Long before the COVID-19 pandemic normalised remote working, the concept was already being practised by many professionals. The rise of the digital nomad has been well documented and it is arguably one of the most liberating rewards of the technology we now all have access to. Who wouldn’t prefer to look at beautiful landscapes in far-flung places, or immerse themselves in exotic cultures, instead of having to contend with the daily office commute?
Location-independent professionals are increasingly taking advantage of the freedom and flexibility to work remotely while exploring the world. Today, there are countless ‘digital nomad’ jobs that can be carried out perfectly well from America, Africa, Asia or Australia. All it takes is a laptop and a reliable internet connection.
When it comes to North Africa, a bit of research goes a long way before you make your way there. This part of the Arab world has many options for people to work remotely, with wonderful destinations to discover, good WiFi and realistic visa options that make this region a great choice. In this article, let’s focus on three of the most popular North African countries: Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt.
Morocco is well known as a holiday destination but it’s also a great place for digital nomads. City dwellers should head straight for the medina – the Mouassine district in Marrakech, the Quartier Hassan in Rabat and the Fes el-Bali are magical neighbourhoods within the old walled heart of the city, complete with narrow streets, fountains, palaces and mosques to explore.
In terms of accommodation, Morocco has options for all budgets, from cheap hostels all the way up to traditional Riads, which arguably offer the most authentic experience, albeit at a price. If you’re based in the centre of town, walking may be your best mode of travel but public transport (trams, buses etc) is not difficult to navigate. Taxis are easily available but remember to haggle before you get in!
Internet access in Moroccan cities is generally pretty good, both in hotels and cafés, and there are deals to be had for buying data plans, SIM cards and internet in Morocco. Unsurprisingly, it’s more difficult to get online access in the countryside.
A working knowledge of French (better still, Arabic) is recommended to help you navigate your way around; English is not widely spoken outside the main tourist hubs. British nationals with a valid passport don’t need a visa to travel to Morocco if they’re planning to stay there for less than 3 months (but do make sure you have your passport stamped as proof of entry).
Tunisia is the northernmost country in Africa and a popular destination with tourists and digital nomads alike. The capital Tunis is right on the coast and a beautiful place for remote working – its medina is one of the most impressive in North Africa and not to be missed.
The country is unbelievably rich in culture, beautiful landscape and historic ruins including the famous archaeological site of Carthage. Make sure you visit some of Tunisia’s marvels such as Chott el Djerid, the largest salt lake in the country which changes colour, and the pink flamingos on Lake Ichkeul. A visit to the Sahara desert which takes up part of southern Tunisia is a must-see.
Longer-term accommodation in Tunisia can be expensive in hotels, but there are plenty of hostels and private renting options available. There’s a large public transport network with buses and light rail/metro and domestic flights. Internet in Tunisia can be slower than elsewhere in the region, so it pays to do some thorough research before you travel, including checking out WiFi and internet deals from providers such as this one. Many cafés have internet access and there are coworking spaces with internet too.
A good many people in Tunisia do speak English, especially in large cities such as Tunis, but a working knowledge of French will get you much, much further. Learning some basic Arabic will be extremely helpful too. As a UK national, you don’t need a visa to travel to Tunisia unless you plan to stay longer than 90 days, make multiple visits or are travelling for business purposes.
Best known for its pyramids, ancient treasures and rich history, not to mention the fabulous beaches, there’s definitely more to Egypt than meets the tourist’s eye. The only way to do the country and culture justice is to stay for more than a week’s summer holiday and combine business and pleasure.
There are many destinations worth making a beeline for, starting with its colourful capital Cairo and the pyramids at Giza but not forgetting the ancient monuments at Alexandria and the Sphinx at Luxor, Aswan and its islands, the Sinai peninsula and Hurghada and the Red Sea. And there’s plenty more…
Egypt has beautiful luxury hotels and resorts, historic hotels and characterful guesthouses and cheaper hostels – in short, there’s something for every budget. There are trains and buses for getting around the country, while Cairo and other tourist areas are well served by taxis. Internet coverage can be patchy, so do your homework before you travel to check out hotels, cafés and coworking spaces and get a prepaid SIM card.
While Morocco and Tunisia were French protectorates until the 1950s, the French colonial occupation of Egypt only lasted for 3 years and ended in 1801. Hence, French is not widely spoken here – the official language is Egyptian Arabic. Some people may speak English but you are highly advised to learn enough Arabic to get by.
British visitors to Egypt must hold a valid passport and a visa to enter the country, which can be applied for in advance online or obtained at the airport on arrival. Multiple entry visas are valid for 6 months and allow a collective stay of up to 90 days.
Whether you’re a blogger or a travel photographer, a graphic designer or a translator, a social media manager or a virtual assistant, there are multiple nomadic opportunities that allow us to work overseas. Thanks to more employees than ever before embracing flexible-working patterns, these modern roles enable us to jet off anywhere and work from abroad (WFA) rather than work from home (WFH) if that’s what you’d prefer to do.