a tale of a few cities

My Expat Family in Cairo, Egypt

Posted in Cairo by petercombe on January 30, 2011

Maadi, Cairo

It certainly has been a stressful last couple of days for me, my family and friends of my sister, her husband and my nephews in Cairo. Saturday evening was chaos in the Maadi (Cairo district where they live). Much looting, vigilantes on the streets, gunshots, violence, and a state of panic throughout the night. At one point fears were so intense that my sister and family prepared themselves (with money tucked in socks, the children in their prams) to flee for their lives. The building security guard, his family and friends and the building owner stood guard outside the building with weapons in hand. My sister was in tears on the phone with me when expressing the kindness of the Egyptians. The reputation of Muslims has suffered during much of the last decade with little in the way of reports of their kindness, bravery and loyalty such as what was displayed last night. She is eternally grateful to them and feels that they awoke alive Sunday morning due to the bravery of those who stood outside protecting the building.

Flight to the UK was booked for Monday and to be quite honest we all wondered whether they would be able to hold out until then since the chaos has been escalating so rapidly. It turns out my brother in law’s office booked them a flight to Bahrain today (Sunday). There was a mad scramble to collect things and get to the airport. Tim drove I believe. It was the last of contact with them since we’d all been communicating through their landline telephone. The void felt through lack of communication (whether or not they made it safely to the airport) was unbearable. Thankfully a friend of theirs in the UK managed to get through to Tim via his cellphone. Cellphones seem to be working sporadically. Their flight is due to depart in 50 minutes (1pm Cairo time), they are being denied boarding since they do not have proof of an e-ticket and since systems are down at airport there is no proof of them being passengers (internet down / flight purchase was made from Tim’s office in the UK). Thank god for Monday’s flight option on British Airways purchased by my sister (in law) based in the UK. I’m now hearing that there is more madness at the airport and that they have been directed by the British Foreign Service (through a very helpful friend of their’s in the UK whose been orchestrating cellular phone contact) to locate UK Embassy officials who are now at the airport.

FCO has recommended that those unable to board flights return home until flights become available. They have had to return to Maadi district of Cairo where residents have formed vigilante groups in defence since much looting and chaos in the evenings is taking place. In the Maadi area south of Cairo, neighbourhood mosques called on young men over loudspeakers to come down to the entrances of building and homes to ward off looters.Their driver has offered to stay with them this evening to provide protection. They will try previously booked flight for UK on British Airways Monday.

They are in Maadi  now, things are a little surreal – the vegetable man called and has made a delivery to their home.

An excellent livestream of the situation in Egypt >

My Sister interviewed on BBC 5 – Jan/30>

2nd Interview on BBC 5 – Jan/30>

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2 Responses

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  1. Frank said, on February 1, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    I hope your family are well and nothing bad happens to them.

    I also hope the country gets a better democracy and not a new fundamentalist state.

    Saludos from Buenos Aires, and best wishes!

    • stylembe said, on February 1, 2011 at 5:00 pm

      Thank you for your well wishes. Yes family is now in the UK after a successful 2nd airport attempt. Flight was cutting it fine due to new & earlier 3 pm curfew now in effect. My sister was sad to leave her home and her circle of friends and cannot express enough the kindness and bravery of the Egyptians.

      This was another BBC interview http://bit.ly/eeE4VI Brilliant the way Stephen Nolan facilitates the interview, letting my sister get her concerns across to the British Ambassador while also allowing her to convey her love of the Egyptian people.

      We are all very pleased and I must say looking forward to less sleepless nights.

      Many thanks from San Francisco


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