Adonis Diaries

Archive for April 10th, 2018

10 Reasons Egypt Is a Great Place to Be an Expat

A recent HSBC  study ranked Egypt as the worst country to be an expat, with its political  and economic instability and rising xenophobia.

As a foreigner living in Cairo, I wholeheartedly disagree.

While Egypt may  not be ideal for all types of expats and while I do have intense bouts of  homesickeness that leave me Googling the next flight outta here, I love living  in Egypt and know many expats who say the same. Here’s why:

(I presume this article was written during Moubarak period and the Spring Uprising? Where Western colonial people there had it all?)

1. Cost of Living


According to Expatistan,  which neatly breaks down cost-of-living comparisons between cities by Food,  Housing, Clothes, Transportation, Personal Care and Entertainment, Cairo is 60%  cheaper than Washington, D.C., the city I was living in before moving to Egypt.  With heavily favorable exchange rates, foreign currencies go a long way in this  country.

2. Opportunities


I have a European friend – fresh grad, no solid experience – who landed a job  at a reputable NGO here simply because she was a native English speaker, had  interest in the subject and knew somebody who knew somebody who used to work  there.

She never would have been accepted for an equivalent position back in her  home country. Here, the field of competition is ridiculously smaller and, thus,  opportunities are greater. Yea, it’s not fair, but it’s true.

3. Culture and History


The cradle of civilization, the mother of the world, home to two-thirds of  the globe’s historical monuments and the last surviving Wonder of the World,  centuries of rich culture and arts (from Pharaonic hieroglyphs to the graff on  Mohamed Mahmoud St.), the gateway to Africa and a beacon of the Arab region…

I  mean, come on, there’s an entire academic subject area dedicated solely to the  study of Egypt. And if you have kids, how lucky are they to grow up in the  middle of all of this?

4. Hidden Gems


For a foreigner, Egypt is filled with fascinating oddities, well-kept secret  spots, off-the-beaten-path marvels – and one of the best things to do here is  explore.

This is great for backpackers and adventure-seekers on holiday, but  even for expats the allure lasts. And for those who have been here long enough  for the wonder to dissipate, a comfortable sense of home takes it place.

5. Politics

While Egypt’s political scene is a downside for some, it’s a draw for a  politics buff like me – and many others, including journalists, academics,  activists and members of civil society (yes, we’re all spies).

I’m incredibly  grateful to be able to witness, first-hand, history in the making instead of  through a TV screen showing media coverage that’s incomplete, at best, or  downright fabricated, at worst.

6. Egyptian Sense of Humor


I used to hate it. But now I get it… I think. Maybe I just haven’t been here  long enough yet to unlearn the political correctness that was drilled into me  during my upbringing. In any case, there’s nothing like it and the Aussies and  Kiwis especially love it.

7. Egyptian Hospitality


Another friend – total American white girl, sore thumb – tells a tale of how  she had someone visiting from home who wanted to try “the famous Egyptian  hashish”.

True story: This girl went to Sayeda Zeinab sometime between sunset  and curfew, tip-toed her way around the blood puddles in the street (it was  Eid), picked a guy at random (who also happened to be selling knives) and after  a nice smoke session, scored a generous finger of mind-blowing hash for 75 LE because she said it was for her tourist friend who wanted to  sample the local goods. Egyptian hospitality at its finest.

8. The Mediterranean, the Red Sea, the  desert, the Nile…


I feel so lucky to live in Egypt and have such gorgeous locales just a short  flight (or long road trip) away. From Siwa to Sinai, Aswan to Alexandria and  everything in between, this country’s natural wonders never fail to take  my breath away.

9. The Conveniences


(Credit: Ghazala Irshad/The  Koshk Project)

Some things Egyptians take for granted, but for most expats just aren’t the  norm.

Everything delivers at all hours. Forget the water cooler, the office boy will make you coffee. The ubiquitous koshk in all of its 24-hour,  convenient glory.

The extra 3 LE of credit you can get from Vodafone if you dial  *3# when you’re running low. And you can get pretty much anything in  downtown Cairo.

Want to change some Euro on the black market? There’s a sidewalk  cafe on the left side at the end of Talaat Haarb street. Whoever’s sitting at  the chair at the turn of the corner will give you the most current rates.  Negotiation, obviously, is a must. (Its tradition. If you decline to negotiate they might Not even sell you)

10. The People


My Egyptian friends would kill me if I didn’t include them (love you!). But  seriously: Here, you’re treated like family. And while nothing can replace  blood, no one here will ever let you sit alone, there’s always someone to call  or somewhere to go if you run into any kind of trouble, and people, from your  bawab to your landlady, genuinely care.

Read more: 10 Reasons Egypt Is a Great Place to Be an Expat | Scoop Empire

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Solidarity with Haiyan’s victims

By John Sapida, a former intern at WYA headquarters 

On November 10, 2013, Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines, leaving parts of the country in devastation and chaos. Approximately 10,000 people are estimated to have lost their lives during this storm.

Photos of the typhoon’s destruction have brought tears not only to the eyes of those who live in the Philippines, but also to those who are part of the Filipino diaspora around the world.

Both Filipino citizens as well as Filipinos who live in other countries are gearing their efforts to rebuild the nation. Fortunately, they are not alone in these efforts.

Other organizations such as the American Red Cross, UNICEF, Doctors without Borders, World Vision, the World Food Programme, Oxfam, Save the Children, Catholic Relief Services and others have tried their best to help those in need in the Philippines through relief projects and fundraisers.

The solidarity between these organizations is amazing to witness and this solidarity is growing and will keep on growing. The World Youth Alliance defines solidarity as the “unified commitment of persons to live and work in the truth of who we are and for the pursuit of the common good.

It is beautiful to watch how this collaboration is created. Because these organizations each have a different focus, every particular sector of a country’s relief efforts is given proper attention.

Aside from larger projects by these organizations, funds are also being collected by others elsewhere reinforcing the growing solidarity between those with one goal: rebuild the Philippines.

Social media efforts have also risen as a result of this tragedy. Various hashtags have been used to spread the word about the tragedy in the Philippines such as #Stronger PH and #BangonPH, which means, Rise Philippines.

Although various groups and organizations already work day and night to help their fellow kababayans (“countrymen”) with activities such as collecting donations and packing relief goods, there is a lot more we could do here in the United States.

Our efforts can be viewed as two-fold: awareness and action.

Both are essential for us to help rebuild the Philippines and join those who were affected in solidarity. For example, on my campus, I have set up fundraising opportunities to benefit some of the organizations mentioned above in their efforts to bring disaster relief to the Philippines.

I am also helping to plan a talent showcase, an open mic, or a lecture to spread awareness and collect funds for the cause. Whether it is through tabling for donations or collecting donations at events, there are plenty of other ways those who are in the United States can help.

The first step is to become aware of and acknowledge the disaster which inspires us to action. Whether you help out with these events, donate clothing, donate a dollar, or donate twenty dollars, actions at times like these are neither big nor small. Any action is progressive.

At the time it is needed the most, solidarity never fails to arise.

Whether it is a typhoon in the Philippines, an earthquake in Haiti or a tsunami in Indonesia, many join in solidarity to help rebuild a nation in need. Any effort is a step towards a united goal to rebuild a nation.

This testifies to the strong spirit of both the nation and the citizens. Solidarity knows no borders. Whether you are in the Philippines, the United States, Europe, or another country, there is always an action which you can take and whatever you do is sure to make an impact.

Nobel Peace Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi, once said, “Every thought, every word, and every action that adds to the positive and the wholesome is a contribution to peace. Each and every one of us is capable of making such a contribution. Let us join hands to try to create a peaceful world where we can sleep in security and wake in happiness.” (Though she was pretty silent to the Moslem plight in Burma)

Now it is up to you! Will you join us in solidarity in this time of need?

For ways to help out you can also read this article:

 By John Sapida, a former intern at WYA headquarters 




April 2018

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