As soon as we tell our relatives that we are going to Egypt, the first question we are asked is: “what about security?”, as if we were suicidal (at the same time, our relatives saw us chainedto Turkey then Egypt, both countries not necessarily well seen on *BFM*).
Obviously, zero risk does not exist, as we have sadly learned in France in recent years.
In Egypt, one has never felt unsafe and the tourist places are very watched. All hotels, museums, temples … have security gates. They are used with more or less zeal but it has the merit to exist. At the airport, it was necessary to come super early to be able to pass all the controls.
Limit your travels to tourist areas (and recommended by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs). It is a country that has lost many tourists since the Arab Spring Revolution in 2011 and they are trying to boost tourism. The security is reinforced, everyone is aware of the importance of bringing tourists back and do everything possible to avoid creating a “bad buzz”.
There are several routes that are done with military convoys to ensure maximum security, the police are present everywhere.
There arecheck-points everywhere: i.e. you can’t leave the city by car without permission from the police. Including tourists. The day before a car trip (e.g. Aswan – Abu Simbel), you have to report your trip to the police, otherwise you won’t leave. Period.
As soon as our car stops in front of a store, a hotel, or enters the pyramid complex, there is immediately a policeman or a guard who comes to note the license plate number.
Since the attack in December 2018, security measures have been further strengthened.
What about women?
I traveled with my husband and always accompanied, so I didn’t have any inappropriate remarks or gestures.
Be aware that the women here are all veiled (even in Cairo – even if the clothes are a bit tighter than in the country), I would advise you to come here with loose, opaque and covering clothes (except in the hotels in Hourghada where bathing suits on the hotel beach are commonplace).
Most tourists are in their fifties, so young female travelers may attract more attention.
If you don’t like the attention, there is a kind of “color code”. Married women dress in black and their veil is in black, singles dress in color. So come with a black shawl to cover your head and chest if you want to go unnoticed.
Once in the souk in the center of Cairo, I noticed a little too many glances on me and I just had to take off my orange hat (visible for miles because everyone dresses in black/white/grey), the glances stopped immediately.
Here, men and women don’t touch each other, so don’t kiss the Egyptians. Be especially careful if you are alone. Egyptian women never go to the café alone, for example, they have their own car in the Cairo subway, and when they take the local mini-buses, they are often accompanied. If you are alone, try not to go far from the tourist areas. For example, in Cairo, sleep in one of the hotels in Giza (where there are almost only tourists), instead of being in the center of Cairo. Befriend other travelers if possible, not only will you pay less for the cab, but you will also feel safer.
For more information, read my specific advice for travelers: they apply everywhere in the world, and also in Egypt.
Read also the 50 things to know before your trip to Egypt