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Useful Information

Useful Information

Airport

Travelling from Cairo International Airport, located 23 kilometers (14 miles) northeast of the city, to downtown will take about 35 minutes. Taxis and limousines are the two easiest transport options to get to the city center. Registered Cairo taxis are painted black and either yellow or white. Many taxis don’t use meters, so you should negotiate a fare with the cab driver before setting off. A price of around 45 Egyptian pounds is considered reasonable. For about 20 to 30 pounds more, you may opt to hire a limousine, usually a Mercedes Benz sedan.

Business Hours

Business hours are from 8 a.m. to 4 or 5 p.m., Sunday through Thursday. Weekends start on Friday, but some businesses are open on Saturdays.
Banking hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Mondays through Thursdays. On Sundays, banking hours are from 10 a.m. to 12:00 noon.
Shops are usually open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Many establishments close at noon for 15 minutes on Fridays for prayers. Most shops are open on Saturday afternoon, and are closed on Sundays.

Credit Cards

Many major shopping centers have ATMs, and most shops and establishments in Cairo accept major credit cards such as MasterCard, American Express, Diners Club and Visa. If you plan to go shopping in one of the town bazaars, paying in cash will help you get a better bargain.

Currency

Egypt’s currency is the Egyptian pound. One pound is made up of 100 piastres. Coins come in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 25 and 50 piastres, while bill denominations are 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 pounds. The government imposes no restrictions on the import or export of foreign currency as long as the visitor declares the amount on a customs form. When it comes to the local currency, you can only bring out a maximum of 1000 pounds.

Climate

Cairo has an arid desert climate, where the days are hot but the nights are relatively cool. Sandstorms are frequent in April and May. Humidity levels tend to rise come August. Winters in Egypt are great, especially in the months of February and March. The weather at this time is mild, with occasional rainfall0.

Clothing

Cairo’s predominant religion is Islam, so people dress conservatively, trying to cover as much of their skin as possible. In practice, that also means no tight-fitting clothes that reveal the contours of the body. While visitors are not expected to follow strictly local dress codes, executives who will mix some tourism along with business are advised to do so when visiting religious sites. When packing, it is advisable to bring along loose, comfortable clothing, preferably made of cotton. Those garments will help you keep cool in Egypt’s hot desert climate. Women should leave their miniskirts at home.

Electricity

220 volts AC, 50Hz. Wall plugs are the two-pronged European type.

Government

Republic divided into 26 administrative regions

Geography

Egypt, with a total land area of 1 million square kilometers, is found on the northeast corner of Africa. The Mediterranean Sea is to its north; Sudan to its south; Libya to its west, and Israel and the Red Sea to its east. The River Nile runs right in the middle of Egypt, and nine out of every 10 Egyptians live along the Nile Valley and the Delta. The city of Cairo has an area of approximately 453 sq. km.

Health Risks

Tourists have been the victims of terrorist acts by extremists in recent years, though attacks have abated in recent years as the Egyptian government stepped up security efforts to safeguard the vital tourist industry. Sunburn and dehydration are the most common problems experienced by visitors to Egypt. Remember to apply sunblock with high SPF, and to keep your fluid intake high. Traveller’s diarrhea is another major health problem, mostly due to contaminated water. You should drink only bottled water or water that has been boiled for at least 20 minutes. Avoid eating raw vegetables, and taking drinks with ice in them. But it is best to be prepared by bring along some antidiarrhea tablets with you. Be on extra guard for pickpockets in tourist areas.

Holidays

Jan 7 2005* Coptic Christmas Day
Jan 21 Grand Feast
Feb 10 Islamic New Year
Apr 25 Sinai Liberation Day (Sinai only)
May 1 Labour Day
May 2 Sham el-Nassim (Coptic Easter)
Jun 18 Liberation Day
Jul 23 Revolution Day
Aug 15 Wafa’a el Nil (Flooding of the Nile)
Sep 11* Coptic New Year
Oct 6 Armed Forces Day
Oct 24 Suez Victory Day
Nov 3 Bairam Feast (End of Ramadan)
Dec 23 Victory Day

Languages

Arabic is the official language. English and French widely understood and spoken among businessmen.

Literacy
80%
Population

Egypt: 69.5 million
Cairo: 7.77 million
Ethnic Groups
Egyptians, Berbers, Bedouin, Hamitic Arabs and Nubians

Religion

94% Muslim, 6% Christian

Tipping

Porters, doormen, and cabbies expect tips, or “baksheesh”, for services rendered. Small tips in amounts of 50 piastres to 1 Egyptian pound are adequate. When tipping in restaurants, the usual practice is to give 10% of the bill before taxes, since the bill will be inflated by a 12% service charge plus a 7% government tax.

Time Zone

GMT +2, same as Jerusalem, Istanbul and Helsinki. GMT+3 from April 28 to Sept. 29 (Daylight saving time)

Useful Numbers

Country Dialling Code: +2
Ambulance: 123
Fire Brigade: 125
Police: 122 or 02/303-4122
Tourist Police: 02/390-6028

Visas

All visitors are required to have a visa and a valid passport that’s not due to expire within six months. Citizens of Bahrain, Kuwait, Libya, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen are exempted from the visa requirement. Nationals of European countries, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the U.S. can obtain entry visas upon arrival in Egypt. You can expect to pay around US$ 30 for your visa, which will remain valid for three months. Visa extensions can be obtained.

 

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