Health and safety in Egypt

2 Mar

It's very easy to get lost in Cairo streets without a good map

It seems like the British Foreign Office wants to scare tourists away from Egypt. Even without its advice “against all but essential travel” during the recent unrest that was lifted several days ago, the FCO’s website features lists of horrors waiting there for visitors:

  • There is a high threat from terrorism in Egypt. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in public places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.
  • Sexual assaults against tourists have occurred even in what were considered to be safe environments, such as hotels.
  • Road accidents are very common. Roads are poor, driving dangerous and traffic laws not enforced. Police estimate that accidents kill twice as many people in Egypt each year than in the UK.
  • Buses are dangerous.
  • Trains are dangerous.
  • Overcrowding and poor safety standards have led to several accidents on Red Sea ferries and Nile cruisers.
  • Cheap diving operators may not provide adequate safety standards.
  • A number of shark attacks have recently taken place in the Red Sea.
  • There were three serious hot air balloon accidents in Luxor in 2009.

True, Egyptian standards would hardly please British health and safety inspectors. On a bumpy railway from Luxor to Alexandria, waiters carry boiling tea in open glass cups above the heads of crowds. Shall I mention the open doors on moving trains? Or doors completely missing in some lifts?

Apart of series of nightmares before my travel to Egypt, I’ve got very little from the FCO website. Useful advice on how to minimize the risk is quite limited. Good one is to exercise extra caution during local holiday weekends and in general, near churches around the time of religious services.


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