Sprawling above the Nile River Delta is Cairo, the capital city and political and cultural heart of Egypt. The city (by far the biggest in Egypt) has the largest metropolitan area in Africa and the Arab world. Cairo is one of the cradles of Islam, and its architecture is testimony to that. Mosques demarcate the city’s beautiful skyline, the turrets and domes providing a timeline that dates back as far as 642AD. Beneath the majestic minarets, however, utilitarian edifices dominate – a reminder of the 1952 fire that laid waste to most of the city. The city’s burgeoning population and a pressing need for low-cost housing accelerated a rapid, unplanned build-out. In a bid to halt the inexorable urban sprawl, satellite towns were built in the desert with incentive schemes to compel people to live there. Some of the more notable developments include the 6th of October City, renowned as a technology and business hub, and the upmarket New Cairo, an on-going development that is gaining recognition for its universities and luxury compounds. While Egypt is more laid back than other Islamic cities, women moving here are advised to observe local norms. You can avoid attracting unfavorable attention by not revealing too much skin and by covering your shoulders. Living in Cairo is much cheaper than in other major cities, however expats are generally not lured here by the promise of lucrative financial gain or luxurious lifestyles. Rather, Cairo is a city that thrives on its cultural heritage - and therein lays the reward of being here. While Cairo’s economy was hit hard by the recent unrest relating to the Arab Spring, businesses rebounded fairly quickly and the city is still considered to be safe. Ancient and exotic, it is an intense, jostling, culturally captivating city with a well-integrated network of interesting and interested expats. What is special or unique about your city? Known as "The Triumphant City," Cairo is the largest city in the Middle East and Africa. It is also Egypt's capital. Its distinctiveness is based on history that goes back thousands of years. This amazing city is full of life and its lively personality is all its own. With crowded streets and non-stop activity, Cairo offers both a modern feel as well as a quaintness derived from its sense of history. Spanning the banks of the Nile River, you won't find a more colorful place than here. There is so much to do in Cairo; it is a great city for most any lifestyle. The Arab Spring (al-Thawrāt al-Arabiyyah; The Arab Revolution) is a revolutionary wave of demonstrations and protests in the Arab world that began on December 18, 2010. To date, rulers have been forced from power in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen; civil uprisings have erupted in Bahrain and Syria; major protests have broken out in Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco and Sudan; and minor protests have occurred in Lebanon, Mauritania, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and Western Sahara, as well as clashes at the borders of Israel in May 2011. The protests have shared techniques of mostly civil resistance in sustained campaigns involving strikes, demonstrations, marches and rallies, as well as the effective use of social media to organize, communicate and raise awareness in the face of state attempts at repression and Internet censorship. Egypt is the most populous country in the Arab world, and its revolution in January and February 2011 was the capstone event of the Arab Spring, inspiring demonstrators in Libya, Syria and elsewhere. In June 2012, a series of events threw the country’s troubled transition to democracy deeper into confusion as Egypt’s two most powerful forces—the military establishment and the Muslim Brotherhood—appeared headed for a showdown. On June 24, 2012, the election commission announced that Mohamed Morsi won Egypt's presidential runoff against Ahmed Shafiq, a retired Air Force general. The Arab Spring should be treated as an opportunity for challenging and enhancing the education, economy and political status in Egypt. What are a newcomer's first impressions of your city? For the most part, newcomers find Cairo an exciting city bursting with energy, color and adventure. The friendliness of the local people is also very apparent. Are these impressions likely to change? Typically, these impressions do not change because Cairo's atmosphere remains constant. What is the local language? The official language in Cairo is Arabic. However, English and French are widely spoken. Below are a few Arabic and French words/phrases to help you when you arrive: English Arabic French Good morning Sabah al-hayri Bonjour Please Minfadlik S'il vous plaît Goodbye Ma'assalama Au revoir Thank you Shukran Merci Yes Na'am Oui No La Non One Wahid L’un Two Itnan Deux Three Talatha Trois Hospital Mostashfa Hôpital Restaurant Matt'am Restaurant What are good things to remember in order to avoid offending the other residents of this city? The following are considered offensive in Cairo and should be avoided: Pointing and using your index finger Showing the bottom of your feet Using the "thumbs up" sign Gesturing with your left hand (the left hand is considered to be unclean) Taking photographs without getting permission. It is against the law to photograph bridges, railway stations, anything military, airports and other public works. Tipping (called baksheesh in Egypt) is a common practice for most services, regardless of how inconsequential. In hotels and restaurants, a service charge of about 12 percent is added to the bill, but an extra 5 percent tip is customary. Taxi fares often include a tip, but if your driver has given especially good service, 10 percent is considered normal; tips for porters and bellhops are about a pound. Many people rely on tipping to supplement their incomes, so it is important to be aware of the practice and to remember to carry small change. How might the local weather affect my daily life? If you like dry weather, you'll like Cairo. Cairo experiences dry weather year-round. You will find that winter, spring and fall are fairly mild times of the year. However, in April, you may experience hot, sandy Khamsin winds, followed by scorching summers. If you are worried about it being too hot in the summer, don't, because most buildings and homes have air conditioning to cool things off. The average summer temperature is 98 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius) and the average winter temperature is 47 degrees Fahrenheit (8 degrees Celsius). Is there anything else I should know about the overall character of your city or its people? Cairo is as ancient as history itself, but also showcases a modern flare. Its uniqueness is unexplainable until seen with monuments dating back to four different historical periods: the Pharaonic, the Roman, the Christian and the Islamic. If you like history, you will love it here.