Jihad Abaza

 

/ Portraits of Egypt's Economic Crisis

Portraits of Egypt's Economic Crisis

Inflation rates in Egypt hit an all-time high of 31 percent in 2017 amid tough economic reforms mandated by a three-year $12 billion IMF loan. These reforms have included the floatation of the Egyptian pound against the dollar last November, the hiking of fuel prices by almost 50 percent in June, and most recently, in early July, the hiking of electricity prices by up to 42 percent.

As Egyptians struggle with the harsh austerity measures, MENASource spoke to small business owners, craftsmen, and workers about how Egypt’s economic policies have impacted their daily lives.

This photo essay was initially published by the Atlantic Council's MENA source multimedia page: interactive.achariricenter....

“This is one of Cairo’s oldest shops. It was at its peak before 1952, but after the July revolution the army banned the tarboush. They erased Egyptian identity--before that everyone used to wear the tarboush. Nowadays our main clients are Azhar sheikhs. S
“This is one of Cairo’s oldest shops. It was at its peak before 1952, but after the July revolution the army banned the tarboush. They erased Egyptian identity--before that everyone used to wear the tarboush. Nowadays our main clients are Azhar sheikhs. S
“This profession is almost extinct. My clients are mostly the people living in the area and women who want to sharpen their cooking knives. Now people will not come though unless they really need to. I have to increase my prices too. I sharpen scissors fo
“Our problem is that we Egyptians do not produce anything, so we always have to rely on exports. I buy from local factories, but they get their material from abroad and it has been getting a lot more expensive lately. Now I can barely keep the shop open.
“I’ve been working here for one month. This is my first job. Before that, I was finishing my conscription in the military. You see how many people walk through these streets every day, and barely anyone stops. Still though, I have a bit of independence. O
“There’s no market. We don’t really have customers anymore. When they do come and ask for the price of a product, you’ll tell them it’s for 10 EGP and they’ll tell you no it’s for five. To give you a small example, before I would buy 10 products to sell,
“I used to walk around selling gasoline cans but I cannot do that work anymore. I have a disability in my leg and cannot move. So now, sometimes I grill corn and sell it here in front of our apartment building and the money depends on the day. Sometimes I
“I opened this shop one year ago. Sudanese and Egyptian customers used to come here all the time. The place would get full, inside and outside. We sometimes wouldn’t have enough chairs. This changed. Of course, the prices changed things; people come less
“Our sales have gone down by at least 50 percent. People are only buying the bare necessities. They’re not buying luxury things anymore. The people that have a bit of money are still buying Nescafe coffee and chocolates, but for everyone else, they’re jus
“Before all of this, there was at least one bride coming in every week, if not two or three. Now, barely anyone comes. For the hairdresser, everything has gone up. Face and eyebrow waxing used to cost 10 and 15 EGP, now its 25 or 30 EGP. Now the cheapest
“Every month, there are more and more brides that aren’t able to prepare for their marriages. And there are so many people exploiting the situation, selling products they bought before the price hikes, but with the new prices. Everyone is playing this gam
“I’ve been driving this minibus for six months now. I’ve always known that we live in a patriarchal society but I have really felt this more after I got this car. There are women that refuse to ride with me because I am a woman. They say they don’t feel c
“We had a tradition of walking through the neighborhood, asking people for their old clothes, fixing them up and reselling them. Now no one will let go of an old pair of pants, because they probably can’t afford to buy new ones. People do not have money l
“There are 72 publishing houses that have closed down this past year. This is for a lot of reasons. The prices of printing books domestically increased by 60 to 70 percent and after the floatation of the Egyptian pound against the dollar, importing books