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Cairo: International Education & Etiquette

Are you getting ready for your new expat life in Cairo? Wondering about healthcare or education options, or simply how to get around town? The InterNations Expat Guide to living in Cairo addresses a variety of these topics.
Religion is an important part of life in the "city of 1000 minarets".

Cairo boasts a great variety of international schools with different language backgrounds and levels of education. Ranging from preschools to universities and academies, Cairo offers everything you might desire for your children’s education. Most institutions are British and US-American, but German, Canadian, Pakistani or French schools are represented as well.

Expats tend to enroll their children at one of these institutions, as Egyptian public schools might not be quite up to their standards. Although education is mandatory for children aged 6 to 14 in Egypt and almost every child goes to school, the dropout rate is quite high. Furthermore, many public school teachers may lack motivation and incentives, due to low wages for teaching staff. Adding to the fact that the majority of public schools teach in the Arabic language, enrolling your children in an international school is typically the better choice.

You can find a selection of international schools in the link list we provide below.

Selected International Schools in Cairo

Note: This is not an all-encompassing list of all the international schools in Cairo, but only a small selection.

General Etiquette Tips

We have outlined some rules regarding business etiquette in Egypt in our article on Working in Cairo. However, life in Cairo is, of course, not limited to business-related activities. Expats, especially Westerners who have only had limited contact with Arabic culture, should keep the following general rules in mind.

Foreigners are expected to show modesty in their dress code, both in business and leisure. To some Westerners, the fashion sense of Egyptians might seem very conservative, but it should be followed nonetheless. This does not mean that you should, under any circumstances, emulate traditional Egyptian clothing: It would be considered a severe faux pas and might even offend others.

Alcohol is a very divisive topic. Of course there are Egyptians who enjoy it, but alcohol consumption should not be celebrated as it is in other countries. It is best to only drink when you are offered alcohol, and only modestly. If you are among obviously religious people or entertain them in your home, it is best not to offer or drink any alcohol.

Egyptians are very fond of joking and frequently joke about themselves or their country. You, however, should never joke about Egypt. You will inevitably cause great offense. Please try to keep the topic of politics out of conversations as much as possible, especially in the turbulent times the country is currently going through. Only if you know someone reasonably well is it acceptable to debate or even bring up politics.

Women should not be surprised to see some old-fashioned forms of chivalry. Even if some women might be mildly annoyed by what they possibly consider outmoded behavior, they should tolerate it as long it’s clearly meant to be courteous.

 

We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Paul Zimmerer

"Before I moved to Cairo I contacted some local members on InterNations. They gave me some great assistance."

Barbara Sciera

"Cairo is a bustling metropolis. Through InterNations I met some other expat women. Now we meet on a weekly basis."

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