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Wikimania 2008 Alexandria :: Change the shape of wisdom
Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions

General Information

Q:What is Wikimania?

A: A conference for people working on Wikimedia Foundation projects (primarily the world-famous Wikipedia) and other people who are interested in wikis, free and open content/software, and global development/education. See meta and Wikipedia for more information.

Q: Where and when will this year's Wikimania conference be held?

A: In Alexandria, Egypt from July 17-19, 2008.

Local Information

See: Local information

Q: What and where is Alexandria?

A: Alexandria is the second-largest city in Egypt, North Africa, and its largest seaport. It extends about 20 miles (32 km) along the coast of the Mediterranean sea in north-central Egypt.

Q: What languages are spoken in Alexandria?

A: Arabic is the official language (the Egyptian dialect).

Q: Do people speak English/French there?

A: Yes, people do speak English a lot. A considerable amount of people also speak French, but it is not a large majority.

Q: What's up with the written language?

A: The Egyptians use the Arabic writing system.

Q: How's the weather during the summer?

A: Temperature ranges 24-30 degrees (74-86 F), and the humidity increases the feeling of heat.

Q: What types of clothing do you suggest?

A: Just the same way you would dress in your country, or whatever you feel comfortable wearing. Not to mention you should use common sense; over-exposure may grab undesirable attention (see Alexandria Security FAQ for more information). We suggest light clothes to cope with the heat.

Q: What electricity and telecom do they use there?

A: 220 volts 50 Hz frequency, cylindrical plug and cellular, Vodafone, Mobinil, etisalat.

Registration and Lodging

Q: What types of accommodation are available?

A: See Accommodation.

Q: What room do I have?

A: You will mention this when you fill out your Registration form.

Q: Are meals included?

A: Lunch is, dinner is not.

Q: How do I get a scholarship?

A: See Scholarships for more information. (Scholarships applications are now closed).

Q: I applied for a scholarship, when will I find out if my application is approved?

A: The Scholarships committee will review the applications and get back to you after they have reviewed the hundreds of applications.

Q: I got a scholarship. How do I get reimbursed?

A: Look for an email with more information before the conference. Reimbursements will happen at specific times during the conference. Bring your original travel receipts.

Q: When is check-out time for the accommodations?


Q: Is there a gym or exercise facilities at/near the accommodations?

A: There are sport and yacht clubs in Alexandria.

Q: Will conference accommodation rates be available the week before or the week after the conference, so that a visitor might extend the visit?

A: Accommodation rates are fixed through out July and August. Visitors may extend the visit as long as they wish.

Transportation and Visas

Q: Are there any additional documents I need to enter Egypt other than a passport?

A: Most visitors do not require a visa before entering Egypt: you will be able to get one at the airport for somewhere between US$15-90 (for a US citizen, it is around $20). If you are a citizen of one of 33 nations, however, you are required to apply for a visa prior to your arrival in Egypt. You can get more detailed information on the Travel documents page.

Q: How are the international flights?

A: See Air flights

Q: Help! I'm at the airport. How do I get into the city?

A: Since there are at least three airports serving Alexandria, you need to figure out which one you are in:

Q: Help! I'm in Alexandria. How do I get to the venue?

A: The best way is to take a taxi or a minibus, and just ask them to drop you at the Library. The building is known enough that you should get there without any problems.

Q: Help! I need to get to the venue in a cab.

A: See Local transportation/City transportation

Conference and Schedule

Q: Who's speaking when?

A: See the schedule.

Q: When is the big party for attendees?

A: [DAY OF WEEK], [DATE], at [LOCATION]. See Wikimania Party

Q: What other related events are there?

A: See Social Events.


Q: What is there to do before/after the conference?

A: See travel coordination.

Q: When will other people be there?

A: See Tourism coordination. And add yourself! See Attendees.


See Alexandria Security FAQ for more information.

Q: Will Alexandria be able to handle a large conference?

A: The following is from one of our contacts at BA: Bibliotheca Alexandrina (BA) hosts over 500 events every year: symposiums, workshops, concerts, and conferences. This definitely gave the highly qualified young staff of the BA the experience required to run effectively large and huge events. You can have a look at the BA website http://www.bibalex.org/English/Conf/index.html to see a list of major conferences held at and/or organized by the BA. Moreover, these events are usually attended by a large number of foreigners, either as guests or participants. An example of these events is the BioVision conference which was held at the BA for three times: 2002, 2004, and 2006. The 2006 conference was attended by major Nobel Science Laureates: Georges Charpak, Harold Varmus, Jean-Marie Lehn, Peter Doherty and Stanley B. Prusiner. There is also a list of speakers that you can have a look at http://www.bibalex.org/bioalex2006conf/Listofspeakers.aspx. None of these foreigners felt at any point harassed or abused because they are foreigners. On the contrary, they felt quite at home because of the warm welcome and appreciation they received from everyone around. Bibliotheca Alexandrina also receives over 800,000 Egyptian and foreign visitors every year. I believe that a staff capable of handling this huge number of visitors each year and provide excellent services will definitely be able to handle the Wikimania 2008 conference.

Q: Is there a danger of terrorism?

A: Sadly, terrorism has become a fact of life for people all over the world -- in North America, in Europe, in Asia. Terrorist attacks are not limited to certain countries. It is worth mentioning that Alexandria is a very safe city where no attacks occurred. The number of tourists and visitors from all around the globe who enter the city and the number of international events that are held in Alexandria increase every year. Tourism in Egypt has already recovered from the Sharm El Sheikh attack in 2005; internal security has been dramatically enhanced and more precautions are taken.

Q: Will Israeli citizens or residents have any problems visiting Egypt?

A: A great number of Israeli tourists enter Egypt every year. The diplomatic relations between Egypt and Israel are maintained and the Israeli embassy in Cairo is open. Moreover, the official airline of Israel "El Al" is operating in Egypt and has an office in Cairo. The entrance of the Israeli participants is no different from that of other nationalities and the regular procedures are followed.

Q: Egypt is a Muslim country. Will visiting women be required to cover their hair or wear any special clothing?

A: Egypt is a Muslim cosmopolitan country and particularly Alexandria is a metropolitan city. Egyptian Muslim women are free to wear a veil or not, and non-Muslims are not by any way forced to wear a veil. This is a totally personal matter, and no one is going to tell a woman or a man to dress in a certain way. People are supposed to get dressed in the way they find appropriate. Women, whether Egyptians or foreigners, of any age or belief, are encouraged to attend the conference and participate in all its events.

Q: What is food like there? I have special dietary needs, what about me?

A: If you have a special dietary needs, you may state it in the application form.

Q: Should I bring my laptop? Will there be wireless internet access?

A: Wireless internet access is available all over the conference venue, and shall be available at the dorms as well. Many restaurants and cafes in Alexandria are Wi-Fi covered. Be careful not to send your passwords over an unecrypted WLAN; to protect your Wikimedia accounts use the HTTPS server (example: English Wikipedia).

Q: I'm a presenter; how should I bring my presentation?

A: This is not an official answer, but if you don't have a computer, on a flash drive is always useful. Be aware that at last year's Wikimania conference the transmission of viruses was found; therefore please keep your flash drive in safe hands.

Q: How do I get announcements about Wikimania?

A: Watch this site or sign up for wikimania-l, a low volume mailing list for most Wikimania related issues or announcements.