Hurghada NightmareBack to Forum
Anonymous21 Aug 2013
While not strictly business travel related, I wanted to share one of the most worrying airport experinces I have ever endured.
We returned from a diving holiday in the Red Sea last week on Friday night through Hurghada airport. While the entry process was swift and hassle free the previous week, the exit process was rather different.
The airport perimeter was obviously under more heavy guard, using army patrols and newly added machine gun positions. This, one would have thought, would give a sense of security but the obvious show of force gave quite the oposite impression.
Entry into the terminal building was officiated by someone sat on railings nect to the bag scanner, in plain clothes, chewing gum and talking on their mobile.
Check in was the most orderly part of the process, uniformed staff and ordely queues…well the flight was mainly Brits!
However it became obvious that all was not well as we proceeded to immigration. No air conditioning and at least half the lights out, possibly to try to save power? The lack of aircon was not pleasant in 40+ degC heat.
After a “formal” passport check and visa stamp by a uniformed person in a booth, there was a further check by another person again in plain clothes, chewing gum and sat on railings.
Then through the hand baggage scan and metal detectors to get to the departures area. Here followed the most farcical lack of security.
While we were queuing for the scan the power went off. We waited in line until the power was back on and we were processed. No request for laptops out, separate visualisation of liquids or any belt/shoe removal.
When we were through there was a further power cut and the “security guard” continues to waive people through to departures without being scanned or bags being checked!
The departures/duty free area resembled more of a market stall area rather than a controlled sales area. There were shops selling counterfit watches and handbags, with their wares spilling into the concourse area.
When any of our party tried to buy anything change was offered in penny sweets or other low value items (a bag of hibiscus tea?). The reason provided was that they had run out of cash to provide change! It was perhaps another way to con more money from a captive audience.
Finally when one of our party tried to purchase goods in the “duty free” shop the total requested came to far more than he was expecting and he had to challenge the receipted charges…yet another scam. The sales person admitted afterwards that they were being asked by their manager to add cost to the total which would then be shared out amongst the workers later!
Thankfully our flight (with Monarch) departed on time, whereas all six other flights (mostly to Russia) before us were delayed between 4 and 6 hours.
Certainly a lovely holiday spoiled by what is the worst airport expereince I have ever had. I would hope never to travel through Hurghada again, although it seems a necessary evil to endure for the good diving in the southern Red Sea.21 Aug 2013
FDoS, I’ve been to the Middle East several times before, but this was the first visit to Egypt.
I’ve travelled to and around Saudi (Jeddah, Yanbu, Dammam), UAE (Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah), Qatar and Bahrain.
None of the previous ME locations has been simillarly shoddy in terms of security, professionalism and appearance to outsiders.
None of the others have had the sense of broken enconomy as Hurghada had last week.
Perhaps I’ve just travelled to the “nicer” parts of the Middle East.
Indeed I’ve travelled to some parts of Africa (Kenya, Zanzibar, Tanzania) and even the tented airport of Killimanjaro had more appearance of professionalism, pride and security than I expereinced lst week.21 Aug 2013
I have always had the feeling that Egypt was shoddily run and badly organised, been there once and that was once too often. I have subsequently refused to go there and it would be one of the last places on the planet I’d go to on holiday, specially at the moment.
As the above will clearly invite someone to accuse me of being ‘racist’ or hating Arabs/Muslims, I should add that I have been to many other countries, both Arab and non-Arab, in the Middle East and have thoroughly enjoyed the experiences, Egypt is very different. By and large, unpleasant, aggressive, and mercenary people.21 Aug 2013
Egypt is unlike any other Middle Eastern country with huge extremes of wealth and poverty. You need only visit Cairo to see what I mean.
By the way, I wonder what will happen to Egyptair ? It has a large fleet of planes but not many visitors to fill them nowadays.
I gather Cairo airport is functioning and passengers are able to travel to/from the airport for flights during curfew hours if they show the relevant travel docs at checkpoints.21 Aug 2013
captionianm – “By and large, unpleasant, aggressive, and mercenary people.”. I am not going to accuse you of racism, but just of a wild and unfounded generalisation which does not do justice to a people who, in my experience, include some of the most erudite and cultured folk you could hope to meet.
Yes, the country is going through hell at present; yes, this sort of situation gives reign to the darkest elements in any society but to tar a whole people with the sort of brush that you do does not do you any credit and is so far from the truth.
PS. Yes, I have worked extensively in Egypt and I have also worked with some wonderful Egyptians over here in the UK.21 Aug 2013
I know the country from Alexandria to Abu Simbel. Even in peaceful times, it is a stressful but rewarding experience. It all depends on how you react. Granted, you will encounter more hassle than in Jordan, Lebanon or Syria (in former times).
Go with the flow and you will meet some of the most wonderful people in the world.
I see that all Luxair holiday flights to HRG and SSH have been suspended until mid-September.21 Aug 2013
Tom : I have also met some superb Egyptians but I stand by my original assertion. In Egypt, I have met a far greater proportion of unpleasant people than anywhere else in the Middle East (Israel I have not been to and do not intend to go to).21 Aug 2013
I have also worked extensively in the middle east and Egypt; the educated people are generally very nice, but the uneducated masses are often as Capetonian describes. Sadly one encounters these type of people at airports and tourist centres – I’ve even had to give a policeman money to get through the security arch, with my family. The baksheesh concept is alive and well.
As you have worked there, you will understand the competitive pressure to earn money to support their families, but it is still in your face and aggressive, backed up by intimidation.
You will find the same attitude in Tunisia, from some and don’t even mention Algeria, possibly the country with the most aggressive behaviours to be found in the Mehgrab area.21 Aug 2013
Given your prior experience, I can understand why you were intimidated.
Say what you will about the Saudis, the officals you encounter at airports are generally professional, the same applies to the other countries you mention.
It’s worth remembering that whilst Egypt is in the middle east, it is not Al Jazeera (the Arabian peninsula), but is Mahgreb (North Africa) and some of the restraint in the Gulf evaporates – allied with people being desparate to earn a living against strong competition – of all the Arabs I’ve worked with, the Egyptians have the strongest work ethic and put the hours in to get the job done.
They can also have quite a fatalistic attitude – insh’allah – e.g. I’ve seen an Egyptair aircraft land at Cairo with the seat across the aisle occupied by a stewardess, not strapped in an sleeping with her head on the lowered seat tray – insh’allah, I trust in my maker. Her colleague insisted that we were strapped in, but left her – how does that work?
But, on balance, I don’t really like Egypt.21 Aug 2013
@capetonianm – if intended or not (and I am not suggesting one way or another) your comment about Israel is quite offensive. It would suggest that you think Israel somehow has the most offensive people in the middle east after Egypt, but you have no intention to go to find out whether that’s true or not.21 Aug 2013
To remove any doubt :
” …….you think Israel somehow has the most offensive people in the middle east after Egypt, but you have no intention to go to find out whether that’s true or not…..”
Correct. It was intended as you understood it. Those whom I’ve met elsewhere, and that’s been quite a lot for various reasons and in several different contexts, have done nothing to make me want to visit their country, in fact quite the opposite. For the avoidance of doubt, I am referring to Israelis, not Jews.
If you choose to find that offensive, so be it.21 Aug 2013
Well there’s no doubt there.
I am not saying I found it offensive – it is offensive full stop.
Whatever your personal opinions towards individuals you have met, to label a whole country as being the most offensive is offensive.
And why point out / what’s any difference between Israelis and Jews?21 Aug 2013