Monday, September 15, 2008

Living in Maadi

Maadi, the expat oasis in Cairo, can be quite a daunting experience the first week that you start living here..

Streets whose numbers don't seems to follow any rational sequencing, house numbers that quite often do not follow sequencing, medans that seem to be laid out like labyrinths, myriad medans where one wrong turn could leave you completely lost, cars squeezed on both sides of the streets, skillful driving abilities to be able to navigate the narrow streets, scattered shops, can all leave you a litte fazed! Add to that the fact that you don't know the language, Cairo suddenly seems a lot less exotic than when you first heard that you were moving here!

Friends / neighbours keep asking me about places where stuff can be found in Maadi to help them settle in so tried thinking of a ready reckoner for some basic stuff. So here goes...

ADDRESSES
First things first..All addresses are quoted as 2 road 18, 5 road 235 etc..this means that its building number 2/5 on road no 18/235..

SUPERMARKETS
Maadi has enough choice in terms of supermarkets - take your pick from Kimo (1 Road 210, Degla, Maadi, Tel: (02) 516-1788 - (02) 519-8764 ), Seoudi ( Road 253 & 214, Degla, Maadi, Tel: (02) 754-6007), Metro (Road 9, La Selky Road & Misr-Helwan Agriculture Road), Miriam (7B Road 205 with 253, - Degla, Maadi, Tel: (02) 519-6488 - (02) 519-6499 - (02) 516-5833). These are typically the ones frequented by expats as they stock a lot of overseas stuff usually not available elsewhere.

Another supermarket Alpha located on the Corniche (Tel: (02) 525-6400) is also reasonably well stocked and has adequate parking.

Other than this, there is an Abu Zekry (86 Road 9, Tel: (02) 358-4281) & Mahmood Massoud on Road which are also decently stocked.

However, a quick word of advice, always check the expiry date before you buy, no matter which store you buy from, esp when you see the tempting "buy 1 get 1 free!!"

All of these will deliver home, free of charge, except for Metro which charges a nominal amount for delivery.

HYPERMARKETS
Maadi boasts of a huge City Centre with Carrefour as the anchor store. Over the last 8 months a number of other foreign brands have opened outlets like Next, Evans (of London), Guess, Mothercare, Radio Shack, Top Shop, D'damas, Mango, Starbucks, Costa Coffee, Club Aldo, Charles & Keith, Adidas etc..and a whole host of popular local ones like Bella Donna, Daly Dress, Concrete, J&B, Cilantro etc..

The City centre also has a fairly large amusement centre, so you can let the kids amuse themselves while you shop.

Cairo also has Spinneys and Hyper but these are quite far away from Maadi.


VEGETABLES
If you are looking for fresh vegetables, then head towards to local souq on Road 7. Fresh vegetables/ fruits are available all the year round, though during summer the quality may not be that great.

If a souq is not your cup of tea, then head to any of the supermarkets and you can get a good variey of pre-packed fresh vegetables / fruits. Alternately, if the sun is too hot for you, all the supermarkets home deliver in Maadi free of cost except for Metro which levies a delivery charge.

FRESH MILK
While many brands are available in tetrapacks, if you are a sucker for fresh, full cream mik, there are a few outlets, but I have found the following two to be quite good. One is Khalifa on Road and the other is El Madena el Menwara (Tel: 25169311) on the crossing of El Nasr & La Selky roads (next to Momen). Both outlets sell fresh yoghurt, fresh cream, icecreams and some traditional desserts.

ALCOHOL
For the followers of Omar Khayyam, Drinkies on Road 9 opposite Metro supermarket sells wine, beer and some other alcohol. Also Mahmoud Massoud at the corner from Metro also sells wines and some basic alcohol.

Drinkies is closed on Fridays while Massoud is not.

CHICKEN / MEAT
While there are butchers offering fresh meat, I prefer to buy mine from Metro. Out of the 3 Metros, the one on La Selky has the freshest quality. Even Seoudi has decent quality meat.

Of course, if you want premium, excellent quality Australian meat, head towards Gourmet Egypt on the autostrad near Maadi City centre. The prices are steep but the quality excellent! They also deliver home and you can place orders on the telephone or via the internet.

FISH
While all supermarkets offer fish, my mother-in-law prefers to buy hers from the Arab Souq. According to her, the fish is fresh, larger variety, and, most importantly, the fishmonger cuts the fish the way she likes it!

This souq is behind Grand Mall. If you go past Grand Mall, past the Orbit showroom, then take a left from the cirlcle, go straight down, past another circle, in front is the Arab Souq / local market. At the begining of the souq, on the right hand side, are 2 fish shops.

If the souq is not where you want to head, then Seoudi, Metro and Carrefour all sell decent fish.

COFFEE SHOPS

Fancy a cup of coffee with some friends or just want to relax after a full day's work, you are spoilt for choice. Beanos (Road 9), Coasta Coffee (near Grand Mall & Road 9), Cafe Greco (Road 9 & CSA), Cilantro ( Road 9, El Nasr), Grand Cafe (Corniche), Second Cup (Road 9, though never tried it)

LINEN

In case your shipment is on its way, and, you desperately need some bed linen/ table linen then there is Suzzette on the way to the Corniche. Once you get off the bridge that takes you out of Maadi onto the Corniche, its on the left on the first floor, the signage is pretty clear. There is also a Bed & Bath outlet just across Abu Zekry, next to the Kodak shop on Road 9, though I have never tried it.

SCHOOL SUPPLIES / STATIONERY

Need stuff for the kids, go to Bakier Stationery (Building 2, Road 218, Maadi, Tel : 02 25199088 - 02 25211040) or to Saamir &Ali. The later is a huge shop stacking everything from school requirements to art supplies, photographic paper, computer periperherals, papr products, office stationery etc. You can call them on 19891 for home delivery as well.

Of course, Carrefour has a huge stationery section as well.

ENGLISH BOOKSHOPS
Now that is a not-so-easy to find object. One of the largest bookshops stocking a decent number of English titles is in Zamalek called Diwans, but Maadi has a couple of them as well. There is Adam's Bookshop in Grand Mall, Al-Kotob on La Selky and Bookspot on Road 9.

The unique thing Bookspot is that they will buy back the book from you at a discounted price when you have finished reading, and do not want to keep the book!

Al-Kotob is also stocks a decent range of titles and organises a number of book readings, author meets etc. Get registered on their website and get regular updates on what's happening at this very happening book corner!

MEDICINES
While many of us tend to carry a medical box with medicines from back home, there will be times when you need something locally Maadi has a number of pharmacies, though the one that I use is Haytham & Salaah in Grand Mall. Its a large, reputed chain and stocks medicines, bath neccesities, baby stuff, hair dyes, sun blocks, make-up etc...

Just behind the Grand Mall is a 24 hour chemist, next to Maghrabi Optics - can't remember the name but even during Ramadan its open 24 hours and that's saying something!

DOCTORS
If the family is unwell, and you need a quick consult with a doctor, most expats end up going to either Ghaly's Medical centre (32, 33, 34 Golf St, Tel: (02) 380 92 47 - 359 25 93 ) or the Degla Medical Centre (4, St. No 203 Degla Maadi ).

However, As-Salam International Hospital (Tel: (02) 524-0077) on the Corniche is also a well run, well equppied hospital, and I would recommend it for more serious ailments.

MOVIE THEATRES
...and finaly, when you are bored or need to take a break and you want to watch a movie there are two theatres close by, and, yes, they do screen English movies. Bandar Cinema (Inside Bandar Mall, 1 Palestine street, new Maadi, Tel: (02) 519-0770 - (02) 519-0455) or Family Land (Corniche el Nile, Osman Towers, Tel: (02) 524-8100 - (02) 524-8200 - (02) 524-8400 - (02) 524-8600) are easily accessible and seem to screen a lot of English movies for children! So buy your popcorn, take your juice-box, sit back, relax and enjoy the movie!

23 comments:

Lisa said...

Thanks so much! We've just moved to Cairo 2 weeks ago, and, my kids have been feeling lost and missing home. I think I will take them to the amusement arcade at Maadi City Centre.

Would you by any chance know where my 9 year old can play soccer? He will be schooling at the British International School in 6th October but on weekends would like to play soccer here in Maadi, since we live here.

Karen said...

Hey, thanks for the details of the doctors. Though the embassy has its own panel of doctors, its difficult to go all that way for every small thing. This is good to know!! Surprisingly, all the doctors on the embassy's panel are also locals. No expats? Do you take your children to these clinics as well?

Manisha said...

Lisa, there is a Cairo Youth Soccer league that plays at the Cairo American College (CAC) and the Victory College every saturday and Tuesday I think. As far as I know registrations for the league got over in August, but you could probably go across to CAC on saturday morning and check with the coaches if there is a possibility of getting your son registered to play.

Manisha said...

Karen, I do take my son to Ghaly's Clinic sometimes, but he has a pedeatrician on Road 9. If you email me, I can send you his details. Also the school that your kids go to, will have a recommended panel of docs.

As to no expat docs, local laws do not permit expat doctors to practice in Cairo. They are permitted to work in an administrative capacity but not in an executive one.

Jenny said...

Thanks for all those good tips and Hints ...
By the way, Do you know a Woman Ginecologist in Maadi (or in Cairo).
Thanks
Jenny

manisha said...

You're welcome Jenny. As for a gynac, I haven't needed to use one here but both the clinics that I mentioned have gynacs on their rolls so you could try either of them. If not them, then try As-Salam hospital on the Corniche.Their doctors are quite good.

Lynda said...

That is an excellent run-down. Well compliled, thanks. I will send 'newbies' over to you!

Manisha said...

Thanks Lynda, am glad you thought it could be useful for the "newbies"...I remember asking around for stuff when I first came, and, the language barrier made it even more difficult.

Martina said...

Good evening Manisha.
I saw your blog few days ago and i was so glad to found it.When i was reading your blog i had so many questions on my mind-how u decided to move to Cairo,did u like it at first,was it hard for u at the begining,how fast u solve language problem?So many questions and u probably answered before on all of them.
I read u r a mother and u have many responsibilitys but i really hope u will find some time for me.My interests are not with no reasons.I get back from Cairo one month ago and i fall in love in city,people,Egypt.I was reading about ur friend Lynda,Jenny,Karen.They also moved from other countries to live in Cairo.
I think it is enough for the first time.No more questions for now.
I can only send u a big hello from me,from Croatia.
Martina

Manisha said...

HI Martina, welcome to Cairo! Its a lovely city, the people are warm and friendly (though sometimes rougish), the city has lots to offer in terms of history and things to do...

I love the city as well, and, having been to a number of cities, this is one of my favourites...

Please feel free to ask anything that you may feel like, would be more than happy to answer!

We moved to Cairo cos my husband got transferred. He is a banker and so am I, but the lure of Egypt proved to be irrestible, so decided to take a break and came down here. And I must say, I have not regretted it even once! I love exploring the city, and, most days find me out soemwhere or the other..

As to the language, signed up for a language course and learnt a lil bit..you'll find that Egyptians love you if you speak their language...

And I must add, that despite having heard things to the contrary, I have never been harrased (as in eve teasing) in Cairo in the last 2 years.

Martina said...

Hi.
U answered so fast.Thank u.
At first when i saw Cairo i thought all of 20 million people r on streets.It was such a mess but after one day i liked everything i saw there.people,streets,buildings,desert and Nile the most.I think i left my heart and soul there.And everything happend in 10 days.
I wanna to ask u,if u have some advice or information,how woman can move to Cairo from other country,work and live there.
I dont have any picture in my head about that.Is it difficult to do that in Cairo?If i decide that from where i have to start?
I hope u understand me.

manisha said...

Hi Martina, first of all let me apologise for the delay in responding. I mus admit I was not sure how to respond.

Second, I understand what you meant. Cairo is a delightful city, its so easy to settle in, and, it has a way of insinuating itslf in your system!

As to your workinga nd living here, it absolutely possible. I have many young European / American women friends who are single and live here on their own. In terms of a job, its a function of what you want to do. Theer are head hunters like any other city or you can probably also talk to CSA (and expatriate non profit organisation. Teh starting point is what kin dof work do you want to do?

Martina said...

morning Manisha.
i wrote to u on 10 December but im not so sure did i send it.
i m really lost in time lately.

Martina said...

hi.now i really have to apologise to u and thank u for ur honest replay.
i read ur answer and i was happy to know that but then i called Egypt embassy to ask is it possible to work in Egypt.the man said there is no way to get visa for work or stay in Egypt.
and what now?i feel like my dream does not exist any more.although i didnt check everything and i wont say it is imposible.
im still waiting for one mail...and im wondering about ur friends,how they manage to stay in Egypt.

Martina said...

dear Manisha,
i wish for u and your familiy and for everyone who reads ur blog all the best wishes for new year,alot of Gods blessing and many happy thoughts.
Martina

Brijesh said...

Hi Manisha,

Really nice to have the details about cairo from your. Thanks a lot, I am planning to shift to cairo next week. I would like to ask is there any probablity of getting any Indian food ?

Brijesh Warrier

Manisha said...

Brijesh, I am glad you found the blog useful!

Hmm.. Indian food? Depends on what you mean by Indian food? If you mean cooked food, there are enough restaurants. Hyatt and Ramses Hilton have an indian restaurant, The boat Le Pacha has an Indian restaurant called Maharani, there is a hotel alled Karvin in Heliopolis which is onwed by an Indian and has great Indian food...if you are in Mohandasein, there is a restaurant called Nile Bukhara. If you are in maadi, there is another Nile Bukhara and a place called Maharaja (though I would not recommend the latter)...So enouh and more...

If you are looking for ingredients some are availabale and many not...there is a guy called Hassan who sells some Indian stuff including spices, dals, atta, besan etc...tehre is a post on him on the blog you can hunt it out...

Trust thsi helps....enjoy Cairo, beleive me, you will have great fun!

Manisha said...

Brijesh, I am glad you found the blog useful!

Hmm.. Indian food? Depends on what you mean by Indian food? If you mean cooked food, there are enough restaurants. Hyatt and Ramses Hilton have an indian restaurant, The boat Le Pacha has an Indian restaurant called Maharani, there is a hotel alled Karvin in Heliopolis which is onwed by an Indian and has great Indian food...if you are in Mohandasein, there is a restaurant called Nile Bukhara. If you are in maadi, there is another Nile Bukhara and a place called Maharaja (though I would not recommend the latter)...So enouh and more...

If you are looking for ingredients some are availabale and many not...there is a guy called Hassan who sells some Indian stuff including spices, dals, atta, besan etc...tehre is a post on him on the blog you can hunt it out...

Trust thsi helps....enjoy Cairo, beleive me, you will have great fun!

Manisha said...

Brijesh, I am glad you found the blog useful!

Hmm.. Indian food? Depends on what you mean by Indian food? If you mean cooked food, there are enough restaurants. Hyatt and Ramses Hilton have an indian restaurant, The boat Le Pacha has an Indian restaurant called Maharani, there is a hotel alled Karvin in Heliopolis which is onwed by an Indian and has great Indian food...if you are in Mohandasein, there is a restaurant called Nile Bukhara. If you are in maadi, there is another Nile Bukhara and a place called Maharaja (though I would not recommend the latter)...So enouh and more...

If you are looking for ingredients some are availabale and many not...there is a guy called Hassan who sells some Indian stuff including spices, dals, atta, besan etc...tehre is a post on him on the blog you can hunt it out...

Trust thsi helps....enjoy Cairo, beleive me, you will have great fun!

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Anonymous said...

Hi Manish
Thanks so much for posting this - it seems that the only information on actual cairo living is from people like yourself . I am relocating from europe with 2 small children (2 and 4) and need to work out where to live. I have been told Maadi (but I am guessing it's a reasonable size?) or KAttemaya Heights. Would you be able to tell me if there are areas within Maadi I should target my search on or how it compares to Kattemaya? thanks so much Antonia

Manisha said...

Antonia, many apologies for the delayed response but have been travellinga nd not logged on for a couple of months now!

I guess by now you must have made your choice but left to me, I would have chosen Maadi. Kattameya has lovely large villas but I find it completely isolated and depressing.. I lovethe hustle bustle of Maadi and th efact that I can step out and find a coffee shop 5 mins away from home :-)

Plus my son was at CAC so it was useful to live in Maadi!

Anonymous said...

One issue has been missed, there is a Chiropractic physician and sports injuries specialist in Maadi, the only official practice of its kind in Egypt. Dr. Wael Habib is an MD, DC, DO trained in the United States, in chiropractic with a background in Emergency Medicine and triage. Great non invasive approach to Headache and low back pain as well as sports injuries.

www.chiropracticegypt.com