The need for Soul!

It's been staring at me for a week now. The fuckin inevitable job offer from Dubai, offering me more money, a better career, and country that's a little more alcohol and party friendly than the one I am in. Everything a young Egyptian single man dreams of, especially one as money-driven as I am. They will pay for the housing, pay for the car, pay for everything. The perfect job offer. I should be happy. I should take this. If so, why haven't I so far?


"You should take it. This Country will eat you alive. There is no future here. Trust me on this one."

My Father


The thing is, I don't have any practical reason not to. Most of my friends are leaving the country in droves, whether heading towards greener pastures (mostly Dubai) or going home to their countries. The people that are left here, well, let's just say that the majority of the good ones I already know, and unless they are married with kids and entrenched within their jobs, they are also becoming a shrinking minority. And in terms of activism, well, activism is primarily dead for now. The Old Guard of the Egyptian blogsphere are either enamored with their jobs and don't have the time or the passion to do anything anymore or they are still trying to make something out of themselves, holding in the meantime random jobs between programming and being fixers for foreign journalists. The country itself? Pretty much still sliding downwards. The people who are getting squeezed the most are too scared to face those who should be held accountable, opting instead to take it out on one another. Religious rights aren't getting any better, women rights ditto, and everybody with half a brain is looking for a place to migrate to.


"Dude, at least with your girls it's easy. Not all of them want to leave. Every single Christian girl I know wants to immigrate out of this country. And you know what? I don't. I like it here. I see no reason for me leaving, me or any other Christian. What's the worst that could happen? The Muslim Brotherhood slaughters us all? Fuck them. Let them try. And until they succeed I ain't going anywhere."

S. , a christian male friend of mine.


Career-wise, I have reached a plateau, and I am already bored with it. I am sick and tired of dealing with self-important idiots, who instead of focusing on deals and bottom-lines, seem to be more interested in doing idiotic things that waste everybody's time and effort. I can't remember which was worse: My old job, where our beard-totting web developers required a fatwa from Al Azhar in order to work on a banner for Valentine's day, for which we paid off a Sheikh (Ahh..the first time you bribe a man of god. Nothing like it!), or the new job, where they won't hire female programmers because- and I quote- "as any programmer who knows his stuff will tell you, girls can't program for shit!", nor will they hire programmers from Private Universities because the head of programming didn't come from one and has an inferiority complex about it. And let's not forget finishing up the new headquarters that suddenly became my responsibility- alongside with Business Development, Sales, Financial Management, and running HR- in the area of dealing with the contractor and his constant whining and excuses, or the completely inept Interior Decorator, whom I had to fire last Thursday because he ditched a meeting with a Partner. And the thing is, I know these are not exceptions. I know that this is- unless your gods love you and bestowed upon you decent professional people- as good as it gets around here. And honestly, I don't think I can handle this kind of frustration for the rest of my life. And let's not even mention the traffic, or the heat, or whatever the islamist retards will come up with next, or the relatives that need favors, or the ones that try to run your life and all the other bullshit that just comes with the territory of simply being born in this country. In my hearts of hearts, I am craving change, any change at this point. I have even contemplated (gasp) marriage at this point. I have become that desperate.


" You should totally accept that Job offer. This way we could be both in the same country. Me in Abu Dhabi, you in Dubai. How cool would that be?"

My sister.


And therein lies the dilemma, that there really shouldn't be one. If we take an objective point for point comparison between the two countries, especially when it comes to the career choice or quality of life, Dubai wins over Cairo in almost every category, except for the weather. The humidity there is lethal, and I wear glasses. Maybe it's time to get me contact lenses, something to go with the token Russian whore girlfriend that I will surely get the moment I arrive there. Oh, I forgot, there is one area in which Egypt wins hand down the comparison game with Dubai, and it's the primary reason why I don't want to go there:

Dubai has no Soul!

It doesn't. I am sorry, but Dubai- with all its glitz and glamour and cool outings and sweet financing deals and all of this crap- is soulless. There is nothing real about it. And that's the one thing that Egypt has on Dubai. Egypt, on the other hand, with its problems and corruption and dirt and pollution and its easily emotionally manipulated people, has nothing but soul. Hell, we even have some to spare.


"I hate people who tell me that Dubai is soulless. It's pretty, OK? There is money and hot women here. What more could you need?"

Wesam, a Dubai enthusiast friend of mine


To be honest though, the fact that Dubai has no soul, well It's not really their fault. It's simply a trait that befalls every single gulf country with the exceptions of Bahrain- who actually does have a history and culture of its own- and the Saudis – whose country does have a soul, but that of a misogynistic bigoted Sociopath- because they are really made-up countries. Lands of Sand occupied by tribes of nomadic people with no culture, who discovered the concept of houses the moment they discovered they had oil- somewhere around the middle of this last century. Don't get me wrong, what they did with it was impressive, Oh, I mean what we and the Europeans and the Americans did to their countries with the money that the oil generated from their land is impressive. They just didn't really fuck it up. And kudos to them for that. But Beyond that, I am not really impressed. Not the least bit.

I actually cringe whenever I watch the Dubai Channel, and hear them talk about the new cultural events that are happening in Dubai, mainly because I think the term is misleading. Those are not cultural events, those are grotesque examples of emptiness. The events don't highlight the culture of the people of Dubai; they are simply showcase opportunities for people from other countries to come to Dubai and display their own culture on Dubai's soil. That is all. Hell, you can even argue that American culture is vastly superior to that of modern-day Dubai because, while its an amalgam of foreign cultures of people who moved there, it's one where the people making it felt ties and attachments to their new home, the USA. Not a single person who works in the culture scene in Dubai can make such a claim about his/her City of Gold and Oil. You want another example? How about Arabic rap? Now that's a purely foreign American cultural medium of self expression, and recently a new entry in the middle-east cultural discourse. Now, anyone who has been following up on the Arab rap scene, whether through that horrible Hip Hop show on MTV Arabia or through downloading the music through their websites and forums, it becomes abundantly clear which countries have anything to offer in terms of art in that medium. Without exception, there isn't a single decent Arabic rapper from the gulf. There are, however, from Algeria, Morocco, Palestine and Lebanon, with Egypt being a late-but hot- newcomer. These days you can literally take a seat and watch as the Egyptian rap scene slowly evolves into something respectable, addressing our issues and adding something of value to the social narrative. You can't say the same about any of the gulf countries. Hell, their best rappers are all expats from Palestine and Lebanon, because really, what do gulfies have to rap about? The Desert? The Camels? The Oil? What are their issues? What do they have to complain about? The Lexus dealership ran out of Cars?

What is there to talk about/fight for/love in their countries?

I always believed the degree someone's love for their country is whether or not they leave-if they have a choice- when the times get tough. We've had centuries of war and colonization in Egypt, so we know a little something about tough times, and yet you will find us very reluctant to leave. The same masochistic love for the country can also be found amongst Palestinians and the Lebanese, and god knows those people have had enough external and internal incentive to just jump ship and go somewhere else a long time ago. Yet they still stick it out. That's attachment to the country you live in. Can anyone who currently lives and works in Dubai make a similar claim about their city? And if they try to make such a claim, can you please remind them that they can't make such a claim, because they have never been tested? They have experienced nothing so far but economic growth for the past 20 years and the reason why everybody goes there is simply the money and the good life, which is why things in Dubai will become very interesting the moment an economic downturn hits. If your attachment to your country of residence is all about how much money you can get out of it, then this is not your home and never will be. The moment a recession hits, all the rats will abandon ship.

The epitome of the Dubai dream: To build careers, buy houses and start families with no emotional ties to the land or to the country. Maybe you can live like that. Maybe that's good enough for you. But it isn't for me.

As frustrating as Egypt is, there are still things to fight for here, even if the majority of those who usually fight are battle-weary. There is nothing but potential here. So much work to be done. So many wrongs to fix. So many battles to fight. Loving Dubai is about convenience, loving Egypt is about passion. And it's worth it, even if it takes that love you give it and punishes you for it. It's hard to make you understand it, so let me try to give you an analogy of what that's like that you might relate to: It's the loser boyfriend who you know will never amount to anything but you stick by him anyway, because you believe in him regardless of what people may tell you. It's that lost girl filled with potential that stirs the savior complex in you, and keeps you hanging on to her despite her endless mistakes and repeated self-destructive behavior. It's that Person you love so much but they seem so intent on putting walls and distance between the two of you that when you finally break through and connect with them- even for a brief second- they give you this smile that just warms up your soul and makes you feel as if all the torment and the pain was worth it, and more. It's that abusive relationship that you stay in because loving that person, despite everything, makes you feel more alive than you ever felt in your life and you are not ready to trade that in for the safety of a so-called-healthy relationship with no problems. Loving Egypt makes no sense and perfect sense at the same time, and yet you don't care that you are living a contradiction. At least it makes you feel something. Take it from a so-called human rights activist in an oppressive autocratic police-state: there isn't a better feeling in the world than the one you get when you win a battle you fought for, no matter how small or immediately inconsequential your victory is. There is simply nothing like it. Now, remind me again: What is there to fight for in Dubai? A bigger Bonus? Thanks but no Thanks. I like my victories to actually mean something.

When you come from a divorced family, you are always enamored with the concept of having a "Home". A single place you can go to and lay down your burdens. And unfortunately, to my dismay, Dubai can never be that home, as much as I would love it to be, because I do love me a culture where people party, where the women have no hang-ups when it comes to sex, and where you can make as much money as your ambition allows you. I love all that, but the place I choose as my home has to have a Soul, and Dubai is found lacking. If the fantastic rulers of Dubai manage somehow to find a way to purchase a soul and install it in their country, then you just might find me on the next flight there. But that hasn't happened yet, and I doubt it will happen anytime soon.

I am not saying it will never happen. It might be inevitable. The day may come when I am forced to hold my nose and move there, and prepare myself of a life where I work my ass off during the week, so I can spend it all partying during the weekend, and wondering where my money goes or why I feel so empty. Yeah, maybe that will happen one day.

Today, though, is simply not that day.

So I guess that offer will continue to stare me in the face, until the day the acceptance deadline expires, reminding me of the choice I made, of how I chose frustration and pain over the easy life and the easy way out, because of my need for soul. I might kick myself in the ass later for doing so, but right now, nothing could feel more right.

And that's all that matters!

0 comment on The need for Soul!

  1. Will
    July 5, 2008 at 6:41 pm

    maybe they will hold the job for you until 2011 when Dubai Soul City is scheduled to open

  2. LouLou
    July 5, 2008 at 6:46 pm

    I think you are a bit too hard on Dubai. UAE locals would certainly take exception with the suggestion that they’ve never been tested considering most of the older generation still remember the hardships of the pre-oil days. These tribes have lived here for centuries. They experienced the days when life meant following rain from place to place, looking for pasture or sailing the Gulf in search of food and pearls and an average life expectancy of 45 or 50. Some of them were here even pre-Islam.

    I have a lot of respect for UAE locals for achieving what none of the so-called older cultures in the region have managed to do – which is a society that is tolerant of other people’s values – including those radically different from it’s own. Just look at Saudi.

    Back home, Arabs and Berbers who have lived together for centuries still haven’t learnt to tolerate each other. Same for Egyptian Muslims and Christians. And in Lebanon, sects that have existed next to each other for centuries are busy killing each other.

    While here in UAE, they have found a formula for living and letting live. They are no less conservative than the Saudis and yet they don’t force that on the rest of us.

    Maybe being ‘old’ isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Personally I love being part of the success story here. I love being part of a society that moves forward from day to day – rather than back home where all I see is stagnation and decay.

    I was here when UAE locals thought they could harrass any woman on the street as long as she was an expat. Didn’t matter if she was young, old, covered, uncovered. They saw us all as their concubines.

    And I was here when that was very effectively brought under control. Now I know as a woman that I am always in the stronger position vis-a-vis any pervert who might cross my path, irrespective of my nationality or what I’m wearing. Even prostitutes have this protection.

    I was here when Asian construction laborers would die on site and no one would even look up. And now safety regulations are so strong that you would go out of business if that happened on one of your sites. Construction-site safety is now a buzzword and I actually got to work on some related projects. Which I love.

    Last year, a law was issued to the effect that no one is to work outdoors between 12 and 3 in the afternoon in summer. And so the sight of Asian laborers or newspaper boys out in the heat which used to upset me so much is simply gone.

    This year, in August, the requirement to get a no-objection certificate from your employer or local sponsor in order to change jobs is going to end. This is something that makes it easy for employers to exploit people and I’m pleased that it is soon going to be behind us. I see the lives that will be changed for the better because of it all around me.

    Progress here is happening in all wakes of life – on a daily basis. You can see it, touch it, feel it and be part of it. Something that bothers you today you can hope will be gone tomorrow because very often it will. It is a vibrant, growing, forward-thinking enviroment, the like of which exists nowhere else in the ME.

    Don’t underestimate the value of that.

    And isn’t it a good thing that they open their arms to other people’s cultures?

    It is your personal decision whether you decide to come here to work. But you should give these people more credit is all I’m saying.

  3. bleh
    July 5, 2008 at 6:55 pm

    I would probably go after the big money, move back to Egypt in about ten years with a few hot wives and make everybody call me Lord Humongous from then on if I were you. Big Money!!

    Even if it does not have a lot of soul that is not that bad. According to the ranking system Dubai is OK.
    1. Places with lots of soul
    2. Places without lots of soul
    3. Places where people have soulish qualities, but their hobbies and culture are hate based
    Colin: What are you doing this weekend?
    Tracy: Throwing bricks at protestants.
    James: Where is your dad?
    Christopher: He is in jail for assasinating catholics.

  4. bajagafaga
    July 5, 2008 at 6:59 pm

    You talk like Dubai is the only place outside of Egypt. OK, fuck Dubai.. what about New York city? Still not enough soul? Boston? Seattle? Paris? You have the money, and the education.. you can go anywhere. And FYI, what soul are you speaking of? A country where Captain Hima is a success should not even mention the word soul.

    The way I see it, you’re just making excuses to stay here. Why? Beats me.

  5. mycr
    July 5, 2008 at 9:47 pm

    What a great analysis! What a hard choice too!
    Good luck to you!
    You ARE a great soul!
    Best wishes!

  6. funk munkie
    July 5, 2008 at 9:54 pm

    just wondering what sort of skillset a ‘sandmonkey’ has to get offered a full boat in dubai???????? rumor has it you can milk an arabian stud (male horse) in under a minute…i’ve also heard that you are ambidextrous, but it takes you about 3 minutes when you’re using both hands….

    good luck

  7. EgyPeter
    July 5, 2008 at 10:25 pm

    Well, certainly thank God Egypt has soldiers like you battling for it!

  8. abe
    July 5, 2008 at 10:45 pm

    lol funk munkie you ripped that off of a borat skit but it’s very befitting…….hey sandy do you at least wear gloves?

  9. EgyRap
    July 5, 2008 at 10:55 pm

    I read the columns on the right pain of your blog man and everything you say is bad about Egypt. It seems like you really hate Egypt and especially anything that regards faith, Islamic faith in general. No regard to the feelings of the 95 % of Egyptians who are Muslims by using the label jihadi fucks, retarded etc.

    I think you are just scared to move and you just want to be american and thats how you can try and make it by acting like an American would by hating Egypt.

    If Dubai buys a soul thats so funny, too bad you have already sold yours already to the cheapest buyer thats why you are so unhappy in your skin.

    you made fun of P stine rappers in your last post but here you praise them. Ever heard of the Rap Group Desert Heat from Dubai, they are not rich but they made it. They are not crying because the dealership ran out of lexus, seems that you are motivated by money but you just have a lot of sorrow and envy. Listen to their song and tell me what you really think really.
    If you dont like it then you have no spirituality what so ever and obviously no religion either. You dont have a soul maybe thats why you want to be around people who suffer so much as in Egypt. Try getting on the right side of the fence for a change and maybe you will really feel loved enough to be able to travel.

    I am glad you did not curse our Egyptian rappers thanks man.

  10. at rap guy
    July 5, 2008 at 11:15 pm

    wtf as if it’s not bad enough having the real deal ie. all the crap-hop we spew here in the US young jeezy, g unit etc————the world needs towel/thobe wearing hip-hoppers….

    lol yeah hip hop from the soul those young g’s know how ruff and hard it is to live from pay check to pay check and dodge bullets in the marcy ‘pahjects’….when their dirty thobe wearing asses ARE SELLING US GAS AT 5 BUCKS A GALLON——-khaligi hip-hop such crap….

  11. at rap guy again
    July 5, 2008 at 11:22 pm

    ‘I think you are just scared to move and you just want to be american and thats how you can try and make it by acting like an American would by hating Egypt.’

    fyi——-no we don’t, it’s your media and everything else around you that perpetuates that dirty lie. Now sell the Drum Machine and Mac and stop wasting ‘mommie’ and ‘poppie’s’ money on that swill and go get a real job like sandmonkey the dude’s real and tells it like it is!!!!!!

  12. InfidelDane
    July 5, 2008 at 11:52 pm

    Monkey got soul… you hear that, all you Egyptians who accuse him of bad-mouthing your country ? Good rant.

  13. Mo-ha-med
    July 6, 2008 at 12:28 am

    Sandmonkey: You’re being quite incoherent here, old son, and the whole ‘soul’ thing is just the excuse that you developed – and later on have come to believe – for not wanting to go to Dubai.

    Look, Dubai has plenty of soul – and it’s a hybrid, made-up one. It’s a patchwork of cultures, a dynamic one furthermore, which even morphs with time; from this mess comes the “Dubai” culture – which no one can claim it is borrowed for it is unique.

    I spent several months in Dubai for work, and I had a great time there.

    Yet when the organisation I consulted for offered me a hefty-paying, full time job, I turned it down and am now working in this beautiful but God-forsaken country called Palestine for a fraction of what I was offered.

    And I didn’t say that Dubai didn’t have a “soul”: I just didn’t like the job. I love what I do now.

    I noticed that you did not say anything about the job being interesting as you listed the benefits of accepting it (money, career, alcohol, etc etc.)

    So chin up, old bastard :), and if you don’t like the job, if you don’t think you’ll be doing something that excites you every morning into jumping out of your bed (conveniently located on the 30th floor of a fancy apartment building on Sheikh Zayed road), then bloody DON’T.

    (aaaaah… all that thinking about Dubai got me wondering… :))))


  14. Rakotto
    July 6, 2008 at 1:46 am

    You’re entry has made me cry, it gave me a boost once again for motivation to be part of Egypt and to improve it. I totally understand your decision and I think it is the right one. I do not know what you have experienced in your past, but being such a “nationalist” is good and much Egyptians lack that. Somehow every single Egyptian has the vibe of the Egyptian soul. If every single Egyptian would realize that, then Egypt will be a much better place than it already is. The vibe of the soul is the only thing that is holding the community together at this very moment.

    I live and I am born in the Netherlands and have an Egyptian father. I’ve been every summer in Egypt since my birth and can actually see the “chaos” that’s going on there in the community, I do not have a rich family and the rest of the people I know are kind of suffering these days. But all of them are still happy because of the same reasons you talked about. They do complain about life and do talk a lot about it, but still they are happy. I cannot say that about myself. Like I mentioned before, I live in the Netherlands for my entire life. The only thing that this country has passed to me is convenience. The studies are great, there is not much pollution as in Egypt, I live with no “economical” worries, but still it lacks the soul. The community is falling apart and so do I. There is no one to care about and no one that cares about you. There is no one to laugh with in hard times and there is also no one that would talk to you unless he or she needs a favor. Heck, this country does exist more than Dubai, but still it has no history.

    There is much resemblance between the Netherlands and Dubai. Do not forget… You will be almost all alone over there. No family to care about and no old friends to share a great life with. Life is not about money, life is about living. And living cannot be done without a soul.

    People who are mocking you in the reactions don’t even realize the hardships of a foreign country and don’t even know the values of Egypt. The rich history of the country, the hardships that have been overthrown together by the Egyptian Christians and the Egyptian Muslims and the last but not least the great band of souls among the Egyptians that has kept them together for all these centuries, kept each other happy and full of life.

    Christians and Muslims can live together in Egypt. They lived for centuries in Egypt together sharing the same bread and water. Why can they not do it now? It is the lack of confidence and the so called “Islamists” who do not know a fuck about values and do not realize that the people they are considering “low” are of the same blood of theirs. It is the media, the Islamists and the hysteric people that have made the hate widespread like that among both the religions. People forget to keep in mind that they are all of the same blood and the same country and that religion should only be considered something between you and God and not with a human being of the same or/and other religion.

    A hybrid of cultures is the proof that the country has no soul and is failing. Proof for that is the Netherlands itself. There are a lot of cultures and a lot of soulless people. A country cannot gain soul by combining souls, it will fall apart.

    Eventually, the oil will run out soon and Dubai is trying to create a soul. But how can they create it by building high skyscrapers that have American or European architects? How can they create a vibe with cars imported from America? I guess they are doomed since GM is going bankrupt any time soon. Anyway all I wanted to say in this part is that Dubai is trying to create a history and a soul by buying it from foreign countries which like said before, will make them fail life.

    My advice is to stay wherever you are in Egypt and hold it all together with the people who are still aware of the vibe, because like I said before… A lot of people do not realize it and should be made aware of it by the likes of you. As long as you are happy with what you are doing there.

    Always remember this sentence SM: Loving Dubai is about convenience, loving Egypt is about passion. / Loving money is about convenience, loving Egypt is about passion.

    It is a great quote that you should remember for your entire life… Loving Egypt is about passion.

  15. Rakotto
    July 6, 2008 at 1:48 am

    A typo at the first sentence/word, You’re should have been Your.

  16. CarpetCaptain
    July 6, 2008 at 3:20 am

    I feel for you SM. I’m going through the exact and identical problem as we speak. The card is sitting on my Kitchen counter and I just can’t bring myself to pick up the phone and make the call. You’re right it has all the standard stuff that a single guy needs; wine, women and song and the money to buy them all.

    Problem is I keep coming back and thinking whats missing? I just can’t place my finger on it. Maybe its my and his friends from the dog park. Maybe its the fakeness of the whole place or that I can’t sit on the beach because its too hot (a foreign concept to me) I can handle Copacabana for 6-8 hours.

    My parents say go at least you don’t have to pay the exorbinant taxes you complain about all the time nd it won’t cost you close to $200 to fill up.

    I’ve never workd sith Arabic speakers, what’s heir work ethic like, how do they do things, and the list goes on and on and on for why I shouldnt go. Fuck I dont think my dog will even like it.

    SO in the meantime i’m going to find myself something else to do to avoid making the inevitable decision and having to regret it one way r the other.

  17. ella
    July 6, 2008 at 5:55 am


    YOu can work in Dubai, you can make good money in Dubai, but what is your chance to get Dubai/UAE citizenship? And if you can not get their citizenship how can you say that you are any better than a hired hand?
    And what will happen to guestworkers when/if economic downturn would hit Dubai/UAE?

  18. antares
    July 6, 2008 at 6:59 am


    Whom are you trying to convince? Me? Or you?

    Me? I did not know you had a job waiting you in Dubai. Take it if you want.

    Or don’t.

    But sell your argument that you ain’t goin’ ’cause Dubai ain’t got no soul to someone else. I ain’t buying it.

    Just a thought: Why not ask the guy offering you the job to pay for look-see visit? Try Dubai on for size to see if it fits. Or have you already gone and found it did not fit you well?

    BTW I still love reading your blog.

  19. anonymous
    July 6, 2008 at 8:05 am

    You’re right about one thing: it’s harder to really make that choice to stay in Egypt, but making that choice demands you realizing that the consequences are probably not going to be pretty. You’ll lose a lot. Among the things you’ll lose is your so-called soul.

    Some days I think, I’ll stay in Egypt and fix its problems, but then I look at my extended family, which is divided into two camps: people who stayed in Egypt and people who left for 20+ years. The people who stayed have miserable lives. They can’t bring their kids up or give them a good education. If you want to fix Egypt, you’d better be aware that you’ll only make the tiniest bit of progress, and you’ll be bitter, disappointed.

    But, besides that, I think it’s a lot more courageous to stay in Egypt, because after all, this is our country. And if we all run away, it will just get worse. For better or worse, this is home.

    I think I’ll move to the desert. Plant a little vegetable patch, raise a couple of goats, and just while away the time till I die.

  20. Omer Zak
    July 6, 2008 at 9:28 am

    Advice from Israel:
    Take that job in Dubai. Aim at being multi-millionaire. Once you have Made It, visit Egypt and donate money to build better schools, invest in new businesses and use your money to get the government to allow those businesses to work like businesses in USA or Europe or Dubai – efficient, courteous, reliable, profitable.
    Adopt Dr. Dov Frohman as a model. He left Israel for USA, studied there, researched and invented the EEPROM technology, and was employed by Intel. He got Intel to open its first design center outside of USA in Israel, and later – to open its first FAB outside of USA in Israel. Now Intel is one of the biggest non-government employers in Israel. Several other companies followed Intel and made Israel persperous country.

    About the culture thing. Give Dubai 20 years, and they’ll develop their own culture. Dubai today is like Israel about 20 years after it was founded. At the time, it was only a conglomerate of groups of Jewish immigrants from several countries – Poland, Morocco, Iraq, Hungary, Argentina, etc. etc. There were no food, music or good movies with distinctive Israeli quality. Now, 40 years later, there are very distinctive Israeli cultural icons.

  21. ebles
    July 6, 2008 at 10:28 am

    “Well, certainly thank God Egypt has soldiers like you battling for it!”
    Be proud monkey
    You are soldier, you don’t have a soul

  22. ebles
    July 6, 2008 at 10:35 am

    also… it is very hot there.

  23. IB
    July 6, 2008 at 10:38 am

    i disagree !! what gives a country a soul is its people and the people living in it (expats)… i have lived there almost all my life..and i did see a lot of change..positive change…thumbs up loulou

    dubai does have a soul !! and it used to have problems just as Egypt..but people there (alongside with money) helped solve and overcome these issues quickly…and that’s why maybe u cant find the bullshit that u love here in Egypt (it’s because people there discovred that u cant really go anywhere with bullshit in every detail in your life starting from driving, to walking in the street or even kissing ur wife in public)…plus, what happened to live and let live…are they now being accused of not having a set of traditions and values that every1 has to live with abide!!! there are so many different sub-cultures there all living in harmony..all types of nationalities, religions yet u don’t hear about any shit do u !!!

    basically what am trying to say…people over there are now enjoying life (and they do have an appetite for life) they’re celebrating their victories overcoming the hassles that they used to face and i believe they do have the right for that !! i mean..they did live in NO where for so long…u cant blame them for having a nice life when they can !!

    and there is a culture…maybe u cant sense it now..but it’s there and it’s developing…plus..u’ve never been really there..u’ve never experienced it for ur self…listening to what others have to say is NOT ENOUGH!!!

  24. Omer Zak
    July 6, 2008 at 11:36 am

    One more point, which I didn’t elaborate in my previous talkback.

    If you didn’t already read it, read Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged”.
    The best service you can do to Egypt is to leave it and make money elsewhere. Then after Egypt collapses, you and your fellows will have the means to return to Egypt and help in its recovery process.

    No love of a culture, no amount of soul justifies wasting one’s life fighting immovable windmills – where the alternative is to be very successful financially elsewhere, and then returning to your home country few years later and using the power afforded by your money to quickly blast the same windmills away.

    Of course, you’ll have to remember everyday of your stay in Dubai (or elsewhere) the big goal of why you are making all this money. But I am sure you’ll be able to do this.

    Another source if inspiration: Rafiq Hariri, the murdered Prime Minister of Lebanon. He made his money in Saudi Arabia, and then returned to Lebanon and made his attempt to lead Lebanon in the direction, which Egypt now needs to be led.

  25. Mona
    July 6, 2008 at 12:00 pm

    After reading this lengthy analysis, I think you are on the abso-fuckin-right track 🙂

  26. Dave
    July 6, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    Me = Disappointed.

    Soul’s are as plastic as any other part of us. You move, have a hard time for a couple of months, and then realize you made a good decision in the long run – which is one of the nicer possibilities intelligence has to offer us; long term planning and short term need overcoming.

  27. LouLou
    July 6, 2008 at 12:31 pm


    Why would I want to ‘get their citizenship’? I already have a passport and citizenship. How many citizenships do you need anyway?

    And this country has given me a better life than the one whose passport I hold. And they charge me no taxes for it. While my home country does charge me a lot of taxes and gives me nothing. So why should I complain?

    Additonally, in my home country, a sizeable portion of our yearly natinal revenue comes from people like me – citizens who live and work abroad. Without our contribution in taxes and other charges, the economy would suffer a lot. Not to mention the help we all give to our relatives back home. If my parents had not come here, they would not have been able to give us the education and standard of life we had. And more importantly, many people in my extended family who benefited from my parent’s ability to help them would not be as successful as they are today.

    So should we all go back and be unemployed and a drain on an already embattled economy? What good would that do anyone?

    As for being a hired hand, as long as you don’t have your own business you will be a hired hand. I don’t work for a country. I work for my employer which is a multi-national organization that employs staff from all over the world and moves them wherever it needs to for operational reasons, not based on whether or not they can get the citizenship of the country the project happens to be in. Most of the people I work with have spent years working in several countries whose citizenship they didn’t have and never sought and they have no problem with that. They got to work on something worthwhile and successful and it doesn’t bother them that the people who benefitted may not necessarily hold the same citizenship as them. Some of us enjoy helping people – any people – without necessarily needing to ask to see their passport.

    As for what happens to Dubai if there is an economic downturn, the answer is the same as what is happening now in Egypt or Lebanon or any other country where the economy is bad and there is unemployment, there will be a brain drain.

    It is 2008. There is something called globalization. Capital moves. And labor moves with it. It is just up to you whether you want to be on the right side of the movement or not.

    Personally, I think the UAE will eventually have to move towards naturalizing a sizeable portion of the expatriate community. Bahrain and Saudi have already started that. The natives are only 30% of the population and eventually they will have to do something to stop the flow of foreign currency abroad. Right now, oil is making up for that by bringing in enough hard currency but that can’t continue forever.

    They have already started by allowing foreigners to own property and gain permanent residency. Which is something I would have been considering seriously if my husband didn’t happen to have commitments elsewhere. I would have loved to be able to stay here.

    As I said, this is not a country where things stay the same.

  28. Suzanne
    July 6, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    I once set food on Dubais soil. Just the airport soil, but still. I could smell its air – if there was any – and feel its dust, humidity and hot weather. It was all but a pleasant environment outside. Sure the airport is beautiful and the Emirates are a fly company of very high standards, but I was happy I caught my next flight to Africa 🙂

    If they didn’t have the f****** oil they would live in shitholes. That’s what I keep saying about Dubai. Annoying climate and a dusty environment does it not make a pleasant stay. It’s no Hawaii, no New Zealand and no South Africa. It’s based on sand and oil and that’s about it.

  29. Suzanne
    July 6, 2008 at 12:46 pm

    @Omer Zak, many people think this way and then they get stuck elsewhere for at least three generations 😉

  30. LouLou
    July 6, 2008 at 12:54 pm


    For your information, Dubai emirate doesn’t actually have much oil. It is Abu Dhabi that is rich in oil. Dubai has simply benefitted from some aid from Abu Dhabi and its location to attract investment and build an economy around tourism, service and international trade. Now Dubai is doing even better than Abu Dhabi and Abu Dhabi is playing catch up.

    So Dubai is not and has never been an oil-based economy. As for the weather, the summers are bad but this year for example, we had only 4 months of summer and beautiful, mild weather the rest of the year.

    Plus it is surprising for sure to see someone want to escape hot weather by going to Africa. I’m from Africa and I know that one thing that doesn’t exist there is cool summers.:)

    July 6, 2008 at 1:01 pm



  32. Suzanne
    July 6, 2008 at 1:28 pm

    @Loulou, thank you for your post. I know that my judgment might be based on incorrect assumptions (what can you actually tell of being on the airport for a little while? ;)) I did not know about the – not so much oil part. It seems to have been doing well on the aid it got (but that must have been pretty much then!) and developed itself further. Perhaps Dubai got itself the way it is as Ireland managed to develop itself – as you say.

    Concerning Africa: my destination was South Africa – there’s different kinds of environment there 🙂

    @32, you little child!

  33. Right Vs. Left Wing!
    July 6, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    You would be an absolute petrified idiot not to go there for 18 months or longer coz we all know that Egypt will be here when you get back and you can do with it what you please upon your return.

    And if the rumors are true that you are in the closet homosexual, in Dubai you wont have to hide it, you can enjoy bi sexuality at its finest. Go you moron.

  34. Heliopolis
    July 6, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    Your analysis is brilliant and your dedication admirable.

    Your dilemma, I think, is that of a man struggling to achieve self actualization (Maslow’s pyramid of needs thoery) without having first achieved financial security; tough to do, but not impossible. If you think you will go to Dubai to achieve financial security then return to Egypt to find meaning, you are probably mistaken: I left fifteen years ago and never made it back. There are other causes in the world beyond Egypt. To our detriment, most of these causes are easier to pursue.

  35. Markus
    July 6, 2008 at 3:47 pm

    Sand Monkey, I think you made the correct choice, Dubai doesnt need more whining expats, we have enough and looks like they are on their way out, I hope the door dont hit em’. I lived in the UAE for most of my 30 years on this earth and I know Dubai got soul, the people who lived here and who consider this home make up that soul, its not up to the transit traveler to judge it because they dont even understand it.

  36. vagabondblogger
    July 6, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    Look, you are going to have to make priorities in this decision. Do you want to make money? Do you want to continue to blog? You may find, that yes, you can make money in the Emirates (while being treated as a second class citizen as ALL expats are). Do you want to continue blogging? That, I would investigate. The Emirates has a proxy system. If you look up “saucy chicken” you may have a problem. Last I heard, flickr was blocked.

    You need to decide what your priorities are, and go from there. Don’t we all want to own one of the islands of “The World?” But we can’t. And, if you want to give up a few liberties, to make a few bucks (i.e. “selling out”) everyone will understand – we’ve all been through that.

    Good luck on you!

  37. an Egyptian reader
    July 6, 2008 at 7:32 pm

    well Sandmonkey i have to say i am proud from what i read you are one of the few respectable people left in this country. As the way i see it it is because everybody left that the country became so fucked up and islamist are taking over everyday.

    So yes you should stay and stand up for the rising current as things wont fix themselves

  38. Mario Mustache
    July 6, 2008 at 8:32 pm

    i smiled when i read your post. if there’s one thing i feel that makes egypt so gosh darn awesome, its the soul. but i think in the context of your post, you are afraid to jump man. soul only is not an excuse to make yourself a better life man. i have been in the same situation…im in the states now. and if theres one thing i realize, its that soul people attract soul people – bas! if you work at it, you will find that you really do build urself a community of people that matter and people that care and people that really share the same jiggyness you soulfully describe. whats even better is that you can get the best of both worlds…you see diversity in thought and manners, AND you have masri pals too.

  39. Mike Nargizian
    July 6, 2008 at 10:30 pm

    I thought you had a job lined up in the US a year or so ago?
    Slavery’s new Mecca

    A young Chinese woman wore a childlike perfume. The club bathed her in black light, so that she appeared like a radioactive negative of herself. In broken English, she explained that she had arrived in Dubai 28 days earlier, having been promised a job as a maid. Instead, human smugglers known as snakeheads sold her to a madam who forced her to pay off a debt by selling sex here. She trembled as she said that she just wanted to go home.

    In the Cyclone, every woman who spoke with me in depth explained that traffickers had taken their passports away as collateral until they paid off a debt. Alina, a bleach-blonde from northern Romania, sat forlornly smoking and playing electronic solitaire along the back wall. She had a raspy voice, and a sallow complexion that made her appear much older than her 23 years. She came here in 2004, after divorcing the alcoholic father of her three-year-old son. A Romanian woman in Dubai had promised her work as a waitress in a local restaurant.

    When the woman met Alina at the airport, she told her what her real work would be. Without her passport, without any money, without any local contacts, she had no choice but to go with the woman to the Cyclone. From then on, her life was a blur

    of clients — American, European, Indian, and mostly Arab. Some men purchased oral sex in the “VIP Room” above the bar, but they normally took Alina to a hotel or apartment. They were often violent.

    “Many problem customers,” she said, particularly among the Arabs.

    Alina contemplated escape, but running to the desert would be a death sentence for her, and running to the police would be a death sentence for her son. Her health faded, her skin fell apart and in the supply-saturated market of the Cyclone, she ceased getting customers, a fact that triggered the furor of her madam.

    One night, the woman forced Alina to go with a Syrian man to the neighbouring city of Al Ain. As soon as he picked her up, he started yelling at her in Arabic. She was terrified, and cried all the way to his apartment. There he tortured and raped her for two days. Shortly after the man released her, the madam announced that she was going back to Romania, and that she would manumit Alina.

    For the first time in a year, Alina had a choice. Despite the horrendous abuse she had survived, and despite her illegal alien status, she went back to prostitution. She knew her reputation was shattered back home, and that she would never find legitimate work or a husband to provide for her son. So she stayed. But she insisted that “I am for myself.”
    I found Natasha enslaved anew by a Russian madam in the Cyclone. One evening, Dubai police rushed the doors, turned on all of the lights, ordered all of the men to leave and demanded the girls’ passports. Natasha’s was held by her madam, so the police threw her into an overcrowded desert prison for a month without trial. The conditions were appalling. She claimed that prison authorities laced her food with Bron, a codeine-based drug that supposedly killed her sexual appetite. The drug left her in a stupor and made her an easy mark for other prisoners. A month later, she was back in Chisinau, penniless and hopeless once again.
    – Excerpted from A Crime So Monstrous by E. Benjamin Skinner.
    Copyright © 2008 by E. Benjamin Skinner. Reprinted by permission of Free Press, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

  40. SLaViN
    July 6, 2008 at 11:37 pm


    You know you can always consider it a temp phase, meaning you can head out there for let’s say 5 years & then make a career move back here if you wanted (you’ll still be young then bardo u know!), that should give you a bump up the corporate ladder in Egypt & at the same time you’re kinda having a break from the “frustration” over here…win-win situation, everybody’s happy!

    as for my opinion on Dubai…well.. it’s a place to visit, not a place to stay

  41. Bald-Headed Geek
    July 6, 2008 at 11:38 pm

    For whatever it’s worth, I think that you should go for it. You can always go back to Egypt if it doesn’t work out.


  42. embee
    July 7, 2008 at 12:09 am

    Cairo, like Dubai, has pros & cons. It all boils down to your set of non-negotiable criteria of choice.

    Being heavily involved in rural development for the past decade – and counting – I can safely say that it’s seriously no use. Travel, have fun, make money, be a corporate whore, and when you become of no use to the corporates, THEN you find a place with a “soul” to settle in.

  43. MoogE
    July 7, 2008 at 12:27 am

    This is not a strange reaction at all, i have just finished the autobiography of Galal Ameen and he has similar opinions about working in Kuwait. He even said it was not a “real” country.

  44. anonymous
    July 7, 2008 at 4:08 am

    So strange. I have a friend who is trying 2 convince me desperately 2 leave my much hated job in my 1st world country and come and give it a go in Dubai.

    “With your qualifications, you’ll be snapped up in no time”…and then he said something about how with my looks and a little flirting I would get a job in under a week. Eyes rolling…

    Flirting and looks needed 2 get a job? I thought WTF? But there is a part of me that is curious. I think…do i leave the much hated job and go 2 Egypt and make a go of it…hard as that will be…with all of the red tape that is Egypt…or do I just head 2 what is a clone of my 1st world country..with its malls, it’s fancy cars but it’s lack of culture…I have watched their tv stations…the serials and actors r so bad, u can’t help but supress the natural urge 2 vomit…so yeah no culture…even North America with it’s immigrants from all over the world has developed a culture all it’s own…UAE is just a playground 4 rich former goatherders that are racist towards all non former sand-dwelling goatherders…

    My advice…go & c what it is like…avoid all of the prostitutes..ur future Russian girlfriend will be a prostitute no doubt…for they r abundant according 2 my brother who has always been a player…however even he was repulsed by the extent of the depravity that was prevalent in Dubai…avoid Sharjah…religious and dry…so an alky like u won’t enjoy it…my brother said he never knew he was in a muslim country the entire time he was in Dubai and English was the prevalent languag…lots of Asians…HIndus in particular

    If it isn’t 4 u…then leave…if u like it…stay make money and return 2 Um El Dunya…just be sure 2 stay focussed and keep ur eye on the ball…
    remember: it’s like Dorothy said in the Wizard of Oz “There’s no place like home… Auntie Em there is no place like home”

  45. dude
    July 7, 2008 at 6:24 am

    dude, take the job.

    you can always come back, but such opportunity is once in a lifetime.

  46. Left wing Vs. Right
    July 7, 2008 at 8:41 am

    At 39 that sounds like a fraction of what transpires in Israel! The sex slavery in Israel is 10 times worse. Dubai is Dubai, but Israel is a so called Jewish state, so yea, yipes!

  47. aigre-doux
    July 7, 2008 at 10:26 am

    While I agree with your general condemnation of Dubai has soulless, a lot of what you have said regarding why that is so, smacks of naiivete, simplicity and ignorance. The most glaring difference between Gulf countries and their neighbours is the obscuring of notions of freedom which is a necessary outcome of countries still governed by monarchies lacking any legitimacy and consent to rule. Your description of rosy economic growth in the Gulf is totally inaccurate not to mention highly generalized. Just because shiny glass buildings and cars attract peoples’ gaze more than high rates of unemployment and poverty, does not mean that the latter does not exist. The difference is that decades of strategic rule on the part of monarchies has ensured people know they will face the wrath of state violence if they are vocal, generations have been engineered to self-censor their thought, and mythical narratives of ‘local’ vs. ‘expat’ lead people to blame their discontent on the “other” and not ruling families that are glorified in deep patriarchal fashion, and cemented by a state nurtured and very new ‘nationalism’ to accompany rapid material modernization. While locals grow increasingly nativist, the ruling elite and those affiliated with it continue to run these countries like personal playgrounds, being sole benefactors of obscene personal wealth.

    I’ll take Bahrain as my case in point, which as you briefly and rightly pointed out actually does have its own unique history and a sense of ‘reality’. The monarchy has faced strong opposition since the 60’s and only came to power courtesy the British. Dissent has been crushed for the last few decades and in the meanwhile, the local population has been bribed through oil handouts and some bizarre version of a welfare state to shut the fuck up and sit at home while ‘temporary’ guestworkers do all the work. Locals were also given the privilege of sponsoring expats, a means for the local to extort as much money he could from the expat at his mercy and to earn an income sitting at home abusing his alloted power in a newly created hierarchy of nationality.

    Local unemployment rose to scary levels while expats deprived of any social, civil or poltical rights became permanent residents despite the ‘temporary’ tag in rhetoric because nobody wants to hire Bahrainis who have been state bred and encouraged to be poor workers who scorn any job that isn’t in an air-conditioned office with a fat salary. Generations of ‘expats’ – i put this word in quotes because i think it is falsely used term, have grown up simply renewing residence visas while being denied citizenship. Simultaneously, the newer generation has been raised to believe that it is ENTITLED to cushy jobs, state provided housing, allowances etc. etc. simply due to nationality.

    As the economy ‘grew’, this stratification became more complex along class lines, an underclass of poor expat workers doing menial jobs and an underclass of primarily Bahraini shias but also sunnis as state welfare declined and was replaced by ‘Bahrainization’ programs. Essentially, a Sunni monarchy that has been forced to discriminate against Shias not necessarily because of ‘sectarian’ difference but because they simply are not seen as legitimate rulers, has denied Shias entry into state apparatuses of force such as the army, the police to maintain their power over the population.

    The prevention of the assimilation of expats (separate schooling which means expats don’t learn arabic, residential segregation either in fancy compounds or labour camps depending on class etc) makes it very easy for the monarchy to simply scapegoat the ‘other’ whenever there is an outcry over large numbers of Bahraini youth being unemployed, i.e “Its not the government’s fault, foreigners “invade” the country and steal the jobs we create for you!”

    Governments who need to maintain their power also do not like citizens who think critically. Thus, schools for Bahrainis have been appalling in the quality of education offered but what else do you expect as part of a government strategy to blind its people to what’s really going on. The reason you do not see the kind of flourishing production of art here – no dynamic creation of literature, music, art, theatre, cinema as you would in places like Egypt and Lebanon is because we have no social sciences!!! There are no universities in the Gulf that teach history, politics, ecnomics, literature, philosophy, music, anthro and so on! The rare ones you can point and say do, have nothing but farcical programs. Education particularly as part of ‘Bahrainization’ or any local-ization process means finance, marketing, business or some other psuedo-science degree. There is a reason that the only inspiration to Bahraini rap example, has been an outcome of innocuous middle-class consumer activism. You can give Batelco the middle-finger without incurring any consquences but like hell can you do that towards much else.

    My point after this long-winded set of comments is that we seem to lack ‘soul’ because the ability to go to a local pub and drink, have pretty liberal social lives and relationships, the freedom to buy a merc as if its a corolla, and live tunnel-visioned lives clueless to next neighbourhood’s appalling conditions behind a wall insulates us into believing everything is fine and for the larger things that anything but, that we can’t do a damn thing in the face of an omni-potent state. The lack of “culture” as you put it, is entirely due to a political reality and history not because we are all fat and high of wealth.

  48. Olive Picker
    July 7, 2008 at 10:55 am

    Working abroad is something that expands your horizons, whether it is a positive experience or not. If you were offered a fixed term contract then maybe it is worth the trouble to go there.

  49. Victoria
    July 7, 2008 at 11:26 am

    Assassination of a Pharaoh

    This they do before the have a nuclear weapon- imagine after!
    A new Iranian documentary film called ‘Assassination of a Pharaoh’ glorifies the assassins of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and calls him a traitor for – surprise – signing a peace treaty with Israel. The Sadat family is outraged.
    Recently screened on the sidelines of a festival organized by the Committee for Commemoration of Martyrs of the Global Islamic Movement in Iran, the film has generated considerable heat amongst Egyptian scholars and filmmakers. Incensed, Sadat’s family has also vocally rejected the film and is reportedly considering a lawsuit against the Iranian producers.

    According to a report by Egyptian daily ‘Al-Masri Al-Youm’ on Sunday, the film asserts the motive behind Sadat’s assassination in 1981 was his ‘traitorous’ decision to forge a peace agreement with Israel. (In the broader sense, radical Islamist movements in Egypt viewed Sadat as a collaborator with the decadent West – A/N.)

    The film, broadcast “in honor of the martyrs of the Islamic renaissance,” deals with “the revolutionary assassination of the treacherous Egyptian president at the hands of the martyr Khaled Islambouli,” the paper said.

    Islamic militant Islambouli was one of the soldiers who shot Sadat dead at a military parade in Cairo on October 6, 1981. He was hanged for the killing in 1982 and subsequently had a Tehran road named after him.

    The film goes on to present an hour’s worth of testimonies given by “experts, politicians and security officials,” who discuss the assassination.
    Not that the assassins and their deeds deserve the lionizing that the Iranians are bestowing on them, but it is probably historically correct that Sadat’s signing of a peace treaty with Israel was the motivation behind his assassination. Still, Sadat’s family has accused the filmmakers of slander and of tarnishing Sadat’s image. The Egyptians are smart enough to realize that Sadat did what was best for them thirty years ahead of anyone else in the Arab world.
    Chairman of Egypt’s Cinema Industry Chamber, Mamdouh El-Leithy, also commented on the production: “This film has nothing but lies. The Iranians should go back and reexamine it, because Sadat was a genuine hero. Without him we would have never gotten Sinai back. What he did with Israel is now being done with Syria, with Palestine and with other countries that opposed his decision.”
    The Iranians cut relations with Egypt in 1980 in response to the treaty, but now in an effort to renew relations, they have renamed the street that was named after Islambouli “Palestinian Intifadeh Street.”

    The most curious reaction to the film comes from ‘Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya,’ the Islamist movement to which Islambouli belonged.
    A senior member of the movement, which was outlawed following the assassination, told the Egyptian daily that Sadat “was a great man who was responsible for the October Victory (the Yom Kippur War).

    “Khaled Islambouli, Sadat’s killer, was a good young man who thought he was doing a good thing. However, the Al-Jamaa now believes that if it were possible to turn back time, it would never have happened. Sadat was the only president who gave the Islamic movements free range, but the movement did not make good use of that freedom.”

  50. Victoria
    July 7, 2008 at 11:28 am

    What drives Ahmadinejad? Messianic fervor he shares with his spiritual MENTOR

    What drives Ahmadinejad?
    Messianic fervor he shares with his spiritual MENTOR
    It is THIS perception of these mad men …. that cannot be solved via negotiations ….
    You cannot negotiate with someone who seeks the DEATH IDEOLOGY
    I think we should have learned this by now from History
    The only way to put a stop to this craziness, which is intended to (literally) destroy the world, is to target the leadership of the Iranian regime, and provide them, with the “martyr’s death” that they want so badly…..
    If that cannot be achieved a major military alternative has to be chosen ….since even if there is the usual collateral damage…. it still would save millions … if not even save the entire world, for the rest of the people, that deserve to survive and live a life without Extreme RELIGIOUS QORANIQUE MAD MEN

    What drives Ahmadinejad?

    Iranian president wants to set stage for appearance of Shiite messiah

    Jonathan Halevi and Ashley Perry

    Published: 06.17.08, 00:43 / Israel Opinion,7340,L-3556591,00.html

    Shiite Iran is striving to attain the position of regional superpower en route to becoming a significant nuclear power on the international stage.

    Iran openly challenges the West in its attempt to eject the Americans and British from Iraq and attain hegemony in the Persian Gulf region, supported among other, by its military program, massively built up in recent years. The Iranian leadership talks of a “New Middle East” in response to the West, which would be an Islamic Middle East in the mold of the Iranian inspired Islamic revolution.

    Iran’s political aspirations are driven by a deep religious zeal.

    President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad repeatedly pledges “the imminent and evident liquidation of Israel,” as a code word for the messianic fervor he shares with his spiritual mentor, Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi, one of the more radical ayatollahs, who subscribes to diplomatic and military activism to advance the global Islamic revolution spearheaded by Iran.

    Former President Khatami, an Iranian reformist, once referred to Yazdi as “the theoretician of violence.” In 2006, Yazdi’s leading disciple, Mohsen Gharavian, released a ruling or fatwa sanctioning the use of nuclear weapons against other nations. This is in distinction to Iranian diplomats in the West who repeatedly say that nuclear weapons are opposed by Islam and thus will not be sought.

    In language reminiscent of Ayatollah Khomeini’s fatwa against Salman Rushdie, Ahmadinejad’s mentor also ruled that “If anyone insults the Islamic sanctity, Islam has permitted for his blood to be spilled, with no legal proceedings necessary.”

    Addressing senior religious scholars in mid November 2005, Ahmadinejad did not attempt to hold back his true motives and intentions. Our basic goal, he noted, is to set the stage for the Mahdi, the Shiite messiah, or the “vanished Imam.”

    He went on to state that in order to bring this about, Iran must set an Islamic example, develop a strong society and forge government policy in various fields, endeavoring to realize the goal of the end of time vision whereupon the Mahdi will appear.

    As mayor of Tehran, for example, Mr. Ahmadinejad appears to have in 2004 secretly instructed the city council to build a grand avenue to prepare for the Mahdi.
    A year later, as president, he allocated $17 million for a blue-tiled mosque closely associated with mahdaviat in Jamkaran, south of the capital in the city of Qum. He has also instigated the building of a direct Tehran-Jamkaran railroad line.

    Signs of messianic redemption
    Such is the religious fervor associated with the mosque, every Tuesday night, the predicted evening of the Mahdi’s arrival, thousands of Iranians gather at the shrine of Jamkaran. They write wishes on pieces of paper and throw them in a well where the imam is supposed to have appeared. Ahmadinejad had a list of his proposed cabinet members dropped into a well adjacent to the Jamkaran Mosque, it is said, to benefit from its purported divine connection.

    Most worryingly, Ahmadinejad openly espouses the belief that his rule is the harbinger of the Mahdi.
    In a speech at the UN in 2006 in the presence of many world leaders, Ahmadinejad closed his speech with a prayer: “O mighty Lord, I pray to you to hasten the emergence of your last repository, the Promised One, that perfect and pure human being, the one that will fill this world with justice and peace.”

    A book published In Lebanon last year focuses on Ahmadinejad’s Shiite vision of the Mahdi, titled “Ahmadinejad and the next global revolution.” The author, Shadi Fakiya, establishes a direct linkage between Ahmadinejad and the Mahdi. Fakiya claims that the current Iranian president fits the description of the commander of the Mahdi forces which liberated Jerusalem according to Shiite belief.

    Ahmadinejad is depicted as being determined and guided directly by Allah, and believing that the “army of the liberation of Jerusalem” will pass through Iraq, similar to Ayatollah Khomeini, who claimed that “the road to Jerusalem passes through Karbala” (a holy Shiite town in Iraq.)

    Ahmadinejad’s determination to acquire nuclear weapons is also construed as being part of the signs of messianic redemption, as he and his associates view the showdown with the international community to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear technology as one of the ways to prepare the ground for the appearance of the Mahdi.

    ‘Jews are corrupting Islam’
    As in Christianity, the Shiite messiah will be predated by an anti-Christ, or in Shiite belief, the dajjal. Muslim tradition predicts that in the “End Times,” the Dajjal and his army will threaten to take over the entire globe, conquering much of it by military power, and seducing others with material prosperity. The Mahdi will then appear and destroy the dajjal and rule the world according to Sharia law.

    Although historically there are is little known of the identity of the dajjal, more and more Shiite Imams are claiming that the dajjal and his followers are Jews. These extremist Imams and their followers point to the anti-Semitic forgery “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” as proof that the Jews are running the world and corrupting Islam.

    Already in the 1970s Ayatollah Khomeini wrote in his Vilayat-i Faqih, in Islam and Revolution that the Jews were perverting Islam and thus deserved of divine retribution.

    Ahmadinejad’s obsession with Israel leads many to believe that he believes Israel to be absolute evil and fits the role of the supposed dajjal. The Iranian president’s other obsession, disproving the Holocaust, also fits nicely into the belief that the dajjal manages to fool the world with its lies.

    The present era, according to Fakiya, is the “era of revelation,” whereby various signs foretell the appearance of the Mahdi:

    Firstly, there will be a gathering of the Jews in Palestine. Following this, the Shiite Mahdi will appear and lead the decisive campaign to annihilate the Jews. This will be followed by the establishment of an Islamic state as the first stage of creating the worldwide Imam state. An important element for this constitutes an Iraqi regime loyal to Iran.

    The depiction of the Khorasani in the Shiite vision of the end of time is compatible with Iran’s spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenai, the present supreme ruler of Iran. The Khorasani will hand over the torch to the Mahdi when he appears, and he will become the most senior among the Muslims.

    The description of Shuyeb bin Salah applies to Ahmadinejad. Shuyeb, also known as al-Shabi al-Salah, is
    the figure who will lead the Mahdi’s army, according to the Shiite tradition, i.e. the commander of the Muslim forces. Shuyeb is depicted as being suntanned, thin, wearing a short beard, hailing from Tehran, determined and warlike. It is thought by many that Ahmadinejad sees himself in this role as he appears to fit this historical description.

    Lt. Col. (res.) Jonathan D. Halevi is a senior researcher of the Middle East and radical Islam at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He is the co-founder of the Orient Research Group Ltd. and is a former advisor to the Policy Planning Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

    Ashley Perry is a political analyst who has worked with many organizations including the Israel Prime Minister’s Office and the editor of the Middle East Strategic Information project.

  51. Abbas Hawazin
    July 7, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    as a casually-interested Iraqi, I think the Kuwaiti Rap Song : “Ana Ana Mushkila” is the only Arab rap song that has achieved crossover success.

    maybe also Palestinian “Ana Irhabi” but that’s based on exploitation of politics.

  52. Yasmeen
    July 7, 2008 at 3:49 pm

    I think egyptians suck, they lie they’re dirty, they steal and they thing they are the best ppl in earth with their culture !! hahaha egypt has soul yeah right !! the soul of a dirty prostitute! masr um il dunya yeah right ,,,, what the hell have u guys seen ur tv shows?!!? thy suck no creativity at all !!!dubai and the goathearders dont need another curly haired ugly eygptian!

  53. Matt
    July 9, 2008 at 7:56 am

    I think it’s pretty hilarious that Obama thinks he can talk Ahmadinejad down. It really shows some ignorance of there culture. I just read a really good article,Should The President of the United States Talk to Ahmadinejad? , that does a pretty good job explaining why this probably wouldn’t have great results.

  54. khaeld
    July 9, 2008 at 10:23 am

    I think it’s true that Dubai has no soul, I have heard that from Egyptians and foreigners as well. We in this country share 7,000 years of cultural accumulation. Each second of those 7,000 years helped shape us into what we are today.

    But I don’t think that fact is stopping too many of us to flee else where be it Dubai, Saudi, states or Europe. It’s simply the need for money. What I find interesting is that we don’t spend much out there, instead we bring it back home and throw it all away on gifts and useless stuff for our family and friends. An evidence of that would be the fact that foreign currency transfers from Egyptian abroad are one of the main sources of foreign currencies in Egypt right after trade and Suez Canal I guess.

    Another reason I think the soul argument isn’t working for me is the fact that Egypt is indeed the soul of the Arab nation. If there is any hope for a soul in Dubai one day it will surely come from us. ive been hearing a lot of voices lately about how the Egyptian cultural influence on the Arab world and specially the gulfies is shrinking, and that is just not true. Just because they have more money and dress like sit com. actors doesn’t mean they don’t speak Arabic any more. And as long as they do Egyptian culture will continue to shape every Arabic speaking tongue as we are the only ppl who have the ability to connect Arabs together even if we are not doing it like we used to, we still remain the only one who can play that role.

  55. EgyptianKangaroo
    July 9, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    Mate, I agree with you, Egypt is a country full of soul and nobody can deny this at all. All those gulfies that are swearing and being rude might need to be reminded that they were Egyptian teachers that tought your parents and your grandparents, Egypt used send grants during the Kingdom of Egypt and that included clothes, books, and pencils. That is a fact. Thoses were also tough days for you guys before the discovery of oil. Times change and so do leaders and the time has come for lots of Egyptians to head to the gulf for a better life. No matter from what social status they come from they are proud and will keep their head up high. Not like some of our neighbors that will sell anything! So don’t knock em back! the sad part is that daily workers are getting stuck in the Gulf culture and are bringing back with them lots of alien cultural trends to Egypt and they aren’t the positive ones . An example is the Niqab and the Wahabi influence which is more and more visable on the streets of Cairo. I hope this is a faze that goes away. So the soul that the gulf has is not much at all. Because most of what they export is useless !

  56. spellzz
    July 10, 2008 at 10:15 pm

    lol monkey i never thought u were zat passionate
    I knew u had a soul somewhre…. but not passionate to zat exctent
    i really loved u for a reason i couldn’t figure out till now
    u r crazy

  57. i luv egypt
    July 11, 2008 at 6:56 am

    sandmonkey i hate you for mostly what u believe in but ma nicca,,, i totaly agree wif wat u said bout di Gulf. Dubia aint nuffin mo dan an artificial country with NO SOUL and most girls are hoes anyways. we just have wait!!! if people like us who are willing to change and reform Egyypt leave to places like dubia, then we are just making egypt worse and wasting our elaborate enhanced mentality than ur average egyptian on countries that do not belong to us. “Haram” to waste our efforts in other countries eventhough egypt for some reason does not welcome new thinkers and changes. its like if u invent a time machine they will lock you up for any reason like “haram” or “3eeb”.fuck dis maynnee

  58. Faré
    July 11, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    Save yourself first!

    You can’t offer Freedom to Egyptians because you don’t have it.

    But you can offer Soul to Dubai because you have it.

    How is staying and suffering under a corrupt regime loving your country? You can do much more to help your country by getting out, getting rich, showing the way to other egyptians, maybe get back later or send money back to those who stay and fight.

  59. anonymous
    July 13, 2008 at 4:41 am

    You ain’t experenced soul til youve been to Kansas City!!
    You bring yo Moma and set in for some BBQ ribs, conbread, sweet potata pie and some Jazzz street blues like you aint nevr heard of And take yo honey and buy her some Bling on the streets where dreams are made darlin.
    1ust an FYI though,
    if tou are too white, be prepared for a reversed civil war in the work force..
    I think they are trying to re-enact slavery

  60. brooklynjon
    July 13, 2008 at 1:43 pm


    Take the job, take the cash, and have one foot out the door so you you can be the first one out when the bubble begins to pop.


  61. elie
    July 13, 2008 at 7:16 pm

    a post well done! until you didnt take it. nah. just kidding. i left america for a whole lotta soul, too.

  62. Santor
    July 16, 2008 at 7:43 am

    Egyptians focused on home job scene

    “My brother used to live in Abu Dhabi, but he just moved back to Egypt,” said Mr Mohammed. “Salaries are decent there, but life is so expensive. It is better for me to stay here.”

    The cost of living in the GCC is outstripping salary increases, causing many Egyptians who once sought well-paid jobs in the Gulf to set their sights on domestic opportunities. Despite Egypt’s soaring inflation, higher salaries and better opportunities have given the domestic job market a competitive edge.

    “We actually have a problem placing people overseas because salaries for skilled workers are becoming so high in Egypt and the gap or differential of going to the Gulf is not what it was before,” said Sherif Samy, the managing director of Skill-Link, a Cairo-based recruitment company. “The Gulf needs mainly white-collar professionals, but it is more difficult to attract them because their salaries don’t get them as far there as they do here.”

  63. Foshizzle
    July 16, 2008 at 10:33 pm

    Dude, where’s the confusing part? Fucking go away. Seriously, assholes like you whine and bitch all the time about Egypt, its people, culture, religious beliefs, hatred of zionism, etc etc. Well, fucking leave it already.

    You have some sort of grandiose daydreams about saving the poor souls that dwell here? Well here’s the catch: why do you care about us women-beating zionist-hating self-exploding non-neoconservative bastards, as per your constant bitching?

    Go to Israel. They’ll love you. Or better yet, to the US. You can write books and do interviews about how you have found the light and recognized that the true Messiah is indeed Dick Cheney. I’m sure that will make you some hard earned cash, sure as hell beata what you’re making now. And you can some spices as well. Convert to Judaism or volunteer as an Abo-Gharib interrogator. Whatever you like dude. Just shut the fuck up already about your soul-searching torture on whether nor not to leave the country whose people and culture you so zealously despise.

    Fucking wanker.

    Sorry if I have offended you. Please, pretty please, stay in Egypt. Help educate the children.

  64. tedders
    July 17, 2008 at 3:36 am

    “sure as hell beata what you’re making now. And you can some spices as well.”

    Cognitive thought isn’t one of your strong points.

  65. Foshizzle
    July 17, 2008 at 10:37 am

    hey, are you mr wanker’s internet sidekick? do you wear panties and a cape? Or are you just limited to rating the level of cognitive thought of the naysayers?

  66. tedders
    July 17, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    Cape and tights.

    I was just wondering what your point was.

    “And you can some spices as well”

    I’m not trying to be curt, you obviously left something out of the above, we all do it from time to time. What did you mean to say?

  67. brooklynjon
    July 17, 2008 at 4:36 pm


    He was stating that SM places spices in a can. In the present tense.

    To the batcave, tedders!

  68. Solomon2
    July 17, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    Dubai has no Soul! It doesn’t. I am sorry, but Dubai- with all its glitz and glamour and cool outings and sweet financing deals and all of this crap- is soulles

    They used to say the same thing about New York and Chicago 150 years ago. So I will not say that Dubai doesn’t have a soul, just that it may not be recognized or developed yet – and in that realization, The Sandmonkey could have a part.

  69. tedders
    July 17, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    “He was stating that SM places spices in a can. In the present tense.

    Oh, canning spices…. I see… spices in a can!! Makes perfect sense now!!! 🙂

    Holy canned spices Robin! To the bat pressure cooker!!

  70. Candace
    July 22, 2008 at 1:10 am

    Very articulate.

    Dubai is like an empty, superficial, Disneyland.

    I’d probably go there to work if I had the chance, but I’d rather work in Cairo.

    I <3 u and I <3 this post.

  71. Vic from San Diego
    July 24, 2008 at 6:49 am

    Dude, don’t be an idiot. UAE is fine. Emerates Media offered me job similar to yours. (I’m a broadcast engineer). I found the people to be well educated, and Abu Dhabi to be very nice. (I was also in Sarjah(sp?), Um Al Quain, and Dubai.) I read that 80% of natives are obese, so don’t date a UAE woman, if you ever want the bottom position… Go for it Sam, this is too easy.


  72. Red Tulips
    July 24, 2008 at 1:35 pm


    I do not understand how you could possibly think Egypt has more “soul” than Dubai. At least Dubai shows some sort of respect for individual rights and freedom. What “soul” exists in an oppressive country such as Egypt, with such a strong Muslim Brotherhood presence?

    July 30, 2008 at 4:39 am

    SM – I once faced a similar decision – move to another state for a job with a lot more money and potential, or stay at “home”? I was excited about the job offer but after thinking hard about it, finally realized that I really loved where I live, as problematic as the place is. And I decided to stay and I have not ever regretted that decision.

    You will have to make your own decision on this, and I wish you all the luck in the world, hope you make the right one for you.

  74. Modern Pharaoh
    August 5, 2008 at 11:45 pm

    Walahey Bravo! Amazing Post! so many people always ask ME why i want to Return to Egypt, i have now spent about 5 months here in 2008, 3 months in 2007 and 1 month in 2006. I’m planning on moving back to Egypt for good after my 15 year stay in the USA!

    I just love Egypt, even though i fight everyday with the people who have beards and the Nikabis, and the people who throw trash in the street ect..(yes really i do say things to them, and to their face, all the mentioned above, but the bearded men usually when i’m I’m sure sooner or later i will get my ass kicked…

    Anyways there is something about Egyptian soul that i love! its almost 4am now, and i know i can go down in the street here in Alex and find people all over..

  75. Veruca
    August 6, 2008 at 8:44 pm

    Dubai is an awfully empty and superficial place- as you said. Which is great for some people. But for those of us that look for something a little deeper in life, its just wrong, all wrong. After two years, I barely got out with my sanity and self-respect. I’d pick Egypt in a heartbeat. But then those aren’t the only choices in the world now, are they?
    While I have different views on nationalism- I sympathize with your ‘searching for home’ mentality. Perhaps you’re right about the divorced family background. Good luck to you! The only piece of advice I could give is to follow your heart. Which it sounds like you’re doing. It’s often smarter than your head in the longrun.

  76. sarah
    December 1, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    Great article! I grew up in Libya and I would pick Egypt over sad, pathetic, empty and soul-less Emirates any time:-)


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