Polls? What polls?

Great Onion-like headline:

Many Egyptians haven't heard of opinion polls -poll

CAIRO (Reuters) - An opinion poll conducted by an Egyptian government body showed that 61 percent of those surveyed had never heard of opinion polls before, the official Middle East News Agency MENA reported on Thursday.

The poll, conducted by the Cabinet's Information and Decision Support Centre, also showed that only 10 percent of those surveyed had taken part in opinion polls before, MENA reported. The report did not mention how many people were surveyed, or why the poll was conducted.

State-owned media, for many the main source of news and information in the most populous Arab country, rarely publish any opinion polls. The concept is also relatively new in the Arab world.

Forty-nine percent of those surveyed said they would like to be polled on the issue of unemployment in Egypt. The government says unemployment stands at 9.9 percent although the figure is widely believed to be much higher.
It's worth pointing out that polling efforts have been extremely limited in Egypt, not least because you need government permission before carrying out one. I was told by a NDP figure, Muhammad Kamal probably, that they carried out telephone polls during the presidential elections to see whether people would vote. In the Egyptian context it sounds like a get-out-the-vote phone campaign more than poll. But having more independent polls would be fascinating to get a better picture of Egyptian public attitudes, which we know about international events through the polls conducted by Pew and others, but rarely for domestic issues (e.g. should the niqab be banned, what do you think of President Mubarak's performance, what do you think of Gamal etc.) It would also be a tremendously useful marketing tool in a country that over the past decade and a half has made a rapid transition to consumerism.
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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.