Egypt’s baksheesh industry..will it survive?

The people who are benefiting the least Mubarak leaving office sooner than later are his police forces and political allies. ¬†They are the ones who ask for the baksheesh even if they don’t do anything helpful or even help someone cross the street safely in Downtown Cairo. Some took to the streets and were taking part in Pro-Mubarak demonstrations in Cairo today.¬†Anderson Cooper and his crew got attacked by members of this crowd while reporting. It included men on camels and horse back seen in the photos above who usually come in handy when tourist go to see Abu Simbel and visit Giza. ¬†They seem to just be as useful as those police cars that have a doll placed in the front seat to deter people from speeding on US Highways. When I was there a few years ago an officer said it was ok to climb one of the pyramids in Giza for a little¬†baksheesh that it. ¬†If only Zahi Hawass was there to witness.

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It is now a requirement for foreign travelers going down to the Upper Nile near the border to Sudan to be escorted by a Egyptian military convoy.¬†¬†I just felt like a speeding line of sitting ducks but what do I know. A higher ranking officer of the tourist caravan target practice group. ¬†Our driver seemed to know him since the officer had left his rifle in the van. Opps…probably didn’t have any bullets in it because he knew he would start running if anything started going down. Our he driver throw it to him like he was in a movie like he was in a Dirty Harry movie. ¬†Kind of like giving a high five..catch yeah later.

Egypt needs its tourism since it historically it makes up around 10% of it’s GDP and employs¬†12.6% of Egyptians.¬†In May 2010,¬†Reuters projected that Egypt was recovering from the global economic crisis and fore-casted a steady growth of at least 2-5% this year. ¬†It’s surprising on how much more money the Tourism industry makes than the revenue generated from the Suez Canal. ¬†I’m not an economist but things are going to get pretty bad in the country if this mess doesn’t clean up soon. ¬† The peak travel season will be soon coming to end in May. ¬†Let’s hope its only a few months lost,¬†not too much is destroyed and the people of Egypt are in a better place economically and politically.

Cairo and it’s baksheesh and sheesha

It’s hot and almost too hot, smoggy and as always, the streets are filled with cars, horse and buggies and motorbikes. ¬† Taking the camera out and trying to capture what it’s like to walk around Cairo is the last thing I think about doing. ¬†Just want to get around without loosing a body part or my life. ¬†Something as small as a distracting camera could put me that much closer to being in harms way. ¬†Getting hit by any one of the reckless drivers of Cairo was not in the plan. ¬†Here, like many places of the world (Beijing and Hanoi are a couple of good examples) there are no rules, cars disregard anything¬†smaller than¬†them (people and animals included), the traffic lanes are not recognized and it’s every man, baby, horse and old lady for themselves.

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