Land of Pharaohs, Pyramids and Good Banking!
Welcome to Egypt, land of pharaohs, pyramids, the Sphinx, the River Nile…and top class banking! Whether tourist or expatriate, from the UK or elsewhere, you might just be a little surprised by the inclusion of banking in the list. Think Egypt, think Tutankhamen, Cleopatra, Nefertiti, and perhaps some of the more than 130 pyramids discovered so far, but banking? Whoa there, hold your camels!
Yes, it’s true, top class, 21st century banking. Go on, open a current account online and see just how easy it all is. No? As you travel across Egypt then, lookout for some familiar names, such as HSBC, Barclays and others. So why would you be surprised to see them? After all, they are giant banking multinationals known the world over. And they love Egypt. You’ll also come across names that are less familiar.
Here’s a few to be getting on with – National Bank of Egypt, Banque Misr, Banque du Caire, Central Bank of Egypt, Commercial International Bank, and so on. You get the picture. So if you’re looking for some good personal banking services then you’ve got them. By the boat-load. Or should that be by the felucca-load, which is the name of the traditional River Nile sailing boat so beloved of tourist posters. The ancient craft has cruised up and down the River Nile for millennia. And they’re probably good for at least another millennia, maybe even two!
But you’re more interested in savings accounts, interest rates and finding a bank account offering a healthy, usable overdraft, which is fair enough. They’re important subjects, especially if you’ve decided to make Egypt a home-from-home. More and more people are doing just that, whether through work, business or retirement. And it’s not hard to understand why either given the wall-to-wall sunshine throughout the year and a cost of living that’s a bit gentler on the wallet, salary or savings.
If you’ve lived for even a short time in Egypt, you’ll have quickly realised all the language-barrier fears you once harboured were completely groundless, that all the Egyptian Arabic lessons you intended to take, but somehow never got around to, would actually have been a bit of a waste of time in the end. English – and French – is widely spoken everywhere, and not only amongst the country’s banking fraternity.
However, learning even a few of the commonest Egyptian Arabic phrases will always pay dividends in this tourist-friendly country. Not only will it be highly appreciated wherever you travel, but it will also help to break the ice in many unexpected situations. So it’s worth making the effort.
Back to banking. You want to open a bank account? Easy, or at least no more difficult than opening a bank account back in dear old Blighty. Both require official documentation. It’s all about proving who you claim to be. As far as Egypt is concerned that means passport, work visa, and residency certificate. No ifs, buts or maybes. A utility bill will also be required complete with your name and current Egyptian address. That’s it.
Some banks, however, may want just a little bit more, such as a letter from your bank back home. They might also want to see some bank statements, perhaps the last three months’ worth. Simple. That’s banking knocked off the list. Now let’s get back to pharaohs, pyramids and the Sphinx! Check out some Egyptian Arabic phrases here.