The Egyptian Middle Class
By Jimmy Dunn
In these latest of my articles on modern Egypt, I am making observations based on my long history with Egypt which not only involves daily contact with the people, but a careful and constant analysis. It is important for readers to understand that in this capacity, I am not a voice of the government of Egypt, even though we work with and for the Ministry of Tourism of Egypt. The observations are my own, and should in no way be construed as official opinion from the Egyptian government.
Most tourists to Egypt experience the country's middle class, one of the most interesting population segments. These are the Egyptians who to me seem most to embrace the modern world, and they are numerous and visible, educated as well as informed. They are the tour guides and travel administrators, technology workers, government employees, shopkeepers, artists, journalists and engineers, doctors and bankers. They are not hard to spot, with their cell phones and new cars, at McDonalds or in the new glittering malls. They can be found at the upscale coffee shops discussing politics or economics, and at the hot night spots talking fashion and the latest movies.
It is important to note that they are who demand the latest western movies, TV sitcoms and European music, and due to this, they understand western cultures far better then many westerners understand them. Those of us in the west are simply not exposed to their culture as they are exposed to ours.
The Egyptian middle class is a tribute to Egypt, as they represent the largest such segment to be found in any of the region's Islamic countries. Many if not most have obtained theirstatus through hard work and a desire to be educated, and just as in America and other western cultures, they often spring from less fortunate classes through their own will to achieve.
It is difficult to say that these middle class Egyptians drive Egyptian politics, yet it would seem that the Egyptian government has and continues to work to promote them. Certainly Egypt's poor must be dealt with, and as in any system, the very rich cannot but be heard. Yet the Egyptian middle class rides a wave of popular support and it is they who forge the future of Egypt. To understand them, is to understand modern Egypt.
There has been much talk of the culture of Muslim countries lately, but because the Egyptian middle class is educated and informed, cultural difference play less of a part in their ideology then many might presume. They cannot be molded into a cultural cast, but are rather intelligent humans with sophisticated views. In fact, they think and react much as do their counterparts in the west, and often, with informed insight and a 5,000 year heritage of intellect.
Like in the west, they discuss political issues that bother them, such as the situation in Israel and the Gaza Strip, but these topics do not consume their lives or their thoughts any more than many other economic, political and social issues. Most such discussions I have witnessed are devoid of religious fervor or hot indignation, but rather centered more on the pitiful circumstances of a people (the Palestinians) who have no home and live in miserable conditions. They abhor violence, and just as with their counterparts in the west, seek stability and understanding.
Moreover, and to their great credit, they may fault a western government's policies on these issues, but rarely do they transfer these feelings to individuals. They remain the gracious hosts for which they are known. So I salute the Egyptian middle class and their tenacious efforts both as thinking individuals, and as world citizens.
Adam Henein by Lara Iskander
Arabic Music by David Scott
Ahmed Askalany's Incredible Palms by Heba Fatteen Bizzari
A Bedouin Dinner in the Sinai by Julia Kaliniak
Cairo's Gold Mine of Used Books Still Offers Treasures by Dr. Maged El-Bialy
Children in Modern Egypt by Catherine C. Harris
Coptic Christians of Egypt, An Overview of the by Lara Iskander and Jimmy Dunn
Egyptian Arabic by Jimmy Dunn writing as Ismail Abaza
Egyptian Food by Joyce Carta
Egyptian Hajj Paintingby Sonny Stengle
The Egyptian Middle Class by Jimmy Dunn
Egyptian Porcelain Center: A New Showcase for Egyptian and World Artists by The Egyptian Government
The Egyptian Wedding by Dr. Maged El-Bialy
Eid: Celebration for the Young and Old by Mohamed Osama
Islam in a Nutshell by Seemi AhmadIslam
Koshary by Heba Fatteen Bizzari
The Legends of the Cretan House by Dr. Maged El-Bialy
Marvelous Melokiyah by Mary Kay Radnich
El Misaharaty: The Ramadan Drummers by Heba Fatteen Bizzari
Modern Egyptian Houses by the Egyptian Government
Modern Egyptian Pottery by the Egyptian Government
Moulids! by Lara Iskander
The Mysteries of Qurna by Sonny Stengle
Naquib Mahfouz's Classic: Bedaya Wa Nihaya, A Review by Adel Murad Naquib Mahfouz (1911-August 30th, 2006)
Never Mind, Just Crossing the Moon By Arnvid Aakre
On Understanding Egypt by Ralph Ellis
Party for the God in Luxor by Jane Akshar
Egypt's Rafat Wagdy by Heba Fatteen Bizzari
Ramadan in Al Hussein Square by Seif Kame
lRamadan in Egypt by Sameh
Ramadan in Korba, Heliopolis by Seif Kamel
Ramadan Lanterns in Egypt by Heba Fatteen Bizzari
The 8th Annual Scupture Symposium for Stone in Aswan by The Government of Egypt with revisions by Jimmy Dunn
The Sebou Ceremony Welcoming a New Born Baby in Egypt by Heba Fatteen Bizzari
Sham el Nessim, Egypt Spring Festival by Heba Fatteen Bizzari
Sheikh Yusuf al-Haggag, His Mosque and Moulid In Luxor by Jane Akshar
Umm Kalthoum by Lara Iskander
You Don't Have to Go to the Khan El-Khalili by Dr. Maged El-Bialy
The Zar Ceremony by Heba Fatteen Bizzari
Last Updated: June 13th, 2011