Alexandria, Egypt

Corniche, Alexandria.  Facing *Manshia*

Why Alexandria?

Outside of summer, Alexandria is cheaper than Cairo and less congested.
Being on the Mediterranean is also a plus.


Egyptian Colloquial Arabic

Ahlan-Egypt offer monthly courses for Egyptian Colloquial Arabic (ECA). Located on El-Gorfa El-Togareya street, *mansheya* (west of Raml station).
Price is 200 euro per month plus 25 euro registration fee.

The cultural programme might include an excursion to the Roman Amphitheatre, the Catacombs of Kim el Shoqafa and Roman Pompey's Pillar, the main mosques and Coptic churches.

Ahlan also has a branch in Cairo and Luxor and it is possible to spend some of your study in the other locations.

Partial view of Mediterranean Sea
If you are looking for one-to-one tuition then the cheapest centre I know is ETCA1 (they also teach Turkish here). It is about 1800 EGP for 40 hours.

The address is:
44 Saad Zaghlol street,
(Above the Brazilian cafe),
Raml station.

The centre is also called MisrTurk.


Modern Standard Arabic

TAFL Center, Faculty of Arts (University of Alexandria) or *kulyat aadaab, gamaat al-iskandariya[t]* teaches ECA and MSA.2
You can find them on facebook.
Closest tram station is *shoban al-muslimeen*. However, for your first visit, you might prefer to take a taxi, but agree the price before you get in. (From *mahatat Raml* it is five EGP). Also, (if outside of term-time) aim to get there in the morning.
The centre includes an effective system for speaking and writing Arabic.

TAFL Center TAFL Center Sign in Arabic
You can study both ECA and MSA in the same term. This is intensive, so you might prefer to study ECA for one term and then focus on MSA the following terms. Both languages are very doable in parallel, but, from my experience, you might also find it less confusing if you seperate studying the two. For example, the J sound is more often pronouced as a G sound on Egyptian streets, even for the same words.
The teachers are very supportive and the classes are lively (depending on students).
Class sizes are small and you get a lot of attention.

TAFL Academic Partners

Another thing is that most of the students at the centre were from China so that's really good for practicing MSA or Chinese (if you learnt that before).

Alexandria Library

The Alexandria Library (or Bibliotheca Alexandrina) is next door to the university, but not actually part of it. Its opening times are between 10am and 4pm, Sunday to Thursday. For single entry, students get a discount.


Classical Arabic

One regret I had after starting to learn Modern Standard Arabic (*fusha*) is that I could have perhaps avoided mis-spellings had I learnt pronounciation of the letters first (i.e. phonetics).

The Arabi Center offers courses on *tajweed* (as part of classical Arabic).

Arabi Center
The company policy is that you have to book a minimum of about fifteen hours. Fee is USD 7/hour.
They also offer levels that follow the Egyptian national curriculum (I think) and each level is about 30 hours each.

Street outside Arabi Center
Arabi Center also specialises in Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) and they use a helpful book (*lughatuna al-fusha* or *bayna yadayk*).
The fee is about USD 10 an hour.
Roman Museum, opposite the Arabi Center
The teachers at Arabi Center can be great, but the management can be dishonest and the administration incompetent.

Roundabout, near the Arabi Center

Elsewhere in Egypt

If you are looking to escape the humidity and busy summer in Alexandria, then Cairo and Tanta might be an option for you.


Accommodation

Generally speaking, all accommodation (including hotels) in Alexandria go up in price during summer (sometimes double), whereas outside of summer, you can find some good deals. Apartments near the university in Alexandria are generally in better state than what I experienced around the university in Amman (2009). For the lone student, Amman has the advantage of studios whereas in Alexandria a 2-bed flat (or larger) is the rule. However, there are exceptions. In Azarita, an area walking distance of the university, I did view a new, clean 6-story narrow block of 1-bed flats.

Due to the (blue) tram line it is possible to live as far as Cleopatra or Kafar Abdou (very Western-friendly area) and commute to TAFL without needing to use a taxi. Personally, I preferred to stay within 4 stops of TAFL (Raml on one side and Ebrahimia the other way). As you can probably imagine, the tram is usually more reliable and fast in the early morning.

Here is a list of areas with their monthly prices:

Raml - 2-bed apartments for 3000 Egyptian pounds.
Azarita - 1-bed flats for 1800 EGP and close to the library.
Shatby (University area) - Large apartments near the university for 4000.
Ebrahemia - 2-bed apartments for 2500.
Sporting - Large 2-bed apartments for 3000.
Cleopatra - Very large apartments for 5000.
Kafar Abdou - Large apartments for 4000.

As a side note, do not consider a flat if the previous tenant keeps cats or dogs. If they leave fleas, you will end up spending more hours cleaning than studying.

Madinat Gamia (Smoutha) - Halls of residence for male students of the university. 2200/month including two meals a day and a shared washing machine.
However, not very clean (check before deciding) and do not leave valuables lying about. I heard stories...

There is also a dormitory for female students.

Hotels

The following are all in *mahatat-Raml*.

Egypt hotel - Degla Street (3rd floor, near the Egyptian airline office). This is a comfortable, quiet 3 star hotel on the corniche with great views of the sea. USD 55/night with breakfast, but if planning to stay for a week or more then ask if there is a discount.

Fouad - A floor below the Egypt hotel and is a tourist hotel. EGP 250/night. Can offer discounts too. No heating.

Sea Star (closer to *gamea ebrahim* or *qaid ebrahim*) - EGP 120/night. EGP 100/night without breakfast. A very friendly large hotel with not many comfortable rooms, but for 2 stars, can't expect much. They do have a few suites with some view to the sea, but they are significantly pricier. If you do end up in a room you like you might want to ask for the monthly discount (1500/month and 2000 or 3500 for one of the premium rooms) when booking additional nights (good if you are in Egypt for only one or two months). This hotel can also be a good place to practice your Arabic.

Acropolis - Near the corniche. 120/night. For one month it's 3000.


© Last edited: 28-JUN-2016


References
1. ETCA stands for something like Egyptian Turkish Cultural Association
2. TAFL is short for 'Teaching Arabic as a Foreign Language'.