Yes, we know the economy isn’t doing great in Egypt. As a matter of fact, it hasn’t done very well since forever. This isn’t exactly out of the ordinary. Since the 1970s, Egyptians have been more prone to travel in search for work. They would go to Europe, the US, and Gulf countries in search for better wages and a more promising career. This has been rapidly increasing recently, on account of how dire the economic, social and political situations are. We’ve spoken to five Egyptians who moved to different countries, doing different jobs, to know more about it.
Hassan moved to Qatar, where he now works as a Public Relations Executive at the Four Seasons Hotel in Doha. His reasons to move were quite simple, “I didn’t see a future for myself in Egypt, Qatar has a lot more to offer and not just money wise”, he tells. Still, there are things that he misses about his home country, “I miss the friendliness of people and how lively Cairo is, if you want to go out you can at any time”, he explains.
“I am lucky that my social circle in Egypt included the cultural diversity that Qatar has, especially that my current workplace has over 50 nationalities”
Usually, when people travel outside of Egypt, they are overwhelmed with the multi-cultural circles they encounter. However, Hassan was prepared, “I am lucky that my social circle in Egypt included the cultural diversity that Qatar has, especially that my current workplace has over 50 nationalities”, he says. All in all, Hassan’s experience thus far has been fruitful, “working in Qatar is easy because everyone is in here for the same reason: to work, get paid, enjoy their life, travel and visit their families”, he concludes.
Jailan El Rihany
Jailan moved to Dubai to work as a Regional Marketing Manager at Apparel Group L.L.C. This decision was about the entire, life altering, experience, “I believe the experience of moving, exploring and independence is definitely worth it”, she explains, “we hardly get the chance to do that. Being out of your comfort zone and doing things yourself is a lifetime experience”.
“in Dubai you have a certain ‘quality’ of life and there is beauty in making your own money even if it means paying your living expenses”
The kind of life you lead in a different country on your own could be entirely different from that you used to lead in Cairo. This is what Jailan discovered, “in Dubai you have a certain ‘quality’ of life and there is beauty in making your own money even if it means paying your living expenses”, she says. This isn’t all; corporate life in Dubai is unlike that of Cairo, “the work pace is much faster, more competitive and you get to develop skills you never thought of”, she tells.
Doha is a PR Manager in Chalhoub Group, a retail, distribution and marketing company in Dubai. She believes living in Dubai isn’t about the money, “You can’t make money in Dubai. I mainly moved as I was searching for security, justice, better economy, and lifestyle”, she explains. That being said, Doha still gets homesick, “I always miss my family and close friends. At the end there is no place like home”, she says, “but the UAE can’t be considered as a “ghorba”. there are millions of Egyptians here”.
“when I come back to Egypt I feel that we have the same conversations and the same issues. I feel that no one has moved from his place”
Traveling can make you see your life and community in your home country from a different point of view, “when I come back to Egypt I feel that we have the same conversations and the same issues. I feel that no one has moved from his place”, she tells, “I go back to my Egyptian bubble and live the Egyptian way”.
When Bassel moved to Dubai to work as a Group Accounts Director at Digital Republic /Isobar MENA, he was pleasantly surprised to find out he’s not home sick, “I was lucky because I had a lot of close friends. They are more of a family. So I never had that homesick feeling”, he tells. There are things that he does miss about his hometown, though, “the only thing that I miss is the Egyptian culture”, he says.
“Egypt is much more developed when it comes to creativity, I can tell we have the best creative people in the MENA region”
Creating a bubble for yourself is a means of survival we always talk about in Egypt. Bassel believes one can do that better in Dubai, “it’s all about how to cope with people around you; the way you dress, talk, gossip, etc”, he explains, “here you have the freedom to live in your own bubble”. Even the advertizing business is different; each country having its pros and cons, “Egypt is much more developed when it comes to creativity, I can tell we have the best creative people in the MENA region”, he explains, “here, it’s all about work. It’s a competitive job hunting market, if you don’t show results, you don’t deserve the position”.
Farah El Alfy
Farah works as the Senior Communications Manager at Qode, a PR agency in Dubai. She made the move because she wanted to develop, “I left because I had a fear of stagnation. I was afraid that I was not developing or learning anything new”, she tells. Although she made that choice herself, she still gets homesick, “I get homesick all the time; your family and the friends you grew up with are irreplaceable no matter how many great people you meet along the way”, she says.
“the perks of leaving is that I realize I’ve become more independent”
What it all comes down to, though, is the independence she has found, “the perks of leaving is that I realize I’ve become more independent”, she explains “when you are out of Egypt you learn to make your own decisions and truly figure out who you are and what you want”.
In conclusion, it is clear that while people traveled back in the day for better money, now things have changed. Young Egyptians are traveling for the experience, career, and lifestyle. Many of them openly said that they cannot save any money due to high living expenses, and they do feel homesick. However, their experience abroad has clearly given them something worth staying for.