‘This is NOT Egypt:’ Pop song and tourism advert angers many

Reactions to the song are similar to those that followed the launching by the Egyptian Tourism Authority of acampaign entitled “This Is Egypt”

Sonia Farid

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Two of Egypt’s top singers, Mohamed Munir and Amr Diab, #SummerInSyria to post photos of leveled neighborhoods, Egyptians used #ThisIsEgypt to post photos of human rights violations and sanitation problems.

Blogger Laurie Treffers notes the way “This Is Egypt” overlooks serious problems that face tourists in the country, especially women: “Maybe the government should make sure their employees don’t sexually harass female tourists while swinging their guns. That would be a nice step to promote tourism.”

Journalist Tarek Azzam similarly notes how the song Al-Qahira presents a version of Cairo that ignores all the challenges its residents face in their daily lives. “This is Cairo from above. This is not the congested, polluted and impoverished Cairo that Egyptians know,” he wrote, establishing a comparison with other older songs about Cairo that explored its contradictions.

“There are songs that really summed up the complexities of Cairo and the way you can love it and hate it at the same time, the way you love the Nile, the people and the history, yet hate poverty, corruption and hypocrisy.”


Journalist Liza Dunham said: “The shots were all obviously carefully selected to only show positive things: the smiles, the scenery, the trash-free shots of Cairo. How long did it take them to filter the pollution out of the colors?” Dunham, however, wonders if people who criticized the video wanted a campaign aimed at promoting tourism to highlight the problems of Egypt.

“Negativity does not need to be broadcast to the world that is already skeptical that there is anything good in Egypt,” she added. “If you really are that blind to the moments of kindness and beauty that can be found all throughout the country, then at least get behind the beautiful scenery it has been blessed with.”

TV anchor Rami Radwan also slammed critics of the song. “You are upset that the video shows beautiful shots of Cairo? Did you want garbage, pollution and slum areas instead?” he wrote, adding that any country would have done exactly the same to highlight its most attractive parts, even if they are limited. “I guess people have just become too addicted to ugliness that they are no longer able to appreciate beauty.”

Songwriter Tamer Hussein has a similar take on the song, whose lyrics he wrote. “The video presents an impressive image of Cairo that aims at promoting tourism,” he said, adding that Cairo cannot be seen from one angle. “The fact that the video was praised by some and criticized by others proves how rich and diverse Cairo is, for it can be seen in a thousand different ways.”