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Saturday, 19 December 2009

Property - Real Estate - Tax Law

UPDATE: 2nd October 2011 - Introduction of property tax being pushed back to January 2013.

CAVEAT: This is my understanding of the situation. I am not a lawyer or tax adviser and it is for you, the individual, to check this out with your own advisers if you have any questions / issues on the subject.

Everyone who owns property, registered or not, is required to complete a form for tax purposes REGARDLESS of the fact that if it is under 500000LE in value and not let out, even if it's just a tin shack on a roof you probably won't have to pay tax. (BUT that is for the lawyers to argue not me).

The due date is 31st December 2009 and there are fines for late submission.

DEADLINE EXTENDED TO 31ST MARCH 2010: link in Arabic here

google translate version in sort of English here

There is much debate in various places as to the whys, wherefores and ifs of this subject. Some foreigners have made comments to me like 'why hasn't anyone told us' well they have! Apparently it's all over the Egyptian news but in Arabic so us foreigners tend not to see it. It is for you to decide whether you intend to comply with the law or not.

Here is a link to the form in English for you to complete (link updated April 2010):

Link to page in English where you can download English version of form

I did go through the Arabic version with an Arabic- speaking friend and am satisfied that this English version is the same thing.

It is not very complicated to fill in, but a couple of definitions might help!

Number of rooms: this is all 'enclosed' rooms - ie with their own door. If your 'reception room' opens straight from the front door, then this does NOT count as a room no matter how big. RECEPTIONS DO COUNT AS A ROOM.

Number of bathrooms: if you have a room with just a toilet and sink in it (what Brits would call a cloakroom and some American apparently call a 'half bath'), this COUNTS as a bathroom.

If you are located out of Egypt right now, then there is an address given on the page linked to above to send your completed form REGISTERED AIRMAIL (and note you are also required to submit a copy of your passport and the purchase contract and - if you have rented it out - any rental contracts).

Otherwise, there are local offices in Egypt - I think there's an address list somewhere in Arabic, but alas I do not know where.


Well I submitted my form today and it was one of the most pain free exercises ever!!!! 22 MINUTES TOTAL in the office.

I decided in the end to take it to the Mansour St office - I had no idea where to go in 6th October - even a friend of mine who lives in 11th District had no clue where 2nd Neighbourhood was let alone building 21A and noone was answering the phone.

It took me just over an hour to get from my flat to the Mansour St office - I walked up the steps of the office at 1030am. At 1052am I walked out with receipt in hand.


I showed the reception guy my form and he saw it was the English version. So he escorted me to a little room down a corridor on the left wherein were about 8 tables with people at them.

After figuring my flat was in 6th October, a very helpful young man went right through the form with me. By the way RECEPTION ROOMS COUNT AS A ROOM so I had to add 1 to my total.

After the form was checked and he saw the copy of my passport, electricity bill in my name and contract to buy the flat, he took me to another bigger office and asked which desk was dealing with 6th October. The woman at that desk then went through the form again with him. She completed the receipt and gave it to me.

I was then taken back down the corridor to have an official stamp stamped on the receipt.

All done [Big Grin]

Note: Noone spoke English - only a few words here and there. If this is a problem for you, go with an Arabic speaker.

Where is this office?

Official address:

Real Estate Taxes Authority
15 Mansour St., Beside Saad Zagloul Metro Station
Landmark: Beside Saad Zagloul Metro Station
Bab El Louk, Cairo
02-27943775, 02-27943496,

Go to Saad Zagloul Metro Station (DownTown - just 1 stop from Sadat on the Helwan branch). Come out and turn right up the main street a little way (assuming you are on the opposite side of the road to the memorial. If not, turn left!!!)

The memorial is on the opposite side of the road. As you walk up the road, you pass (on the opposite side) the Makan centre (which by the way is a fabulous little music venue).

Pass some big gates on your right hand side, walk a little bit further until you see a large entrance with steps leading up from the street.

There is a little reception kiosk on the right hand side of the staircase. The receptionist will help you from there on in.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Animal Issues

I have been upbraided for sitting on the fence on animal issues. And yes, I know, I'm just another soppy ex-pat who should worry more about people's woes than animals woes.
Nonetheless, I continue:
I just heard tonight about a friend of a friend living nearby whose wonderful pet dog - well-trained, well-behaved, was murdered in it's own garden with poisoned meat.
I have also seen on a closed group for the area where I live educated, professional Egyptians advocating the shooting or poisoning of dogs who are just barking - nothing more.
Now, I know barking dogs can be annoying, but this murdered pet dog was not much of a barker. And in any case is there not a better solution than murder?
Can someone please explain the justification for this?
I do not buy at all the argument I often hear made that "you foreigners should worry about the treatment of people here not the animals".
In what way does cruelty to animals advance the condition of the people here?
In my view, by learning to treat those animals who are dependent on us kindly, (and those creatures like donkeys who actually help people survive with their businesses) this would begin to permeat the society and encourage better treatment of people all round. Ill-treatment of animals is symptomatic of a sickness in society.
Now before you all jump on top of me, I am not a vegetarian and I accept that makes me a hypocrite in terms of that. However, until the time comes when an animal 'must' be killed - for whatever reason is deemed necessary - it should be treated kindly.
I have seen photos and videos in the past two days of some horrific sights of animals being kept in very poor conditions in the run up to Eid, and of animals who have not been killed quickly suffering tortuous deaths.
About a year or so ago, I was walking down Haram St with a friend when we witnessed a yellow taxi run into a horse pulling a cart. The horse was staggering about bleeding profusely from its chest while the guys were arguing with the taxi driver. The poor thing was driven off down a side-street STILL with it's cart on and two guys sat on the cart as WELL and started whipping it!! My god that was barbaric.
How does THIS improve the lot of the people in society?
How does CRUELTY to animals improve the PEOPLE? It doesn't. Full stop.
How does killing painfully a well-behaved non-dangerous pet improve the PEOPLE? It doesn't. Full stop.
It is not part of Islam - I am told that the Koran explicitly requires animals to be treated well. So what, pray, is the reason?
And yes, I hereby fully acknowledge that cruelty to animals exists in all corners of the globe including little old Blighty. However, when it happens in Britain, at least the people have enough shame to do it undercover of darkness, here there is no shame in it and having seen the random acts of violence against cats, dogs, goats, donkeys all around, we see it in all it's glory.
And yes, I know we have our own issues with battery farming etc in the West. And yes I know there are moral questions raised over the concept of vegetarianism in societies where there is limited agricultural land - noone's perfect when it comes to food production. However, I am mainly focused on the point of wanton violence and cruelty to animals here.

(I will add links and tags later - I am doing a project right now til Monday night!)

Friday, 6 November 2009


First in a series of Guest Posts by Egyptians.

This is by Fatima from Cairo:

Today the 4th of November is the Egyptian Love Day.

Say Happy Love day to your mother, your father, sisters and brothers, your neighbor and don’t forget your colleagues at work…so it is not only for your lover or spouse…why don’t you tell it to people you meet in the street , and wrap it with a sincere smile. Don’t you think that this will add a positive vision to you and to people who receive it.

Why don’t you be a reason to make others happy, to make them feel they are appreciated and cared make them feel they are loved.

This is what *Mustafa Amin initiated back in the 1970’s - the great Egyptian writer when he attended a funeral, and he found almost none attending. He wanted to bring back the good human feelings , of caring and appreciation.

No need for teddy bears and balloons ..a simple sms , a sincere smile as an expression for appreciation will do it …

we all need this feeling of being appreciated and cared of to get and don’t limit this to only the 4th of November ..make it a start for a non ending

* Mustafa Amin: Egyptian writer ,established Al Akhbar ( The News ) newspaper with his twin brother Ali Amin, back in the 50's.

(If you are Egyptian or know an Egyptian who would like to make a guest post, please let me know! Note, I do not do politics or religion on this blog.)

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Women in Egypt at Work

Someone just linked me to this website:

Women in Egypt at Work

a photo exhibition by German photographer Doerthe Boxberg.

Featured among them, doing what are traditionally thought of as men's jobs are:

Basant Hegazy - Mechanical Engineer

Om Walid - Taxi Driver (for over 30 years!)

Dina Kamel - Lawyer

On the site we also see Woman of the Month:

Hanan, a car parking attendant

Om Bassem - Plumber

Monday, 21 September 2009

Over 11000 visits to my blog since I started it - THANKS!!

I noticed tonight that my 'visitor counter' went over 11000 hits since I started it around January 2008 so I just want to thank everyone who stops by and do a brief retrospective.

I hope you find the site useful (well I know from the emails that I receive that people do). Do feel free to email me if there's anything particular you would like to see on the blog - I may or may not follow up suggestions depending how I feel.

This site is intended to be mainly practical though I reserve the right to go utterly off-topic if I feel like it :D I won't be discussing politics or religion anytime soon though I may make posts referring to these issues from a practical perspective occasionally.

I'm actually amazed to find that I come up on the first page of Google quite often without putting any effort at all in to SEO strategies!

I think my "proudest" moment was when I pulled together information for how people could help in the aftermath of last year's landslide. I had not originally intended to blog on the matter, feeling uneasy about riding on disaster's coat-tails, but my blog started getting hit after hit - I think over a hundred in the first few hours after news started coming out, several hundred in a couple of days - from Google on my visit to St Simon Tanner in Mokattam article which is in the vicinity of where the landslide occurred, and I could see from the search terms that people were looking for information on this disaster.

I searched the net and there was no information available on how the public could help. I contacted a friend of mine who provided me with contact details she had received privately via email, thus enabling me to act as a central point of information for people wishing to provide assistance.

I was also chuffed when a couple of friends told me that they had Googled the El Korba festival this year and were amazed to discover the OBC had pride of place at the top of the first page of Google! Oldbag - in the Loop :D

I have also been contacted by some of the big 'time' sites to confirm information about dates and times of things in Egypt!

An issue which I also like to bring to attention is POSITIVE aspects of women's lives in Egypt. There is plenty out there focusing on the negative, so I have set up a little online project - a database which ANYONE can contribute to - feel free!!! of EGYPTIAN WOMEN in any kind of positions of influence or 'role modelling'.

If you have names and details, follow this link, check whether the person is already listed (be creative with the spelling - it is all transliterated into English so sometimes there are variations) and if not, please add them on! You can't edit mistakes, so if you DO make a big mistake, add the corrected details as a fresh entry, and email me so I can delete the incorrect entry.

So far, I have only added 39 women - but they range from athletes to professors, artists to politicians. I do have more in the cupboard culled from the newspapers, but it is a slow process.

I hope to start getting out and about again late October so look forward to making more fresh posts then.

That's all for now folks.....

Sunday, 20 September 2009

NOTHING TO DO WITH EGYPT - problems with Mozilla Firefox

This post is nothing whatsoever to do with Egypt!

Anyone else who has trouble with Mozilla Firefox browser after installing MS Office 2007 (From a CD, not the 60-day trial that is on many computers these days).

The trouble I was getting was that links were not clicking correctly particularly from Google. They were not opening and the URLs did not seem to be resolving correctly. On closing FF, the program did not stop running (even with checking the download window was also closed) and had to be manually stopped in the task manager.

This was not affecting FF on my other netbook with Office but I was using the 60day trial and just put the reg key in that instead of installing from disk so it didn't install it.

It also didn't affect Internet Explorer or Opera 10 browsers. Windows XP Home OS.

It's taken me a while to track down but.. MS Office 2007 installs a plug-in to the Mozilla Firefox browser called "Office plugin for Netscape Navigator".

First use task manager to make sure all your FFs are closed.
(ctrl+alt+del go to processes tab and manually closing the firefox.exe program - arrange alphabetically to make sure ALL are closed).

Then open FF.

Find your add-ons (menu bar - Tools AddOns PlugIns)
Disable 2007 Microsoft Office System (Office plugin for Netscape Navigator)
Close down FF (including the task manager check again).
(or completely close down your computer and reboot if you prefer).
Resign on to FF.
When you resign back on to Firefox, it should be fixed.

And pretty please with sugar on top people, do not write and tell me all about Open Office, I know all about Open Office and while it is pretty good for people not wanting to invest in MS Office, if you are doing work for organisations using MS Office, it is NOT the same.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Medical Tests in Cairo (Al Borg / El Borg Labs)

I needed a blood test so this morning around midday I visited El Borg Lab in 6th October City. I paid for the test in advance (less than 200LE for the one I wanted - the price I was charged was the same as an Egyptian friend who had the same test done recently) and waited around 10 minutes to be seen.

The phlebotomist (person who draws the blood) was exactly as professional as I am used to in the UK - using sterile needles fresh from sterile pack, etc..
You can choose to view results online or you can phone or call in. Well I called in tonight (19911) - just 11 hours later - and my result is ready!

So, I am recommending El Borg Labs to people needing medical tests. They have branches all over Cairo and other parts of Egypt Al Borg (El Borg) Lab branches and you can contact them on a single number 19911 which I believe is freephone (I used my mobile and it didn't deduct any minutes from my package).

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Attention Egyptians: Study your Masters in the UK - Chevening Scholarship Applications

The British Government Chevening Scholarships Applications for doing your Masters in the UK are open for online applications 1st August to 7th October 2009. (All applications MUST be made online). - this is for study Academic Year 2010/2011.

Chevening Scholarships



Applications are invited for study in all subject areas; however priority will be given to the following: Sustainable Development, Environment,Education, Human Rights & Good Governance, Economics, Finance & Banking, Media, Middle Eastern studies, Politics and International law.

Check the link for further information on how to qualify:

Chevening Scholarships

Friday, 24 July 2009

One Fleeting Glimpse post: from Cairo to Alexandria by Train

A fellow Cairo blogger has just posted a video link on getting from Cairo to Alexandria by train.

Find it here:

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Trip to Wadi Rayan

Trip to Wadi Rayan - 18th July 2009

Yesterday, a friend, her son and I made a trip out to Wadi Rayan, in the Fayoum area, about 1.5 hours drive out from Cairo (Giza side).

Wadi Rayan is one of Egypt’s ‘protectorates’. These are approximately the same as Britain’s National Parks – designed to preserve or encourage natural habitats. Further out along the same route is Wadi Hitan where the prehistoric whalebones are located. You need to organize a four-wheel drive though for that apparently, so we didn’t pursue it this time though it is somewhere I am keen to visit.

There’s a downloadable PDF file with more information available in the links at the bottom.

My friend collected me at my home around 930am and we went down to the Fayoum Road (if you are coming from Cairo, then the head of the Fayoum Road is near the pyramids, at Al Ramaya Square (Midan Ramaya). The Meridian Hotel is on the opposite side, and it is the road to the left of the Alex Desert Road. (By the way, there are microbuses from Fayoum at all hours of the day and night from Al Ramaya if you wanted an adventure!)

At some point en route, there is a Toll – its 3LE for cars, and you also have to pay the Toll coming back out again.

We just drove straight until we started seeing signs for Wadi Al Rayan and followed those. In several areas the signs are just in Arabic so learn the shapes! Here I made a picture showing the Arabic, then – reading from right to left – how the letters are said in English (approximately), then at the bottom how you read it in English.

It’s really very surprising to come across these beautiful lakes out in the desert area. Lake Quaran is left over from when the whole of Egypt was under the Tethys Sea millions of years ago. The other remaining remnants of this sea are The Black Sea and The Caspian Sea. It used to be thought that the Mediterranean was also a remnant, but it is actually a much younger sea.

We drove round Lake Qaran. We enjoyed the drive out, it’s farming country so the landscape is quite green and attractive – though some of the ‘smells of the countryside’ are a bit strong! Around an hour and a quarter after leaving, we got to the entrance to the Protectorate.

Foreigners are sometimes required to have a police escort – I’m not entirely clear where this would have happened as we didn’t need to have one.

Entrance for foreigners (resident or non-resident) is $US3 (about 17LE). For Egyptians, it’s just 2LE.

The main visitor’s centre (with the waterfalls etc) is about 15km from the protectorate entrance. It’s a desert track so keep your eyes open for the signs painted on boulders (but they are in English!) indicating the way to go. If I remember rightly it was approx. 14km straight ahead, and then turn left for 1km. You will see all the vehicles and cafes on the edge of the lake.

We parked up and went over to the ‘conveniences’. The ladies’ was full of laughing and chattering Egyptian women changing in to their bathing gear - burquinis for the adults

The ladies’ consists of two ‘squatty bogs’ and two sinks. The whole place is swimming in water on the floor and don’t imagine you will be able to wash your hands! I recommend you take hand-sanitizer with you!

We found the waterfalls and were amazed. Ok, we’re not talking Niagara here, but the fact that they exist is amazing. I didn’t realise until just now that the waterfalls were only created in 1966 using excess water from Lake Quaran to create the Upper and Lower lakes. The waterfalls are from the Upper to the Lower Lake.

Slide show (can take time to load on slow connection).

Yesterday was Saturday, and we were the only foreigners there. It was heaving with people splashing in the water, jumping off the waterfalls, generally messing around! Other people I know have been during the working week when it’s much quieter.

I made a short video with my camera phone (nearer the top of the page). You can see guys jumping off the top of the water at around 1:09 on. There’s a group of women in the pool beneath the waterfall and every now and then they started ululating (traditional “singing” sound usually done at weddings).

You won’t see me jumping around in there because I have had sciatica for 3 days so didn’t want to risk skidding over (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it ;)

My friend and her son went down to the Lower Lake as he was keen to swim, but they said the water’s edge was actually full of rubbish and other unpleasant debris, so they didn’t risk it.

It’s a shame about the rubbish because it is such a beautiful area. We did see some vans parked around the place (further back along the road) indicating some kind of clean up going on, I don’t recall the name though.

There are a few cafes, but I didn’t see any offering food – though we didn’t look hard because we had brought fuul sandwiches with us. We just had colas.

There is a stall selling nice baskets (25-35LE the smaller ones), glazed ceramic pots (not sure of the price as we didn’t ask about those) and so on, and also cheap Chinese plasticons.
The Visitor’s Centre was not open when we got there, so we didn’t get to see inside it.
On the way back, my friend bought freshly-caught fish from the roadside vendors.

There seemed to be quite a few resort areas along the edge of Lake Quaran.

Apart from Wadi Rayan, there is Wadi Hitan (the whale valley where the prehistoric whalebones can be seen), Madinet Madi where Greek and Roman remains may be found and the area is rich in geological and biological interest.

We drove past a hotel called Helnan Auberge – we didn’t go in, but I have looked it up on the internet and it seems really nice – if you wanted to stop somewhere very different in Egypt!

A nice day out if you want a change from Cairo!

Links: (Links checked and replaced where necessary Feb 2012)

TourEgypt article about Greek and Roman ruins

Further info about Lake Qarun

photos of the area from 1999

PDF 5.3MB DOWNLOAD Official guide to Wadi Rayan and Fayoum Area

(The original link to this guide is defunct so I found a copy on my computer and have uploaded it here. If anyone in officialdom would like to contact me if this is not ok, please let me know.)

Helnan Auberge Hotel at Lake Qarun, Fayoum

Saturday, 11 July 2009

12th -14th July 2009 Private Education Exhibition Cairo

Exhibition link:
Edu Tech 5

I have been notified of this exhibition to be held 12th-14th July at the Cairo International Exhibition Centre in Nasr City.

"Edu – Tech is considered one of the vital educational exhibitions which is held in the Middle-East and is one of the most important annual events which is all the students , university professors , private schools and the private universities and institutes owners , as well as the training and teaching centers in Egypt and the Arab World are looking forward to it."

I was sent a flyer by email but it's all in Arabic.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

On the Buses - From Heliopolis to Pyramids by Night Bus

It is the early hours of Friday morning. I have been out to dinner with friends in Heliopolis, the exact opposite side of Cairo from where I live, and have decided to trust to fate and see how near home I can get on Cairo public transport.

I am in luck at the Roxy bus station where a number 200 bus awaits my arrival to transport me and my fellow passengers the many kilometres through the faded luxury of Parisian Heliopolis down through the heart of Ramses Street. For the princely sum of 1.50LE, I am about to be taken on an adventure of the senses; sights, sounds, smells and feelings.

The bus pushes its way through the thronging crowds, all trying to capture buses going hither and thither about The City Victorious – Mdinet Nasr, Msassa, Tahrir, even as far afield as Tanta, AlIskandria, and my way- Al Ahram – The Pyramids – last remaining wonder of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

The bus fills, empties, fills again. The bus crosses over the Nile on to Gezira Island – I don’t recall which bridge – 26th July Corridor? May bridge? It is dark, I am in a reverie and don’t notice.

I look up and see an old, fat woman with a huge bag, she is squashed in the gangway between seats. I invite her to let me hold her bag, it’s customary here to offer. I hold it there, perched on my knees, until the bus again crosses the Nile over in to Giza, and she dismounts in Mohandseen.

Making our way through the dark and quieter streets alongside the university, we come upon Midan Giza – crowded and busy even now, at 1am. “Haram, Haram, Haram” “Aktoober” “ramZaiS” call the young men leaning out of the jostling buses and microbuses, “Tahrir” “RamZais” “Aktoober” – the exotic names fill my head sending thrills down my spine. What mysteries were revealed therein. “One day”, I think to myself, “I shall visit the mythical land of MSassa on one of these beasts”.

We pass from Midan Giza to the head of Haram Street – The Pyramids Road. Slowly we make our way through the congested street, competing with cars, taxis, and horses. We see a small knot of people shouting and cursing and a staggering horse in the middle. A taxi had hit the horse in the chest – it was tugging a trailer. The men got on the trailer and the poor, bleeding, staggering horse is whipped off down a side road to meet its fate. This is the dark side of this wonderful land.

By the time we get to the Pyramids Road, only two other passengers – a young man and his veiled wife - and myself were left from our starting point at Roxy. I wonder where they were going, what was their journey for? Why are they out so late?

We inch our way along until the turning off for Faisal Street. Not so long ago, you could just carry on to Al Remaya, the big roundabout outside the pyramids, with Meridian Hotel and Sofitel on different sides. They’ve reconfigured the roundabout now, and it’s no longer round! A cross roads has been cut through, and large traffic lights with giant, unmissable, LCD timer countdowns fitted. Now, traffic coming from Giza to Al Remaya has to detour via Faisal Street.

My bus terminates at Haydeck Al Haram – a huge housing complex just passed Remaya, but it would be very difficult to get an onward bus from there as most of the microbuses and buses try to fill up at Remaya to make the most money.

I alight from the bus on the corner at the head of the Fayoum Road. Many microbuses stop here, waiting for passengers for Fayoum, some 90km distant. My destination is the simpler Aktoober (6th October City). Sometimes you will find a microbus for Aktoober waiting to start here, but it’s not common this time of night. Those that do overcharge everyone – you are a captive market, anxious to get home.

There are a crowd of us waiting, as ever, for the rare beasts which Aktoober buses or microbuses are at that hour of the morning. My fellow travellers are mainly men – a mixture of workmen – either going home or starting early, I’m not sure. Men with small white turbans and long galibayas and the inevitable hammers and drills tied in a bundle with rags, and men dressed in the short-sleeved shirts and smart trousers of the office worker, on their way home from their late night finishes – all too common among the Cairene workforce.

There are a few women, a young woman with a perfect figure dressed in the typical skin-tight clothes and higab of the unmarried Egyptian female and carrying a small suitcase, two older women dressed more traditionally in black abayas, and a stout woman around the same age as me, hair uncovered, in uncomfortable looking court shoes, the flesh of her feet flowing over them, and clad in matching black and white floral-patterned polyester skirt and blouse.

Suddenly, a minibus approaches, coming across the traffic lights, a slim, young man is leaning out of the door, his hand in that familiar, “thumbs up” gesture. “Aktoober”, the voice is still distant but we are all on alert. The bus careens across the mouth of the Alex Desert Road, narrowly avoiding an articulated lorry thundering round the corner and turning in to the Fayoum Road.

We are all ready, like athletes poised at the starting line, waiting for the firing pistol. The adrenalin starts to flow, the heart begins to race a little harder, tongues moisten lips. The bus approaches – where will it stop? We are all alert, waiting for the signal. The bus goes past and starts to pull in a little way down the road, just past a half-barrier.

We are off, the race has begun, the race to get a place on the bus. We have noted that the bus is only half-occupied, who will get the seats? We charge down the road, like the start of the London marathon – elbows akimbo, who will get there first!

I am about sixth, some men push in front of me, but then I push on. No time for manners here. The bus is already starting to move. I push in to the sounds of “hoosh hoosh” (move down move down) and wedge myself between two seatbacks to help me remain upright during the 7km ride home.

I am in luck tonight, a young man offers me his seat. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t. I accept it. The only problem is, this seat is near the back of the very full bus. That means keeping my eyes peeled for when my destination approaches, and shouting ‘a la gamb, lowsamat’ (beside, please) in appropriate time for the bus driver to lurch to a halt at the side of the road.

Two indistinguishable young men got on the bus – they are handcuffed together. Which is the detective and which is the criminal? – it isn’t possible to tell.

The money man starts to push his way down the bus collecting fares. I am intrigued to notice that the two handcuffed men both pay their own fare! Imagine being arrested and having to pay your own bus fare – someone should tell Gordon Brown!

At some point, the money man stands before me and I produce the requisite fare. On some of the numbered buses they give tickets and you have to keep them – ticket inspectors do appear with some frequency – and they are not uniformed!

We travel down the Fayoum Road, passing Haydeck Al Haram, people get off, people get on. Bowaba Ola, bowaba tani... the turning for the Al Wahat Road leading off to 6th October City approaches. A group of workmen waiting at the turning push on to the bus – even more necessary for me to plan my exit – I am going to have to get passed all these guys!

I see the signs for the hotels which are down the same road as me and grow more alert. I have to judge it just right, too soon, and the driver will deposit me at the 3rd gate of my compound, a very long walk home from there – too late and it will be the 1st Gate. I need the second.

I wait for the bus to pass the 3rd Gate. I shout out the name of my compound to the smiles of all around me – ‘bowaba tani – bowaba kabeera’ – ok you can all laugh, but the bus driver understands me, I want the second gate, the big one. People in the gangway start to press against the opposite side as I rise to make my passage down. With some shifting and struggling, I push my way to the front of the bus. “Shokran” I call as I step down “Arf” says the young man at the door.

The bus pulls away and speeds off towards its next destination.

I wait a few seconds for my eyes to adjust. I have to cross a 4-lane very busy road. Big lorries often drive with no lights. There are street lamps along the road, but I have to give time for my eyes to see if there is a darker patch of darkness rushing towards me before I try to cross. Luckily, late at night, the traffic on this road is a lot lighter and I see no patches of darkness.

I cross over to the long strip of land between the two halves of the road. I step on to the grass. Yuck, ankle deep in mud. Someone’s been watering it! Luckily I am on the way home and not on my way out. This is why I wear trainers most of the time – imagine if I had been in sandals?

With more care I cross the second half of the road – there is a big curve in the bend leading up to it and traffic hurtles round at a rate of knots. I succeed in my quest and approach the entrance to my compound. I wave to the security guard and call out ‘salam a laikum’ ‘alaikum wa salam’ he waves back, and I wend my weary way through the winding paths between the bushes back to the comfort of my den and the waiting arms of my loved ones (well paws anyway ;))

(All these things happened, just not all on the same journey and I have no idea if Heliopolis is Parisian or not :D )

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Tips for Keeping Cool During Egyptian Summers

Yesterday, someone posted this topic on my Facebook page for discussion. I posted a response and then decided to make it a blog post. If you have any handy tips, either comment here or on the FB page.

If you want some facts and figures about temperatures etc, I have put those at the bottom of the post so as not to be too boring straight off.

Firstly, the health warnings:


If you burn, you will burn here very easily. If you don’t normally burn, you may still find you do here. So, don’t forget your sun factors! This is a case of do as I say, not as I do. I only use sun factors for skin that’s never seen the light of day before – once it goes a bit brown I don’t – having said that, if I am at the pool for a day, I wear a long, light cover up over my swimsuit if I’m not actually in the water so that probably provides a sun factor of around 20-30 on its own.


Forget worrying about looking like a prat, if you are going to be out in the sunshine for more than 30 minutes, wear a hat, preferably one that shades your neck too. Sunstroke is not pleasant.

As you can see in my mugshot, I am seen sporting what I call “The Last Bastion of the British Empire” upon my bonce. With that perched atop my head, there is no doubt in the Egyptian mind as to my country of origin. This does not shade my neck. A friend obligingly left a bigger, floppier hat round mine when she visited from the UK which does shade my neck. This wondrous device is called “The Penultimate Bastion of the British Empire” and I tend to wear that now if I’m out and about.

If you can stay undercover between 11am – 3pm, do so.


Dehydration is a very real risk and I do have friends who have been hospitalised with it. You need to ensure that you drink a couple of litres of water throughout the day. Me, personally, I freeze 1-litre bottles of tap water in the freezer, and then take a couple of frozen bottles out in the morning. It thaws through the day and I sip on it constantly. If I’m going out, I put one in my bag.

When I went on a desert trip last August, we were drinking 3-4 litres of water each day and not even going to the loo much.

I find that I don’t need to wear moisturizer in the summer here because there’s a constant thin layer of sweat.

I have copied the main symptoms of dehydration from BBC Health - Dehydration and I urge you to read this article if you are coming here for the first time.

The main symptom of dehydration is feeling thirsty.

In mild to moderate dehydration, other possible symptoms include:
• Dry mouth, eyes and lips
• Headache
• Tiredness
• Dizziness or light-headedness
• Decreased urine output
• Muscle weakness

When dehydration is more severe, a person may experience:
• Extreme thirst
• Very dry mouth and eyes
• Loss of elasticity in the skin, making it look shrivelled
• Passing small amounts of dark, concentrated urine
• Sunken eyes
• Lack of sweating
• Fast heartbeat

In addition, blood pressure may be low, and delirium and loss of consciousness may occur.


Before I moved here, I observed the male of the species on the buses.

Without exception, they wear cotton vests under their shirts. Now, did anyone EVER know a man do anything to inconvenience himself on a regular basis, let alone a whole country-full? So, me thinks, there might be something in this!

I purchased several cotton vest-tops from the UK to bring with me when I moved, and whenever I go out and about I have cotton vest top and light shorts on under my clothes, and to the particular grief of all who know me, I wear cotton socks with my trainers. (Why women go bare-footed and suffer the pain of blisters in the name of trying to look attractive I shall never in the world understand. Surely a foot full of blisters or covered in elastoplasts is not attractive? Answers on a postcard!)

The cotton undergear doesn't make me hotter, difficult to say whether it makes me cooler (as of course I can’t test the same trip with and without!), though I think it does.

Physiologically it should - the cotton layer holds sweat against the body and as it evaporates, it cools you (so the theory goes anyway!). It also means you don't get horrible, embarrassing sweat patches on your top clothes.

I always have one of my two hats shoved in my bag, so if I find myself out in the open longer than I thought, I can slap it on the top.

I typically wear a long-sleeved shirt or blouse when I’m out which I personally find serves to prevent sunburn, keep me cool with the wind up my sleeves, helps prevent me getting eczema on my arms (which I get when my skin is in contact with varnished wood, plastic or wool), and is culturally a little more acceptable than bare arms (if you’re not in a seaside resort, it’s better to cover your shoulders and upper arms).

Another friend of mine, though, finds long-sleeves make her too hot. I guess it’s a question of try it and see if it helps!


Most of the veils are nylon or polyester and the few women who have mentioned it to me usually say their heads are sweating and hot under them. I stand to be corrected by those who disagree though, I am just commenting on what veiled women have told me and have no personal experience of it.

Most of the clothes worn by Egyptian women do not seem conducive to staying cool with polyester featuring heavily.

I see male tourists wearing the kufiya when they visit the pyramids and the like. I would say men, in particular, need to be sure to cover their heads, even if you do think you look like an idiot! Women have a greater choice of headwear.

How HOT does it get in Egypt:

The first thing to note is that summer temperatures in Egypt vary quite markedly between Upper (Luxor etc) and Lower Egypt.

This link will show you the range of temperatures in major areas of Egypt:

Wunderground - Weather

As I write (around 11am local time), the coolest place is Sallum Plateau 24C (75F), northern (lower Egypt) – Siwa and along the Mediterranean coast – Marsa Matrouh, Alexandria etc is 26-28C (79-82F), Greater Cairo and much of the Delta around 32C (89F), down the Red Sea Coast line varying from 30C (86F) at Suez to 35C (95F)at Sharm El Sheikh, 36C (97F) at Hurghada, and Taba – on the other side of Sinai hitting 37C (99F). Luxor is 34C (95F) and Aswan 37C (99F). Yesterday in Cairo, temperatures reached 42C (108F) and temperatures in Upper Egypt can reach 50C (122F).

(Here’s a handy calculator for converting temperatures temperature converter. I didn’t use this, I use the trusty C=5/9 (F-32) or F=9/5C + 32 that I learnt at school.

Here is another link giving an overview of typical minimum and maximum temperatures in different parts of Egypt for the whole year Annual Weather Egypt.

How HUMID does it get in Egypt?

On the whole humidity is not too bad, though here in Cairo we get the odd very sweaty day. I’m finding this summer more sweaty than last – having said that I have had a very bad cold for the past 2 weeks which may be making me feel more fevery than normal.

How INTENSE is the sun in Egypt?

Egyptian sunshine is much more intense than British sunshine. For example, one day in June 2008 I went swimming for 1 hour with an uncovered back. In May 2009 (the next time I started swimming with an uncovered back) I still had the strap marks from the previous year on my back! Being out in the sunshine for a couple of hours in Egypt is a WHOLE different ballgame than being out in the sunshine for a couple of hours in the UK.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Ant Music

A visit to the kitchen inspired me to write a little on the subject of Egypt and Ants (via a quick detour round You Tube – who else remembers Adam and The Ants as a punk band before they went all New Romantic?). As a special treat, those who make it to the bottom of the post get to see the video.

One of the downsides of living in Egypt occurs every summer, and that is the frequency with which you have to do the washing up and wiping down the kitchen surfaces. For those with natural sloth-like tendencies and a couple of cats scoffing meat 3 times a day, this is a big change from the UK.

We have several different types of ants here – apparently 166 varieties - Ants of Egypt Warning – do NOT CLICK ON THE LINK IF YOU ARE SQUEAMISH!!!!! I accept no responsibility!

For the man on the Clapham Omnibus (or woman on the Cairo microbus as in this case), we concern ourselves with just 2 types – big ones and little ones. The little ones are worse.
Ants are actually fascinating little creatures – like nature’s vacuum cleaners. If you ever leave a bit of food outside or leave a dead gecko or something, within a few hours the ants have carted it off to the netherworld and it is no more.

The main problem is with the very small ants. They have amazing detecting devices in their bodies and can detect a bit of food hanging around within minutes. If you don’t do the dishes IMMEDIATELY, you will, within minutes, have a trail of ants parading from somewhere behind your kitchen cupboards, along the side of the washing machine, up on to the counter and in to the dishes. This also happens to unopened bags of rice left on the counter overnight – apparently the little **** use their legs or something to cut holes in the bags and swarm inside – don’t ask me how I know – yuck. That’s two new bags of rice I had to throw away in the past 2 weeks. Screw-top jars for dry goods are ESSENTIAL. You also learn to keep many things in the refrigerator that you wouldn’t normally do in the UK such as sugar!

The arrival of mini-ants is digital, not analogue. Winter, no mini-ants. Then, suddenly turn up one day late in May, mini-ants. You never get a day with just a few. It happened last year and this. There you are in your routine of washing up twice a day, then one day you wake up and the ants have arrived. I commented to a friend on the day it happened this year. From this day forth until sometime in September you are now compelled to wash up about 8 times a day which believe me, sucks your life blood away. And it’s an inefficient use of time and hot water.

Every now and then I confess to spraying them with noxious, environmentally-unfriendly substances. We have a range of such substances available here in Egypt that are banned in the UK. I know, it’s a shameful confession to have to make, but sometimes the hordes are so great, it’s the only way of dealing with them. Better to wash up 8 times a day to avoid bad karma.

And here, for those having a nostaliga attack is Ant Music by Adam and the Ants (I don't know if this plays in the UK, I know they have issues with You Tube!)

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

El Korba Festival 2009 (Cairo, Heliopolis)


Just a quick note as people are looking for it!!! I have been informed that the El Korba Festival for 2009 will take place on FRIDAY 15th MAY - presumably in the usual place - El Korba area of Heliopolis - Baghdad Street.

Nearest tram stop is Roxy (20 mins from Ramses Train Station for 25pst) and its about 10 mins walk from there.

Please note I accept no responsibility if this festival is not happening, I am passing on information received!!!

El Korba's nice enough anyway - cafes, bars, green stuff etc.

Here's a link to my post about last year's festival:



Just thought - I guess if it isn't happening we could do one of those 'flashmob' things and all show up anyway!

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Marriage between foreign women and Egyptian men.

If you are planning on marrying an Egyptian (or believe you already are!!!) please check out inheritance, divorce etc laws as they are NOTHING LIKE the US or UK.

This is the position as I believe it to be:

There are 3 levels of marriage in Egypt - foreign women often don't realise this.

Basic Orfi - done in a lawyers office. Allows you to be with the guy unhindered by police. Because this is quite similar to a UK 'registry office' very basic affair, some western women think its a full marriage. It isn't, but you are STILL married. Some hotels or flats will accept it as a marriage but by no means all. This is the one where you can be divorced by the guy just by tearing up the paper. Women - make sure you get both copies of the paper - getting divorced from this one can be very hard if he does a runner and marries someone else and you, the woman, are still married under the law (all the hassle and none of the benefits - women, you can't marry again while you are still married with this one). First you have to find him, and then you have to persuade him to divorce you.

Court-Registered Marriage - its a full legal marriage in Egypt - and the only one you can get if you are a second wife (by which I mean he is still married to the first wife not divorced) - but is not recognized internationally. You can get marriage benefits with this paper - residence, Egyptian rates in hotels etc - while protecting your assets outside of Egypt (if this is an issue for you PLEASE take legal advice - I am just given to understand that this is the case). The marriage contract has both your photos on it. If it doesn't its a basic orfi. (Update 8th June 2009: I have been informed that you can register your orfi in Court and then it is a court-registered marriage but doesn't have your photos on it). Many foreign women are happy with this as they are legally married within Egyptian law. Make sure you take advantage of the opportunity for 'contract conditions'! It's basically a 'pre-nup' but you should explicitly state things such as freedom to travel without husbands permission, and if you have kids things round that (but obviously you have to work within Egyptian law). Don't leave anything to chance!

Internationally recognized marriage (UK and US anyway) -has to take place at the Ministry of Justice in Cairo. You can't get this one if you are a second wife. MoJ checks whether he is already married (and you) as you cannot have a legal polygamous marriage under UK or US law.


There are many lovely Egyptian guys out there but ladies, do be warned. You may wish to check out your 'honey' on one of the following two sites:

Put Egypt in the 'search country' to get the Egyptian list


Russian site but a lot of the Egypt stuff is in English

As I said, don't shoot the messenger. I personally know 3 British women who have been ripped off for many tens of thousands of English pounds - over £300k in one case.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Travel in Egypt by Bus: Sharm El Sheikh by bus from Turgoman (Cairo Gateway) Bus Station

I went to Sharm El Sheikh by bus for a few days, here are some notes about the journey. The journey took about 6.5 hours going and about 7 hours returning.

From Cairo to Sharm El Sheikh

My travelling companion and I met outside the Ramses Hilton where he had already ascertained that the next bus to Sharm from there was a couple of hours wait, so we taxied up to Turgoman (old name) Bus Station. It is in the centre of Cairo, and is now part of the Cairo Gateway Plaza - a new shopping mall, still being constructed. So if you are looking for it, follow signs for Cairo Gateway.

I haven't been able to find an accurate map of the location, but I think the nearest metro station is Orabi on the Helwan/El Marg line. It looks to be about 5-10 minutes walk - but don't quote me - I didn't walk it!!

Here's a link to a photo of the front of the bus station:

Photo of front of Turgoman (Cairo Gateway) Bus station

Its a very modern bus station and I was rather impressed - it reminds me a bit of the done-up Victoria Coach Station in London. You have to pass your bags through the usual scanners on entrance and the ticket windows are right there in front of you - to the left and right hand sides. The left hand side seemed to be focused mainly on Cairo / Alex / Delta, Siwa, and on the right hand side on Suez, Sinai (Sharm, Dahab, Nuweiba, Taba, St Katherine) and Upper Egypt. Destinations are labelled in English. There are two different bus companies (at least) so some duplication of destinations with different prices.

We took the East Delta bus as it was the next one due out - they seem to be every 2.5 hours - we just missed one so we had to wait until 1.30pm for the next one. My Egyptian companion paid 70LE and I paid 80LE.

We had a long wait down in the bus station waiting area which has departure gates and quite a lot of seating. It didn't get very busy at all. We were travelling on a Friday midday though which possibly makes a difference.

There are a couple of cafes on the entrance floor to the shopping mall, the ones you see first are quite expensive and not particularly good. At the far end, though, there is a traditional Egyptian food - much to my companion's relief! We got 2 fuul sandwiches for about 2.5LE.

When time came to board the bus, the destination was called - Arabic only so listen out. Bags go in the side of the bus as per standard, and a sticky label is put on the bag and on your ticket. Sit in the seat indicated on your ticket. In my experience, Egyptians rarely deviate from 'their' seats even if there is room elsewhere - whether its a bus or a cinema.

The bus was reasonably comfortable, the airconditioning functioned well for most of the trip and there was a w.c. on board (good because that guarantees you don't need it )

The bus departed exactly on time, and we picked up at Abbassiya and another location in Nasr City eventually exiting Cairo after about an hour.

There were 12 passengers in all.

There was a single rest stop at about half way (3.5 hours in to the journey). This rest stop is after Suez Canal and before Ras Sudr. Its not beautiful, but any loo is a palace in a time of need.

We had 3 police checks en route - 1 just for foreigners (going in to Suez Canal), 1 for Egyptian men, and the third for everyone on entering Sharm.

Two films were shown on route, on each portion of the journey. Both in arabic - something called A Lion and 4 Cats (slapstick comedy) DVD of Lion and 4 Cats - even though it was in arabic, it was so obvious that you could follow it without understanding the words! And a rather blacker film called Casino (can't find a link anywhere on line).

We arrived at Sharm (East Delta Bus Station) about 8pm where our friends met us. If you are not getting met, you can get taxis, and if you walk out to the roadside, there are microbuses available. I don't know where they go or the cost though - I am told that fares around there on microbuses should be around 3-4LE.

If you haven't been to Sharm before, it is very long - stretching up the coast for many kilometers so unless you know what you're doing, its probably best to take a taxi but haggle well for the fare as they will try and rip you off big time.

IMPORTANT NOTE IF YOU ARE TRAVELLING WITH AN EGYPTIAN AND YOU ARE A FOREIGNER if you are travelling and planning to stay with an Egyptian friend of the opposite sex to whom you are not married: my friends are renting their home and it is ILLEGAL for unmarried Egyptians to share bedrooms with persons of the opposite sex (in any case my companion is "just a friend" so from our point of view this wasn't an issue). My friends had to show the security at the place they live that my companion and I were on separate floors and bedrooms well apart. Landlords knowingly letting unmarried Egyptians of opposite sex share a room could be in trouble with the police.

From Sharm to Cairo

On the whole this was a rerun of the outward journey, but there were some differences.

We took the bus from East Delta bus station, prices the same. Departed exactly on time again. The bus was rather more full than on the outward journey. The toilet 'filled up' - apparently someone shoved lots of paper down there. The driver cleared it, then the same guy went to the loo again and it all backed up again. After half way it was not possible for women to use it because of the height of the water in the pan so take full advantage of the single facility for women at the rest stop.

There is a passport check for foreigners before leaving Sinai - this is because foreigners can be on Sinai without a full Egyptian visa, but if you want to leave Sinai you MUST have a visa.

Also note that we ALL had to get off the bus near Suez and get our bags out for a sniffer dog check - presumably for drugs or explosives.

The film 4 Cats was shown again, and another slapstick film called KatKoot Katkoot movie info

The bus reached the edges of Cairo around 445pm but as it as rush hour took about another hour to get to Abbassiya bus station where it terminated (I think this bus station is referred to as International Bus Station in "Cairo Maps". If you are meeting people off a bus coming from Sharm or anywhere, CHECK WHERE IT TERMINATES!!!) There does not appear to be a nearby metro station. You can get buses outside to Ramses and presumably other destinations. Another note - the ladies toilets at Abbassiya bus station are both 'squat' style.

Personally, I would avoid travelling on Sinai by bus at night - the roads are treacherous, many Egyptians drive very fast, without lights and not keeping to one side of the road. Also, the edges of the road as it encroaches in to the desert are not particularly clear.

Nothing to do with Egypt - Facebook - How to see friends status updates

As a service to my readers - having arrived back from a few days break and gone on to my Facebook to open up my friends' status updates to see what was cooking, its no longer possible and you are expected to comb through the 'stream' on the homepage or click on individual friends (totally timeconsuming!!!)

Anyway, here is a link to the Facebook mobile phone website which allows you to see your friends' status updates in one fell swoop:

Link to see your friends status updates on Facebook all in one go

Frankly, this latest change has rendered facebook virtually useless. I'm not interested in 'finding friends', I want to see the present status of people who are ALREADY friends!!!! and I don't want to wade through stash loads of 'Bloggs got a new egg' kind of rubbish since you are no longer able to block applications which you don't sign up for posting rubbish on your home page.

Facebook - get your finger out.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

The Big Read - Global Campaign for Education - 20-26 April

I just found out about this campaign. You can check out their webpage here and download the book itself (PDF file 9.5MB) in different languages. The Arabic translation is just 4.5MB because it is printed so 2 pages are on one page if you get my drift!

The Big Read

This press release explains the background behind the campaign.

The Big Read’: 10 million expected to read stories from Nelson Mandela, Natalie Portman, Desmond Tutu, Alice Walker and others

10 million people are expected to take part in The Big Read, to demand urgent action for the one in four women who are illiterate. Nelson Mandela, Natalie Portman, Desmond Tutu and Alice Walker and others have contributed stories to The Big Read - a book aimed at challenging the global education crisis.

What? The Big Read is a book of short stories about education written by leading figures, Nobel Peace Prize winners and award winning authors. It has been distributed in more than 100 countries free of charge to children, parents and adult learners. Readers will add their name to a declaration - demanding that all governments deliver a good quality free, public education. The Big Read is the Global Campaign for Education’s activity for Action Week this year (20th – 26th April 2009).

“Learning to read and write changes lives; it means jobs, money, health and dreams fulfilled,” commented Her Majesty Queen Rania of Jordan, who is the Honorary Chair of Global Action Week, 2009.

Why? There are 774 million illiterate adults, 75 million children out of primary school and 226 million children not in secondary school. Nearly all governments have promised ‘Education for All’ by 2015, yet the current global financial crisis threatens to worsen the global situation and leave millions more without an education.

“The world’s poorest did not create this financial crisis, yet they stand to pay the highest price. Budget squeezes in education are threatening to reverse progress made in recent years. We cannot allow illiteracy to rise. The rich world has a responsibility to education – one of the world’s best investments the world can make to combat poverty. We are calling for $16 billion, a small fraction of the cost of the bank bailouts,” says Assibi Napoe, Chair of the Global Campaign for Education.

Where? The Big Read is taking place across the world, in homes, schools, government buildings and public events. Here is a small glimpse of what is happening:
• Angelique Kidjo, Ishmael Beah and education advocates are having a press call, Tuesday 3pm GMT
• In the USA there’s a competition to be included in the Big Read book. The campaign aims to get 50,000 signatories to deliver to Obama just before the G8, asking him to contribute $2 billion to the Global Fund for Education.
• In Washington DC Queen Rania of Jordan (the honorary chair of Global Action Week) will join Congresswoman Nita Lowey and Counsellor to the Secretary of the Treasury Gene Sperling in a press conference on Tuesday 21st.
• In Malawi the President is taking part in the Big Read.
• In Denmark 187,000 students are reading the ‘Reading Rocket’ as part of Action Week, and 500 students and teachers will read speeches on education to the Danish Parliament on the 22nd April.
• In Brazil the campaign, UNESCO and National Parliament Education Committee is holding a Big Read event on the 28th April, entitled Read and Write the World.
• In South Africa a brand new education movement has been started called ‘Public Participation in Education Network’. PPEN are taking the Big Read to libraries and schools across the nation, with a highlight event taking place on the 16th June.
• In Vietnam 50,000 students have already sent in essays into a Big Read competition.

“Learning is as fundamental a birthright as freedom. Denial of education is denial of freedom. The Big Read is a campaign that gives a second chance for every youth and adult", stated GCE President Kailash Satyarthi. (End of press release).

Did you know:

A 10-year old girl saved over 100 lives in Phuket when the devastating tsunami struck in December 2004 BECAUSE SHE WAS LITERATE.

link to Alexandria Proclamation on Information Literacy and Life Long Learning

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Nothing to do with Egypt...

.. but its my blog and I'll sidetrack if I want to...

came across this tail (sic) of a naughty cat

Bowled Over

A Rat in a Cat in a Hat to totally misquote the great doctor himself.

Anyway, folks, I'm back again now. Had a lot of academic work to complete and a trip to the UK - half business half pleasure, so didn't have the energy for blogging, but here I am.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Public holidays and daylight savings times Egypt 2009


Please note that the information below relates to 2009. Information for 2010 and 2011 see link at top of this post.





Other dates you may see are 27th August 2009, Thursday September 24th and Thursday October 1st (printed in my Egyptian diary!)

Original Post below:

I haven't posted for a while because I have been ill ('man' flu - ie a bad cold), entertaining a friend over here for a while, and have also been incredibly busy trying to finish off some academic work which I had 18 months to do and of course am trying to get in to the last 2 weeks!

Anway, I thought that I would make a post about public holiday dates, just to keep things going! Generally speaking, big companies, banks etc have holidays on these dates, but with the exception of the end of Ramadan, you will find most of the smaller businesses, malls etc open (possibly with later start times).

Apparently a new public holiday "Taba Day" has also been declared for March 19th. link about new public holiday

source of info on public holiday dates

7 Jan* Coptic Christmas Day.
9 Mar Birth of the Prophet.
(20th Apr - might be coptic easter, see comment by 27th April).
25 Apr Sinai Liberation Day (Sinai only).
27 Apr* Sham el-Nassim (Coptic Easter). {I have been advised that this date given on the link above is possibly wrong and maybe 20th April).
1 May Labour Day.
23 Jul National Day.
11 Sep* Coptic New Year.
20-23 Sep Bairam Feast (End of Ramadan).
6 Oct Armed Forces Day.
27-28 Nov Grand Feast.
18 Dec Islamic New Year.

Source of info on Daylight Savings

Clocks go forward 1 hour for Daylight Saving at midnight on 23rd April 2009. This means that from midnight on 28th March until midnight on 23rd April, Egypt will only be 1 hour ahead of the UK instead of the usual 2.

**NOTE WELL: amended information** Clocks will go back 1 hour at MIDNIGHT on Thursday August 20th 2009. (i.e. as soon as it gets to MIDNIGHT, the clock will go back to 11pm that night) so we will be only 1 hour ahead of the UK again for nearly 2 months until the UK clock goes back at 2am on Sunday 25th October 2009.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Jessica Simpson put on a few pounds.. weight and Egyptian women

Apparently this lady has put on some weight and its BIG news (pun intended!)

As she says "people focus on things that are completely pointless".

check the story here

Now here's some photos of her and she looks completely stunning!

For me, one of the great things about living here in Egypt is seeing how many very overweight women are in positions of relative authority (professors, doctors, etc) and no one thinks anything of it.

(By the way don't misinterpret to mean that I think its great that women are really overweight. My comment is about how it is just one aspect of them and doesn't overshadow everything else. Female obesity is an issue in Egypt article about obesity in Egyptian women and a report published 15-20 years ago found that Egyptian women had the highest incidence of national obesity in the world. Here's a google search link if you want to find out more.)

In the UK it seems to me that very overweight women are rarely found high up the career trees, rarely pushing themselves forward for higher status positions preferring to stay out of the limelight. It doesn't help that the typical image of women 'breaking the glass ceiling' in the UK is of slim, beautiful 30 year olds in power suits.

On those occasions when I return to the UK, I am struck by the rows upon rows of 'celebrity', 'gossip' and women's magazines which are utterly obsessed with weight. In Britain, girls grow up thinking the only way to get rich and famous is to become known for constantly putting on or losing a few pounds or shagging a footballer. Problem is, they're right! Never mind how many A* GCSEs you manage to get - what counts is being famous for being famous. The crap that passeth all understanding in the form of "X factor" "Celebrity this or that" "Pop Idol"...

In Egypt, there is an almost complete absence of these kind of magazines. Yes, there are a few lifestyle magazines - but to me they seemed designed more to appeal to relatively wealthy metropolitans. Long may it stay that way.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Challenging new art exhibition at Palace of Arts, Opera House Grounds

I met up with someone yesterday and we popped in to the Palace of Arts (she was leaving Egypt today to go back to her country) and I just wanted to give her a taster.

They have a new exhibition there and it is NOT pretty! Its art at its most disturbing.

If you want art that's challenging its an absolute MUST! (Those who joined me in a visit in October - this is 100% totally different!)

Its absolutely free to visit - get off at Opera metro station, find the entrance to the Opera House grounds - the Palace of Arts is just over the grass from the Museum of Modern Art. It opens 530pm (I think its open during the day as well at some point but don't know the times).

Monday, 12 January 2009

War and Hate

The current war being raged on Gaza is affecting many of us here in Egypt. I have decided not to discuss the rights and wrongs of this war on this blog as there are many other blogs and forums around the net doing this - and indeed I have made some posts on some forums giving my opinions.

Egypt is receiving civilian casualties from Palestine into a number of its hospitals and a lot of people are visiting the casualties to take them the necessities of life in hospital such as clothing, toiletries and so forth needed as they have come only with the clothes on their back.

A group of women (mixed foreigners - British, American, Pakistani, Scandinavian, Iranian) I know visited the Sheik Zayed Hospital near 6th October today and talked with some of the Palestinian casualties. You can read about their visit and link to some of the photographs they took of casualties (posted with the permission of the relatives) here on this link: EgyptSearch- topic about visit to SZ Hospital

Update (20/1/09) This story has now made it into The Times: Report about the Sheik Zayed casualites brought to world attention by the group of women that visited there

Update - report from CNN iReport on the casualties in Sheik Zayed Hospital:

What you don't know..

I just want to make it clear that my belief is that this is about the affects of war on REAL PEOPLE, not a blame game. I don't have a link to any equivalent information on the impact of rocket attacks on individuals in Israel and if someone sends me one I will be happy to consider linking it through.

I am absolutely not in the game of saying 'your dead child/wife/husband/mother/father is worth more/less than our dead child/wife/husband/mother/father. Both sides should stop using violence to justify their positions. Each life lost will affect the lives of those around them the same - it is a personal impact. Counting numbers is irrelevant.

How to deal with hate at a time like this?

When is it ok to hate?

There's a 10 step programme towards the end of this link about letting go of hate. It starts from the assumption that you WANT to stop hating.
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