Egypt, (Officially, Arab Republic of Egypt - ARE), 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 sq mi), Egypt borders Libya to the west, Sudan to the south, and the Gaza Strip and Israel to the east. The northern coast borders the Mediterranean Sea and the island of Cyprus, 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 in an area of about 40,000 km (15,000 sq mi) where the only arable agricultural land is found. Large areas of land form part of the Sahara Desert and are sparsely inhabited. Around half of Egypt's residents live in urban areas, with the majority spread across the densely populated centres of greater Cairo, Alexandria and other major cities in the Nile Delta.
Egypt is famous for its ancient civilization and some of the world's most famous monuments, including the Giza pyramid complex and the Great Sphinx; the southern city of Luxor contains a particularly large number of ancient artifacts such as the Karnak Temple and the Valley of the Kings. Today, Egypt is widely regarded as an important political and cultural centre of the Middle East.
The official language of Egypt is Arabic, but many people also speak English and, to a lesser extent, French.

Cairo (transliteration of its Arabic nam: Al-Qahirah) is the capital and largest city of Egypt, in the northeast part of the country on the Nile River. It is also the largest city in the Middle East and in Africa. The city includes two islands in the Nile, Zamalik (Gezira) and Roda (Rawdah), which are linked to the mainland by bridges. Much of Cairo is modern, with wide streets.

Transportation in Cairo comprises an extensive road network, rail system, subway system and maritime services. Cairo is the centre of almost the entire Egyptian transportation network. The subway system, called 'The Metro' locally, is a fast and efficient way of getting around Cairo. It can get very crowded during rush hour. The first two train cars are reserved for women only.

Tahrir Square
At the centre of Tahrir Square is a large and busy traffic circle. On the north-east side is a plaza with a statue of nationalist hero Omar Makram, celebrated for his resistance against Napoleon I's invasion of Egypt, and beyond is the Omar Makram Mosque. The square is the northern terminus of the historic Qasr al-Ayni Street, the western terminus of Talaat Harb Street, and via Qasr al-Nil Street crossing its southern portion it has direct access to the Qasr al-Nil Bridge crossing the nearby Nile River. The area around Tahrir Square includes the Egyptian Museum, the National Democratic Party-NDP headquarters building, the Mogamma government building, the Headquarters of the Arab League building, the Nile Hotel, Kasr El Dobara Evangelical Church and the original downtown campus of the American University in Cairo. The Cairo Metro serves Tahrir Square with the Sadat Station, which is the downtown junction of the system's two lines, linking to Giza, Maadi, Helwan, and other districts and suburbs of Greater Cairo. Its underground access viaducts provide the safest routes for pedestrians crossing the broad roads of the heavily trafficked square.

Tahrir Square was the focal point of the 2011 Egyptian Revolution against former president Hosni Mubarak. Over 50,000 protesters first occupied the square on 25 January, during which the area's wireless services were reported to be impaired. In the following days Tahrir Square continued to be the primary destination for protests in Cairo

El-Tahrir-Square Map

Cairo University
Cairo University ( is established in 1908. It is a huge educational institution which serves more than 160 thousand students annually to meet the requirements of the Egyptian community and its development. Cairo university is the only high education institution in the Arab world to enter the 'Top 500 World Universities' list for 2007 ( It is the largest University in Africa and it's been described as Egypt's most important modern educational institution.

Emergency phone number
Ambulance Tel.: 123
Tourist Police Tel.: 126, Traffic Police Tel.: 128, Emergency Police Tel.: 122
Fire Department Tel.: 180

Information (of current numbers) Tel.: 140 - Pharmacies and Health and Medical Services


In general, Cairo is a relatively safe city and has a low crime rate. But like most cities, petty crimes and thefts are not uncommon, and care should be taken with personal belongings. Cairo has also been a target for terrorist attacks in the past as well as recently, which is something tourists should be aware of, though it need not deter anyone from visiting the city. Precautions to take are to always be aware of the surroundings and to avoid the tourist areas most densely packed with people, or to only visit the ones that have known security measures in place.


Conference participants will fly into the Cairo International Airport in Cairo. The airport is the major civilian airport in Cairo, Egypt that can serve as arrival/departure point. It enables traveling to major international airports. Direct flights are possible to/form many destinations. The airport is located to the northeast of Cairo, about 15 km from the downtown area and 25 km from the conference venue. A taxi from the airport has a relatively low price, so that arrival by taxi from Cairo airport in Cairo to the conference venue is a realistic scenario. Taxis are available at any time. Official Cairo taxis are predominantly black and white.


1-month tourist stay permits are issued to the nationals of most European and (other) Western countries at the airports of Egypt upon arrival. Passports must have mandatory 3 months validity from the day of scheduled departure out of Egypt. You have to get the visa stamps from any of the bank counters before lining up at the Passport control. The fee for the visa is about $ 15.00. For clarification on eligibility for a stay permit on arrival or other classes of immigration permits, please contact the nearest Egyptian Embassy at your place of residence. Necessary invitation letters can be sent from the organizing committee is required.

Credit Cards and Currency

The national currency of Egypt is the Egyptian Pound. You can easily change any foreign currency into Egyptian pounds either at banks or exchange offices. Automated Teller Machines (ATM) are around in major areas with many machines offering encashment services for major credit cards. Credit cards are accepted at major tourist establishments but are not very commonly accepted at shops.

Foreign Exchange
For best rates and service, exchange foreign money currency only at licensed money changers or banks. Always insist on a receipt.


Cairo offers a wealth of shopping opportunities. The city is full of a multitude of souks (bazaars) with the Khan el-Khalili being the center of the Cairo shopping scene. There are a huge variety of items to purchase in Cairo's souks and bargaining is always an important part of the experience. Things to buy include items made of brass and copper, boxes and ornaments made of inlaid wood, leather goods such as shoes, bags and belts, perfumes and jewelry and shishas (water pipes).


There are many fantastic places for sightseeing. Cairo hosts some of the most famous ancient monuments in the world including the nearby Pyramids of Giza, the Sphinx, and a plethora of other important Islamic and Christian monuments. Be sure to check out the Citadel, located in the heart of Islamic Cairo. Old Cairo host a number of ancient Coptic churches, some the oldest Christian churches in the world. And no visit to Cairo would be complete without a visit to the Cairo Museum, which hosts the world's largest collection of ancient antiquities.
Most of the countries of the world maintain Embassies in the capital Cairo.


Self-drive car rentals (but not 'one way') are available for those above 21 years and holding an international driving license. Egypt rules of the road can prove frustrating for the uninitiated.

Taxi and Transportation

Taxis are the best way to get around in Cairo. There are some hurdles, however, for those who rely on the Western way of taking a taxi: The meter is not working (properly), the drivers barely speak English and do not know the directions, and the taxis are often somewhat worn out. There is new method to call Taxi using phone 16516 and ask for English language. Non-metered taxis are on service throughout the country but fares have to be negotiated in advance. Public transport in the form of small local vans, intercity buses and trains operate at reasonable rates. Cairo features the continents only Metro/Underground system and tramways are available in Cairo.


220 volts, all local outlets utilize a two-point-plug (Euro plug).


The international dialing code for Egypt is +20. International roaming facilities can connect cell phone users except in some ofthe more remote corners of Egypt. Hotels and resorts offer international direct dialing services. Phone cards are available everywhere, as are the phones to use them in.


Cairo has a number of internet cafes that usually remain open until 11 pm or midnight. Some of them are real cafes where you canorder refreshments and others simply offer the internet connection.


Weapons, (soft) pornographic materials and narcotics are illegal imports. Visitors may bring in 100 grams of tobacco, 200 cigarettes, 1 liter of liquor duty free. Upon arrival visitors may also buy at the duty free shops located at major airports.3.


In addition to a wide choice of Egyptian and Arab newspapers, the English language daily 'Egyptian Gazette' as well as many bi-monthly's, monthly's and weekly's are available in English and French covering local and worldwide news as well as information about the country. International magazines and daily's are available at hotels and newsstands.

Health Notice

No vaccinations are currently required for visitors to Egypt if coming from the Western world. Many hospitals maintain clinics and doctors on call. Several well equipped medical (outpatient) facilities operate on 24-hour basis. Note that all services are to be paid on the spot and in cash.


Common pharmaceuticals are stocked at Egypt's many drugstores (in each neighborhood one will find a 24-hour opened pharmacy). Itis recommended that one brings copies of eyeglass and medical prescriptions to facilitate local service. Also it should be considered to bring details of any significant medical history in case a sudden need for local medical treatment arises.

Postal Services
The Egyptian postal service has a complete range of mail and parcel service, including Express Mail Services (EMS). Most major international courier services maintain offices in Cairo.

Food and drinks

In order to make sure that you can enjoy the conference and Cairo, some basic rules are recommended to every visitor to Egypt. To avoid "Pharao's revenge" follow the simple rule: "Cook it, boil it, peel it or forget it": Don't take fruits from the streets and avoid fresh salads. Don't take ice cubes in your drinks.
When you order bottled mineral water or soft drinks in a restaurant make sure that they get only opened at your table, not before.
Do not drink tap water, it is heavily chlorinated as a preventive measure for disease control, and in addition to the strong taste it might irritate sensitive stomachs which are not used to it. Boiled water is okay, since all the chlorine is gone, and you may enjoy the great tasting Egyptian tea (with fresh mint - shay be nana) or the oriental coffee (ahwa).


Hotels and restaurant menus might include a service fee or it is charged on the total bill. Nevertheless this fee is not a tip but the amount paid to the staff as salary. Though not a must it is required giving an additional gratuity varying according to the amount from 5 to 10%. All staff members in the service industry do appreciate receiving a tip. Doormen, lift boys, bell captains, room maids, drivers, reps and guides are mentioned here as well as porters at the airports and (railway) stations.


Public smoking is widely accepted and many Egyptians enjoy smoking either cigarettes or the famous 'water pipe'. Major brands of tobacco are produced locally under license or are imported for sale. Like the rest of the developed world, there is a growing sensitivity to the dangers of passive smoking. Nowadays smoking is not permitted in all public buildings and all means of transport including their stations. Many hotels started to offer nonsmoking rooms as well as nonsmoking sections in their restaurants.

Alcohol in Egypt

Egypt is an Islamic country, and most Egyptians do not consume alcohol. Most of the (rural) areas are dry, but this does not hold for Cairo and other places with tourists. Large restaurants as well as 4- and 5 star hotel may serve alcohol.
The hotels at the conference site do, however, not offer alcohol. Here are the options for those who like to enjoy it during the stay in Egypt anyway:
1. Bring with you your favorite spirits from home.
2. Purchase spirits or wine upon arrival in Cairo in the Duty-free shop at the airport.
3. Local beer comes now in a wide variety with good quality (That sentence comes from a German living in Egypt). But it is available from some specialized shops only.
4. "Public" consumption of alcohol is essentially limited to hotels and restaurants serving foreign travelers. Those will be an option for the evening, if you want one. We will supply you with some recommendations upon arrival.

Weather and Clothing

Cairo is hot and dry throughout most of the year. Expect to have 10 - 15 C, with sunshine adding some extra warmth. Rain is very rare, but you may want to bring a small umbrella - just in case.
An indoor "weather" issue: Many public places are proud of their powerful air condition systems and like to demonstrate that - resulting in chilly lecture halls or restaurants. In winter some places may lack heating facilities in turn. So an extra sweater is recommended. The conference venue will have air conditioning and you sometimes find this a little cool.
To walk around Cairo bring comfortable shoes.

Weights and Measures

Egypt operates on the metric system.

Time Zone

Egypt is 2 hours ahead GMT, or 7 hours ahead Eastern Standard Time. Summer savings time begins on the last Friday in April, when clocks are turned back by an hour, and ends on the last Thursday in September.

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