Subscribe to SmallPlanet

We Need Your Help

Five stars on Amazon! Don't miss Talesmag's first book of essays, on cross-cultural food experiences from Mexico to Mongolia (plus recipes!)
Submit a Real Post Report

Cairo



Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

There are definitely security risks in Cairo and in Egypt. Pay attention to security warnings. US embassy personnel are not allowed in the Western Desert, oases, Sinai (except to Sharm el Sheik by air) and religious sites outside Greater Cairo. Within Cairo, avoid protests, crowds, and keep aware of surroundings. However, I do generally feel safe and I explore alone and with my children all over. - Jan 3, 2018
Violent crime and street crime tend to be low and I never felt uncomfortable walking around during the day or at night. The potential for terrorism is real and attacks did occur during my time in Egypt. Not every attack makes international news, you probably already heard about the big ones. - Sep 9, 2017
Women are catcalled, and I know of many who are harrassed on the street. As a man, I never really felt uncomfortable, though. It's a large city - crime happens. If you exercise the same kind of caution you would in New York, Bangkok, or London, you will probably be OK. - May 25, 2017
The same as anywhere really. Don't go to dodgy areas. Pay attention to your own embassy advice. In Egypt you have to carry ID so have your passport or a certified copy with you at all times.

Don't get involved in dodgy political groups. - May 16, 2017


There is very little street crime - less than in the US. I walked around alone at night holding my wallet and mobile phone in my hand. Otherwise... Egypt seems to always be in flux and it depends what is going on politically when you are there. While we were there, there were times when there would be small bombs every few days in our neighborhood. It seemed to be always at night and in a place where there were no people - more designed to scare than to actually hurt. The police tend to be the target, not you. - Jan 30, 2016
U.S. Embassy personnel are not permitted to travel outside Cairo without prior approval. U.S. Embassy personnel are not permitted to travel to Sinai peninsula (including Sharm Al-Shiekh) or western desert region. See travel.state.gov for details. - Jan 29, 2016
Lots. The U.S. Embassy has all sorts of restrictions- no Metro, no Sinai, no this, no that. We took the Metro anyway and it was fine and probably less death defying than an Egyptian cab - Jan 29, 2016
We get security alerts sometimes via text telling us to avoid certain areas. "Protest in such and such area. Avoid for the next two hours." Usually it is something happening very far from our hometown of Maadi (outside Cairo). - Oct 8, 2014
YES, we have to check the alerts from the Embassy whenever we go anywhere. There are weekly protests and bombs and shootings throughout Cairo and other parts of the city. Street crime isn't that high, but harassment against women is very high. I do not feel comfortable walking alone. I have 3 young daughters and a lot of men feel very comfortable hissing at them and reaching out and touching their heads. We really hate it. There are approx. 20 million people in Cairo. So although bad/scary things happen in the city sometimes not very far away, actual personal impact is low. More than anything, it heightens stress and causes us to have to plan more carefully before venturing out. - Aug 19, 2014
Lots. Sporadic regional issues, although present government cracks down pretty hard, many areas simply off limits (most of the Sinai, the Western Desert) - Aug 19, 2014
Yes - depending on your level of comfort, and rules you have to go by. As a USG employee, I can't travel to many places and I have to get authorization. As non-USG you can do plenty of traveling that I'd like to do, and that I consider safe! - May 28, 2014
Yes. Egypt used to be one of the safest places in the world. Now I don't even feel safe walking around my own neighborhood (Maadi). Bombs, shootings, and protests downtown. - Apr 2, 2014
Yes, many. From gunfire on the streets of maadi to sexual harassment of women, this should be a post with danger pay. - Mar 27, 2014
Yes. Egypt is on the way down security-wise. Through the last two years it has gotten worse and worse. Police are useless. Sexual harassment is a daily event for any woman who leaves the house. Muggings are also extremely common. Rumors of more serious rapings are a daily event in Maadi. - Jul 23, 2013
At the embassy, absoultely. A man was stabbed at the gates of the embassy this spring simply for being an American. The embassy is on the edge of Tahrir square, and the guards have been victims of regular attacks (rocks and Molotov cocktails). During the first year we had people blocking an entrance for a sit-in demanding the release of the Blind Shaykh. I really miss those guys; they scared off the punk kids trading rocks for tear gas with the police. The good news is that the housing is relatively secure. Crime is on the rise but is not out of control, and the mayhem in Cairo seems basically concentrated around Tahrir Square and, more recently, the presidential palace, neither of which is close to the main housing clusters. - Jul 17, 2013
Absolutely. The city is no longer safe by any measure. The police have abdicated their responsibilities. The apartments do not have adequate locks, windows don't lock, balconies are easily accessible from street. Boabs and other building staff are corrupt and are themselves a threat to residents. Embassy security basically provides protection for the ambassador and DCM, and for government housing compounds, but it leaves everyone in leased apartments pretty much on their own. - Jun 16, 2013
That depends. I feel quite comfortable and safe; this is one of the safest cities of its size in the world. However, many expats here feel less secure. Naturally in tourist areas (the market, the pyramids, the docks for Nile cruise boats), there are touts who are very persistent, but this is no more than in many other parts of the world - even less. Women often feel harassed by men and this is of concern. Over the last few years, there have been a series of demonstrations, often on Fridays, which can get violent. Embassy employees are warned via text and email, so it is easy to stay away. - Jun 7, 2013
Crime in general has increased, and purse snatching has always been a problem. Drive-by gropings of women seem to be increasing. You definitely have to be aware of your surroundings. I use the same caution I would in a any big city. - May 22, 2013
The security situation in Cairo is rapidly deteriorating. Egypt is seeing more jihadi extremism, constant protests/riots around the US Embassy, carjackings, and muggings. As tourism bottoms out, people are getting desperate and know that expats have money. Also, sexual assault and/or harassment is pretty much guaranteed to affect you or someone close to you. - May 12, 2013
Crime is on the increase since the revolution, but this is still a safe city. - May 12, 2013
Since the revolution, security has become more of an issue. But Cairo was abnormally safe for a city of its size prior to the revolution and has now really just shifted to a security level one would expect for city of this size. The key factor is that the police force is relatively ineffective. So, when something does happen, there is little that can or will be done about it. In the expat areas (Maadi, Zamalak, and Dokki, primarily) there have been increases in issues such as purse snatchings, etc. - Feb 1, 2013
And how! Law enforcement, as noted earlier, is ineffective, and criminals have become more brazen---likely because they feel much more confident that they can get away with theft, robbery, sexual assault, etc. The security situation in North Africa and Sinai has created an Egypt in which there is no shortage of guns and other dangerous toys---and bad guys willing to use them. It isn't at all clear whether a large-scale attack against Westerners hasn't occurred because there is a lack of capability or a lack of will. Uncertainty about the security environment has created a tremendous amount of stress among expats and Egyptians alike. - Feb 14, 2013
Where to start? Daily power outages, sexual assaults on women, robbery by sudden snatching, theft, assault and battery, rape, getting shot at or attacked with rocks are now all common-place events since the revolution. Even the safe districts of Maadi have seen these issues, rise and the State Department thinks we are still the same 15% post we were pre-revolution. This is easily a 25% diff post now and the tours should only be for two years. - Mar 31, 2013
Yes. The embassy compound was breached, and there are ongoing concerns about crime, political violence, potential for terrorism due to absence of a capable/willing host country police force. - Mar 26, 2013
Absolutely. This place is a war zone. The police are totally ineffective and will stand there and watch while you get robbed or are groped and molested. Carjackings are becoming a problem, with even a senior government minister falling victime to a random carjacking. - Feb 13, 2013
During Mubarak's regime, Egypt was extremely safe. Now there are few police, and they are quite scared themselves to intervene. On a daily basis you see more and more disorder and chaos. Women are regularly accosted throughout Cairo, and crime has become a real problem. - Jan 18, 2013
Post-revolution Egypt is still figuring itself out. There are small crimes of opportunity (purse snatchings), and some women report gropings (usually when alone), but I have not heard of major incidents against Americans specifically. - Nov 27, 2012
We had to leave with the "revolution" of Jan. 26th, and are now in our next post. There is the continual worry of another evacuation, due to continued political unrest in Egypt. Always plan to be evacuated, assume that you won't come back and pack accordingly. We learned the hard way! Keep a stock of food and water at home in case you aren't allowed out of your home due to unrest in the streets. - Sep 20, 2011
Not really. These are civilized people. - Aug 4, 2011
Post-revolutionary security issues abound. - Aug 4, 2011
This is a touchy area since the revolution. Because Cairo was so incredibly safe before the revolution with a huge police presence and a populace willing to step in if problems arise, you will hear people discussing security as a huge concern. However, in terms of random crime, Cairo is still safer than most cities, despite the reduced police force. It now makes sense to lock your car door when you drive and pay attention to your bag/wallet when you are out, just like in any other big city. In terms of security issues related to the revolution/protests, those have also been minimal since the change to an interim government, with some disturbances in the central square which cause traffic disruptions and localized disputes, some of which end up escalating to fights. While most demonstrations have been peaceful, there is always a concern when huge numbers of people congregate in one place. You should check the news before you go someplace to make sure to avoid any protests. Also, you can check the US Embassy travel information. It is a bit alarmist, but it has useful information on where you should be careful outside of Cairo. It is unclear how safe it is on more deserted roads like those heading toward Taba (on the way to Gaza) and other areas. In general, we feel very secure in our neighborhood and everywhere we've wanted to go. The most dangerous thing is still the traffic. - Jul 19, 2011
After the revolution security became much tighter. Curfews for embassy staff and various other security directives. Walking around is very safe though and crime is rare. But has slightly spiked since the revolution. Their are police everywhere yet they do little if nothing. Driving at night is prohibited, driving out of Cairo at night is extremely dangerous. Certain provinces within Egypt are prohibited for travel, too. - Jun 5, 2011
I found most Egyptians overall to be very friendly to me and to each other. I felt much safer in Cairo than in most large cities in the U.S.Traffice is going to be your main security risk, since the local driving style is simply dangerous, and more so during Ramadan in the hours before the breaking of the fast. Driving on the highways at night is considered extremely dangerous because of crazy drivers. - Sep 22, 2010
Egyptian men are very rude and sexist towards women (American women, especially). - Jun 26, 2010
Egypt is a police state, so there is very little violent crime. Sexual harassment is a problem, though for the most part it is verbal only. There have been terrorist attacks at various tourist destinations in Egypt, but the government generally keeps pretty tight control. - Dec 2, 2009
It's a security state, so there is petty crime, but nothing that you wouldn't find in any major city. - May 12, 2008