x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Egyptians must realise there is no 'pharaoh'

The people of Egypt have not come to terms with the changes in that nation since the fall of Hosni Mubarak, an Arabic-language columnist says. Other topics: battling stereotypes and "the stability of chaos".

The situation in Egypt is so volatile that Egyptians are seriously wondering whether there is "someone" at the helm, which is an obsolete question that betrays decades of psychological conditioning to the notion of the all-knowing "father-figure president", wrote Mohammed Sabreen in yesterday's edition of the Cairo-based newspaper, Al Ahram.

Sure, Egypt is a mess. There is the Port Said court case which has convulsed the nation for more than a year, and which did not seem to be resolved by the Saturday verdict that upheld 21 death sentences and exonerated seven police officers.

In February of last year, fans of the local football club in the city of Port Said, Al Masry, attacked visiting fans from Cairo's Al Ahly club, which led to riots resulting in 79 deaths. Many accused the interior ministry of failure to prevent the tragedy. After the Saturday verdict, deadly violence ensued again and buildings in Cairo were torched.

Adding to this sense of a lack of control, sections of the country's police force are now showing signs of disobedience as protests continue in different parts of Egypt, the writer said.

Then, an administrative court issued last week a decision reversing the president's call for parliamentary elections to be held in April and ordering a constitutional review of the elections law.

The snowballing complexity of Egyptian affairs makes legitimate the question: "Where is the state? Who rules Egypt?"

The fact is, subconsciously, Egyptians are having a hard time accepting that there is no longer an "all-powerful centre", the columnist observed.

"Egyptians seem to forget that … the last example of that 'father-figure president' or 'the pharaoh' has been arrested and tried for killing protesters and is now behind bars," he wrote. "The pharaoh's era is gone."

Some segments of society have been exposed too long to this unilateral model of government and they can't imagine an orderly Egypt without a despot's firm grip, he argued.

"Egyptians must understand that everything has changed, and that the extreme fluidity of the situation in the country would eventually lead to a decentralisation of power, with decision-making becoming a shared process," the writer noted. "The presidency would no longer be the sole decision maker in Egypt."

The serious tensions rocking the country today are the result of an inevitable conflict between "the deep-rooted state" and "the newborn state".

Since the revolution, power in Egypt has been under the scrutiny of the judiciary, media, political parties, NGOs and even football fans and regular citizens.

That wasn't the case before and, on many levels, there is a silver lining there, the writer concluded.

Stereotypical image hurting Emiratis

"It is such a disappointment that the stereotype of young Emiratis as unproductive, unmotivated and unwilling to work still persists in the private sector, despite all the evidence that proves the contrary," wrote Sami Al Reyyami, the editor of the Dubai-based newspaper Al Emarat Al Youm.

"Emiratis have taken various jobs in the private sector and proved their seriousness and merit … and there are countless success stories of young Emirati men and women," he noted.

Yet, private companies are still biased against Emiratis, with some not even taking the trouble to interview an Emirati candidate recommended to them by Tanmia, the federal human resources development and employment authority.

The quota system that was proposed during the Government Summit last month, whereby private companies operating in the UAE must allocate a small percentage of their vacancies for Emiratis, is a step in the right direction, the editor said.

"The private sector only understands the language of numbers and profit, so the government should deal with it accordingly. If a company wants to make a profit and benefit from the facilities and preferential advantages [of making business in the UAE], they must hire sons and daughters of this nation.

"If a company does not care about this country and its people, let it pay several times over what a company that cares would."

Arab Spring states hit by 'stability of chaos'

The status quo in the Arab Spring states, with characteristic protests and continuing turmoil, would be aptly described as "the stability of chaos", columnist Abdullah Al Oteibi of the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al Awsat wrote yesterday.

In Tunisia, a major political assassination took place earlier this year, followed by the government's resignation.

"In Egypt, chaos rules at every level, with riot victims on the rise and economy falling apart at an alarming pace. The government conducts just as many protests as the opposition does, and the presidency keeps issuing decisions it cannot put into effect," the writer said.

In Libya, all factions now seem to have their own weapons, giving them enough power to block main roads, stall government meetings and storm parliament sessions. "In Yemen, the general picture is pretty much the same," the writer added.

This "stability of chaos" feeds on other oxymoronic phenomena - that are, nevertheless, typical of revolutions - such as the "tyranny of freedom", the "despotism of democracy" and "the injustice of the masses".

The worrying part is that all the lofty principles of freedom, equality and justice that animate every revolution collapse because of this steady chaos, he said.

* Digest compiled by Achraf El Bahi