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Is Cairo Safe?

There are currently two Cairos: the harrowing chaos of Tahrir Square and the megacity of 17 million people that surrounds it. Until this year, your chances of getting mugged in either were essentially zero—the upside, as it were, to a brutal regime. Now there are murmurs of taxi drivers cheating their fares and a creeping sense of unease on the street, says Graham Harman, a philosophy professor at the American University in Cairo. But beyond Tahrir Square’s on-and-off war zone, which should be avoided by even the most fearless tourists during protests, he says Cairo remains generally safe. “Usually, Egyptian security is better than New York or Chicago,” says novelist Alaa Al Aswany. “Now you don’t go out too late at night.” Everyone should abide by the 2 a.m. curfew and—as before the revolution—women are encouraged to be especially cautious when traveling alone after dark. “Order a cab,” says music promoter Yasmin Tayeby. “Standing in the street waiting for one is really not a good idea.” Two other side effects of the uprising: Hotel prices have plummeted, and Cairenes are eager for visitors. “This is a touristic country,” says Coalition of Revolutionary Youth member Sally Moore. “It’s time for them to come back.” However, Khaled Fahmy of the American University says the risk of more politically charged violence is significant, as the military’s authority is challenged and it begins to lash back. “This is a very dangerous situation, and it is more volatile and bewildering than anything we have seen so far,” he says.


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