Friday, July 11, 2008

Just another hump day

I have been putting off my "big" shopping (think Costco, man how i MISS that place) for awhile now. I get the little things I need usually daily from the "souk" where I live. (souk refers to shopping area, small stores) But I needed cleaning supplies, paper products, and a bunch of other stuff. Here sadly no Costco, but we have Carrefour, its like a Middle East styled Target like store I guess would be the closest comparision.

Despite sleeping at 4AM Wednesday morning we woke up and took our visiting firends from NYC (they have a place here where we live, same city. And yes the ones who brought my i.p.o.d.)  with us to Carrefour at around 11AM. You have to go early it gets so hot after 1pm and two- people start leaving work from 4pm onwards and traffic SUCKS. But really it is always busy, we are approx. 18 million in this crazy city so its hectic everywhere actually.

Anyway, while shopping I was so missing back home, the sales, the great prices (even though I've heard things have went up alot), things are very expensive here. We are lucky and are able to buy what we need, but I often think of the many families here who make so little in salary each month, how do they survive? Many of the people here survive on just $300-$600 per month, and thats the low to medium scale.

Another expensive thing is American Fast Food chains here. Take Mc.Don.ald's for example, back home, its a last resort for most, a quick, unhealthy meal and CHEAP. Here, for a family of four lets say they will pay well over 130LE. Ok if you convert that to dollars its about $25 but think of the unit of the egyptian pound as being a dollar, know what i mean. That is expensive for people, especially people who earn so little money on a monthly basis. So there are lots of children here who will never have a meal at Mc.Don.ald's, its sad and a bit weird if you think about it.

By the same token, there are plenthy of rich people here too. Here in Egypt, we have a very divided class system. A lot of poor, some rich and not too many in bewteen constituting a middle class.

So i don't know, I guess I want to say how thankful I am to be able to eat what I want and often think of the families here who cannot even afford to feed their families. They work so hard, but never seem to get ahead. I know this can be said of people everywhere in the world, no doubt, but I am living here now and witness this daily.

So next time you pick up something quick at a, think of the people in the world, who one- cannot afford that simple meal and two- be grateful that you can.


A quote form an online article:

In the meantime, Egypt continues to welcome brands from all over the world; Starbucks, regionally owned by the Kuwait-based AlShaya Group, has opened 14 branches across Cairo, Alexandria and the Red Sea resort town of Sharm El Sheikh. Other retailers to make their debut in recent years include mango, based in Spain, and the German supermarket chain, Metro.

“Many believed that these international brands would hurt local retailers, but of course we believe that the competition is a good thing,” said Mr Rachid.

A concern, however, is that Egypt’s high poverty levels will stunt further retail industry growth. A UN study found that some 44 per cent of the nation’s nearly 80 million residents live on less than $2 per day. However, the government estimates that at least 10 per cent of Egypt’s population can afford to shop at malls, and as many as 25 to 30 per cent can shop at hypermarkets.

“Even if only a quarter of Egypt’s population can afford to shop at Carrefour, that still leaves us with 20 million potential consumers in the market,” said Richard Reid, the senior vice president of MAF, which owns the Carrefour brand in the Middle East. “It’s probably a little bit less than that, but it is essentially equivalent to the population of the whole of Australia.”


  1. You’re so right about the everyday conveniences we take for granted. My husband and I try very hard not to live beyond our means. In today’s world everyone thinks they have to live up to the Jones’s.

  2. A world without McDonald's is no place for me. I heart McDonald's.

  3. I never knew that Egypt is so divided (rich - poor)...and you are absolutely right about the things we take for granted in the U.S.

    I don't know if i'd buy McD's over there for that price!

  4. How interesting!!!!!

    I would love love to take my L.O.V.E Boat and meet u someday in Egypt!!!!


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