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Working in Cairo

Working in Cairo is a great option if you are interested in acquiring work experience in the Middle East. As a national and regional driving force, the Egyptian capital offers various business opportunities for expats. Find out what they are and how to approach them on InterNations.

At a Glance:

  • The economy suffered during the years of the revolution, with the tourism industry hit the worst.
  • Nevertheless, multinational corporations offer many job opportunities for expats.
  • The business dress code is preferably conservative.
  • Kissing on the cheek is the norm between men, but not to the opposite sex.


Egypt’s economy was on the rise for many years. The economic reforms undertaken between 2004 and 2008, with their more market-oriented approach, attracted many foreign investors. Annual growth rates that rarely fall below 5% and being among the Next 11 nations gave a good idea of Egypt’s economic potential.

However, as of 2013, Egypt’s economy is faltering. The tourism industry accounts for one in eight jobs and over 11% of the GDP, and the Tourism Minister depicts 2013 as the worst in modern history. There were five million fewer tourists visiting Egypt than in 2010, numbers falling from 14.7 million to 9.5 million.

The public finances are also in a bad state with public debt exceeding 91%. However, with the support of its Gulf allies, Egypt has managed to stay clear of default.  In 2015, higher levels of foreign investment helped GDP growth to rebound after the troubled period that inflicted a hit on the economy.

Stumbling Economy

Although only 2.8% of the country’s total area is arable, Egypt is fairly agriculturally oriented. About a third of the workforce is employed in the primary sector, and the regular floods on the banks of the Nile provide them with plenty of work: Multiple annual crops are the norm. The agricultural sector has been performing well, as it is sheltered from political unrest and extreme weather conditions. It grew by 3% from 2013 to 2014 and as of 2015 it makes up about 14.5% of GDP.

Egypt is home to various industries such as automobile and textile production, chemicals, and steel. The manufacturing industry, which comprised 15.5% of GDP in 2015, is getting back on track after a recent slump during the Egyptian revolution. The services sector remains the most important part of Egypt’s economy, accounting to 47.5% of the total GDP.

A third of the nation’s industry is located in or around Cairo. Control of the Suez Canal is another important source of revenue for the nation. In terms of natural resources, Egypt profits greatly from its oil supplies. The Suez Canal is sheltered from internal political ongoings and, thus, its revenues remain stable at about 5 billion USD per year. The New Suez Canal, an 8.4 billion USD project, should also boost Egypt’s economy, with expected annual trade growth rate of 3.4%.

Egypt’s Business Hub

Cairo is the undisputed center of Egypt in almost every respect. More than one in ten of the country’s inhabitants are currently living and working in Cairo and its metropolitan area. For many international corporations, working in Cairo is the most feasible option when trying to establish a presence in the Middle East.

Many of the city’s inhabitants have found employment in the public sector. This includes the government, the military, and the city administration. For a large number of people, working in Cairo’s administrative machine is synonymous with the Mugamma, the somewhat infamous, Soviet-built office complex.

With nearly all of the nation’s movie studios and major newspapers located in the city, working in Cairo is an important step in the careers of many Egyptian media creatives. Egyptian movies are enjoyed throughout the Arab world, and working in Cairo has often been the first step on the road to stardom for an aspiring actor.

Moreover, Cairo’s construction business is an almost crisis-proof trade. As working in Cairo has undergone a sudden increase in popularity since the 1990s, the city administration had problems keeping up with the rapid pace of construction. Some estimate that one in five buildings in the city is less than 15 years old. Thus, there is a steady demand for people working in Cairo’s construction sector and on the building sites of many new projects.

Of course, tourism is vital to the city as well. The many employees working in Cairo’s hotels and cafés profit greatly from the proximity to the world-famous pyramids. But the city holds many sights of its own, and working in Cairo’s streets as a tourist guide or souvenir vendor is popular among the local population.

Opportunities for Expats

Due to its regional and international importance, employees working in Cairo-based branches of multi-national corporations play an important role in the number of expats making up the Cairo workforce. Oil companies and communications providers in particular offer many jobs which require their holder to be working in Cairo. Other expat-heavy branches of industry include construction, technology, the chemical industry, and renewable energies.

Quite a few Western-educated doctors are now working in Cairo’s international hospitals. Many other expats make a living in the immense tourism sector, often in executive or management positions. Teaching has also been a popular option for many expats, and with the large selection of international schools in the city, opportunities are manifold.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete.

Paul Zimmerer

"Before I moved to Cairo I contacted some local members on InterNations. They gave me some great assistance."

Barbara Sciera

"Cairo is a bustling metropolis. Through InterNations I met some other expat women. Now we meet on a weekly basis."

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