Egypt Country Report
Political uncertainty has been replaced by the dominant position of military-backed companies within the economy. Military companies are largely tax exempt and have access to cheap labour though conscription. Ongoing operational risks include high levels of bureaucracy, exacerbated by an overstaffed public sector in which appointments to posts are not based on merit. Risks of payment delays to government contractors and foreign energy firms are likely to increase in the one-year outlook as the economic impact of COVID-19 affects government sources of revenue.
The risk of jihadist attacks targeting security and foreign targets is likely to be high in 2020, driven by the Islamic State's attempts to expand its operational capabilities beyond the Sinai. In North Sinai, the army's increased deployment of troops has reduced the frequency of Islamic State attacks since February 2018. South Sinai governorate tourism likely remains an aspirational target. The risk of improvised explosive device (IED) attacks on Christian minorities and security forces is greatest in Greater Cairo, the Nile Delta, and Suez Canal cities.
Crime rates rose after the January 2011 uprising due to law enforcement forces leaving the streets, the disarray of the police force, the increased availability of firearms because of political and security turmoil and the smuggling of weapons from Libya, mass prison breaks during the 2011 uprising, and anxiety over the country's future. Crime rates have levelled off from 2014 as police visibility has increased and military control was re-established. The publicly reviled State Security Agency was dissolved in March 2011 because of its reputation for committing human rights abuses. However, it was quickly replaced with the National Security Agency, which retains more than half of the previous agency's staff, and has preserved tactics and practices similar to those of its predecessor.
Sensible precautions to guard against opportunistic crime should be taken in urban areas and on some desert roads, including the Cairo-Alexandria highway and west of Cairo. Despite legislation imposing harsher punishment to sexual harassment, women may be subject to unwanted attention or verbal harassment if travelling alone. Reports suggest that sexual assaults and incidents of harassment against women have increased since 2011. The death penalty is the maximum sentence for smuggling illegal drugs, including marijuana and hashish. Fines and imprisonment are common even for small-scale seizures.
President Sisi is highly likely to maintain the Mubarak-era position of good relations and counter-terrorism co-operation with Israel, in large part with the objective of containing the Sinai insurgency and increasing economic integration with Israel and accommodating Gulf monarchies; a war with Israel is very unlikely during Sisi's tenure. Egypt will probably continue providing military assistance to the Tobruk-based Libyan government against the Islamic State and the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, particularly as Turkey commits to providing significant numbers of ground troops to the GNA. Egypt's military would be overstretched, and likely qualitatively outmatched, if attempted a campaign in Libya while maintaining military operations in Sinai.
Vaccines required to enter the country
Yellow fever: There is no risk of contracting yellow fever in Egypt. However, the government requires proof of vaccination for travelers arriving from countries with a risk of yellow fever transmission. A single dose of YF vaccine is sufficient to confer sustained life-long immunity against the disease.
Vaccines recommended for all travelers
Routine vaccinations: Consult your doctor to ensure all routine vaccinations - such as for diphtheria, tetanus, polio, tuberculosis, influenza, measles, mumps, pertussis, rubella, varicella, etc. - are up to date (include booster shots if necessary).
Vaccines recommended for most travelers
Hepatitis A: The vaccine is given in two doses, six months apart, and is nearly 100 percent effective. The WHO recommends the vaccine be integrated into national routine immunization schedules for children aged one year or older.
Typhoid fever: The typhoid fever vaccine can be administered via injection (administered in one dose) or orally (four doses). The vaccine is only 50-80 percent effective, so travelers to areas with a risk of exposure to typhoid fever, a bacterial disease, should also take hygienic precautions (e.g. drink only bottled water, avoid undercooked foods, wash hands regularly, etc.). Children can be given the shot beginning at two years of age (six for the oral vaccine).
Vaccines recommended for some travelers
Hepatitis B: The WHO recommends that all infants receive their first dose of vaccine as soon as possible after birth, preferably within 24 hours. The birth dose should be followed by two or three doses to complete the primary series. Routine booster doses are not routinely recommended for any age group.
Rabies: The rabies vaccination is typically only recommended for travel to remote areas and if the traveler will be at high risk of exposure (e.g. undertaking activities that will bring them into contact with dogs, cats, bats, or other mammals). The vaccination is administered in three doses over a three-to-four week period. Post exposure prophylaxis is also available and should be administered as soon as possible following contact with an animal suspected of being infected (e.g. bites and scratches).
The road mortality rate is high. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 12,000 people die in car accidents in Egypt every year. This is partly due to the poor condition of the roads, poor driving habits, and antiquated vehicles. The overall safety of the country's train network is also unreliable. In early February 2016, a train derailment near Beni Suef injured more than 60 people.
Egypt's climate is Mediterranean along the Alexandria coast, semi-arid around Cairo, and fully arid in the south. The ideal time to visit the country is in the autumn (from late September until late November) when temperatures start to cool in Europe and Egypt is still bathed in a mild heat (temperatures fluctuate between 25°C and 35°C from north to south). Winters (mid-December through February) are better for those who dislike temperatures over 30°C but tend to be cloudy. During this season, it is best to pack a good jacket if travelling to Cairo as there is very little indoor heating in Egypt. Spring (March-April) comes relatively late and passes quickly; it is also the windy season when the Khamsin (a hot and sandy wind) passes over the country two or three times. Summer is often scorching; you will have to adapt as the locals do, beginning your day early in the morning and taking a long break at midday.
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