“I’m counting the number of very close friends planning to move away next year and so far the toll is at 5. I really can’t bear it.”
Picture taken by Nadia El-Awady on February 11, 2011, the day Mubarak was ousted
These were the words of one of my friends on a Facebook status a few days ago.
Another wrote just one day earlier, “I am currently witnessing the largest mass emigration of friends and family from Egypt.”
The subject has become a common topic of conversation among family and friends. People leave, others announce they are leaving, yet others talk of their desire to leave.
Egyptians have been emigrating out of Egypt in large numbers since the early 1970s. According to the EU Neighborhood Migration Report 2013 published by the European University Institute, the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, and the Migration Policy Centre, there were 6.5 million Egyptian immigrants living in different parts of the world in 2009, 74 percent of whom were temporary migrants. Libya, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar were the highest receiving destination countries of temporary migrants that year while the U.S., U.K., Italy, France, and Canada were the highest receiving countries of permanent Egyptian migrants.
How these demographics are statistically changing after the January 25, 2011 Revolution and then later in 2013 as political upheaval has overtaken the country is yet to be seen. Yet it is clear that a change is indeed happening, if not in sheer numbers then in the reasons that are causing Egypt’s revolutionary youth to leave.
I asked several of my friends who have left or who are actively in the process of leaving Egypt – all active participants in the January 25, 2011 Revolution – to write a couple of paragraphs each, explaining their reasons for wanting to leave. I had originally planned to incorporate some of their words into an article on Egyptian emigration post-Revolution. But after reading their words I have decided to leave them as is (albeit translated from Arabic). You will see why. (more…)