Saturday, November 01, 2008


Sad Plight of Nepalis in Dubai Airport

30 Sep 2008 - On the way to Egypt in the Dubai Airport, I saw many people sleeping on the way to the Departure Gates. On closer look, I thought they could be Nepali and I also overheard someone talking in Nepali. I went and talked with some of them. They said some of them have been stranded in the airport for more than 30 days. They left Nepal to work on various positions in Iraq. They were supposed to meet someone in the Dubai airport who would then charter a flight to Iraq. The person was not there to be seen at the airport and they have been left stranded in the airport ever since. Apparently, they were tricked by the agent who flew them from Nepal and/or the agent who was supposed to pick them up.

They hadn't washed their clothes or eaten properly for more than a month. Some of them looked very depressed and some were taking it easy for temporary relief by playing cards when all the options had run out. A sad story when one human being cheats on other and plays with someone's life for greed of money. The workers had dreams, to work, save some money and send it home so that their families live better life. Not of being stranded in a foreign airport where there was no one helping them out.

I was there in Dubai, but I was helpless. I was flying to Cairo the same evening. I gave my numbers to them asking them to call me (if they think I could be of any help) after a week when I am back from Cairo. Some of them had a prepaid simcard, so they were at least able to receive calls and make some calls. One of them said they had already called the Nepali Embassy in Abu Dhabi which was also of no help.


Trip to Egypt

In front of the Giza Pyramids near Cairo in Egypt

On the week long holidays of Eid (after the month long Ramadan period), I flew to Egypt as it was just about 4 hours away from Dubai and that was one country I always wanted to go if I got a chance. On top of that, my good friend from IESE in Barcelona was there in Cairo living like a king in his grand apartment. That meant I would visit a good Brazilian friend of mine who would take me around Cairo and rest of Egypt and I would also save on accommodation cost. So it was an event where I did not seem to lose. :)

Based on the information of the websites, I was happy that being a Nepali, I could get the visa on arrival. Apparently that was not the case. When I reached the airport, the airport officials made me wait at not-too-exciting place for about 1 and half hours and finally said 'Welcome to Egypt" and let me enter the country. It was a small adventure already.

Overall, except for the visa adventure, I really had a good time there. We first visited the famous Pyramids in Giza. Unlike taking a camel to go there, we rode horse this time. Having come from Nepal, it is probably a shame to say this but it was the first time I rode a horse. Horse riding was a lot of fun. At one point, we were going quite first and I didn't quite manage to synchronize with the jumping up and down and you can imagine what happened to me next day when I got up.

Seeing the 4500 years old Pyramid was really an amazing experience.I felt very lucky to have been able to see the only remaining ancient seven wonders of the world. I recalled the moment Srijana and I had been to the historic Taj Mahal together. It reminded me of the similar time except that I was seeing something very very old.

In front of the The Great Sphinx of Giza, next to the Pyramids

Next day, we went on a Felluca ride on the Nile river. This was also a lot of fun. Felluca is a local name for the local sailing boat. The breeze was cool, the water pretty clean, and the felluca master was mastering the direction and the strength of the wind to position the sail. Amazing how you can use the strength of the wind to navigate through water. We were told that people probably used huge Fellucas to bring the stones for the Pyramids 4500 years back.

Wesley, my IESE classmate and Brazilian host and myself enjoying the Felluca ride

Christian, my "English" colleauge from work and Wesley, my IESE classmate and Brazilian host enjoying the Felluca ride

I also went to the famous Egyptian museum in Cairo. I got to see the famous young king Tutankhamun's mask, and two layers of mummy case all made of mostly gold and precious stones. I also dared to see about 3000 or more years old dead bodies (mummys) of the Paroah kings who used to rule Egypt.

One day, we went to the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, founded by the Greek Alexander the Great. Saw the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, the re-constructed version of what is now considered the oldest library in the world. The interior and exterior design of the library is really awesome and unique. Kuods to the Norwegian architects who designed it.

Along the dates trees in Alexandria

The highway to Alexandria from Cairo are all lined up with billboards, probably every 50 meters. I thought they spoiled the beauty of the place but I guess they are probably generating income for the maintenance of the highway.

Although I was happy going through this precious place on earth learning about history of human civilization, I was saddened about the lack of environmental awareness among the locals and tourists alike. It was common to see the litters like above near the beautiful shoreline of Alexandria. All the white plastic was coming from a local fast food shop just across the street. It was also not uncommon to see people just throwing away Coca Cola cans into the Nile river. I wsih no cans were sold in Egypt and only bottles (which were collected by the soft drink companies) were allowed.

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