“The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens to consider the risks of travel to Egypt due to threats from terrorist and violent political opposition groups. This replaces the Travel Warning issued on December 23, 2016. A number of terrorist groups, including ISIS, have committed multiple deadly attacks in Egypt, targeting government officials and security forces, public venues, tourist sites, civil aviation and other modes of public transportation, and a diplomatic facility. Terrorists continue to threaten Egypt’s religious minorities and have attacked sites and people associated with the Egyptian Coptic Church.
Terrorist attacks can occur anywhere in the country, including major metropolitan areas. In early May, ISIS media threatened that places associated with Westerners, Christians, the Egyptian military or police, and Egyptian government facilities could be struck at any time.”
False Impressions & Stereotypes
These words and warnings were echoing through my head while boarding the plane to Cairo. What was I getting myself into? Due to Western media, travel warnings, and continued tension in the Middle East, I couldn’t help but second guess my decision. Oh well!
The flight wasn’t much better. EgyptAir had been the target of recent hijackings and I couldn’t help but go through the checklist of how much I stood out:
- White. Check.
- Westerner. Check.
- Christian. Check.
- Google backpack. Check.
- Guinness hat. Check.
- Ukulele from Greece. Check.
If I wasn’t an obvious target, I don’t know what is.
Once I arrived, I didn’t feel much better. Women covered head to toe, men in turbans, extreme heat, old buildings, active military presence. It was clear that I was in a very different environment with a very different culture. I’d be lying if I said Western stereotypes and ideologies about Islamic culture and the political instability had no affect on me. I was nervous. This was culture shock at its finest.
Overcoming Stigmas and Why You SHOULD Visit Egypt
I’ve painted quite a dark picture. Some might even be offended, but hear me out until the end. You likely came across this post while wondering if you should visit Egypt, and my answer is a resounding YES.
Much of the fear and anxiety I had before arriving and during my initial arrival quickly disappeared once I started talking to people. What I’ve found is that Egyptians are extremely kind, generous, and helpful people. They are very humble, respectful, and eager to meet foreigners. Upon my arrival, Mohamed, a local, welcomed me to Cairo and made sure I had secured a trustworthy ride to my hotel. He gave me his number in case I ran into any problems or needed any advice, and wished me a pleasant time in Egypt. Although the culture was a big shock, my fears were wildly misplaced.
Not only are the people very welcoming, Egypt itself is one of the most historically rich places you will ever visit. Crawling into the burial chamber of the great pyramid, having dinner on the Nile River, and standing face to face with King Tut’s mask are opportunities you won’t find anywhere else. Also, if you’re fond of ignoring traffic safety rules, riding in the back of pickup trucks, or running across the freeway, this is the place for you. These people know how to live.
I feel extremely blessed to have had the opportunity to visit Egypt and am looking forward to my next trip. Gather the courage to overcome your fears and book your flight. You won’t regret it.
No matter where you go, it’s always best to be prepared and take the right precautions. Make sure to check out my safety tips before your visit to Egypt.
If you need advice or have any questions, feel free to email me or comment below!
The author Roaming Techie