The basics

Time zone
GMT +2 hours (Summer time +3 hours when it is in place)

Language(s) spoken
Arabic is the official language of Egypt. However, the dialect spoken on the streets of Cairo is very different to standard Arabic. English and French are widely spoken with Italian spoken widely in Alexandria.

Electrical system
Local voltage is 220 to 240 volts AC. The plug has two small round pins. Adapters are available at most hotels and can also be bought in some places.

Shopping hours
Saturday to Thursday 10:00 am to 10:00 pm or later, often much later.
Some shops are closed between 12:00 noon and 2:00 pm on Fridays for prayer time or operate at reduced hours on Fridays.

Working hours
Normally 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
Closed Friday and Saturday (private sector)
Closed Thursday and Friday (government sector)

Both Muslim and important Christian holidays are celebrated.

Fixed public holidays

January 7 – Christmas (Old Calendarists) – celebrates the nativity of Jesus Christ, according to the Oriental Coptic Orthodox Church
January 25 – National January 25th Revolution – Celebrates the day of the beginning of the Egyptian revolution
April 25 – Sinai Liberation Day – celebrates the final withdrawal of all Israeli military forces from the Sinai Peninsula in 1982.
May 1 – Labour Day
July 23 – Revolution Day – celebrates the Egyptian Revolution of 1952
October 6 – Armed Forces Day – celebrates the crossing of the Suez Canal by Egyptian forces during the October War

Moveable public holidays

Orthodox Easter
Sham El Nessim (Spring festival) – The Monday following Orthodox Easter
Islamic New Year – The first day of the year based on the lunar Islamic calendar (1 Muharram)
Birthday of the Prophet Muhammad (Sunni) – The birthday of the Prophet Muhammad, according to the Sunni account (12 Rabi al-Awwal)
Eid al-Fitr – Breaking of the fast of Ramadan, for three days (1-3 Shawwal) (Bairam Feast)
Eid al-Adha – End of the Hajj and commemoration of the Sacrifice of Abraham, for four days (10-13 Dhu al-Hijjah)
Coptic New Year – in 2012 it is 11th September

Muslim festivals are timed according to local sightings of various phases of the moon and any dates given above are approximations until right at the event. During the lunar month of Ramadan, which is followed by Eid al-Fitr, Muslims fast during the day (from sunrise to sunset) and feast at night. Opening and closing hours of attractions, shops and businesses may well be interrupted. Some restaurants are closed during the day but most tourist attractions and hotels are not affected. During Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, many establishments may be closed for at least one day, and this is a time when long-distance transport is likely to be very busy.

Ramadan lanterns

Ramadan lanterns


Holidays widely celebrated but most things remain open

January 1 – New Year’s Day – according to the Gregorian calendar
March 3 – Sportsmen’s day – celebrates all Egypt’s sportsmen
March 21 – Mother’s Day – celebrates all mothers
June 18 – Evacuation Day (Eid el-Galaa) – celebrates the final withdrawal of all British forces from Egypt on this date in 1956
August 15 – Flooding of the Nile (Wafaa Elnil) – celebrates the beginning of the Nile floods
Coptic New Year – in 2012 it is 11th September
October 21 – Egyptian Naval Day – celebrates the sinking by the Egyptian Navy of the Israeli destroyer Eilat in 1967
October 24 – Suez Day / Popular Resistance Day – celebrates the resistance of local citizens in Suez during the October War.
December 23 – Victory Day – celebrates the ending of the Tripartite Aggression in 1956

Using your mobile
There are 3 mobile phone companies that you can contact to get a temporary mobile number at affordable prices to use during your stay. All mobile companies in Egypt use the GSM network. Recharge cards for phone credit for pay as you go mobiles are available everywhere.

Mobinil
012 3202110 from any mobile
16110 from any landline

Vodafone
16888 from any mobile or landline

Etisalat
011 1234333 from any mobile
02 35346333 from any landline

You will also see plenty of mobile phone shops.

Phone booths
Phone booths are located throughout Cairo and other cities. They accept their relevant company’s cards which are available at most supermarkets, even the little ones. They do not accept coins or the cards from another company. You can choose either Arabic or English as the language of instruction.

Dialling codes
Egypt: +2
Cairo: 02

To call Cairo from abroad +2(02)
Outgoing international code: 00

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