It's been an odd year to say the very least. So we've rounded up its oddest, its scariest, its very best. Right here.
2017 was a weird year in Egypt's history. The year was brimming with crazy shit you cannot make up. It brought with it a varied assortment of happenings that are amusing, disappointing, but ridiculous all the same.
So wash your hands and then hold onto mine as I take you on a whimsical journey through the 17 most ridiculous things that have transpired thanks to Egypt, its media, and its people throughout 2017 in no specific order because that's too much work.
You'd be hard pressed to find an Egyptian who hasn't partaken in the age-old habit of smoking hashish. Whether it was a one time experience or a daily (and not at all depressing) routine
Earlier in the year, an "extensive" report by The Telegraph using data from the UN to uncover the world's 30 most cannabis-consuming countries ranked Egypt as the 25th with an unbelievably low rating of 6.25% of the population taking on the habit (it's more a way of life), making Egypt the only Arab country to enter the list to almost nobody's surprise.
Regardless of pinpoint factual accuracy, it's good to see Egypt ranking high on any list.
I think it's safe to say none of us expect to see ourselves on a billboard without prior notice, and it's even safer to assume none of us expect to see ourselves as martyrs on a billboard either, especially seeing as how we're not exactly dead.
That's what Tanta's Beshoy Fayez had to endure as he was surprised to see himself a random billboard as a martyr of the tragic Palm Sunday church bombing earlier in the year. it's even more ridiculous when you learn that they used Fayez's Facebook profile picture on the name of an actual victim, which Fayez identified as his grandfather, Michelle Labib.
Our thoughts go out to all those who've suffered the loss of relatives and loved ones.
We're a crafty people. We'll figure out elaborate ways to get more bang out of our metaphorical buck (we basically operate with monopoly money at this point), and that doesn't exclude less legal activities. But we're at least smart about covering our tracks.
You can't say the same for this one Egyptian former Etisalat employee in Dubai though, who stole (embezzled?) something in the neighbourhood of 3.5 million reward points from Etisalat clients to chase his fast food and online shopping addiction. This legend literally stole people's money to buy pizza, fried chicken, movie tickets and do online shopping.
It's good to see our boys and girls abroad painting a good image of the rest of us.
There's a reason why we're still head, shoulders and opposable thumbs above the rest of the food chain; we'll kill anything and eat it in whatever fashion we damn well please.
Such was the case with the jellyfish debacle earlier this year, where a large and unexpected influx of jellyfish managed to find themselves in the Mediterranean for whatever official reason (talk among yourselves). Their biggest mistake was thinking we'd leave them alone however, and as humans are wont to do (especially us Egyptians), we made the best of a gelatinous situation by deep-frying and eating the poor things, a feat demonstrated by resourceful local engineer Manar El Hagrasy.
They might have stingers, but we have fire.
To most Egyptians, Eating some well-seasoned liver is a warm, rewarding culinary experience that brings back memories of either a nice time in Alexandria or a comically low bank balance.
That's what Damanhour eatery Doctor Kebda decided to capitalise on in addition to the age old (sterile) Egyptian decision to become a doctor. Whether it was a critique of the country's treatment of medical personnel or an avantgarde statement about the precision of their craft (kebda needs precision alright?), it certainly got its fair share of attention on social media, for better or worse.
So if you ever find yourself in Damanhour or just have a thing for scrubs (no judgement here), maybe give their transplants a go.
Generally speaking, you shouldn't take anything edible from random strangers. You never know if it'll be laced with some dizzying substance, or worse, raisins.
Unfortunately, the former was the case with some unsuspecting commuters on an Asyut train earlier this year, when a man using insidious baked goods managed to have passengers eat the narcoleptic pastry and get away with the belongings of one of them. Fortunately, he was promptly arrested.
So yeah, don't eat shit people give you on a train, any train, whatsoever.
Karma, much like that one lady you used to "date" in the past, is a cruel mistress. A lesson this local con artist learned in a more ironic fashion.
Having received a reward in the past for informing the police on a bomb he found, this genius of his age decided to make another one and plant it in an eastern Cairo governmental bureau to reap even more rewards. The bomb prematurely detonated however and led to an investigation culminating in his arrest.
When you want to drop bombs, do it at karaoke night with your friends, not in the general public.
Nobody likes watching somebody make an ass of themselves on stage at any function, especially a wedding, even more so if you're a celebrity and your most embarrassing faux pas can easily wind up on the Internet.
Sadly, well-known Egyptian songstress Sherine was blissfully unaware of that fact at the wedding of Amr Youssef and Kinda Alloush, when she (supposedly drunkenly) started throwing shade on the supremely talented and (almost literally) timeless singer Amr Diab, saying “We don’t have anyone else but them (Tamer Hosny and Mohamed Hamaki), and I want to say that – pause – his time has passed. He’s gotten too old.”
A clip of her "performance" was quickly shared (like E-Herpes) on social media, sparking Egypt's keyboard warriors to wage electronic warfare on Sherine and her woozy antics.
Egyptians like the Nile, and why wouldn't they? It's our main source of drinking water and despite what we do to it, it's one of the country's most well-known landmarks and it's a historic Egyptian symbol.
And in one of the more ironic twists of fate this year, Sherine, when asked by a fan if she drank from the Nile (a reference to her hit 'Mashrebtesh men Nelha') in a Beirut concert, managed to drop the now infamous response "You'd get bilharzia if you drink from the Nile; better drink Evian." The response brought down the "wrath" of Egypt's Music Syndicate, resulting in a ban on any performances in Egypt and a referral to an official investigation before the syndicate's legal counsel.
It seems Sherine's voice is best heard in song and nothing else.
Duck is a pretty expensive dish, offering a rich and luxurious mix of flavours for those so inclined to partake, especially when it's stuffed with massive amounts of money.
Such was the case earlier this year when an industrious criminal tried to smuggle EGP 1.36 million in a bunch of ducks while making his great escape to Kuwait. Unfortunately for "Tamer", he was caught at customs at Asyut airport after passing the first stage of inspections, putting an end to his fowl schemes.
I mean it's ducks full of money, a dude flipping off what I assume is crime and bird jokes. What else do you want?
The topic of alcohol in religions tends to teeter ever so slightly on a (suitably) blurry line; some religions flat out ban its existence, others only discourage it, some don't seem to mind at all. But take a wild guess as to what the Islamic faith's general stance on the matter is?
So people were suitably taken aback when Khaled El Gendy, a well-known Islamic cleric and a member of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, decided to state that drinking alcohol without getting drunk isn't exactly haram. “If the same alcoholic drink was consumed by one person without getting drunk, it is not haram, while being consumed by another person to drunkenness makes it haram [for this person],” the sheikh said regarding the difference between drinking and being shitfaced.
So next time you're having a session with your friends and want to stay on the religious safe side, try to just get a buzz? Whatever you do, don't drive or do anything of vague importance.
Sadly, not everything on this list is going to be funny (you take the good with the bad), and in one of the year's more depressing events, the term ridiculous adopts a more melancholy meaning.
Earlier in the year, Suez University English Literature Professor Mona Prince received an astonishing amount of backlash after posting a video of herself belly dancing on the roof of her Fayoum home, students and staff alike caused an uproar that eventually led to the professor's referral to an internal investigation for 'inappropriate behavior.' The professor fought back against this invasion of privacy on social media, hoping that one day this becomes a thing of the past.
It's scenarios like these that further the stigmatic reality we live in, that privacy is a forlorn commodity that only few can attain, and for a limited time at that.
The state of women's rights and society's approach to feminism are pretty deplorable to say the least (fucked up beyond repair to say the most), but there have been numerous attempts to rectify the situation and a good number of them have produced some amazing results, not Sunny though, not all.
In an effort to shock people into giving a proverbial shit and to encourage women to stand up to society's misogynistic fundamentals, Sunny Cooking Oil's ad campaign featured a billboard with a picture of an apparently downtrodden women with fingers pointing at her with a caption reading "Enty 3anes!?" or "Are you a spinster!?" Ignoring the fact that exclamation marks make me visibly ill, this campaign managed to stir the wrath of women in general and numerous feminist and human rights organisations.
Although the message can be pure, the application (more often than not) can turn out to be disastrously impractical. The women of Egypt already have too much to deal with besides a billboard.
A school is a place where younger generations can gain the valuable information, skills and general know-how to prepare them for the future (all I learned was division). A place where student, teacher and principal contribute to the learning process and totally not dance at any point in time or else.
Which is a lesson the principal of Hadayek El-Maadi Qawmiya School learned the hard way; after being recorded dancing to some choice sha3bi tunes (that's what young people say, right?) during the school's entertainment day. The video quickly circulated on social media the weekend after, catching the ever-watchful eye of Cairo's Directorate of Education, leading to the principal being referred to the agency's legal affairs department for investigation.
In his defense, it was an entertainment day, and what is Egyptian entertainment without sha3bi? Even if you have the stiffest upper lip, it does something to you as soon as it touches your eardrums, something... beautiful.
3. Subtle Symbolism
I'm going to go ahead and venture to say that we're not the most subtle of people, especially when it comes to anything even vaguely sexual, with most attempts slipping up rather humorously.
Unfortunately for local, lesser-known "singer" Shaimaa Ahmed, mononymously known (by almost nobody) as Shaimaa, the subtlety fell flat on its face harder than your attempt to actually go through this list. The music video, ironically titled "I have issues", caused a bit of a stir as the young performer trotted around in her underwear and ever so suggestively ate a banana, and for whatever earthly reason, started dousing the poor bananas in milk. Yes. Her "work of art" eventually led to her arrest and a 3 year prison sentence for "inciting debauchery"
How you choose to interpret the legal decision is your business, we're just kinda shocked this got any attention. If you find yourself that bored, here's the "questionable" material, and if you'd prefer much finer questionable banana-related material, go there.
As odd a year as it was, Egypt has enjoyed some pretty historic events, one such event was Egypt's national football team beating morocco for the first time in 31 years. It was also the year a goddamn lion cub popped up in Mohandeseen.
In celebration of the momentous occasion, Egyptians far and wide flocked to the streets to celebrate the win in all manner of typical fair, except the part with the lion, that's not very typical. Although we do have an ostrich that just takes leisurely strolls every now and then. The cub's owner and tamer, Ashraf El Helow, comes from a family of top-tier lion tamers and circus masters, and he assured us that Kyala (the goddamn lion) wasn't harmful in any way.
We hope Kyala enjoyed her evening sortie out into the joyous streets of Egypt and pray she doesn't grow up to come back and fuck us all up.
People can change. Regardless of what anyone tells you, anyone has the capacity to do what is in stark contrast to what they may be known for, but it's always surprising when it happens, such was the case with the ever-popular belly dancer Sama El Masry.
Sama, who's caused her fair share of "controversy", announced a bit before ramadan that she had signed a contract with some lucky TV channel to host a religious show centred around Islam's stance on parental disobedience (a hot topic to be sure). Naturally, the announcement managed to rile up the scholars of Al-Azhar, prompting them to stay on the ready pending an official announcement of the show to "take proper counter-action"
You'd think with all the shit flying around the country, a belly dancer trying to educate the masses about a particularly damaging issue would be on the backburner, guess not though. Besides, it's not the first time something like this has happened in the world.
And there you have it, folks.
That about does it for this list; we laughed, we cried, we sighed and internally died, but have heart, for there is still next year, a year that is sure to bring with it even more hilarious and tragic bullshit for all of us to witness. So Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, good night, and good luck.