (MS)
  • Emirates (EK)
  • Etihad Airways (EY)
  • Kuwait Airways (KU)
  • Qatar Airways (QR)
  • Royal Air Moroc (AT)
  • Royal Jordanian Airlines (RJ)
  • Saudia (SV)
  • Turkish Airlines (TK)

The restrictions could also affect passengers connecting through airports listed above to the US regardless of the country of origin. DHS authorities recommend that passengers connecting through these 10 facilities place any prohibited electronic devices into their checked baggage at their airport of origin. The ban does not affect flights departing the US for the listed airports. According to the DHS, other airports could be added to the list later; officials have not ruled out the possibility that the ban might later be applied to certain airports in the US.

Background and Analysis
Late March 20, Royal Jordanian Airlines posted incorrect information to its social media account, stating that passengers would be prohibited from bringing certain electronic devices into the cabin on US-bound flights beginning March 21. The carrier has since deleted that posting, with US officials releasing official information concerning the measure.

According to the DHS, the new restrictions have not been prompted by any specific threat. Rather, they constitute a generalized response to a reevaluation of intelligence inputs and the current security environment.

Contact airlines for specific instructions regarding transporting electronic devices on US-bound flights. Arrive at the airport earlier than normal due to possible security screening delays at regular checkpoints and departure gates. Do not store sensitive data on devices placed in checked baggage due to potential theft; consider using external storage devices.

US Department of Homeland Security FAQ:
Egypt Air:
Etihad Airways:
Kuwait Airways:
Qatar Airways:
Royal Air Moroc:
Royal Jordanian Airlines:
Turkish Airlines:

Alert begins: 03/21/2017
        Security: Security situation in Egypt remains somewhat unstable due to militant attacks, occasional violent protests. Avoid all demonstrations.

Key Points

  • While militant activity is possible nationwide, attacks remain concentrated in North Sinai.
  • Poor economic conditions have exacerbated political and social tensions, leading to the possibility of spontaneous unrest.
  • Travel to certain areas of the country is restricted due to military operations (map).

Militancy and unrest continue in Egypt following the deposal of former President Mohammed Morsi in 2013. Militants often target members of the military, police, and judicial officials in retribution for Morsi's deposal and subsequent crackdowns against the organization of the Muslim Brotherhood, with which the former president was affiliated. The Egyptian government designated the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization following Morsi's ouster. Sporadic civil unrest may also occur in response to socioeconomic issues; the country has faced an economic crisis as a result of a decline in tourism revenue and foreign investment. Although popular protests have dwindled in recent years, demonstrations remain possible around certain politically sensitive anniversaries. Many foreign governments warn against travel to North Sinai and the Western Desert as a result of ongoing military and security operations to counter militancy.

Militants in Egypt continue to conduct frequent shootings and bombings against military and police forces nationwide. Most militant attacks occur in the northern Sinai Peninsula, but occasional attacks also occur in the Greater Cairo and Nile Delta areas. The Islamic State (IS)-affiliated Wilayat Sinai (formerly known as Ansar Beit al-Maqdis) remains the most capable and effective group operating in Egypt, and maintains a stronghold in North Sinai and the cities of El Arish and Sheikh Zuweid, in particular. Smaller groups, such as Hasam Movement and Liwa al-Thawra, operate more in urban areas, including Greater Cairo.

There appears to be a certain level of disagreement among militants over the practice of targeting civilians and foreign nationals. Many local militant groups condemned a December 2016 suicide bombing of a Coptic Church in Cairo that was claimed by IS and killed 27 people. IS also claimed the October 2015 downing of a Russian passenger aircraft in Sharm El Sheikh, which killed 224 passengers and crewmembers, almost all of whom were Russian citizens. Apart from rare incidents such as these, the majority of militant attacks in Egypt continue to target military and security forces.

Civil Unrest
Popular anti-government unrest has decreased significantly in the years after 2013. Police forces typically cordon off popular protest sites ahead of politically sensitive anniversaries or planned demonstrations to limit participation. However, the possibility of spontaneous demonstrations cannot be ruled out. Egypt's flagging economy has led to increases in the cost of living and has forced the government to enact unpopular reforms as part of the conditions of a USD 12-billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Sharp price increases, shortages of goods, or announcements of drastic reforms create the potential for spontaneous unrest. In April 2016, the government announced a decision to cede Tiran and Sanafir islands to Saudi Arabia, as part of an agreement to secure aid and investments. The announcement sparked one of the largest anti-government demonstrations since President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi came to power. Smaller demonstrations have occurred as a result of shortages of basic goods and inflation. Incidents of suspected police brutality also frequently result in localized demonstrations.

Restricted Travel Areas
Areas of North Sinai - including Rafah, Al-Arish, and Sheikh Zuweid - remain under a State of Emergency and 0100-0500 curfew. Portions of the Western Desert near the border with Libya are a closed military zone. However, in 2014, a convoy of Mexican tourists near the popular tourist destination of Bahariya were accidentally targeted by military helicopters who mistook the group for militants. Several foreign governments more broadly advise citizens to restrict travel to the area west of the Nile Valley and Nile Delta regions, excluding the coastal resort cities between the Nile Delta and Marsa Matrouh.

To the extent possible, limit exposure to military and security installations, as they may be targeted by militant groups. Avoid demonstrations due to the potential for violence. Register and maintain contact with your diplomatic mission.

Alert begins: 02/01/2017
        Security: UK announces ban on certain electronic devices in aircraft cabins on flights arriving from Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Tunisia.
  • Event: Indefinite aircraft cabin electronics ban
  • Affected Flights: All direct services to the UK from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and Turkey
  • Start Date: March 21

On March 21, the UK Department for Transport announced new aviation security measures concerning the possession of electronic devices in aircraft cabins on flights to the UK from six specific countries in the Middle East and North Africa. Under the new restrictions, passengers will be prohibited from carrying phones, laptops and tablets larger than 16 cm (6.3 inches) long, 9.3 cm (3.7 inches) wide, and 1.5 cm (0.6 inches) deep in the cabins of aircraft on direct flights to the UK from the following countries:

  • Egypt
  • Jordan
  • Lebanon
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Tunisia
  • Turkey

The restrictions do not apply to other types of devices or to outbound flights from the UK to the countries listed above. Airlines likely to be most affected by the new measure include:

  • British Airways (BA)
  • EasyJet (U2)
  • (LS)
  • Monarch (ZB)
  • Thomas Cook (MT)
  • Thomson (BY)
  • Turkish Airlines (TK)
  • Pegasus Airways (PC)
  • AtlasGlobal (KK)
  • Middle East Airlines (ME)
  • EgyptAir (MS)
  • Royal Jordanian (RJ)
  • Tunisair (TU)
  • Saudia (SV)

The Department has not clarified whether the new regulation is effective immediately or if it will enter into force at a later date.

Background and Analysis
The announcement followed a similar measure taken by the US. On March 21, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released details of a new ban on carrying certain electronic devices in the cabins of aircraft flying nonstop routes to the US from airports in 10 cities in the Middle East and North Africa - Cairo, Egypt; Amman, Jordan; Kuwait City, Kuwait; Casablanca, Morocco; Doha, Qatar; Jeddah and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Istanbul, Turkey; and Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the UAE. The US restrictions enter into force on March 25.

Contact airlines for specific information about the restrictions if booked on a direct flight to the UK from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, or Turkey. Arrive at the airport earlier than normal due to possible security screening delays at regular checkpoints and/or departure gates. Do not store sensitive data on devices placed in checked baggage due to potential theft; consider using external storage devices.

UK Department for Transport:

Alert begins: 03/21/2017
        Security: UPDATE 6: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE, and Egypt deliver list of demands to Qatar on June 23. Major transport and trade disruptions continue.
  • Incident: Diplomatic relations severed
  • Affected Areas: Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Increased diplomatic tensions; closure of land and sea routes to Qatar; flight suspensions

On June 23, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE, and Egypt delivered a list of 13 demands that they said Qatar must comply with to end the current diplomatic and transportation blockade. The four countries stated that Doha will be given 10 days to act on the demands, though they did not specify what actions would be taken if Qatar did not comply. The terms relayed are significant and include the closing of Doha-based news outlet Al-Jazeera, reducing diplomatic ties with Iran, halting military cooperation with Turkey, and paying an unspecified amount of reparations for losses related to Qatar's foreign policies, among other requests.

Transport disruptions persist amid the current diplomatic crisis, as all land and sea routes between Qatar and the four Arab states remain closed. Air carriers in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Egypt continue to suspend flights to and from Qatar. Due to the flight restrictions, travelers will need to transit through a third country if flying from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt or the UAE to Qatar or from Qatar to those countries; Oman has become a popular transit point during the diplomatic rift. Large shipping vessels also use Oman to bypass the UAE port of Jebel Ali; cargo is offloaded in Oman onto smaller Qatar-bound ships.

Citizens in Qatar stocked up on basic goods immediately following the initial announcement of the diplomatic and transportation blockade on June 5, leading to the limited availability of supplies in some stores; however, friendly nations have provided shipments of food and other essential materials. Qatar relies heavily on food imports from several of the Arab states participating in the blockade, and shipments have been halted amid the closure of maritime and land routes. As of June 22, Turkey had dispatched 105 cargo planes full of supplies to Qatar; however, the Turkish Economy Minister stated that they would begin to transport supplies via ships, as continued air transport of goods is economically unsustainable. Iran has also provided smaller shipments of food.

While no specific restrictions on banking transactions between the affected countries have been put in place, some financial transactions have experienced delays or rejection due to increased scrutiny. Transactions involving transfers of government funds are more likely to encounter difficulties than common business transactions. The Qatari government has also stated that it is prepared to support local banks and cover any withdrawals of deposits from foreign institutions.

Background and Analysis
Qatar is highly unlikely to comply with many of the listed demands, since they would require an extraordinary reorientation of Qatari policy. Prior to the release of the demands, Qatar had stated that Doha is unwilling to negotiate or make concessions until the current diplomatic and transport blockade is lifted.

The current diplomatic row between Qatar and Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE began in May, after the Qatari News Agency (QNA) published quotes of a speech by Qatar's Emir in which he reportedly expressed support for Hamas, complimented Iran on its "stabilization" of the region, and said Qatar has a tense relationship with the president of the US. It is unclear whether the Emir actually made the comments quoted by the QNA; Qatari officials claim the QNA website was hacked and that the Emir gave no such speech.

General tensions between Qatar and the four countries have been ongoing since at least the Arab Spring in 2011. Qatar and the news outlet it sponsors, Al Jazeera, openly supported the Muslim Brotherhood and other calls for regime change in the region. This put them in direct opposition to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) position on regional stability. Qatar also maintains strong ties with Iran.

A previous diplomatic spat caused the Gulf countries to withdraw their ambassadors from Qatar in 2014; that incident lasted several months but was resolved after Qatar made unspecified diplomatic concessions. The incident arose from tensions over ongoing Qatari support for deposed former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood-linked party.

Monitor political developments closely. If operating in the aforementioned countries, maintain an elevated level of personal security awareness, and regularly review the status of transport services and entry requirements. Businesses operating in Qatar should ensure they have adequate supplies.

Qatar Airways (QR):
Emirates Airways (EK):
Etihad Airways (EY):
FlyDubai (FZ):
Air Arabia (G9):
Gulf Air (GF):
Saudi Arabian Airways (SV):
Egypt Air (MS):

Alert begins: 06/23/2017
    Informational Alerts
        Security: Authorities approve extension of nationwide state of emergency in Egypt through September 22. Expect heightened security.
  • Event: State of emergency
  • Location: Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Through at least Sept. 22
  • Impact: Increased security

On June 22, the cabinet approved a bill drafted by President Abdel Fatah Al Sisi to extend the nationwide state of emergency in Egypt for three months, extending the measure through September 22. The state of emergency allows security forces additional powers to assist in countering militancy, including increased monitoring and censorship of online communications, and greater authority to arrest and imprison those suspected of harming national security. Authorities will likely boost security around sensitive sites - including Coptic Christian places of worship, government and military installations, and tourist venues - and may erect checkpoints near such areas. Expect traffic disruptions.

Background and Analysis
The nationwide state of emergency was initially imposed following the twin bombings of churches in Alexandria and Tanta on April 9. The decision to extend the measure was expected, particularly as militants in Egypt continue to conduct attacks targeting Coptic Christians and security forces. On May 26 - less than a month after the twin church bombings - militants shot and killed 29 Coptic Christian bus passengers in Minya governorate as they traveled to the Monastery of Saint Samuel in Beni Suef; the Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the attack. IS has encouraged attacks on Egypt's Coptic community; the group issued a propaganda video in February praising the Dec. 11 bombing of Botroseya church in Cairo that left 25 people dead, and called on supporters to continue targeting Coptic Christians throughout Egypt. Smaller militant groups, including Hasam Movement and Liwaa al-Thawra, also continue to conduct attacks. Such groups primarily operate in the Greater Cairo and Nile Delta areas and frequently target security forces and pro-regime figures.

Follow the instructions of security personnel; be courteous and nonconfrontational. Ensure travel documents are available at all times. Maintain contact with your diplomatic mission.

Alert begins: 06/22/2017

Other Alerts & Advisories
    Warning Alerts
        Culture: Muslims in MENA to celebrate Ramadan May 26-June 25. Expect reduced business hours; refrain from eating in public during daylight fasting period.
  • Event: Ramadan observance
  • Time Frame: May 26-June 25
  • Location: Middle East and North Africa (map)
  • Impact: Reduced business hours, transportation disruptions, increased security

Muslims will begin their observance of the holy month of Ramadan on or around May 26, depending on the first sighting of the lunar crescent; exact start dates may vary locally by one to two days. During Ramadan, Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, and smoking from dawn until dusk. The end of Ramadan, marked by the Eid al-Fitr holiday, is expected to place on or around June 25.

While practices vary by country, in general, the widely observed religious introspection leads to slow-paced daylight hours, and the breaking of the fast leads to festive gatherings late into the night. Local businesses in the Middle East and North Africa typically operate on adjusted schedules to accommodate the holiday. Some diplomatic missions may have abbreviated hours. Overcrowding of public transportation and reduced availability of taxis are common in the hours surrounding iftar, the evening period when Muslims break their fast after sundown. Crowding at airports and hotels is also likely due to an increased number of travelers.

The Islamic State (IS) has conducted attacks during Ramadan; this is particularly true in Iraq, where in 2016, IS staged a major bombing that led to the deaths of more than 300 people in Baghdad. Kuwait will likely increase security around places of worship during the holiday out of an abundance of caution; IS-claimed a 2015 bombing of a Shi'a mosque in Kuwait City during Ramadan. Extra security may also be put in place in other countries in the region during the holiday.

Do not eat, drink, or smoke in public during the day. Authorities in some countries - such as the more conservative Gulf states - may enforce fines or penalties against those who do not comply, particularly if the accused are Muslim. Avoid discussion of contentious topics, including religious or political issues. Allow extra time for airport security checks due to large crowds.

Alert begins: 05/20/2017

Security Intelligence
        Civil Unrest: Civil unrest in Cairo, Egypt.

Although strikes, protests, and accompanying clashes have largely decreased in Cairo and elsewhere as a result of the government's ongoing crackdown against Islamist and secular opposition groups, the possibility of additional violent civil unrest remains constant. Security forces usually have a strong presence at these events and have been known to quickly crack down with batons, tear gas, rubber bullets, birdshot, and increasingly, live ammunition to disperse protesters.

Sources of Unrest
Anti-government protests are increasingly uncommon due to strict enforcement of the November 2013 Protest Law, which places significant limitations on the conditions under which citizens are permitted to assemble or demonstrate. Consequently, protest activity is generally limited to times of high political or social polarization, or in close proximity to politically significant anniversary dates. Public demonstrations in favor of the Palestinian quest for statehood occasionally erupt. Anti-Western rallies also occur in Cairo and are usually timed to coincide with state visits by US officials. Sectarian conflict between the Coptic Christian minority and the Muslim majority may also be a source of civil unrest. Soccer matches involving Egypt's national team, the Al-Ahly team, or the Zamalek club may also lead to celebrations or riots depending on the result.

Common Protest Sites
Tahrir Square was one of the most common sites for civil unrest in Cairo; however, police are quick to block off access to the square and other established protest sites. Large demonstrations have also been held in front of the Presidential Palace in Heliopolis. The Raba'a al-Adawiyya Mosque, its adjacent square, and other locations in the Nasr City neighborhood have also experienced large and occasionally violent protests. Large demonstrations in these locations may result in a large security presence, violence, and severe traffic disruptions.

Islamic groups hold regular rallies outside the Al-Azhar Mosque complex in old Cairo, mostly after midday Friday prayers. Police will often close roads in the area and limit access to the mosque prior to midday prayer on Friday. Universities within the downtown area also experience protests somewhat frequently.

Visitors should strictly avoid all demonstrations. If caught in a potentially violent situation, leave the area immediately, and avoid any involvement. If necessary, seek shelter in a large hotel or restaurant. Do not enter government or military buildings, because those locations may become targets of hostile activity.

(Last updated October 27, 2015)

        Crime: Major crime issues in Cairo, Egypt.

The violent crime rate in Cairo is relatively low for a city of its size. However, petty theft is rampant, and has increased correspondingly with the political unrest that has continued since 2011. Crowded sidewalks and public transportation provide ideal conditions for petty theft. Pickpockets and purse-snatchers tend to operate in crowded tourist areas, such as the Great Pyramids of Giza, the Egyptian Museum, and Khan al-Khalili, a huge, maze-like open bazaar. Theft of unattended belongings is also fairly common in Cairo. Visitors should not leave belongings unattended on tour buses, in restaurants (while using the restroom or paying the bill, for example), or at any other location. Wallets, cameras, and mobile phones are among the most frequently stolen items. Car theft is also common, even midday.

Women are often targeted for sexual harassment. Visitors who become the object of aggressive sexual harassment - including being pursued or touched - should scream and create a scene. This generally will be sufficient to scare the harasser away or prompt passersby to intervene. Although most areas of Cairo are fairly safe for unaccompanied women, observe commonsense measures. Avoid walking alone at night or in secluded areas. Do not accept food or drink from strangers, and remain cool and aloof in public. Keep alert to surroundings, and carefully guard handbags and other possessions.

Foreigners are singled out for scams due to their perceived wealth. The most common scam involves making change. Taxi drivers, waiters, and other service personnel will often claim not to have change, hoping that the visitor will allow him to keep the difference rather than going to the trouble of finding someone with small bills. Always having small change on hand is the best way to avoid this difficulty. Carefully count all change, as short-changing is fairly common in crowded tourist areas.

Low-level civil servants occasionally expect to be bribed to do their jobs. Common practices include demanding on-the-spot fines for real or fabricated offenses, including speeding, not carrying proper identification, or parking in an "illegal" area. Police officers will occasionally demand bribes in exchange for filing reports or investigating crimes. Visitors should enlist the assistance of their embassy when reporting major crimes to Egyptian authorities.

Persons mailing souvenirs out of the country or taking them out in their luggage may be asked to provide proof that the items are not valuable antiquities. Usually, all officials are actually asking for is a small bribe, rather than proof that the items are not valuable antiques.

        Kidnapping/Hostage Situation: The kidnapping threat in Cairo, Egypt.

There is a low threat of kidnapping in Cairo. Organized crime groups may abduct individuals, but typical targets are limited to wealthy or prominent Egyptians or those who are also involved in criminal activities. More recently, Egyptian activists or political opponents have been abducted by government forces or supporters. Foreigners are generally at low risk of being kidnapped; there have been few reported incidents of expatriate kidnappings within Cairo itself. Avoiding political protests and taking commonsense precautions are the best ways to minimize any possible risk.

        Security: Emergency numbers and embassy contacts in Cairo.

Useful Numbers:

Ambulance 123
Tourist Police126
Country Code20

Contact information for select embassies and consulates in Cairo:

Australia - Embassy

World Trade Center-11th Fl.
1191 Corniche El-Nil
Cairo, Egypt
Phone: 20-2-2770-6600
Brazil - Embassy

Nile City Towers
North Tower 2005 C Corniche El-Nil
Cairo, Egypt
Phone: 202-2461-9837
Canada - Embassy

26 Kamel El Shanawy St.
Garden City
Cairo, Egypt
Phone: 20-2-2791-8700
China - Embassy

14 Baghat Aly St.
Cairo, Egypt
Phone: 00202-27361219
France - Embassy

28 Avenue de Charles de Gaulle
BP 1777
Cairo, Egypt
Phone: 20-2-3-567-32-00
Germany - Embassy

2 Sharia Hassan Sabri
Cairo, Egypt
Phone: 00202-739-9600
Japan - Embassy

81 Corniche El Nil Street, Maadi
Cairo, Egypt
Phone: 20-2-2528 5910
United Kingdom - Embassy

7 Ahmed Ragheb St.
Garden City
Cairo, Egypt
Phone: 002-02-27916000
United States - Embassy

5 Tawfik Diab Street
Garden City
Cairo, Egypt
Phone: 20-2-797-3300

Personnel should familiarize themselves with the location and contact details of other foreign embassies in case their country's embassy closes due to an emergency or some other unexpected circumstances. Another embassy can often provide assistance in such cases.

        Security Services: Security services in Cairo, Egypt.

Egyptian police are generally responsive and concerned for the welfare of foreigners, including tourists and business interests. In most cases, however, police are not well trained or well paid. Foreign victims of crime often receive more support from police than ordinary Egyptians. The government stations officers from the Tourism and Antiquities Police in hotels and tourist sites throughout the capital. They are recognizable by armbands that read "Tourist and Antiquities Police" in English. In case of emergency, dialing 126 from a local pay phone will connect you with an officer from the Tourist Police who speaks at least some English. You will need a local phone card for these calls.

Tourist Police126
        Terrorism: The terrorist threat in Cairo

The terrorism threat in Cairo is high; the threat exists primarily from Islamist militants opposed to the country's government, its peace treaty with Israel, and its close ties to the US.

In the wake of the July 2013 ouster of former President Mohammed Morsi, jihadist groups have carried out numerous attacks in Cairo. These attacks have almost exclusively been against security forces and government targets, and the attackers have apparently tried to avoid excessive civilian casualties. However, there are signs that some groups have expanded their campaign to include religious minorities, as evidenced by the 2016 bombing of the Botroseya Church in Cairo's Abbasiya district which left 25 people dead; the Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the attack. Security measures surrounding airports, government buildings, five-star hotels, and major tourist attractions are generally adequate. Police may struggle to eliminate small, unknown groups, but are generally competent at deterring large-scale attacks.

Egyptian security forces guard major tourist sites and post guards outside four- and five-star hotels throughout Cairo. Blast barriers surround some government buildings and a few major hotels. Persons entering major hotels are usually searched and their belongings inspected either by hand or with X-ray machines. Nevertheless, there is little to prevent terrorists from launching attacks with light weapons outside secured areas (for example, by lobbing grenades or opening fire on foreigners with machine guns).

        Terrorism: The terrorist threat in the Sinai Peninsula is very high. If possible, do not travel to Sinai.

The terrorism threat in the Sinai Peninsula, particularly in the northern and central areas, is high. Islamist militant groups have escalated attacks against Egyptian security forces. Militant groups likely aspire to carry out attacks against hotels, resorts, and individual travelers in the southern part of the Peninsula. The downing of a Russian passenger jet flying from Sharm El Sheikh to St. Petersburg in 2015, allegedly by Islamic State militants using an improvised bomb, was a stark reminder of the threat posed by Islamists in Sinai.

Due to persistent threats, authorities have restricted travel north of the Cairo-Nekhl-Taba road. Northern and Central Sinai should be avoided, particularly the area around El Arish. If travel to southern Sinai is unavoidable, stay in well-secured hotels. Avoid overland travel through the Sinai. Do not remain in isolated locations. Avoid night trips or hiking in the desert.

    Overview of Egypt
Map of Egypt

Location: Northeast Africa. Time Zone: GMT +2.

Egypt is bordered by Libya to the west, Sudan to the south, Israel and the Red Sea to the east, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north.

Except for the Mediterranean coast, Egypt's climate is subtropical desert, characterized by extremely high daytime temperatures in the summer and mild winters. The days are typically sunny and dry, with very little rainfall. The Mediterranean coast experiences some clouds and rain during winter, but is typically sunny, dry, and a little cooler than areas south. November to March is generally mild, with average lows of about 8-14 C (46-57 F) and highs of 18-26 C (64-79 F). April to October is very hot, with average temperatures in the south exceeding 43 C (110 F) in July. Dust and sand storms blow in from the Sahara in April and May. Known as khamsin, these storms may reduce visibility to less than 30 meters (100 feet) and pose health risks. Pack warm clothing at all times of year, as nights often turn cold.

Air pollution is a major problem, especially in Cairo. During the autumn months, smoke from fires, exhaust, and factory pollution combine and form an extremely dense smog cloud that can pose serious health problems, especially to those with respiratory difficulties.

Doing Business
Business Hours

Type of OperationDays of the WeekHours
GovernmentSaturday-Thursday800-1400 (Summer)
900-1300 and 1700-1900 (Winter)

Hours are subject to change during Ramadan.

Business Formalities
Make business appointments well in advance. Government and business visits are discouraged during the month of Ramadan, and appointments should not be scheduled on Thursdays or Fridays at any time during the year, as they are considered days of rest.

Meetings may be tough to schedule during July and August; these are popular vacation months. Having a local contact or agent is very useful for introductions and understanding the local business market. Arriving late to meetings or social engagements is common practice. Meetings usually progress very slowly; personal discussions and coffee will come first, followed by business discussions. Meetings will also frequently go longer than planned, so patience is advised.

English is widely spoken in Egyptian business culture, although a few words or phrases of Arabic are always well-received. Business cards are widely used, and it is helpful to have Arabic printed on the other side. If the person you are meeting has an official title, use it when addressing them as a sign of respect.

Do not cross your legs when sitting; showing the bottom of your foot is offensive.

Business Attire
When conducting business in Egypt, it is essential to observe the Muslim dress code. Men must wear long pants and long- or short-sleeved shirts that hide the shoulders. Women should wear skirts or dresses that cover the knees and long sleeves. Tie up long hair. Do not dress in local attire, as this may be seen as offensive.

Women play a smaller role in business in Egypt than they do in other parts of the world. That being said, do not be surprised to meet a female senior executive, especially in joint ventures, family businesses, or companies owned by Coptic Christians. Only shake a woman's hand if she offers it first.

Taxis run from Cairo International Airport (CAI) to downtown Cairo. There are several options for getting around the country. Rental cars are available, but driving conditions are frenetic, and driving is best left to the locals. Tour buses serve all tourist attractions. Trains, including overnight sleeper cars, are another option. Air travel is available to major spots throughout the country and riverboats ply the waters of the Nile from Cairo to Aswan.

Egypt's public telephone system went through extensive upgrades in the 1990s. However, landline monopoly Telecom Egypt has struggled to keep its extensive system up to Western standards. Calling to/from the country can be a challenge, with sometimes poor reception. Internet cafes can be found in the main cities in Egypt and in major tourist locations. Most major hotels also offer Internet access, including in-room wireless networks. Communications technology in Cairo and other major tourist sites is adequate.

Official Languages
Egypt's official language, used for education and official purposes is Arabic (Modern Standard). Egyptians, however, have a distinct dialect of Arabic that is used on the street and on the airwaves. English, German, and French are widely understood at tourist attractions, major hotels and in many professional circles. Other languages spoken in Egypt are Nobin, Kenuzi-Dongola, Greek, Domari, and Armenian.

Islam is the predominant religion; 90 percent of Egyptians are Sunni Muslim. All types of Christianity are represented, the most popular being the Orthodox Coptic Christian Church. There are also small numbers of Shia' Muslims, Protestants, Roman Catholics, Greek Orthodox, and Jews.

Egypt has undergone a significant religious revival in recent years. The majority of Muslim women wear a variant of the hijab, a simple headcovering that leaves the face visible. More conservative women often choose to wear the niqab, or the full facial veil. Non-Muslim visitors to Egypt should not feel compelled to adopt local styles of dress.

Muslims are called to prayer five times throughout the day. Friday is the holy day, with a noon gathering at the mosques being the main religious focus of the week. During the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims do not eat, drink, smoke, or have sex from dawn to dusk, but they indulge heavily at night. Ramadan can be inconvenient for visitors because public transport halts or slows significantly and food stalls close from dawn to dusk.

Social Customs
Women should dress conservatively at all times and not wear shorts away from the beach or pool (although the dress code is more relaxed in Cairo and other urban centers, where shorts and sleeveless tops on tourists are common). Women should travel with other women or a male escort to avoid verbal sexual harassment. Men should not speak to or shake hands with an Egyptian woman unless she initiates the action.

The left hand, typically reserved for bodily hygiene, should not be used for eating, shaking hands, or presenting gifts or items to other people. The right hand held up with the palm away from the body and the fingers waving up and down means "Come here." It is also common for people to touch their heart with their right hand upon being introduced to someone or to express thanks after being offered something.

Never allow the bottoms of your feet to face someone (for example, when crossing your legs). This is considered an insult.

    Weather, Currency Exchange
Cairo Weather
Cairo Airport:
Jun 26
High: 104° F (40° C)
Low: 71° F (21° C)
Jun 27
High: 105° F (40° C)
Low: 72° F (22° C)
Jun 28
High: 105° F (40° C)
Low: 73° F (22° C)
Jun 29
High: 105° F (40° C)
Low: 73° F (22° C)
Jun 30
High: 107° F (41° C)
Low: 74° F (23° C)
Currency Exchange
CURRENCY NAMES1 Egyptian Pound =1 Euro =1 US Dollar =
Egyptian Pound1.000020.305818.1415
US Dollar0.05511.11931.0000

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