Egypt has a thriving domestic film industry and also welcomes a large number of foreign film crews. Classic movies such as the biblical epic The Ten Commandments have been filmed in Egypt, and film enthusiasts will no doubt remember the scene of Charlton Heston, playing Moses and parting the Red Sea. More recently, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen features scenes filmed in the desert, as did action/horror movie The Mummy. Cairo has featured in many international TV shows, as well as domestic movies and documentaries.
The consistent weather means it’s easy to plan ahead, and there are dozens of iconic landmarks that look great on film including the pyramids and temples. Filming in the dessert can be challenging in the hot summer months of May to October and so for these locations we recommend shooting between November and April when we enjoy cooler weather.
It should be noted that religious dates such as Ramadan can make it difficult to film, and we would discuss various options with you to work around this.
Visa requirement are dependent on your country of origin and its worth contacting your local embassy for more info surrounding the matter.
Film permits usually takes 3-4 days to be granted a permit, but if you’re looking to film in specialist locations such as historical landmarks and underwater, permits can take up to two weeks. Some productions in Egypt will require a government minder to attend who are invaluable when dealing with local security personnel.
Popular Egyptian Filming Locations
- River Nile – Seen in many documentaries and TV shows, the world’s longest river offers endless filming potential.
- Red Sea – Often used as a location for epic movies about biblical and ancient times, the Red Sea is a spectacular place to film.
- Cairo – Cairo has a mixture of modern and historic filming locations, with the pyramids and sphinx on the outskirts and a more contemporary city centre
The crew and equipment are of an international standard. Any equipment not available locally easily be brought in from European countries or nearby Dubai. Egypt isn’t an ATA carnet country.
Leave the drone at home
Radio controlled helicopters or drones should not be used – the import of drones is banned, unless you have prior authorisation from the Egyptian Ministry of Defence.
Egypt is an Islamic country and modest dress is expected, particularly in rural areas, mosques, souqs (markets) and during the holy month of Ramadan. Women’s clothes should cover the legs and upper arms and men should keep their chests covered.
- Shorts or short skirts as you see fit (covering the knee, if possible)
- A couple of T-shirts.
- At least one shirt, blouse or smart looking top.
- One pair of long trousers.
- A veil/shawl (women only; you can buy it at most souvenir shops as well)
- Swimsuit or bathing suit.
Do’s and don’t’s
- Wear shorts and sleeveless t-shirts. For men it’s ok, but try to avoid sleeveless t-shirts and wear the normal ones. This will not be the case if you are visiting Sharm-El-Sheikh, Dahab, Marsa Allam and Hurghada. In these coastal cities, wearing this type of clothing is acceptable.
- Kiss or hug persons of the opposite sex. Shaking hands is ok in general, but strict Muslims don’t shake hands with people of the opposite sex in order to avoid any physical contact.
- Cross busy streets alone. Wait for someone to come and cross with you, or ask someone to help you. Egyptians usually will offer to help you in such situations. This doesn’t apply for all streets, of course, but in Cairo and Alex especially there is a lot of traffic and sometimes no traffic signs. Cars won’t stop to let you cross and you have to find a way between them.
- Put your feet on a table. This behaviour is not acceptable and might offend the people around you.
- Talk to people who are approaching you in the street or in tourist areas to offer services like city tours, special visits to tombs, sites or shops…etc. It’s always preferable to go through registered tour operators and agents.
- Pet street dogs and cats (unless you have all your vaccines and you’re not afraid to be bitten or scratched).
- Get angry or frustrated when someone is late. People in Egypt are very laid back, so in some cases people will be late, and you will have to get used to it during your stay.
- Expose yourself to the sun (in summer especially). This is dangerous unless you are wearing proper clothes.
- Drink tap water.
- Drink alcohol in the street (it’s not socially acceptable, and in some areas it’s forbidden by law).
- Smoke in the street (for women).
- Eat, drink or smoke in public places during daytime during Ramadan.
- Take a taxi if you are alone late at night. Try to use the yellow cab instead.
- Leave tips in cafés, restaurants, hair dressers, clothes shops almost everywhere! Sometimes people won’t take them, but usually they will, as they don’t have good salaries.
- Bargain (it sounds paradoxical after what I’ve just said!) in souvenir shops, markets, taxis. Within reasonable limits, bargaining in Egypt’s souvenir markets is a nice way to start a conversation, and is expected.
- Dress modestly and not too extravagant.
- Ask locals the fare for a taxi ride before taking the taxi, then agree on that fare with the taxi driver. In Cairo they have the metered taxis (“white taxi”), so you shouldn’t have to discuss
the fare, but always make sure the meter is working. If not, leave the taxi and take another. You can leave a one-pound tip at the end of your ride.
- Ask directions from at least three different people (to be sure you have the right information). Sometimes people try to help even if they don’t know the place.
- Take taxis rather than public transportation, especially for women.
- Take off your shoes and cover your head (for women) when you enter a mosque.
- Ask permission before taking a photo (even of people). In some places it is forbidden to
- Spend time talking to the people. Egyptians are interesting, kind and have a great sense of humor. You will learn from them as they will learn from you—it is always a rich exchange. Don’t miss out on that!
- Enjoy the country as much as you can. Egypt is not just any country—Egypt is “Om el Donia” (the Mother of the World)!