An article by Mahmoud Fouda, CEO of the Middle East Observer.
There are many stereotypes and misconceptions about Egypt, a lot of which are being fed by a lack of efficient communication or are intentionally being fueled by those with ulterior motives ranging from terrorism to political interests. This – needless to point out – did damage to Egypt’s image over the past decade, but the actual reality is that Egypt did make a major leap towards achieving its economic and social welfare vision; which will eventually culminate in a gradual improvement in the masses’ welfare.
Egypt is a major regional media and entertainment player that has for years been steering the Arab region. The journey of Egypt’s press started in the early 1800s, with the country’s first newspaper Al-Waqi’a Al-Misriya. Over the golden years that followed in the 1920s, Egypt became a focal hub for Arab publications and broadcasting, with its growing press industry and the commencement of radio programming. On the other hand, movies and theaters boomed, and Egypt became the capital of the entertainment industry in the region, from then to date, due to its easy dialect as well as wide population platform.
It is common knowledge in the Arab world that Egypt remains the gateway for actors and singers towards regional fame. Egypt was the first African and Arab nation to launch its own satellite in 1998 “Nile-sat”, consolidating its position as a news and entertainment distributor across the Middle East. Its press is one of the most influential and widely read in the region, and Egyptians do constitute the majority of those working in Arab media networks.
Social media played a pivotal role in the January 2011 protests in Tahrir Square in Cairo that forced Hosni Mubarak away from power. Communication technology facilitated the mobilization of demonstrators as well as information sharing, so much that journalists came to speak of the “Facebook Revolution.”
The revolution’s initial success was followed by the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, who tried to monopolize the country away from its diversified and tolerant nature, hence lead to the subsequent 2013 revolution. Both revolutions were supported by the army, yet the country that has been in turmoil and chaos for three years reached a point were it has depleted its resources and reserves, and the true factors that lead to a primary revolution worsened with the risk of bankruptcy foreseen at the end of the chaos tunnel. Such a burdened status necessitated a fierce economic reform program that witnessed floatation of the Egyptian pound.
The undertaken wave of reform supported by a sound plan and a strong will, lead to a major impact on various sectors. Egypt witnessed an unprecedented level of achievements in infrastructural developments with thousands of roads connecting Egypt constructed, over 20 new cities were established to accommodate for population growth, in addition to huge leaps in the eradication of multiple slum areas – while moving its residents to proper housing.
On the other hand, Egypt continues to setup its regional energy hub, while maximizing utilization of its energy resources.
On the ground of public administration, the reform tackled solutions to long rooted problems in Egypt with new legislations and a monitoring body to eradicate corruption and bureaucracy. Reforms are a pre-requisite for attracting investments, hence igniting a full cycle of economic development; which is envisioned to lead to the development of multiple industrial complexes.
The above mentioned supported by shipping and handling mechanisms, as well as African and Middle Eastern trade agreements, aim to place Egypt on the map of future industry hubs – a hub that is to be distinguished by its ability to serve the region’s consumer demands at a lower cost of labor, proximity to markets and abundance of industrial input supplies.
Along these grounds Egypt’s forward steps over the past 5 years were acknowledged and commended. This went parallel with introducing a sustainable plan to upgrade education, health and welfare structures that serve Egypt’s various status.
As the nation’s success grew vivid and potential highlighted for being a virgin land of opportunities, multinational companies started pouring into the country with projects that stem from the country’s successful infrastructure, legislations and geographical location at the heart of The Middle East and Africa.
During such tough times in rebuilding the nation, The Muslim Brotherhood and terrorism supporters waged an online war against Egypt, a war that generously funded fabricated news and rumors. Such fabricated news came through dedicated channels that showed fake police brutality, fake multiple demonstrations and fake stories. Such rumors were transferred into news that was widely used as a tool to cause instability.
As the country waged its fierce battle against terrorism backed by the people, the forces of evil multiplied its attempts to spread its rumors through the social media, reaching over 54,000 rumor as per the IDSC’s (Information & Decision Support Center of the Cabinet) official records, a concern that moved the state to issue a daily notification of facts verses rumors bulletin.
Egypt’s success in progressing with is dynamic reforms (though has been hindered by terrorism, fabricated news and an astounding number of fake rumors) was made possible due to the coherent relationship and hard earned history of trust between Egyptians and the army. Trust that was unshakable during the tough phase Egypt underwent in an attempt to restore its balance, thus heading towards achieving the set developmental goals.
Egypt is determined to move forward; with its economic reform implementation and fight towards eradicating corruption along with its primary plan to track and eliminate terrorism roots. While moving along the above-mentioned lines, it is worrisome that international media remain consistent in conveying fake and fabricated news under the emblem of free press. It is even ridiculous that death sentencing a terrorist group who committed a terrorist act and murdered people in day light may be disputed in international media as an act of state brutality.
International media needs to undertake further field based research, one that relies more on looking at the picture from Egypt’s future interest, they need to objectively use reliable sources, rather than rely on biased bloggers, and un-official sources who continue to drag international media into a cobweb of lies and deception.
Egypt will under no circumstances be deterred and will move forward towards eradicating terrorism, promoting religious tolerance and achieving economic prosperity for its people seeking to restore its dawned civilization through its innovative people. Egypt will be aided during its tough road towards development and a better life for it’s citizens by one of it’s major assets it’s media and entertainment sector; while banking on its homogeneous population and their trust in their military.