Tuesday, August 22, 2017

We do not need Spider walking people , We need projects like "Alef Bookstore"

On Saturday, former Egyptian armed forces spokesperson and current vice CEO of Pro-regime “Al-Assema” TV channel Mohamed Samir wrote in his daily short column in Pro-regime “Youm7 “ News website about how much he admired a very “talented “Young man” in Upper Egypt who made an “incredible achievement”.

The former Brigadier General believes that 18-years Mohamed Meghad had done amazing achievement that he should be honored in the upcoming State conference. He also believes that story of that young man and his achievement should be translated into different languages by the State Information Service.

Mohamed Meghad managed to break the Guinness World records in doing the “Spider Walk” faster than anyone in the world. He walked on his hands instead of his legs.
Yup, this is the great achievement which should inspire youth in Egypt as Samir says.

On Thursday, an Egyptian government committee assigned to confiscate and freeze the Muslim Brotherhood “MB” members and their affiliated assets in the country announced that it had confiscated the assets of 16 alleged MB members.
This time the list included the children of famous 90-years old Brotherhood spiritual figure Sheikh Youssef El-Qaradawi who is currently staying in Qatar.
It was no surprise for me because, in July, the security forces arrested al-Qaradawi's eldest daughter Ola “a grandmother” and her husband Hossam Khalaf, the leading figure in Al-Wasat Party on terrorism-related charges.

Yet in that statement, there was a shock for many people including friends who work in business as well friends who cover business news Egypt.
Alef bookstore
Alef Bookstore in Maadi 
The assets of Egyptian businessman and economist Omar El-Shenety were frozen and confiscated by that governmental committee including his shares in the famous “Alef Bookstore”.
I did not know who El-Shenety was before that news but I know very well “Alef Bookstore”.

Since 2009, Alef Bookstore became another important cultural venue for Egyptian youth in Cairo.
Soon it began to spread across the country with 36 branches in the 10 governorates past 4 years thanks to a successful franchise model.

Currently, 75% of the bookstore branches are owned by franchisees.
There are 250 employees working in the bookstore chain now and since 2009 more than 1000 employee worked in it.

In 2016, Alef Bookstore opened its first branch in London reaching to a new level of success.
In all those years, as a culture venue Alef Bookstore presented a great opportunity for Middle-class youth to meet with authors, novelists and intellectuals through book signing events or lectures across the country.
Readers had a good opportunity to meet their favorite writers including Pro-regime writers and Novelists like for instance best selling author Ahmed Mourad.

Personally, I believe what happened to Alef Bookstore is a result of the Egyptian intellectuals’ silence towards the closure of Karama libraries founded by human rights activist Gamal Eid in working class areas.
If the regime was faced by bigger and stronger condemnation during the closure of Karama, it would think twice before confiscating Alef Bookstore I believe.

Anyhow back to Omar El-Shenety who is officially accused of being Muslim Brotherhood member. In other words, his name will join the infamous terrorist lists like famous ex-footballer Mohamed Abu Trika for some unknown reason.
The AUC ‘05 alumni is not a member of the Muslim Brotherhood or affiliated to them from near or far according to many people close to him as well close to the Brotherhood.
Omar El-Shenety used to write for both State-own Ahram Weekly and Ahram Online his views about the Egyptian economy. Did somebody dislike what he had written?
 He also writes in his blog.
Is it because he supported the 25 January revolution and is a friend of Wael Ghonim !? I found a picture of him with Ghonim as well renowned American Egyptian economist Mohamed Al-Arian in LA in early 2013.
Omar El-Shenety
Omar El-Shenety in some lecture "Facebook" 

El-Shenety is a capitalist investment banker who founded an investment banking company in Dubai.
I think the UAE’s position from the Brotherhood is clear to the level that they won’t accept company related to the MB especially after 2013 in the country.

The governmental committee assigned to confiscate and freeze Brotherhood assets assigned supervisors from State-owned Akhbar Al-Youm investment company to manage and oversee the Bookstore and its branches.
Akhbar Al-Youm financial and managerial supervisors are currently managing Daily News Egypt and Borsa News as well Cairo Portal. Interestingly, Cairo Portal is no longer blocked in Egypt !!
By the way according to Journalists’ gossip in Egypt, Akhbar Al-Youm got debts and losses over one billion pounds so I do not know how those supervisors are going to manage those projects more successful than their owners as the committee claimed in its statement !?

Earlier this week, the committee released another statement announcing that it froze the assets of 18 companies owned allegedly by MB members in that terrorist assets. Among those companies, Delta RS which owns RadioShack Franchise in Egypt.
Yup, RadioShack and its more than 35 branches across the country are currently under government control. Delta RS also owns Computer Shop, Mobile Shop as well Compu Me which it acquired in 2012.
Delta RS was founded in the 1980s by businessman Ali Fahmy Tolba who is being accused officially of being an MB member.

I do not understand how the government or the regime does not believe that such actions of confiscation and freezing assets are not in the best interest of the country.
What kind of a message the Egyptian government is sending to foreign investors when it puts its hand on the assets of someone like Omar El-Shenety !?
What kind of a message the Egyptian government is sending to young Egyptian entrepreneurs when it confiscates a successful project like Alef bookstore?

In the past couple of days, all that I thought about is that the regime does not want any kind of assembly of youth in any way, even if it were a book signing !!!

Young Egyptian entrepreneurs do not want to walk the Spiderwalk, they want to be successful like Omar El-Shenety.

After all, failed states regimes want to rule people who walk using their hands instead of their feet. They are better than the people who read. 


  1. They tried to add him to the youth leadership group of President Sisi and he refused. That's all. They are just trying to force him to join them. They offered him a leading position and he turned down their offer. Abbas Kamel does not take NO for an answer.

  2. I love the comparison you made between those who walk on their hands and those who read. Spot-on ,ya Z. Long may we live to read your posts!


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