Saturday, January 29, 2011

More on Egypt

What felt all-consuming before is now absolutely mind-boggling.

You just have to wonder about Mubarak—what did he tell his thugs to do? They all seemed to have turned at the same time and are now looting the city, trashing museums, terrorizing citizens. In my mind I picture him saying, "This is the end: take whatever you want," as if it is his to give.

They've smashed two mummies in the Egyptian Museum—they only had like five mummies to begin with—in addition to smashing several other items, though apparently nothing has been stolen.

They've wreaked havoc in downtown Cairo.

The scariest part is that I can no longer tell Rachel that "our house" is safe. It probably isn't. The thugs—who seem to mostly be upper-division police officers and security officials for the National Democratic—are now entering upperclass residential areas, including Maadi. Apparently Carrefour is ablaze, Maadi Grand Mall and Road 9 are being looted, and residences are being broken into as well.

There's absolute chaos everywhere.

Thankfully the military seems to not be backing Mubarak and are doing what they can to restore order, which is no easy task, especially since Mubarak is still refusing to step down.

It seems the military is trying to convince the general population to go inside during curfew so that they can  gain control of the thugs, but the people are still angry and rioting because instead of giving up the presidency as the people hoped Mubarak would he merely shuffled the government around—as if he thought that would actually placate the people.

The situation in Egypt seems to have gone from nearly-peaceful to almost-warlike overnight.

This morning I asked Andrew if he still wished we were there. He said no.

What would we do? How would we protect our home and family? Where would we go?

I can only hope that our friends and neighbours are safe. There is no way to know for certain since we have limited means of communicating with them. I know the branch (of our church) has a security response plan that is in action so that everyone can keep in touch and help each other out, but it is still so worrying, especially when I see tweets like this:

FAMILY UNDER ATTACK IN MAADI! 19614 DISCONNECTED! WHO TO CALL.. FAMILY AND NEIGHBORS IN THE STREET TRYING TO PROTECT HOUSES! (45 minutes ago)



Or from our friend Shady:



nothing in Rehab please stop rumors (2 hours ago)


Who later rescinded his tweet to inform the world that looters had entered Rehab, another district in Cairo, by saying he was:

Downstairs with neighbors protecting the area (half hour ago)

I really hope this ends soon and that the freedom people were looking for materializes.

I saw some footage of people being turned away from visiting the pyramids today. Today? People were trying to visit the pyramids? Seriously? Tourists can be so...

Anyway...

I always thought it was suspicious that there were so many poor in Egypt. If we discount everything but the tourist industry, their economy should still be booming. According to About.com (serious stuff, I know), "Egypt is the most popular tourist destination in Africa. In 2007, Egypt attracted around 10 million visitors. The Pyramids have been a prime tourist attraction for the past 2000 years."

It costs 60 LE to visit the pyramids nowadays. That's roughly 10 USD.

If we assume that every visitor to egypt visits the pyramids—which is probably not an accurate assumption but it is feasible because, really, who doesn't visit the pyramids?—that's 600,000,000 LE per year, or roughly 102,432,600 USD. One hundred and two million, four hundred thirty two thousand, and six hundred dollars—from one tourist attraction. That's not even counting the hundreds of people (per day) that pay up to 100 LE to enter the Great Pyramid.

The Egyptian tourism menu also includes a trip to the Egyptian Museum—visting there costs the same as a visit to the pyramids, so there's another 102,432,600 USD. With all the other tourist destinations in Cairo and Luxor and Aswan and Alexandria and Sinai and the Red Sea Coast—there is a lot to see and do in Egypt—the country is raking in billions of dollars every year. $11 billion, actually, according to Wikipedia: more than 12 million tourists visited Egypt in 2008, providing revenues of nearly $11 billion.

Add to the tourism industry the Suez Canal, which, as far as I can tell, also rakes in several billion dollars per year. Then there's the billions of dollars the US gives to Egypt in foreign aid.

My point is, that's billions and billions and billions and billions of dollars being poured into this country. Their GDP in 2009 was $188.413 billion. Where is it all going?

I realize money can't solve every problem—I don't know how much money it takes to run a country; my point is merely that I think there has been a gross mismanagement of resources within Egypt. No wonder the people want Mubarak out of there.

9 comments:

  1. The mosques in Heliopolis have all called the men and youths to stay on the street with tools and house knives... they are maintaining shifts to protect their neighborhoods against the police thugs and the criminals they released. My brother-in-law and his neighbors arrested another police thug a few hours ago.

    Police thugs with police ids and guns were also arrested trying to break into a bank.

    My uncle in Maadi is telling me all the neighbors are on the streets with whatever home weapons they have.

    This guy is a professional dictator... he dismissed the police off the streets, and unleashed thugs and criminals from prisons on homes and malls. Now everyone demonstrating needs to go back home to protect his own neighborhood himself. He doesn't care if everyone dies, if everyone is robbed. It's not his priority, it never was.

    There is NO police now. Whatever few honest policemen are protecting their homes and neighboring hospitals by themselves.

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  2. In Alexandria, eye witnesses are confirming that they police is supervising the looting themselves, and have identified police officer by their faces as looters.

    The miliatry is trying to send out troops everywhere, but they're only 1/3 the number of police in the country, and it's impossible to even protect a city of 20-million like Cairo with military alone, talk about cities like Suez where police thugs are all over it.

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  3. The demonstrations were PEACEFUL. They were peaceful and they were overwhelming in number. They were so peaceful they cleaned their own garbage over the first 3 days. If he was anywhere close to civil he would have resigned before all the chaos broke loose.

    He never cared. "If the people don't want me, let them pay the price".

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  4. The police thugs started by looting the malls yesterday (Friday), and poor neighborhoods. Today, they started entering the upscale neighborhoods (Maada, Heliopolis, Roxy...etc).

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  5. Thanks for all your input, TareX!

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  6. Well I'll stop spamming this post now, just wanted to say army units are now all over Maadi and Heliopolis... Neighbors are protecting their own buildings too. There's no doubt that these thugs are secret police members; they've been identified by many people in both Cairo and Alex.

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  7. Money, money, money...
    Why do you think Mubarak is so keen on remaining the Egyptian head of state? And get his son to 'reign' after him?
    What about Ben Ali? Etc.
    It is not mismanagement. It is aggravated theft. Leaving a country and its people in dire needs.

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  8. Thanks for your updates Nancy. It's easier and more understandable and personable for me to read your updates over CNN.

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  9. Nancy, I'm so sorry. I don't really know what to say other than I agree with Diana. I've been thinking about you all a lot with this happening.

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