The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Welcome to Egypt


Remember the survey at the beginning of the summer that suggested tourists are unhappy with the way they’re treated in Egypt? If memory serves, it blamed overcharging service industry types for many visitors making Egypt a once-in-a-lifetime experience. After a weekend trip across the Sinai, though, I think there may be another culprit, and I think the little fellow behind his clipboard might know who it is.

Snapped lounging at a highway check-stop making gestures all-too-familiar to women around Cairo, he didn’t want his picture to be taken and wasn’t about to offer his thoughts on the macro-economic implications of the country being overrun by half-trained goons, but I think his input is clear enough.

I’m guessing that there are quite a few people in government here who are familiar enough with Europe—if only Switzerland—to understand that being openly harassed, be it by well-armed soldiers on street corners or by beltagui with guns stuffed into their jeans in the middle of the desert, isn’t something that is going to encourage tourists to make a return visit.

Pity that taxi drivers and waiters are so much easier to blame.