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By Kristin Trapp

    Egypt’s cities were much different than I had imagined they would be.  As I looked through the window of the tour bus, I found the scenery to be almost comical.  Seeing international businesses such as KFC in front of the Pyramids made me laugh.  Thinking that the main job of the Sphinx was to protect the pharaohs from the dangers of Colonel Sanders and his Wednesday’s all-you-can-eat chicken buffet added a little comedy to the scene.  I thought about exploring some of the other dimensions of a global city that Short and Kim discuss in their book Globalization and the City.  Most of them were as easily visible. 

            The first observation that I wanted to make was the way that people, especially tourists, immigrants, refugees and guest workers move about a city.  This is also known as ethnoscapes, and is the easiest dimension to observe.  However in this city it was slightly challenging to observe since a good portion of Egypt’s population consists of native Arabs, although tourists were prevalent everywhere.  The main tourist groups I noticed were many British, German, and Asian although I am certain that there were many others.  As a tourist I felt it was much easier to travel in Egypt as opposed to other countries that I visited, because the majority of the people spoke English and the street signs were written in English.  I couldn’t help but wonder, with all the people that live in the cities, how well do all these people communicate with the rest of the world?  The answer to this was not hard to find.

The distribution of information by way of newspapers, magazines, TV program and films is known as mediascapes and in Egypt is readily accessible everywhere.  Even though most of them were written in Arabic, of was not a major problem since all the information was also available in English.  Information was also very easy to access via the internet.  Internet cafes were not difficult at all to find.  The observation that I made was that the availability to distribute information world wide was present and easily available.  This brought me to my last dimension, finanscapes.

      Visiting the cities in Egypt really changed my perspective of what I had expected to find.  I had always imagined Egypt to have more of a Disneyland feel, with the entire city being sustained by the tourists that came to this fantasy land.  I imagined that all the buildings would be decorated with imitation hieroglyphics and venders walking the streets wearing pharaoh costumes.  By looking at the finanscapes I realized just how ridiculous my presumption was.  The city was actually filled to the brim with buildings that were unfinished and rundown.  Taking a closer glance would show that the buildings were not only occupied but over crowded with multiple families sharing small spaces.  This can be better explained by Mike Davis in his article of "The Prevalence of Slums," where he goes into great detail explaining the conditions of the slums, poverty and housing conditions in thirty four metropolises.  He also explains that there are four basic shelter strategies that most citizens of Cairo use in search of shelter.  The first is to search for shelter that is central to the job market, second, find a location that is centrally located as well but is an informal shelter, third squat on publicly owned land and the last and most common strategy used, buy a house without official building authorization.  I also learned an interesting fact from Davis about the buildings that appeared to be unfinished; most of them were left unfinished intentionally because unfinished buildings are not taxed.   

            Egypt was very interesting to visit.  The diversity that was present really amazed me.  The history was by far my favorite attribute of the country.  Witnessing history in almost the same condition it was in the day it was created fascinated me and seeing it being integrated with a very modern and up to date society was something that I was pleasantly surprised with.  

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