Back in January I wrote about my plans to return to Egypt for a month and assist local business there with online marketing.
Soon after I booked my flight, anti-government protests meant that I had to seriously reconsider whether it would be (a) possible, (b) wise and (c) safe to fly back to Dahab, South Sinai, so soon.
Social media has now become a crucial tool for the revolution that is sweeping the Middle East and North Africa. Websites such as Facebook and Twitter are providing an open forum for activists to spread the word that they will not rest until they get their way. The people have found their voice and can finally tell the world “we won’t stand for this any longer!”
I’ve lost count of the number of Egyptian pro-democracy Facebook pages I have joined. Lyndsey Williams, a Dahab resident who set up her own page, says, “I have been pretty busy trying to keep up with the pace of the event, which is growing like a magic beanstalk...so fast! And the posts are coming in every second, so as you can imagine, it’s a lot of work to manage.”
The Internet has definitely had a coming of age during the Egyptian uprising – with one family even naming their newborn baby Facebook to celebrate the website’s role in Hosni Mubarak stepping down.
Whilst protests in Tahrir Square, Cairo, gathered pace, the former president shut down Internet access for over a week across Egypt plus bloggers and journalists alike were hunted down and imprisoned for acts of ‘mutiny and distortion.’
This was a naïve move, and was not enough for Mubarak to stem the flow of information via mediums such as Google and Twitter, which worked together to keep real-time news feeds and tweets generating throughout the region and across the globe.
Returning to the here and now, over a million tourists have now left Egypt. My friends in Dahab tell me that it is a very different place to the town I knew in early January. Many of the hotels and restaurants are either empty or have closed temporarily until they have enough custom again. But I have also been reassured that Dahab is safe, as laid back as ever, and eager to see normal numbers of tourists again before their economy suffers any further.
I have therefore decided to stick to my plans and show my support for the charismatic residents of Dahab. I’ll maintain the high levels of service that my UK and US clients expect, as well help to promote Egypt as a beautiful and safe place to visit.
If you are in the country over the next few weeks or months, please take photographs and videos for your friends to see and post them on your Facebook page, Twitter profile, and blog. If you felt comfortable and secure, be vocal about that and let the world know that Egypt is a highly recommended destination!
I’ll be in Dahab from 28 February to 28 March and I’m very much looking forward to the trip.
If any local businesses would like an informal chat about how they can best promote themselves to the world in this tough climate, please feel free to get in touch.