Is it safe to live in Egypt?
Is it safe to Live in Egypt?
For us foreigners who live here, this isn’t even a question worth spending breath on – simply because the answer is, what we call, ‘blindingly obvious’. But for those who find themselves wondering what the answer is, often come to the wrong conclusion. And that conclusion is a negative one.
For those who don’t know, the answer is a big, resounding, yes!
It must be said, however, that for my personal experience, and the experience of my peers and friends, the view is mostly from the vantage point of living in El Gouna.
So, with that in mind, let us begin with El Gouna. El Gouna is arguably the safest place to live in Egypt and one of the safest in the world. But how do we go about measuring this? Without presenting a myriad of statistics, I’ll present my argument from experience rather than cold hard facts.
We first came to El Gouna in April 2016. We traveled from London, where we were living, and stopped in El Gouna for 4 days en route to South Africa, where we’re from originally. When we told our friends that we were going to Egypt, we got presented with comments like: “Why would you fly INTO a war zone?”; “Egypt! You had better get a police escort. It’s not safe for tourists.”; and “Aren’t there terror attacks going on there?”. Naturally, I’m not one to pass up an opportunity for adventure and to see a new place, but these negative viewpoints have ways of slowly making you doubt your decision. That’s exactly what happened to me.
Still, we went ahead with our decision to stop over in Egypt but I vowed to go from the airport, stay at our destination and then go straight back to the airport. And we did that. It is always better to lean on the side of caution, but you also have to live. Now, with hindsight, I laugh at myself. It took a while to break the predisposition, but it has been firmly broken.
Look at the world
Upon thinking about it, I realized it’s all just media hype and western media seems to have the loudest voice, dominating news networks and social media. They seem to focus on the dangers of other countries, whether it’s true or false, and minimize their own.
For example, I had to take my two young boys to the South African passport office in Trafalgar Square, London. I walked from Waterloo station to Trafalgar, passing Westminster on the way. The passport office was closed due to a bank holiday in South Africa (I’m still not sure that’s reasonable, but anyway) and so we had to go home. I intended to come back the next day, Wednesday, but it was pouring with rain (no surprise there) and so I decided to wait and go the following day, Thursday. Watching the news on Wednesday night, it read “Terror attack on Westminster Bridge today”. This is right where I would have been walking with my boys and, thankfully, we missed it. I did go the passport office the next day, figuring that the site of a terror attack is one of the least likely places to have another one, and needless to say, the streets with heaving with news teams and independent bloggers.
We all know about the bigger terror attacks in London, Manchester and over Europe where many, many people have died and so, my argument to my friends was “Open your eyes, you have a terror threat right on your doorstep, but you’re worried about us going to Egypt?”
Without getting too defensive over Egypt, it does have to be said that this beautiful country has had its fair share of issues. One of the most shocking events was the Russian Airbus A321 that crashed on the Sinai peninsula in 2015 after somebody had smuggled a bomb on board. There are facts as well as speculations that are outside the scope of this article, but it spelled trouble for Egyptian tourism – a vital constituent of the country’s income.
Two years prior to that, in 2013, Egypt had its military coup d’état, issuing in the current president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. And two years prior to that, in 2011, Egypt had its major revolution against, then president, Hosni Mubarak.
These are media feeding frenzies which somehow lock into peoples minds. One can hardly blame them, but 99% of the time there are few issues.
You can Google which cities are the safest to live in and you’ll find varying results, but I saw a city in Turkey on the list. Ataturk airport was bombed a month after we passed through it. I even found New York city on a list. Ironically I had flown out of New York City 15 hours before the twin towers came down. And so, I’ve missed a few terror attacks. Sadly, many haven’t. But the point being, in El Gouna, I, and everybody I speak to, are amazed at how safe El Gouna is.
The number of bicycles I and friends had stolen in London, I can’t even count. The number of burglaries we had in South Africa. The list goes on. But here, we leave our bicycles unlocked, outside – unheard of anywhere else. Our children can run free without fear of being kidnapped.
All praise really needs to go to the management of El Gouna who have set up a system that works. Two of the biggest aids we have on our side is that everybody coming into El Gouna gets checked at the entrance by security; everybody in El Gouna knows, if you steal or do anything illegal, you can be barred from entering the town. It’s not worth it. El Gouna is a paradise.
El Gouna is by far the safest place I have ever been. As for the rest of Egypt, I can only make limited comments on Hurghada, Cairo and Luxor. These are all more or less the same: The biggest issue you face is hundreds of hawkers trying to sell you something – quite forcefully, but seldom aggressively. But if you’re driving, hold on to anything because you’re in for something far more adrenaline-inducing than a roller coaster. Having said that, you see very few accidents on the roads. It’s kind of like a gushing river – you just have to jump in and flow with.
And so, my answer at least is, yes it is safe to live in Egypt.