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Cairo: Medical Care & International Travel

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.

Ready for Takeoff?

Cairo International Airport is one of the busiest on the continent. In 2015, EgyptAir was ranked 2nd based on fleet size of airlines within Africa. More than 65 other airlines also offer connections to and from the airport, serving more than 14 million customers annually.

A major hub for travel into Africa and the Middle East, the airport is recently undergoing renovation, with changes being made to Terminal 2. Additionally, a subway line connecting the airport with downtown Cairo is currently under construction. This should considerably improve the airport’s accessibility.

Right now, various shuttle services and taxis are your best option. However, be sure to ask the driver to avoid neighborhoods known for demonstrations and civil unrest, and plan some extra time for your journey. Fares range anywhere between 25 and 105 EGP for an airport shuttle, and between 65 and 470 EGP for “limousine services”, which are like taxis but with fixed prices depending on your destination and the level of comfort you desire.

Exploring the Country

Although Egypt offers an extensive (and relatively comfortable) railway system, most national travel is undertaken in buses. The biggest center of transportation in Egypt is, of course, located in Cairo, at Ramses Square.

Via the modern highways extending in every direction, you will reach your destination fairly quickly and comfortably when traveling by car. But please keep in mind that the desert areas should be off limits to expats for safety reasons. Trips to the Nile delta and to Sinai should also be avoided whether by car or bus. If you do not have work-related business there, it would be unwise to go exploring outside the established tourist routes. 

Private Healthcare Is the Way to Go

Your health is in good hands in Cairo, just make sure that you get your shots beforehand (tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough, polio, mumps, measles, and influenza). The city is Egypt’s main center for medical treatment, and generally speaking, it has the highest standard of medical care in the nation. You can expect almost every doctor in Cairo to have a good command of English. Seeing how many medical practitioners have spent some time abroad during part of their training, this does not come as a surprise.

Dozens of hospitals and clinics of different size and quality and with various specializations are available in Cairo. If you are not sure which hospital is the best option for you, you should consult your family doctor for advice. Many expats choose specific institutions, though, according to their language, insurance coverage, or specific health needs.

The As-Salam International Hospital, located in Cairo’s Maadi district, is one of the largest private hospitals in Egypt. This internationally recognized institution is the preferred choice of many expats. But there are numerous other fine institutions, including an Anglo-American clinic and an Italian hospital.

Pharmacies and Emergency Services: You’re Covered

Pharmacies that are open for business around the clock are quite common in Cairo, and it is best to familiarize yourself with the one nearest to your home. Rarely are prescriptions needed. You can usually get what you require immediately. If not, your pharmacist can make an order for you. Brand names will probably vary from those you know from home, but you can identify your medication by its main active ingredient.

The general emergency hotline for the ambulance in Egypt is 123. The general number for the police is 122 and the number for the tourist police hotline is 126. In order to receive the quickest possible help in case of emergencies, it could prove wise to directly call the emergency line of your district or part of town. The American Chamber of Commerce offers a comprehensive list on their website. Please keep in mind that, due to the traffic situation, Cairo’s emergency services are somewhat unreliable.

Have Peace of Mind during Your Stay

As we have outlined in our article on Working in Cairo, the Egyptian social security system does unfortunately not apply to expats. Please make sure your insurance company offers full coverage for Egypt, or discuss possible company insurance plans with your employer. In any case, expect to pay fees for every visit to the doctor’s and every hospital stay.

It is possible to receive medical attention without health insurance, but you might be faced with considerable costs depending on the nature of your ailment. For example, many hospitals require a security deposit to ensure you can pay your bills. You may also be expected to pay upfront and in cash for treatment.

Recommended international insurance providers that offer coverage for Egypt include Allianz and Bupa. IAMAT also offers travel health information and is a direct link to reliable doctors and healthcare providers.


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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