2013 Egypt Dossier: An Essential Primer for Correspondents Covering Egypt

By Na Ma, Indiana University


Majestic pyramids, sacred mummies, noble Cleopatra… with these glowing millennium culture inheritances from one of the four ancient civilizations, Egypt is always a mystery untouchable land to international correspondents.

It is the largest Arab country and a cultural political leader in the Arab world. Egypt’s influence in the Arab world is strong, but its current economical, political and social status have fluctuates and little known by foreign world. It’s hard to understand secrets in Egypt. Besides its current politics and economics, correspondents should work hard on its history and culture to dig out more source information to cover every story.

Soccer riots, militant violence, anti-government protests, burgeoning old population, Israel conflict, issues with Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon… all are potential spots for international correspondents to cover. But also means severe challenges and controversial dangers for correspondents in this habitable land along the Nile.

One of the most attachable values in Egypt for international correspondents is its green life potentiality survived in the Sahara desert and untouchable culture secrets. Although military conflicts and death clashes periodically occurred in Egypt, but these news beauties such as women’s status, unique costumes, improved democracy, and incremental travel services can be relaxing topics for international correspondents to dig out for diverse readership.
Part I – Governance

Parliamentary and Party

The Egyptian permanent constitution issued on September 11, 1971, laid the basis of a democratic parliamentary system for the government. Islamic law is the main basis of the legislation. The supremacy of law, the principle of the independence of the judiciary is the basis of governance. The Egyptian polity in majority includes the legislative, executive and judicial powers, in addition to involving the affairs of the press, political parties, local administration and civil society institutions.

Influenced demonstrations in January 2011 against Egypt’s repressive autocratic rule compelled Mubarak, one of the Arab world’s longest-serving leaders, to resign. According to AlterNet, “a provisional constitution, with a series of changes paving the way for early elections, has been in place since March 30, 2011.”[1] On June 30,

2012, Mohammed Mursi became the fifth president, who began a new political era.

The Parliament has the power to impeach the President of the Republic, or replace the government and Prime Minister by a vote of no confidence.The parliament has two houses: the 498-seat People’s Assembly and the 270-seat Shura Council (Advisory Council). Parties and alliances proportionally made up two-thirds of the People’s Assembly, and the other third is composed of informal individuals, such as “professionals”, “workers” and “farmers”. Democratic Alliance, Islamist Bloc and Egyptian Blo are the three alliances; National Democratic Party is the biggest party.

Important Chiefs and Cabinet Members [2]

President– Muhammad MURSI
Prime Minister – Hisham QANDIL Ambassador to the US – Mohamed TAWFIK
Permanent Ambassador to the U.N, New York –  Mootaz Ahmadein KHALIL


“It was the first Arab state to establish diplomatic relations with Israel in 1979. It

has played an important role as a mediator in disputes between various Arab states and in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. It is also a major US ally. ”[3] Egypt’s international status and diplomatic space has promoted. Egypt attends the working meeting of the European Security Summit every year to cooperate with the western countries and Eastern Europe on counter-terrorism, immigration, environmental safety, technology transfer and other international issues.

[1] AlterNet – A Thompson/Reuters Foundation Service. Retrieved online from ‐ http://www.trust.org/alertnet/country‐profiles/egypt/
[2] CIA World Leaders. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/world‐leaders‐1/world‐leaders‐e/egypt.html
[3] AlterNet. http://www.trust.org/alertnet/country‐profiles/egypt/

Part II – Economics

Egypt’s economy in the Arab world is second only to Saudi Arabia’s. According tothe World Economic Outlook (WEO) report, GDP growth in Egypt in 2012dropped to 1.5 percent from 1.8 in 2011. But the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates Egypt’s economy in 2013 will grow by 3.3 percent. The unemployment rate reached 11.5 in 2012 and 11.4 percent in 2013, up from 10.4 percent in 2011. Ahram Online said, “Egypt’s inflation is projected to surge to 12.1 percent in 2013, up from 11.1 percent in 2011. Nonetheless, 2012 inflation is estimated to drop to 9.5 percent.”[4]

Economic Outlook [5]

•    “Farming, tourism, industry and money sent home by Egyptians working abroad fuel the economy. Industries include textiles, food processing, tourism and pharmaceuticals. Exports include crude oil, cotton and textiles.”
•    “The most populous Arab country, its resources are under increasing strain from a fast-growing underemployed population nearing 80 million. Cairo is the largest city in Africa and the Arab world.”
•    “In this Saharan country, usable land is in short supply. Nearly everyone lives beside the Nile or in the river’s delta. The Aswan High Dam, has helped irrigation, agriculture, industry and electricity.”
•    “Tourism (with the pyramids and the Red Sea resorts) is a major earner and service industries now account for half of jobs and half of GDP.”
•    “The once centralized economy (nationalized under Nasser) major economic reforms were pursued from 2004 to attract foreign investment, resulting in growth rates of about 7 percent a year.”
•    “Annual revenues from Suez Canal traffic also fell during the crisis. Many state firms are earmarked for part or full privatization in a Russian-style shares-for-citizens scheme.”
•    “Key structural problems include government control in the economy, food, fuel and housings subsidies and costly public sector payrolls.”

The pattern of current fiscal spending has no sustainable impetus. The government’s economic policy enlarging significant social spending to dispose public dissatisfaction after the protests in January 2011, and political unrest both

decreased economic growth. Poverty reduction through creative investment is a key medium-term objective. But the global downturn put the economic reform on hold. Tourism, manufacturing, and construction are the hardest punched sectors to the economy, and the economic growth is estimated to remain slow through 2013.

[4] Ahram Online: Egypt’s largest news organization
[5] AlterNet – A Thompson/Reuters Foundation Service. Retrieved online from -­

Part III – Major Domestic Issues

Former president Mubarak resigned and Morsi took control, there are still vitally important public social programs: the struggle against skyrocketing crime, heavy density population, rising unemployment, “paralyzing traffic congestion” [6], “the scourge of garbage uncollected” [7], the supplies of medications, severe immigration, political inclusion, economic reform, freedom of expression, food and fuel, etc. Among them, from an international readership viewpoint, crime, population, and unemployment are the three major domestic issues.

1.   Crime: “Many Egyptians say they do feel safer on the streets after an unprecedented wave of violent crime terrorized the nation in the months that followed Mubarak’s ouster in February 2011. However, armed robbery, kidnapping for ransom, car theft and burglaries are too commonplace for a nation accustomed to heavy policing and deterrence through harsh treatment, including torture, for criminal suspects. ” [7]

2.  Population: “The US Census Bureau estimates that the Egyptian population living inside the country will reach 103,742 million by 2025, averaging 1.6 annual growth rates. Population density in Egypt reached 1066 per kilometer square, with Cairo marking the heaviest density at 46,349 per kilometer square. Cairo is Egypt’s smallest governorate in terms of area.” [8]

3.   Unemployment: “The dearth of jobs has drained the country of some of its best talent. Estimated 2.1 million Egyptians worked in other Arab countries. Police officials, government clerks and teachers, work two or three jobs to feed families and frequently procedure bribes. At least half of the 400,000 people entering the work force of 14 million will not find employment.” [9]

The primary reason for these issues are due to domestic instability. After the demonstrations compelled the former president Mubarak to resign, anti-Mursi protests still periodically occurred. Violence between protesters and riot police has caused injury not only to people itself, the rights of all Egyptians. The economy has been harshly struck with decrease in the productivity, a big slump in tourism, and struggling or bankruptcy in labor-intensive industry, which offer jobs. The tenuous sustainability caused by the endless protests lead to high rates of crime and unemployment, and a unrest political environment to control the population rates.

[6] 100 days of new Egypt: Dream come true or nightmare? http://english.pravda.ru/world/africa/11‐10‐2012/122418‐egypt_mursi‐0/
[7] President has not tackled Egypt’s biggest problems. http://news.yahoo.com/president‐not‐tackled‐egypts‐biggest‐problems.html
[8] Egypt population reaches 91 million, grows 18 per cent in eight years. http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/51634.aspx
[9] Domestic Problems Hurt Rising Stature of Egypt. http://www.nytimes.com/1992/07/12/world/domestic‐problems‐hurt‐rising‐stature‐of‐egypt.html

Part IV – Major International Issues

The major international issue facing Egypt now is the its dealings with Hamas-Israel truce. According to MSN news “Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi plans to meet the leaders of Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah Wednesday in a renewed effort to help them heal their five-year-old feud. ”[10] Egypt was attempting to “mediate a truce between Israel and Hamas to end the last round of violence that had approximately 80 rockets and mortar shells fired at the areas surrounding the Gaza Strip.” [11] The Israeli and Palestinian leaderships created an increasing unease about what they have been and a spectacular stake in the shape of Egypt’s future.

Khaled Elgindy at the Brookings Institute, the former advisor to the Palestinian leadership on negotiations with Israel, discussed the role Egypt has assumed in the Middle East, “For Israeli officials, the toppling of Hosni Mubarak has led to the rise of Islamist forces hostile to Israel and an increasing security vacuum along its southern border, which casts doubt on the long-term durability of the 1979  Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty. The fall of Mubarak and the rise of the Muslim  Brotherhood is equally troublesome for Palestinian officials in Ramallah, as it eliminates their most powerful Arab ally and emboldens their Hamas rivals in Gaza (Hamas being an off-shoot of the Brotherhood). The election of the Muslim  Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi to be the first civilian president since the formation of the Egyptian republic sixty years ago has only intensified anxiety in Tel Aviv and Ramallah.”[12]

Egypt’s economy interacted significantly with external factors: U.S.-Egyptian relationship, and attitudes towards the Israeli-Palestinian truce and other regional communication mechanics. Complicated history and culture made what Egypt’s foreign policy, and make it on the road to become an organization of the Mubarak or a change in Egypt’s attitudes towards Israel and the Palestinians truce.

“Despite the inevitable cooling in Egyptian-Israeli and U.S.-Egyptian ties, however, the period ahead may not be all doom and gloom in terms of Arab-Israeli peace, provided that Israel and the United States can recognize and capitalize on an existing but narrow window before it closes.”[12]

[10] Egypt’s president to mediate unity between Palestinian rivals –
[11] Palestinians: Egypt trying to mediate Hamas-Israel truce –

Part V – International News Presence

News about Egypt mostly usually appears in different Internet websites, newspaper, magazine or television. Nowadays, besides the social media, some new media also involve in conveying Egypt’s information to audience. Also, political organizations such as government, non-governmental and humanitarian organization, religion organizations such as faith‐based and charity‐based organization, and civil organization such as non‐profit, aid‐based organizations all cover news about Egypt.

International news organizations covering Egypt today are Yahoo, AP, Reuters, The New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, The Los Angeles Times, Fox News, ABC, CBS, CNN, MSN, NPR, RT, CCTV, People’s Daily, Xinhua News Agency, China Daily, Huffington Post, The Independent, Irish Times, The Guardian, BBC, The Australian, Jerusalem Post and other news organizations. They built their reporting presence in Egypt capital Cairo or Gaza.

Other organizations that cover news about Egypt most such as Lonely Planet, Council on Foreign Relations, Aljazeera International, and the Red Cross all provide more information such as travel or religion to international audiences.

Egypt’s instability’s political environment restricts international presence to cover news and the partial prejudices from local religions or tribunes constrain their news freedoms. Yet, there are still some famous professional journalists who covered Egypt well in the face of all dangers and unrests.

A couple of journalists to follow:

•   Robert Fisk – “a multiple award-winning Middle East correspondent of the Independent, and author of The Great War for Civilization: The Conquest of the Middle East.” [13] He interviewed Osama bin Laden three times between 1993 and 1997. He had won the International UK Press Awards, British Press Awards. He can be found on Twitter @robertfisk.

•   Lara Logan – CBS “60 Minutes” correspondent, cohost of the CBS News special broadcast “Person to Person.” “In February 2011, Logan was sexually assaulted and beaten by a mob in Tahrir Square while reporting a story for “60 Minutes” on the Egyptian Revolution. She broke her silence about the incident on “60 Minutes” to draw attention to the plight of women, particularly female journalists covering war zones. ”[14] You can find Logan on twitter @LaraLogan.

[13] Robert Fisk Profile Page at The Independent. Retrieved online from -­
[14]  Lara Logan bio page at the CBS News. Retrieved online from -­

Part VI – Human Resources

1)  The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights is “a nonprofit NGO and one of the longest-standing bodies to defense human rights in Egypt. It investigates, monitors, and reports on human rights violations. It is registered with the United Nations and works with other human rights groups.” [15]

8/10 Mathaf El-Manial ST,
10th Floor,Manyal El-roda,Cairo,Egypt
Tel:(202) 3636811 –   3620467
Fax:(202) 3621613

2)  The Plan International Egypt (Plan Egypt) is a child right’s non-governmental organization. It is part of the larger “Plan International” children’s rights. It has no political or religious affiliations.” You can contact the Press Enquiries office:

53 Manial Street Manial, Cairo Egypt
Tel: (202) 236-20025/57357, 0102334314/316/81
Fax: (202) 23689042
Email: [email protected]

3)  The Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement is an independent non-governmental organization based in Cairo, Egypt. EACPE address democracy development program, gender equality program, human rights program and workers and trade unions program. Contact:

13 Fareed st. –  alkyada almoshtarka – Heliopolis
Fax: (202)24150546
Tel: (202)22909903
Email: [email protected]

4)  Since Egypt has tremendous animals, international correspondent may want to cover something about animal rights, in that case, you can contact the Society for Protection of Animal Rights in Egypt (S.P.A.R.E.). “It is a nonprofit animal welfare organization founded by Amina Abaza in 2001. It is the first animal welfare organization in Egypt to address the situation of all animals, including dogs, cats, and donkeys.”[16]

Address: Shobramant, Sakkara, Egypt
Tel: (202) 33813855
Email: [email protected]

[15] Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egyptian_Organization_for_Human
[16] Spare Homepage: http://www.sparelives.org/index.pl/about

5)  Established in 1954, State Information Service is the Egypt’s main significant informational, awareness and public relations agency. SIS facilitates the work of international journalists operating in Egypt through its Foreign Press Center and its recently established Cairo Foreign Press Club. You can find the information at: http://www.sis.gov.eg/En/Story.aspx?sid=3080

6)  The Egyptian Red Crescent “organized in cooperation with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) a workshop in Health Care in Danger (Security of Emergency Health Care in the Field) in Cairo from December 17 to 19 of, 2012.”[17]

Abd El Razik El Sanhouri St., Off Makram Ebeid Nasr City, Cairo, Egypt
Tel: (202)2673979/81/83
Fax: (202)2673967/85
Email:  [email protected]

7)  If you need to cover information about the Egypt’s culture and history, it’s very convenient for you to find abundant collective information on a very comprehensive-made tourism website or you can ask some professional tour guide, you can go to the Egypt’s Official Tourism Website online at: http://www.egypt.travel

8)  UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) in Egypt safeguards the rights and well-being of refugees and helps stateless people. Since 2011, the registration to UNHCR of new asylum-seekers in Egypt increased, especially from Sudan and South Sudan. The international correspondent can contact them for the refugee’s information.

Melissa FLEMING, Head, Communications Service Spokesperson
Tel: (202) 27397965
Mobile: (202) 95579122
Email: [email protected]

9)  The International Crisis Group has African experts in Egypt affairs, whom you can consult some information about conflicts, arms trade, etc. Contact:

EJ Hogendoorn
Deputy Director, Africa
Tel: (202)7851601
Email: [email protected]

[17] Egyptian Red Crescent Homepage: http://www.egyptianrc.org/ModulesEn.aspx?moduleNo=7&id=220

10)Chair of UC Berkeley’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies.

Nezar AlSayyad
Tel: (510) 643-4109
Email: [email protected]
Media Relations contact: Yasmin Anwar, (510) 643-7944
Expertise: Middle East culture and politics, in particular Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

11)The National Geography is a good source outside Egypt. It has a lot of information about Egypt. There are professional photographers, public relation experts to whom you can consult. You can contact:

John Albright
1145 17th Street N.W. Washington, D.C. 20036-4688
Tel: +1 (202)912-6500

Email: [email protected]
Internet: http://www.nationalgeographic.com

Additional References:

•    Cairo Review of Global Affairs –

•    Daily News Egypt –

•    Egyptian Crescent –

•    Plan International Egypt –

•     AlterNet Country Economy Egypt –

•     Oxford Egypt Page ‐

•    Egypt Information Office –

•    Counter Currents Org, The Good War: Israel, Egypt And Hamas

Uplifting and Cultural:

Animals rights in Egypt –

Deadly protests mark Egypt anniversary ‐

“Tombs of Ancient Egypt” National Geographic Video

Ask Aladdin – Egypt Culture and Traditions. The History of Somalia – Wikipedia style –

Culture of Egypt –Wikipedia

The Statesman, Palestine talks: Morsi tries to mediate