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What's with the fear regarding travel to Egypt?

I would only go on a guided tour where armed guards are provided by the government for protection.

Egypt is an unsafe country, and I would advise against going. The risk to westerners is too great.

I strongly advise against doing Egypt on your own... if you go with a tour group, you will have armed guards escorting you.

Americans should not go to Egypt, the people there think we are the enemy.

These are all direct quotes from this forum.

When I was there a few months ago, there certainly wasn't a need for armed guards, and none of the groups I saw had them. Honestly I question whether people saying you need armed guards have even been to Egypt. I don't mean to say that Egypt is a paradise where nothing bad happens, but there's more crime against tourists in most places in Europe. Do you need armed guards for your next trip to London?

I agree with the sentiment that traveling with a group in Egypt is probably a good idea, but solo travel in Egypt is definitely not dangerous, and shouldn't be discouraged, especially for people who have experience with solo travel.

So, what are everyone else's thoughts on travel to Egypt?

Edit 23:30 EST

I'm not doubting that women face extra issues that men don't, nor am I saying solo travel in Egypt is without risks, especially for women. This post is in response to broad statements on this forum that are discouraging everybody from traveling to Egypt.

If people were saying "Women should use caution when traveling to Egypt" or "Women should probably not travel Egypt solo", then I wouldn't have an issue with it but that's a very different statement to make from 'Americans should avoid Egypt, the people there consider us the enemy.'

Also I'd like to clarify that when I say Egypt isn't dangerous, I don't mean to say it's without risks. I just mean to say that it isn't the terror-ridden wasteland many Americans seem to consider it to be.

Posted by
3476 posts

When were these quotes from?

Are they all from the same person/article?

I have not noticed any recent Egypt bashing, but then I haven't been looking for any.

Posted by
8 posts

Two of them are from this month, replies to "Insights into Egypt" and "What should a female tourist wear in Egypt?", other ones are older. The recent ones are from the same poster, other ones are different people.

Posted by
21327 posts

And your expertise, Jack, to comment on this subject is ???????

Posted by
8 posts

My expertise is that I'm an experienced traveler who's been to Egypt and has done extensive research on the subject of tourism and safety in Egypt.

I don't claim to be the top authority on whether it's safe to go to Egypt, but I know for a fact that half of the stuff posted here isn't accurate.

Posted by
5085 posts

I would essentially agree with @ Jack Jennings, although 1) I am not really surprised to read those kinds of comments, even here, and 2) I might have articulated the viewpoint a little differently.

The fact is, many Americans have impressions of much of the world that border on hysteria - even those who are comfortable with the idea of visiting Paris or even Prague. I've read similar nonsense (about needing armed guards, you're gonna die, etc., etc.) about going to Mexico, on this very forum. There's a lot of irrational fear out there, and yes, a lot of stunning ignorance displayed, even here. I try to chuckle when someone posts here asking if he can use US dollars to pay for things in Ireland, if the Frankfurt airport will have US electrical outlets, or if it's safe to drink tapwater in Paris. Yes, there are plenty of "low information" voters...um, travelers even here. While there are many regular contributors here who are in fact true experts by any definition, this forum is also a magnet for casual Googlers who couldn't find Italy or (even Europe) on a map if their life depended on it, even though they've got tickets to fly there next week.

Personally, I'd have no qualms whatsoever about visiting Egypt and traveling independently there (although I'd probably give Saudi Arabia a second thought...). I've been to places more edgy than Egypt and have some faith in the value of using common sense, but sadly in today's world that appears to be in short supply.

Posted by
342 posts

My daughter’s organized tour had an armed guard for part of her tour of Egypt and that was before the Arab Spring. She did not go out alone because otherwise many men would accost a single female.

Posted by
2800 posts

Perhaps the responses are based on the very strongly worded US State Department travel advisory for travel to Egypt: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories/egypt-travel-advisory.html. It is true that the UK and Egypt are both listed as "Level 2 Exercise Increased Caution" but the additional verbiage about Egypt could be the basis of those comments. My husband travels to Egypt every 18 months or so for business and he is accompanied by armed guards provided/mandated by his employer when he is there, but that is also the case in other countries that I will not list here but is not the case in the UK or the vast majority of countries that he visits.

Posted by
6364 posts

And your expertise, Jack, to comment on this subject is ???????

Since when do we have to have 'expertise' in a location to comment on this forum about our experiences and opinions about the place? Seems to me the OP was posting about his recent experiences in Egypt. Isn't that what most of us do here?

Posted by
1356 posts

Our organized tour had armed guards and this was before the Arab Spring. They were always with us on the bus or following in cars.

There were people on our tour who did not know we had armed guards with us for several days.
I knew at the airport and asked our tour guide about it. She said the US Government had an agreement with Egypt to protect US citizens or we would not be allowed to travel there.
I don’t understand it when people say they felt safe when they traveled to XYZ. Well you don’t know what you don’t see!

Use caution and pay attention to travel warnings and then do what you want.

Posted by
8293 posts

A few years ago we took the train from Montreal to NYC, so as to board the
QM2 the following day. The train stopped at the border for a couple of hours so that all passengers could be questioned by US Immigration agents. A young woman sitting behind us, in response to ”Why are you going to New York?”,replied that she was flying from NY on to Cairo. Well! That put the cat among the pigeons! “Why do you want to put yourself in danger by going to Cairo?” he asked again and again. She explained she was a travel agent and felt she needed to visit the countries her clients had an interest in. After many questions, the agent asked her to follow him to the dining car where further “discussion” could take place. She returned a half hour later.

It is hard not to extrapolate from that one border agent that the official policy is (or was then) that Egypt is unsafe. My unsolicited advice to the young woman, when she returned from the dining car, was “Next time fly to your destination from Montreal”

Posted by
2904 posts

Jack, the State Dept. warnings are especially cautionary for females. Except for Germany at large New Year's parties, I'm not aware of anywhere in Europe that causes these concerns. Crime in Europe is usually being pickpocketed, not sexual assault.

Posted by
128 posts

After reading journalist Lara Logan's first-hand account of her attack, Egypt was crossed off our list for good. There's just too many other places to spend travel dollars where females are respected.

I think female travelers, especially solo ones, have a bit different take on personal safety. The fear of being groped is real as is the fear/discomfort of sexual comments. Sexual assault is a real concern for females.

Posted by
1426 posts

In light of recent events, I was looking for a trace of irony in some of these comments, but there doesn't seem to be any.

Ah well, stay safe in the USA!

Oh, and by the way: http://poll2018.trust.org/.

Posted by
1179 posts

I’m a female traveler that has gone solo across several counties. I’ve distributed food in UN refugee camps during times of crisis. I have even gone in after Doctors without Borders has pulled out. I say these things to give perspective on my view.

Jack, as a male you don’t seem to understand the female viewpoint. Women have to deal with assault issues daily, even in the US. In many places in the world a solo female is viewed as “asking for it”. It is quite variable and dependent on culture. But a females experience in a country may be vastly different than a males experience in the exact same place. A male can solo travel in several places where a female can not.

The safety situation is dynamic, even from week to week in some places. So pulling quotes randomly takes things out of context.

There are some places where you are fine solo. Others - not so much. And if you don’t know the country well then you may not know where the safe and unsafe places are. You may need guards in some places. You can’t tell who in the group is the guard. They look normal.

In short, it’s highly dependent on timing and situation. It’s also highly dependent on gender.

Telling women they shouldn’t be worried about assault is sheer arrogance (or complete and utter cluelessness).

Eight worst countries for women tourists 2018
(Note that this is for tourists so would exclude several countries)

Posted by
6874 posts

Hey for sure it is not good for solo females. I saw that first hand.
But otherwise safe

Telling women they shouldn’t be worried about assault is sheer arrogance (or complete and utter cluelessness).

Hey Cindy H but Jack Jennings here did not defend Egypt as safe for women to go there solo. He was talking about people going on tangents about safety in other postings when a person ask about how women should dress.

Posted by
1179 posts

Jack didn’t say it in this thread but you should check what he said in others.

For example, the dressing for Egypt thread. He basically poo pooed the need for women to dress very conservatively. If you’ve been to a middle eastern country you would know that the standards for women are significantly higher than for men. It’s not enough to just cover yourself. You need the clothing to be loose. Head coverings may or may not be needed. It’s highly dependent on location. What’s OK for Cairo may not pass in other places.

He ends one post with this statement:

As a tourist, the only thing you really need to be worried about is pick pocketing.

Or how about this statement:

but solo travel in Egypt is definitely not dangerous, and shouldn't be discouraged, especially for people who have experience with solo travel.

I would say he has no idea what it’s like for a woman to travel.

Posted by
8 posts

I'm not doubting that women face extra issues that men don't, nor am I saying solo travel in Egypt is without risks, especially for women. This post is in response to broad statements on this forum that are discouraging everybody from traveling to Egypt.

If people were saying "Women should use caution when traveling to Egypt" or "Women should probably not travel Egypt solo", then I wouldn't have an issue with it but that's a very different statement to make from 'Americans should avoid Egypt, the people there consider us the enemy.'

Also I'd like to clarify that when I say Egypt isn't dangerous, I don't mean to say it's not without risks. I just mean to say that it isn't the terror-ridden wasteland many Americans seem to consider it to be.

To specifically respond to Cindy:

For example, the dressing for Egypt thread. He basically poo pooed the need for women to dress very conservatively. If you’ve been to a middle eastern country you would know that the standards for women are significantly higher than for men. It’s not enough to just cover yourself. You need the clothing to be loose. Head coverings may or may not be needed. It’s highly dependent on location. What’s OK for Cairo may not pass in other places.

As I believe I stated in the post you're referring to, the information I got regarding appropriate dress for women in Egypt came directly from 3 different reputable guides in the country. I stated that, for tourists, including females, respectful shorts that cover the knee and a t-shirt were fine. This includes outside of Cairo. Again, this information came directly from 3 different guides, who all gave the same statements regarding appropriate dress. I'd also like to clarify that the person I was responding to was on a tour, which does make a difference - anyone traveling solo in Egypt should unquestionably be more cautious.

Posted by
31318 posts

Jack,

The Canadian government website also has strong warnings against travel to Egypt - https://travel.gc.ca/destinations/egypt . In areas that the government declares *"Avoid All Travel", most travel medical insurance policices will be void so if something does happen, the traveller is on their own.

Posted by
5003 posts

I lived in Saudi Arabia for five years 1981-1985 and traveled to Egypt twice. The last trip was on our way out of the country back to the USA in December 1985, we also visited Israel as well.

Having lived in the Middle East and traveled widely there, I also am a student of the history of the region and its political issues.

When we visited in December 85 it was right after terrorist had hijacked the Achile Lauro cruise ship and murdered the crippled Jewish passenger. We did a Nile cruise in a boat for 100 passengers, but only had 20 passengers on the cruise.

Later in the 90s a group of terrorist massacred many Swiss and German tourists that were on tour at the tomb of Queen Hatchep (spelling). Since that attack, the Egyptian government has provided armed guards to protect tour groups.

The Arab Spring resulted in the radical Muslim Brotherhood taking over after winning the Presidency. That was Mohamed Morsi. His regime resulted in increased terror attacks on Christians and their churches as well as other repressive actions. Morsi was unseated by a military coup led by el Sisi. The new government is still in charge. The Egyptian people were generally relieved at Morsi's ouster.

Still, the political situation is still a problem, since the radicals of the MB, al Qauda and HAMAS are still active in the country. The Sinai region is very dangerous and filled with all the radical groups mentioned. Terrorism is still an problem in the country, but the people in charge oppose the terrorist and are doing their best to fight terrorism.

Egypt is a viable place to tour, but there are risks. My wife has not been there, but we have avoided going there for now. The risks are not to be ignored, but many go the the country now.

If you go, I recommend going on a group tour. Have your will made in advance.