Off topic: Question about visiting Cairo
Thread poster: ThorinE

ThorinE  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 11:22
German to English
+ ...
Jul 12, 2015

Hello everyone! I am visiting Cairo in September, both as an avid traveler and someone who has been studying to learn Egyptian Arabic (I wanted to tackle it head-on while there).

While I am going for the language, food, shisha and music, I was hoping to get an idea of any places I should avoid, primarily for safety purposes. I have spoken with people from North Africa and the Middle East who say that I should see all of Cairo and Giza, and others who say I should not go at all. I'm sure that neither of those are entirely true, and would like to just know which areas I should not go into (as a foreigner with poor Arabic who is new to the city). I thought fellow translators familiar with Cairo and Giza could help me.

So: In short, which parts of Cairo and Giza should I stay away from for safety reasons? Thank you!


 

Michael Newton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:22
Member (2003)
Japanese to English
+ ...
Cairo Jul 12, 2015

"Which parts of Cairo and Giza should I stay away from?"
You should stay away from all parts of Cairo and Giza.
If you want to study Arabic:
Try staying in a four-star hotel in Rome, Athens or Istanbul, they have at least a dozen channels in Arabic.


 

ThorinE  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 11:22
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Definitely going to Cairo Jul 12, 2015

Rephrasing the issue: Knowing that I am 100% going to Cairo, which specific parts of Cairo and Giza should I avoid?

 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:22
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Cairo Jul 12, 2015

ThorinE wrote:

Rephrasing the issue: Knowing that I am 100% going to Cairo, which specific parts of Cairo and Giza should I avoid?


Obviously the places visited by Western tourists are going to be the riskiest. So no Pyramids.

I suggest you find some Egyptian friends, perhaps through this website, who will "chaperone" you during your visit and take you to the places where real Arabic is spoken by real people - rather than going there as a tourist. And perhaps not Cairo. I hear Alexandria is a wonderful place.

And from today's "Independent": "Forget French and Mandarin - Arabic is the language to learn, says the British Council"

http://ind.pn/1L7DFIA

HOWEVER it would seem that these days, caution should be exercised. Yesterday's car bomb which seriously damaged the Italian Embassy seems to indicate that Egypt's unelected military government is not able to keep the country under control, and that European countries are being targeted for supporting it. And there's been trouble in the Sinai too.

It's good to know that you are 100% going to Cairo. Leaving a percentage behind you in the US might be messy.

icon_smile.gif

[Edited at 2015-07-12 10:01 GMT]


 

writeaway  Identity Verified
French to English
+ ...
Ask the US State Department Jul 12, 2015

They should be able to provide with additional information and advice.

 

ThorinE  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 11:22
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Avoiding tourist areas Jul 12, 2015

I choose Cairo because, from everything that people have told me and from what I know about my own taste in places, it most suits my preference for places to visit, while Alexandria would be more of a secondary trip for me. I know it's chaotic and very densely populated, but that's what I enjoy.

You're right about tourist areas, I was going to avoid the Pyramids, and maybe the Egyptian Museum, just to avoid walking into areas where I can easily be ripped off (though I'm sure that could and will happen anywhere in Cairo).

If anybody on ProZ would be able to accompany me through the city that would also be wonderful. I have been keeping up on the news as well.


 

ThorinE  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 11:22
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Visiting Jul 12, 2015

I do not plan for my trip to be as a tourist, I want to actually visit the parts of Cairo that the locals visit and which are also generally safe for foreigners. Hence my avoidance of the prime tourist locations, as I'm visiting as a learner of Cairene/Egyptian Arabic and a shisha enthusiast as opposed to anything else. The food, the shisha and Cairene culture are my primary fascinations.

And yes, I felt it might be safer taking my entire self there as opposed to only a portion, as that never seems to work out.icon_smile.gif


 

Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:22
Hebrew to English
It's been a while since I was last there but... Jul 12, 2015

...I'm quite fond of both Maadi and Zamalek (both of which are rather on the affluent side). And I wouldn't avoid all of the touristy things, some of them are really worth seeing/experiencing (Khan el-Khalili for example).

And don't feel like you have to go to the pyramids, I actually never went (despite spending rather a long time in Cairo) based on the advice of locals who said they were a bit underwhelming and over-touristy.

Edited to add: there was no shortage of ads in Maadi offering the teaching of Egyptian Arabic.
Also edited to add: I did go to the Egyptian Museum, and to be honest I got a bit bored (that might be because I had done the whole Luxor thing previously and have seen enough ancient Egyptian history and artefacts to last 2 lifetimes).

[Edited at 2015-07-12 15:02 GMT]


 

Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 14:52
English to Hindi
+ ...
Stay as paying guest with a Cairo family Jul 13, 2015

If your objective is to learn Egyptian Arabic, your best option would be to put up as paying guest with a native Cairo family which speaks proper Arabic (local dialect).

This will give you actual opportunities to listen to Arabic being spoken from close and in context and also to try out your own Arabic with native speakers, who can on-the-spot correct errors in pronunciation, choice of words etc. This will be a great learning experience.

I will further advise you to choose a family that does not know English at all, so that you don't end up speaking in English.

You can even continue the interaction with this family after you return to your country through skype etc., and keep alive your living contact with Arabic.

You should at least plan for a few months stay.

Instead of this if you choose to travel about, you will get far fewer opportunity to actually interact with the Arabic language and culture, as most of your time and energy will be consumed by the mundane activities of getting from one place to the other.

As far as safety issues are concerned, I would guess that most parts of Cairo are safe and sound. We base our conceptions about safety onTV and newspaper reports which generally inflate ground situations and present a gory picture of minor incidents. For example, hearing the recent Church shootings in the US, I, sitting here in Mumbai, India, and poring over TV reports can get scared stiff of visiting any part of that violence-ridden country, but you know of course, that that is far from the truth, and most parts of the US are safe to travel, excepting may be the poverty-ridden and racially segregated inner cities.

But doing things with caution is always beneficial when you are travelling to a new place.


 


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