ABU DHABI // Hundreds of expatriate businessmen and their families are leaving Egypt as protests rage into the sixth day and encounters with authorities become increasingly violent.
More than 600 people are in the process of being evacuated from across the country in a joint venture between the security companies Control Risks and International SOS.
Other security companies across the region and Europe said they were beginning to escort clients out of the country and make plans in case the situation worsened.
"Today has been the biggest day so far," Tim Stear, the Control Risks country manager for the UAE, said yesterday. "The moment that led to many companies starting to withdraw was when the military was asked to intervene. There's very little noticeable uniformed police on the street and lots of looting."
Mr Stear said many of his clients had asked for chartered private jets for the evacuation. Dubai is one of the main destinations from Egypt because of the travel options from its airports.
A growing number of countries including Turkey, Belgium, Iraq, India, China, the Philippines and the US were yesterday issuing warnings to citizens about travelling to Egypt and in some cases recommending that non-essential staff leave the country.
Etihad Airways has put on additional flights from Egypt after the UAE's ambassador asked all Emiratis to leave the country.
International companies operating in the Middle East have evacuation and emergency plans filed away for major crises, and those were now being dusted off, security executives said yesterday.
Iliyas Campbell, the founder of Diligence Management Consultants in Abu Dhabi, said he was flying to Cairo last night to escort several businessmen out of the country. "At the moment the security situation in Cairo remains somewhat fluid and unpredictable," he said, adding that many foreign executives were waiting in a "state of preparedness" in their homes.
Some security companies were making more elaborate plans in case the Cairo International Airport was shut down or became overrun with people trying to flee the country. Ted Jones, the chief executive of Northcott Global Solutions in the UK, said yesterday that his company had arranged to rent several fast boats to help evacuate people through Saudi Arabia or even Yemen.
Evacuation companies can charge anything from $5,000 for a simple security escort to the airport to more than $300,000 for the charter of a jumbo jet and a 15-man armed security team.