Egypt, and Sinai in particular, used to be one of the safest places on the planet, but this reputation has changed significantly since the revolution in 2011. News of riots on mainland Egypt and threats of terrorism in the Sinai Peninsula are constantly in the news. While it is true there are some serious problems in the country – just as in the broader region and the whole world – the situation is not as bad as the media makes it sound. As long as visitors keep to some rules, the chances of anything bad happening are very slim. Always check your government’s advice, but also other sources, to be able to make informed decisions.
Terrorism is a threat the media keeps on repeating virtually on a daily basis. While there is certainly some truth to it, the troubles are concentrated in a very small corner of the Sinai in the north, in the area around El Arish, Raffa and the border area with Gaza, hundreds of miles from the tourist destinations of South Sinai. Who these terrorists are, where they are from or how many they are is unclear, but it is a small group who use the media to blow up their hideous acts. They include some locals as well, but most are probably from outside Egypt. The Bedouin tribes stand united against them, they are not and not harbouring terrorists. Terrorism is a quite worrying problem, but at least it seems to be very isolated, well-contained by the government, and far from the tourist areas in South Sinai.
Crime, unfortunately, has increased in Egypt, but by and large it is still safer than most countries in the world. Robberies aimed at tourists are virtually unheard of; on the other hand petty theft and house break-ins are on the rise in cities. Still, theft is not a serious problem: haggling or overcharging is, but theft is not part of Egyptian culture. Use common sense and the likelihood of becoming a victim will be minimal.
The bottom line is, nobody can guarantee anything 100% but there is no need to be paranoid. Get up-to-date information from different sources, from the internet, those who just returned, and locals when you arrive, and make up your mind accordingly. Let’s hope in the long run the more peaceful times return to the region and the world – in the meanwhile enjoy the absence of crowds.
Note: Although we, who live in the Sinai, believe it is a safe place, your government’s possible negative opinion might mean that most insurance companies won’t cover you in areas not recommended by them. Many people travel without insurance, but it is useful to have one. Illnesses, road accidents, losses or damages might happen in the most innocent ways, and you won’t be covered. Thankfully you can still find companies that provide cover – read more about insurance.