How to Get Foreigners to Stay in Egypt: 20 Easy Steps



Egypt is desperate for dollars, and desperate for the tourists who bring dollars. So, we shall provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to capture the elusive foreigner and get her (or him) to stay in Egypt.


Let us presume, from the start, that said foreigner is a woman who has decided to stay in Egypt for a while. She’s found a job, a flat, and is doing her best to take what Cairo has to offer in stride. What follows are her step-by-step instructions on how to get her to stay in Egypt, now that she’s here.


Be warned: this is a true story, told from her perspective



Step 1: Decide to leave the flat you love because your landlord is being sketchy, i.e. refusing to uphold his end of the contract, including fixing major appliances and plumbing, and threatening to raise your rent 40% because you had a friend stay in the flat while you were traveling and so “you can pay more because someone is staying with you.” Never mind that said friend was there solely to keep your cat alive and does not, in fact, live with you.

Step 2: Waste at least two days looking at apartments you don’t want because the simsaar (broker) thinks a 5k EGP budget really means you can spend $1,000 and that ‘must have two bathrooms’ means ‘I’m cool with whatever.’


Step 3: Finally find the perfect flat! What’s better, it’s directly through the landlord, no simsaar involved, so you don’t have to pay an extra month as a fee!

Step 4: Make the mistake of being honest with your landlord that your fiancé (well…partly honest; you’re not actually engaged) is moving in with you, because you don’t want to cause problems down the road. Landlord doesn’t bat an eye; assume you’re good.

Step 5: Call the next day to confirm the appointment to sign the lease. Have the landlord call you back 10 minutes later to say you you can’t rent it because there’s a law in Egypt saying a man and woman can’t live together if they aren’t married, or everyone involved might have to pay a heavy fine. (Ensure that at no point is an actual law or article number referenced.)

Step 6: Talk to a lawyer you trust, who explains to you that no, there is no such law, and legally there is absolutely no problem: neither you nor your landlord could face any legal action or fine because you’re living with someone you aren’t married to.

Step 7: Call the landlord back to explain this to him, only to find his phone is off. Call again later to the same result. Call the next morning, and the phone is still off; call every 2-3 hours for the next two days, try sending him messages via SMS and WhatsApp, all to the same result: the mobile you have called is switched off or is not available.

Step 8: Worry the landlord is avoiding you and you’re not going to get the flat, so waste more time looking at more flats with simsaars who only pretend to comprehend the English language (i.e. show you flats that don’t come close to meeting your requirements or falling within your budget). Bonus points if the simsaar sends his assistant, who speaks no English and can’t answer the simplest of questions, to show you around.

Step 9: Drop by to see the landlord at the originally appointed time to sign the contract, crossing your fingers that it’ll somehow be fine.


Step 10: Find out the landlord wasn’t avoiding you, the battery on his phone has completely died and (being at least 70) he hasn’t bothered to replace it yet. He’s perfectly happy to sit and chat with you, if only to explain that he disagrees with your lawyer, but will discuss with his brother about signing a contract anyway. Says he’ll call you after the weekend to confirm a tentative arrangement to sign the contract on Monday.


Step 11: Continue packing in (vain) hoping that you’ll be moving in just a few short days.

Step 12: When the landlord calls you to confirm the meeting to sign contract, says he needs a copy of your passport, entry visa, and work permit. You explain your work permit is still in the works and you’ll bring him a copy as soon as it’s finished. He agrees.


Step 13: Get a message from your current landlord asking if you’re leaving the apartment, and realize that one of the simsaars you had been talking to knew where you lived and, without telling you, called your landlord to tell him you’re leaving (and thus ask if he can be the one to find a new tenant). Said landlord is now irate and insists you leave the apartment by the first of the next month, which is in three days.


Step 14: The next day, make sure you have all necessary money, documents, and copies of said documents; go to see landlord to sign contract.


Step 15: Spend an ENTIRE EFFING HOUR sitting at the table in what is supposedly your new flat, while the landlord’s brother explains that without a year-long visa or document saying you have permission to be in Egypt for one year, how can he possibly lease you an apartment for one year? Call your boss, talk to HR, have HR talk to the landlord, all to the same result: he won’t give you a contract without said piece of paper.


Step 16: After trying to explain that you’ve never been asked for this before and have never had a problem, realize you’ve managed to find the one landlord in Cairo who wants to do everything by the book. Have landlord and brother kindly and sweetly explain to you that it’s no problem for them, they will wait a few days to a week and not look for a new tenant while you figure out your paperwork.

Step 17: Explain to landlord and brother that unfortunately this is a problem for you, because your current landlord wants you out by Sept. 1, and explain the situation. Landlord and brother sweetly and kindly reiterate that it’s just a couple of days, it will be no problem. They even say if you can get an extended visa just for one month to sort out the papers, they’ll give you a contract for a month and then renew once your paperwork is done.


Step 18: Ask if you can sign a one month contract now, given that your entry visa is still good for a month, and in that time figure everything else out. Have the landlord and his brother turn down this option because tourist visas don’t have the date of expiry written on them (even though everyone knows a tourist visa is good for one month plus a two week grace period).

Step 19: As you leave the apartment, have the landlord’s brother ask if you’ll be alone in the flat or have someone with you. Then, before you can answer, make sure he tells you you can have a friend stay with you, or even a boyfriend (?!?). Exchange looks with landlord and harbor vague homicidal notions, as this is the reason signing the contract was delayed in the first place.


Step 20: Leave apartment without having signed a lease and having absolutely no idea what you’re going to do. Wish you could call your boyfriend and vent to him, but of course neither Skype nor Whatsapp calls (nor Facebook calls) work on Egyptian 3G. Proceed to call friend and cry/yell/vent into your phone for the next 15 minutes while wandering aimlessly around Mohandiseen, ensuring everyone in your (potentially) new neighborhood is going to give a wide berth to the crazy foreign woman (actually maybe that was a good idea; let’s keep it for future use). Once you’re all cried/yelled out, start to formulate Plan B.


Addendum: repeat steps ad nauseam



WE SAID THIS: (As of time of publication, after three days spent in the Mugamma3 and a series of stamps, the contract remains to be signed and plans B, C, and D have all proved futile.