Cairo in detail

Other Features

City Reads

  • Cairo: The City Victorious (1998), by Max Rodenbeck
  • Cairo’s Street Stories (2008), by Lesley Lababidi
  • Understanding Cairo: The Logic of a City out of Control (2010), by David Sims
  • Taxi (2008), by Khalid Al Khamissy

Practical Tip: How to Blend In

Even if your skin colouring allows it, it’s next to impossible to ‘pass’ as a native Cairene. But you can look more like a resident foreigner, thus deflecting hustler attention onto the more obvious tourists walking behind you and leaving you free to enjoy the good things about Cairo. Here’s how:

  • Carry your stuff in a plastic shopping bag or a generic tote. Nothing screams ‘tourist’ like a multipocketed, zippered, heavy-duty-nylon backpack with visible water bottle.
  • Cover your legs – this goes for men and women. Islamic rules aside, Egyptians have a high level of modesty, and it’s clear you haven’t been here long if you don’t feel embarrassed to show your knees in public.
  • Eating on-the-go is rarely seen. Munch on your shawarma (meat sliced off a spit and stuffed in a bread roll with chopped tomatoes and garnish) or ta'amiyya (Egyptian variant of falafel) either at the benches of the fast food canteen or standing just outside, watching the world go by.
  • Carry a copy of the Al Ahram Weekly – or the Arabic Al Ahram, if you want to go deep undercover.