Should I Stay or Should I Go……

Should I stay or should I go……that’s the dilemma facing a lot of our friends at the minute. Whilst the majority of Egyptians are over the moon at the prospect of Field Marshall Sisi becoming the next president a lot of the expatriate community and a tiny Egyptian minority, mainly those on twitter, is a little out of sync with the mood on the street. Stability is the buzz word, but I’m not seeing a lot of it.

No matter whom you ask the standard Egyptian response (in no small part due to state media brainwashing, oops did i say brainwashing out loud) is that “Egypt needs a strongman, Sisi is that man” well they’ve had strongmen for the last 60 years and look how well that worked out….

Quite frankly one of the saddest conversations I’ve had recently was with a very well educated and super smart Egyptian friend. I asked him what his plans were and his response made me so very sad. He said ” If I’m still here by October I will consider myself a failure” when I pushed him and asked where he would go he said ” anywhere that will take a 24 year old Egyptian ……..” the dots represent his profession, you don’t need to know.

Suffice to say that this young man is what Egypt needs, and lots more like him. The brain drain will take at least a generation to replenish, and the current climate won’t produce intellects that are questioning, logical or even rational. Combined with the fact they never bloody go to school, the national schools have been closed for over a month now, sorry I digress. Emotional nationalistic blackmail seems to be the order of the day. You are with us or against us, if you’re against us you are a terrorist, there is no middle ground.

That’s all very rich coming from me, an Irish expatriate who is doing what this young man aspires to do. I can’t really knock him, as soon as I finished university I was off. But it’s the reasoning behind the decision that’s so very different. It’s all very well leaving home to travel, see the world, catch a bit of sunshine or just to go somewhere to earn a few pounds, to experience different cultures, or whatever rocks your boat. To leave because you are frustrated, angry and despairing over the path your country is taking is something entirely different.

I could get on my high horse and say he should stay, his country needs him, and really it does need this guy, but truthfully if I was him I would go too. He is young, his whole life is ahead of him, at 24 I didn’t want the mantle of sorting out my country either, thankfully we had some elder statesmen who did. I’m not so sure Egypt has the same will, or want, to do so. Apologies to those who clicked the link expecting my usual fluff, but I care about this place and at the minute it’s doing my head in. Should I stay, or should I go, well I’m very lucky in that I have a choice, but I haven’t decided yet.

I’m still entertained by the daily sights, I love the friends I’ve made and something another friend said is nibbling at my brain. She said “I don’t want to leave Egypt on bad terms” neither do I. I don’t want the last few months to mar what has otherwise been a fantastic experience. Yes, I have “Bad Egypt Days” when the electricity cuts, the traffic, the perverts on the street grind me down. But and it’s it’s a really big but, if someone told me I’d spend the rest of my life here, I’d be pretty happy about it.

I will leave you with my new resolution; “I will not let the bastards grind me down” and there is always a ray of sunshine if you look hard enough


Photo is by the fantastic Mosa’ab Elshamy follow him on twitter @mosaaberizing


6 thoughts on “Should I Stay or Should I Go……

  1. Juanita says:

    The company we worked for recalled us almost a year ago but we left our hearts in Egypt……..

  2. barbara says:

    Thank-you for this post. I left Egypt Jan 1st,2014, not wanting to ever return. I had it with the army everywhere, watching them shake down my cab drivers for money to enter the airport, feeling unsafe with the bombings, one 2miles from my flat. I feel for your friend. My fiance is in Egypt, and he wants to leave also, even though he loves his country. I am in Los Angeles, the greatest place on earth to live. I have been all over the world, and I will cherish the past 18months I’ve lived in Cairo. But there is a feeling in the air there now that just doesn’t feel right. I hope you remain safe. Not sure what to make of Sisi being President.
    He has already had many assassination attempts on his life (these were not made public). I am sorry we never got to meet. I would love to do a movie about your life in Egypt.

  3. nnn says:

    Brain drain? That’s so 1960s. Nowadays, there are more university graduates in Egypt than there are jobs for them. Let them leave if they want as it frees up work for more who stay. I hope your friend leaves,for his own sake and those left behind.

  4. paul smyth says:

    Dear Superstar,

    Myself and my Wife love reading your blogs. I was in Egypt for 9 years, leaving in 2007 (March), and ALMOST coming back in Jan this year. I used to work for (and know very well) Ahmed Ezz of Ezz Steel. As you will know, he is still in prison. I worked in the steel plant in Sadat City as Engineering Manager, and deputizing for the Plant Manager.

    I came to join Emirates Steel (Abu Dhabi) in 2007 when money for plant development and operations was drying up.

    In the interim, I have had some wobbles with the Arab mentality. I am running complete Operations of the steel plant here with 1700 staff, with the ridiculous title of Assistant Vice President (if you wait a couple of weeks you will see my profile on the new website).

    I resigned from here last September / October to join the NEW steel company (Egyptian Steel) in January. I met the owner (Abu Hashima) twice, in Qatar and in Cairo. However, the intent for the new plants was not solid (info from contacts globally), and it already started to crumble after I accepted their offer. Then I was contacted by Ezz. They knew I was coming back for a different company, and wanted me to re-join. It was at this time that Lesley found your blog.

    I came over first on my own to see them, second time to visit the plants, and met with old friends  (ACE club in Ma’adi ?) , and then the last time in October with Lesley to look for a place (and the only place we would live NOW would be Katemaya Heights) – but the hype about Egyptian steel etc, is really only that – hype. It’s not going to pan out I am sure.

    Anyway, as you will no doubt realize from our surname name, Dad is an Irishman (Clogheen in Tipperary), he ran away in 1936 aged 18 to England. Still a Celt and at 95, bright as a button.

    I would love to keep in touch and know your thoughts.

    God Bless you and yours sweetheart

    Paul Smyth

    • Lesley says:

      So glad to to have found your interesting blog… I’m from Bangor(Co.Down) married to a Egyptian … We met when we both worked for the same firm in London. 3 kids and 5 years later my poor hubby still flys thousands of miles a month between Cai /lon and Belfast to see us. I tried moving to Alex a few years ago and couldn’t hack it . Lasted a few weeks and flew home with my daughter. We will have to try again and I’m worried about finding schools for the kids …. We have a lovely house waiting in Cairo … Out past the airport in a complex Stella something ? I will definitely keep reading your blog .

    • Why only Katameya Heights? We live in The Mariouteya area and there’s not another Westerner around, just the way we like it. The way we see it is why live in Egypt if you’re going to surround yourself with other Westerners? Live the real Egyptian way!

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