Young Egyptians wake up from their deep sleep, and line up at the break of dawn in front of consulates with their bags in hand, waiting for a visa. All they hope for is a decent living and a habitable environment, but the nightmare of climate change haunts them everywhere they set their feet.
So what do Egyptian immigrants do abroad? How has climate change affected their stability?
From the United Arab Emirates to Canada
Architect Omar al-Amrousi, 39, decided to look for a decent job opportunity after graduating from university in Egypt. The UAE was the first stop he moved to, but he couldn't last long there, and couldn't adapt to the high temperature in the Gulf country.
Speaking to Raseef22, he says, "The extreme heat in Dubai was one of the main reasons I left the UAE and decided to immigrate to Canada."
The extreme heat in Dubai was one of the main reasons why I left the UAE and decided to immigrate to Canada.
Al-Amrousi was overwhelmed by the feeling of being imprisoned next to the air conditioner, a prison he did not know how to escape from. When he leaves a building, he would rush into the car and turn on the air conditioner inside, and when the evening comes, he'd suffer from extreme humidity and bad weather. He adds, "This feeling made me depressed, so I decided to escape this climate."
Reports indicate that climate change has a negative impact on the Arabian Gulf region. There are risks of a rise in humidity and temperatures, and an increased risk of tropical cyclones.
For 11 years, al-Amrousi has been living in Canada, specifically in the British Columbia region. He felt a noticeable change in the climate four years ago, as he was shocked by the rainfall that suddenly disappeared and caused the plants to dry up. He says in regards to that, "This summer, the color of the plants changed from green to yellow due to the lack of rain". He fears that his emigration experience will have to be repeated yet again due to the climate, especially following the recent heat waves that hit Canada and caused the death of hundreds of people.
Similarly, Nabil Salam, a 38 year-old engineer, was left shocked when he traveled to the UAE and experienced its high humidity, which is one of the reasons that prompted him to emigrate to Europe. Speaking to Raseef22, he says, "I emigrated from Egypt in search of a suitable living environment and another homeland, but the difficulty of tolerating the climate there caused me to leave the UAE. It changes every year for the worse."
Rasha Othman, a housewife in her mid-thirties, is residing in Canada after she left Egypt with her family to Saudi Arabia. She could not tolerate the constantly rising temperatures and the increase in humidity, which made her sick and tired, especially when she'd be in a warm place and then go to a cold place and vice versa, and this made her feel very suffocated.
I lived in Saudi Arabia for four years, and all this time I was trying to withstand the high temperature there, but I couldn't, since it required me to sit next to air conditioners on a regular basis, which made me feel immobile, so I decided to return to Egypt
Speaking to Raseef22, she says, "In Saudi Arabia, the humidity was constantly on the rise, and air conditioners were working everywhere all the time, which in turn negatively affected my mood. When comparing the climate in Saudi Arabia with the climate in Canada, the latter definitely suits me better."
The climate forced them to return home
Some but not all Egyptian workers and emigrants are able to travel outside the country, to Europe, America, or other continents. Thus the ones unable to adapt to the climate in Gulf countries have no other option than return to their homeland and search for new living opportunities there.
Salama Mohammad Abdelbadi', a thirty-something Jordanian horse trainer, says he began to feel the climate changing in Amman since 2015, when winter that year came unusually harsh, prompting a group of his friends who work on various farms to quit work and return to Egypt, due to their inability to withstand the harsh climate and its sudden fluctuations.
Salama goes on to talk about free employment contracts in Jordan, where the guarantor pays the full cost of travel for workers coming from Egypt, but after their arrival, they are left at the mercy of the sponsor for a period of no less than two years. He adds, "During this period, workers are forced to sleep inside the farms at night, and they suffer from the harsh winters and the snow that is increasing year after year. Some workers cannot bear this extreme cold and are forced to flee and return to Egypt at the first opportunity they get".
Why should I go back home if the catastrophe of climate change is going to inevitably hit the entire planet?
In 2017, Mohammad Sultan, a 29-year-old clothing store owner, went back to Egypt from Saudi Arabia after he could not bear its climate, especially during the summer when the heat waves increased. He tells Raseef22, "I lived in Saudi Arabia for four years, and all this time I was trying to withstand the high temperature there, but I couldn't, since it required me to sit next to air conditioners on a regular basis, which made me feel immobile, so I decided to return to Egypt."
Adapting to the climate is the solution
"Why should I go back home if the catastrophe of climate change is going to inevitably hit the entire planet?" asks Omar Hosni, a thirty-year-old engineer, who was overwhelmed with happiness when he arrived in the German capital Berlin. He saw the world as if it were a three-dimensional painting. He felt the scale of the pollution that Egypt was suffering from, and it didn't take long for him to adapt to the climate in Germany. The green colors and trees that are scattered everywhere comforted him despite the harsh and painful cold.
However, with the unexpected increase in cold waves, which had not occurred before, he believes that it is necessary to adapt to all forms of climate change. Speaking to Raseef22, he says: "In Egypt itself, which was known for its mild and moderate climate, we now see snow and severe storms, and this has forced me to adapt to any climate, and adapt to its fluctuations in whatever form they may be."
For his part, Magdy, 53, tells Raseef22 about the factors of climate change that he has personally experienced in France. When he left Egypt for Paris in 2002, he used to see snow in the streets up to 20 centimeters high, but these phenomena have changed a lot. "Now there's no more snow, just rain, and we see the ice melting from the tops of the Alps."
This caused a shortage in mineral water, which became a major problem facing the entire population of France. They are now looking for a solution to this problem. Even the lakes that were composed of ice water have disappeared, and the melted water went into the oceans, which has affected the level of soil salinity.
Rasha lives in Canada after she left Egypt with her family to KSA. She couldn't tolerate the constantly rising temperatures and humidity. This made her feel tired, especially when she'd be in a warm place then go to a cold place, and this made her feel very suffocated
Training and rehabilitation are necessary
Egypt occupies the sixth place in the export of labor workers abroad, after it used to be in fourth place, with the number of Egyptian expatriate workers reaching 5 million. While there are reports addressing the reasons for the decline of this number in recent years, there are no accurate or clear estimates of the impact and consequences of climate change on the matter.
Here, Rasha Abdeh, Professor of Economics at the Arab Academy for Financial Sciences, while speaking to Raseef22, comments on Egypt falling back in the supply of labor workers abroad. She says that it is due in part to the failure of providing Egyptian workers with training in dealing with climatic changes abroad, and qualifying them to adapt with the sudden changes in the climate. She adds that in Egypt there are more than 20,000 training centers, and none of them thought of addressing this issue, which has become fundamental and a concern for many people nowadays.
According to Abdeh, countries abroad, which have always turned to the Egyptian labor force, are now bringing in Indian, Filipino, or Bangladeshi labor workers, because they are trained to work in all types of climate conditions and situations surrounding the work environment. She adds, “The Ministry of Manpower is not making any effort to qualify Egyptian workers or train them for a new life in light of climatic changes, and competition now has become more intense and requires more attention to Egyptian workers.”
In the same context, previous press statements by the Egyptian Minister of Immigration Soha Gendi indicate that there are many Egyptians abroad who wish to return to their homeland due to the sudden climate changes within the countries of the European Union, the Arabian Gulf, and North America, especially among Egyptian investors, since climate change is threatening their interests and the stability of their businesses. And this requires more planning in order to communicate with Egyptian investors from abroad and attract them to work inside the country.
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