by Mahmoud Fouly
The last day of the outgoing year was a little rainy and chilly in the most populous Arab state, causing some puddles of water in the streets and leading to traffic congestions particularly in the capital Cairo.
“I wish for more security in Egypt, for the recovery of the ailing tourism sector and for better economy in general. They are all interrelated. If security is perfectly achieved, tourism will recover and economy will improve,” Shadi Hamad-Allah, a 21-year-old college student, told Xinhua after taking some photos of the River Nile views on Qasr el-Nil Bridge leading to the iconic Tahrir Square.
Egypt has been suffering turmoil since January 2011 when mass protests toppled former long-time leader Hosni Mubarak. Then in mid-2013 the military removed former Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in response to popular protests against his one-year rule.
The country also faced several corruption cases that led to recent sacking of some officials, including the agriculture minister in September, and an official auditing report referred a few days ago to the waste of massive amounts of money in corruption.
“I hope Egypt restores security in 2016 and the country’s conditions improve so that we do not see that much corruption,” Essam al-Bahrawi, a manager at Qena Cement Company, told Xinhua at a coffee shop in downtown Cairo.
“I am very optimistic about 2016 because I believe that for the first time the political leadership really has the will and desire for reform and progress, which have been missing in previous regimes,” the man added.
In the rainy afternoon, students were coming in and out of the gates of Cairo University on the concluding day of the year, with some moving around and others gathering at the sidewalks discussing the upcoming final exams.
Atef Mohamed, a student, said improvement of the infrastructure is his first New Year wish, referring to the recent rainfalls that paralyzed some provinces including the coastal Alexandria where the governor ended sacked due to damages caused by the rain.
With regards to security conditions, the young man said they obviously improved compared to the post-uprising periods in the past few years, when crimes prevailed and people couldn’t stay out late. “Now I can go back home at midnight; no problem,” he said smiling.
Following Morsi’s ouster, the crackdown on his supporters left over 1,000 killed and thousands more arrested. Later growing anti-government terrorist activities killed hundreds of security men, which led the new leadership to declare a “war against terrorism.”
The Sinai-based Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis militant group, which has changed its name to “Sinai State” and vowed loyalty to the regional Islamic State (IS) militant group, claimed responsibility for most of the terror attacks.
“I wish the IS will be obliterated in 2016,” said Ahmed Metwalli, a 49-year-old contractor of electrical works, in one of Giza streets. “Terrorists kill innocent and poor people as well as police and military men who defend us, which is unfair.”
He argued that if the IS is eliminated, Libya and Iraq, which used to contain millions of Egyptian expatriates, will gradually restore stability and be reopened for Egyptian workers, which will be a source of money to the country rather than mere consumers.
During the New Year’s Eve, Giza’s 20 Street in Faisal neighborhood looked a little muddy due to the rain, but the noise, crowdedness and traffic congestion were the same as they could not go worse.
“I wish for more security, stability and prosperity for the Egyptian nation in 2016,” said Abu Ahmed, an old waiter in a coffee shop at 20 Street, while fixing smoking water pipes for some customers.
“We have really suffered a lot over the past few years and the country has been politically and economically unstable, so we all yearn for security and stability,” the man told Xinhua. Enditem