Monday, June 14, 2010

!!! Cairo Craigslist Warning !!!

As mentioned on the previous blog, I was waiting to get more information on a scam luring females from other countries for supposedly great jobs in Egypt.

Jane** was looking for a job in Egypt in order to do research for a project. In the meantime, she still needed supplement income in order to finance herself without delving into savings. She looked on Craigslist and applied for a news anchor position with EZZ Media. Although a Google search will be inconclusive if you search the keywords EZZ Media Egypt.

This particular media segment was supposedly a part of EZZ Steel, a major giant in the steel/mining industry in Egypt, with the contact person even using the name of one of EZZ’s executives. EZZ Media was allegedly a start-up station looking to get native English speakers.

Jane came to Cairo where she conducted her interview shortly upon her arrival. On her way out to the Sandpit, she met an Egyptian American who was also interviewing for the same company but as a translator. Both women met with two men named (or at least that’s the given name) Ihab Isisi and Ahmed Ghazi. Ihab was very persistent in trying to get the women to meet him after midnight at After 8 in Downtown.

Other jobs that were posted by this falsified company were for translators and assistants to travel to Dubai.

A good friend of mine that is a casting director here even encountered a supposed director attempting to get one of her actresses to come audition for a play. The “director” used a famous director’s company and name and continued the ruse. It wasn’t until my friend became suspicious and called the actual famous director and found it to be a hoax.

I think the lesson here is to be extremely cautious of “name dropping,” as with the two above cases, that seems to be the common theme. Name dropping is like the country’s favorite pastime anyway.

As scams and dubious actions such as this happen throughout the world, it is important to use your head. For each potential job, always look up the contact person and company. For instance, if you have been contacted by Drew Brees, HR Dept for Saints Unlimited, type into a google search engine these particular suggestions:

“Drew Brees”
“Saints Unlimited”
Drew Brees HR
Drew Brees Saints Unlimited
Drew Brees Cairo
Drew Brees Egypt
Saints Unlimited Egypt

The quotation marks narrow down your search, but you can just pick some relative keywords to jumble them all together and comb through a higher number of search results. I understand some of you may be reading this thinking that I’m talking to a pre-schooler, but the fact is, many of you don’t know or never thought about doing a search. And for the most part, employers are googling you, so I suggest you get on board. Also, make sure to constantly check your privacy settings on sites like Facebook and Myspace as it appears they like to revert to default settings which open up your page and pictures to EVERYONE (and ah hem, no potential employer needs to see you doing a keg stand).

I researched my last employer before accepting the position. I even found blogs that discussed the work atmosphere, which might be helpful if you’re trying to decide between numerous offers. The important lesson here is to do all the research you can and if all else fails, use your instincts.

Once again, if it sounds too good to be true – it is, MOVE OUT OF THE WAY!

* Name changed for privacy purposes

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Letters from Egypt: World Cup Blow Up

For the next match we have ERTU coming all the way from Egypt and Al Jazeera Sports weighing in from Qatar as what is sure to be one of the most highly anticipated events this season. It has been a common theme here to find difficulty in the simplest things, even like watching the World Cup.

Air time was cut in Egypt during the opening match of the World Cup held on Friday, June 11 between host country South Africa and Mexico. Many of us gathered around for the highly anticipated match between England and the US on Saturday, arriving at our destination around 4 pm to secure a good seat. The Nigerian/Argentinean game got underway at 5 pm Cairo time, only for everyone in Egypt to miss most of the first half (including the one and only goal scored).

The Egypt Radio and TV Union (ERTU) has started legal actions against Al Jazeera Sport, the owners of broadcasting rights to the World Cup airing. ERTU has accursed the Qatari channel of breaching three articles of the agreement it signed with the union by cutting the air time. However, Al Jazeera has said that the Egyptian satellite company, Nile Sat, had intentionally hindered the transmission in order to cause a government crisis. It is also reported that Al Jazeera filed a lawsuit a day prior to ERTU's claims.

Al Masry Alyoum reported:
Eng. Salah Hamza, head of the engineering sector in Nile Sat, said that the satellite had provided the Qatari channel with two additional frequencies in case of transmission interruptions, also also revealed that Nile Sat had contracted two outstanding firms to help trace any jamming. He added that the body responsible for the interruption of the signal is probably a terrestrial station. Hamza declared that the satellite is currently cooperating with the channel to figure out the identity of the jamming source.
Abdel Rahman el-Sawi, professor of communication at Helwan University, said that the standards adopted by the international association prevent such airing breaches, noting also that Egypt does not possess the means to change or repair frequencies, and that such controls are in the hands of the French manufacturer. The professor accused al-Jazeera of creating the fuss. Evidence of this was seen when they immediately solved the problem.
Thus, the International Communication Association is opening an investigation into allegations from both sides with results to be released shortly. Although the organization is based in Geneva, Switzerland, when dealing with any squabble between Arab countries, you can go ahead and bet the results are going to be delayed (hence the word “shortly”). In order to investigate, the ICA is going to be bombarded with a he said/she said debate that is undoubtedly going to wear down the ICA team and neither the ERTU nor Al Jazeera Sports is going to readily release ALL information needed to conduct a proper investigation.

And that is coming from my personal observations here in Egypt dealing with any business transaction locally. I can only imagine, although I don’t want to remotely contemplate, the heightened level of difficulty bringing Qatar into the mix.

**Disclaimer** None of these news sources should be counted upon entirely as I am unfamiliar with Yaliban and know that Al Masry Alyoum has numerous errors. Unfortunately, at the time of this posting, I was unable to find a more reliable source. So please continue to look up factual sources/sites such as ICA's website.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Letters from Egypt: An Old Maid

When I was in high school, I remember Michelle Sherrell saying, “You shouldn’t date anyone that you couldn’t see as your future husband.” I remember responding, “I completely disagree. We’re only 17, I think we should date whomever and that other stuff should come as a second thought. We’ve got time.” Then every female in the group began discussing at what age they’d like to be married and start a family. My response: “I think I’ll finally settle down around 25 and have children by 27.”

And here I was Saturday evening at the age of 27.

I had just finished cooking dinner which had turned out less than desirable (so much for trying to make eggplant without oil and using tons of lemon juice – I do NOT recommend that concoction), popping in a movie (title need not be mentioned for public record) and feeding my dog niblets.

As more of my friends continue to get engaged, married and start their families leaving me as one of the last Mohicans, I remembered those words spoken at the ripe, old age of 17. Even more pressing is how one of my friends said that her Egyptian boyfriend made the comment recently that he doesn’t want children right now, but he can’t imagine his wife having children in her 30s. He wants his wife to have children at 27 and be done by 30. My friend only has a year left before she’s passed the mark.

You wouldn’t believe how many men I have come across in the Sandpit that, after finding out my age, says, “You should settle down, 27 is when you should be having children. It’s the perfect age.” Funny, one of the guys that said those exact words to me was himself divorced before 30.

I’m a firm advocate that there’s no time limit on settling down. There’s no age that has been universally decided upon that by this particular time, you must have found your partner. And truth be told, these pressures are exactly what create high divorce rates.

What an outsider might find shocking is the high divorce rate in Egypt. In 2007, a state-run statistics bureau reported that Egyptian couples file for divorce every six minutes. The Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) said that Egyptian courts rule on around 250 divorces daily (2007, for those that read Arabic, the site is There is even a new program called Radio for Divorced Women started by Mahasin Saber on Motakalat Radio.

I think it’s important, especially as women, to be financial independent and stable. For many divorcees, reliance on their husbands forced them into a bad place once the marriage was over. I also think it is equally important to live and by that I mean get out everything in your system that you wanted to do such as traveling, focusing solely on your career, etc. because let’s be honest – when you have a family, everything else takes a backseat (as it should).

I am in no hurry to start a family (and I hear that would require meeting someone other than complete, useless morons that seems to gravitate in my direction). And I never want to “settle.” I had this theory, and it is applicable to many people that I’ve come across:

Many relationships are like going to the bar for a night out. You get to the bar around 10 pm, look around and think to yourself, “Bummer, no lookers.” You have a few drinks and sit at the bar keeping up conversation with your friend. Midnight rolls around and after feeling a little affected by the alcohol, you look around and say to yourself, “Alright, the place is picking up.” Mind you, it’s still filled with the same unappealing people as it was at 10 pm, but now alcohol has “enhanced” their attributes. Then 1:45 am rolls around and it’s last call. You look around and everyone has coupled off. You and your friend look at one another and then to the other side of the bar where two guys stand lingering hoping to get something else besides alcohol for last call. Then you look at your friend and say, “Well, I’ve had worse.” And there you have it – relationships of today – all around the premise “I’ve had worse.”

Children by 27, divorce by 30 is not something that I envision for myself. If that’s the case (and not to forget I’m nearly onto 28), then I guess I’ll forever be an old maid. Something my mother thinks anyway, at least I won’t disprove her *wink wink*