(Ancient Egypt in Universal Studios Singapore)
The Egyptians I’ve dealt with here in the Gulf are likable and unlikable to a certain extent. And I think that they feel the same for the Filipinos and other expatriates. The parallelism between Egyptians and Filipinos on the way they behave here has something to do with “the way we walk” at our home countries.
The walking Egyptians in the Gulf are humorous (until their cracking of jokes diminished as their own people power begun to oust Hosni Mubarak; did you know that Mubarak means blessed and fortunate in Arabic?), oozing with confidence that some of them appear to be overconfident, and opinionated (ranging from opinionated to extremely opinionated; means that they probably are opinionated since birth). I almost clashed with few of them outside the work arena because they have the tendency to bully other expatriates in the UAE for different reasons. (It really takes a lot of patience and tact to deal with some of them.) I call it “territorialism”. It turns out that they are one of the first educated expatriates , aside from Indians, whom have been entrusted mostly managerial posts in different disciplines especially in legal and financial management when UAE was in its formative years. Attribute that to their proximity to the Gulf. The Egyptians though had an extreme advantage over whoever educated fellow lands here because of their proficiency in Arabic.
There really is no intention to take over. However, nature dictates, complacency is expected, other groups of expatriates including the Southeast Asians started thriving. Of course, you know what happens next. The game theory of survival of the fittest. I don’t think though that we need to eradicate each other because monopoly of jobs based on an expatriate’s nationality is unreasonable. Each kind has its forte, but yes, there will always be competition. To prove that one is worthy of his post and is indispensable. I guess that holds true whether we are in our home country or not. I’m not being biased here, but (most of the) Filipinos are healthy competitors. That is we try to be fair at all times. Most of us don’t even want to compete and will be passive until one steps on our dignity. But then again, “being fair” depends on one’s dictionary.
In general, I like the presence of the Egyptians. Like most Filipinos, they are educated. You get priceless points of view from them about anything under the sun. Hence, it inspires us to be guarded and to continuously improve. I also like them, especially when we are on the same side, because they speak well that they have the power to convince. Of course, it still depends on the resistance of the other party. I can go on and list our similarities, but the ironic point is that we can actually compete with each other in terms of quality of education and corruption in our home countries. Just like us, they also got queried why Egypt has so much potential, but remains poor. We understand more why they try to hold on to whatever power they have outside their home country.
Then we started being emphatic. We saw them in their lowest low, probably like our faces that looked like soaked puppies at the peak of hostage taking of Hong Kong nationals in Manila. Now that their president has been deposed (after 29 years and 120 days in post, surviving six assassination attempts, and ranking 20th of the World’s Worst Dictator List by Parade Magazine in 2009), we talk about the parallelism again on how the late president Ferdinand Marcos flew to Hawaii, the formation of human wall (with a more dramatic version of Holy Cross and Quoran side by side), most of their rich businessmen packed their suitcases and are now in Dubai, intervention from US, that how we wish they have a counterpart of late president Corazon Aquino (well, that’s too much repetition of history!), and more.
We see the Egyptians in the Gulf walking like a true Egyptian again. Back to their old humorous selves, hopeful, and confident. I hope that they would learn from what transpired in governance in the Philippines after the 1986 people power revolution. If positivity alone can save the Philippines since then, ours probably is one of the richest countries by now. But no. Let me borrow from Peter Pan the movie, it takes faith, hope, and pixie dust…. and let’s add hard work to that.
Mabrouk (Congratulations) and bit-tawfiq (good luck) to the people of Egypt!