Moving to Egypt

In Moving Guides by Steven Kane

Capital City: Cairo
Population: 95 Million
Language(s): Arabic
Currency: Egyptian Pound (EGP)
GDP per capita: USD 4,500 (2016)
Drives on the: Right
Time: GMT +2
Internet domain: .eg
International dialling code: +20

We are pleased to provide you with our guide on moving to Egypt from Dubai, UAE.

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Moving to Egypt will mean you join a population of 95 million and with an area of 1 million square kilometers, Egypt is the 30th largest country in the world.

Renowned for its ancient civilisation and iconic pyramids and other sites, Egypt was one of the first Middle Eastern countries to open to the West during Napoleonic times.

Egypt remains a leading Middle Eastern nation and plays a central role both politically and geographically being a transcontinental country providing a land bridge between Asia and Africa. Egypt borders the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea.

Egypt’s main economies are agriculture, tourism, and increasingly manufacturing. Agriculture is centered along the Nile valley since, due to the lack of rainfall, it is irrigation which agriculture is entirely dependent. Egypt has around 3 million citizens working overseas who remit on average 15-20 Billion USD back home per year.

Political unrest since 2011 has led to many difficulties as Egypt tries to establish itself and enter a much needed period of stability in the country.

Egypt is one of the sunniest, driest countries on Earth. Any rain that does fall is during the winter months (October to March).  In fact, snow does fall in the mountains of the Sinai desert and even fell briefly in Cairo in 2013. Winters can be cool and even cold during the evenings during Nov-Feb. But come March /April through to September the country is hot, sunny and dry, particularly the further South you go.

Expats in Egypt
Most expats moving to Egypt will base themselves in Cairo, the capital and business hub. However, the rest of the country also has a lot to offer, from amazing beach resorts to spectacular mountains and wadis in addition to a rich and ancient culture.

Business is hierarchical in Egypt with position and status highly regarded. It is important to form personal relationships especially if you wish to maintain a long-term bond. Like much of the Middle East and Asia, you should not expect to get straight down to business. Egyptians, in general, prefer to chat for a while and it is probably wise to allow your Egyptian colleagues or customers to initiate business talk.

Life for new arrivals in Egypt can be a challenge. The noise and congestion in the city combined with chaotic driving can be alarming. Driving defensively or hiring a local driver is advisable.

Learning some of the Egyptian Arabic dialect goes a long way. Whilst English is spoken quite widely, communication problems can cause much of the frustration and this can be reduced significantly with just a few words of the local language. Egyptians are likely to be more accommodating if they see a foreigner making an effort. If you encounter someone being brusque or abrupt, it is likely a person is trying to be helpful, so be mindful and provide people with the benefit of the doubt and do not automatically assume someone is being impolite.

As a foreign woman in Egypt, it is advisable to dress conservatively and avoid traveling alone at night. Keeping any communication business like is recommended.

Cost of living (Cairo)
A meal at a standard restaurant is likely to cost roughly USD 4-5 per person with an imported beer priced around USD 2.00 and soft drinks around USD 0.35 per can.  A reasonable bottle of wine costs approximately USD 8 and a coffee typically sets you back around USD 1.75.  At the local supermarkets a loaf of bread is priced around USD 0.80, a liter of milk approximately USD 0.75 and a dozen eggs roughly USD 1.05.

Public transport in Cairo is a mixed bag. Buses and minibuses are not recommended. Taxis are an option but if you find a good driver, take his number and try to use a select number of drivers. The subway in Cairo is good and reasonably priced. Taxis can cost around 4-5 USD per hour. However if you travel regularly, the best option may be to hire a fulltime car and driver. Petrol is very cheap at around USD 0.35 per liter.

Accommodation is generally cheap. A typical 1-2 bedroom apartment in a good area would be approximately USD 250-350 per month. A typical 3 bedroom house in a suburb would cost around USD 600-800 per month.

Basic monthly utilities for an average two-bedroom apartment will be around USD 30-40.  Prepaid mobile phone charges are approximately USD 0.03 per minutes and fast broadband internet is roughly USD 20 per month.
(Source – NUMBEO

Public schooling in Egypt is generally either secular or Islamic. Either way the education is conducted in Arabic and may not be suitable for expat children whose families may not be intent on making Egypt or the Middle East their long-term home.

There are private schools in Egypt, which have better tuition and facilities. These schools generally teach in English with Arabic as a secondary language. While these schools can be expensive, they can be popular with families who intend to remain in the region long-term.

International schools are the most expensive, but provide tuition in curricula the child is like to be most familiar with. International schools are plentiful in the larger cities, especially Cairo.  Most schools cater to children from Kindergarten through to 18 years old. Most schools allow for the Friday day of rest; The American International School, for example, operates between 08:00 – 15:00 with Friday and Saturday regarded as the weekend.

Some schools in the Cairo / Alexandria area.

Whilst efforts are in place to overhaul and improve the public national health system in Egypt including initiatives to increase the amount employers pay for the healthcare of their staff, confidence in public health is not too positive. Doctors and staff in the public health system are still paid poorly compared to their counterparts in many countries and although the situation is better in the larger cities, as things stand most people would prefer to use private health care, which of course comes at a high cost which puts it out of reach of many people.

Private healthcare is really a must in Egypt. Access to properly run, professional facilities are available, but not always consistently top notch, and payment in advance is likely at many private establishments, in which case receiving reliable, accurate documentation in order to claim reimbursement is essential.

There are wealthy Egyptians who travel abroad – in particular, the UAE – in order to have emergency/major medical treatment and this option may be something an expat may be interested in pursuing, especially if it is provided for as part of a compensation package.

Pharmacies are ubiquitous, and staff speak fairly good English in general. Most medication is available much without the need for a prescription. The cost of medication is generally quite inexpensive. Any unusual medication which you may require should be brought with you with supporting documentation.

Moving Documents Required
When moving to Egypt from Dubai, importation of Household Goods and Personal Effects

  • Passport (with work permit if applicable).
  • Detailed Packing list in English
  • Letter of guarantee
  • Original Bill of lading / AWB
  • Packing list must mention model number of all electronic items

IMPORTANT: All items are subject to import duty by the Egyptian Authorities

Useful link(s);
Egyptian Government Services Portal

Note: This document is provided as a guide for people moving to Egypt from Dubai, UAE and for information purposes only. Customs regulations can and do change at any time, usually without notice. Your mover will provide you with more information.