There is a festival in the (only “real”) shopping mall of Hurghada. Italy and Egypt are the theme and I am also invited to the press conference.
As I usually do, I get on a microbus and get off at the Go-Kart parking because from there, it is less far and more convenient to walk to the mall’s entrance. There is neither sand nor are there broken sidewalks and hence, it’s safe, even for high heels. Hardly having walked a few steps, one of these small city trains comes by that you can see almost in every European or American city, guiding tourists criss-cross past sights, souvenir shops and through narrow alleys. The driver gives me a short glance and I beckon him to stop; I sit down on the bench at the very back, looking towards the following cars. I almost fall off the bench in curves and the people in the cars are grinning at least as amusedly as I do. It was a first for me and I’m already looking forward to the next ride.
In front of the cinema entrance there are a stage and a few stalls. I am walking towards them and – ftttt! – the lights go off and the complete scenery with parking, stage and stalls are in the dark. Typically Egyptian, I think and am smiling good-humouredly into the dark.
However, the blackout lasts only a few seconds and stage and stalls are again brightly lit. The parking not yet, but the numerous police cars are unmissable. There are even brand new fire engines… I’m wondering if these are the same as I saw at the recent Mohamed Mounir concert. And while admiring the marvels in red and white I ask myself if they have ever been used – either in training or in an emergency. They simply appear too clean, somehow as impeccably as in Switzerland.
The press conference with a buffet afterwards should start at 7 pm. Mind you, Hurghada’s governor, the tourist minister of the Red Sea governorate and others shall speak and I’d like to see these personalities, especially I’d like to listen to what they have to say.
Shortly before seven, I enter the iced cinema hall, where the press conference should take place. The Italian hostess, the Italian organiser, an Egyptian minister, an Italian dance group and friends are present, as well as a fistful Egyptians. Have an hour later, the first Egyptian journalists show up - neither hide nor hair from the governor or his entourage. After 45 minutes, head phones for the simultaneous translation are brought in and passed to some few illustrious guests.
Meanwhile we get to know, that a demonstration is taking place outside. What for or against what remains unknown, but it is taking place on the red carpet over which the governor should step. I also learn where to buy hygienically clean meat and in which supermarket the shop assistant tastes the food with the same spoon with which he serves the customers. Sometimes, waiting makes sense! – I’m glad that I understand all different kind of languages.
Shortly before eight – one hour late! – the governor gets announced. And suddenly, police men and personalities by the score roll in. The most important persons can be easily discerned by the high number of police men, the submissive gestures of the surrounding people and the perfectly fitting suits of the stout men. Pardon my irony!
The hostess welcomes everybody – in Italian. The governor has his say, first in English, then in Arabic with simultaneous translation – which can obviously not be understood by everybody due to technical problems – then again in English. The tourism minister and the other gentlemen don’t even try in English and the microphones don’t work properly. What I understand from the Arabic is, that every single one thanks for the event and emphasises on the importance of tourism for the Red Sea governorate.
This is where my patience snaps. It is too cold, too unprofessional and I renounce the continuation including the buffet. I take flight outside where the night temperature matches with the iced cinema hall and order a Shish Tawouk (grilled small skewer with spices, wrapped in pita bread) in order to warm up.
While eating and looking around, I see more police cars and the governor’s car with the number plate “RS1“ (Red Sea 1). It’s a long time since I’ve seen as many police cars as this – although there are permanently police controls with a large muster of police at any possible and impossible places and times.
I quit this “typically“ Egyptian event. It was my pleasure! And tomorrow and after tomorrow I still have the opportunity to admire singers, fashion show and dancers. I’ll get myself informed about the press conference from the media (Al Ahram and Egypt Indipendent were present with journalists and banners) or somehow else…