Being an expat in Egypt must be a scary task... that might explain why they all travel in flocks and frequent the same places. Here are some of their favourites...
Expats have a tendency of sticking together wherever they go. They travel in flocks, communicate in different languages and are often looking for a different type of fun than the general Egyptian public. Needless to say, once they've found a place where they can be their expat-selves, they stay there. Here are some of the main expat faves around town.
Photo by booking.com
A cheap pint is usually the basic need a pub has to offer in order to attract the masses of expats living in Cairo. Flamenco does just that and, as a result, welcomes many foreign journalists who are looking for a place to discuss matters over a beverage or two. Attached to the popular Zamalek hotel, its relaxed atmosphere is the reason many expats keep coming back to find peace and quiet and fuel up on some ice cold beer.
Anyone who appreciates an exclusively expat crowd cannot miss a night out at Ace Club. Ace grants exclusive access to expats, as nobody without a membership is allowed to enter. Getting inside the hallowed expat halls without membership is only possible accompanied by those in possession of such a membership willing to vouch for you. The criteria for membership is simple: you must not be Egyptian! All other countrymen of one of the other 199 countries in the world are warmly welcome!
Sakkara Country Club
Far from the bustle of the city, Sakkara Country Club has become the favorite weekend hangout for expats who forget what it’s like to be listening to silence. Surrounded by dunes and palm trees, the large pool landscape is the closest address for expats to relax. At Sakkara, the colour green actually exists. Although reaching Sakkara is not the easiest feat, expats are likely to run into their peers at any given day.
All expats arrive in Cairo wanting to give Egyptian food a shot. A lot of them choose Abu el-Sid for that particular experience. However, despite promising authentic Egyptian food, Egyptians are largely absent from the guest list. As a result, Abu el-Sid is a secret address for expats to hang out with one another while still living the Egyptian Dream. It was never easier to convince oneself to have a genuine Egyptian experience while surrounded by expats than at Abu el-Sid.
The White Desert
The need for some alone time is stronger for expats as they have not been raised surrounded by honking taxis, “Welcome to Egypt” exclamations and more people in one street than in most cities back home. Because expats are often overwhelmed by the hustle bustle of the city, their desire to escape it leads them to hit the road and head west to find solitude in the White Desert or to actually look at the sky and see some stars. The scenery is another attraction for expats, as the white sand stones and building-sized dunes offer a view impossible to find anywhere else in the world.
Nobody does Diwali better than the Indian Embassy and next time Kate Middleton has a baby the right address is likely to be the British Embassy. Surrounded by fellow expats, invitees at embassy parties are in for a treat: not only does the cash to be spent on a party at government buildings buy quite an extraordinary display, but the guest list is filled with a variety of people who miss home. Consequently, embassy parties are the perfect spot to indulge in homesickness for all expats.
While many places in Zamalek feature a large expat community, there is only one shop that helps all of them maintain the illusion of the lifestyle they had back home. Gourmet is an address for all expats who are tired of overly sugared Bedouin Tea, greasy beef shwerma and dishes overloaded with carbs in all shapes and forms. The dream of a healthy and balanced diet is real at Gourmet, which sells everything to compliment any lifestyle, from vegan to Paleo. At Gourmet you will find soy products, wasabi peas, oyster sauce and frozen berries. Additionally, natural goodies and supplements from all over the worlds will make your expat kitchen come alive, even in Cairo.
A horrible truth for most expats to come to terms with once they live in Egypt is the absence of a good cup of coffee. To most expats, coffee is an essential part of life and the reality that ordering a coffee in a restaurant usually means being served a cup of Nescafe has been a struggle for many. Who would have thought that Costa and Starbucks would ever be considered a nirvana for coffee lovers? In search of a good cup of coffee, expats have flocked to Greco in Maadi for their iced frappuccinos. Greco is a relaxing place for people to kick back. Most importantly, however, their coffee comes out of a beautiful coffee machine that is known to make a cup of black gold that can compete with the ones back home.