21.6.13

Why you have to leave Egypt now



Yesterday, the startling piece of the Harvard graduate Heba El Habashy created a very tense conversation between my friends while discussing it on social media.
In the beginning, when you read the title, you will think she is an Ivy League Egyptian dreamer, disconnected from reality. But when you finish it you can only respect her for choosing this title that glued you to your screen till the last word.

Personally, I loved the piece. Heba was very smart in putting the topics in that order. She started with the security issue, the major issue that faces this city. Security is the biggest issue because Cairo was known worldwide as one of the safest cities in the world. I still remember that 3 years ago I could hang out in the streets of Sayeda Zeinab with a group of European and American friends till 5 AM. I can hardly name any populous city that is safer than Cairo in 2010.

The tension between my friends started because of a similar conflict I have been through… When should I hate the dreadful belongings that shape this city? And when should I grasp the beauty of it?

When should you view the humble young man washing cars on the streets everyday as an uncivilized thing that irritates you, and when should it put a smile on your face?

Does being optimistic make you disconnected from reality? Does being pessimistic question your patriotism? Should I be optimistic and stay? Should I be pessimistic and leave?

The answer is very simple. If you are a fresh graduate or in an early career stage then you have to leave.

No doubt, you have to leave to save your prosperous future because, realistically, developing and thriving in Egypt under the existing circumstances is unlikely to happen.

You have to leave to discover the intrinsic charm of your city that you will never find in the Dubais of the world. You have to leave to find out that people are happier in Cairo than any city in Europe.

You have to leave to realize the difference between being a part inside the gearbox of a city and being an instrument playing a symphony that has its unique taste and exclusive aroma.

Yes, the city is full of deficiencies that I can keep talking about for hours. Yes, it lacks work ethics; yes, it lacks mutual respect between people.

Some may just give up and lose hope.
Some may claim it would be very nationalist and emotional if he stayed.
Some may wonder if this city is worth fighting for.

Some may wonder what's magical about the hustle to survive; Heba said, "This is a place where people need to hustle to survive. They need to run after the bus because it does not stop for them." I get the symbolism; she's talking about the socioeconomic class who don't have to struggle for a living but they now have to struggle and fight to restore the beauty of their city.

Some may claim it's unrealistic.
Some may claim it's risky to invest here.

If investing in a city with 20% income tax, a city where gas is cheaper than water, a city where millions go out and stay up till dawn every day is considered risky, I have no idea where else you should invest your money.

When a megaproject is delivered on time under these severe conditions, while the same project owner is struggling to complete it on time in the safest and most organized city in the world, then I am not a disconnected optimist.

When three young gents are able to create a website and sell it for millions in one year, then I am not a loony utopian.

When five young ladies open a used books café in 2011, and then a second branch in 2012, then I am not a naïve dreamer.

If you have any creative idea, just do it. Don't wait for better laws and regulations, because that might not happen. Don't wait for an initiative in the media, because media is no longer capable of impressing the people. Don't wait for a proper president, because the next one might be poorer.

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