Living in Cairo
Resource contacts before you move to Cairo
A list of AUC volunteer resource contacts will be sent to you. These people are AUC faculty members who are willing to help you with any questions that you may have regarding life in Cairo. In the meantime, you may find the answer to some of your questions or concerns in the topics mentioned below. Of course, you may contact the New York Office, the Office of the Provost and the Office of Faculty Services at any time.
What to bring?
It is quite possible to arrive with little more than the clothes on your back and survive in Cairo. Nearly anything you could possibly need is now available if you are willing to pay the price. In an effort to balance trade and encourage local industries, Egypt imposes high duties on most imported consumer goods. As a result, such products may be more expensive when compared to locally manufactured goods.
In this section, we mention some things that you might want to consider bringing from home. Obviously, not enough consumables can be brought for a whole year but a small supply of family favorites to be used on special occasions will make for a happier transition. A few pictures, posters or special mementos carried in your suitcase can go a long way in ensuring that you and your family feel instantly at home. Please note that if substantial quantities of foodstuffs, toiletries and cosmetics are imported into your air freight, they will be subject to Egyptian customs duties of as much as 100 percent of their value.
Household supplies provided in AUC Housing
AUC provides furniture and household utensils, bedding (measurement for bedding is stated in the housing inventory online) and towels. You may want to look at the AUC housing office website where you will find a link to the Manual for Faculty Housing and the housing inventory.
Electricity in Egypt
Before we give you advice and tips on what is or is not available in Cairo, what to bring and what you can leave behind, information on the electricity in Cairo might help you in packing your personal belongings.
The electricity in Cairo, as in Europe, is 220 Volt and the electricity in the United States/Canada is 110 Volt. In addition, the 220V wall outlets in Egypt might be different from the 220V wall outlets in Europe, but certainly, have different style plugs than the 110V U.S. outlets. The prongs are round and may be of different size.
All equipment and appliances have power ratings written on them,
e.g.: A/C: 110 V 60 Hz 50W used in U.S. only
Or A/C: 110/220 V 50/60 Hz 10W can be used in Egypt
Normally laptops and notebook computers come with the power supply rating of input 100-240 V 50/60 Hz: Can be safely used in Egypt
Plug adapter and voltage transformers:
In order to adapt an 110V appliance with flat prongs to an Egyptian socket that requires round prongs, you will need a plug adapter. A variety of adapters are readily available in Cairo. Using a plug adapter absent a voltage transformer or regulator will result in destroyed appliances. Please be particularly cautious about voltage regulation when setting up household appliances.
A voltage transformer is used to convert the local 220V electricity to 110V. However, the electricity in Cairo varies i.e. the voltage is not always 220V. It can surge as high as 320V or drop as low as 160V. This fluctuation in voltage can damage appliances like computers, printers, televisions and stereos. Voltage regulators or stabilizers can be used to keep the voltage between acceptable levels. Voltage transformers and stabilizers are readily available throughout Cairo. They come with capacities from 50 to 2500 watts. A 500-watt model will work well with a computer, printer and stereo, and a 1000-watt model may be required for a laser printer and a microwave.
The AUC housing office can provide, on request, relocated faculty with one transformer and plug adapters for their apartment. An AUC electrician will go to inspect the machine that needs a transformer, and will buy the transformer accordingly.
You might need a power strip in conjunction with a voltage transformer for electronics utilizing 110V. Power strips are not transformers! Usually, the power strips available in Cairo don’t have built-in surge protectors. Make sure that you buy a power strip of good quality with an appropriate power cord, and adaptor to suit your needs. In doubt, when you are in Cairo, please contact the AUC housing office for advice.
Although electrical appliances are usually more expensive in Cairo it is advisable to buy them when you get to Cairo, unless you come from a country that uses 220V. The convenience of being able to just plug it in is worth the cost. You can usually sell these items very quickly when you are planning to leave Egypt.
In summer, lightweight, loose-fitting, all-cotton clothes are the coolest and the most comfortable. Cotton-synthetic blends are serviceable in the spring and fall. Breathable fabrics are best for the hottest days. Note that many places in Cairo do have air conditioning including cinemas, restaurants and AUC New Cairo campus, so you will need to dress accordingly.
In winter, central heating is available in some buildings but not in others. As such, one should plan to wear layers of clothing. It can be cold in the mornings and evenings but hot in the mid-day, so layers work best outdoors. Wools and wool/synthetic blends (preferably washable) will be a welcome addition to your winter wardrobe. Cotton turtlenecks are great for layering under sweaters, and a durable and versatile winter jacket is essential, as well as lightweight long underwear. For women, cardigans, shawls or scarves are highly useful. Heavy winter sleepers are recommended for small children.
What to wear versus what Egyptians wear:
Clothing can be a status symbol. Educated urban middle and upper-class Egyptians usually dress in modern Western clothes. Rural or peasant areas outside urban Cairo often display a remarkable variety of traditional styles and dresses that reflect occupation and social status. Generally speaking, Egyptians take pride in dressing as well or as neatly as their budgets will allow. Dress amongst Egyptian women is often conservative. In most areas, Egyptian women do not wear sundresses or halter-tops, shorts, miniskirts or clothes made of see-through or translucent fabrics. Egyptian women might wear bathing suits, only in very exclusive holiday resorts. Women typically wear athletic outfits that cover their legs and part of their arms.
Most new faculty will find their present mode of dress quite acceptable in Egypt. Any clothing regarded as unconventional in your home country will be considered unconventional in Egypt. Those inclined to be mavericks in their style of dress may not be understood or appreciated. Unusual styles of dress may inhibit communication with many Egyptians by conveying non-verbal messages that offend, embarrass or mystify them.
Generally, men can dress as they do in their home countries. A suit, slacks and/or blazer combination is generally appropriate for most social and official functions. At the Grand Hall of the Opera House, men are required to wear jackets and ties. On-campus, male faculty members dress casually in sports shirts, slacks or jeans, adding a jacket or sweater in cooler weather. However, some professors prefer suits and ties.
In hot weather, female foreigners can manage with short-sleeved blouses. Sleeveless blouses or dresses should be worn in the streets with a cover-up such as a shawl. This stems from the fact that tank tops, halters, and other sleeveless attire can attract unwelcome attention, especially when worn by women walking alone. In the classroom, many female faculty members wear slacks or jeans. Dresses, t-shirts, and blouses should have modest necklines and hems should be below the knee.
What is available in Cairo?
Ready-made clothes in acceptable styles can be found in Cairo, including many with international brand names. There are also tailors and dressmakers who can copy clothes or make clothes using magazine photos. Many types of fabrics and sewing notions are available. Commercial patterns are not.
Socks and underwear (for men, women and children) are readily available in department stores and specialty shops. Because of different sizing and limited styling, it is recommended that women bring whatever bras they think they may need until they locate a shop that has their styles.
Egyptian-made sandals and shoes are available in a variety of sizes and styles. Imported shoes are also available but can be extremely expensive. Narrow widths and half sizes are hard to find, even for imported shoes. You should plan on bringing sturdy, everyday walking shoes for each family member. Parents should consider bringing larger, extra size shoes for children to grow into. Specialty shoes for a particular sport such as baseball or track should be included in items to bring.
Sporting Clothing and Supplies:
Quality clothing and equipment for sports can be expensive or difficult to find. You should consider bringing specialty sports items or apparel with you. Tennis balls, wood racquets and nylon strings are available but can be very expensive.
Those who plan to go snorkeling in the Red Sea will find a full range of good quality equipment for rent or sale. If you already have your own gear for scuba diving, you may as well bring it. A mask, lightweight wetsuit and dive computer will suffice.
There is a special webpage dedicated to childcare where you will find information about baby supplies available in Cairo.
Kitchen equipment and household supplies:
AUC flats come supplied with basic kitchen equipment including utensils, linens and tableware, all of which can be supplemented from the local market. You may find the inventory of the AUC flats on the AUC housing office website. Paper products, cleaning and laundry supplies are readily available.
Cookware and electrical appliances:
Cookware and electrical appliances are also available throughout Cairo, but if you already have small kitchen appliances you may consider bringing them. See tips under Electricity in Egypt to help you make your choice. Also remember that appliances imported to Egypt under temporary admission must be taken out of Egypt at the end of the owner’s stay, even if they no longer work. You may want to bring specialty kitchen utensils that may make you feel at home, such as special baking tins, paring knives, a meat thermometer, or holiday cookie cutters.
Computers and printers:
AUC provides faculty with up-to-date computing facilities and services in their offices. Computers, laptops and printers are available in Cairo at a wide range of prices depending on desired amenities.
Small electrical appliances:
Radios, televisions, satellites, audio and video equipment, vacuum cleaners and microwaves are available in plentiful supply on the local market. Please note that television sets manufactured for use in the United States (NTSC system) will not work in Egypt (PAL-SECAM system). Likewise, videotapes made for NTSC will only play on an American or multi-system machine.
You will need to determine how important these things are to your individual family and weigh the convenience against the cost. If you bring such items in your freight shipment, therefore, under the temporary admission status (otherwise you will need to pay the customs duties upon entry of these items in Egypt) you must take them with you when you leave, regardless of their condition.
Small radios and regular cameras are not a problem. Note that taking pictures of airports, bridges, military areas and other special installations is forbidden in Egypt.
AUC does not provide washing machines. There are laundry rooms in AUC New Cairo housing that are accessible for all tenants at an extra charge. Outsource laundry and dry-cleaning services are not expensive by western standards. New washing machines can be purchased locally for about LE 5,000.00 (used machines for less). Depending on the condition, washing machines can be sold for a fair price when leaving the country. It should be noted that some people who are leaving Egypt would be selling washing machines and other items that they no longer need. Ads are posted on the AUC Faculty Services Committee website.
There is an abundant supply of fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and fish in the markets of Egypt as well as a growing variety of frozen and processed items. Some, but not all, spices for Asian and Indian food are available; if not available in the supermarkets, they might be available in spices shops. Very serious "chefs" who cannot find substitutes bring small supplies of their favorite spices and ingredients that are not available in Cairo on their annual trips back home.
Medical supplies and toiletries:
Toiletries, cosmetics and medications are available in Cairo, although not necessarily in the brands you use. You might bring an extra unit of your favorite items, just to give yourself time to locate local equivalents. See Healthcare in Cairo for a shortlist of Egyptians over the counter-drugs with their American counterparts for common ailments (diarrhea, sore muscles, lack of sleep, headache, gas, heartburn, colds, seasonal allergy).
Sunscreen is available. If you wear contact lenses, you may want to bring the necessary cleaning supplies. Tampons and panty-liners are available in pharmacies and supermarkets. Those who use contraceptives should bring an adequate supply of your own brand.
The University clinic advises anyone using prescription drugs for long-term maintenance of any chronic ailment to bring at least a three-month supply of the required medicine. The medicines should be in their original, labeled containers along with the prescriptions, to avoid problems with customs officers. You should also know the generic name of the drug. Although most prescription drugs are available in Cairo, not all pharmacies are well-stocked or they may carry a similar product, but not the one you use. Also, on occasion, the Egyptian pharmaceutical industry has quality control problems.
Good quality eyeglasses with glass or plastic lenses can be made in Egypt for a reasonable price. This includes bifocals and multi-focal, but not trifocal, lenses. Contact lenses are available; however, dust can cause severe irritation and infections for some people. If you wear contact lenses, be sure to bring regular eyeglasses in case lens wearing becomes impractical.
Many different makes and models of new and used automobiles are available on the local market and can now be purchased on the installment plan. For short-term use, cars can be rented (with or without a driver) from several internationally known agencies. There are taxis, buses and a metro that will serve your transportation needs in the greater Cairo area. First-class buses and trains are very well developed for trips outside Cairo. Uber services are also available and widely used.
AUC is providing free bus transportation for its employees from different neighborhoods to the New Cairo Campus. You may visit AUC’s transportation website to learn more about the routes and the schedules.
While you are in Egypt, you might need services from the consular section of your embassy. We encourage you to visit your embassy's website to get familiar with the services they can provide you in Cairo. You might want to avoid potential difficulties by bringing originals of official documents (some are listed below) with you when you move to Cairo.
If you think you will need to have documents notarized while you are in Egypt, resident Americans strongly recommend you consider designating someone with the power of attorney who will then be able to have a document notarized on your behalf. This can be a complicated matter and it is best if it can be done in the United States. The American Embassy in Cairo provides a notary service, you will need to contact the Embassy and ask for an appointment in advance.
If you have a particular medical problem, carry a card specifying your condition and describing any medications that should or should not be given. The World Health Organization immunization card is a handy record of your immunizations, blood type and other data and may be required if you travel to certain areas of the world with endemic diseases.
International identity cards:
An international identity card, available for high school or college-age students and faculty /teacher members, might be useful. This is the only internationally recognized proof of student or faculty status that will give the cardholders access to discounts in many countries, including Egypt. The student and teacher cards are valid for one year. You may search on Google for an organization in your country that issues the international student/faculty card. You may also get these cards online. For more information, you may visit one of these organizations' website.
International driver’s license:
This document has to be arranged from your home country before coming to Egypt. With this license and one’s own driver’s license, the bearer can drive in Egypt until a temporary residence visa is issued. Then an Egyptian driver’s license can be obtained. With an Egyptian driver’s license, a bearer can get an International driver’s license issued by the Automobile and Touring Club of Egypt.
International credit cards:
Read the Financial Matters section in this document.
Married couples sometimes find it necessary to carry their original marriage license when traveling in the Middle East. If the husband and wife don't use the same family name, the certificate will also be required in Cairo to document a spouse's application for a residence visa.
This is essential for renewing passports and may be useful as additional proof of age.
Academic credit and transcripts:
In case any AUC employee or dependent wishes to enroll in undergraduate, graduate or Arabic courses while at AUC, you should bring any relevant academic transcripts.
Voting registration cards:
If you are American and will be in Cairo during a federal election in which you wish to vote, you should check before departure with your hometown election board to confirm that you are registered in order to apply for an absentee ballot. The same advice applies to other nationalities.
Any necessary tax documents should be brought in your personal baggage. You might arrange prior to your move to Egypt for a professional to file your taxes while in Egypt, or at least get as much information as you can on how to file your taxes while abroad. Please note that neither AUC nor the US or other embassies in Cairo provides tax-related services. Thus, you should plan accordingly. If you plan to have tax documents sent to you in Egypt, you can have them sent via the AUC New York Office. In that case, we advise you to inform the New York Office in advance so they will send it with their weekly mail pouch to AUC Cairo.
US Postage stamps:
The AUC faculty services office arranges a bi-monthly Federal Express mail pouch for personal faculty mail (documents only) to the AUC New York Office, which then sends them via standard US Mail. Therefore, Americans should bring sufficient U.S. postage stamps with them if they wish to send letters on a regular basis via this service. They may also want to send stamped letters with a traveling colleague.
You should also bring some small denomination stamps to cover increased postal rates, should they occur. If at one point you run out of your own stamps, you can buy the needed stamps from the Office of Faculty Services Office or the Office of the Provost until you are able to get more. Non-Americans who would like to use this service can buy U.S. stamps from these offices.
Health Care in Cairo
Reliable medical and paramedical personnel staff the AUC clinic. If necessary, the University physicians will refer patients to specialists outside the AUC clinic. There are very good doctors and dentists in Cairo, many of whom have studied abroad and spoken English. There are government and private hospitals, as well as health clinics throughout Cairo and other major cities. It is common that office receptionists, nurses and lab technicians do not speak English.
Pharmacists usually speak English. Below is a shortlist of Egyptian over-the-counter drugs with their American counterparts for common ailments (diarrhea, sore muscles, lack of sleep, headache, gas, heartburn, colds, seasonal allergy).
|Category||American Product||Egyptian Product|
|Anti-Fever||Tylenol Cough and Cold/Tylenol Fever||Panadol Cold, Adol Extra, Paramol|
|Constipation||Philips’ Colon Health/
|Purgaton, Royal Tea|
|Anti-diarrhea/heartburn||Pepto-Bismol/Prevacid||Smecta, Intitrex, Antinal|
|Common cold||Tylenol||Congestal, 123|
|Antispasmodic||Spasmopyralgin, Buscapan, Viceralgin, Petro|
|Headache||Advil/Sudafed/Benadryl/ Excedrin Migraine||Excedrine|
|Hay fever (allergy to pollen/dust)||Alavert/Loratadine/Claritin||Claritine|
|Pain reliever/cream||Bengay/Mineral Ice Execdrin/Buprofen/Bayer||Bengay, Celedrex, Algesal|
|Contraceptive pills||Morning-after pill||Morning-after|
|Pain and sleep disorder||Melatonin||Exatin, Vivamax|
However, it is recommended to consult a doctor for any health problems. The AUC clinic doctors are available in the AUC Tahrir Square and New Campus clinics, and after the clinic’s working hours, one can reach them through their mobile phone numbers, which we will available upon your arrival in Cairo.
Although there can be health hazards, keeping healthy in Egypt is generally a simple matter of practicing good sanitation and health habits. A session on health will be a part of the newcomers’ orientation.
This section has been specially developed for faculty members and other individuals who are coming to AUC from other countries and will be bringing children with them, and for individuals who plan to have children in the near future.
Based on the personal experiences of parents who helped develop these pages, we have used a variety of schedules to convey cost and other information to assist potential and new arrivals in making a variety of childcare decisions. To assist in comparisons, all prices, except as otherwise noted, are reflected in US dollars. Additionally, if an email address is indicated, the specified individual invites your questions based on his/her own experiences.
Nannies are available to work part-time, full-time or live-in. They might be Egyptian but also could be Sudanese, Ethiopian, Nigerian, Filipino or Indonesian. Salaries may vary according to their nationality and the demand, as there is no standard wage.
Salaries for full-time (five or six days a week) nannies may range from $450 to $700 per month depending on the requirements of the employer, which may include some or all of the following: working hours, education, language skills, literacy, previous experience/references, driving skills, safety/first aid knowledge and training.
As is the case throughout the world, locating a nanny who best suits your individual expectations can be a laborious process. You must be prepared to try several candidates until you find someone who meets your requirements. Nannies are generally recruited by word of mouth, although some individuals report success through classified advertisements. Departing faculty or those who don't need a nanny anymore may provide reference letters to the AUC Faculty Services Office so you may start your search from there. Other AUC parents may also be a good source of information.
Babysitters are available on an as-needed basis. Middle and upper-middle-class Egyptian families generally do not permit their children to babysit, except as a favor (i.e. no payment). Egyptian babysitters are considered domestic workers and can be located in the same manner as nannies. American students or interns, either from AUC or Cairo American College (CAC), are very often available to babysit and can be located through an ad or by word of mouth. The typical fee for a babysitter is between $5 and $7 per hour.
Preschool nursery/daycare centers:
There are several preschool nursery or daycare centers in Cairo that teach in English, usually operating between 7:30 am and 4:00 pm five or six days a week. Recommendations from other AUC parents can be provided on request. A private daycare center operates on the AUC New Cairo campus and gives priority to AUC employees. Interested parents can visit the center's website and reserve a place before moving to Cairo.
The fees for AUC employees as of January 2018 are US $100.00 per month, equivalent to LE 1800.00. In addition, the Community Services Association (CSA) in Maadi, maintains a list of daycare and nursery facilities. The typical fees range between $100.00 and $150.00 per month.
For families needing special assistance with their children, there are a few recommended places, among them the Learning Resource Center, the Maadi Psychology Center and the elementary/special needs department of the American International School (AIS).
Most childcare equipment (e.g. strollers, walkers, etc.) is available for purchase in Egypt. Items not manufactured locally are substantially more expensive. Additionally, there is limited retail competition, which keeps the prices high for specialty items. Although used items are difficult to find at reasonable prices and should not be seen as a readily available alternative, occasionally items will be posted for sale on the Faculty Services website, under “Used Items for Sale.”
Many sundry items (e.g. disposable diapers, baby bottles, bottle warmers, etc.) are available for purchase, although some items may be more difficult to locate. Children’s clothing and toys are widely available, for all ages. Items manufactured locally can vary greatly in quality, and those not manufactured locally are substantially more expensive.
Diaper services are not available. Cloth diapers are available in Egypt. The well-known U.S. brand bumGenius manufactures some of their products in Egypt. If they cannot be found in your local neighborhood, then they can be purchased directly from the manufacturer (www.cottontales.com).
Packaged food, including prepared baby food, although processed locally, is substantially more expensive than in the United States. Home preparation utilizing a food processor is an option, particularly with the abundance of good quality, cheap local fruit and vegetables.
Family health care:
A list of recommended child health care providers will be available when you arrive. The AUC clinic can also provide recommendations. All physicians speak some level of English but office personnel may not. Vaccines are available, although they are not always ‘on hand’ so may need to be ordered in when you require them.
You should keep a schedule of what vaccines to request, as physicians may not specifically recommend them. Tipping is customary for non-physician personnel in a hospital setting.
Health care products which can be acquired locally:
|Bottled water||Can be purchased or water should be boiled for young children|
|Family planning||Some barrier methods and spermicides not available; Condoms, birth control pills (limited brands), depo provera and IUD available|
|Child medication||Baby/infant Tylenol, multiple vitamins, Orajel and their equivalents have limited availability and can be up to 10 times more expensive than in the United States|
Parks and other recreational facilities:
There are very limited public parks in Cairo. Recreational activities areas include social private sporting clubs (with membership) in different areas in Cairo and its suburbs where Egyptian families gather in the evenings and on weekends. These clubs include restaurants, swimming pools, sports facilities and children playground. They have temporary and annual memberships for foreigners. The annual membership for foreigners at the Maadi Club, the Gezira Club in Zamalek and the El Rehab Club (for El Rehab residents only) is about $1,100 for a couple and an extra few dollars per child.
Other recreational activities:
1) In Maadi, the Victory College and the Cairo American College (CAC) make their playgrounds available on a fee-paying, annual basis to AUC faculty with children for night usage; nannies are not permitted.
2) The Maadi House, another recreational activities place very popular with Americans, is a social and sporting club created by the U.S. Embassy for use by embassy's staff and their families. The club is also open to memberships from other American citizens who meet certain criteria, including the AUC U.S. citizen faculty members. This club includes a restaurant, two tennis courts with a pro available for lessons, a heated swimming pool and kiddy pool also with lessons available, a playground for children and green space just for running around.
Registering a child’s birth in Egypt:
Registering a child’s birth with the Egyptian authorities is a long and complicated process for foreigners. For that reason, the AUC Business Support Office helps AUC relocated parents to go through that process, as it is all done in Arabic. Therefore, it is worth contacting the AUC Business Support Office before the baby’s due date, so they can explain what documents you will need before checking out of the hospital, which will then be used for the Egyptian birth registration. When you get the official birth certificate you can then proceed with getting the child’s passport from your own embassy.
Your lifestyle in Cairo will differ from your routine in your home country. Cairo is a dusty city, keeping things clean is difficult. You may find that even the simplest tasks take longer to accomplish. Therefore, it is very common for people, foreigners as well as middle-upper class Egyptians, to hire a domestic worker to help with household chores or childcare. New faculty will have time to assess their situation and decide whether or not they need household help. Upon arrival in Cairo, you may ask existing faculty members or the faculty services office for recommendations. Because this kind of service is unofficial, it is difficult to set fee standards. Salaries of housekeepers may vary according to the nationality of the employers. It is not uncommon that salaries for domestic workers are paid in US dollars. A housekeeper may work full time for one employer or several. At the time of this writing, it might be LE 1200.00 / LE 1500.00 per month assuming one day of work (three to four hours) per week. If one desired five days of work per week, the price might be up to LE 3000.00 per month. The fees will be higher if the housekeeper cooks in addition. Therefore, it is suggested to ask previous or current employers about appropriate fees and expectations for domestic help.
Employment for spouses
There are limited opportunities for full-time local employment. The spouse of a new faculty member who wishes to teach at CAC or any of the other K-12 programs should apply well before arrival in Cairo. If full-time openings are not available, qualified individuals can often find work substitute teaching in several of the private English schools. At AUC, the Department of Rhetoric and Composition, the English Language Institute and the English Studies Division of the School of Continuing Education occasionally need an English language or writing instructor. However, a master’s degree is required and applications must be submitted in advance. Other AUC departments might also need to hire teachers locally for a semester or two. Freelance typing and editing are also possible, but salaries are often low. Someone with writing talent might be able to freelance for one of the several English-language magazines in Cairo. This may not pay well but could bring the satisfaction of seeing one’s prose in print.
Even so, anyone planning to seek employment in Cairo should bring a current resume and official university transcripts. You may also want to become a member of the Cairo Scholars group, where you may hear of work opportunities in Cairo. If satisfactory employment is unavailable, faculty spouses should be prepared to take up other pursuits such as earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree at AUC. There are many opportunities for volunteer work as well.
Internet at home:
When you arrive in Cairo, you will receive in your welcome package a form to request an ADSL service in your apartment. You will need to choose between 1 MB and 2 MB speed, and the corresponding fees will be deducted monthly from your paycheck. The AUC housing office will handle the activation process upon receiving the above request. Until the ADSL service is connected, you will be able to get connected immediately to the Internet from home through a dial-up using an analog modem connection (free). Instructions on dial-up connection to set up your operating system will be available in your welcome package. The maximum connection speed is 56 Kbps, but the download rate is between 6-10 Kbps. Your phone line will be busy while using the dial-up connection. Another option is to go to an Internet cafe, which are now around every corner in Cairo, and you will certainly find one near your building.
The postal service is usually adequate for regular letters. Mail to and from the United States and Canada usually takes a week or two. Irregularities with mail, including censorship or total loss, are not uncommon. Therefore, personal mail (credit cards and bills) can be sent with a traveling colleague, courier or via the AUC New York Office. Obviously, online banking is preferable. If you must use standard mail processes have documents sent to the New York Office, they will be forwarded to AUC via Federal Express mail pouch. Please make sure that your name and the department is well written on the envelope. Also note the same policies do not apply to packages, only mail. Surface mail travels via sea. A freighter might take a month to reach an Egyptian port from its last American port of call. Because of severe congestion in Egyptian ports and inefficiency of handling, the average delivery time of a sea post letter is about three months. Tell all correspondents to use INTERNATIONAL AIRMAIL ONLY. International airmail postage is measured in half ounces. Courier services such as Federal Express, UPS and DHL operate in Egypt. It is also possible to receive Express Mail service in Egypt, which costs less than the courier services. Express mail is delivered in Cairo by the Egyptian Postal Service, which also provides a reliable overseas express mail service. More information about these services is available from any office of Federal Express, DHL and UPS in your country. If you are having a manuscript prepared for publication, ask the publisher to send proofs to you via one of these services in order to save time.
Address in Egypt for personal mail:
Besides your personal Cairo home address, the following are other addresses that you may use:
It is suggested to receive your personal mail (for professional periodicals and books, see "Address for subscriptions" below) at the University using the address below. It will be delivered to your office through campus mail. Mail to family members should be addressed in care of the primary employee:
The American University in Cairo
Name of faculty/Dept.
P.O. Box 74, New Cairo 11835, Egypt
For mail sent with a courier, please use the following street address, as couriers do not deliver to a P.O.Box address, and add the phone number of your department:
5th Settlement, End of Street 90, New Cairo
Important documents (paper only) such as marriage and birth certificates, driving licenses, credit cards, bank statements, etc. may be sent to the AUC NY office to be delivered to Cairo with their weekly courier mail pouch. The address to use is:
The American University in Cairo
Name of faculty/department
200 Park Avenue - Suite 1700
New York, NY 10166
Address for subscriptions to professional periodicals:
AUC permits faculty to receive their professional periodicals and books through the AUC New York Office. If books are mailed in through this service it has to be one copy per book only. The New York Office will not send multiple copies of the same book. The New York Office sends such documents twice a month through a shipping company. It usually takes around 15 days to get such shipments. Please ask your publisher to mail the requested items to the following address:
The American University in Cairo
Name of faculty/department
200 Park Avenue - Suite 1700
New York, NY 10166
Important note: Non-printed material is not accepted at the AUC New York Office for shipment to Cairo.
Most people agree that there is no dependable, inexpensive way to mail packages to Cairo. Packages sent either by air or surface mail come through irregularly and are often delayed for long periods in customs. Customs duties are high, and actually claiming a package is formidable and usually involving several hours in line at the post office. An exception seems to be CDs and DVDs, which some people receive with fair regularity as personal mail from commercial sources such as Amazon.
Any special or emergency needs (medicine, glasses and the like) should be sent with a traveling colleague. You may ask the NY office to determine if anyone is traveling from Cairo to New York and willing to bring such items.
Essential packages can also be sent by courier companies such as Federal Express or DHL. Couriers need the street address and phone number of the recipient, as a PO Box number is not sufficient. It is strongly recommended that you use your AUC address. Essential packages should be sent to the New Cairo campus address including department and office number. In addition to this provide the phone number of the assistant chair of your department in case you are in class or not on campus on that day. The courier company can provide the sender with a list of the items that are either prohibited or restricted for shipping to Egypt. The package should be consigned to the recipient, and the sender should mail or fax to the recipient the list of contents and a copy of the shipping documents. The courier company may provide customs clearance service, but the recipient will still have to pay any duties assessed. Shipping by courier is expensive and again, customs duties are high, so the wisest course is to discourage family and friends from sending any packages.
Courier mail pouch to the U.S. through AUC faculty services office:
The Office of Faculty Services arranges a bi-weekly courier mail pouch to the AUC New York Office for printed items only in regular envelopes (packages are not accepted). Upon reception of the courier mail pouch at the AUC New York office, the letters are deposited in a US mailbox. If you wish to use this system, you will need sufficient U.S. postage for each item mailed. If at one point you run out of your own stamps, you can buy the needed stamps from the faculty services office until you are able to replenish your supply from the States.
Calling overseas from your Cairo home phone:
The majority of the apartments provided to faculty members in Cairo do not have an international line for dialing out. Getting an international line at home is possible but expensive. To make a phone call overseas from your Cairo residence phone, you may call the AUC switchboard operator (19282), who will place the call for you through the Cairo Telephone Central, and then the central will call you back. Charges for international calls will be deducted from the employee’s salary.
A second option is to use a rechargeable prepaid calling card, such as AT&T and Sprint, which you must buy in your country before coming to Egypt. For AT&T, click here to obtain information on the different systems. To call with an AT&T card, you dial the AT&T access number, either 2796-0200 or 2510-0200.
Egyptian international prepaid calling cards are readily available throughout Egypt to call from any landline.
Toll-free calls (800 numbers):
You cannot make 800 number calls through the Egyptian phone system. However, in case an American company with an 800-phone number has an agreement with AT&T (such as Vanguard, the Pension plan provider that AUC deals with), it is possible to call this number through the AT&T access number in Cairo, either 2796-0200 or 2510-0200. If you want to call any other 800 numbers, you need to have an AT&T calling card, which you can purchase in the US. You may call 800 numbers through the Internet.
Collect calls in Egypt:
You cannot make collect calls through the Egyptian phone system.
Calling through the Internet:
You may also make voice calls, calls to landlines and call to 800 numbers over the Internet on Skype, Yahoo Voice Out, Vonage or Magic Jack.
Calling Egypt from abroad:
Family members or friends can directly dial any Cairo residence or mobile telephone. One must dial the international access code of the country one calls from (such as 011 for the USA and Canada), then dial 20 (the country code of Egypt), then 2 (the city code of Cairo), and finally the number one wishes to call. Thus the format is 011-20-2-xxxxxxxx (8-digit number of Cairo landlines). If family members abroad wish to contact you via your cell phone number in Cairo the format is different. Most Cairo cell numbers start with 010 (or 011, 012, etc). Since the 010 is a mobile operator you don’t need the code of Cairo. Thus, the number format to dial is 011-2-010-xxxxxxx.
Bringing a mobile phone from home or buying it in Egypt:
If you already have a phone and you want to use it in both the U.S. and Egypt, make sure that it uses a GSM operating system with a tri or quad-band model. You can then buy a SIM card in Cairo. Otherwise, you will not be able to use your phone while in Egypt or while traveling. If you decide to buy a phone in Egypt, and make international calls while you are in the U.S., you need to buy a tri or quad-band model. The most popular phone models used in Egypt are Nokia, Sony-Ericsson, Siemens, Motorola, iPhone, Blackberry and Samsung. Depending upon the model and amenities, cell phones in Egypt will cost between LE 400 and LE 4,000.
While in Cairo, most faculty members use prepaid cell phone services widely available through such providers as Mobinil, Vodafone and Etisalat. You will also have the option of subscribing to a monthly service with Mobinil that is offered to AUC staff and faculty. The monthly Mobinil bill will be automatically deducted from your Egyptian pound salary. Upon request, AUC can provide the appropriate contact information to set up this service.
The University has a fax machine with an outgoing international line for general faculty and administrator use. This fax machine also receives incoming traffic. This machine works from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm. The number of this machine is: 011.20.2.795.7565. There will be a charge for sending personal messages on this machine. Messages received on the AUC machine are not private, as they are open to inspection by University personnel. Several offices and departments on campus have fax machines that can receive incoming traffic from overseas and can send out traffic to destinations within Egypt but not to international destinations. All incoming faxes should include the recipient’s name and department.
Your life in Egypt will be shaped by professional obligations. However, the opportunities to have a very active social life, on and outside the campus, are tremendous. The AUC Faculty Services Committee sponsors variety of activities for faculty and dependents. For example, cultural tours of historic sites (museums, pyramids, monasteries, Coptic churches and mosques in and outside Cairo) are common. Day trips to Red Sea coast, various oases and to the Sinai are often conducted throughout the academic year. Also AUC departments often host lectures by local and visiting authorities, receptions, parties, dinners and tours. Recitals and concerts by local and visiting musicians, art exhibits, plays and films are also offered on a regular basis.
Travel agencies in Cairo, including the AUC Travel Office, may arrange trips in Egypt and abroad. Booking flights, trains and buses may also be arranged by the AUC Travel Office. You may want to visit their website to familiarize yourself with applicable travel services.
In the broader Cairo community, cultural activities include cinema (foreign language as well as Egyptian Arabic films), theater, and concerts. The Cairo Opera House stages performances by visiting companies from around the world, and there are regular weekly concerts performed by the Cairo Symphony during the winter. Foreign and local cultural centers offer exhibits, language courses, films, recitals. Among them are the British Council, the Goethe Institute and the French Cultural Center. The American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE) offers a series of lectures and field trips in Egypt and abroad, as does the Egypt Exploration Society. The Netherlands-Flemish Institute in Cairo also offers weekly lectures and films.
Community choral groups, including the Cairo Choral Society, perform a few times each year. Churches and religious groups offer social programs. The Maadi Women’s Guild arranges lectures as well as social and charitable activities. The Women’s Association of Cairo also sponsors activities, lectures, outings and philanthropic activities that help local charities. The Community Services Association (CSA), a non-profit American community organization located in Maadi, offers a variety of classes in subjects such as Arabic and French, art, cooking, physical fitness, Egyptian culture and cross-cultural communication. It has a large lending library donated by members of the community.
You may visit the AUC website for a list of the sports facilities on the New Cairo campus. Occasionally there are enough sports enthusiasts among the faculty to muster a team or two. Several faculty members play on teams in the men and women’s softball leagues in Maadi. There is also a Frisbee team! Swimming, sailing, golf and horseback riding are available at private clubs in Cairo, Giza and Maadi. Local residents may also swim at the big hotels, where rates vary. Gold’s Gym has locations in Maadi and downtown Cairo with special rates for AUC faculty members. Runners and walkers can join noncompetitive running groups. You may also buy a membership at sporting clubs. A detailed handout of sport facilities in Cairo will be provided to you upon arrival.
The basic unit of currency in Egypt is the Egyptian pound (LE) subdivided into 100 piasters (PT). One may buy or sell hard currencies through banks or through licensed dealers. It is possible to open a U.S. dollars bank account in Egypt and transfer money.
International Credit Cards:
It is important to remember that Cairo is very much a cash-oriented society. However, major credit cards, including American Express, Visa and MasterCard are sometimes honored here, but not at all establishments.
There are ATMs in Cairo and other major cities in Egypt that accept any hard currency credit cards. Your account will be debited with the equivalent of the Egyptian pounds withdrawn, often in addition to a foreign transaction fee.
International and national banks in Cairo, including Commercial International Bank (CIB) and Citibank issue Visa and MasterCard, but some require a deposit. You may want to arrange for an international credit card from your country if you are planning to travel abroad while residing in Egypt. However, CIB in Cairo offers a debit card that you can use abroad with a substantial fee.
CIB is utilized by most AUC faculty members to receive their local salary. CIB has a branch in AUC New Cairo as well as AUC Tahrir Square. These locations will cash personal checks drawn on foreign banks as well as exchange dollars and other major currencies or Egyptian pounds. If the check is drawn on Citibank in New York there is no delay. If the check is drawn on any other foreign bank it may take 14 days to one month to collect it.
Tips in Egypt:
A lot of people improve their standard or living in Cairo via tips received for a variety of services. Therefore, occasions to give tips are countless. Here are the most common occasions, with an idea of how much to give. People delivering goods to your home (LE 3 – LE 5), laundry or ironing services including home delivery (LE 3 - LE 5), parking assistance (LE 3 - LE 5), doorman (LE 1), hairdressers (usually LE 10 for the hairdresser and LE 5 for each additional individuals that helps i.e. washing or styling), butcher or produce assistance (LE 1 - LE 2), public toilet attendants (LE 1), waiters (10 percent in addition to 12 percent service charge).