So we just landed about an hour ago here in Sharm El-Sheik, for the World Economic Forum. I’m going to try and blog as much as possible, with the Black Iris being reserved for more personal posts and misadventures (which people complain I don’t do enough of) while 7iber will become home base for some live blogging during the actual event 2 days from now. In the meantime, the Learning From The Future participants will be going through a series of workshops over the weekend.
Our Palestinian friend, Omar, who is one of the participants in the forum, was stopped from travelling at the Queen Alia Airport, due to the fact that he didn’t have a visa, because, well, Israel doesn’t give visas. After some convincing he was let go and about 30-40 minutes later, he ran into the exact same problem with the Egyptians, if not worse. A few minutes later, after questioning and some convincing once again, he was let go. It was kind of interesting because Omar would just smile when he was told to stand to the side as others went through immigration control, like he was used to it. It was also ironic, because today we commemorate the Nakba, the Palestinian catastrophe, and the fact that Omar is still not allowed to travel or even move freely is still an issue, is testament to the ripple effects of that Nakba. Meanwhile, we got word that the Lebanese participants wouldn’t be able to make it unfortunately, for all the obvious reasons.
While Omar was being questioned by the Egyptians, the rest of us sat waiting on these chairs and a conversation started with the British Council coordinators about a group of foreign women who were “inappropriately” dressed. One of them was pretty much walking around with a bra and a see-through mesh top that kept slipping, illiciting many, many stares from passer-byers. Our female coordinators felt it was inappropriate and that it “hurt” the image of women in general, while others argued it was a matter of free choice.
Ironically, they were stopped by Egyptian police and as I watched the event unfold I figured it must be over what they were wearing given the fact that the guards’ eyes were popping out of their sockets like a cartoon character.
It turns out that Egyptian security was confused by the fact that before them stood very attractive, barley clothed women, while their passports showed photos of men….
And all this happened in just the first 30 minutes of arriving here! So it should be quite an interesting trip.