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Countries Information & Lifestyle
 Egypt Egypt

Country Information & Lifestyle

 Land of the Pharohs'

Land of the Pharohs'

Egypt, the land ruled by Pharaohs for over 2,700 years, is one of the most exciting countries in the world within an illustrious history, ancient monuments and a rich culture.

This country has seen the creation of some of the most spectacular and awe-inspiring monuments of the ancient world. Today it is viewed as one of the most exotic, breathtaking and romantic countries in the world.

Known officially as the Arab Republic of Egypt the country is located in north-eastern Africa and southwestern Asia. Cairo, the capital and largest city, is the most modern in the Middle East and Africa. It is bounded on the north by the Mediterranean Sea, on the east by Israel and the Red Sea, on the south by Sudan, and on the west by Libya.

More than 90 percent of the country consists of desert areas. In the west, the Libyan Desert, a part of the Sahara Desert which is also known as the Western Desert.

The Libyan Desert includes a vast sandy expanse called the Great Sand Sea. Located here are several depressions with elevations below sea level, including the Qattara Depression, which has an area of about 18,000 sq km and reaches a depth of 133 m below sea level, the lowest point in Africa. Also found here are the oases of Siwa, Kharga, Baharia and Dakhla.

In the east is the Arabian Desert, also called the Eastern Desert,(which borders the Red Sea and the Gulf of Suez). Much of the Arabian Desert occupies a plateau that rises gradually east from the Nile Valley to elevations of about 600 m in the east and is broken along the Red Sea Coast by jagged peaks as high as about 2100 m above sea level. In the extreme south, along the border with Sudan, is the Nubian Desert, an extensive region of dunes and sandy plains.

The Nile enters Egypt from the Sudan and flows north for about 1545 km to the Mediterranean Sea. From its entire length from the southern border to Cairo the Nile flows through a valley lined by cliffs.

Geographically and traditionally the Nile Valley is divided into two regions, Lower Egypt and Upper Egypt, the former consisting of the delta areas and the latter comprising the valley south of Cairo.

Egypt has around 2450 km of coastline two thirds of which are on the Red Sea. The Isthmus of Suez, which connects the Sinai Peninsula with the African mainland is traversed from the Mediterranean to the Gulf of Suez by the Suez Canal.

Cairo is hard to resist with its obvious attractions of the magnificent Pyramids and Sphinx, the Valley of the Kings in Luxor and Mount Sinai, however it is the Red Sea coast which is proving to be the most popular destination for holidays.

The Sinai Peninsula consists of sandy desert in the north and rugged mountains in the south. Mount Sinai is where according to the Old Testament Moses received the Ten Commandments.

The city of Hurghada, Al-Ghardaka in Arabic, dates back to the early twentieth century, covering an area stretching over 40 km along the Red Sea coast until it meets the desert country. Until recently a small fishing village today it is one of the most popular destinations of the Red Sea.

Divided into three parts, El Dahar, the old town is where you will find the town´s largest and most colourful bazaar whilst Sekalla and El Korra Road have a more modern flavor.

The region is also a gateway to diving sites on the Red Sea which is known as an international deep sea fishing centre with windsurfing and snorkelling, and is famous for unrivalled dive sites displaying spectacular coral reefs and islands.

Most people automatically think of Egypt and the Giza Plateau and this is surely among the major tourist sites, the Pyramids of Giza is the top of any one's list. There are three main Pyramids here, which were built circa 4650 BC as tombs for Kings and Queens, and it was the exclusive privilege to have a Pyramid tomb.

However, this tradition only applied in the Old and Middle Kingdoms. Today there are more than 93 Pyramids in Egypt, the most famous ones are those at Giza.

The Great Pyramid of Khufu is by far the most famous Pyramid in Egypt, the biggest, tallest, and most intact. After its construction it became one of the Seven Wonders Of The World, and today, it is the only one of them remaining.

Khafre's Pyramid, or the 2nd Pyramid, is easily recognisable by the layers of its original casing stones that still remain near its summit and this, along with the fact that it actually stands on a higher part of the plateau, gives the impression that it is taller than the Great Pyramid. Khafre's son, Menkaure, built the smallest of the three main Pyramids on the Giza Plateau.

The Great Sphinx, or as the ancients knew it, Shesib Ankh or the living image, has to be one of the most recognisable constructions in history.

The Valley of the Queens is an isolated cemetery at the southern part of the vast necropolis of Thebes on the west bank of Luxor. It contains about 70 tombs mainly belonging to Queens, Princesses, Princes and Nobles who lived during the XIX and XX Dynasties.

One of the most important tombs in the valley is the one that belongs to the famous Queen Nefertiti. The Valley of the Kings was the royal cemetery for 62 Pharaohs, and is located on the west bank at Luxor. In 1922 Howard Carter discovered the tomb of Tutankhamen and there were no new tombs discovered until February 2006.

Egyptian cuisine is basically a mixture of Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, Palestine and Syrian food and is quite unique and very different. Egyptians are very fond of strong flavors such as garlic and onions and food in the south is more spicy and mouthwatering in comparison to north Egypt because of the influence of North African cuisine.

Rice along with pitta bread is the food of Egyptian main courses and among the national dishes of Egypt Ful Medames is the national dish often eaten at breakfast. Another popular traditional dish is Kushari based on rice along with black lentils, chickpeas, macaroni, garlic and vinegar with spicy tomato sauce as the topping.

Egyptian cuisine is mainly known for its flavor and use of fresh ingredients. Molokhiyya is a popular leafy summer vegetable which Egyptians widely used in many variety of dishes along with other vegetables and kebabs in different flavor are the high point of Egyptian food.

The Greek historian Herodutus called Egypt "The Gift of the Nile", and truly the Nile is the heart of the ancient and modern land of Egypt and is surely one of the greatest rivers on earth and the epitome of all that is Egypt.

Purchasing a Property

When purchasing property in Egypt make sure you use a reliable estate agent and instruct a lawyer, most Egyptian lawyers speak English. The contract will be in the required Arabic and you will receive an English translation.

Foreign purchasers have the right to own real estate in Egypt. New laws have been established to make the Egyptian property purchase more secure. For example the government can no longer impound or nationalise any property a practice that stood for centuries. These changes along with a few others are increasing confidence with overseas buyers.

Once you decide on a property you will need to pay a holding deposit to take the property off the market and then the contracts are drawn up.

It is completely usual to negotiate a property selling price in Egypt unless you are buying off-plan when the price is fixed.

Most Egyptian properties are not registered even though registration is an essential prerequisite to purchase. Therefore the lawyers's assistance in liaising with the Real Estate Registration Office in Egypt is critical to ensure the property is duly registered and prepared for foreign purchase.

Registration can take up to four months after inspections and payment of taxes/fees, you will finally obtain a new title from the Registry.

It is vital to instruct a lawyer as the property must be checked against loans, debts and disputes. The correct signatures and all relevant powers of attorney from the seller should be verified by a lawyer in Egypt.

All contracts should be in both Arabic and Egypt and should be translated to ensure the Arabic matches the English. A deposit is usually required at this stage and after completion the deeds are registered in your name at the Land Registry

Currently there are no mortgage facilities available to foreigners in Egypt though this situation in the near future with the full implementation of new mortgage law in the Egypt will change.

Fees & Taxes

Property Registration and legal fees for conveyance total around 6%.

Stamp duty is payable by the buyer at 3%. The buyer will also pays a small inspection and measurement fee, (approx 65 euros).

Tax on any form of income from the property runs at 20%-22%.

The seller pays 2.5% on the sales price.

There is no capital gains or VAT, only 200 for Land Registry fees.

There is no inheritance tax

There is an annual real estate tax, the amount depends on location and standard of the property.

Buyers's commission - when purchasing in Sharm El Sheikh, which is a fee charged to the purchaser by the agent handling the transaction of the sale. This fee is usually 1.5% of the purchase price of the property.

In other areas of Egypt the "buyer's commission" is between 4% and 5% of the value of the property but does include some of the lawyer's fees.

There is a fee of 3% of the property value payable on registration.

NOTE : -

In general when buying property in Egypt from a new development prices are set and there is little room for negotiation. Payment terms vary, cash buyers usually benefit from a discount of around 10% or long-term credit arrangements often at 0% interest over three or four years.


For citizens of USA, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland must have a passport valid for at least two months beyond the period of visit and a visa is required.

A 30-day visa can be obtained on arrival provided the purpose of travel is tourism. For travellers just travelling to the south Sinai resorts a free 14-day visa can be obtained on arrival.

Note : All travellers are advised to check their entry requirements with their Embassy/Consulate as requirements are liable to change at short notice.

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