Life in Egypt
Dear student, this summarized extract about life in Egypt will help you recognize the environment in which you will live as you learn Arabic in Egypt:
Geographic, Demographic and Historical facts:
Egypt is a major country in the Arab region, of nearly one million square kilometer space and the only Afro Asian adjacent with over 92 million inhabitants most of them are Muslims, Egypt is the most populous country in North Africa and the Arab world, the third-most populous in Africa (after Nigeria and Ethiopia), and the fifteenth-most populous in the world it is considered a cradle of civilization, ancient Egypt experienced some of the earliest developments of writing, agriculture, urbanization, organized religion and central government.
Egypt has many famous sightseeing landscapes among them two of the seven wonders of the world viz Pyramids and Alexandria lighthouse in addition to the myriad antiquities found allover Egypt specially in Luxor or in Egyptian Museum in Cairo. The Currency in Egypt is the Egyptian pound ( referred by LE – Livre Egyptienne) and it is divided into 100 piasters.
Egyptian people are peaceful and welcoming albeit in the poor districts there are beggars or maybe pickpockets. In spite of the conservative tendency as a widely respected value of the public order in the society, sexual harassment to women is considered a social problem and in 2014 a law was legislated to face it. Timelines are not sharply respected by most of the Egyptians, specially doorkeepers and craftsmen. Most of Egyptians are generous and have a commonsense to entertain the guest, they consider it a moral and religious obligation. Egyptian cuisine is not rich in dishes , the most famous one is Koshari which is a blend of pasta, rice with lentil, chic-peas and red sauce on top.
Because of the central location of Egypt, it is connected to a huge network of airlines and there are direct flights between Cairo and most of the capital cities of the world and if not there will be a transfer flight in some cases which has no direct flight such as Tajikistan or Russia. The weather is mild in general all over the year except being hot and sunny in July, August, and September while the winter in December and January has cold air flows with a temperature degree up zero and rare rains. Egypt has 26 working civil airports and 2 closed but the most important are Cairo, Alexandria (Borg El Arab), Hurgada, Sharm El Sheikh, Luxor and Aswan.
Previous Visas are not required but available for most nationalities at airport on arrival, though check before departure. It is typically valid for 30 days and can be extended.
- Visa fees:
New Zealand NZ$45
- When buying visa at airport, payment is accepted in US dollars, UK£ and euros.
- Airport visas typically valid for 30 days in Egypt. If you want more time, apply in advance or get an extension in Egypt.
- Overland from Jordan: visas available at the port in Aqaba.
- Overland from Israel: visas at border only if guaranteed by Egyptian travel agency; otherwise, apply in advance in Tel Aviv or at the consulate in Eilat (65NIS for US or German citizens; 100NIS for others).
- Travel in Sinai between Sharm el-Sheikh and Taba, including St Katherine’s Monastery but not Ras Mohammed National Park, requires no visa, only a free entry stamp, good for a 15-day stay.
- Visa extensions used to be routine, but are now subject to scrutiny, especially after repeat extensions. Be polite and say you need more time to appreciate the wonders of Egypt.
- 14-day grace period for extension application, with E£100 late fee. If you leave during this time, you must pay £135 fine at the airport.
Helpful Tips and Advices:
- First and foremost, prepare yourself for a culture shock!
- For the best interest of you as you study Arabic in Egypt avoid talking much to less educated people for that they only speak Egyptian dialect which is not the Modern Standard Arabic.
- Egypt is a Muslim country, so please respect their faith. Many things that you take as the norm, such as kissing and/or fondling your partner in public, are frowned upon here, so try and be more conservative in your attitude. Homosexuality is actually illegal in Muslim countries!
- Never drink the tap water! It is okay to wash, shower and clean your teeth with it, but not advised to drink. Bottled water is cheap and plentiful; use it instead!
- In Egypt they drive on the right, be careful when crossing roads. Take special care in Cairo, where the traffic is a lot busier than in other Egyptian cities – especially outside the Egyptian museum! UK and Japanese travelers should be extra careful, as you will be used to traffic driving on the left.
- Public transport (town bus services, and in Cairo, the Metro!) in Egypt is very cheap, but try and avoid it if you can. You will only put yourself into an awkward position having many locals staring and talking about you. Taxis are not expensive so use these for travelling about town. Your hotel will let you know the best companies to use.
- Be prepared for delays when entering some sites. Because of the threat of terrorism, you will have your personal belongings (camera bags, carrier bags etc.) searched before gaining admittance. Though this is annoying, it is for your safety! Also, on some sites, they may find video equipment, which they will take from you. Don’t worry you will get it back! It is just that certain sites do not allow video’s to be used.
- Remember that Egypt is a 3rd world country, and has many poor people who think that all tourists are rich, no matter where they come from in the world! Learn the phrase “La Shukran” (No thank you!) and don’t be afraid to say it to anyone who tries to sell you anything, or asks for “baksheesh”. Believe it or not, it does work. Please do not say “Emshi” (as many tour books advise), this is taken as an insult.
- Respect the cultural and religious codes of dressing; avoid wearing revealing clothing etc..
- Use the women-only carriages on the Cairo metro. Not only are they less crowded than the other carriages, but they’re also a great opportunity to meet local women.
- Never sit in the front passenger seat of taxis, or microbuses.
- Some coffeehouses are strictly men-only affairs. Check out the scene before sitting down.
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