Monday, April 26, 2010

Saudis own over 600,000 flats in Egypt

Come Summer, and the influx of Saudis into Egypt begins.

As a naive expat 4.5 years ago, I had thought that the start of summer would mean the end of the tourist season and the price of all touristy stuff especially at the Khan would go down.

Quite the opposite, the Saudis stream into the country, raising rental rates (when searching for company guesthouses, we were told by a lot of landlords/landladies that they would rent the apartment for 10 months and then if we wanted it for the summer months, we would have to either pay the higher price or vacate the apartment)

As Arabic speakers, they pay local rates for entry into all museums and tourist locations, but the taxi drivers can spot them a mile away and will triple the price when you ask, if he can spy a Saudi family hunting down a taxi in the distance.

Shopping seems to be their favourite past-time and prices of touristy stuff in the Khan and clothes etc in the local markets are jacked up.

They often take over entire hotel floors if not the entire hotel for themselves and their retinue. When we were hunting for conference venues a couple of years ago, we were told by some hotels like the Move n Pick that they were completely booked up for the whole summer by a Saudi Prince and his extended family.

Todays news report in the Arab News says that Saudis own over 600,000 flats in Egypt. 60% in Cairo, 20% in Alexandria, 10% in North Coast resorts and the rest across the country. This does not take into account the number of Saudis who rent apartments or book hotel rooms.

What do you think, is the influx good or bad for Egypt?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Egypt's hash crisis?

I wouldn't think that lack of availability of an illegal substance could be termed a crisis. But this writer seems to think so and has a perspective on the issue.

Max Strasser on The Faster Times

He sums his article up by saying "Life is difficult for most people here. Let them get stoned." - and that's not in the Biblical/Quranical sense :)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Egyptian T-shirts

A lot of visitors to Egypt actively look to pick up t-shirts that can be identified as Egyptian. As souvenirs, as a keepsake, or as a reminder that "I was here!".

Yet, a lot of them go back empty handed. There are cheap t-shirts available all over the khan, but they mostly focus on generic Pharonic prints and designs and most of the time, the printing/embroidery quality isn't even good. So once you are back home, and the shopping euphoria has abated, you find that you can barely wear them to the beach a couple of times before discarding them or using them as rags.

There are very very few options available if one is looking for custom t-shirts with Arabic script for example or humor tshirts.

There are the occasional stores like Zafir in Zamalek and slim pickings at Oum al Dunia, Fair Trade Center and the store at All Saints Cathedral.

I was just thinking, that it would make so much sense for a couple of smart locals to get together and produce Egypt tshirts in a variety of colours, prints, designs and cuts. There is such a large market for it (especially given the volume of tourism), that has been left largely untapped.

Any takers?
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