Metro and other hints
For Egypt to join the ranks of advanced nations a solid plan is needed, writes Abdel-Moneim Said
A New York Times article, widely cited in the Cairo press, claims that nothing is working in Cairo except the Metro. This seems to be the opinion of some Egyptians, for when presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi was asked if the old regime did any good, he said yes: the Metro.
This wouldn't have been the first thing to come to my mind. The liberation of Sinai would have been a good answer, or the restoration of Taba. Perhaps even the creation of new cities, even the building of an international road passing through Sharm El-Sheikh.
Back to the Metro, it was first conceived in 1964, during the presidency of Abdel Nasser, but the defeat of 1967 and subsequent hardships threw a wrench in the works, so to speak.
The Metro and other achievements of the old regime no longer serve as a yardstick of our dreams. In one speech after another, presidential candidates speak of broad horizons and rosy sunsets, of wrongs righted and grievances wiped out as if with a magic wand. All of which is great, and yet the gap between reality and imagination is getting a tad too big.
Perhaps this is time to put our feet on the ground and think of where we should go. Many are in agreement that previous regimes, both monarchical and republican, have failed to bring Egypt into the ranks of advanced nations. But what can we do about that?
Our first task is to continue the process of democratisation by putting a president in office and writing the constitution.
Then we have to see how much is still working, aside from the Metro. Thankfully, much is actually working.
Despite the million-man marches, over 30 of them so far, some violent, and despite the special interest protests which have raked our nerves, students still go to schools and universities, banks and insurance companies are open, and so are the airports and harbours. Public transportation is still working despite attempts to disrupt it. Other branches of the Egyptian bureaucracy, faithful to their ancient tradition, are still operational -- the army and the judiciary included.
For a while, we lost the Ministry of Interior and many police stations, but these are also coming back. The assaults on public institutions and challenges to Egyptian sovereignty in Sinai are deplorable, but they haven't shaken the country in any major way. Egypt has survived in the face of difficult odds. So we should be counting our blessings instead of taking them for granted.
As for what comes next, we'll just have to wait and see.