Miko & Rado’s Wedding

So… we finally did it,  me and Maha got married on 14.01.2011.

These are the wedding posters which were hung in the wedding ceremony.

And this is Video that was shown at our Wedding Ceremony

Video by: Z line DeZine

Special Thanks to:
Karim Shaaban
Fakkar Fadi
& all our family and friends

ZARA Egypt: Shop at your own risk!

What was supposed to be a normal shopping day ended in a severe injury accident, and contempt by ZARA!

ZARA, the globally renowned clothing brand and known address for fashion seekers, revealed a much darker side of their “corporate ethics”, in response to one shopper’s injury in one of their stores in Egypt.

The incident happened two weeks ago, when Maha Fouad, paid a regular visit to ZARA store in Maadi City Center, Carrefour, Cairo. Maha, an Egyptian marketing professional, and a regular ZARA customer, who “was” supposed to get married this month, visit ZARA store in Maadi, on Friday 26 August 2011, to pick up an outfit for an upcoming friend’s engagement.

Like any normal visit, Maha went to the store with a friend, and there, they picked their garments of choice and headed to try them at the fitting rooms, unaware and un warned of any hazard, minutes later, screams were heard from the Maha’s fitting room, and she rushed out of the fitting room -half dressed- with a bloodied hand.

Immediately, chaos ensued in the store! Surprisingly, the store management were clueless as to how to act in an emergency like this one, and to make things worse, the store didn’t even have a First aid kit, which is against laws and regulations. Luckily there was a pharmacy in the mall, there, Maha was treated primarily, while her friend called Maha’s fiancé & family to come to the store. Continue reading

The Revolution Memoir – Chapter I

A personal memoir of my experience of the #25Jan Revolution

Chapter I

Prologue

This is my personal memoir about the 18 days that altered the face of Egypt (and possibly the world) forever. This is a personal record of my experience of the revolution, reflecting the very small part I played and lamenting that I didn’t have a bigger part in it.

Prior to the 25th no one imagined what will take place during the next 18 days. I personally was not on facebook during the 4 month prior to the revolution, my account (among several others) got deactivated prior to the last fraudulent parliamentary elections.

That’s why before the 25th I haven’t heard or received any invitations to the protests of the 25th of January, I heard about it through the opposition newspapers, but I didn’t think about joining because I thought that in the end, it will be just another small protest like hundreds I have been to before. About five years ago I took the decision not to take part in protests anymore, and committed myself to virtual activism, trying to cause change through writing and saving my energy for charity works, to affect the immediate social circles I deal with.

Continue reading

Exibit-R25J

“Exibit-R25J” is my very own Jan 25th Revolution Exhibition/Gallery, containing the items which I used on the Day of Rage in Tahrir Square (28th of Jan), and the subsequent days of the revolution.

The items are:

1. My Site Helmet: which I wore for protection from rubber bullets.
2. The famous Gas Mask soaked with vinegar for protection from Tear gas (which proved utterly ineffective)!
3. Gloves: which actually proved very handy in dealing with hot tear gas canisters!
4. An empty Tear Gas canister: picked up from in front of the Supreme Court during the raging battle for Tahrir on the 28th of Jan.
4. A small banner bearing the Egyptian flag overlay-ed over the famous picture of the 25th of Jan.
5. Empty Bullet Shells: gathered from a post 28th Army shoot out, the Army were shooting them in the air to scare thugs.
6. A Whistle: which we used to sound alarm when we were in the “Legan” protecting our homes in the post 28th police withdrawal mayhem.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Helwan Celebrates, in-style! Or ill-styne!

Two years ago, on 17 April 2008, his highness & majesty, President Hosny Mubarak, with his infinite wisdom & intelligence, signed the supreme brilliant presidential decree, dividing Cairo and Giza into 4 governorates instead of two, bringing the total to 28. An unstudied and unplanned decision aimed at minimizing the governmental administrative burden of running a colossal metropolitan like Cairo (estimated population of 17 million persons at the time).

In the division, Northern Cairo remained Cairo, while the southern district starting from Dar Al Sallam downwards, became the infamous governorate of Helwan. The beautiful suburban Maadi, was among the unfortunate lot who were “turned over” to the control of Helwan. The inhabitants of Maadi, not wanting to be thrown over night out of the Capital, and fearing that their beautiful neighborhood would fall to ruins under the control of Helwan, resisted the division decision. Same happened again and on a much more vocal/violent scale in Al-Wahat Al-Bahariya, where riots and protests broke over the decision to place the oasis under the jurisdiction of Minya governorate and not Sixth of October. There, anti-riot police used tear gas against 2,000 protesters and more than 20 people were detained. Bahariya residents took to the streets because the presidential decree which “moved” them from Giza governorate, meant they would have to travel up to 600km to access government and administrative services in Minya governorate.


The newspapers and media roared with dissent aimed at the presidential decision, but of course, the historical decision was not overturned.


Analyst Amr Elshobaki of Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies was most critical of the way the government dealt with the issue as a purely technical one in which public opinion had no part to play. “What happened is an unprecedented change in Egypt’s ruling system. Yet the decree ignored the opinions of citizens and experts alike.” The lack of communication between the state and the public, he argues, is almost guaranteed to see the changes fail in their avowed aims. “The timing of this decision immediately after the local council elections renders the councils themselves redundant,” he said.

Weird enough, after an emergency meeting at the National Democratic Party –not in the people assembly where it should have taken place- the presidential decree was subsequently amended. Al-Wahat Al-Bahariya and Ayyat, were both “re-moved” to the jurisdiction of Sixth of October. The decree also placed Atfih and Al-Saff, which used to belong to the Giza governorate, under Helwan. But of course no attention was given to the inhabitants of Maadi whom shared an equal dissent for the new division, but failed to act violently! Afterwards, and following a period of stretching and pulling of the borders of the new governorates, things calmed down and people accepted the new presidentially imposed reality.

Just to give you an idea about how haphazard that decree was, on 21 April 2008, just 4 days after the first decree, his Royalness, President Mubarak issued another presidential decree announcing that the Supreme Constitutional Court in Maadi, Helwan according to the earlier mention division decree, will be exempt of the division and will remain a part of Cairo governorate even as it is located in the new governorate of Helwan. The exception was made, because otherwise, if the Supreme Constitutional Court were to remain in Helwan, the rulings of the court would have been technically unconstitutional.

Anyhow, I, a simple inhabitant of Maadi, trusting that government knows what’s better for me, did not object in the beginning. Of course I felt a little bothered by becoming a Helwanise during my sleep, but still, I was not that keen on being a Cairian in the first place, after all Egypt have taught us not to take anything for granted! And as I grew up I became used to Egypt’s “hit and miss” approach to urban planning. So, after thorough study of the whole ordeal (something they didn’t care to do at the government) I decided that this maybe better for my district. Maybe then a simple procedure like getting my driving license renewed, would become a humane endeavor!

Little did I know!

As the days went by, it turned out that all what the Maadians feared most, was true… if not much worse.

One problem after another sprung into being, slowly but evidently obliterating the urban fabric and prominence of Maadi, as a peaceful and secluded neighborhood.

First came the Humongous Billboards that were scattered all over Maadi, against all laws and sensibility. These billboards which destroyed the aesthetics of Maadi as well as endangered its inhabitants (I still can’t help but wonder, what type of catastrophe would happen if one of these monstrosities were to fall!).

Afterwards came the project of a new “Smart Village” inside the borders of Maadi, which is scheduled to open sometime during summer 2010, and threatens to destroy the serenity and peace of Maadi altogether –If you ask me, to build an inside-city “Smart Village” project, is a pretty DUMB start!

Then most recently, the wise men at the governorate decided to move the driving license District Attorney office, from inside the Maadi Traffic Unit where it was located, to El Darasah Traffic Unit!!! Which means that anytime you need to renew your driving license, you have to go back and forth between Maadi and El Darasah, a 40 minutes drive, at least twice! Ironically enough, El Darasah is still in Cairo Governorate.

Not to mention the increased Police presence and sudden checkpoints they setup at random all over Maadi – just today there was a checkpoint (Lagnah) in the middle of 216 street (otherwise known as Satellite or Laslky road), at 10:00 PM!!! As you can imagine this blocked the Maadi entrance via Autostrad completely!


You may be wondering, why am I writing about this “ancient history” now?


Well because, yesterday, the governorate of Helwan, decided to rub it in our faces (we Maadians) even more and decorated Maadi squares with the most heinous decorations, congratulating us with Helwan’s governorate 2nd National Day!!!

Let’s not talk about the dreadful decorations itself, which look like a vulgar wedding from hell, complete with it’s cheap flickering lights, and ugly inflatable scare clown!


My question goes much deeper than just being angry about being visually and sensibly offended with this hideous “beautifications”.

My question is: As Maadians, What are we supposed to be celebrating on Helwan’s National Day?

The destruction of the once prominent and quite suburban Maadi?

OK! If we stop living in denial and accept the new Helwanise identity. As Helwanise, What are we supposed to be celebrating on Helwan’s National Day?

The governorate’s prominence as the highest-ranking pollution levels?

Or it’s prominence as the highest ranking corruption levels? (There is no solid evidence for that one, but the National Day’s congratulations to the Helwan Governor, which were spread on yet more billboards of all size, by the same companies which gave us the gigantic billboards in the first place, speaks volumes!!)


What the hell are we supposed to celebrate on Helwan’s National Day?

Well, I refuse to celebrate!!! And if I was much younger, I would have taken a knife and shown that huge inflatable polar bear how a celebration should be!

To me, Helwan’s National Day is an effigy to our government’s complete failure and confusion!


But hey, that’s just me! You can call me a party pooper!


Foot Note: While I was taking those picture, in front of Maadi Grand Mall, a man came up to me and introduced himself as a member of the Investigation Bureau (the notorious maba7es) and inquired about what I was doing! I told him that I was infatuated with the National Day decorations and wanted to take a photo of it, apparently even he didn’t believe that, so he started asking if I was photographing the Billboard!!!! Apparently the Billboards, being the National treasure that they are, are now protected by the police!!!! So of course I said no (cause I already photographed 1 year ago, moron). Nonetheless he instructed me to leave immediately, because this is a no-photography zone!!!!!!!!!

Read my older blog post about Maadi billboards:

Governor, Please… Bring the billboards down

Egyptian military students attack a Police station!!!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “mayo police rndm1“, posted with vodpod

BBC: Egypt army cadets attack police

Tuesday, 10 March 2009
Magdi Abdelhadi, BBC Arab Affairs Analyst, wrote:

“Egyptian army cadets in plain clothes have been filmed pelting a police station with stones in a town south of the capital Cairo.

Mobile phone footage was posted by Misrdigital, a blog campaigning against police brutality and corruption.

One sequence showed the cadets trying to overturn a car, said to belong to the chief district police officer.

They were reportedly taking revenge for the alleged abuse by the police of one of their colleagues.

Newspaper editors have told the BBC they received clear orders from the army not to publish any details of the incident, which happened on Sunday evening.

The army remains an off-limit topic for an otherwise vociferous independent media in Egypt. Those who violate the taboo can risk imprisonment….

One commentator, who wanted to remain anonymous, said the incident showed the extent of chaos in Egypt, where even army cadets who are supposed to show restraint and discipline can behave like a mob. It also showed that extent of resentment all Egyptians, including members of the armed forces, feel toward the police in Egypt, he added.”

The Police station is located in 15th of Mayo, South of Cairo.

Sober’s Comment:

These are the future safe-keepers of Egypt and it’s glorious army, attacking an Egyptian police station inside Egypt!
If that’s not the highest act of treason, then what is?

And how does the government re-act? by banning the newspapers from writing about the incident! Democracy at it’s best!

Governor, Please… Bring the billboards down

The Billboard at Maadi Kornish Entrance

The Billboard at Maadi Kornish Entrance

Overnight, and while the residents of Maadi were sleeping unaware, the first of the symptoms of the Helwan take over appeared so grotesquely all over Maadi’s urban landscape.

At all the districts’ entrances, which are considered the urban gateways of Maadi; suddenly and out of the blue, these humongous billboards sprung out, as if made overnight by some evil work of demons (or orcs!!!).
These billboards are intolerable and dangerous, aesthetically and functionally, for many reasons.

Aesthetic these horrid billboards ruin the rather elegant and harmonious urban landscape of maadi, a suburban district that enjoyed since it’s initial planning and establishment in 1904, a unique and quiet vicinity, and managed to retain this distinctive characteristic against the continuous urban expansion of the adjacent districts.

Furthermore, these hideous billboards spoil the gateways of Maadi and leave a lasting impression on the residents and visitors.

The Billboard at Maadi Autostrad Entrance

The Billboard at Maadi Autostrad Entrance

Now, functionally speaking, these billboards distract drivers approaching the busy entrances of Maadi and may cause traffic jams if not accidents. In addition, and more hazardously, I don’t think that these billboards are the safest structures, judging by it shape. I don’t claim to be a structural expert, but my limited structural knowledge, and my observation of the shady Egyptian means of construction, would make me worried driving under these billboards daily!

All the above have derived me to form a facebook group , which advocates for bringing these outrageous monstrosities down and the implementation of  strict outdoor advertising regulations. And going further in calling on the banning of the construction of new billboards in all Cairo suburbs and regulating the use of the billboards that already exist in a way that would protect the visual environment of Cairo.

We request that the government would issue a more strict building code regulating billboards all over the capital and form a Legislative and Regulatory Center to control outdoor advertising.

Bans on billboards exist in various parts of the world—even America. Vermont, Maine, Hawaii and Alaska all prohibit them, as do some 1,500 towns.

In the UK, billboards are controlled as part of the planning system. To display such an advert is a criminal offence with a fine of up to £2500 per offence (per poster). In Europe, the Norwegian city of Bergen does the same and many others are imposing severe restrictions on billboards: the mayor of Moscow, for example, is about to introduce regulation to reduce their number and size.

We’ve raised this issue before in Zed mag’s October issue; But this is far more precarious, explicit and dangerous.

If you are concerned for Maadi, and Cairo raise awareness and raise your voice. We are preparing an email template to be sent to all relevant governmental offices and institutions and media outlets. We will email the media, talk about it in talk shows (radio and TV) and voice out our objection.

Join the facebook group and invite your friends to stop the blight of billboards that is plaguing our city.

No Parliament, No cry!

On the 5th of November 1605, Guy Fawkes (Fox) sought to humiliate and end the English Monarchy, by blowing up the House of Parliament, in what is now known as “The Gunpowder treason and plot”. Guy Fawkes plot failed and he was arrested that night and executed on the 31st of January 1606. The 5th of November, now known as the Bonfire Night, is still celebrated in England till present day, some celebrate the plot’s failure, others celebrate the attempt.

Here in modern day Egypt we do not need an evil perpetrator to humiliate us, we humiliate ourselves. Tuesday the 19th of August 2008 should go down in Egyptian history as the ultimate celebration of our failure as a nation, the day we lost our dignity to fire, smoke and incompetence.

Yesterday a massive fire ravaged the 19th century palace that housed the upper house of Egypt’s parliament (Shura Council). Flames started from the roof and within the course of two hours worked its way downwards through the building; soon enough the blaze soared upward from the top floor of the three-story building, and much of the interior appeared gutted.

It took the first fire truck to an hour and a half to arrive at the site and Yahoo! News reports that: “While firefighters focused on one corner of the building, the blaze burned unabated on the other side, spreading to the second floor with periodic explosions and showers of sparks…. Hours after the fire erupted only three trucks were hosing down the building, apparently due to water shortages.” Meanwhile Al Jazeera was showing comical footage of two army helicopters scooping water from the Nile River to and blindly pouring  it over the blaze site, of course without any immediate (or non immediate) effect.

Come dusk, downtown Cairo was covered in a cloud of thick black smoke; smoke billowed over the metropolitan capital and could be seen from as far as Maadi district. The once prestigious building have miraculously (or in this case tragically) turned into an uncontrollable inferno, and the poor Egyptian fire fighters aided by the army and national security forces were unable to do anything to save the building.

Later on, parts of the buildings ceiling collapsed and news reporters were quoting witnesses saying that the building was utterly destroyed and burnt to the ground. Parliament’s archive room, library and several large meeting chambers were all destroyed. Firefighters doused surrounding buildings with water to prevent them from igniting, but flames continued to rage past midnight.

Reportedly there were no casualties and less than 20 people were hospitalized, mostly workers and firefighters.

Twelve hours after the fire started, there was still no official word on the cause of the fire. However some security officials said they had ruled out terrorism, and that an electrical short-circuit had likely sparked the fire.

Now whether the building was set ablaze or not, that’s not the question right now -although honestly if it was arson, it would be a little more dignified and face saving-  the question is: How did our ever vigilant  police force and courageous fire fighters allow a symbol of the government, the nation and it’s dignity, which also happens to be a historical building, be burnt to the ground?

When asked about why the fire fighters couldn’t control the fire, Cairo governor Abdul Azim Wazir, the interior affairs ministry spokesmen and other officials, kept repeating to the reporters the same foolish ridiculous answer: “We have to put in mind that building is old and contains a lot of wood… Wood is an inflammable substance!”. No shit? Wood is flammable? That’s odd… I thought it was used in making fire matches because it was fireproof and fire-retardant. Obviously I was wrong, turns out that our governmental officials are the ones who are RETARDants.

We get the picture, the building is old, it contains a lot flammable substances, which means we have to be a little more careful, and fire proof the building in more efficient ways, especially when we are talking about the house of parliament (Think US Capitol).

As usual, the Egyptian government does not learn from its mistakes, here is a list of fires that took place in downtown area alone during the past years:

  • In the early 70’s the Royal Opera House was destroyed by fire
  • August 2005 a huge fire brought down a building in the downtown neighborhood of Abdin.
  • March 2007 Fire destroyed Cairo’s shanty town in downtown Cairo on Tuesday, leaving about 1,000 people homeless. A police officer said the fire was caused by (again) an electrical short circuit.

So where the hell is the surprise? Fire, eats out the structures of old buildings and brings them down… Did no one in the fire department know that before? All the more reasons to enforce fire-safety codes on old building as well as new ones!

I don’t care about the 91 fire trucks on site (as reported by Cairo governor), I care about how many of these trucks were actually fighting the fire, apparently not many according to global news agencies. The two army helicopters scooping water from the Nile were a tragically comic scene, is it really that hard to get fire fighting choppers these days? Especially that fires seems to be a recurring “incident” in Modern Egypt.

Yahoo! News reported: “Egypt requires some fire-safety measures in buildings, including fire extinguishers, but in general the rules are not strictly enforced.” Just as they reported after the Lauran building collapse that: “Buildings regularly collapse in Egypt.”

When will it end?

When will our government value the Egyptian citizens and their dignity?

Alex catastrophe: I blame the media!

Follow up on my last article; Alex catastrophe: The Wakeup call…

 

As is the case with tragedies like the Louran building collapse; they bring us to question all the role players on the scene, Government, society, local authorities, District office, engineers & of course the media.

The global media coverage is in the least, sad but true, it gives us a painful insight about how we’re viewed as a nation worldwide, and it’s not by any means an optimistic or admirable image.

The CNN coverage stated that:

Buildings regularly collapse in Egypt, either as a result of deterioration with time or shoddy construction that fails to meet standards and regulations.”

Al Jazeera, Reuters, Herald tribune & New York Times coverage gave statements to the same effect. As for the MSNBC, they went further to state:

“Shoddy materials, illegal construction and a culture of corruption were blamed for the deaths of more than three dozen people buried when a 12-story apartment building crumbled to the ground.”

That’s how we are viewed globally now, as a culture of corruption!

However, what’s even more upsetting was the Egyptian media’s coverage. The Egyptian media’s coverage of the incident confirmed that our media is still divided into two halves; which I’ve named the appeasers & the inciters.

The appeasers being of course the sector of the media that is indirectly sponsored & controlled by the government, those work as somewhat an unpaid PR agency for the government, trying to pacify and soothe the society in the face of such tragedy.

Therefore the information communicated by this sector is somewhat true, but is often unreliable because it is toned down to the maximum.

As for the inciters, they are of course all the yellow tabloids and opposition owned media, which tend to do the exact opposite, blow the news out of proportion and exaggerate it to the other extreme.

Those two faces of the coin are equally untrustworthy for getting facts and objective information. And usually in a lot of these cases they both worsen the sufferings of those directly affected by the tragedy, with their mixed false information and uncertain facts.

An example of this is the “Al Masry Al Youm” coverage which on 28/12/2007, on its website published the news of the death of Roba Ayoub & all of her family. Although at the time Roba (God bless her soul) was still under the rubble. Continue reading

Alex catastrophe: The Wakeup call!

This is a refined version of my article; Awake: the collapse of buildings and morals, it was published in Campus magazine March 2008 issue. To view the older article click here

dedicated to Roba Salah Ayoub, may God bless her & rest her soul

“We wish you a merry Christmas,

We wish you a merry Christmas,

& Happy new year…”

The jingle goes. Unfortunately that was not the case in Alexandria…

One day before Christmas, & right after Adha eid, on Monday the 24th of December morning; Alexandria woke up to another horror, to maintain the series of tragedies the city have been plagued with during the recent years.

The Lauran residential building collapse claimed 35 innocent lives (including 2 complete families) & took both the city and the nation by surprise. Amongst whom is “Roba Salah Ayoub” may God rest her soul & also 4 other members of her family.

I came to know her during my study in Arab Academy, Alex. and the least I can say about her is that she was a young and vibrant character, with a kind heart & a bright future awaiting her; fate has it that she was one of the many victims of this tragic collapse. And this touched me deeper than I imagined such thing would, as I’m sure it did to all those who knew her.

On Sunday the 30th the authorities announced the end of search and rescue operations, and left the city celebrating the New Year by burying it’s loved ones. Only 3 survived the disaster, all were pulled out of the rubble during first 48 following the collapse.

The apartment block, which was originally built as a seven-storey structure, was built without a license, in 1982. The owner later obtained a permit, and then added an illegal extra five floors.

On site witnesses have recounted that the rescue operations were well coordinated, and surprisingly humane. Except for a territorial feud that occurred on the first day between the army and the National Guard forces on-site, everything went smoothly, and everybody did the best they can.

Up till here the news is pretty normal (if we consider a building collapse a normal occurrence), buildings fall everywhere right?

It’s a painful tragedy by all standards, true, but yet it’s not as tragic as a ferry sinking, and taking 1,000 passengers down with it, one might say. So normally this feature should end here, and with a little prayer for the victims of the Louran Building, I should conclude this article.

Unfortunately this is not the case, buildings fall everywhere, that’s right, but not as regularly as they do in Egypt.

During the last 8 years only, (starting with the turn of the century) we had about 20 building collapses in various areas of Egypt, 5 of which was during the last two years. (Almost as frequent as, say, rock concerts?!) Continue reading