Egypt Egypt Flag

The regularity and richness of the annual Nile River flood, coupled with semi-isolation provided by deserts to the east and west, allowed for the development of one of the world's great civilizations. A unified kingdom arose circa 3200 B.C., and a series of dynasties ruled in Egypt for the next three millennia. The last native dynasty fell to the Persians in 341 B.C., who in turn were replaced by the Greeks, Romans, and Byzantines. It was the Arabs who introduced Islam and the Arabic language in the 7th century and who ruled for the next six centuries. A local military caste, the Mamluks took control about 1250 and continued to govern after the conquest of Egypt by the Ottoman Turks in 1517. Following the completion of the Suez Canal in 1869, Egypt became an important world transportation hub, but also fell heavily into debt. Ostensibly to protect its investments, Britain seized control of Egypt's government in 1882, but nominal allegiance to the Ottoman Empire continued until 1914. Partially independent from the UK in 1922, Egypt acquired full sovereignty following World War II. The completion of the Aswan High Dam in 1971 and the resultant Lake Nasser have altered the time-honored place of the Nile River in the agriculture and ecology of Egypt. A rapidly growing population (the largest in the Arab world), limited arable land, and dependence on the Nile all continue to overtax resources and stress society. The government has struggled to ready the economy for the new millennium through economic reform and massive investment in communications and physical infrastructure.



Great dive locations in Egypt :

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Understand


The regularity and richness of the annual Nile River flood, coupled with semi-isolation provided by deserts to the east and west, allowed for the the development of one of the world's great civilizations. A unified kingdom arose around 3200 B.C. and a series of dynasties ruled in Egypt for the next three millennia. The last native dynasty fell to the Persians in 341 B.C., who in turn were replaced by the Greeks, Romans, and Byzantines. It was the Arabs who introduced Islam and the Arabic language in the 7th century and who ruled for the next six centuries. A local military caste, the Mamluks, took control about 1250 and continued to govern after the conquest by Egypt by the Ottoman Turks in 1517. Following the completion of the Suez Canal in 1869, Egypt became an important world transportation hub, but also fell heavily into debt. Ostensibly to protect its investments, Britain seized control of Egypt's government in 1882, but nominal allegiance to the Ottoman Empire continued until 1914. Partially independent from the UK in 1922, Egypt acquired full sovereignty following World War II. The completion of the Aswan High Dam in 1971 and the resultant Lake Nasser have altered the time-honored place of the Nile river in the agriculture and ecology of Egypt. A rapidly growing population (the largest in the Arab world), limited arable land, and dependence on the Nile all continue to overtax resources and stress society. The government has struggled to prepare the economy for the new millennium through economic reform and massive investment in communications and physical infrastructure.

Climate

Egypt is largely desert, an extension of the great Sahara Desert that bands North Africa. Save for the thin strip of watered land along the river Nile, very little could survive here. As the ancient Greek philosopher Herodotus stated: "Egypt is the gift of the Nile".

Generally, dry and very hot summers with moderate winters - November through to March are definitely the most comfortable months for travel in Egypt. There is almost no rain in the Nile valley, so you won't be needing wet weather gear!

See also Stay Healthy:Sun.

Holidays

Banks, shops and businesses will close for the following Egyptian National Holidays (civil, secular). Public transport may run only limited services:
  • 7th January (Eastern Orthothox Christmas)
  • 25th April (Liberation Day)
  • 1st May (Labour Day)
  • 23rd July (Revolution Day)
  • 6th October (Armed Forces Day)
  • 1st Shawwal,the 10th Hijri mounth (Ead Elfitr moslims)
  • 10th Tho-Elhejjah, the 12th Hijri mounth (Ead Aladha)


  • Ramadan
    Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and the most important month in the Islamic Calendar for Muslims, the majority religion in Egypt. Commemorating the time when God revealed the Qur'an to Mohammed, during this holy month, Muslims abstain from eating, drinking or smoking until after sundown on each day. Although strict adherence to Ramadan is for Muslims only, some Muslims would appreciate that non-Muslims do not take meals or smoke in public places. During Ramadan, many restaurants and cafes won't open until after sundown. Public transport is less frequent, shops close earlier before sunset and the...



    Egypt (Arabic: مصر Misr / Másr; more fully, the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: جمهوريّة مصر العربيّة Gomhuriat Masr Al-Arabiah) is a large country located in north-eastern Africa with its capital located in its largest city, Cairo. Egypt also extends into Asia by virtue of holding the Sinai Peninsula. Egypt is bordered by Israel to the north-east, by Jordan and Saudi Arabia to the east (across the Red Sea), by Sudan to the south and by Libya to the west. The country is bounded by the Mediterranean and Red Seas (to the north and east respectively) and geographically dominated both by the River Nile and its fertile well-watered valley, and by the Eastern and Western deserts.

    Egypt (together with its southern neighbour Sudan) is perhaps best known as the home of the ancient Egyptian civilization, with its temples, hieroglyphs, mummies, and - visible above all - its pyramids. Less well-known is Egypt's medieval heritage, courtesy of Coptic Christianity and Islam - ancient churches, monasteries and mosques punctuate the Egyptian landscape. Egypt stimulates the imagination of western tourists like few other countries and is probably one of the most popular tourist destinations world-wide.

    Regions

  • Lower Egypt - containing the northern Nile delta, and the Mediterranean coast; Cairo, Alexandria
  • Middle Egypt - the area along the Nile where the historical Upper and Lower kingdoms met
  • Upper Egypt - a string of amazing temple towns located on the Nile from Luxor to Aswan and Lake Nasser
  • Western Desert - location of the Western Oases: five pockets of green, each with their own unique attractions
  • Red Sea Coast - luxury beach resorts, diving and marine life
  • Sinai - rugged and isolated peninsula, with fascinating relics of the past and diving in Sharm el-Sheikh


  • Cities

  • Cairo - the capital of Egypt, home to the Giza Pyramids, the Egyptian Museum and fabulous Islamic architecture

  • Alexandria - Egypt's window on the Mediterranean
  • Aswan - a more relaxed option, full of amazing sights
  • Luxor - gateway to the Valley of the Kings, amongst other fabulous attractions
  • Memphis
  • Siwa - an oasis town


  • Other destinations

  • Abu Simbel
  • Lake Nasser
  • Tell Basta (Bubastis)


  • Understand


    The regularity and richness of the annual Nile River flood, coupled with semi-isolation provided by deserts to the east and west, allowed for the the development of one of the world's great civilizations. A unified kingdom arose around 3200 B.C. and a series of dynasties ruled in Egypt for the next three millennia. The last native dynasty fell to the Persians in 341 B.C., who in turn were replaced by the Greeks, Romans, and Byzantines. It was the Arabs who introduced Islam and the Arabic language in the 7th century and who ruled for the next six centuries. A local military caste, the Mamluks, took control about 1250 and continued to govern after the conquest by Egypt by the Ottoman Turks in 1517. Following the completion of the Suez Canal in 1869, Egypt became an important world transportation hub, but also fell heavily into debt. Ostensibly to protect its investments, Britain seized control of Egypt's government in 1882, but nominal allegiance to the Ottoman Empire continued until 1914. Partially independent from the UK in 1922, Egypt acquired full sovereignty following World War II. The completion of the Aswan High Dam in 1971 and the resultant Lake Nasser have altered the time-honored place of the Nile river in the agriculture and ecology of Egypt. A rapidly growing population (the largest in the Arab world), limited arable land, and dependence on the Nile all continue to overtax resources and stress society. The government has struggled to prepare the economy for the new millennium through economic reform and massive investment in communications and physical infrastructure.

    Climate

    Egypt is largely desert, an extension of the great Sahara Desert that bands North Africa. Save for the thin strip of watered land along the river Nile, very little could survive here. As the ancient Greek philosopher Herodotus stated: "Egypt is the gift of the Nile".

    Generally, dry and very hot summers with moderate winters - November through to March are definitely the most comfortable months for travel in Egypt. There is almost no rain in the Nile valley, so you won't be needing wet weather gear!

    See also Stay Healthy:Sun.

    Holidays

    Banks, shops and businesses will close for the following Egyptian National Holidays (civil, secular). Public transport may run only limited services:
  • 7th January (Eastern Orthothox Christmas)
  • 25th April (Liberation Day)
  • 1st May (Labour Day)
  • 23rd July (Revolution Day)
  • 6th October (Armed Forces Day)
  • 1st Shawwal,the 10th Hijri mounth (Ead Elfitr moslims)
  • 10th Tho-Elhejjah, the 12th Hijri mounth (Ead Aladha)


  • Ramadan
    Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and the most important month in the Islamic Calendar for Muslims, the majority religion in Egypt. Commemorating the time when God revealed the Qur'an to Mohammed, during this holy month, Muslims abstain from eating, drinking or smoking until after sundown on each day. Although strict adherence to Ramadan is for Muslims only, some Muslims would appreciate that non-Muslims do not take meals or smoke in public places. During Ramadan, many restaurants and cafes won't open until after sundown. Public transport is less frequent, shops close earlier before sunset and the pace of life (especially business) is generally slow.

    As expected, exactly at sunset minute, the entire country quiets down and busy itself with the main meal of the day (iftar or breaking-fast) that are almost always done as social events in large groups of friends. Many richer people offer (Tables of the Gracious God موائد الرحمن ) in Cairo's streets that cater full-meals for free for the passers-by, the poorer ones or workers who couldn't leave their shifts at the time. Prayers become popular 'social' events that some like to enrich with special food treats before and after. An hour or two later, an astonishing springing to life of the cities takes place. Streets sometimes richly decorated for the whole month have continuous rush hours till very early in the morning. Some Shops and Cafes make the biggest chunk of their annual profit at this time of year. Costs of advertising on TV and Radio soars for this period and entertainment performances are at their peak.

    Terrain

    Egypt consists of vast desert plateau interrupted by the Nile valley and delta.

    Get in


    Visas and Documentation

    There are three types of Egyptian visa:
  • Tourist Visa - usually valid for a period not exceeding 3 months and granted on either a single or multiple entry basis (note it is not visas are not chargeable when visiting the red sea resorts of taba and sharm-el-sheik)
  • Entry Visa - required for any foreigner arriving in Egypt for purposes other than tourism, e.g. work, study, etc. The possession of a valid Entry Visa is needed to complete the residence procedure in Egypt.
  • Transit Visa


  • Non-Egyptian travellers are required to have a valid passport.

    Entry visas may be obtained from Egyptian Diplomatic and Consular Missions Abroad or from the Entry Visa Department at the Travel Documents, Immigration and Nationality Administration (TDINA).

    Citizens of many countries may obtain a visa on arrival at major points of entry. The fees for a single-entry visa are as follows:
  • UK citizens: £15
  • US citizens: US$15
  • Australian citizens: A$45
  • Canadian citizens: C$25
  • other countries: $15


  • Please check with your nearest Egyptian Consular mission for more details concerning visa regulations applying to your citizenship.

    Citizens of Kuwait can obtain 6-month Residence Permit upon arrival.

    Citizens of Bahrain, Guinea, South Korea, Libya, Oman, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen receive a 3 month visa on arrival.

    Malaysian citizens receive a 15 day visa on arrival.

    Citizens of following countries are currently required to have a pre-arrival visa, which must be applied for through an Eqyptian consulate or embassy outside of Egypt:

    Afghanistan, Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Chechnya, Croatia, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kirghizia, Lebanon, Macau, Macedonia, Malaysia (If intending to stay for exceeding 15 days), Moldavia, Montenegro, Morocco, Pakistan, Palestine, the Philippines, Russia, Serbia, Slovenia, Sri Lanka, Tadzhikistan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and all African countries (except citizens of Guinea and Libya, who do not require visa).

    Visitors entering Egypt at the overland border post of Taba or at Sharm el Sheikh airport can be exempted from a visa and granted a free fourteen day residence permit to visit the Aqaba coast of the Sinai peninsular, including Sharm el Sheikh, Dahab and St. Catherine's Monastery.

    Those in possession of a residence permit in Egypt are not required to obtain an entry visa if they leave the country and return to it within the validity of their residence permit or within six months, whichever period is less.

    Tourists visiting Sharm-El-Sheikh who are planning to undertake scuba diving outside local areas (i.e. Ras Mohammed) will need to obtain the tourist visa (£15 sterling, see above) as technically this will mean leaving the Sharm-el-Sheikh area and thus leads to the requirement for a visa to do so. Officials on boats may check dive boats whilst on the waters so you are advised not to try and sneak past this as there may be fines involved for you and the boat captain if you are caught without the appropriate visa. Most reputable dive centers will ask to see your visa before allowing you on trips.

    By plane

    Egypt has several international airports:
  • Cairo International Airport — the primary entry point and the hub of the national carrier Egypt Air.
  • Alexandria Nozha
  • Luxor International Airport — now receiving an increasing number of international scheduled flights in addition to charter flights.
  • Aswan International Airport
  • Hurghada International Airport — receives a number of charter flights
  • Sharm El-Sheikh International Airport — receives a number of charter flights


  • By car
    Gas is rather inexpensive in Egypt. According the the CNN/Money Global Gas Prices in March 2005, the Price in USD Regular/Gallon is $0.65. So if you decide to rent a car, you will not be digging through your pockets looking for a lot of money to fill your cars tank! Car rental sites require you to be at least 25-years-old.

    By bus

    Egypt can be accessed by bus from a number of neighbouring countries, such as Israel (from the bus stations in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv) and Jordan.

    By boat

    A car ferry runs between Aqaba in Jordan and Nuweiba in the Sinai, tickets $50. A weekly ferry also runs between Wadi Halfa in Sudan, and Aswan in Egypt. There are also ferry boats available to and from Red Sea to ports in Saudi Arabia and Jordan.

    A ferry running between the Red Sea resorts of Hurghada and Sharm-El-Sheikh is also available for a journey time of 90 minutes and 400 LE (approximately £40 sterling).

    Get around


    By train

    The trains in Egypt are all run by Egyptian National Railways , a state-owned and -run company.

    Train tickets can be bought at most major railway stations' booking offices once you are in Egypt, (although a great deal of patience is often required...)

    Ramses Station in Cairo has several booking windows, for example, one for each class and group of destinations, so be sure to check with locals (usually very helpful) that you are joining the right queue. Train tickets can be paid for in Egyptian currency, except for the deluxe Abela Egypt sleeper which must be paid in foreign currency (dollars, euros or pounds sterling). An alternative to self-booking, if you don't mind paying a little commission to avoid the inevitable hassle and frustration, is to a local travel agent to buy tickets on your behalf (preferably at least the day before you intend to travel).

    Always go for First Class tickets (ridiculously cheap in any case) - travellers probably won't want to experience anything below Second Class (the condition and provision of toilets, for example, drops away quickly after this level). If you must travel at a lower class than desirable, look for the first opportunity to "upgrade" yourself into an empty seat - you may pay a small supplement when your ticket is checked, but it's worth it.

    Busy holiday periods excepted, it's not normally difficult to get 1st class tickets on the day of travel or the day before. To avoid complications, however, book as far ahead as possible.

    By taxi

    In the cities taxis are a very safe, cheap and convenient way of getting around. It has to be noted that while they are mostly safe there are sometimes fake taxis going around so make sure they have official markings on the dashboard or elsewhere. They are also always painted in special colors, in Cairo they are black and white and in Luxor they are blue and white. In Cairo and Luxor it is often much more interesting to use the taxis and a good guidebook instead of traveling around in a tour bus.

    All the taxis have meters but they are calibrated using a law from the 1970s before the oil crisis and are never used. Generally the best way is to ask at your hotel for the prices from point-to-point prices. Or ask a pedestrian or policemen for the correct price. It is sensible to state your price when you get in to reduce the possibilities of arguments after arriving at your destination.

    Some believe that the best way is to that you to tell the driver where to go and not mention a price. At the end of the journey you step out of the car and make sure you have everything with you and then hand out reasonable money. If the driver shouts, it's probably OK, but if he steps out of the car you almost certainly paid too little. The definition of reasonable seems to be variable but examples are 20 LE from central Cairo to Giza, 10 LE for a trip inside central Cairo and 5 LE for a short hop inside the city. Do not be tempted to give them too much except for exceptional service, otherwise ripping off foreigners will become more common and such practice generally tends to add to the inflation. Note that the prices listed here are already slightly inflated to the level expected from tourists, not what Egyptians would normally pay.

    Taxis can also be hired for whole days for between 100-200 LE if going on longer excursions, for example to Saqqara and Dashur from Cairo. Inside the town they are also more than happy to wait for you (often for a small extra charge but normally they say it's free), even if you will be wandering around for a few hours.

    English is often spoken by taxi drivers and they will double as guides, announcing important places when you drive by them. Of course they expect to be paid a little extra for that. This is not always the case and if you get your hands on a good english speaking driver it is wise to ask him for a card or a phone number, they can often be available at any time.

    Very recently, a new line of taxis owned by private companies has been introduced to Cairo as a pilot project. They are all clean and air-conditioned. The drivers are formally dressed and can converse in at least one foreign language, usually English. These cabs stand out in their NYC-yellow. They can be hailed on the street if they are free or hired from one of their stops (including one in Tahrir square, downtown, across from the Museum). These new cabs use current meters which count by the kilometer. In general, they are not more expensive than the normal taxis and you can guarantee not being over-charged.

    By plane

    The domestic air network is fairly extensive and covers most major towns in Egypt. The national carrier, EgyptAir, has the most regular services and is the easiest place to start looking before you go. From Cairo there are services to quite a few towns and places of interest around the country, the most common being Luxor, Aswan
    Abu Simbel, Hurghada, Sharm el-Sheikh, Alexandria, Mersa Matruh and Kharga oasis.

    Due to a two-tier pricing structure fares can be more than four times as expensive for foreigners than locals but still relatively cheap — for example a return day trip to Luxor is about $150. It is wise to book early as flights fill up quickly in the peak season. Local travel agencies have internet web pages and can sometimes squeeze you in last minute, but booking in advance is recommended.

    See


    Highlights of any visit to Egypt would include:
  • the Pyramids
  • the Egyptian Museum
  • the temples of Luxor and the West Bank across the Nile
  • the Valley of the Kings
  • the Temples of Abu Simbel


  • When you're done with the historical touring don't miss:
  • The Red Sea resorts at Sinai peninsula, including Hurghada and Sharm el Sheikh. The Red Sea offers some of the best dive locations in the world.
  • The rest of Sinai. There are a multitude of locations to visit in Sinai. These range from secluded beaches with little more than huts, to climbing Mt. Sinai.
  • The Western Desert and the Oases
  • Alexandria. There are many historical sights in Alexandria. Also, you may be interested in checking out the recently established Bibliotheca Alexandria


  • Talk


    The official language of Egypt is the Egyptian dialect of Modern Arabic. Egyptian Arabic differs in that the letter jim is pronounced g instead of j. Travelers are unlikely to encounter difficulties finding someone who speaks English, especially in tourist centers. Egyptians are eager to improve their English, and so offering a few new words or gently correcting their mistakes is appreciated.

    Following usual rules of politeness, instead of simply starting a conversation with someone in English, ask "Do you speak English?". All the more better if you can do it in Arabic: inta/inti aarif il-inglezi? "Do you (male/female) know English?".

    See Also:Egyptian Arabic Phrasebook

    Buy


    The local currency is the Egyptian pound (EGP), which is divided into 100 piastres. The currency is often written as LE (short for French livre égyptienne) or by using the pound sign £. In Arabic the pound is called gunaih (جنيه), in turn derived from English "guinea", and piastres are known as qirsh (قرش).

    Banknotes are available in all denominations ranging from 100 pounds to the thoroughly useless 5 piastres, while coins were rather rare until new 50-piastre and 1-pound coins were introduced in the summer of 2006. Counterfeit or obsolete notes are not a major problem, but exchanging pounds outside the country can be difficult.

    American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa are accepted, but only bigger hotels or restaurants in Cairo and restaurants in tourist areas will accept credit cards as payment. Traveller's cheques in US Dollars, Euros or Pounds Sterling are the most cost-effective to exchange.

    Bank hours are Sun-Thu 8:30am-2:00pm.

    Exchange Rates

    Correct as of 16 February 2006:

    Shopping

    Egypt is a shopper's paradise - especially if you're interested in Egyptian-themed souvenirs and kitsch, of course. That said, a number of high quality goods are to be had, often at bargain prices. Some of the most popular purchases include:
  • Antiques (NB: not antiquities, the trade of which is rightly illegal in Egypt)
  • Carpets and rugs
  • Cotton goods and clothing
  • Inlaid goods, such as backgammon boards
  • Jewellery
  • Leather goods
  • Music
  • Papyrus
  • Perfume
  • Water-pipes (Sheeshas)
  • Spices - can be bought at colourful stalls in most Egyptian markets. Dried herbs and spices are generally of a higher quality than that available in Western supermarkets and are up to 4 or 5 times cheaper, though the final price will depend of bargaining and local conditions.


  • You will also find many western brands all around. There are many malls in Egypt, the most common being Citystars Mall, which is the largest entertainment center in the Middle East and Africa. You will find all the fast food restaurants you want such as Mcdonald's, KFC, Hardees, Pizza Hut, etc. Clothing brands such as Morgan, Calvin Klein, Levi's, Facconable, Givenchy, Esprit, and more.

    Eat


    Egypt can be a fantastic place to sample a unique range of food: not too spicy and well-flavoured with herbs. For a convenient selection of Egyptian cuisine and staple foods try the Felfela chain of restaurants in Cairo. Some visitors complain, however, that these have become almost too tourist-friendly and have abandoned some elements of authenticity.

    As in many seaside countries, Egypt is full of fish restaurants and markets--so fish and seafood are must-try. Frequently, fish markets have some food stalls nearby where you can point at specific fish species to be cooked. Stalls typically have shared table, and locals are as frequent there as tourists.
    Hygiene
    Be aware that hygiene may not be of the highest standards, even in five star hotels and resorts. The number of tourists that suffer from some kind of parasite or bacterial infection is very high. Despite assurances to the contrary, exercise common sense and bring appropriate medications to deal with problems.

    Local dishes
    Classic egyptian dishes: The dish Ful Medames is one of the most common egyptian dishes; consists of fava beans (ful) slow-cooked in a copper pot (other types of metal pots don't produce the right type of flavor) that have been partially or entirely mashed. Olive oil is often an ingredient, and garlic is sometimes added. Ful medames is served with plenty of olive oil, chopped parsley, onion, garlic, and lemon juice, and typically eaten with Egyptian (baladi) bread or occasionally Levantine (shami) pita. Also sometimes seasoned with chili paste and tumeric.

    A world famous Egyptian dish is the classic Falafel (known as Ta'miya in Egypt) which is deep-fried ground chick-pea balls that was invented by Egyptian bedouins. Usually served as fast food, or a snack.

    Egyptian cuisine is quite similar to the cuisine of the Arabic-speaking countries in the eastern mediterranean. Dishes like stuffed vegetables and wine leafs, Shawarma-sandwiches is common in Egypt and the region.

    Exotic fruits
    Egypt is one of the most affordable countries for a European to try variety of fresh-grown exotic fruits. Guava, mango, watermelon, small melons, ishta are all widely available from fruit stalls, especially in locals-oriented non-tourist marketplaces.

    Drink=Water=

    Bottled water is available everywhere. The local brands (most common being Baraka, Siwa, Hayat, Dasani) are just as good as expensive imported options which are also available: Nestle Pure Life, Evian.

    Juices
    Juices can be widely found in Egypt - kasab(sugar cane); erk soos; sobiia; tamer and some fresh fruit juices.

    Alcoholic drinks

    Egypt is a predominately Muslim nation and alcoholic drinks are, of course, forbidden (haram) for strictly observant Muslims. That said, Egyptians tend to adopt a relaxed and pragmatic view towards alcohol for non-Muslims and foreigners it is tolerated by the vast majority of Egyptians and consumed by a sizable number of them (including less strict Muslims - you may even be asked to "procure" drink for someone!) Alcoholic beverages and bottled drinks are readily available throughout the country (especially in larger towns and cities, as well as tourist centers). Please note, however, that public drunkenness (especially the loud and obnoxious variety) is definitely not appreciated - without caution, you may end up drying out in a police cell. Try to be a good ambassador: if you must get "tipsy", confine it to the hotel or very nearby! (It's actually quite rare to see drunken tourists, even in the most intense tourist areas...)

    Stella (not artois) is a common beer in Egypt. Other local brands are available, most a with higher alcohol variant that have claimed levels of 8% or even 10%. A locally made brand called Heineken is rumored to be connected to the actual Heineken brand but the taste is not quite right although generally better than the other local brews. For wine there is Ptolemy among others.

    Restrictions on Alcohol

    Egyptian laws towards alcohol are officially quite liberal compared to most Islamic countries, except for the month of Ramadan when alcohol is strictly forbidden. During Ramadan only holders of foreign passports are allowed to buy alcohol, by Egyptian law. However, the enforcement of this law is by no means consistent. In tourist areas like Luxor, alcohol is sold even during Ramadan, and those who look like foreigners will not be asked to show passports or other documentation.

    During Ramadan alcohol is often sold only in Western-style hotels and pubs/restaurants catering especially to foreigners. A few days of the year, as the day of the full moon the month before Ramadan, alcohol is completely banned. Also some hotels and bars catering to foreigners will stop serving alcohol during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan - phone ahead to make sure alcohol is still being served in order to avoid disappointment.

    Sleep

    Egypt has a full range of accomodation options, from basic backpacker hostels to five-star resorts. Most major hotel chains are respresented in Cairo, Sharm el-Sheikh and Luxor at least.

    Learn

  • The American University in Cairo (AUC), is the the best school in the country and offers degree, non-degree and summer school study options. Popular courses include Arabic Language and Literature, Islamic Art and Architecture, Arab History and Culture, and,of course, Egyptology.

  • There are a number of options for learning Arabic in Cairo, including the Arabic Language Institute and Kalimat.


  • Other schools include the German University, the British University, the French University and the Canadian University.

    Stay safe


    Egypt is generally a safe and friendly country to travel. Egyptians on the whole are very friendly - if you are in need of assistance they will generally try to help you as much as they are able.

    As in most Middle Eastern countries associated with large numbers of overseas travellers, recently there have been security concerns for Western travellers. Tourists from these areas have been targeted sporadically by militant groups, sometimes with tragic results.

    The usual warnings for prudent behaviour apply, but are not the same as in New York or London. In the latter, the anxiety is highest with respect to bombs. In Egypt, the bloodiest terrorist attacks have involved groups shooting on tourists. As for casual crime (muggings and robberies), Egypt is quite safe. As for pickpocketing, the problem is probably greater than it is in most Western cities. The danger in Egypt is much less violent attack than the less dangerous problem of cheating and scams.

    The security situation in Egypt (as in many Middle Eastern countries) is frequently exaggerated by Western media outlets, creating a negative impression that is somewhat amplified by the heavy-handed policies of Egyptian authorities in keeping tourists safe. The reality is that travelling in Egypt is probably no more hazardous, with regard to terrorism, than visiting most Western capitals (and probably a lot safer!) Egypt relies heavily on foreign tourism for its national income and both Egyptians and their government are extremely keen to prevent any occurrence that might create a bad impression and keep tourists away.

    Stay healthy


    Fluids

    Ensure that you drink plenty of water: Egypt has an extremely dry climate most of the year - a fact aggravated by high temperatures in the summer end of the year - and countless travellers each year experience the discomforts and dangers of dehydration. A sense of thirst is not enough to indicate danger - carry a water bottle and keep drinking! Not needing to urinate for a long period or passing very small amounts of dark yellow urine are signs of incipient dehydration.

    Egyptian tap water is generally safe, although it does sometimes have an odd taste due to the high chlorine content added to make it so. It is not recommended for regular drinking, especially to very local differences in quality. Bottled mineral waters are widely available -- see Drink:Water section. Beware of the old scam, however, whereby vendors re-sell bottled water bottles, having refilled with another (perhaps dubious) source.... Always check the seal is unbroken before parting with your money (or drinking from it) and inform the tourist police if you catch anyone doing this....

    Be a little wary with fruit juice, as some sellers may mix it with water. Milk should also be treated carefully as it may not be pasteurized.... Try only to buy milk from reputable shops. Hot beverages like tea and coffee should generally be OK, the water having been boiled in preparation, though it pays to be wary of ice as well.

    Sun
    Wear sunscreen, wear a sturdy hat and bring good sunglasses - it's bright out there!

    In order to avoid contracting the rightly dreaded schistosomiasis parasite (also known as bilharzia), DO NOT swim in the Nile or venture into any other Egyptian waterways (even if the locals are doing so.....) It is also a good idea not to walk in bare feet on freshly-watered lawns for the same reason. Although the disease takes weeks to months to show its head, it's wise to seek medical attention locally if you think you've been exposed, as they are used to diagnosing and treating it, and it will cost you pennies rather than dollars.

    Respect


    Keep in mind that most Egyptian workers expect tips after performing a service (baksheesh in Arabic).

    If you're male, don't be surprised if another male holds your hand or forearm -- there's no taboo against men holding hands and unlike in the West, this behavior is NOT associated with being gay. In general, Egyptians are a lot more comfortable with less personal space than are most Westerners.

    Another point is to note that, overall, Egyptians are a conservative people. Although they accomodate foreginers being dressed a lot more skimpily, it may be prudent, at least in the big cities, to not dress provocatively, if only to avoid being ogled at. Women should aim to cover their arms and legs if travelling alone, sometimes it is best to cover your hair to keep away unwanted attention.

    Contact


    Egypt has a reasonably modern telephone service including two GSM mobile service providers. The two mobile phone providers are Mobinil and Vodafone , actually a third provider has started working which is Etisalat.Principal centers at Alexandria, Cairo, Al Mansurah, Ismailia, Suez, and Tanta. Roaming services are provided, although you should check with your service provider. Also, it is possible to purchase tourist mobile phone lines for the duration of your stay.

    There are a number of internet providers. Most tourist towns, such as Cairo and Luxor, boast a plethora of small internet cafés - you won't need to look far!

    In addition, an increasing number of coffee shops, restaurants, hotel lobbies and other locations now provide wireless internet access. To date, this is free so you can just walk into them with your laptop and internet away. Any of the numerous restaurant or location guides will list venues with such services.

    Cope


    Embassies
  • American - 8 Kamal El Din Salah St., Garden City, Cairo, Egypt. Tel: 797-3300, E-mail: consularcairo@state.gov
  • Australian - World Trade Centre (11th Floor), Corniche El Nil, Boulac (Code No. 11111), Cairo , Egypt Phone 20-2 575 0444, Fax 20-2 578 1638, E-mail: cairo.austremb@dfat.gov.au
  • British - 7 Ahmed Ragheb Street, Garden City, Cairo (20) (2) 794 0852
  • Canadian - 26 Kamel El Shenaway Street, Garden City, Cairo Tel: +20 (2) 791-8700, Email: cairo@international.gc.ca
  • German - 2, Sh. Berlin (off Sh. Hassan Sabri) Zamalek / Cairo, Tel: (00202) 739-9600 Fax: (00202) 736-0530, Email : germemb@tedata.net.eg
  • Italian - 15, Abdel Rahman Fahmy Str., Garden City, Cairo Tel: +20 (0)2 7943194 - 7943195 - 7940658, Fax: +20 (0)2 7940657, E-mail: ambasciata.cairo@esteri.it
  • Spanish - 41, Ismail Mohamed.-Zamalek, Cairo. Phone: 735 58 13, 735 64 37, 735 36 52 and 735 64 62. E-mail: embespeg@mail.mae.es


  • Laundry

    There are a number of options for washing clothes whilst travelling in Egypt:

    By far the easiest, most practical - and not at all expensive - is to arrange for your hotel to have your washing done for you. By prior arrangement, clothes left on the bed or handed in at reception will be returned to you by evening freshly laundered and pressed.

    Determined self-helpers can persist with hand-washing or finding one of the many "hole-in-the-wall" laundries where the staff will wash and press your clothes manually - a fascinating process in itself!

    Cairo possesses a few basic Western-style laundromats in areas where foreigners and tourists reside - they are virtually nonexistent elsewhere in the country. Some hotels in tourist towns like Luxor and Dahab offer a washing machine service in a back room - the machines are usually primitive affairs and you'll be left with the task of wringing and ironing your clothes yourself.

    The moral of the tale?: Do yourself a favour, maximise your quality time in Egypt, and get the hotel to do your laundry for you!!
    Get out

    Cruises to Cyprus, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey are popular.





    Egypt (Egyptian: km.t ; Coptic: Kīmi ; Arabic: مصر Mir ; Egyptian Arabic: Már), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a country in North Africa that includes the Sinai Peninsula, a land bridge to Asia. Covering an area of about 1,001,450 square kilometers (386,560 square miles), Egypt borders Libya to the west, Sudan to the south, the Gaza Strip and Israel to the east. The northern coast borders the Mediterranean Sea and the eastern coast borders the Red Sea.

    Egypt is one of the most populous countries in Africa. The vast majority of its estimated 78 million people (2007) live near the banks of the Nile River (about 40,000 km² or 15,450 sq miles) where the only arable agricultural land is found.

    Etymology


    One of the ancient Egyptian names of the country, km.t, or "black land", is derived from the fertile black soils deposited by the Nile floods, distinct from the 'red land' (dSr.t) of the desert. The name is realized as kīmi and kīmə in the Coptic stage of the Egyptian language, and appeared in early Greek as (Kymeía).

    , the Arabic and modern official name of Egypt (Egyptian Arabic: Maṣr), is of Semitic origin, directly cognate with other Semitic words for Egypt such as the Hebrew (), literally meaning "the two straits" (a reference to the dynastic separation of upper and lower Egypt). The word originally connoted "metropolis" or "civilization" and also means "country", or "frontier-land".

    The English name "Egypt" came via the Latin word Aegyptus derived from the ancient Greek word Αίγυπτος (Aigyptos). The term was adopted into Coptic as gyptios, and from there into Arabic as (whence again English Copt).
    It has been suggested that the word is a corruption of the ancient Egyptian phrase ḥwt-k3-ptḥ meaning "home of the Ka (Soul) of Ptah", the name of a temple of the god Ptah at Memphis. According to Strabo, Αίγυπτος (Aigyptos), in ancient Greek meant "below the Aegean" (Aἰγαίου ὑπτίως, ''Aegaeon uptiōs").

    History

    The Nile has been a site of continuous human habitation since at least the Paleolithic era. Evidence of this appears in the form of artifacts and rock carvings along the Nile terraces and in the desert oases. In the 10th millennium BC, a culture of hunter-gatherers and fishers replaced a grain-grinding culture. Climate changes and/or overgrazing around 8000 BC began to desiccate the pastoral lands of Egypt, eventually forming the Sahara. Early tribal peoples migrated to the Nile River where they developed a settled agricultural economy and more centralized society.

    By about 6000 BC, organized agriculture and large building construction had appeared in the Nile Valley. During the Neolithic, several predynastic cultures developed independently in Upper and Lower Egypt. The Badarian culture and the successor Naqada series are generally regarded as precursors to Dynastic Egyptian civilization. The earliest known Lower Egyptian site, Merimda, predates the Badarian by about seven hundred years. Contemporaneous Lower Egyptian communities coexisted with their southern counterparts for more than two thousand years, remaining somewhat culturally separate, but maintaining frequent contact through trade. The earliest known evidence of Egyptian hieroglyphic inscriptions appear during the predynastic period on Naqada III pottery vessels, dated to about 3200 BC.

    A unified kingdom was founded circa 3150 BC by King Menes, giving rise to a series of dynasties that ruled Egypt for the next three millennia. Egyptians subsequently referred to their unified country as tAwy, meaning 'Two Lands'; and later km.t (Coptic: Kīmi), the 'Black Land', a reference to the fertile black soil deposited by the Nile river. Egyptian culture flourished during this long period and remained distinctively Egyptian in its religion, arts, language and customs. The first two ruling dynasties of a unified Egypt set the stage for the Old Kingdom period, c.2700−2200 BC., famous for its many pyramids, most notably the Third Dynasty pyramid of Djoser and the Fourth Dynasty Giza Pyramids.
    The First Intermediate Period ushered in a time of political upheaval for about 150 years. Stronger Nile floods and stabilization of government, however, brought back renewed prosperity for the country in the Middle Kingdom c. 2040 BC, reaching a peak during the reign of Pharaoh Amenemhat III. A second period of disunity heralded the arrival of the first alien ruling dynasty in Egypt, that of the Semitic Hyksos. The Hyksos invaders took over much of Lower Egypt around 1650 BC, and founded a new capital at Avaris. They were eventually driven out by an Upper Egyptian force led by Ahmose I, who founded the Eighteenth Dynasty and relocated the capital from Memphis to Thebes.

    The New Kingdom (c.1550−1070 BC) began with the Eighteenth Dynasty, marking the rise of Egypt as an international power that expanded during its greatest extension to an empire as far south as Jebel Barkal in Nubia, and included parts of the Levant in the east. This period is known for some of the most well-known Pharaohs, including Hatshepsut, Thutmose III, Akhenaten and his wife Nefertiti, Tutankhamun and Ramesses II. The first known self-conscious expression of monotheism came during this period in the form of Atenism. Frequent contacts with other nations brought in new ideas in the New Kingdom. The country was later invaded by Libyans, Nubians and Assyrians, but native Egyptians drove them out and regained control of their country.
    The Thirtieth Dynasty was the last native ruling dynasty during the Pharaonic epoch. It fell to the Persians in 343 BC after the last native Pharaoh, King Nectanebo II, was defeated in battle. Later, Egypt fell to the Greeks and Romans, beginning over two thousand years of foreign rule. Before Egypt became part of the Byzantine realm, Christianity had been brought by Saint Mark the Evangelist in the AD first century. Diocletian's reign marks the transition from the Roman to the Byzantine era in Egypt, when a great number of Egyptian Christians were persecuted. The New Testament was by then translated into Egyptian, and after the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451, a distinct Egyptian Coptic Church was firmly established.

    The Byzantines were able to regain control of the country after a brief Persian invasion early in the seventh century, until in AD 639, Egypt was invaded by the Muslim Arabs. The form of Islam the Arabs brought to Egypt was Sunni, though early in this period Egyptians began to blend their new faith with indigenous beliefs and practices that had survived through Coptic Christianity, giving rise to various Sufi orders that have flourished to this day. Muslim rulers nominated by the Islamic Caliphate remained in control of Egypt for the next six centuries, including a period for which it was the seat of the Caliphate under the Fatimids. With the end of the Ayyubid dynasty, a Turco-Circassian military caste, the Mamluks, took control about AD 1250 and continued to govern even after the conquest of Egypt by the Ottoman Turks in 1517.
    The brief French Invasion of Egypt led by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1798 had a great social impact on the country and its culture. Native Egyptians became exposed to the principles of the French Revolution and had an apparent chance to exercise self-governance. A series of civil wars took place between the Ottoman Turks, the Mamluks, and Albanian mercenaries following the evacuation of French troops, resulting in the Albanian Muhammad Ali (Kavalali Mehmed Ali Pasha) taking control of Egypt where he was appointed as the Ottoman viceroy in 1805. He led a modernization campaign of public works, including irrigation projects, agricultural reforms and increased industrialization, which were then taken up and further expanded by his grandson and successor Isma'il Pasha.

    Following the completion of the Suez Canal by Ismail in 1869, Egypt became an important world transportation hub. In 1866, the Assembly of Delegates was founded to serve as an advisory body for the government. Its members were elected from across Egypt and eventually they came to have an important influence on governmental affairs. The country also fell heavily into debt to European powers. Ostensibly to protect its investments, the United Kingdom seized control of Egypt's government in 1882, but nominal allegiance to the Ottoman Empire continued until 1914 when as a result of the declaration of war with the Ottoman Empire, Britain declared a protectorate over Egypt and deposed the Khedive Abbas II, replacing him with Husayn Kamil his uncle who was appointed Sultan of Egypt.

    Between 1882 and 1906, a local nationalist movement for independence was taking shape. The Dinshaway Incident prompted Egyptian opposition to take a stronger stand against British occupation and the first political parties were founded. After the first World War, Saad Zaghlul and the Wafd Party led the Egyptian nationalist movement after gaining a majority at the local Legislative Assembly. When the British exiled Zaghlul and his associates to Malta on March 8, 1919, Egypt witnessed its first modern revolution. Constant revolting by the Egyptian people throughout the country led Great Britain to issue a unilateral declaration of Egypt's independence on February 22, 1922.

    The new Egyptian government drafted and implemented a new constitution in 1923 based on a parliamentary representative system. Saad Zaghlul was popularly-elected as Prime Minister of Egypt in 1924, and in 1936 the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty was concluded. However, continued instability in the government due to remaining British control and increasing involvement by the King in politics led to the eventual toppling of the monarchy and the dissolution of the parliament through a coup d'état by a group of army officers that came to be known as the 1952 Revolution. They forced King Farouk I to abdicate in support of his son King Ahmed Fouad II.
    The Egyptian Republic was declared on 18 June 1953 with General Muhammad Naguib as the first President of the Republic. Naguib was forced to resign in 1954 by Gamal Abdel Nasser – the real architect of the 1952 movement – and was later put under house arrest. Nasser assumed power as President and declared the full independence of Egypt from the United Kingdom on June 18 1956. His nationalization of the Suez Canal on July 26 1956 prompted the 1956 Suez Crisis. Three years after the 1967 Six Day War, in which Israel had invaded an occupied Sinai, Nasser died and was succeeded by Anwar Sadat. Sadat switched Egypt's Cold War allegiance from the Soviet Union to the United States, expelling Soviet advisors in 1972, and launched the Infitah economic reform policy, while violently clamping down on religious and secular opposition alike.

    In 1973, Egypt, along with Syria, launched the October War, a surprise attack against the Israeli forces occupying the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights in an attempt to liberate the territory Israel had captured 6 years earlier. Both the US and the USSR intervened and a cease-fire was reached between both sides. Despite not being a complete military success, most historians agree that the October War presented Sadat with a political victory that would later allow him to pursue peace with Israel. In 1977, Sadat made a historic visit to Israel which led to the 1978 peace treaty in exchange for the complete Israeli withdrawal from Sinai. Sadat's initiative sparked enormous controversy in the Arab world and led to Egypt's expulsion from the Arab League, but was supported by the vast majority of Egyptians. Sadat was assassinated in Cairo by a fundamentalist military soldier in 1981 and was succeeded by the incumbent Hosni Mubarak. In 2003, the Egyptian Movement for Change, popularly known as Kifaya, was launched to seek a return to democracy and greater civil liberties.

    Identity


    The Egyptian Nile Valley was home to one of the oldest cultures in the world, spanning three thousand years of continuous history. When Egypt fell under a series of foreign occupations after 343 BC, each left an indelible mark on the country's cultural landscape. Egyptian identity evolved in the span of this long period of occupation to accommodate in principal two new religions, Christianity and Islam, and a new language, Arabic and its spoken descendant, Egyptian Arabic. The degree with which these factors are estimated today by different groups in Egypt in articulating a sense of collective identity can vary greatly, and therefore continue to be a source of frequent debate.

    Questions of identity came to fore in the last century as Egypt sought to free itself from foreign occupation for the first time in two thousand years. Three chief ideologies came to head and would eventually compete with one another (and continue to do so to this day): ethno-territorial Egyptian nationalism (and by extension Pharaonism), secular Arab nationalism (and by extension pan-Arabism) and Islamism. Egyptian nationalism predates its Arab counterpart by many decades, having roots in the nineteenth century and eventually becoming the dominant mode of expression of Egyptian anti-colonial activists of the pre- and inter-war periods. It was nearly always articulated in exclusively Egyptian terms:

    What is most significant is the absence of an Arab component in early Egyptian nationalism. The thrust of Egyptian political, economic, and cultural development throughout the nineteenth century worked against, rather than for, an "Arab" orientation... This situation—that of divergent political trajectories for Egyptians and Arabs—if anything increased after 1900.


    In 1931, Syrian Arab nationalist intellectual Sati' al-Husri remarked in his memoir following a visit to Egypt, where he intended to propagate Arab nationalism, that " did not possess an Arab nationalist sentiment; did not accept that Egypt was a part of the Arab lands, and would not acknowledge that the Egyptian people were part of the Arab nation." Incidentally, the later 1930s would become a formative period for Arab nationalism in Egypt, thanks in large part to efforts by Syrian/Palestinian/Lebanese intellectuals. Yet a year after the establishment of the League of Arab States in 1945 to be headquartered in Cairo, Oxford University historian H. S. Deighton was still writing:

    The Egyptians are not Arabs, and both they and the Arabs are aware of this fact. They are Arabic-speaking, and they are Muslim—indeed religion plays a greater part in their lives than it does in those either of the Syrians or the Iraqi. But the Egyptian, during the first thirty years of the century, was not aware of any particular bond with the Arab East... Egypt sees in the Arab cause a worthy object of real and active sympathy and, at the same time, a great and proper opportunity for the exercise of leadership, as well as for the enjoyment of its fruits. But she is still Egyptian first and Arab only in consequence, and her main interests are still domestic.


    It was not until the Nasser era more than a decade later that Arab nationalism became a state policy and a means with which to define Egypt's position in the Middle East and the world, usually articulated vis-à-vis Zionism in the neighbouring Jewish state. For a while Egypt and Syria formed the United Arab Republic, and when the union was dissolved, it eventually gave rise to the current official name, Arab Republic of Egypt. Egypt's attachment to Arabism, however, was particularly questioned after its defeat in the 1967 Six-Day War, when thousands Egyptians lost their lives and the country become disillusioned with Arab politics. Nasser's successor Sadat, both by policy and through his peace initiative with Israel, revived an uncontested Egyptian particularist orientation, unequivocally asserting that only Egypt was his responsibility, and the terms "Arab", "Arabism" and "Arab unity", save for the new official name, became conspicuously absent. Indeed, as professor of Egyptian history P. J. Vatikiotis explains:

    ...the impact of the October 1973 War (also known as the Ramadan or Yom Kippur War) found Egyptians reverting to an earlier sense of national identity, that of Egyptianism. Egypt became their foremost consideration and top priority in contrast to the earlier one, preferred by the Nasser régime, of Egypt's role and primacy in the Arab world. This kind of national 'restoration' was led by the Old Man of Egyptian Nationalism, Tawfiq el-Hakim, who in the 1920s and 1930s was associated with the Pharaonist movement.


    The question of identity continues to be debated today with many Egyptians perhaps falling somewhere in the middle, considering themselves Egyptian first but finding Egyptian and Arab identities linked and not necessarily incompatible. Others identify themselves mainly on the basis of their religion. The sentiment, however, that Egypt and Egyptians are simply not Arab, emphasizing indigenous Egyptian heritage, culture and independent polity (and even publicly voicing objection to the present official name), is frequently expressed—both by Egyptians themselves, including Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Zahi Hawass, Egyptian-born Harvard University Professor Leila Ahmed, Member of Parliament Suzie Greiss and different local groups and intellectuals; as well as in various other contexts, including Neil DeRosa's novel Joseph's Seed in his illustration of an Egyptian character "who declares that Egyptians are not Arabs and never will be." Egyptian critics of Arab nationalism contend that it has worked to erode and/or relegate native Egyptian identity by superimposing only one aspect of Egypt's culture.

    These conflicting views and sources for collective identification in the Egyptian state are captured in the words of a linguistic anthropologist who conducted fieldwork in Cairo:

    Egypt has been both a leader of pan-Arabism and a site of intense resentment towards that ideology. Egyptians had to be made, often forcefully, into "Arabs" because they did not historically identify themselves as such. Egypt was self-consciously a nation not only before pan-Arabism but also before becoming a colony of the British Empire. Its territorial continuity since ancient times, its unique history as exemplified in its pharaonic past and later on its Coptic language and culture, had already made Egypt into a nation for centuries. Egyptians saw themselves, their history, culture and language as specifically Egyptian and not "Arab."


    Politics

    National

    Egypt has been a republic since 18 June 1953. President Mohamed Hosni Mubarak has been the President of the Republic since October 14 1981, following the assassination of former-President Mohammed Anwar El-Sadat. Mubarak is currently serving his fifth term in office. He is the leader of the ruling National Democratic Party. Prime Minister Dr. Ahmed Nazif was sworn in as Prime Minister on 9 July 2004, following the resignation of Dr. Atef Ebeid from his office.

    Although power is ostensibly organized under a multi-party semi-presidential system, whereby the executive power is theoretically divided between the President and the Prime Minister, in practice it rests almost solely with the President who traditionally has been elected in single-candidate elections for more than fifty years. Egypt also holds regular multi-party parliamentary elections. The last presidential election, in which Mubarak won a fifth consecutive term, was held in September 2005.

    In late February 2005, President Mubarak announced in a surprise television broadcast that he had ordered the reform of the country's presidential election law, paving the way for multi-candidate polls in the upcoming presidential election. For the first time since the 1952 movement, the Egyptian people had an apparent chance to elect a leader from a list of various candidates. The President said his initiative came "out of my full conviction of the need to consolidate efforts for more freedom and democracy." However, the new law placed draconian restrictions on the filing for presidential candidacies, designed to prevent well-known candidates such as Ayman Nour from standing against Mubarak, and paved the road for his easy re-election victory.
    Concerns were once again expressed after the 2005 presidential elections about government interference in the election process through fraud and vote-rigging, in addition to police brutality and violence by pro-Mubarak supporters against opposition demonstrators. After the election, Egypt imprisioned Nour, and the U.S. Government stated the “conviction of Mr. Nour, the runner-up in Egypt's 2005 presidential elections, calls into question Egypt's commitment to democracy, freedom, and the rule of law.”

    As a result, most Egyptians are skeptical about the process of democratization and the role of the elections. Less than 25 percent of the country's 32 million registered voters (out of a population of more than 78 million) turned out for the 2005 elections. A proposed change to the constitution would limit the president to two seven-year terms in office.

    Thirty-four constitutional changes voted on by parliament on March 19, 2007 prohibit parties from using religion as a basis for political activity; allow the drafting of a new anti-terrorism law to replace the emergency legislation in place since 1981, giving police wide powers of arrest and surveillance; give the president power to dissolve parliament; and end judicial monitoring of election. As opposition members of parliament withdrew from voting on the proposed changes, it was expected that the referendum will be boycotted by a great number of Egyptians in protest of what has been considered a breach of democratic practices. Eventually it was reported that only 27% of the registered voters went to the polling stations under heavy police presence and tight political control of the ruling National Democratic Party. It was officially announced on March 27,2007 that 75.9% of those who participated in the referendum approved of the constitutional amendments introduced by President Mubarak and was endorsed by opposition free parliament, thus allowing the introduction of laws that curbs the activity of certain opposition elements particularly Islamists.

    Human rights
    Several local and international human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have for many years criticized Egypt's human rights record as poor. In 2005, President Hosni Mubarak faced unprecedented public criticism when he clamped down on democracy activists challenging his rule. Some of the most serious human rights violations according to HRW's 2006 report on Egypt are routine torture, arbitrary detentions and trials before military and state security courts.

    Discriminatory personal status laws governing marriage, divorce, custody and inheritance which put women at a disadvantage have also been cited. Laws concerning Christians which place restrictions on church building have been recently eased, but major constructions still require governmental approval. In addition, intolerance of Baha'is and unorthodox Muslim sects remains a problem. It however noted that "Egypt witnessed its most transparent and competitive presidential and legislative elections in more than half a century and an increasingly unbridled public debate on the country's political future in 2005."

    In 2007, human rights group Amnesty International released a report criticizing Egypt for torture and illegal detention. The report alleges that Egypt has become an international center for torture, where other nations send suspects for interrogation, often as part of the War on Terror. The report calls on Egypt to bring its anti-terrorism laws into accordance with international human rights statutes and on other nations to stop sending their detainees to Egypt. Egypt's foreign ministry quickly issued a rebuttal to this report, claiming that it was inaccurate and unfair, as well as causing deep offense to the Egyptian government.

    The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) is one of the longest-standing bodies for the defence of human rights in Egypt. In 2003, the government established the National Council for Human Rights, headquartered in Cairo and headed by former UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali who directly reports to the president. The council has come under heavy criticism by local NGO activists, who contend it undermines human rights work in Egypt by serving as a propaganda tool for the government to excuse its violations and to provide legitimacy to repressive laws such as the recently renewed Emergency Law. Egypt has recently announced that it is in the process of abolishing the Emergency Law. However, in March 2007 President Mubarak approved several constitutional amendments to include "an anti-terrorism clause that appears to enshrine sweeping police powers of arrest and surveillance", suggesting that the Emergency Law is here to stay for the long haul.

    The high court of Egypt has outlawed all religions and belief except Islam, Christianity and Judaism. (For more information see Egyptian Identification Card Controversy.)

    Foreign relations

    Egypt's foreign policy operates along a moderate line. Factors such as population size, historical events, military strength, diplomatic expertise and a strategic geographical position give Egypt extensive political influence in Africa and the Middle East. Cairo has been a crossroads of regional commerce and culture for centuries, and its intellectual and Islamic institutions are at the center of the region's social and cultural development.

    The permanent headquarters of the Arab League is located in Cairo and the Secretary General of the League has traditionally been an Egyptian. Former Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa is the current Secretary General. The Arab League briefly moved out of Egypt to Tunis in 1978 as a protest at the peace treaty with Israel, but returned in 1989.

    Egypt was the first Arab state to establish diplomatic relations with the state of Israel, after the signing of the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty at the Camp David Accords. Egypt has a major influence amongst other Arab states, and has historically played an important role as a mediator in resolving disputes between various Arab states, and in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. Most Arab nations still give credence to Egypt playing that role, though its effects are often limited and recently challenged by ambitious Saudi Arabia and oil rich Gulf States. It is also reported that due to Egypt's indulgence in internal problems and its reluctance to play a positive role in regional matters had lost the country great influence in Africa and the neighbouring countries.

    Former Egyptian Deputy Prime Minister Boutros Boutros-Ghali served as Secretary General of the United Nations from 1991 to 1996.

    Governorates


    Egypt is divided into twenty-six governorates (muhafazat, singular muhafazah).
    Economy

    Egypt's economy depends mainly on agriculture, media, petroleum exports, and tourism; there are also more than three million Egyptians working abroad, mainly in Saudi Arabia, the Persian Gulf and Europe. The completion of the Aswan High Dam in 1971 and the resultant Lake Nasser have altered the time-honored place of the Nile River in the agriculture and ecology of Egypt. A rapidly-growing population, limited arable land, and dependence on the Nile all continue to overtax resources and stress the economy.

    The government has struggled to prepare the economy for the new millennium through economic reform and massive investments in communications and physical infrastructure. Egypt has been receiving U.S. foreign aid (since 1979, an average of $2.2 billion per year) and is the third-largest recipient of such funds from the United States following the Iraq war. Its main revenues however come from tourism as well as traffic that goes through the Suez Canal.

    Egypt has a developed energy market based on coal, oil, natural gas, and hydro power. Substantial coal deposits are in the north-east Sinai, and are mined at the rate of about 600,000t per year. Oil and gas are produced in the western desert regions, the Gulf of Suez, and the Nile Delta. Egypt has huge reserves of gas, estimated at over 1.1 million cubic meters in the 1990's, and LNG is exported to many countries.

    Economic conditions have started to improve considerably after a period of stagnation from the adoption of more liberal economic policies by the government, as well as increased revenues from tourism and a booming stock market. In its annual report, the IMF has rated Egypt as one of the top countries in the world undertaking economic reforms. Some of the major steps concerning economic reforms taken by the new government since 2003 include a dramatic slashing of customs and tariffs, a new taxation law implemented in 2005 that decreases corporate taxes from 40% to the current 20%, resulted to the stated 100% increase in tax revenue by the year 2006.

    FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) into Egypt has increased considerably in the past few years due to the recent economic liberalization measures taken by minister of investment Mahmoud Mohieddin, exceeding $6 billion in 2006. Egypt is slated to overcome South Africa as the highest earner of FDI on the African continent in 2007.

    Although one of the main obstacles still facing the Egyptian economy is the trickle down of the wealth to the average population, many Egyptians criticize their government for higher prices of basic goods while their standards of living or purchasing power remains relatively stagnant. Often corruption is blamed by Egyptians as the major impediment of not feeling the benefits of the newly attained wealth. Although major reconstruction of the infrastructure in the country is promised by the government, with a large portion of the sum paid for the newly acquired 3rd mobile license ($3billion) by Etisalat, slated to be pumped into the country's railroad system after public outrage against the government for recent disasters that took place in 2006 claimed more than 100 lives.

    The most well known examples of Egyptian companies that have expanded regionally and globally are the Orascom Group and Raya. The IT sector has been expanding rapidly in the past few years, with many new start-ups conducting outsourcing business to North America and Europe, operating with companies such as Microsoft, Oracle and other major corporations, as well as numerous SME's. Some of these companies are the Xceed Contact Center, Raya Contact Center, E Group Connections and C3 along with other start ups in that country. The sector has been stimulated by new Egyptian entrepreneurs trying to capitalize on their country's huge potential in the sector, as well as constant government encouragement.

    Demographics

    Egypt is the most populous country in the Middle East and the second-most populous on the African continent, with an estimated 78 million people. Almost all the population is concentrated along the banks of the Nile (notably Cairo and Alexandria), in the Delta and near the Suez Canal. Approximately 90% of the population adheres to Islam and most of the remainder to Christianity (primarily the Coptic Orthodox denomination). Apart from religious affiliation, Egyptians can be divided demographically into those who live in the major urban centers and the fellahin or farmers of rural villages.

    Egyptians are by far the largest ethnic group in Egypt at 97-98% (about 76.4 million) of the total population. though this number may be an underestimate. There are some 70,000 Palestinian refugees The once-vibrant Jewish community in Egypt has virtually disappeared, with only a small number remaining in the country, but many Egyptian Jews visit on religious occasions and for tourism. Several important Jewish archaeological and historical sites are found in Cairo, Alexandria and other cities.

    Religion

    Religion plays a central role in most Egyptians' lives, as visitors to the country quickly discover. The rolling calls to prayer that are heard five times a day have the informal effect of regulating the pace of everything from business to entertainment. Cairo is famous for its numerous mosque minarets and church towers. Unfortunately, this religious landscape has been marred by a record of religious extremism, most recently witnessed in a 16 December 2006 judgment of the Supreme Administrative Council of Egypt which has insisted on a clear demarcation between "recognized religions"—Islam, Christianity and Judaism—and all other religious beliefs—thus effectively delegitimatizing and forbidding practice of all but these aforementioned religions. This judgment has lead to the requirement for communities to either commit perjury or be subjected to denial of identification cards.

    Egypt is predominantly Muslim, at approximately 90% of the population, with the majority being adherents of the Sunni branch of Islam and a minority of Shi'a.

    Christians represent about 10% of the population, more than 95% of whom belong to the native Coptic Orthodox Church. Other native Egyptian Christians are adherents of the Coptic Catholic Church, the Coptic Evangelical Church and various Coptic Protestant denominations. Non-native Christian communities are largely found in the urban regions of Alexandria and Cairo, and are members of the Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria, the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Roman Catholic Church, the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East, the Maronite Church, the Armenian Catholic Church, the Chaldean Catholic Church, the Syriac Catholic Church, or the Syriac Orthodox Church.

    According to the Constitution of Egypt, any new legislation must at least implicitly agree with Islamic laws. The mainstream Hanafi school of Sunni Islam is largely organised by the state, through Wizaret Al-Awkaf (Ministry of Religious Affairs). Al-Awkaf controls all mosques and overviews Muslim clerics. Imams are trained in Imam vocational schools and at Al-Azhar University. The department supports Sunni Islam and has commissions authorised to give Fatwa judgements on Islamic issues.

    Egypt hosts two major religious institutions. Al-Azhar University (Arabic: جامعة الأزهر) is the oldest Islamic institution of higher studies (founded around 970 A.D) and considered by many to be the oldest extant university. The Coptic Orthodox Church headed by the Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark attests to Egypt's a strong Christian heritage. It has a following of approximately 15 million Christians worldwide; affiliated sister churches are located in Armenia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, India, Lebanon and Syria.

    Religious freedom in Egypt is hampered to varying degrees by extremist Islamist groups and by discriminatory and restrictive government policies. Being the largest religious minority in Egypt, Coptic Christians are the most negatively affected community. Copts have faced increasing marginalization after the 1952 coup d'état led by Gamal Abdel Nasser. Until recently, Christians were required to obtain presidential approval for even minor repairs in churches. Although the law was eased in 2005 by handing down the authority of approval to the governors, Copts continue to face many obstacles in building new or repairing existing churches. These obstacles are not found in building mosques.

    In addition, Copts complain of being minimally represented in law enforcement, state security and public office, and of being discriminated against in the workforce on the basis of their religion. The Coptic community, as well as several human rights activists and intellectuals (such as Saad Eddin Ibrahim and Tarek Heggy), maintain that the number of Christians occupying government posts is not proportional to the number of Copts in Egypt, who constitute between 10 and 15% of the population in Egypt. Of the 32 cabinet ministers, two are Copts: Finance Minister Youssef Boutros Ghali and Minister of Environment Magued George; and of the 25 local governors, only one is a Copt (in the Upper Egyptian governorate of Qena). However, Copts have demonstrated great success in Egypt's private business sector; Naguib Sawiris, an extremely successful businessman and one of the world's wealthiest 100 people is a Copt. In 2002, under the Mubarak government, Coptic Christmas (January 7) was recognized as an official holiday. Nevertheless, the Coptic community has occasionally been the target of hate crimes and physical assaults. The most significant was the 2000-2001 El Kosheh attacks , in which 21 Copts and 1 Muslim were killed. A 2006 attack on three churches in Alexandria left one dead and 17 injured, although the attack was perpetrated by a lone wolf.

    Egypt was once home to one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world. Egyptian Jews, who were mostly Karaites, partook of all aspects of Egypt's social, economic and political life; one of the most ardent Egyptian nationalists, Yaqub Sanu' (Abu Naddara), was a Jew, as were famous musician Dawoud Husni, popular singer Leila Mourad, and prominent filmmaker Togo Mizrahi. For a while, Jews from across the Ottoman Empire and Europe were attracted to Egypt due to the relative harmony that characterized the local religious landscape in the 19th and early 20th centuries. After the 1956 Suez Crisis, a great number of Jews were expelled by Gamal Abdel Nasser, many of whom holding official Egyptian citizenship. Their Egyptian citizenship was revoked and their property was confiscated. A steady stream of migration of Egyptian Jews followed, reaching a peak after the Six-Day War with Israel in 1967. Today, Jews in Egypt number less than 500.


    Bahá'ís in Egypt, whose population is estimated to be a couple of thousands, have long been persecuted, having their institutions and community activities banned. Since their faith is not officially recognized by the s



    Introduction:
    The regularity and richness of the annual Nile River flood, coupled with semi-isolation provided by deserts to the east and west, allowed for the development of one of the world's great civilizations. A unified kingdom arose circa 3200 B.C., and a series of dynasties ruled in Egypt for the next three millennia. The last native dynasty fell to the Persians in 341 B.C., who in turn were replaced by the Greeks, Romans, and Byzantines. It was the Arabs who introduced Islam and the Arabic language in the 7th century and who ruled for the next six centuries. A local military caste, the Mamluks took control about 1250 and continued to govern after the conquest of Egypt by the Ottoman Turks in 1517. Following the completion of the Suez Canal in 1869, Egypt became an important world transportation hub, but also fell heavily into debt. Ostensibly to protect its investments, Britain seized control of Egypt's government in 1882, but nominal allegiance to the Ottoman Empire continued until 1914. Partially independent from the UK in 1922, Egypt acquired full sovereignty following World War II. The completion of the Aswan High Dam in 1971 and the resultant Lake Nasser have altered the time-honored place of the Nile River in the agriculture and ecology of Egypt. A rapidly growing population (the largest in the Arab world), limited arable land, and dependence on the Nile all continue to overtax resources and stress society. The government has struggled to ready the economy for the new millennium through economic reform and massive investment in communications and physical infrastructure.

    Location: Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Libya and the Gaza Strip, and the Red Sea north of Sudan, and includes the Asian Sinai Peninsula

    Population: 78,887,007 (July 2006 est.)

    Languages: Arabic (official), English and French widely understood by educated classes

    Country name: conventional long form: Arab Republic of Egypt
    conventional short form: Egypt
    local long form: Jumhuriyat Misr al-Arabiyah
    local short form: Misr
    former: United Arab Republic (with Syria)

    Capital: name: Cairo
    geographic coordinates: 30 03 N, 31 15 E
    time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
    daylight saving time: +1hr, begins l

    Economy - overview:
    Occupying the northeast corner of the African continent, Egypt is bisected by the highly fertile Nile valley, where most economic activity takes place. In the last 30 years, the government has reformed the highly centralized economy it inherited from President NASSER. In 2005, Prime Minister Ahmed NAZIF reduced personal and corporate tax rates, reduced energy subsidies, and privatized several enterprises. The stock market boomed, and GDP grew about 5% per year in 2005-06. Despite these achievements, the government has failed to raise living standards for the average Egyptian, and has had to continue providing subsidies for basic necessities. The subsidies have contributed to a growing budget deficit - more than 10% of GDP each year - and represent a significant drain on the economy. Foreign direct investment remains low. To achieve higher GDP growth the NAZIF government will need to continue its aggressive pursuit of reform, especially in the energy sector. Egypt's export sectors - particularly natural gas - have bright prospects.




    Links

    African divers  - PADI Gold Palm resort, in Sharm el Sheikh, Red Sea. Equipment servicing and live-aboards.

    Aquanaut Diving Center  - PADI diving courses, daily diving and liveaboard safari trips. Based in Hurghada, Red Sea.

    Blue World Diver  - PADI Divemaster training Hurghada - Red Sea, through Sabina Dive Center.

    C Fun Divers  - PADI Gold Palm Resort located in Sharm el Sheikh, Red Sea offering daily diving, PADI courses and liveaboard safaris.

    Camel Dive Club and Hotel  - Located in Sharm El-Sheikh, with information on dive sites, local shipwrecks, Nitrox, disabled divers, boat specifications, instruction, and contacts.

    Dive In  - Operating in the Red Sea and Mediterranean, with information on local accommodations, instruction, photos, dive site maps, weather conditions, and contacts.

    Dive Tribe Diving Center  - PADI diving courses from beginner to instructor with regular IDC courses. Also, technical and nitrox courses, daily diving and live-aboard trips. Based in El Gouna, Red Sea.

    Divers International  - Lists information on PADI diving courses, diving packages and excursions, live-aboard cruises, desert diving and jeep safaris in the Sinai desert. Based in Sharm al Shaikh and Hurghada.

    Divers Lodge  - Dive operator in Sharm el Sheikh and Hurghada. Offers technical diving.

    Diving and Safaris  - Includes information on PADI instruction, rates, bookings, and contact details. Travel tips and cultural insights are also listed.

    Diving World Red Sea  - Located in Hurghada, Sharm el Sheikh, Safaga. Information on live-aboard and daily diving trips, prices, contact details and dive site descriptions.

    Easy Divers  - Dive Centres in El Gouna, Hurghada, Safaga. Information on day diving, safaris, and PADI, BSAC and SSI training.

    Emperor Divers  - Red Sea dive centre offers information on daily diving, PADI courses, liveabaord boats, along with video clips, dive site descriptions, and contact details.

    Eshta Diving and Safari  - A liveaboard boat in the Red Sea, with vessel and dive site descriptions, photos, and contact information available.

    Flowers of Sinai  - Two Red Sea live-aboards out of Sharm el Sheikh. Includes itineraries, details on boats, booking information, and departure dates.

    Funny Divers!  - Hurghada based PADI licensed diving center. Liveaboard safaris, training courses and daily dives.

    Gulf Divers  - OADI/CMAS dive center offers daily diving, courses, and liveaboard safaris. Descriptions of dive sites and photos of boats provided. Located in Hurghada.

    IMEI Divers  - Dive center offering PADI, CMAS and NAUI courses and dive trips. Based in Hurghada.

    King Snefro Group  - Four live-aboards operating from Sharm EL-Sheikh, Red Sea.

    Mena Dive  - Located in Safaga, with information on diving courses, hotel accommodations, rates, descriptions of local dive sites, and contact details. [English, German]

    Red Sea Divers  - A Red Sea dive operation.

    Red Sea Diving College  - Find information on learning to dive, technical diving, where to stay, contact details, photo gallery, prices and links to area information. Located in Sharm el Sheikh.

    Red Sea Scuba Academy  - Located in Hurghada, with information about PADI instruction, dive site descriptions, prices and bookings, photo galleries and contact details.

    Red Sea Scuba Diving  - Diving and snorkelling all year round on board the Lady M.

    Red Sea Virtual Diving Center  - Reference on dive centers, dive sites, ship wrecks, other water sports, hotels, restaurants, night life.

    Reef 2000 Dive Centre  - Located in Dahab, with details on PADI instruction, dive sites, photo gallery, prices, links and contact information available.

    Sara Divers  - Dive centre offering PADI CMAS IDEA courses, daily trip and live-aboard diving. Based in Hurghada, Red Sea.

    Scuba College - Diving Camp Nuweiba  - Diving school based in Nuweiba, Egypt. Offer PADI courses, reef diving trips and equipment hire. Includes a guestbook.

    SDS Europe (Standard Dive Service)  - Dive cruises on live-aboard boats in the Red Sea of Egypt, Sudan and Eritrea.

    Sea Queen Fleet, Red Sea  - Fleet of charter boats. Includes courses, destinations, information on live-aboard and safari boats, and schedule information.

    Sea Serpent Fleet  - Find information on liveaboard vessels, including itineraries, photos, specials, and contact details.

    Sinai Dive Club  - Discover details on PADI instruction, Nitrox diving, liveaboards, local dive sites, prices and specials, and contact information.

    Sinai Divers  - Dive centre in Sharm-El-Sheikh, Red-Sea. Live-aboards safaris, daily excursions and SSI/PADI/CMAS courses.

    South Red Sea Enterprises  - Hurghada based dive operator with trips to the deep south of the Red Sea. Information on resort, liveaboards, and camping.

    Sunshine Diving  - Find explanations about diving services, prices and holiday packages for Red Sea diving. Maps photos and contacts are available.

    Tekstreme Diving  - Guided technical diving safaris, dive training, and equipment rentals. Provides pricing and contact information.

    Tornado Marine Fleet  - Providing liveaboard diving services including Nitrox, in the Red Sea. Includes team profiles, vessel technical details, itineraries, FAQs, photos, newsletter signup and contact form.

    United Divers  - Diving courses, day trips and cruises in Safaga on the Red Sea coast. Includes information on dive sites.

    Voodoo Divers  - PADI diving center in Hurghada. Details on daily diving, instructional courses and diving safaris are listed.

    WildCat  - A 25m luxury purpose built live-aboard operating from Sharm EL-Sheikh, Red Sea.

    Diving Marsa Alam Diving in Marsa Alam - diving at Tulip Resort and Abu Dabbab Hotel with Diving Ocean: Diving, Snorkeling, Diving Courses and more.

    Diving Ocean Sharm El Sheikh Diving Ocean dive center, situated in Sharm El Sheikh at Sea Life and Sea Club Resort: Diving, Snorkeling, ESA Diving Courses and more.


    Latest discussion about Africa Egypt at forum.scubish.com:
    I only have one day and want to find the best dive operation and the best dive site for a two-tank dive this coming June.
    diverchick
    1

    It looks good, as resort quieter than Sharm but worried diving and snorkelling not as good. And do I need to book diving in advance?
    naomi b
    0

    Can you recommend any budget hotels, restaurants and bars and a good Diving outfit, thanks P.
    moby
    0

    or any where else??
    seanqingboyang
    2

    It looks good, as resort quieter than Sharm but worried diving and snorkelling not as good. And do I need to book diving in advance?
    naomi b
    0

    Hi Guys. I have been to Sharm twice diving, first at Christmas and during the summer. We (me, wife and two grown up kids, all divers) intend to go back to Egypt this Christmas, but not to Sharm. Where...
    Baz
    4

    Hi Guys. I have been to Sharm twice diving, first at Christmas and during the summer. We (me, wife and two grown up kids, all divers) intend to go back to Egypt this Christmas, but not to Sharm. Where...
    Baz
    0

    new thread
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