Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Egyptian Mobile Numbers to Change

Starting next Thursday, Egypt will begin changing mobile numbers to help cope with the increasing number of cell phone users. It is estimated that there are approximately 76 million mobile users in Egypt, and with a population hovering around 80 million it essentially means that almost everyone has a mobile. True story :p

Below is more information, taken from Al-Ahram.

Image courtesy of Al-Ahram

Egyptian mobile phone numbers will all change on Thursday 6 October as part of a state drive to meet increased user demand, the National Telecom Regulatory Authority has announced.

The changes will mean every Egyptian mobile phone number will now be 11 digits in length. 

Amendments will be different for each of Egypt's three mobile operators:


Current 10 digit numbers, which all start 01, will take an extra 1. They will now begin 011
Current 11 digit numbers, which all start 0152, will change the 5 to a 1. They will now begin 0112


Current 10 digit numbers, which start 01, will add a 2. They will now begin 012
Current 11 digit numbers, which start 0150, will replace the 5 with a 2. They will begin 0120


Current 10 digit numbers, which start 01, will add a 0. They will now start 010
Current 11 digit numbers, which start 0151, will replace 5 with 0. They will start 0101

Mobile operators will have four months to fully comply with the decision, during which time users will be able to call using either the old number or the amended one.

** I realise that this looks exceptionally confusing, and I myself am confused by it. If only things in Egypt were made more simple. From what I can understand, I will provide an example of a Vodafone number as it would appear now, and then as it would appear with the changes:

Number based on current settings would appear: 010 123 4567 

Number based on updated settings would appear: 010 0 123 4567

Likewise, here are examples of Mobinil number: 

Number based on current settings would appear: 012 123 4567

Number based on updated settings would appear: 012 2 123 4567

Example for Etisalat:

Number based on current settings would appear: 014 123 4567

Number based on updated settings would appear: 011 4 123 4567

If you have any comments or concerns let me know and I will try to track down further information. This entire process is rather disconcerting. **

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Natural Gas Emergency in Egypt - Who to contact

Now this was a blog I never thought I'd be writing, but here I am.

For most people in Egypt, natural gas actually running into your home is reserved for the high-end apartments and villas. Generally speaking, Egyptian kitchens will feature the "ambouba," or gas canister. The first time I saw a truck hauling a load of these I wondered how that could ever be safe, but as you live here you learn not to question such silly notions.

The other day while walking out of the apartment building, I noticed what seemed like the smell of leaking gas. Seeing as how I was outside, I immediately thought that the apartment on the lower floor by the door had left their ambouba running in their kitchen. Our doorman was notified, who said that it was the bug spray that had been  dispersed the night before.

You're probably questioning now how you could ever mistake the smell of gas for bug spray. Well, the stuff they use here you definitely can. No idea what it is they are spraying, but that toxic cloud smells like you've stuck your head inside an unlit oven. It dissipates quickly, however, so when by the next day I was still smelling it, it became evident that unless they were continuing to spray every single day it was not bug spray.

K and I went to have a conversation with our doorman again, who said "oh yes there was a smell of gas, but it was checked out and everything was ok!" By checked out what he really meant was: our building landlord had gone in the vicinity of the source of the smell and light a match. Genius. Figuring that because he hadn't gone up in flames, the gas was no threat.

Erm. Ok...

We get back into our apartment, and I tell Karim that we should phone someone, anyone, to come and check it. Originally I was figuring that the fire department would handle something like this,but it turns out there are actually emergency services for gas in Egypt. I suppose in hindsight it's not that surprising with how much gas is exported out of the country.

I figured initially that this would be like any other "emergency" service in Egypt: you'd be waiting forever to have anyone respond; you're going to be dealing with rude and abrupt individuals; and at the end of the day you'd have been better off not even bothering to phone.

How wrong was I! (Very happy to report this!!)

Once K had tracked down the Natural Gas Emergency hotline (which in itself was quite a feat - the number listed on Yellow Pages DOES NOT WORK) we phoned. Bear in mind this was on a Friday, and in the evening, so we presumed that the phone would probably go unanswered or the issue delayed for a day.

Wrong again!

A car was sent to our address within 30 minutes of the call. Everyone we dealt with was polite and more than willing to help. Turns out we did have a gas leak - from the line that had been installed less than a few months ago that will one day provide natural gas to the entire apartment (I aptly told Karim that I think sticking with our ambouba for now is wise - doesn't bode well when a newly installed line is already leaking!).

After two trips out here by the Natural Gas Emergency personnel, our leak has been sealed and yipee I have fresh air to breath again.

So if you ever find yourself in need of the Egypt Natural Gas Emergency lines, here they are:

From a landline dial: 129. It's best if you have an Arabic speaker with you.

From a cell phone dial: 016 55 44 003 OR 016 55 44 004

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Making a difference

There is no denying that Egypt is changing. Every day there are new laws enacted, old ones revoked, new reasons for people to complain.

And boy do they complain.

But the extent of vocal outrage seems limited to coffee shop discussions and online debates. Arguing on the Internet as of late has become the new fad in Egypt. Everyone has an opinion, and everyone is passionate about voicing that opinion. I am not immune to this.

But I have to ask, with so many people so riled up about changes going on in their country, why aren't we seeing more people out there actually trying to make a difference?

The answer, it seems, is that people will talk big when sitting behind a computer screen. Petitions will fly, be signed, and shared. People will write miles of text about how they would make a difference, yet they never do. This mentality saddens me; obviously the passion is there and existing, but people lack the drive (or motivation?) to apply this passion in real life.

When you have activists or organizations that do try to apply these practices in real life, dig a little deeper under the surface and you'll realise that much of it is a farce. I won't go into specifics; suffice to say that many organizations in Egypt that appear to be working for a greater good only care about that appearance. In terms of practical applications...well it leaves much to be desired. More on that later.

So here is my suggestion. Hurghada has already seen the huge impact that can be had by an organization such as HEPCA. But HEPCA cannot do it alone. Not only that, the bins that they place are for rubbish only.

We need recycling.

I recently went to visit Asyro recycling down the road from me. I was stunned with the reaction that I was met by.

I met with the owner and GM of the company. I brought in one big rubbish bag full of empty bottles, tins, and cardboard. He actually told me that he would "do me the favour" this time, but that next time it just wouldn't be worth it. I beg your pardon?

Yes. That's right. It wouldn't be worth it. He proceeded to tell me that he has already set up a few deals with some hotels around here. That it costs him x amount of money to recycle these, and he gets y amount in profit. Essentially, I wasn't bringing him enough recycling to make a massive profit. Last I checked buddy, recycling is intended to help save the planet, not pad your pockets! 

I'm sure that my sentiments are reflected by many of the ex-pats living in Hurghada. I don't want to recycle for the profit. I want to recycle to know that I'm helping to reduce my carbon footprint.

The cost of one of HEPCAs bins is 50 LE (less than 10 dollars). I am proposing the following, and I encourage everyone that is genuinely interested in doing this to please use the "contact me" button above.

Together, we pool our resources and invest in a number of these bins, and designate them as bins for recycling. These bins are then taken into the neighbourhoods throughout Hurghada. I know that in my neighbourhood, the many bowabs would be more than willing to chip in and help with this project, meaning if you leave your trash in your building for pick up - designate one bag as "recycling" to ensure it goes into the correct bin.

Once weekly, we can have a round up of the bins. To begin with, this is going to require the assistance of volunteers. Hopefully when the project gains momentum, this will be a step that can be resolved later on down the line.

All proceeds from the recycling can go to two places. 1 - invest in more recycling bins for more areas in Hurghada / provisions needed to collect the bins. AND 2 - all proceeds will go to charities throughout Hurghada, be it orphanages, or NGOs, or community programmes, etc.

In doing so, not only would we be reducing our carbon footprint, we would be helping to make the lives of those around us better too. Does it get better than that?

Please, if you are interested use the "contact me" button above. I want to get a team of committed individuals together who are ready and willing to really try to make a difference. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Emergency Law under review

I will point out one aspect of this article, and this is all I have to say on the matter.

"It also decided to expand the scope of the law to include the publication of false information, road blocking and incidents of thuggery."

Who will be the one to decide what is classified as "false information"? Your guess is as good as mine. Revolution? What revolution.

From Al-Masri al-Yawm.

Court begins reviewing case against Emergency Law, adjourns until October

On Saturday an Egyptian court began reviewing a lawsuit that calls for lifting Emergency Law. Judicial sources told Al-Masry Al-Youm that at the end of the session the court postponed the review until 16 October.

The ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) recently decided that Emergency Law should stay in force until June 2012. It also decided to expand the scope of the law to include the publication of false information, road blocking and incidents of thuggery.

Many lawmakers believe Egypt's penal code is sufficient to address such crimes and accuse the SCAF of following in the footsteps of the former regime by suppressing the media and freedom of speech.

After the court session ended, several rights activists organized a silent protest on the staircase inside the State Council building. They raised banners to call for the abolition of Emergency Law.

Hamed Seddeeq, a researcher at the National Research Center, filed the lawsuit to call for the abolition of Emergency Law, "from which Egyptians have suffered over the past three decades."

He said that since the parliament that approved Emergency Law has been dissolved, the law itself should be revoked, particularly since this was one of the most important demands of the 25 January revolution.

Where to Go - Kams

This week's Where to Go segment is ideal for gamers, board-gamers that is.

I am an avid fan of a decent board gaming night. Anything from Scrabble, to Pictionary, to games like Cluedo. My family tells me this is a habit picked up from my mum, who has always been known as the "gamer" in group environments. Why not, I have to ask. There's nothing quite like a good game of Pictionary to liven up the atmosphere.

Image courtesy of Amazon
In Egypt the problem is finding decent games; in Hurghada this task is rendered almost impossible. Sure, there are a scattering of stores around the Hadaba area that have one or two games, but these are almost always knock offs. We recently invested in Onu, not to be confused with the trademarked Uno. =P.

When you are lucky enough to run into Metro on a day that they are carrying board games (not surprisingly they always seem to pop up right around Christmas), expect to pay an arm and a leg. I have seen Metro offering Monopoly for 500 LE (almost 100 U.S. dollars) because it was "imported." Right.

K and I decided to run to Senzo Mall not too long ago, and entered Kams. I was pleasantly surprised :) Along with the knock off board games (of which we unfortunately purchased a Scrabble...then promptly returned), they have imported games well within reasonable prices. I don't think 300 LE is extortionate for a Pictionary board, and we were able to walk away with a French Scrabble for 150 LE. Very reasonable.

Alongside board games, they have Ravensburger puzzles. I saw small puzzles perfect for children, and puzzles up to 2000 pieces ideal for a rainy day. Like we ever have those in Hurghada haha! They also have models for construction, although I did find these to be quite expensive. This of course along with all the other games they have inside.

So for this week's Where to Go, get a group of friends together and go have some fun! 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

What makes you an animal activist?

George Bernard Shaw once said “The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them, that's the essence of inhumanity.” I am often asked what led me into animal rights and activism. The truth is there’s not just one easy answer. I cannot pinpoint a time in my life where I said, “Now is when I want to work towards making the lives of animals better.” How much easier it would have been if the answer were that simple.

I grew up around animals. My family’s first dog was a border collie mix named Zoe. She was everything a little girl could hope for in a family pet. Zoe became a constant companion for my sister and I through many big changes in our lives; from moving continents to learning how to say goodbye to a loved one. You could perhaps say that it was Zoe that engrained in both of us an urge to show kindness to animals.

I first moved to Cairo five years ago full of wonder and not really sure what it was I hoped to achieve in Egypt. My first impressions reflected those of many foreigners who move here: in awe of a culture that was so unfamiliar to me and in shock with many of the things I witnessed. I will never forget the first time that I saw a donkey cart running alongside the cars in the streets or the first pick-up truck full of cows travelling along the Ring Road. Animal rights is a relatively new term in Egypt and my first lesson was learning how to push my judgments and pre-conceived notions of acceptable animal care to the side.  I had grown up in a different society and was privy to learning about the love and adoration a pet can offer, and at first, it was difficult for me to ignore the scenes of animal abandonment and/or cruelty prevalent in Egypt.

The building across from where I first lived housed a dog on the roof. I remember my sister and I standing in our bedroom, looking through our window at the boxer puppy tied up across the street with no shade or water. It wasn’t long before the puppy was gone, presumably sold or simply abandoned in the streets. It’s a scenario that is repeated far too often. The feeling of helplessness in knowing that there was very little that I could do to help kick-started in me a desire to make changes. 
So I began thinking that while I’m only a guest in Egypt, how could I help?

Initially, my work helping animals centered mainly around the ones I could help directly. I began leasing a horse, named Latifa.  She had been living a hard life in the pyramids area of Giza, forced to carry around people for hours on end, day after day, in the unforgiving desert heat. She was thin, and mentally a wreck. With the help of the stable owners we took Latifa in, and began the process of rehabilitating her back to a normal horse. Although the progress was slow, every accomplishment was more rewarding than anything I had ever felt. I will always remember the first time Latifa was able to stand next to you quietly and know genuine human kindness and no fear. Through time, patience and a desire to better the life of an animal, I had saved her. Looking back now, I realize that Latifa saved me as much as I had her.

In 2009, I met my fiancé Karim. Fast-forward one year, and together we made the move from Cairo to Hurghada. My passion for animal activism has only been growing these last few years, and in turn has transferred itself to Karim. He grew up in a fairly typical Egyptian family; the concept of having a pet in the house was a foreign one to him. Together we rescued a dog in the Red Sea resort town and since then he has been learning every day what it means to have an animal friend.

Owning a dog is not just about having a guard animal; the true connection that is experienced between dog and owner is one that words simply cannot describe. Knowing that you have a friend waiting anxiously for your arrival is comforting after a long day’s work. It is unconditional love that is only fostered through understanding and kindness. Karim has developed this compassion over the years, and in turn has begun spreading this compassion to those around him.

This process awakened a passion within me and in December of 2010, I began working with the Egyptian Society for Mercy to Animals (ESMA). ESMA is a non-profit animal rescue shelter based in the heart of Egypt, the capital city Cairo. It was founded by a few dedicated Egyptians and expatriates in response to mass shootings of dogs and cats in 2007, and has been fighting for the rights of animals in Egypt ever since. I knew that it was a cause I wanted to help, but was faced with the problem of distance. I resigned to doing what I could from Hurghada, and initially my work focused around sending out media updates, and press releases to media organizations throughout the world.

When the revolution in Egypt erupted, it was only a matter of time before the animal victims became evident. With so many people focusing on rebuilding the country politically, I focused much of my efforts towards aiding the crisis of the starving pyramid horses. ESMA launched a feed campaign which to begin with was not garnering much attention at all. Myself, along with other dedicated women primarily based in the UK, sent out tens of press releases and media blasts to every online magazine or print publication that would listen. Our efforts paid off and within a few weeks what was originally a localized problem grabbed the attention of media outlets worldwide. Donation campaigns were established and ESMA began receiving funding from individuals and other animal rights organizations from around the globe. The first few months of the feed campaigns saved the lives of hundreds of horses and gave animal rights activists in Egypt a real voice that was being heard.

Since then, ESMA and other similar organizations such as the Egyptian Society for Animal Friends (ESAF) have seen their support flourishing. In turn, I have learned that with real time and dedication one individual can make a difference. In Hurghada, I have been working with a dedicated group of women who have been trying to launch an educational campaign to take to the streets. Our goal is to help Egyptians understand that giving an animal love, rather than abuse, will give you a much greater reward in the long run. While as a Westerner these are concepts that I take for granted, many Egyptians are genuinely unaware of how to care for an animal or how a furry companion can enrich your life. It starts with small steps; seeing little children throwing stones at a dog in the streets and stopping to patiently explain that these dogs will not get aggressive without reason. Or passing a donkey that is pulling a load far too heavy, and gently showing the owner that reducing the payload can add years to the donkey’s life, thereby enabling more work productivity in the long run. These simple concepts are the ones that will help change the course of animal rights in Egypt and ultimately pave the road for a better future.

Recently, animal rights activists in Egypt were given great news. The ESAF, together with the General Organisation of Veterinary Services (GOVS) and other animal rights organizations, have launched what is known as a TNR program. The Trap, Neuter, Release program is intended to help ease the over-population of strays roaming throughout the streets in Cairo. Animals are rounded up by volunteers and taken to shelters, where vets will give the animals a check-up to ensure that they do not have any life threatening illnesses or diseases that may complicate the surgery procedure. All animals are then bathed in anti-parasitic shampoo, given their rabies vaccination, and neutered or spayed in a safe and healthy environment. The animals are then left in the shelter for a few days to recover from the surgery, and released back on the streets. This is intended to hopefully curb the over-population we see every day, and eventually decrease or completely put an end to the inhumane poisoning and shooting campaigns that have long been the norm for dealing with strays in the country. This truly was a battle won for animal rights activists.

I know that there is a lot of work left to do in Egypt and indeed the rest of the world when it comes to animal rights. As a guest in this country, I'm not trying to change it into my own mold; however, if there's one thing I can do to make a difference I will rise to the occasion. I have great hopes for the future of animal welfare in Egypt as long as organizations like ESMA and ESAF continue to exist and make headway in the progress of animal rights. And as long as there are always volunteers out there ready and willing to donate their time, we will see an Egypt full of compassion for our animal friends. I have faith, Inshallah. 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

When the many suffer the consequences of the few

Unless you have completely avoided any form of media outlet over the past 24 hours, you have probably heard what is happening in Cairo. Specifically, the dozens of protesters that stormed the Israeli Embassy (eventually swelling to their thousands), causing the evacuation of the Israeli ambassador and a handful of diplomats, and opening up a can of political worms that Egypt just might not be able to wiggle its way out of.

As per usual, there are many accounts for the causes behind what happened. They include: remnants of the former regime paying thugs to stir up violence and aggression in an already tense crowd (re-playing the popular sentiment during the revolution); frustrated protesters who, for the past few weeks have been demonstrating outside of the Israeli Embassy as a result of the attacks in Eilat, finally lost their patience and mob mentality took over; and finally, that forces outside of Egypt are stoking the Middle East fires in a political powerplay to throw the region into further chaos and potentially war. All of these theories include stories to back them up; all of them are lacking in that they do not address the underlying reason for why these attacks were allowed to happen in the first place.

AP News reports that "Egyptian police made no attempt to intervene during the day as crowds of hundreds tore down an embassy security wall with sledgehammers and their bare hands or after nightfall when about 30 protesters stormed into the Nile-side high-rise building where the embassy is located."

Further reports indicate that at least 3 Israelis were trapped inside the Embassy while protesters were storming the building, causing Egyptian special forces to rush in to save them. CBC News reports that the protesters beat one of the Israeli's, but no corroborative reports could be found.

Israel has appointed its consul for state affairs to oversee the Embassy while Israel contemplates their next move. Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak has allegedly been speaking with Leon Panetta, U.S. Defence Secretary, on how they will address the growing tensions in the Middle East. U.S. President Barack Obama expressed "great concern" with the situation unfolding in Cairo, assuring the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the U.S. was acting "at all levels" to find a solution to the situation.

Ironically enough, peppered in with the media reports of Egyptians attacking the Israeli Embassy, I was pointed towards this report, from Al-Masri Al-Yawm. The report claims that Israel filed charges against a 24 year old man, David Macmill, who was arrested for stoning the Egyptian Consulate near Eilat, the location notorious for the recent incident involving Israel shooting at Egyptian police in response to an attack on a bus carrying Israeli tourists.

The charges levied against Macmill include "a maximum of four years in jail on charges of "harming the flag or symbol of a friendly country" and "attempting to cause damage with malice", according to the indictment served at Beersheba Magistrate's Court."

Can anyone else spot the irony here? The paradox of the two situations?

Egyptian protesters were virtually unhindered in their attempts to break into the Israeli Embassy. Currently politicians are sitting back discussing what we hope will be a diplomatic solution to the problem. Police seem unable to regain control over their country. Does this indicate to the rest of the world that Egypt essentially has no government at the moment?

One man, acting alone, was arrested for throwing stones at the Egyptian Consulate. One man.

Do you think that these two Egyptian protesters, proudly displaying their seizure of documents from inside the Israeli Embassy will ever see the inside of a court room?

Source. AP image. 

At this point, only time will tell. The continued aggression against Israel's Embassy in Egypt will not be left unheeded much longer. What happens then is a guess for anyone to make. Will Egypt be slapped with international sanctions? Will foreign forces enter the country under the auspices of returning the country to a state of order? Will these protests continue unhindered until it really is too late and there is no turning back from a war in the Middle East as the Telegraph would have you believe? Because let's face it; the use of any weapons of mass destruction in this volatile region will spell disastrous affects for millions of people, forced to accept the consequences of the actions of a few testosterone and aggression fueled individuals.

Or will the Egyptian youth be able to regain their revolution, with their ideals, with the hand they are being forced to play.

It's a tense time in Egypt these days.

For more reading on this situation as it unfolds, check the following:

Egyptians break into Israeli Embassy in Cairo

Egypt on alert after Israel embassy stormed in Cairo

Full scale Middle-East war is 'imminent', warns Israeli general

Over 450 injured in Egypt clashes at Israeli Embassy

Israeli PM condemns embassy attack in Egypt

Israel condemns attack on Cairo Embassy 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Home-made doggie biscuits

I've been a busy bee this week. Between catching up on work and everything else, I've embarked on a new endeavour.

It's very frustrating trying to find good dog food and treats in Egypt. The dog food we first started giving to Orien almost killed him; our vet thought he had canine distemper when it was in fact the kibble he was eating. Since then, I've been very wary about feeding him any kibble from here, and the imported stuff just completely breaks your bank. He gets a balanced diet now made from home (and he indulged in too much over the summer :p).

It's the same thing with dog treats. Often many pet shops will simply open a bag of kibble (which brand is a mystery) and re-package it in small ziplocks, and sell individual bags as dog treats. Really?! And who has enough room in their suitcase every time they travel to bring back stocks of dog treats. I would like to meet that person :p

I decided instead that I was going to start making dog biscuits myself, and embarked on a journey to find out how to do so. Surprisingly, it was a lot easier than I imagined, and the end result are tasty dog treats that Orien just loves, and I can change flavours accordingly. I think it's only fair that other dog and pet owners in Hurghada have the option to buy proper home made dog biscuits too, and perhaps now our canine friends can have real treats without us having to break our banks in buying them!

For more information on these home-made dog treats, contact this email.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Mubarak trial continues

The trial of former president Hosni Mubarak continued today, with reports of clashes both outside the courthouse, and inside the courtroom. Al-Masri Al-Yawm updated at 4 p.m. that the defendant's lawyers and members of the martyr's families began throwing their shoes at each other. With cameras being banned inside the courtroom, it doesn't take a stretch of the imagination to think of what shenanigans are unfolding within.

Here is an update on the trial from Al-Ahram, on the clashes that are slowly becoming synonymous with the Mubarak's trial.

Historic Mubarak trial resumes amidst fierce clashes outside and inside courtroom 

Third session of the trial of Egypt's former dictator begins, untelevised, as his supporters throw stones at families of martyrs outside of courtroom

Photo from Al-Ahram; credit Mai Shaheen

The third session of the trial of Egypt's ousted dictator Hosni Mubarak has begun minutes ago.

This is the first session of the historic trial that would not be televised as presiding Judge Ahmed Refaat had decided at the end of last round to ban TV broadcasting.

Clashes errupted inside courtroom between the defendants' and victims' lawyers, resulting in six injuries.

A confirmation about the clashes came from a lawyer representing the families of the victims, Gamal Eid of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information. Eid, who is Tweeting from inside the courtroom, added that the clashes disrupted the session, forcing the presiding judge, Ahmed Refaat , to recess the session after lawyers yelled at him.

News reporters confirmed that all defendants - Mubarak, his two sons, his former minister of interior and six of his top aides - have all appeared in Court.

Mubrak was wheeled in on a stretcher as he did in the previous two sessions. However, his two sons, Alaa and Gamal, entered the courtroom in handcuffs for the very first time during the trial.

Earlier this morning, scuffles have broken out between protesters and police officers outside courtroom, as the 3-judge panel prepares to hear from police witnesses who were in the headquarters control room during the crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators during the January uprising against the former dictator.

Our Ahram Online reporter on the scene says that clashes began when some families of the martyrs were infuriated that police prevented them from entering the court room while allowing relatives of accused police officers to do so.

Police pushed back martyrs families and their supporters and things quieted down for a few moments.

However, our Ahram Online reporter adds, tens of Mubarak's supporters began throwing stones at families of martyrs and journalists.

At this point, all hell broke loose.

Families of the martyrs and their allies, who number around 100, picked up stones and started to throw back at Mubarak supporters.

Security forces and Mubarak supporters responded and scuffles escalated.

In the melee that ensued, at least 3 protesters and one police officer were injured.

Eye witnesses say more police were deployed this time compared to the last two sessions of the trial.

The third session of the trial of Mubarak, his two sons and his former minister of interior will feature for the first time testimonies of witnesses on charges that Mubarak used snipers to kill protesters during the January uprising against his 30 year rule.

Mubarak is standing trial with his two sons, Alaa and Gamal, as well as Habib al-Adli, a former interior minister, and six senior police officers on charges of corruption and killing peaceful protesters .
Lawyers have been looking forward to this session that will include the testimony of four significant witnesses. Among these is a very important general, Hussein Moussa, who is the former head of operations in the Central Security Forces who were on the frontline during the crackdown.

According to lawyer Gamal Eid, head of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information,, Moussa is especially important as he was “formally accused of erasing all information and recorded phone calls from the official records”.

Ten Kuwaiti lawyers were expected to join the defence team for Mubarak on Monday, but no one has shown up in court yet.

Some of the lawyers said their role comes as a gesture of gratitude to Mubarak for his support for a US-led coalition that expelled Iraq from Kuwait in 1991.

Where to Go - Granada

I've decided to add a new segment to the blog, "Where to Go." I plan to update this once weekly, with new spots around Hurghada, restaurants, clubs, sports, the likes. Hopefully you will enjoy it! Now that I'm back from Eid, there's so much I feel I have to update on!

Today, I will begin with posting for the new segment, specifically, a review on the restaurant Granada.

Granada from the front 

Granada is located just after Sunrise Hotel on Sheraton Street. I would pass this restaurant many times before actually stopping. From the outside it is a beautiful looking restaurant, and although every time I would see it I'd remind myself "oh I have to eat there," it was not until last month that we finally decided to reserve a table. And wow was it worth it! 

View from our table.  

Granada's location allows for beautiful views of the Red Sea and Giftun Island right in front of you. Plan for a sunset dinner time, and you can eat while watching the rays bouncing off the emerald waters in front of you, and the cool sea breeze blowing in through the open air seating area.

Granada's seating area is open to the sea breeze

For its location and appearance, Granada is very reasonably priced. A full meal for two adults will not run much more than 100 LE, assuming you are not also ordering beers. Even then, I doubt it would go over 200 LE (less than 35 $)!

Alfredo Pasta. It was delicious! 
Their menu boasts an assortment of various foods, and their portions are enormous. Our first visit, we were expecting the portions to be "average" for Egypt, which can be quite small on certain dishes, particularly salads and pasta dishes. We ordered what we expected to be a small pasta for a starter, and I had the Caesar salad for my main course. Many who have had "Caesar" salads in restaurants throughout Egypt can attest: sometimes what is passed off as Caesar salad is really no more than a few small chunks of chicken on lettuce, and a watered down mayonnaise dressing on top. Blech! At Granada this was not the case; my salad was enormous, and I definitely had more than a fair share of chicken. And the dressing? Most certainly worthy of Caesar.

K's burger

My burger
Our second outing we ordered the burgers. Granada offers a wide variety of foods and beverages, ranging from traditional Egyptian grilled items, to "American-style" items, to pizzas/pastas and seafood dishes. Again my burger was enormous, and for being less than 50 LE for the whole thing, you cannot beat those prices.

Granada's service is also great; their waitstaff are friendly and prompt, and by our second visit the manager was out shaking our hands and asking how the meal was.

My only complaint would be the Ultimate Karaoke style music that was playing, but that is worthy of a blog in its own right.

View from our table on our second visit. Did I mention the great view?  

Overall, I would give Granada an 8.5 out of 10. Reason being, we had problems with flies as a result of the time of day, so I would suggest that Granada invest in some citronella candles, because there's nothing like swatting flies away from your dinner! Other than that, I really cannot find any fault with the place.

To make reservations, contact 011-842-8073