If there’s one thing that every Egyptian sucks at – including myself – it’s driving! What we have learned are not proper driving rules, but rather how to multi-function and be on alert every single second while on the road.
And no, it is not just because I’m a female that my driving sucks, it’s one of those things we adapt to in order to survive the Egyptian streets.
So if you’re learning to drive in Cairo, forget the textbook rules. Here’s how it’s done and what to expect on the Egyptian capital’s crazy streets.
1. Secure your place by getting your car’s booz in first
You know the first come, first served rule? We have the same for cars, but it’s whoever’s car front gets there first who’s entitled to everything. Whether it’s a parking spot, a place in a queue or just passing through an intersection, make sure your car’s booz is first in line!
2. U-turn from the 4th lane
Because of the ridiculous traffic, U-turns are always at a halt. So let’s be logical, why wait in line when you can come up from the third or fourth lane and take the turn in a jiffy?
Who cares if you’re going to stop people from driving straight ahead or if you take the other direction’s U-turn space, just be selfish and think about yourself only.
3. We barely use signals, but when we do, YOU MUST GIVE US WAY!
You know that handle next to your steering wheel that does that annoying tick-tock sound? No one ever uses it. Expect to find hands flying out the window asking you to give way or people just using the booz method to force you to let them pass.
On special occasions, we use the car’s turn signals, but when we do, we’re not asking for permission. We already moved an extra muscle to indicate, where’s our reward?!
4. Stopping in the middle of the road is completely normal
Although driving instructors will tell you never to have your foot on the clutch unless you need to switch gear speed or hit the brakes, the first lesson you’ll learn in Cairo is that you ALWAYS need to be ready to hit the brakes.
Whether it’s a car that’s stopping to ask for directions, a cab driver picking up a customer or just someone who has decided to park, it’s quite normal to find cars coming at a complete stand still right in the middle of the road. Always be prepared.
5. The bigger your car, the more authority you have on the road
Don’t even think about messing with a truck or bus, they’ll screw you over less than a second. And yes, size does matter in this case! They don’t care about rules, they know that with their size, they can squash you in no time!
So don’t try to miss with them, just go with the flow.
6. Whoever flickers their lights first, goes first
Those flickering lights are another way of saying, “Don’t you dare even think of moving an inch forward.” If two cars are using the same narrow street in opposite directions, the one who gets to their light handle first and flickers away is the one who passes first.
So just like you have one foot always on the clutch, make sure you have a hand always ready to take control and flicker away!
7. The middle lane is always the fastest
Yes, we know the road only has two lanes, but they’re both not moving, that’s why that lane in the middle that we created is always your best option!
The lane on the left is always busier because of those waiting to U-turn. The lane on the right is (supposedly) for the slow pokes who drive at like 20 km/h, and so the middle lane is where you should be.
8. Honking is a language on it’s own
We use honking for occasions, to swear or just to make people know we exist! Every honk has a certain rhythm that conveys a certain message. The worst thing that can happen to you is to have your horn not working, you’ll feel paralyzed!
9. Park anywhere you manage to get your car into
And it doesn’t necessarily mean your entire car has to fit, just one part is enough! Worst case scenario, double park – just be prepared to hear someone scream their lungs off for making them wait half an hour just to get out.
10. Microbuses are invincible
They might be small, but authority by size doesn’t apply to them. If we as Egyptians don’t have rules, microbuses are like aliens to us. They’ll choose to turn left suddenly while they’re on the furthest right lane, they’ll drive at 100 km/h in an extremely narrow street and they’ll stop all of a sudden to let a passenger off.
And guess what? There’s absolutely nothing you can do about it!
11. Drive 3aksy when your lane is crowded
Because you know you’re too royal to have to wait for the traffic jam to loosen up, just stop the entire opposite lane by taking over their space – and believe me, you won’t feel like an outsider, everyone will follow!
12. Beware of pedestrians crossing the streets
After driving for a week in Cairo, you’ll be accustomed to the people who throw themselves out of the blue in front of your car in an effort to cross the road.
You’ll know when you can dash and make them wait in the middle of the road and when you have to press the brakes as hard as you possibly can. You get used to this, too.
13. Drive like you drive in a video game
Last, but surely not least, be prepared to get a rush of adrenaline every time you get into your car. Everyone around you drives at full speed, having to avoid obstacles – and sometimes people – that come out of nowhere and take ghoraz on the highway.
That is how you drive in Cairo!
WE SAID THIS: Don’t miss 16 Types of Drivers You Find in Cairo