I was a minister in the cabinet of Mustafa al-Nahhas. I began to think about a project to create elementary, primary and secondary schools that would be cost-free, including tuition, for exceptional boys and girls whose parents were peasants and workers.
We would follow-up by caring for them at university and study mission abroad. I presented the idea to the chief, and he welcomed it, while adding some changes of his own.
He wanted these schools for super-achieving children to be devoted to building the entire nation.
He asked me to propose the plan in the cabinet’s next meeting, pledging his stalwart support.
Dream 189, Dreams of Departure, Naguib Mahfouz, 2007.
Despite the recent studies conducted by the University of Kansas that found the Egyptians to be amongst the most pessimistic nations on earth, the country is growing fast and facing the international crisis pretty well.
On June 9, the Shura Council gave its blessing to 13 new agreements with a total investment commitment of LE 2.5 billion: Indian, Emirate, US, British and Italian companies will dig a combined number of 31 new gas and oil wells. Huge projects have been thought about for the sectors of transports and infrastructures too, especially in the Port Said area, facilitating the access to both fresh water and oil. A few weeks ago the Dow chemical company, a global leader in the production of chemicals in the food, water, petrochemical and pharmaceutical industries, agreed to enter into partnership with the Young Arab Leaders and to participate in the YAL’2009 Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative. Last but not at least, the Egyptian Ministry of Communication and Technology signed a deal with Fujitsu to furnish the Ministry of Education with 10.000 new laptops.
It is clear that the Hernando De Soto theory about “The Mystery of Capitalism” no longer works or Egypt is converting into a new generation of capitalistic country. The key answer is not so easy to find and it may be reached only by analysing within the economical phenomenon, from the information to the legal property aspects. Maybe it isn’t even something new and, as Ibn Khaldun taught five centuries ago, history is cyclic. So whilst the West needs to touch the ground to regenerate itself, other countries, such as Egypt, are rising to a new and prosperous era.
Of course, the bad mood of the international environment affects the emergent countries as well. To give an example, many Egyptian sociologists are reporting an increase of insecurity among the population. This reaches from violence in the media, through conspiracy theories and the swine flu, to the wars. The increasing levels of hatred in the neighbouring lands, from Israel to Palestine, Iraq to Iran and even Afghanistan cannot leave the Egyptians indifferent. Many terrorists’ groups have important bases in Egypt and will work locally too. In 2007 the Egyptian constitution was reformed and the Muslim Brotherhood Party was banned. Now its members are not even allowed to participate in elections as independent candidates – this was the principal way for the dissidents to enter Parliament legally. But the President Hosni Mubarak is old and people are thinking about the next incumbent…
Egypt is a country with a lot of potential, but its political and economical situations don’t seem so very different from many other emergent countries. They are entering the international markets as active actors and still have to fight against powerful ghosts from their past at the same time as facing the current failings of their most important economic partners of the last decades.
Alexandria 5th August, 2009 text and picture by Caterina Pikiz Gattinoni.