A great many things happened this year; some were good, some bad, and some were just plain ugly.
It's been an eventful year for Egypt - a canal has been dug, new rules have been implemented, new products introduced, and still the same old problems remain. As we reflect on the Egypt of 2015, there's bound to be the good, the bad, and the just plain ugly.
While some may argue that the new canal doesn’t wield any economic benefits for the country (and that it's not even a canal), that's not what concerns us. It gave Egyptians reason to celebrate - not that we ever need one - and celebrate we did. Throughout the republic, citizens took to the streets to celebrate the new ditch (read: canal). Egyptians unwittingly cheered for President Sisi, commending him for his outstanding digging skills.
Sure, some people might think that this is a bullshit list since we put a croissant in it - they've clearly never tried Molto Mix. Molto Mix is the bread of heaven - it's all they eat up there - it was sent down to Egypt from above as a gift for all the shit we as a people endure everyday. Thank you, Lord, for this sustenance you have provided us with. All we ask of you, Oh Mighty Lord, is more flavour mixes, like marshmallows and peanut butter *drools*. Amen.
Shrimpo is not for those who don't appreciate all things deep-fried. If you're one of those vegan broccoli-loving fruitcakes, stay away. KFC had abruptly stopped making Shrimpo, which caused a massive stir in the me3afen food lovers' community, so they brought it back! Except, now the Shrimpo comes with a warning label that reads, "KFC is not responsible for sudden loss of sight and/or explosive diarrhea; consult with your physician before consuming Shrimpo." We definitely thought twice before eating. Calling our physicians, we were warned that Shrimpo (in some isolated cases) caused hallucinations, memory impairment, and epileptic convulsions - nothing a few Antinals can't handle.
The great Pharaoh king had recently lost his beard in an accident as museum employees accidentally knocked him down while renovations were going on inside the premises. The fall resulted in his highness losing his fragile beard. A group of Egyptian antiquity ‘experts’ decided it was okay to superglue the beard back on, which infuriated the great king, who in turn called for the immediate execution of the asshole who suggested using superglue. The king brought in a team of the world's best barbers and antiquity restorers who managed to fix his beard and gave him a nice fade around the sides, making the king look more hip and 21st century-esque. That made him very happy.
Traffic has always been bad in Egypt; it's something we've gotten used to, this idiosyncratic phenomenon that keeps changing its characteristics. This year it has only gotten worse, with a 3.5 per cent increase in road accidents since last year. Still, we are hopeful; we know that one day we will all look back on the traffic situation from our hovercrafts and laugh. *Dreams of a distant future*
Egypt is now the country with the most journalists inside its prison walls. We decided to speak with a make belief Minister of Interior who is, in reality, a bum who hangs around the CairoScene office all day stealing our donuts and muffins. We asked him why they're arresting all these journalists, to which Make Belief Minister of Interior replied, "Fucking journalists! Who needs them? Loud-mouthed bastards are gong to ruin this country and give away our secrets on how to dig ditches - I mean canals - to the enemy.” We wanted to know more about this alleged enemy we are facing, so we asked him, "Who is this enemy you're talking about, your Excellency? Is it the Ikhwan?” Make Belief Minister of Interior replied enthusiastically, "It's anyone who jeopardises the safety of this country, and since these goddamn journalists are publishing articles about police brutality and human rights and shit, which makes us look bad in front of the world, we’re taking them all down!”
Vent is not a physical location - it's a movement, a community-based artistic expression that helps artists display their contributions in a friendly and open-minded environment. It has given many artists a platform to show off their talents and saw the performance debut of several talented figures that otherwise would not have had the chance. Sadly, Vent finished its last season in its Downtown abode earlier this year. With plans to relocate and with one-off parties happening every now and then, we can't say that Vent has completely disappeared. Still, the memories of the space in which we experienced such memorable moments of our clubbing careers will forever remain with us.
"Bummer, dude! How the fuck are we going to move with all of our gear, bruh?!” said every hiker, mountaineer, camper, and every other Indiana-Jones-y outdoor enthusiast that considers Sinai to be their playground. It was a buzzkill for all those who didn’t know the new rules and discovered that they could not adventure through the dunes of Sinai with a Jeep and then build a bonfire and sing Kumbaya in the middle of the desert, as camping and off-roading were banned in South Sinai earlier this year.
This must have been the worst move for aviation in Egypt in terms of customer retention. The government's excuse for placing this surcharge was that if someone can afford a business class or first class flight, they can surely afford the extra 400 LE, which are nothing compared to business and first class fares! Economy passengers don't get away unscathed, either; they will have to pay 150 LE. What? No, seriously, what?
The scenes of police brutality this year made us all feel like we're living in a jungle, and if this is how police are treating Egyptian citizens in 2015 after two revolutions, then what's to come is surely darker than before. A young boy in Maadi’s Dar el Salam metro station was with his fiancée when someone harassed her; he went to a police officer asking him to help his fiancée. The officer refused, claiming he can't leave his post. The infuriated boy started to shout and claim that if they didn’t help him he would dispose of them all. That angered the officers to the point where three of them ganged up on the young boy and beat the living daylights out of him, dragging him into an isolated room where he was allegedly tortured and beaten. All of this was caught on video and posted online, much like other similar incidents. What's hopeful here is that, in all these cases, the Minister of Interior - the real man, not the bum in our office - made public statements, and announced in the case of Dar el Salam metro station that the police officer was suspended pending an investigation.
It's everywhere - no matter how many times the streets are cleaned, it keeps coming back. It's like a damnation on this fucked up nation where everywhere you go you find garbage. It's an epidemic of sorts and it keeps getting worse. This year has seen efforts in Egyptian cities like Hurghada, where all the garbage and leftover building material was collected and disposed of. In Cairo, this has happened many times yet the garbage seems to re-spawn the next day. We need a superhero to get rid of this problem - we will call him Zebala Man!
Rain season hit coastal cities in Egypt hard this year, and the result was devastating! Alexandria literally drowned; a lot of people lost their lives from electrocutions and the collapse of dilapidated buildings. Government officials blatantly claimed that the Ikhwan were the ones behind the crisis, claiming that members of the banned group were caught pouring cement down the city’s drainage systems!
A series of attacks on foreign tourists happened this year, two of which received a massive amount of media coverage. The incident of the Russian airliner was a recent tragedy. Earlier this year, a group of Mexican tourists were shot in their 4x4s during a safari trip in the western deserts, but this time no terrorist group claimed responsibility - the government did! You read that right, the Egyptian government shot and killed 12 people and injured 10 others, of which many were Mexican tourists. Government officials apologised for the incident claiming that they were in a forbidden zone and they didn’t notify any authorities regarding their intent to visit this location.
Applying a healthy disregard for the conventional, Egypt took animal cruelty to a whole new level this year. Forget kicking the stray cat down the street or kids throwing rocks at dogs and poking them with sticks - no, no, no, that's child's play in comparison. We, ladies and gentlemen, arrested a crocodile in the Nile in 2015. No, this isn't some plot for a poorly dubbed cartoon; this is real life in Egypt in 2015. Not nearly as ridiculous but 10 times as appalling was the incident of three Egyptian men torturing and killing a dog, which was caught on video. Thankfully, they were arrested and later joined by Wild Nile Crocodile.
As we come to the end of our recap list of 2015, we'd like to finish off on a brighter note, and that is that there is indeed hope. A visible increase in business activity in 2015 has been reported - the amount of start-ups is rising steadily, and international mutual funds, hedge funds, and independent investors are turning their eyes towards Egypt. The Suez Canal proved to the world that major construction projects can be completed on schedule without fear of terrorist attacks or political turmoil to hinder their progress - no more than any other place in the world. Not only that, but it showed that Egypt as a country can stick to deadlines. The terrorist attack on the Russian airliner was a huge blow to the tourism industry, but there is a silver lining: a joint co-operation has been made with Russia for them to ensure airports and passengers are secure, which will eventually lead to the return of tourists. Road projects are being developed and the underground metro is rapidly expanding; by 2018, the metro will reach 6th of October City from one end and the 10th of Ramadan City on the other. Foreign currency is at an unprecedented low; what the average citizen can do to help is cut back on buying foreign products. Even if those products are being sold in Egyptian currency, the profits from these sales exit the Egyptian market in foreign currency. Cutting spending in general would help the economy do better, especially if you have a savings account. At the end, we ask you to remain positive and put your best foot forward at all times. Happy New Year, everybody!