The Truth Shall Set You Free…It might piss you off first, but it will set you free.

Egypt: The Impact on the Micro Level or What a Difference a Day Makes

Posted by politicalmonkey2010 on February 7, 2011

The stats started pouring in with regards to the amount of money that is being lost in Egypt during these protests.  Oil started creeping up..stock markets rattled, Nile River boat cruise ships are standing idle, the pyramids are empty, banks closed for a week, the Egyptian stock market still closed.  It is easy to track the financial impact of registered businesses, it is much more difficult to track the alternate side of the Egyptian job market which is huge.  But let me take to the micro level.

The vast majority of people live hand to mouth on a daily basis.  So one day without work is a significant event.  I spend quite a bit of time at the pyramids, I have a client in the area, he has a jewelry shop.  His youngest employee is a little boy named Mohamed, he is 12 years old.  His job is to get tea and refreshments  for visitors, run errands, and  sweep up the shop.  Mohamed is paid about $2.50 a day, plus any tips he gets from tourists.    The first time I met him, I chewed the owner of the shop, saying this child should be in school.  Then he told me Mohamed’s story.  Mohamed’s father died two years ago.  He and his other brother are the sole income for his family of five.  Mohamed goes to public school a few hours a day, of course those schools are closed now…and so is the jewelry shop.  There are no tourists, so they have decided to close for a week.  That means half the income to Mohamed’s family is now gone.

In the past few years the area around the pyramids has been fenced in with a huge chain link fence, but on the other side of the fence, you will find small children hawking their wares.  Postcards, little charms, papyrus..and in English they will ask you, where are you from?  What’s your name?  They will tell you the price of their wares “it’s only 10 Egyptian pounds”.  They have no income now, and these kids share something with Mohamed, the family depends on their income.   In that bizarre show of camels and horses charging into Tahrir square, these are the people at the pyramids who rent camels and horses.  No tourists mean no income.

If you take a Nile Cruise to Luxor when you hit the port of Esna, the boat stops to go through a loch, and much to the delight and surprise of the passengers the boat is surrounded by small rowboats with vendors hawking their wares.  With expert aim, they are throwing up blankets, scarves, and a variety of other textile items to the passengers on the deck and haggling over the price.  Merchandise and money are flying back and forth, for the record I have never seen any of them hit the water.  There are no cruises going on now.

So while we digest the huge dollar amounts being lost officially, let us not forget the cost to those who are all too often forgotten, the poor.


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