My Birthday Wish List

I have been thinking about what to write this week. While I have a lot of issues in mind, I’ve decided to put them all aside, or postpone them for later, and write about something light and a little bit personal. It’s always nice to know a little bit about the person behind the blog.

Well, my birthday is on April 9th and I have been asked a couple of times from people close to me the generic question: “What do you want for your birthday?”

It is supposed to be a simple question and in fact, most of us think that we definitely know what one thing we really want as a birthday present. For me, I don’t know, but I found myself a little bit confused. I mean, yeah there is a lot of stuff that I would love to have, but is it really possible?

So I decided to write down a list of things that I want, regardless of whether I will actually get them or not. Call it a wish list. And who knows? I might be surprised and actually receive some things from the list as a birthday present!

P.S. This birthday wish list is “practical” and “realistic”, meaning that you won’t find things like: I want to find inner peace, I would love global warming to stop, I wish to be happy ever after…etc

This is a totally shallow, materialistic and greedy list of things I’d love to have. *Evil grin*

1. Kawasaki Z1000 special edition motorbike

2. A trip to one (or all) of the following: Fiji, The Bahamas, Hawaii, French Polynesia

3. A life-time subscription in all of Marvel Comics publications

4. Lenovo’s THINKPAD X230t Convertible Laptop

5. Ice Cream machine similar to the one used in McDonald’s to make Milkshakes and Sundaes

6. 85 inch LED screen

7. Front seats for all Grand Slam Tennis tournaments, but if I have to choose only one, it would be Roland Garros

8. A Home gym supplied with all weights and training equipment

9. A life-time supply of A&W’s Root Beer (it’s non-alcoholic, so chill!)

10. All of the above

As you see, my birthday wish list is pretty simple. And now that you have been notified early enough, you can do your best to get me one of those. Hurry up! April 9th is approaching!

So, when is your birthday and what’s on your wish list?


How to win an iPad in Egypt?

I was eating at a fast food restaurant a few months ago when I noticed a Coca-Cola ad for a scratch and win competition with the grand prize being an iPad.

Being the opportunistic human being that I am, I decided to try my luck. I mean I am eating anyway so why not get free stuff as well. I was pretty sure, actually 100% confident that my scratch and win card would not bring me the iPad. It’s some sort of belief that I have grown up with after seeing the enormous amount of competitions in Egypt starting from the famous “Bim-Bim” in the 1980s and “El-Sham3edan”. If you’ve lived through these times, you’d know what I’m talking about: No one ever won the grand prize, and when someone did, you could never know whether they truly won or it was just a play.

Anyways, I discovered later that this Coca-Cola competition was going on in many restaurants affiliated with the coke company. So, what happened next is that I was chatting with a guy that I know who happens to take orders in a famous fast food chain. We talked about the aforementioned competition and he said:

“We had this competition going on here too, but it ended a while back. You know what happened? After all the coupons were used by clients, no one got the iPad or the camera (the other worthy prize). We had them stored at the restaurant until 2 guys working at Coca-Cola came by, ordered two large meals and then gave us two coupons they brought along and guess what? These were the coupons for the iPad and the camera”.

Another person would have been shocked but for me, I’ve already made peace with the fact that companies in Egypt only use competitions for marketing and public image purposes without letting “strangers” win. Usually the prizes go to someone affiliated with the company such as the manager’s relative or friend or something. Or there’s the other scenario of “pretending” that someone won, making a fake interview with them to be published and then claiming the prize back.

It goes without saying that the guy I asked could have been lying or just making this whole thing up. Therefore, I wanted to put my own theory to the test. I went to a couple of adjacent restaurants and over a few days kept ordering one or two meals a day to see if I can finally prove myself wrong and win the iPad. However, the last of the coupons was scratched and I won different prizes ranging from an ice cream cone to another set of car sun shields, but not the coveted gadget. Wow! So, I asked the manager of the other restaurant, if anyone won the iPad, since the gift cards were finished. He said no. So, the coupons are finished but the iPad is just sitting there. How exactly are you supposed to win this?

I would love if anyone can share a true story about someone they know, a relative, a friend or anyone who has actually won an expensive prize. I’m not talking about famous bloggers who receive free stuff from companies for the purpose of marketing and forcing them, indirectly, to write great reviews about their products. I’m talking about average people like you and me.

So, back to the question that makes the title of this post: How to win an iPad in Egypt?

You can’t, just buy it.

For some people, the iPad is so important

For some people, the iPad is so important


Back when I was in high school, I remember the word “Globalization” trending nationwide. It was thrown at us on TV, on Radio, in newspapers and everywhere else. The word itself was usually associated in our school text books with the sentence “turning the world into a small village”. Of course such concept carried along hopes for global incorporation within financial and trade markets as well as the working force. That meant Globalization was supposed to make workers of any profession able to work in some other country by going through a much easier process. The same goes for business owners: they were supposed to be able to start new business outlets in other countries with significant ease, compared to pre-globalization days.
Remember I said “was supposed to”, because that simply didn’t happen. Now come on, everybody knows that the expected flow of workers and trade was from third world countries towards the west, namely USA and Europe. Now, let me ask you this: regardless of your profession, is it easy for you to work in USA or UK these days? NO. You probably have to go through tons of paperwork, examinations, licensing…etc.
Let me give you this example: I am a licensed pharmacist in Egypt. If I want to work as a pharmacist in USA I have to
1. Sit for an exam called FPGEE, which basically tests your scientific knowledge about pharmacy education and practice. There’s a big famous book called Comprehensive Pharmacy Review that you have to study for this exam. The exam fees are about 7000 EGP 
2. Sit for the TOEFL exam, since my first language is not English. This exam costs about 1000 EGP.
3. Send copies of my university transcripts, my pharmacist license and other documents to the authoritative body in USA. If you want to send your documents by DHL for example, it costs about 400 EGP per pack.
4. Start an internship in USA as a pharmacy trainee or intern. This means you have to keep contacting different pharmacies and keep nagging until you can obtain a place for training. This internship usually takes a full year.
5. Apply for working visa to be able to legally work in a pharmacy as an intern or trainee. I am not sure how much this visa costs so let’s put it as 1000 EGP.
6. Let’s not forget about the flight ticket (minimum 5000 EGP) and your living expenses at that time, which I’m not even going to include.
As you can see, roughly, I’d need about 15000 EGP and two years (one for studying and taking the exams, the other for the internship). Until I’m allowed to work in USA, that’s of course if everything goes as planned and money is not an issue. Easy huh?

I can go on and give you plenty of other examples but I think you already got the idea.
I can also claim that nearly every other profession will have similar or closely related procedure, whether it’s teaching, medicine, law practice or whatever. Now remind me again what was the word? Globa-LIE-zation. It’s all about LIE. It’s the lie of making the world a small close village.
On a second thought, it might be true. I mean for an US or European national, it should be great. Let’s take a look from the other point of view.
If you are an US citizen, you are automatically entitled to work in any Arab country for example. In addition, you’ll probably earn a huge salary that is at least 4-5 times more than what a national of the Arab country with your same qualifications would earn. This is something we call in Egypt the “foreigner complex” – “3o2det el khawaga”.
In the Gulf (Kuwait, Qatar, KSA, UAE…) almost all managerial and consultant positions are filled by foreigners from USA and UK. Many job posts I have seen directly ask for an US or UK professional, as if the citizenship guarantees its holder a job in the Gulf. Did I mention that a foreigner doesn’t have to go through exams, language tests, internships or any hassle at all? Usually the company sponsors his arrival and settling in, including all paperwork and procedures.

The bottom line: Globalization is a pure illusion that enables more control of the western world over third world countries. Long live globa-lie-zation.