To Egypt with love

Nejoud Al Yagout – — Photo by Djinane Alsuwayeh

When I was a child, I heard about a place called Egypt, a place they called and still call the ‘Mother of the World.’ Everything’s magical and mystical when we are children. It is a shame that when we grow up, we learn that the world is not as glorious as we once thought, or actually, it is still glorious, but we cease treating it as though it were. My parents and relatives kept the magic and glory alive, though. They were always watching glamorous black and white Egyptian movies, and when I grew up and developed an affinity for literature, I was drawn to Naguib Mahfouz, Alaa Al-Aswany, Nawal El-Saadawi and so many other literary legends who happened to be Egyptian.

I am dismayed to learn that Egypt – a country rich in culture, overflowing with intellectuality and avant-garde writers and artists – has gradually become the brunt of many jokes and racism. Fast forward to now, having learned that we have further upset the descendants of one of the most ancient civilizations on our planet – the folks that we are supposed to look up to – is something I cannot get over.

Oh fellow brothers and sisters in Kuwait: Oil is a resource – it is not something we invented, and one day it will be replaced. Where will we then be, having alienated so many people with our words and actions? Fear is not an incentive for change, but how else can we change if love is not permeating our core? Weather changes (as we have witnessed in the last couple of weeks), conditions change (as history has exemplified), wealth fluctuates (as recessions have tried but failed to teach us), but at the end of the day, what kind of legacy do we want to leave behind? How do we want to be known to the rest of the world? Do we want people to roll their eyes when they refer to us? Do we want to be known as arrogant? Or as bigots? Do we want to have people across nations speaking about our lack of mercy and our continued intolerance?

This is not the Kuwait of my grandparents and ancestors, who were welcoming to people of all nations, who respected all religions, all walks of life. And this is certainly not the generation of my parents who considered Egypt the ‘Mother of the World.’ To say I am heartbroken is an understatement, but I have hope in the locals who shun any form of discrimination toward Egyptians and all other expatriates. Kuwait for all. Viva l’amore!

By Nejoud Al-Yagout

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