Threat of terrorism is low but does exist. Terrorists and extremists have used explosive devices, car-bombs, and drive-by shootings. Responsibility for these attacks has been attributed primarily to jihadist elements operating out of the Sinai Peninsula, which remains a particularly restive region.
Cairo (ؓلقاهرة al-Qāhirah) is the capital of Egypt and, with a total population in excess of 16 million people, one of the largest cities in both Africa and the Middle East (the regions which it conveniently straddles). It is also the 19th largest city in the world, and among the world's most densely populated cities.
On the Nile river, Cairo is famous for its own history, preserved in the fabulous medieval Islamic city and Coptic sites in Old Cairo. The Egyptian Museum in the centre of town is a must see, with its countless Acient Egyptian artefacts, as is shopping at the Khan al-Khalili bazaar. No trip to Cairo would be complete, for example, without a visit to the Giza Pyramids, and to the nearby Saqqara Pyramid Complex, where visitors will see Egypt's first step pyramid built by the architect Imhotep for the third dynasty Pharaoh, Djoser.
Though firmly attached to the past, Cairo is also home to a vibrant modern society. The Midan Tahrir area situated in downtown Cairo area, built in the 19th century under the rule of Khedive Ismail, has strived to be a "Paris on the Nile". There also are a number of more modern suburbs including Ma'adi and Heliopolis, while Zamalek is a quiet area on Gezira Island, with upmarket shopping. Cairo is best in the fall or spring, when the weather isn't so hot. A felucca ride on the Nile is a good way to escape from the busy city, as is a visit to Al-Azhar Park.
Since the revolution in 2011, the tourists have fled Cairo to a large extent. This has created an opportunity for unique experiences of Cairo's and Egypt's cultural treasures without the crowds. Finding yourself alone inside a pyramid is now a real possibility. Prices are also lower.
Cairo is vast; with more than 17 million people, it's the largest city in Africa and the Middle East. The central core consists of the following districts:
| Midan Tahrir |
Midan El Tahrir is the very centre of the modern city: big hotels, transport nexus and the Egyptian Museum, with downtown extending through Midan Talaat Harb up to Midan Ataba. Midan Tahrir (literally, "Liberation Square") is famous for the massive 2011 protests that ousted president Mubarak. Massive political rallies still occur on this square.
| Downtown |
| Midan Ramses |
Contains Cairo's main railway station and a burgeoning retail and accommodation zone.
| Garden City |
A suburb close to the city centre and the Corniche el-Nil, a good option for central accommodation.
| Islamic Cairo |
The centre of historic Cairo, located east of downtown; contains the Citadel, Mohamed Ali Mosque, Khan el Khalili (the main bazaar or souq), historic mosques and medieval architecture, as well as some of Cairo's turkish baths or Hammams.
| Old Cairo |
Located south of downtown, includes Coptic Cairo, Fustat (Cairo's historical kernel) and Rhoda Island.
| Dokki and Mohandeseen |
Located on the west bank of the Nile, with upmarket restaurants, shopping, and accommodation.
| Gezira and Zamalek |
Upmarket suburb on the Gezira island in the Nile, with hotels, the Cairo Tower, the Opera House, as well as some nice shopping, restaurants, cafes, and accommodation. Also, is where the Gezira Sporting Club is located.
| Giza |
Giza district is a sprawling western district of the city overlooking the Nile where the Giza Zoo is located as well as a few other attractions. Giza Governorate contains the Haram district where the Giza Pyramids are located. The Governorates of Cairo and Giza have more or less merged into the same city of Greater Cairo, although originally they were two different cities. The term Giza commonly refers to the district of Giza which is within Cairo, not the actual location of the pyramids!
| Heliopolis and Nasr City |
The two of them are actually completely distinct areas. Heliopolis is an older district where well-to-do Egyptians and higher class people live, built by a Belgian architect. Nasr City is newer, and contains City Stars, Cairo's biggest and most modern shopping mall, and retail social complex. The airport is actually located a bit further east of this area out in the desert near Masaken Sheraton
| Ma'adi |
A more quiet residential suburb catering to many foreign expatriates, located southeast of Cairo, where upper-class Egyptians live.
Situated along the Nile, Cairo has ancient origins, located in the vicinity of the Pharaonic city of Memphis. The city started to take its present form in 641 AD, when the Arab general Amr Ibn Al-Ase conquered Egypt for Islam and founded a new capital called Misr Al-Fustat, "the City of the Tents", due to the legend of Al-Ase finding, on the day he was leaving to conquer Alexandria, two doves nesting in his tent. Not wanting to disturb them, he left the tent, which became the site of the new city in what is now Old Cairo. The Tunisian Fatimid dynasty captured the city in 969 A.D and founded a new city, Al-Qahira ("The Victorious") just north of Al-Fustat. Al-Qahira gave the city its English name, Cairo, but the locals still call it Maşr (مصر), the Egyptian dialectal version of Amr's Mişr. Confusingly, this also the Arabic name of the entire country of Egypt.
|Daily highs (°C)||18||21||24||28||33||35||36||35||32||30||26||20|
|Nightly lows (°C)||8||9||11||14||17||20||21||22||20||18||14||10|
|Source: BBC Weather Centre, World Meteorological Organization|
The best time to visit Cairo is during the Egyptian winter from November to March, when daytime highs generally stay below 65°F, with night time lows around 45°F with occasional hot winds blowing from the desert and covering the whole of Cairo in a thick dust, sometimes covering places up to 1 metre deep. These deadly dust storms are a cool change for the city of Cairo and are remarkable for all visiting tourists to see. (You don't need an umbrella: even the rainiest months of the year rarely top 17cm.)
If visiting during winter, be aware that many buildings, including some hotels and hostels, are equipped with air conditioners but no heaters.
Visitors should always pack a warm jacket for evening wear.
The brief spring from March to May can be pleasant, but summer temperatures, on the other hand, can reach a searing 38°C, which is compounded by the city's terrible pollution which is at its worst in the fall before the rains.
Today's Greater Cairo is a city with at least 17 million inhabitants, where skyscrapers and fast food restaurants nestle up to world heritage monuments. Originally, Cairo was the designated name of the city on the eastern bank of the Nile, and this is where you'll find both the modern Downtown, built under influence of French architecture, today the centre of commerce and popular life, as well as historical Islamic and Coptic sights.
Outside the core on the eastern bank, you'll find the modern, more affluent suburbs of Heliopolis and Nasr City near the airport, and Ma'adi to the south. In the middle of the Nile is the island of Gezira and Zamalek, more Western and tranquil than the rest of the city. On the western bank is lots of modern concrete and business, but also the great Giza pyramids and, further to the south, Memphis and Saqqara. The city might seem like a lot to handle, but give it a try, and you will find that it has a lot to offer for any traveller.
When you approach any individual or a group of people for the first time, the best thing to say is the local variation of the Islamic form of greeting "Es-Salāmu-`Alēku" which literally means "Peace be upon you". This is the most common form of saying "hello" to anybody. It creates a friendliness between you and people you don't know, builds rapport, and helps build respect! It is also considered polite to say this if you approach someone, instead of just asking them for something or speaking to them directly.
Other forms of greeting include "SàbâH el-xēr" ("good morning"), "masā' el-xēr" ("good evening"), or the more casual "izayak" addressing a male, or "izayik" addressing a female, which means "hello" or "how are you?".
When leaving, you can say the same "Es Salamu Aleykom", or simply "Maa Salama", literally: "with safety" or "with wellness" which is used to mean to say "goodbye". More educated Egyptians will say "bye-bye" derived from the English "goodbye" or "buh-bye" when leaving others.
Smiling: Most people appreciate a smile, and most Egyptians smile when they speak to someone for the first time. People who don't smile while they speak are considered arrogant, rude, aggressive, unfriendly, etc.
However, be careful not to be too friendly or too smiley, especially if you're a female speaking to an Egyptian male, as they might mistake you for trying to befriend them or asking for them to flirt or hit on you. Even in a male-to-male conversation, being too friendly might give the other person the chance to try to take advantage of you some way or another. Always use common sense.
Greeting in Egypt are mostly based on both the class and religion of the person.
Handshakes are the more customary greeting among acquaintances. When a more close relationship is formed, it is more common to kiss on one cheek then the other while shaking hands. (mostly men)
It is best to follow the lead of the person you are meeting. For no confusions to happen.
Most Egyptians tend to have a loud voice when they speak, which is common to some other countries in the region. They are not shouting, and you will know the difference.
Egypt is a predominantly Muslim country, so say nothing that might be perceived as an insult to Islam or the Egyptian culture. The same applies to any mention of the Middle East as a whole. Your best option is to not discuss religion or politics from a Western point of view at all as this could lead to a series of unfortunate events.
Women and men should wear modest clothing. It is considered disrespectful to the mainly conservative Muslim inhabitants to see visitors walking around wearing clothing which reveal thighs, shoulders, bare backs or cleavage, except at beaches and hotels. Men should also not walk about bare chested or wearing very short shorts outside of hotels or beach resorts.
People do generally tend to dress more liberally at beach resorts, nightclubs, social outings, weddings, or when engaging in any sport, but there are no places to practice nudism or naturism as being nude in public.
Do not enter a mosque with any form of shoes, sandals, slippers, boots, etc. on., as this is very disrespectful. Always take them off before entering as they carry the dirt from the street, and the mosque (a place of prayer) should be clean. However, you can keep socks on.
Etiquette in the Presence of Prayer:
Also, avoid walking in front of persons in prayer. The reason is because when people kneel, they kneel to God. If you stand in front of someone while they are praying or kneeling, it is as if they are kneeling to you or worshipping you, a complete taboo and against the basic foundations of Islam. Otherwise, it is quite acceptable for visitors or Christian Egyptians to carry on as normal in the streets or shops that operate during prayer times.
Like most other countries in the Muslim world, the Middle East, and even some non-Muslim conservative countries, affection should not be displayed in public. Egyptians are conservative and doing things like making out with your girlfriend/boyfriend in public is considered offensive, rude, or disrespectful. A public hug is less offensive, especially if greeting a spouse or family member you haven't seen in a while.
You will notice male-to-male kissing on the cheeks when Egyptian men meet their friends, family, or someone they know well. This is not to be confused with the male-to-male kissing of some homosexuals in some western countries. Some Egyptian men like to walk next to their male friend with their arms attached together like a loop inside another loop. Again, this is not homosexual behaviour.
Egypt is a Muslim and conservative country. Any display of homosexuality is considered strange, weird, disrespectful and may lead on most occasions to hostile reactions. Depending on the situation and the place and time, it could be anything from weird looks to physical abuse. Therefore, gays and lesbians should be discreet while in Egypt.
Sometimes, men walk in the streets holding hands, and sometimes they even kiss when they meet, and unlike the west, this does not have any sexual meanings. It is a sign of a normal friendship, so do not think it a sign that they are homosexual.
The gay scene in Egypt is not open and free like in the West. Homosexuals have been arrested by the police and detained and even tortured in Cairo in the past for engaging in homosexual activity. Human rights groups have condemned such actions and the Egyptian government has been under pressure from different sources including the USA to stop this degrading treatment of homosexuals. The most famous arrests were in 2001 on a boat called the Queen Boat located on the Nile River in Zamalek district. Further arrests have occurred since then, but the exact situation of homosexuals in the last few years is uncertain.
There are no official "gay" places for cruising or meeting other people.
Cairo International Airport (IATA: CAI) is the second biggest airport in Africa with more than 16 million passengers a year. It's well served by Egyptair the national carrier and its Star Alliance partners (Singapore Airlines , Lufthansa , Swiss ], Austrian, , Sky Team (Air France , KLM , Alitalia), Oneworld (British Airways ), Gulf Carriers (Emirates , Etihad ) as well as budget carriers TUI-fly  and Jet-Air-Fly .
If you are planning a trip to Cairo whilst you are on holidays at the seaside, Nile Air and Egyptair offer connections between Cairo and Hurghada or Sharm el Sheik.
Go ahead and exchange some money in the airport - best to do this before going through customs. ATMs for all major cards are available in the arrival halls. Visas are available at the bank counters before immigration. They are USD 25 (single entry) and USD 30 (multiple entry) and can also be paid in other currencies. Change is given in EGP or USD.
The airport offers “Exclusive Services” that pick you up at the gate, do all immigration procedures for you and pick up your luggage while you wait in a comfortable arrival lounge for USD50, not including the visa fees. It can be pre-booked via ☎ +202 16708 
Visitors are allowed to buy duty free articles on arrival. If you are visiting European or American friends, they are always keen to get your passports to get more booze and cigarettes than the excepted quantity at customs. At the airport, the additional quantity is 4 bottles of alcohol. At the checkout, a customs official will check your passport and give approval for the purchase. You can be accompanied by the person picking you up.
The airport has three terminals, the latest of which was opened in 2009. Egypt-Air and all Star Alliance members now operate all flights to and from the new Terminal 3. Most other airlines arrive at Terminal 1. Terminal 2 is closed since 2010 for renovation works. A free shuttle bus runs between the two terminals and the bus station every 30 minutes, 24 hours a day. Taxi drivers trying to lure you at the airport will try to tell you otherwise regarding the shuttle bus, but if you go outside the terminal, you will find the free shuttle bus. At Terminal 3 it is located at the arrival level at the end of the bus lane (turn right after the exit). At Terminal 1 the Shuttle Bus stops are at Hall 3 in front of the AirMall and at Hall 1 at the curb side. Unfortunately the bus stops are not marked. Sometimes you have to change busses at the bus station due to the driver's coffee break.
More recently (as of June 2012), you can also use the new APM (automated people mover) which is free, clean and fast. Note, however, that stations are not located inside the terminals. If you are at terminal 3, you have to leave it through the front door and turn right. Walk to the end of the building and turn right again. Then you might need to ascend or descend a ramp, depending on the level you are at (departure or arrival). At the end of the ramp you turn left and you'll get to the station some 50m ahead, on your left. Signs are not clear at this point, but the APM is working and is very convenient to transit between terminals. At terminal 1 you need to leave through the main exit and turn left to get to the station.
The airport is on the north-eastern outskirts of the city at Heliopolis. If you want to spend the night at the airport, there are currently three hotels available:
There are other lodging options in nearby Heliopolis.Public transport
Getting to downtown Cairo can be a pain. Since the revolution white meter taxis are available at the Terminals. The fee is EGP3.00 plus EGP 2.50/km. Waiting time or when driving with a speed less than 7km/h costs EGP0.25/min. Do insist on using the meter. Do not accept a fixed price as they tend to be double the fare by meter. Report taxi drivers who refuse to use the meter to Airport Security or Tourist Police. Refuse to pay the "ticket" (EGP5 airport parking fee) for the driver. If you are going to downtown Cairo, you may be able to share a taxi with other tourists or backpackers. Another option is to use transportation arranged by your hotel or hostel, though this service is often not complimentary. Average trip between Cairo Airport and downtown should not cost more than 50-60 EGP (6-8 USD or about 5 EUR). Trip from Cairo Airport to Giza, or the Pyramids area goes for about 100-110 EGP(10-13 USD or about 10 EUR)
With the introduction of Uber and Careem transportation in Cairo became much less of a problem. The cars are very clean and most of the drivers are very professional. The cost of the trip in either service is often lower than the white taxi fare, but this depends on the traffic. It is easy to order Uber or Careem in the airport and the driver will contact you once they arrive at your terminal.
The most convenient way, however expensive, is by one of the numerous "limousine services". Pick-Up points are in front of the terminals (curb side). The prices are fixed depending on the destination and the car category. Category A are luxury limousines (Mercedes-Benz E-Class), Category B are Micro Busses for up to 7 passengers and Category C are midsized cars (e.g. Mitsubishi Lancer). Since 2010, London Taxis are available from Sixt as a new Category D.
Current Price List (2011)
|Destinations in Cairo||A (Luxury)||B (Micro Bus)||C (Midsize)||D (London Cab)|
|Airport (Terminals, Hotels)||EGP 65||EGP 45||EGP 45||EGP 50|
|Heliopolis||EGP 110||EGP 70||EGP 60||EGP 85|
|Nasr City||EGP 110||EGP 70||EGP 65||EGP 85|
|Gisr El Suez, Roxy||EGP 120||EGP 85||EGP 65||EGP 95|
|City Centre||EGP 155||EGP 100||EGP 80||EGP 125|
|Mohandesin, Zamalek, Dokki||EGP 165||EGP 110||EGP 90||EGP 135|
|Giza, Maadi, Makatam||EGP 200||EGP 120||EGP 100||EGP 155|
|New Cairo||EGP 200||EGP 120||EGP 110||EGP 100|
|Helwan, Sakkara||EGP 260||EGP 180||EGP 150||EGP 210|
|6th of October City||EGP 350||EGP 190||EGP 160||EGP 290|
|Sādāt City||EGP 470||EGP 240||EGP 230||EGP 375|
Micro Buses and London taxis, Uber and Careem can be pre-booked:
For the adventurous, catch a public bus to Midan Tahrir or Midan Ramses from the bus station (buses number 111, 356, 27 should lead there), which is conected to the terminals by the free Shuttle Bus. Ask a local if unsure, but avoid the notorious (non-A.C) green buses. In some cases, the bus destination and, or number will be in Arabic. If this is the case, be prepared to ask a driver or passengers if the bus stops at your destination. Buses run every 30 min, take 60-90 min and cost LE 2. At least on the non-A.C bus, you may be charged an additional LE 1 if you bring aboard large or bulky items. To get from downtown to the airport, board an A.C bus at the bus terminal just north of the Egyptian Museum (under the highway bridge). Finally, there are also direct express buses from the airport to Alexandria every 30-60 min ; however, the buses operate only during daylight hours (4AM - 7:30 PM).
[NOTE: The above information appears somewhat outdated. As of October 2013, public bus number 400 (٤۰۰) departs from the bus station between the Egyptian Museum and Ramses Hilton Hotel (in the middle of the road). Inquire thoroughly and allow ample waiting time. In one case, the waiting time was 40 minutes, the transfer to the airport bus station took 90 minutes, and the charge was only 1LE. Arabic word for the airport (مطار) may come in handy while asking for the bus.]
When returning to the airport for departure be sure of which terminal you are departing from (1 or 3) and allow plenty of time (2-3 hours to be safe) to get to the airport, as the roads can be very congested. The new airport road connects the airport with the intersection of the Ring Road and Suez Road and has no traffic jams. If you depart on Friday morning or mid-day, the trip to the airport will be quick, as roads are deserted while people go to the mosque for Friday prayers.
If you only have light luggage an alternative to avoid the traffic is to get the Metro to Al Ahram in Heliopolis at the end of line 3, and get a taxi to the airport, which should take 20 minutes and cost about 25LE. However this is not recommended if you have a large suitcase, the Metro is usually very crowded and the interchange between Lines 1 and 3 at Attaba Station is a gauntlet of stairs and escalators.
Egyptair and all Star Alliance airlines (Lufthansa Group, Singapore Airlines, LOT etc.) are leaving from Terminal 3. Saudi Arabian Airlines leaves from Terminal 1 Hall 2. All other airlines (Sky Team, Oneworld, Emirates, Etihad, etc.) leave from Terminal 1 Hall 1.
Upon arriving, you need to pass through a security checkpoint before you can get to the ticket counter/check-in area. You must bring a printout with you of your itinerary or ticket to show the security staff to pass through the checkpoint. You will pass through a second security checkpoint just before boarding your aircraft. Allow plenty of time for getting through the security checkpoints and checking in, as lines can be long. Note that there is no baggage room at the airport.
You can avoid the queues by using the Exclusive Service, which will do all the check-in and emigration formalities for you while you wait in a comfortable lounge and then lets you jump the lines at the first security check and passport control. It can be pre-booked ☎ +202 16708 .
Both terminals offer a good variety of duty free shops and restaurants (payment in US dollars). In Terminal 1 are some Egyptair duty-free shops opposite the gates. More shops and designer outlets are on the first floor. The lounges, a pub, Mcdonald's and Coffee Shops such as Starbucks are on the second floor. Terminal 3 has a central market place and food court. The shops in the concourses are limited. Gates in both terminals open maximum one hour prior to departure. Observe the flight data displays for delays as seating in front of the gates is very limited.
Cairo's main railway station - Ramses Station (Mahattat Ramses) - is on Midan Ramses, which is also the location of the Martyrs Metro Station. Trains run to Cairo from most other regions and cities within Egypt. Trains in Egypt rarely run on schedule and are almost always at least 15 min late, if not later. Train service is available from Ramses Station to Alexandria, Luxor, and Aswan. Service to Luxor and Aswan is also available at the Giza Railway Station. Visitors wishing to connect with trains to Luxor , Aswan , and the rest of upper Egypt should take the Metro from Midan Ramses Mubarak Metro Station, on line one to Giza Metro-Train Station which should take approximately twenty minutes.
Trains also depart to the canal cities, but buses are much faster.
Learn Eastern Arabic numerals
It is best to purchase tickets in advance to be assured of a seat. It is also important for travellers to ensure with the ticket office that the train is not a local train used by Egyptians to visit all of the small destinations south wards in the Nile Valley , but only the major cities. For comfort visitors should also preferably insist on a first class seat but nothing less than a second class . Online ticket purchases are now available from here, learn more about the system from Seat 61 - see the "how to buy tickets" section. Note that tickets bought online are entirely in English, which can make it a bit tricky to match your train to the Arabic information on the departure board - allow plenty of time! Especially in the summer months, trains running between Cairo and Alexandria sell out, so advance purchase is advised. Sometimes it is possible to buy train tickets in the morning, for a train later the same day, or if it is not busy, you might get on the next train. There are multiple windows for different classes and destinations, so check that you are in the correct line.
There is no longer a left luggage facility.
Alexandria is served by a large number of departures through the day. Among the best trains are El-Espani (Spanish) which has a morning service from Cairo at 9AM. El-Espani and Turbine (Turbo) are the best services, going non-stop to Alexandria and taking 2 hours and 40 min. The next best service is Al-Fransawi (French), which stops at the major Delta cities on the road. The Express (French) and Turbo trains to Alexandria have first and second class, all air conditioned. Refreshments are available for purchase on the train. First class is recommended, but second class is also reasonably comfortable.
Trains heading to Luxor, Aswan, and other Upper Egypt destinations also depart from the rail station in Giza. The Sleeping Trains (Abela Egypt)  leave Cairo 8PM and arriving in Luxor 5.05AM and Aswan 8.15AM. There also is a 9:10PM departure from Cairo. Check the website for more departures, including one three days a week from Alexandria. It's relatively expensive at 60 USD for a bed in a double-person cabin one way. Tickets are bought at the office to your left as you enter the train station from the Metro and taxi station. The tickets are payable in US dollars, euros, or British pounds only. There are no exchange offices at the train station itself. It is also possible to make reservations in advance, by calling or faxing your request to Abela, and then pay for and pick up your tickets at the station. Since these trains are designated for tourists, you will stay in special cars guarded by armed plainclothes policemen.
Going to Upper Egypt, the alternative to the expensive sleeper (or flying) is the ordinary trains. One of these departs at 00.30 to Luxor and Aswan and is supposed to take 10 hours to Luxor and 13 hours to Aswan. There is also a night train leaving Ramses Station at 21:00 with both first and second class carriages. First class costs approximately 110 Egyptian pounds and has 3 large, business class style seats per row and air conditioning. There is plenty of leg room and the seats recline for a good sleep. However, the lights are on all night and you'll probably be woken several times for ticket checks.
Allow plenty of time to find your platform. There is very limited English signage and you'll need to rely on station staff to point you to the correct platform. It is advisable to check with several people as you may be given contradictory information.
Ramsis Station, ☎ +202 25753555
See also: Cairo to Jerusalem by bus
Buses arrive to Cairo from virtually all over the country. The two main destinations are Midan Ramsis and Cairo Gateway, formerly known as Turgoman, but vehicles also sometimes stop at other destinations, notably Abbasiya. From Midan Ramses and Cairo Gateway it's a quick 10 LE taxi cab ride to downtown, 17-20 LE to Zamalek. Cairo Gateway is a new, modern indoor station located approximately 500m from the Orabi Metro Station, within the new Cairo Gateway Plaza.
Uncomfortable, but cheap, micro-buses leave from Cairo to a large number of destinations. The main garages are Midan Ramsis (For Alexandria, 22LE, and to the delta valley) and Al-Marg metro station (for the north-east and Sinai). They are faster and might as such be an option for shorter trips, but have a terrible toll of accidents. There are also other places these buses leave from depending on your destination, ask locals. Be aware that at least for the Sinai, foreigners are prohibited to use the micro-bus system.
Super-jet bus to Alexandria, Hurghada and Sinai, ☎ +202 2266-0212.
East Delta bus to Sharm El-Sheikh , Arish and Rafah, ☎ +202 2576-2293.
Driving in Cairo is not recommended or necessary. The traffic is, at the least, overwhelming for the common traveler. Recently, many automated traffic lights have been introduced in almost all the districts of Cairo. Traffic violation tickets are strictly adhered to in the daytime and double parking penalty can reach up to 1000 EGP. Sometimes police officers are directing traffic at busy intersections. In downtown Cairo, drivers will sometimes bump other cars that are blocking their way. Also, do not be upset if your side-view mirror gets hit. At night, many drivers do not use headlights, so use extra caution or avoid driving at night. In Egypt, vehicles travel on the right side of the road. Instead of making a left turn, you will often need to make a U-turn and backtrack, or you can make three right turns.
Parking houses or official parking spots used to be rare. Now with the mega parking lot of Tahrir Square the issue has been largely solved in Downtown area.The four-level garage, which is located in front of the Egyptian Museum, was officially opened in January, 2015. In addition to street valets who can help watching your car shall you decide to park in the street, there is the Rakna (literally means parking) application. Rakna is the Uber of valet parking. it's a valet-on-demand service. They currently operate in Downtown and Zamalik. Downtown is the area with the most public garages such as Tahrir, Omar Makram, Bostan, Abdul Moneim Riad, and Ramses Hilton.
To get to Alexandria, The North Coast, The Delta and The Western Desert drivers should take the Cairo - Alexandria Desert Road from The Mewhwar Road- 26th July corridor from Down Town Cairo.
To get to Beni Sueif, Fayoum, Assyut, Luxor, and Aswan, drivers from Downtown should take the The Sixth Of October-Fayoum exit at the Remaya Roundabout beside The Giza Pyramids at Le Meridian Hotel,to the Fayoum turn off at the Fayoum - Sixth Of October junction, 6 KM from Remaya Roundabout.
To get to Suez, Port Said, and Ismailia, drivers from Downtown should take the Ring Road to the Suez Road junction for Suez, and The Ismailia junction off the Ring Road for Ismailia and Port Said.
To get to Hurghada, and Ain Sukhna, drivers from Downtown, should take the Ring Road to the New Ain Sukhna Toll Road at Kattamaya.
To get to Sharm el-Sheikh, Dahab, Nuweiba, Ras Sidr, Al-Arish, and Rafah on the Sinai Peninsula, drivers from Downtown, should take the Ring Road to the Suez Road junction at the J.W. Marriot Hotel, through the Ahmed Hamdy Tunnel, on to the Sinai Peninsula.
You will find that it's useful to have several maps handy if you are looking to get around Cairo on your own. Spellings of street and place names can vary from map to map and from map to actual location, and not every street will appear on every map.
The key interchanges are Martyrs (formerly Mubarak), at Midan Ramses, and Sadat, below Midan Tahrir.
Line 1 (Red) is the oldest line of the Cairo Metro, with its first 29-kilometre (18 mi) segment having opened in 1987.The line is 44.3-kilometre (27.5 mi) long and serves 35 stations. This line carries trains with 3 units (9 train cars),which have a headway of 3:30 to 4 minutes, and a maximum speed of 80 km/h (50 mph).The line can carry 60,000 passengers per hour in each direction.
Line 2 (Orange) is the second line of the Cairo Metro. The line is 21.6-kilometre (13.4 mi) long of which 13 kilometres (8 mi) is in tunnels. It serves 20 stations, of which 12 are underground. It is mostly in bored tunnel, with two exceptions: a short section at the northern end approaching Shubra El Kheima which is elevated, and a section just south of this by cut-and-cover. Line 2 uses the third rail electrification system instead of the overhead line used in the first line. The communication extension for line 2 was provided by Alcatel in 2005.
Line 3 (Green) presently operates from Attaba to Ahram (Heliopolis), with construction under way for the remaining line to the northwest of Greater Cairo. Eventually it will link Cairo International Airport all the way to Cairo University and Imbaba. The line will cross under the two branches of the River Nile, as does Line 2. The total length of the line will be approximately 50 kilometres (31 mi), most of which in bored tunnel, and will be implemented in four phases.
The Cairo Metro has stations in Dokki and Maadi, among other places. The Metro is also a hassle-free way to get to Giza to see the Pyramids, although you'll need to complete the trip taking a bus all the way (change to bus for "Al-Haram" at the Giza train station). Plans have been made to add new lines to include Mohandiseen and Zamalek, as well as the airport; however, little progress seems to be made on this.
Note that there are two cars of each train reserved for women, which are located in the middle section of the train. The metro stops running at approximately midnight and starts up again around 6AM. There are no timetables, but departures are very frequent. The metro is better to use if you wish to avoid traffic jam. It is secure, costs one pound per trip and has a clear European navigation system.
Solid-White Taxis: These are modern sedans equipped with meters that are usually used, AC, and run on natural gas. Most tourists will pay less using these taxis than they'll be able to negotiate with their non-metered brethren. They can be hailed from the street, and are common enough to be used perhaps exclusively (given a little patience) by any traveler. Compared to the black and white taxis, all tourists will find them more comfortable, and most - less expensive. Note that at times of heavy traffic drivers will be reluctant to use the meter for short journeys. The white taxi replaced the iconic black and white taxi that no longer exists in Cairo.
Ordinary Egyptians do not state prices beforehand. Instead the correct sum is paid through the window after leaving. Some drivers might protest as they expect tourists to pay more than standard. You can use the "walk away" technique. As long the driver does not leave the car, you are all right. If this happens, consult someone nearby. As a tourist, you might prefer to state a price beforehand, which may prevent ripoffs, but will require you to quote above local prices. Try to avoid those loitering outside 5-star hotels and restaurants to minimize this. Using a big hotel as your destination may also inflate the price. Always choose the taxi, and never let the taxi choose you and always insist that the taxi driver uses the price meter.
They also usually expect more money (2 or 3 LE) for ferrying more people. If you decide not to negotiate the price beforehand (this is the better method) be ready to jump ship and/or bargain hard if the cabbie brings up the fare after you are in the car. They rarely accept more than 4 people to a taxi. Also add 5-7 LE driving late at night.
Beware of paying a fare with a large bill (50LE, 100LE, 200LE) - it is likely the driver will claim not having any change, and may try to switch the note, claiming you only gave him 10LE.
In General: Never continue travelling in any vehicle which you deem to be unsafe or the driver to be driving recklessly, especially in the dark on unlit roads, or in single track highways where overtaking is dangerous. If you feel unsafe simply tell the driver to slow down, if he does not do this immediately ask him to stop and simply get out and walk away.
Uber and Careem: Uber and Careem work very well in Cairo if you have a smartphone with a 3G connection. No hassles with negotiating over prices or with being overcharged, drivers who nearly always speak some English (but even if they don't, they already know where you need to go). Bother companies, Uber and Careem, accept credit card payment and cash payment. It's a great solution to the hit-and-miss quality of Cairo's regular taxis.
The large red, white and blue public buses cover the entire city and are much cheaper, but are usually crowded. However, there are the similar air-conditioned buses that charge 2 L.E. for the trip and prohibit standing on the bus. They can be found in the main squares in Cairo. Also found in main squares are the smaller mini-buses that are usually orange and white or red, white and blue. Because of problems with sexual harassment women travellers are advised only to take the small micro-buses and buses which prohibit standing.
Apart from the main bus stations, buses can be hailed from street-level. Buses are seldom marked with destination, instead passengers shout out (or use a number of sign-language like hand codes) their destinations and if the bus goes this place it will stop. On micro-buses, the fare starts at 50 piastres and goes up to 1 LE. Travellers unfamiliar with Cairo can ask bus drivers or passengers to let them know where their stop is. Simply politely blurt out the name of your destination to the bus driver or a friendly looking passenger and they will take care of you.
Late night bus riders : take note, bus frequency, length of route, and in some cases, fees can vary during the late evening hours onward. In some cases, a route may terminate, without notice, short of your destination. When this takes place, locals reply upon private citizens hoping to make some additional money, to get them to their final destination. As always, use caution, if you should choose to accept private transportation. One final note on late night bus transportation, since many mini- buses will not depart until the bus is nearly full, you should be prepared for a lengthy period of time, while the driver waits for enough people to board.
There are a number of major bus stations (mawqaf موقف, pl. mawaqif مواقف) throughout the city. One of the largest is conveniently located behind the Egyptian Museum in Midan Tahrir. Note that there are actually two stations - the main bus station for the city buses, and the micro-bus station behind it. Travellers who want to visit the Pyramids, for example, can catch a seat in a micro-bus for approximately 2 pounds. Visitors wishing to go to the pyramids and see a bus or micro-bus driver shouting Haram, should always before boarding make a pyramid triangle with your hands to ensure that the driver is driving to the actual pyramids themselves, and not just to the district of Haram, which although is fairly close to the pyramids, can terminate a fair distance from the pyramid entrance.
There are also bus stations in Midan Ramses, under the overpass. Buses run from Ramses to Heliopolis, City Stars Mall and other destinations not covered by the Tahrir bus station.
If you decide to rent a car, most car rental agencies don't have specific prices except one of the agencies that are trusted named "Cairo Car" that was very well nicely managed by an American/Egyptian family who offer drivers to take you where you want. +20-01003990230
Access in Cairo is patchy. Anyone with moderate to serious mobility issues should expect to spend a lot of time in taxis.
Wheelchair users, beware as many buildings have step-only access. Pavements are variable, even around the popular tourist attractions. There is often an incredibly steep drop from the curbs and where there are ramps they are better suited to pushchairs than wheelchairs. Expect potholes, gulleys, poorly cordoned-off building works and street works, and cars parked across the pavement, where there is a pavement at all.
The white stick is recognised and help is often offered. The help that is offered can be a little misguided at times but it's usually well intentioned.
Although more expensive by far, it is probably best to arrange taxis for major trips (such as visiting the pyramids) via your hotel. Picking up a taxi on the street can be hit and miss. Do not expect to be dropped off at the exact spot that you asked for; you will often be taken to somewhere nearby. Always fix a price before you get into a taxi.
Concessions on tickets cannot be taken for granted. For example, the Egyptian Museum offers a 50% concession for disabled patrons (and students) whereas the Cairo Tower doesn't offer concessions at all.
A visit to the pyramids is a must. How one does it is either through one of the many stables around the site who will charge anywhere between 350LE and 650LE for a horse/camel ride around the site , or taking a taxi to the Sphynx entrance and attempting to walk. It is important to note that the site is amazingly up and down. A good level of mobility would be required to attempt it by foot. If you opt for a horse/camel ride, make sure that you haggle hard. (28/07/12 - July is the quiet season, it was possible to get a 2 hour camel ride for 100LE each ... albeit when with someone who knew the owner of the stables)
If you are visually impaired or in any other way disabled it may be possible to gain permission to touch the pyramids. The outside of the pyramids are usually off limits to tourists and surrounded by a cordon. To arrange permission to touch a pyramid, approach one of the many tourist police dotted around the site. (Since the revolution with decreased tourism it is a lot easier to do things like climb on the pyramids, go inside the Sphinx fence or inside the pyramids - for a charge!)
See also: Cairo/Giza with children
A selected list of Cairo highlights:
In Egypt there's a coffee shop on every corner, sometimes you could even find them in the middle of the road. They're all similar but different in many ways. Mostly men sitting smoking shishas(water-pipes), Playing backgammon, cards, drinking tea, and reading newspapers. These coffee shops are called Ahwas. SOme are huge and fancy, and some are just plastic chairs and tables in the middle of the road. They are often very cheap and relaxing. Have a coffee, mint tea or Cola at El Fishawy's coffee shop in Khan El-Khalili. Smoke a shisha water pipe and watch the world go by. Great cheap entertainment.
Ride a felucca along the Nile River. A great way to relax and enjoy a night under the stars in Cairo. Feluccas are available across from the Four Seasons Hotel in Garden City. To charter your own, negotiate a fair price of no more than 20 to 30 LE for about a half hour for the boat, or 50 LE for an hour, no matter how many people are on it. Pay after your ride, or you may get much less than you bargained for. Public boats with loud Arabic music and a giggling crowd are also available for LE 2 for 1/2 hour.
Cairo has a shortage of parks, but a few of them exist.
Note:Like most zoos in the undeveloped countries animals are suffering there. cages are small and animal condition is bad. a giraffe is said to have killed itself this year (2014). lions trapped in small cages move like crazy around their tiny cage with their starving body. elephant is tied with a chain and left in the sun. etc
You can also take a stroll along the Corniche el-Nil, and there is a river promenade on Gezira Island.
Other options for relaxation include visiting the Giza Zoo and the Cairo Botanical Gardens, or watching horse racing at the Gezira Club in Zamalek, or, when you need a break from city life, try a round of golf on the famous Mena House Golf Course overlooking the Pyramids, or The Hilton Pyramids Hotel tournament Golf Course and nearby Sixth Of October City , Ten minutes drive from Giza Pyramids.
Or if the family, and especially children are fed up looking at monuments and museums, a ten minute trip from the Giza Pyramids by micro-bus, taxi, or car, will take you to two of the biggest and best theme parks in Cairo, Dream-park, and Magic land, both in nearby Sixth Of October City.
Magic land is also part of The Media Production City complex, including The Mövenpick Hotel, where visitors can take a tour of the Egyptian TV and drama sets, and studios which house many of the Egyptian and other Arabic TV stations.
Citystars is Egypt's premier shopping mall and is quite comparable to a foreign mall. It offers most international brands and most international food chains. It offers a cinema and amusement park. McDonald's, TGI Fridays, Fuddruckers, Ruby Tuesday, and more are all here.
Go horseback riding in the desert from one of the Nazlet El-Samaan stables such as FB Stables (contact Karim +20 (0)106 507 0288 or visit the website :  ) in Giza. Ride in the shadow of the Great Pyramids or further afield to Saqqara or Abu Sir or camp out over night with a barbecue and fire. Popular with expats who keep their horses at livery, FB Stables is also great for a 'tourist' type ride to view the Pyramids from the desert. Longer rides to Saqqara and Abu Seer can be arranged in advance, as can sunrise, sunset and full moon rides. Other than the horses and good company, one of the best things about FB is their amazing rooftop terrace (with bbq) with unrivaled views over the Pyramids - a great place to relax with a drink whilst watching the Sound and Light show.
According to a recent survey by the Egyptian government in May 2011, there are at least 3 million expat foreignors working in Egypt. This is strange considering that Egypt is a developing country, with a high rate of local unemployment and suppressive economic conditions, especially after the 25th of January 2011 revolution, which has seriously affected the economy. However, there are no strict labor requirements like other developed countries that receive immmigrants such as the EU, Canada, or the USA. Even so, the law is not very often applied as employers easily play around the law to hire their needs from foreignors. That being said, it really depends on the kind of job and field you are applying for. Average salary in Cairo is about 8500 EGP(1100 USD) per month.
Factory Work/Industrial Labor There are many thousands of people from South East Asia, China, and the Far East working low-paying jobs in factories and similar places. They're hired because they're cheaper than hiring locals. Some well-to-do families also like to hire foreign workers to work in their houses as cleaners, houskeepers etc. The majority come from poorer African countries or places like the Phillipines and Indonesia.
If you come from the West however, the situation may be very different depending on your qualification. The most demanded are those who come from native English speaking countries (i.e. the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, etc). The most demanded jobs for these people are English teachers at schools and some university professors. There are many foreign schools in Cairo and some other big cities that prefer to hire native English speakers as part of their school staff. The reason obviously being that the ability to teach English with a native accent and more importantly their foreign qualifications. Other opportunities may arise in similar institutions if your native language is French, less if it's German, and even less if it is some other European language.
There is some demand for Russians also in nightclubs, and hotels. The tourism industry in general may be willing to hire foreigners from European backgrounds to work in countless diving centres and small business around the Red Sea area in Dahab, Hurghada, and Sharm El Sheikh, where many tourists come from Europe to take diving courses in their native langue (German, Dutch, French, Italian, Russian, English, Polish) and other languages being the most popular.
Recently, there has also been a huge demand for anyone who speaks fluent English with a clear native or neutral accent to work in most of the country's internationally based call centres located in and around Cairo. During the past 10 years, Egypt has become a major player in the telecommunications and call centres industry in the the Middle East. Many companies including Vodafone, Teleperformance, and other large local call centres are in constant need of English language speakers to work in their call centres, as there aren't that many Egyptians capable of speaking English fluently and clearly enough to serve these companies' offshore accounts. Examples include Vodafone UK, Vodafone Australia, and Vodafone New Zealand, which are currently being outsourced by the call centre of Vodafone Egypt, which basically hires anyone to work as a call centre agent, who speaks fluent English regardless of their nationality. Even if English is not your mother language, the only requirement is the ability to communicate in the language and work shifts. Pay is not bad considering the much lower living expenses in Egypt compared to the West. Salaries for these positions may range from 3,500 LE to 5,500 LE (1 USD=7.15LE) per month and many companies offer free transportation, medical insurance, social insurance, and other benefits like a mobile allowance.
The American International School in Cairo (AIS), (2 locations in 6th of October City Sheikh Zayed) and Fifth Settlement (EL Tagamoa El Khames ) the 2 being on the Western and Eastern corners of the city.
CAC (Cairo American College) in Maadi, with a long history of American curriculum and American/Foreign staff, and foreign students.
The American University in Cairo
Canadian International College
German University in Cairo (GUC)
For Call Centre jobs, mainly customer service representatives/agents serving offshore companies in Europe and North America, (outsourced by the call centres in Cairo) try:
Vodafone Egypt (located in Smart Village on the Cairo/Alexandria Desert Road) (the Call Centre is located in 6th of October 6th Horizon Building in the 4th Industrial Area.
Teleperformance Egypt (another multinational company, originally French located in 50+ countries worldwide) and based in downtown Cairo. Go to teleperformance.com and choose Egypt to get the full contact and address details. Here again, you can work in either French or English accounts with a salary package around 5,000 LE per month, plus medical and social insurance.
Xceed Contact Centre, a local contact centre with a good reputation located in Smart Village, with English, French, Hebrew, and many languages
Raya Contact Centre, in 6th of October
Wasla Contact Centre
Egyptian Contact Centre Operator (ECCO), in Imtedad Ramsis, near Heliopolis and Nasr City
C3 The Call Centre Company
Stream Call Centre, in 6th of October, with English and French
You can find all address details and websites of these companies if you search them on google or on the internet in general. Most of them are in constant demand of fluent English speakers regardless of your nationaltiy because of the booming telecommunications and call centre industry in the Egyptian economy. Many of them outsource other companies originally based in Europe and the West.
For other kinds of jobs, the best option is to have a technical background or previous managing experience in a multinational company and get transferred to the local branch of the company in Egypt.
Other opportunities include teaching English as a free-lance instructor, but it may take a while before you are able to gather enough students to make a good living. Current rates range from 50 LE to 100 LE per hour/lesson in private lessons. Many people in Egypt want to learn English or improve it as it is always demanded in the Egyptian market.
If you have professional qualifications there are many possibilities for work in Cairo. Try any of the local employment or job websites:
Career Mideast (www.careermideast.com), one of the oldest job websites in the country, serving the entire Middle East Region, even other countries
Bayt (www.bayt.com) you will find jobs in the entire Middle East including Egypt in all sectors
The American Chamber of Commerce Website (they have a comprehensive database of all kinds of jobs in all sectors and industries (www.amcham.org.eg)
Wazayef Masr (it can be easily found on google search)
There are several job fairs/employment fairs that take place every few months in Cairo. Most of them are free to attend by anyone looking for a job. They usually are advertised in English adverts in the Arabic newspapers such as Al Ahram Newspaper. The ads are easy to spot as they are large picture advertisments and written in English, even though the newspaper is in Arabic. They normally take place in well-known places like large five star hotels or the City Stars shopping complex. Examples include Job Master Job Fair, Wazayef Masr Job Fair, and the American Chamber of Commerce Job Fair. You can meet lots of different employers, with mostly multinational companies based in Cairo and other local well-known Egyptian companies. Most recruitment teams at the fairs speak fluent English. You must bring your cv/resume as most employers expect you to apply for a job on the same day, then you will be called for an interivew a few days/weeks later if they have a suitable vacancy. Take at least 20-30 copies, one for each employer and dress semi-formally or formally.
Another option is any of the foreign embassies located in Cairo.
You can also try the English weeklies al-Ahram and al-Waseet for job vacancies. Otherwise, if you have some connections, you can always network with people that you know, and sometimes it may lead to landing a job somewhere.
Please note that Egyptian work conditions may be very different from Western ones. It is more of a friendly casual environment, but everybody is still treated with respect. Working hours are normally 9-5 pm, and the weekend is Friday and Saturday (Friday substituted for Sunday because it is the day that Muslims go to pray at the mosque). Annual leave is normally 21 days, and most national holidays are days off as well.
ATMs, are conveniently located in various places throughout downtown. A more secure option are the ATMs in the five star hotels. There also are numerous places that handle currency exchange, or you can try any major bank such as HSBC or Commercial International Bank for currency exchanges or redeeming travellers cheques. There also are a number of Citibank  branches in Cairo.
Foreign currencies can also be exchanged for Egyptian pound in all the Egyptian banks like Banque Misr  , National Bank of Egypt , Banque De Caire , Arab African Bank  , The United Bank , or the large branches of Bureau De Change.
Be aware that many merchants will try to scam you out of as much as they possibly can. A particularly common trick are the papyrus museums. They come in many different flavours, but they often call themselves galleries, museums or workshops. You will be given a brief talk or demonstration on how papyrus is made, and warned against cheaper shops that make their papyrus from banana leaf (though no matter where you go, no one has a sample to show you, questioning the legitimacy of this "warning"). The prices will be in the hundreds, and you will be offered what appears to be an excellent discount. If you look around, however, you will see most of what they offer is worth 1-5 LE at the most. Tour guides, taxi drivers and hotel staff are all in on this, and will often get a 50% commission if they lead an unwitting tourist into this trap.
Diwan, in Zamalek, is a very nice primarily English-language bookstore.
|This guide uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:|
|Budget||Under LE 50|
|Splurge||Over LE 150-300|
Cairo has an enormous number of restaurants, catering to most needs. Ironically though, one may want to avoid any restaurants listed in popular guidebooks. Egyptian restaurants have a habit of after being listed, cooking up a special English menu with vastly inflated prices. That said, cheap food can be found everywhere in street restaurants and snack stalls. The top notch restaurants are often, but not always, found in hotels and Nile boats. The borders between restaurants and cafes are not crystal-clear in the Egyptian capital. In many places it is perfectly acceptable to just have a drink or sheesha. Medium and high-range outlets might have a minimum charge. Cheaper restaurants will normally not serve alcohol as well as some more expensive outlets.
In general, downtown is good for budget eating, while for higher quality eating you should head to Zamalek, Mohandiseen or any of the other more affluent parts of town.
Traditional Egyptian staples are available almost everywhere. In stalls and street restaurants you will find traditional dishes like fuul (bean paste), taa'miya (falafel), muzagga (the Egyptian version of the Greek moussaka), kushari (rice, macaroni, lentils, chick peas, tomato sauce with red pepper oil [ very spicy ] and garlic/vinegar sauce are offered on the side), fetyeer (pancakes with different fillings) and shawarma (a recent import from Lebanon and Syria — pieces of roasted meat usually wrapped in bread). Cheaper places will only serve up vegetables and maybe beef hot dogs or corned beef. Eggs, fried potatoes and salads are also usually available. Hygiene varies wildly and the best advice is to go for the most visited places. Avoid empty restaurants as the food will be less fresh. Especially downtown, you can find many good kushari shops, including many outlets of the excellent Kushari Tahrir chain. Delicious and cheap fuul , falafel, and shawarema sandwiches can be bought at the many outlets of popular GAD fast food chain dotted around Cairo. The average price for a tub of takeaway kushary is between 5 to 7 Egyptian pounds, fuul falafel sandwiches is between 2 to 4 Egyptian pounds, and shawerma sandwiches are between 15 and 20 Egyptian pounds.
In the medium and upper price range your choice of traditional Egyptian food will be more limited. Although the situation is improving, traditionally Egyptian gastronomical experiences are still mostly restricted to private homes. Quality chain restaurants like Felfela (several outlets), Abou El Sid (Zamalek, Maadi and Dokki), and Abou Shakra  offer authentic Egyptian food.
Otherwise Arabic and oriental restaurants tend to mix styles or completely go for more Lebanese-style eating, considered more stylish by rich Cairenes. The good side of this is that Cairo is blessed with many quality Lebanese outfits, from chains like Dar Al-Qamar to stylish restaurant establishments. Additionally, Turkish food and restaurants catering to Gulf visitors can be found.
Cairo has a growing number of Western fast food outlets available - these are, incidentally, some of the best places to see young Cairenes relaxing together, as fast food restaurants are apparently considered amongst the hippest places to hang out. McDonalds, Hardees, Pizza Hut , and KFC  are spread about the city, but they are relatively more expensive. Most of these also offer free wireless internet.
The Tahrir Table 11 Tahrir square next to KFC. Owned by a swedish lady, meals from locally inspired food to international dishes. View of Tahrir square in the second floor. Beer and wine served. (Currently closed and seeking new location)
Mo'men chain , Cook Door  the Egyptian equivalent of Mcdonald's has similar menu with similar prices and free wireless internet.
Lighter meals like sandwiches and salads as well as pastries can be found in western-style bakeries and cafes. Popular chains like Cilantro, Beanos, Costa, and The Marriott Bakery as well as individual outlets all offer more or less similar dishes. Most of these places also offer free wireless internet.
There is also a cute TGI Friday's  on the Nile banks at the entrance of Maadi, serving beer but no wine. Gezira also has its very own Chili's. For burgers, you can also try Fuddrucker's [www.fuddruckers.com/] (Maadi and Mohandesseen) or Lucille's [www.lucillesrestaurants.com/] in Ma'adi (54 Road n° 9) which is owned by an American woman. Maison Thomas has several branches throughout Cairo, including Mohandiseen, Zamalek, and Maadi, and serves some of the best pizza in Cairo. There is an Italian place called the Mint in Mohandesseen 30 Gezirt Al Arab ST. open 9AM till 1.30 AM, which boasts a very stylish interior, however it's alcohol free. If you prefer more stylish international dining, Cairo offers a wide variety: Italian, Chinese and Japanese outlets in addition to the ambiguous continental cooking abound, especially in areas like Zamalek, Mohandseen and Dokki. Rossini fish restaurant 66 Omar Ibn El Khatab ST +202 2291-8282 , Cedars 42 Gezerit Al Arab Mohandeseen +202 3345-0088, this Lebanese restaurant is a favorite with Mohandesseen's ladies who can order grills and salads in a specious outdoor terrace.
For health reasons it is advisable not to drink tap water or eat unpeeled fresh fruits and vegetables -- at least for the first few days of the visit. There are few solely vegetarian options, L'aubergine in Zamalek is a good restaurant for vegetarian food. Otherwise, Egyptian cuisine is dominated by vegetable courses, but be aware of "hidden" meat in stock, sauces and the like. One should also be cautious about sushis( slushees?) or ice creams sold outside of main hotels. Also, if served eggs, one should be cautious to ensure that they are fully cooked (sunny side up eggs may allow certain organisms to be transmitted).
The Metro chain and Alfa Market dotted around Cairo are convenient supermarkets. They often stock Western brands. Otherwise vegetables and fruit are plentiful and cheap. Bakeries such as The Bakery chain sell western-style bread and pastries. Organic food from the local ISIS brand is available at the supermarkets Metro and Carrefour and the Sekem Shop in Ahmed Sabri Street (شارع احمد صبر), Zamalek.
By far the cheapest and most satisfying option, buying from Souks and outdoor markets makes for a crash course in Arabic and haggling, not to mention that the produce is often superb! Bread can be found on nearly every corner and comes in two types - whole wheat aysh baladi and white flour aysh shami. Both are baked fresh daily and delivered by thousands of kids on bicycles to every corner of the city. Every neighborhood has a few streets dedicated to produce and other goods. Always wash fruit thoroughly before eating. Eating a fresh Roma tomato in the heat of Summer straight from a market seller after being washed is a delight, hard to match. The fruits and vegetables in Egypt may not conform to EU or US standards of size, but their taste is far superior.
Small bakeries (furne) sell every kind of baked good imaginable - ranging from Italian style bread sticks with nigella and sesame seeds to croissants, donuts and anything with dates in it. Fresh goods from these bakeries offers a nice alternative to the standard Egyptian breakfast of beans, beans, and beans, as well as the fact that this bread is very cheap.
Cairo has a wide range of drinking options from the very traditional to fashionable and modern. At the other end of the scale, almost any street in Cairo has a traditional coffee house, ´ahwa, a traditionally male institution of social life tracing many hundreds of years back in history. Besides that you'll find everything from fruit stalls to patisseriés and bakeries and modern cafés whipping up all varieties of modern European coffee. In addition to the traditional Turkish coffee and shai tea, virtuall everywhere you'll find drinks like hibiscus tea kerkedeeh, served warm or cold depending on season, sahleb, a milk-based drink usually served in winter, fakhfakhenna (a kind of fruit salad), sugarcane juice, mango and tamarind juice, Tamr hindi.
Cairo remains one of the best cities in the world to sample the traditional coffee house culture of the region. They are called maqhâ in Standard Arabic, but in the local dialect this is turned into ´ahwa. The Turkish coffee remains an invariable ingredient in any Cairene coffee house, and water pipe (sheesha) and tea is even more popular. While considered "old fashioned" for a time, these places are again turning fashionable among younger crowds and even smoking a water-pipe is no longer a male-only pastime. Places vary from just a small affair--plastic chairs and tables put out on the street--to more elaborate cafes especially in upscale and tourist areas.
A social institution
For many, the sheesha or water pipe, is the main attraction of any visit to a Cairene coffee house. It is usually available in at least two varieties, mu´assal, pure tobacco, and tofâh, apple-flavored. Other fruit varieties are sometimes available. Coffee houses range from the more elaborately decorated to a simple counter and some plastic chairs and tables spread out in the street. Foreigners are invariably made welcome, although women might feel uncomfortable visiting coffee houses in traditional, poor areas of the city. However, in downtown and the tourist areas of Islamic Cairo single or women-only groups should not expect anything more than the ordinary hassle.
Turkish coffee (´ahwe turki) is served either sweet (helwa), medium sweet (masbout), with little sugar (sukr khafeef) or no sugar (sâda). Sweet means very sweet. Tea (shai) is served either as traditional loose tea (kûshari, not to be confused with the Cairo macaroni-rice stample kushari), known as dust tea in English, or in a tea bag. Most coffee shops usually offer fresh mint leaves to put in your tea, upon request. A range of soft drinks are usually available. Most typically you will find hibiscus tea (karkadee), served warm in the winter season and cold during the warmer parts of the year.
During the hot Cairo summer, fruit juice stalls selling fresh juice (and occasionally fruit salads and other soft drinks) are a delight not to be missed. Basically these places sell fresh-pressed juice of whatever is in season. Typical choices include orange (bortoqâl), lemon (limon), mango (manga) and strawberry (farawla), guava (gawafa), pomegranate (Rummān). Prices and quality depend on season and availability. These places are spread out around the city and available at almost all the places tourists typically visit and in all local residential districts. Traditional coffee houses or fruit juice stalls might sell all or some of these drinks.
A health reminder Use extra care if you choose to consume beverages from fruit stalls. In general, food handling procedures are not up to Western food sanitation standards. It should also be noted that some vendors mix their fruit juices with less-than-perfect tap-water.
Modern cafes and patisseries are spread out around the city. Typically they serve light food like sandwiches and salad in addition to espresso-based coffees and pastries. Many of these places are chains, like Cilantro, Beanos, Cinnabon, Orangette, The Bakery and Coffee Roastery. Most of these places, including all the chains mentioned above, offer wireless internet connection as well. International chains such as Costa Coffee and Starbucks are also widely available throughout Cairo.
For the capital of a majority Muslim country, Cairo is relatively liberal when it comes to the consumption of alcohol. A wide range of bars and dance clubs is available, basically in every major hotel, and some are open 24/7. If you would like to explore the less fancy drinking places in Cairo, Downtown is definitely the place to go. Upscale nightspots are found in and around the Zamalek area
Cairo has a tremendous range of accommodation, from low-rent budget hotels downtown to five-star palaces along the Nile. See individual district articles for hotel listings.
The main post office  of Cairo is on Midan Ataba (open 7AM - 7PM Sa - Th, 7AM - 12 noon Fr and holidays). The poste restante office is to be found along the side street to the right of the main entrance to the post office and through the last door (open 8AM - 6PM Sat - Th, 10AM - 12 noon Fr and holidays) - mail will be held for 3 weeks.
Egypt-Post livery is green and yellow.
There are two kind of mail boxes for international and domestic use. They are typically found on the street in pairs, colored green and yellow. It is said that your mail will be delivered no matter which one you use. Always use the register mail facility to post anything valuable or important. It takes longer but each step of the journey is recorded, as many letters do not arrive at their destinations when using regular mail service.
The Internet is rapidly growing in Cairo as in many other Egyptian and Middle Eastern cities. There is now a profusion of established internet cafés and venues, with many more opening for business each month. An hour in a downtown net cafe will set you back 3-5LE. A growing number of cafés including Cilantro and Beanos provide wifi for free, and if all else fails, you can always drop into a McDonalds and try their network. Luxury hotels often provide WiFi at a premium. Also, mobile providers offer relatively high speed internet access via a USB dongle. For example, a Mobinil or a Vodafone USB dongle and sim card will cost you 99LE with 50LE of credit.
If you have access to a traditional telephone line in Cairo, then you will be able to access the internet through dial-up connection for 12.50 LE per hour by dialing 0777 XXXX numbers.
As of December 2014, access to Israel Government websites appears to be blocked.
In Egypt, cell phone are a way of life. Walking down any street, or on a crowded bus, it seems that most Egyptians are addicted to cell phones (similar to what you may find in Japan or Korea). Instead of using your phone from your home country (which often tend to carry very high roaming fees), consider obtaining an Egyptian SIM card or cheap unlocked phone. The 2 main carriers in Egypt are Orange  and Vodafone Egypt , with UAE's Etisalat  a growing 3rd player in the Egyptian market. Orange  and Vodafone  offer the best coverage, but for tourists Etisalat is the best option because it gives the most bang for your buck with minutes and seems to have the lowest calling rates abroad out of any of the 3 (a difference of paying $0.55USD per minute for a call to the States than paying $2.50 USD for using your home GSM provider on roaming).
You can find mobile dealerships in every section of Cairo (frankly, you can't avoid them), and getting set up is fairly easy. SIM cards for any of the 3 providers go for about 5-20 LE (about $1-5 US). You will need to bring your identification (its recommended to bring a copy of your ID, as you may not want someone walking off with your passport in a shady shop to make a copy). If you don't have an unlocked phone, many shops will sell cheap older models (usually Nokia phones) as secondhand phones. But beware, make sure that the phone is fully functional before purchasing it, and buying a used one is at your own risk (as a good percentage of these tend to be stolen ones).
When purchasing a sim card, try to purchase it from the company itself. You can often find sim cards in the market but they are often stolen resulting in you having to go to the company and get it sorted out in any case.
The Egyptian Tourist Authority http://www.touregypt.net has offices in Cairo City Center, 5 Adly Street, phone: 3913454, Pyramids, Pyramids Street, phine: 3838823, fax: 3838823, Rameses Railway Station, phone: 5790767, Giza Railway Station, phone: 5702233, El Manial, Manial Palace, phone: 5315587, Airport, phone: 2654760, fax: 4157475, New Airport, phone: 2652223, fax: 4164195 and Cairo International, Airport' phone: 2914255 ext.2223.
You can walk around the main streets anytime you feel like roaming. It is fairly safe and you will always find lots of people around smiling and offering to help. Women alone can expect to be the target of an excessive amount of catcalling or worse. Beware of continued harassment. You should bear in mind that around the more touristy locations there is an abundance of 'helpful' people, but be careful who you go with and under no circumstance let anyone push or guide you anywhere that you do not want to go! If you get lost look for the security and police officers. Many speak some English, and most know their local area very well as well as the tourist spots. Crossing streets is another major challenge in Cairo. Traffic lights, which only exist in a few locations, are routinely disregarded. In downtown Cairo, police officers may be controlling traffic at key intersections at busy times. Crossing the street is like playing the video game "Frogger", hurrying across the street one lane at a time, when there is a small break in traffic. One way to cross a street that proved to be effective is to place yourself next to an Egyptian who wants to cross the street and follow. Also, when riding in a taxi, the driver may go quite fast and drive erratically. If at any time you feel unsafe simply tell the driver to stop and get out.
As elsewhere in Egypt, be careful with what you eat. Raw leafy vegetables, egg-based dressings like mayonnaise and minced meat are particularly risky. Avoid cold salads and puddings from buffets even in the 5* hotels just to be on the safe side.Opinions on tap water vary, but most visitors choose to stick to the bottled stuff. Large bottles of water can be purchased for 6-7 LE. Avoid ice in drinks, and only eat fruit with a skin you can wash or peel. You may find that tummy medications you bring from home simply don't work. All visitors would do well to buy from any pharmacy Egyptian brand drugs. The best and most common being Entocid and Antinal. Diarrhea and vomiting can almost always be stopped by taking 2 of these tablets with a glass of water in a few hours. If symptoms persist, it is wise to consult a doctor as dehydration in Summer can come on quickly.
Smog can reach extreme levels, especially in late summer and fall before the rains. This, coupled with the summer heat, can make spending time outdoors in the summer quite unpleasant.
Mosquitos are in some parts of Egypt so you might face them. They are active from dusk till dawn, and then find a dark sheltered place to sleep during the heat of the day. They love humidity and wet environments where they breed. They also love leafy green gardens, and hedging. Sitting around lakes, pools, or in a garden at night can be suicide. Only the female bites, and one female in a bedroom can cause much discomfort by morning, so it is always wise to kill any before sleeping. A fly swatter is best as they move due to air pressure, swatting with a newspaper will not work. Mosquito repellent sprays are of little value either.
Most hotels will have smoke sprays at dusk to quieten them down but they will revive and attack later.
The best defense is to kill any in hotel rooms. Wear long sleeves and long trousers when out at night. When outside, sit in a breeze or in front of a fan as they do not like moving air. The mosquito tablets and burners merely make them sleepy, they do not kill them. It is better to spend a few minutes going round the hotel room killing any you see than suffer days of itching and painful bites.
According to the US CDC, malaria there were no cases of malaria in Egypt since 1998, but there was an outbreak in 2014 within a village near Aswan, which was attributed to being brought in by infected Sudanese migrants.
For medical care, hotels usually have a house doctor on call. Any major operations are best performed outside Egypt, but the following hospitals are generally considered the best in Cairo:
Backpackers will see doctors' offices dotted all around Cairo on board signs. They are speciality specific. Just look for one and then inquire. Note most surgeries open after 5PM and run late till sometimes midnight.A consultation fee will give you a consultation and one follow up appointment.
Travellers can also visit private hospitals like El Salam, Dar Al Fouad,6th October University Hospital, Ain Shams University Hospital,Kasr El-Eney during the day. Each has an outpatient clinic with various specialists on duty. Usually no appointment is necessary and you will be seen depending on how early you arrive. The fee for the outpatient clinic of 6th October University Hospital for a consultation and follow up is 40le.
No vaccinations are required for visiting Egypt but if you are using Cairo as a starting point for other countries in Africa you may need some, in particular yellow fever for which some countries may require you to provide a certificate of vaccination before entry.
There is a large medical centre in Giza called Vacsera. This is sometimes recommended as a place to get vaccinations. However, they are no longer accredited to provide yellow fever vaccinations and certificates and will refuse any requests from foreigners.
The Quarantine Centre at Cairo airport will provide yellow fever vaccinations and the appropriate certificate. Price is 150.50LE. They presumably provide other vaccinations as well but this is unconfirmed.
To get there take bus 1036 from Ramses bus station (2LE, 1 hour) to the airport and then the shuttle from the airport bus terminal (free, 5 minutes) to Terminal 1. Enter Departure Hall 2 and walk right to the far end of the hall. Follow signs saying Quarantine. Ask at the desk about vaccinations. You will need your passport and the payment.
There may be other places in Cairo and at the airport but the above is verified as of November 2016.
|Abdullah bin Abdulaziz|
|King of Saudi Arabia |
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques
|King Abdullah in January 2007|
|King of Saudi Arabia|
|Reign||1 August 2005 – 23 January 2015|
|Bay'ah||2 August 2005|
|Regency||2 January 1996 – 1 August 2005|
|Heir(s) apparent||Sultan bin Abdulaziz (2005–11) |
Nayef bin Abdulaziz (2011–12)
Salman bin Abdulaziz (2012–15)
|Successor||Salman bin Abdulaziz|
|Born||(1924-08-01)1 August 1924 or 1915/1916 |
Riyadh, Sultanate of Nejd
(now Saudi Arabia)
|Died||23 January 2015(2015-01-23) (aged 90) or 98 or 99 |
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
|Burial||23 January 2015 |
Al Oud cemetery, Riyadh
|Spouse|| List |
| List |
|House||House of Saud|
|Father||Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia|
|Mother||Fahda Al Shuraim|
|Religion||Wahhabi Hanbali Sunni Islam|
|This article contains Arabic text. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols.|
Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (Arabic: عبدالله بن عبدالعزيز آل سعود, ‘Abd Allāh ibn ‘Abd al-‘Azīz Āl Sa‘ūd, Najdi Arabic pronunciation: [ʢæbˈdɑɫ.ɫɐ ben ˈʢæbdæl ʢæˈziːz ʔæːl sæˈʢuːd]; 1 August 1924 – 23 January 2015) was King of Saudi Arabia and Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques from 2005 to his death in 2015. He ascended to the throne on 1 August 2005 upon the death of his half-brother, King Fahd.
Abdullah, like Fahd, was one of the many sons of Ibn Saud, the founder of modern Saudi Arabia. Abdullah held important political posts throughout most of his adult life. In 1961 he became mayor of Mecca, his first public office. The following year, he was appointed commander of the Saudi Arabian National Guard, a post he was still holding when he became king. He also served as deputy defense minister and was named crown prince when Fahd took the throne in 1982. After King Fahd suffered a serious stroke in 1995, Abdullah became the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia until ascending the throne a decade later.
During his reign he maintained close relations with United States and United Kingdom and bought billions of dollars worth of defense equipment from both states. He also gave women the right to vote for municipal councils and to compete in the Olympics. Furthermore, Abdullah maintained the status quo when there were waves of protest in the kingdom during the Arab Spring. In November 2013, a BBC report claimed that, due to the close relations it had with Pakistan, Saudi Arabia could obtain nuclear weapons at will from that country. The King also had a longstanding relationship with Pakistan, and brokered a compromise between ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and General Pervez Musharraf, whom he had requested to be exiled to Saudi Arabia for a 10-year exile, following his ouster in the 1999 Pakistani coup d'état.
The King outlived two of his crown princes. Conservative Interior Minister Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud was named heir to the throne on the death of Sultan bin Abdulaziz in October 2011, but Nayef himself died in June 2012. Abdullah then named 76-year-old defense minister, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, as crown prince. According to various reports, Abdullah married up to 30 times, and had more than 35 children. The king had a personal fortune estimated at US$18 billion, making him the third wealthiest head of state in the world. He died on 23 January 2015, at the age of 90, three weeks after being hospitalized for pneumonia, and was succeeded as king by his half-brother Salman of Saudi Arabia.
Abdullah is said to have been born on 1 August 1924 in Riyadh. However, some sources state that this date is incorrect, and that he was approximately eight years older. He was the tenth son of King Abdulaziz. His mother, Fahda bint Asi Al Shuraim, was a member of the Al Rashid dynasty, longtime rivals of the Al Saud dynasty. She was descended from the powerful Shammar tribe – and was the daughter of former tribe chief, Asi Shuraim. She died when Abdullah was six years old. He had younger full-sisters.
Madawi Al-Rasheed argues that his maternal roots and his earlier experience of a speech impediment led to delay in his rise to higher status among the other sons of King Abdulaziz.
In 1963, Abdullah was made commander of Saudi National Guard (SANG). This post allowed him to secure his position in the House of Saud. SANG, which had been based on the Ikhwan, became a modern armed force under his command. Beginning 1985, SANG also sponsored the Janadiriyah festival that institutionalized traditional folk dances, camel races and tribal heritage.
King Khalid appointed Prince Abdullah as second deputy prime minister in March 1975, a reflection of his status as second in the line of succession to the Saudi throne. In other words, upon this appointment, Prince Abdullah became the number three man in the Saudi administration. However, his appointment caused friction in the House of Saud. Then-crown prince Prince Fahd, together with his full-brothers known as the Sudairi Seven, supported the appointment of their own full brother, Prince Sultan. Prince Abdullah was pressured to cede control of SANG in return for his appointment as Second Deputy Prime Minister. In August 1977, this generated a debate among hundreds of princes in Riyadh. Abdullah did not relinquish authority of SANG because he feared that this would weaken his authority.
On 13 June 1982 – the day King Khalid died – Fahd bin Abdulaziz became King, Prince Abdullah became Crown Prince the same day and also maintained his position as head of the National Guard. During his years as crown prince, Abdullah bin Abdulaziz was described as a supporter of accommodation. He managed to group[clarification needed] a large number of fringe and marginalized princes discontented with the prospect of the succession being passed among the Sudairi brothers one after the other. His control of the National Guard was also a key factor to his success in becoming crown prince. When King Fahd was incapacitated by a major stroke in 1995, Crown Prince Abdullah acted as de facto regent of Saudi Arabia.
In May 2001, Crown Prince Abdullah did not accept an invitation to visit Washington due to US support for Israel in the Second Intifada. He also appeared more eager than King Fahd to cut government spending and open Saudi Arabia up economically. He pushed for Saudi membership of the World Trade Organization, surprising some.
In August 2001, he ordered then Saudi Ambassador to the US, Bandar bin Sultan, to return to Washington. This reportedly occurred after Crown Prince Abdullah witnessed brutality inflicted by an Israeli soldier upon a Palestinian woman. Later, he also condemned Israel for attacking families of suspects.[dead link]
In 2002, he developed the Arab Peace Initiative, commonly referred to as the "Abdullah plan", to achieve a mutually agreed-on resolution of the Arab–Israeli conflict. The initiative was adopted at the Arab League's Beirut summit in March 2002.
On the second anniversary of the September 11 attacks, Crown Prince Abdullah wrote a letter to US President George W. Bush, which ended with the following words:
"God Almighty, in His wisdom, tests the faithful by allowing such calamities to happen. But He, in His mercy, also provides us with the will and determination, generated by faith, to enable us to transform such tragedies into great achievements, and crises that seem debilitating are transformed into opportunities for the advancement of humanity. I only hope that, with your cooperation and leadership, a new world will emerge out of the rubble of the World Trade Center: a world that is blessed by the virtues of freedom, peace, prosperity and harmony."
By late 2003, after the Saudi Arabian branch of al-Qaeda carried out a series of bombings that threatened to destabilize the country, Crown Prince Abdullah, together with other decision-making elites began to deal with political concerns. One of such moves was his project to promote more tolerance for religious diversity and rein in the forces of politico-religious extremism in the kingdom, leading to the establishment of National Dialogue. In the summer of 2003, Abdullah threw his considerable weight behind the creation of a national dialogue that brought leading religious figures together, including a highly publicized meeting attended by the kingdom's preeminent Shi'i scholar Hasan al-Saffar, as well as a group of Sunni clerics that had previously expressed their loathing for the Shi'i minority.
Abdullah succeeded to the throne upon the death of his half-brother King Fahd. He was formally enthroned on 2 August 2005.
King Abdullah's administration attempted reforms in different fields.
In 2005, King Abdullah implemented a government scholarship program to send young Saudi men and women abroad for undergraduate and postgraduate studies in different universities around the world. The program offered funds for tuition and living expenses up to four years. It is estimated that more than 70,000 young Saudis studied abroad in more than 25 countries, with the United States, England, and Australia as top three destinations aimed for by the students. There are more than 22,000 Saudi students studying in the United States, exceeding pre-9/11 levels. Public health engagement included breast cancer awareness and CDC cooperation to set up an advanced epidemic screening network to protect 2010's three million Hajj pilgrims.
King Abdullah implemented many reform measures. He re-shuffled the Ministry of Education's leadership in February 2009 by bringing in his pro-reform son-in-law, Faisal bin Abdullah, as the new minister. He also appointed Nora Al Fayez, a U.S.-educated former teacher, as deputy education minister in charge of a new department for female students.
He brought about a top-to-bottom restructuring of the country's courts to introduce, among other things, review of judicial decisions and more professional training for Shari'a judges. He developed a new investment promotion agency to overhaul the once-convoluted process of starting a business in Saudi Arabia and created a regulatory body for capital markets. He also promoted the construction of the King Abdullah University for Science and Technology (the country's new flagship and controversially co-ed institution for advanced scientific research). King Abdullah invested in educating the workforce for future jobs. The Saudi government also encouraged the development of non-hydrocarbon sectors in which the Kingdom had a comparative advantage, including mining, solar energy, and religious tourism. The Kingdom's 2010 budget reflected these priorities—about 25 percent was devoted to education alone—and amounts to a significant economic stimulus package.King Abdullah with Russian President Vladimir Putin on 11 February 2007.
The response of his administration to homegrown terrorism was a series of crackdowns including raids by security forces, arrests, torture and public beheadings. He vowed to fight terrorist ideologies within the country. He also made the protection of Saudi Arabia's critical infrastructure a top security priority. His strategy against terrorism was two-pronged: he attacked the roots of the extremism that fed Al-Qaida through education and judicial reforms to weaken the influence of the most reactionary elements of Saudi Arabia's religious establishment.
In August 2010, King Abdullah decreed that only officially approved religious scholars associated with the Senior Council of Ulema would be allowed to issue fatwas. Similar decrees since 2005 were previously seldom enforced. Individual fatwas relating to personal matters were exempt from the royal decree. The decree also instructed the Grand Mufti to identify eligible scholars.
In light of the Arab Spring, Abdullah laid down a $37-billion (€32,8 billion) programme of new spending including new jobless benefits, education and housing subsidies, debt write-offs, and a new sports channel. There was also a pledge to spend a total of $400 billion by the end of 2014 to improve education, health care and the kingdom's infrastructure. However, Saudi police arrested 100 Shiite protesters who complained of government discrimination. Later during the 2011–2012 Saudi Arabian protests, in September 2011, the King announced women's right to vote in the 2015 municipal council elections, a first significant reform step in the country since the protests. He also stated that women would become eligible to take part in the unelected shura.
In January 2012, King Abdullah dismissed the head of Saudi Arabia's powerful religious police, replacing him with a more moderate cleric, state news agency SPA reported, without giving reasons. Abdullatif Abdel Aziz al-Sheikh was named, in place of Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Humain, to head the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. King Abdullah had appointed Humain in 2009 to head the "mutaween," which ensures the strict application of the country's ultra-conservative version of Islam, as a step towards reforming it. Humain hired consultants to restructure the organisation, met local human rights groups and consulted professional image-builders in a broad public relations campaign. Under his leadership the commission also investigated and punished some "out-of-control" officers for misbehaviour.King Abdullah University of Science and Technology
In July 2012, Saudi Arabia announced that it would allow its women athletes to compete in the Olympics for the first time and that the country's Olympic Committee would "oversee participation of women athletes who can qualify". The decision ended speculation that the entire Saudi team might have been disqualified on grounds of gender discrimination. The public participation of women in sport was still fiercely opposed by many Saudi religious conservatives. There had been almost no public tradition of women participating in sport in the country. Saudi officials said that, if successful in qualifying, female competitors would be dressed "to preserve their dignity". On 11 January 2013, King Abdullah appointed thirty women to the Consultative Assembly or Shura Council and modified the related law to mandate that no less than 20 percent of 150 members would be women.
In August 2013, the Saudi cabinet, for the first time, approved a law making domestic violence a criminal offence. The law calls for a punishment of up to a year in prison and a fine of up to 50,000 riyals (€11.500/US$13,000). The maximum punishments could be doubled for repeat offenders. The law criminalizes psychological, sexual as well as physical abuse. It also includes a provision obliging employees to report instances of abuse in the workplace to their employer. The move followed a Twitter campaign. The new laws were welcomed by Saudi women's rights activists, although some expressed concerns that the law could not be implemented successfully without new training for the judiciary, and that the tradition of male guardianship would remain an obstacle to prosecutions.
In November 2007, King Abdullah visited Pope Benedict XVI in the Apostolic Palace, being first Saudi monarch to do so. In March 2008, he called for a "brotherly and sincere dialogue between believers from all religions".Abdullah in a meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry, 5 January 2014.
In June 2008, he held a conference in Mecca to urge Muslim leaders to speak with one voice with Jewish and Christian leaders. He discussed with, and obtained approval from, Saudi and non-Saudi Islamic scholars to hold the interfaith dialogue. In the same month, Saudi Arabia and Spain agreed to hold the interfaith dialogue in Spain. The historic conference finally took place in Madrid in July 2008, wherein religious leaders of different faiths participated, and which later led to the 2010 proclamation of World Interfaith Harmony Week.
He had never previously made overtures for dialogue with eastern religious leaders, such as Hindus and Buddhists. The Mecca conference discussed a paper on dialogue with monotheists — highlighting the monotheistic religions of southeast Asia, including Sikhism — in the third axis of the fourth meeting, titled "With Whom We Talk," presented by Sheikh Badrul Hasan Al Qasimi. The session was chaired by Ezz Eddin Ibrahim, cultural adviser to the president of the United Arab Emirates. The session also discussed a paper presented on coordination among Islamic institutions on Dialogue by Abdullah bin Omar Nassif, Secretary General of the World Islamic Council for Preaching and Relief and a paper on dialogue with divine messages, presented by Professor Mohammad Sammak – Secretary General of the Islamic Spiritual Summit in Lebanon.
In November 2008, he and his government arranged discussion at the United Nations General Assembly to "promote dialogue among civilizations, cultures and peoples, as well as activities related to a culture of peace" and calling for "concrete action at the global, regional and subregional levels." It brought together Muslim and non-Muslim nations to eradicate preconceptions as to Islam and terrorism, with world leaders – including former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, Israeli President Shimon Peres, US President George W. Bush and King Abdullah II of Jordan – attending.
In 2011, an agreement for the establishment of the King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue in Vienna was signed between the governments of Austria, Spain, and Saudi Arabia. The official opening of the centre was in November 2012, with foreign Minister Saud Al Faisal as its first general secretary and Austria's former federal justice minister Claudia Bandion-Ortner as the first deputy general secretary.
King Abdullah called for the establishment of an Arab common market in January 2011. Saudi foreign minister, Saud bin Faisal, stated that the Arab Customs Union would be ready by 2015, and that by 2017 the common market would also be in place. There have been intensive efforts to link Arab countries with a railway system and an electricity power grid. Work on the power grid project has started in some Arab countries.
King Abdullah had long been pro-American and a longtime close ally of the United States. In October 1976, as Prince Abdullah was being trained for greater responsibility in Riyadh, he was sent to the United States to meet with President Gerald Ford. He again traveled to the United States as Crown Prince in October 1987, meeting Vice President George H. W. Bush. In September 1998, Crown Prince Abdullah made a state visit to the United States to meet in Washington with President Bill Clinton. In September 2000, he attended millennium celebrations at the United Nations in New York City. In April 2002, Crown Prince Abdullah made a state visit to the United States with President George W. Bush and he returned again in April 2005 with Bush. In April 2009, at a summit for world leaders President Barack Obama met with King Abdullah, while in June 2009 he hosted President Obama in Saudi Arabia. In turn, Obama hosted the King at the White House in the same month.
King Abdullah showed great support for Obama's presidency. "Thank God for bringing Obama to the presidency", he said, adding that Obama's election created "great hope" in the Muslim world. He stated, "We (the US and Saudi Arabia) spilled blood together" in Kuwait and Iraq, that Saudi Arabia valued this tremendously and that friendship could be a difficult issue that requires work, but that the United States and Saudi Arabia had done it for 70 years over three generations. "Our disagreements don't cut to the bone", he stated. He was the leading gift-giver to the US president and his office in his first two years in office, his gifts totaling more than $300,000. A ruby and diamond jewelry set, given by the king and accepted by Michelle Obama on behalf of the United States, was worth $132,000. However, according to US federal law, gifts of such nature and value are accepted "on behalf of the United States" and are considered property of the US government.
The Bush administration ignored advice from him and Saudi foreign minister Saud Al Faisal against invading Iraq. However, other sources said that many Arab governments were only nominally opposed to the Iraq invasion because of popular hostility. Before becoming king, Prince Abdullah was thought to be completely against the US invasion of Iraq; this, however, was not the case. Riyadh provided essential support to the United States during the war and proved that "necessity does lead to some accommodations from time to time". The King expressed a complete lack of trust in Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki and held out little hope for improved Saudi-Iraqi relations as long as al-Maliki remained in office. King Abdullah told an Iraqi official about Al Maliki, "You and Iraq are in my heart, but that man is not."
In September 2014, following the spread of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), he issued a statement, "From the cradle of revelation and the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), I call on leaders and scholars of the Islamic nation to carry out their duty towards God Almighty, and to stand in the face of those trying to hijack Islam and present it to the world as a religion of extremism, hatred, and terrorism, and to speak the word of truth, and not fear anybody. Our nation today is passing through a critical, historic stage, and history will be witness against those who have been the tool exploited by the enemies to disperse and tear the nation and tarnish the pure image of Islam".
In 2006, Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei had sent his adviser Ali Akbar Velayati with a letter asking for King Abdullah's agreement to establish a formal back channel of communication between the two leaders. Abdullah said he had agreed, and the channel was established, with Velayati and Saud Al Faisal as the points of contact. In the ensuing years, the King noted, the channel had never been used.
In April 2008, according to a US cable released by Wikileaks, King Abdullah had told the US Ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, and General David Petraeus to "cut off the head of the snake". Saudi Arabia's Ambassador to Washington, Adel al-Jubeir, "recalled the King's frequent exhortations to the US to attack Iran" and to put an end to that country's nuclear program. King Abdullah asserted that Iran was trying to set up Hezbollah-like organizations in African countries, observing that the Iranians didn't think they were doing anything wrong and didn't recognize their mistakes. He said that the Iranians "launch missiles with the hope of putting fear in people and the world". The King described his conversation with Iranian foreign minister Mottaki as "a heated exchange, frankly discussing Iran's interference in Arab affairs". When challenged by the King on Iranian meddling in Hamas affairs, Mottaki apparently protested that "these are Muslims". "No, Arabs", countered the King. "You as Persians have no business meddling in Arab matters". King Abdullah said he would favor Rafsanjani in an Iranian election.
He told General Jones that Iranian internal turmoil presented an opportunity to weaken the regime—which he encouraged—but he also urged that this be done covertly, stressing that public statements in support of the reformers were counterproductive. The King assessed that sanctions could help weaken the government, but only if they are strong and sustained.
Saudi Arabia, by the endorsement of the Gulf Cooperation Council, sent 1,200 troops to Bahrain to protect industrial facilities, resulting in strained relations with the United States. The military personnel were part of the Peninsula Shield Force, which is stationed in Saudi Arabia, but not affiliated to one country alone.
In December 2010, leaked diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks revealed that King Abdullah wanted all released detainees from the Guantanamo Bay detention camp to be tracked using an implanted microchip, in a way similar to race horses. The King made the private suggestion during a meeting in Riyadh in March 2009 with White House counterterrorism adviser, John O. Brennan. Brennan replied that "horses don't have good lawyers" and that such a proposal would "face legal hurdles" in the United States.
Since King Abdullah's visit to Beijing in January 2006, Saudi-Chinese relations have focused predominantly on energy and trade. The king's visit was the first by a Saudi head of state to China since the two countries established diplomatic ties in 1990. Bilateral trade with China has more than tripled, and China would soon be Saudi Arabia's largest importer. Saudi Arabia also committed significant investments in China, including the $8 billion Fujian refinery. Based on a WikiLeaks cable, the King told the Chinese that it was willing to effectively trade a guaranteed oil supply in return for Chinese pressure on Iran not to develop nuclear weapons.
In late March 2011, King Abdullah sent Bandar, Secretary General of the National Security Council, to China to gain its support regarding Saudi Arabia's attitude towards the Arab Spring. In turn, lucrative arms contracts were secretly offered to China by the Kingdom. Furthermore, King Abdullah believed that China as well as India were the future markets for Saudi energy.
In November 2009, King Abdullah was received by Nicolas Sarkozy, who committed various diplomatic faux pas. The diplomatic relationship Jacques Chirac had with Saudi Arabia was not evident with Sarkozy. In January 2011, the Kingdom granted asylum to the ousted Tunisian leader, Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, under conditions of no further political involvement. According to leaked cables, King Abdullah was more receptive than Crown Prince Sultan to former Yemeni President Saleh.
King Abdullah supported renewed diplomatic relations with the Syrian government and Bashar al-Assad. They met in Damascus on 7 October 2009. In addition, Assad attended the opening of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in October 2009. Relations between Syria and Saudi Arabia deteriorated as a result of the Syrian Civil War. In August 2011, King Abdullah recalled the Saudi Ambassador from Damascus due to the political unrest in Syria and closed its embassy.
In December 2011, King Abdullah called on leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council to strengthen their alliance into a united "single entity" as they confront threats to national security. "I ask you today to move from a stage of cooperation to a stage of union in a single entity", King Abdullah said at the opening session of a GCC meeting in Riyadh in comments aired on Saudi state television. “No doubt, you all know we are targeted in our security and stability.”
On 16 February 2003, Parade magazine's David Wallechinsky rated King Fahd and Crown Prince Abdullah as the second worst dictators in the world. Most of this criticism stems from the fact that most of Saudi citizens live under a strict Wahhabist interpretation of Sharia law, which mandates the amputation of hands as a punishment for theft and floggings for crimes like drunkenness. Execution by public beheading is common for murder, rape, drug trafficking and witchcraft, and Abdullah's policies towards the rights of women have also been criticized. In a slight rebuff to accusations of human rights violations, Saudi inmates of Najran Province sent the King well-wishes from jail and wished him a speedy recovery.
King Abdullah has also been criticized for his policies on religious freedom and the Saudi government allegedly has arrested Shiite pilgrims on the Hajj. On 24 January 2007, Human Rights Watch sent an open letter to King Abdullah asking him to cease religious persecution of the Ahmadi faith in Saudi Arabia. Two letters were sent in November 2006 and February 2007 asking him to remove the travel ban on critics of the Saudi government. Human Rights Watch has not yet indicated whether they have received any response to these letters.
On 30 October 2007, during a state visit to the UK, King Abdullah was accused by protestors of being a "murderer" and a "torturer". Concerns were raised about the treatment of women and homosexuals by the Saudi kingdom and over alleged bribes involving arms deals between Saudi Arabia and the UK.
While open criticism of the King within the country is forbidden, criticism of his extremely powerful Chief of Staff/private secretary and éminence grise (formally President of the Royal Court) Khaled al-Tuwaijri, is not, and he soon became one of the most hated men in the country.
King Abdullah's heir apparent was his half-brother Crown Prince Sultan until the latter's death on 22 October 2011. The title of Crown Prince then passed to Prince Sultan's full-brother, Nayef, until his death in Geneva, Switzerland, on 16 June 2012, while undergoing medical tests for an undisclosed ailment. His third heir apparent was his half-brother Salman, who was named as Crown Prince on 18 June 2012, and would succeed him in 2015.
In 2006, Abdullah set up the Allegiance Council, a body that is composed of the sons and grandsons of Saudi Arabia's founder, King Abdulaziz, to vote by a secret ballot to choose future kings and crown princes. The council's mandate was not to have started until after the reigns of both King Abdullah and late Prince Sultan were over. It was not clear what was to happen when Prince Sultan died before the end of Abdullah's reign, leaving a question as to whether the council would vote for a new crown prince, or whether Prince Nayef would automatically fill that position. Despite such concerns, Prince Nayef was appointed Crown Prince on 27 October 2011 after consultation with the Allegiance Council by Abdullah.
In November 2010, Prince Nayef chaired a cabinet meeting because of the deterioration of the King's health. During the same month, King Abdullah transferred his duties as Commander of the Saudi National Guard to his son Prince Mutaib. King Abdullah is credited with building up the once largely ceremonial unit into a modern 260,000-strong force that is a counterweight to the army. The Guard, which was Abdullah's original power base, protects the royal family. This was suggested as an apparent sign that the elderly monarch was beginning to lessen some of his duties.
King Abdullah was Commander of the Saudi National Guard from 1963 to 2010. He was Chairman of the Saudi Supreme Economic Council until 2009. He also continued to be the President of the High Council for Petroleum and Minerals, President of the King Abdulaziz Center For National Dialogue, Chairman of the Council of Civil Service, and head of the Military Service Council until his death in 2015.
King Abdullah followed his father's (King Abdulaziz's) path in terms of marriage in that he married the daughters of the al Shalan of Anizah, al Fayz of Bani Sakhr, and al Jarbah of the Iraqi branch of the Shammar tribe. King Abdullah had about 30 wives, and fathered about 35 children. One of his wives is the sister of Rifaat al-Assad's wife. He also married Jawahir bint Ali Hussein from Al Jiluwi clan, with whom he had a daughter, Princess Anoud and a son, Prince Saud. Aida Fustuq was another wife of Abdullah, they had two children, Adila and Abdulaziz. They divorced later. Munira bint Abdullah Al Al Shaykh was the wife of King Abdullah and gave birth to his eldest living son, Prince Khaled. Tathi bint Mishan al Faisal Al Jarba gave birth to Prince Mishaal.
King Abdullah's eldest son, Prince Khaled, was deputy commander of the Saudi Arabian National Guard West until 1992. His second son, Prince Mutaib, is former commander and current minister of the National Guard. His mother is Munira Al Otaishan. Prince Mishaal was governor of the Makkah Province (2013–2015). Prince Abdulaziz was the king's former Syria adviser and has been deputy foreign affairs minister since 2011. Prince Faisal is head of the Saudi Arabian Red Crescent Society. King Abdullah's seventh son, Prince Turki, who was a pilot in the Royal Saudi Air Force, was governor of the Riyadh Province (2014–2015). The youngest son, Prince Badr, was born in 2003, when Abdullah was about 79 years old. In October 2015, his son, Prince Majed bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, was arrested in Los Angeles for using cocaine, being drunk, threatening female employees, and having gay sex with a male employee.
King Abdullah's daughter Princess Adila is married to Faisal bin Abdullah. She is one of the few Saudi princesses with a semi-public role, and a known advocate of women's right to drive. She is also known as "her father's public face". One of Abdullah's younger daughters, Princess Sahab, was born in 1993. Sahab bint Abdullah married Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalifa, son of Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, on 6 June 2011. Princess Sahab is the daughter of the king from his wife of the Al-Jarbah tribe.
From his marriage to Princess Alanoud Al Fayez (arranged when she was 15 without her having ever met him), whom he has now divorced, he had four daughters – Princesses Sahar, Maha, Hala and Jawahir. The four princesses have been under house arrest for the last 16 years, and are not allowed to leave the country. After media releases in March 2014, Sahar and Jawaher received no food or clean water for 25 days, lost 10 kilos each and their mother carried out weekly protests in front of the Saudi Arabian embassy in London, and about which Sahar and Jawaher released a video while under house arrest pleading for help from the international community. King Abdullah also had a daughter called Princess Nora who died in 1990 in a car accident. Princess Fayza is yet another daughter. She is the mother of Prince Saud bin Abdulaziz bin Nasser Al Saud who was accused of murdering his servant Bandar Abdulaziz in London in 2010.
King Abdullah was the half brother of both his predecessors, King Fahd, and successor, King Salman.
|Ancestors of Abdullah of Saudi Arabia|
The King had curtailed his activities from June 2010 with no clear explanation. Diplomats said there had been uncertainty about the extent of his health problems since Abdullah canceled a visit to France.[when?] In a television appearance in which he was seen to use a cane, King Abdullah said he was in good health but had something "bothering" him. In a visit by US diplomats to Saudi Arabia in April 2014 the Saudi King was seen connected to breathing tubes during talks, indicating increasing health problems.
From 2010 to 2012 King Abdullah had four back surgeries. The first two of the surgeries were in New York, one in 2010 for a slipped disk and a blood clot pressing on nerves in his back and a second to stabilize vertebrae in 2011. The third one was in Riyadh in 2011. And the last one was also in Riyadh on 17 November 2012.
In November 2010, his back problems came to light in the media. He had an "accumulation of blood" around the spinal cord. He suffered from a herniated disc and was told to rest by doctors. To maintain the Kingdom's stability, Crown Prince Sultan returned from Morocco during the King's absence. The King was admitted to New York-Presbyterian Hospital after a blood clot complicated a slipped disc and underwent successful back surgery. The lead surgeon was Muhammad Zaka, who probably removed the herniated disk and performed a lumbar fusion. He subsequently had another successful surgery in which surgeons "stabilized a number of vertebras". He left the hospital on 22 December 2010 and convalesced at The Plaza in New York City. On 22 January 2011, he left the United States and for Morocco, and returned to the Kingdom on 23 February 2011.
King Abdullah left Saudi Arabia on "special leave" on 27 August 2012. Al-Quds reported that he had an operation at Mount Sinai Hospital, New York, on or before 4 September 2012, following a heart attack. However, there was no official report on this alleged operation – instead, it was announced that the King went on a private trip to Morocco, where he is known to frequent. The King returned to Saudi Arabia from Morocco on 24 September. Nearly two months later, in November 2012, King Abdullah underwent another back surgery in Riyadh and left hospital on 13 December 2012. A report in April 2014 stated that the King had around six months left to live, citing a diagnosis of terminal lung cancer. On 2 January 2015, Abdullah was hospitalized in Riyadh for pneumonia and died on 23 January at the age of 90. Per Islamic tradition, his funeral was held the same day, a public ceremony at the Grand Mosque of Riyadh before burial in an unmarked grave at the Al Oud cemetery. Three days of national mourning were declared, in which flags would fly at half mast. Flags were also flown half-mast at Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey in London.
King Abdullah was, in 2012, named as the most influential Muslim among 500 Muslims for the previous 4 years. In December 2012, Forbes named him as the seventh most powerful figure in its list of the "World's Most Powerful People" for 2012, being the sole Arab in the top ten.
King Abdullah received a number of international high orders. Most notably, he was an honoured knight of the strictly Roman Catholic Order of the Golden Fleece (the Spanish branch), which caused some controversy.
In April 2012, he was awarded by the United Nations a gold medal for his contributions to intercultural understanding and peace initiatives.
In 2011, the financial magazine Forbes estimated his and his immediate family's documentable wealth at US$21 billion, making him one of the world's richest monarchs.
Abdullah was an expert equestrian in his youth. His stables were considered the largest in the Kingdom, with over 1,000 horses spread throughout five divisions led by his son Prince Mutaib bin Abdullah. The King also owned Janadria Farm, a large complex located in the suburbs of Riyadh.
For holidays, the King maintained a large palace complex with several residential compounds in Casablanca, Morocco. It is equipped with two heliports and is surrounded by large mansions on 133 acres of vegetation.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.|
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Abdullah of Saudi Arabia|
|Abdullah House of Saud Born: 1 August 1924 Died: 23 January 2015|
|Preceded by |
|King of Saudi Arabia |
|Succeeded by |
|Saudi Arabian royalty|
|Preceded by |
|Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia |
|Succeeded by |
|Bold indicates Kings of Saudi Arabia; Italics indicates Crown Princes of Saudi Arabia.|
|Authority control|| |
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