Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Chinese Occupation of Egypt

I was trying a splendidly chic coat from "Or", a famous store in Egypt that once was under the name of "Mexx". True the buttons were loose but the wool felt so warm and finely-made. It was probably the most expensive item of clothing I ever bought; it was for 700 L.E, but it was well worth it. I suddenly noticed the "Made in Egypt" tag, and had mixed feelings.
I rarely noticed where on Earth what I buy was made, I just got what I liked and what was affordable for me and c'est ca. But buying such a good coat made by domestic hands made me feel a kind of warmth and pride. For what is patriotism if you do not do what you can to support your country's economy? We have always made fun of Egyptian products, and always preferred the -bless me- CHINESE ones. But hear me out on this story.
I got those pretty pair of ballerina shoes from Glitter, a famous accessories shop. It was made in China, and it cost 110 L.E, but what the heck, they're damn cute. The first day I wore them, I found they were marred by black lines that wouldn't get removed, not even with alcohol. No problem. It happens. Another day I was surprised to find my toes extremely dirty, then I found out that the brand new pair of shoes is neatly cut open from the front. I glued it nonetheless and wore it again. It used to be white, but now there's a huge assembly of colours that it could match just any outfit!
I started to hate chinese products, and would always look at the tags attached to the items I buy. Club Aldo is another famous shoes and bags store that sells mostly Chinese products. I got myself a white bag, and was disappointed to find it scratched all over a short time after.
Even the products of big-name stores in Egypt like Mango, Silvian Heach, H&M, Levi's etc are made in China. At one time this phrase was subtly written on a tag: Made in P.R.C. Now I know that Silvian heach is Italian, H&M Swedish, why the hell don't they sell Italian and Swedish stuff? My friend explained that they manufacture their goods in Asia because the workers get low wages there. Do I hear sweatshops? Maybe. But think about this: They sell say a pair of Jeans for a high price, maybe five times its true cost, take most of the money in their pockets and give the poor Chinese workers the minimum. This minimum, of course, could still amount to four times the salary of an Egyptian university professor. Sigh.
I hit City Stars today hoping and praying to God I would get me a medium sized black bag, Made in Egypt, in vain. I thought of Benetton, as their products are usually made in Syria, who are in the end of the day our cousins, but I found a Chinese bag that cost 544 L.E sticking out its tongue to me.
Is there any Egyptian industry, AT ALL? What have the president and the Ministry of Industry been doing in the past thirty years? Haven't they made any plans to set up factories that sell much-needed products such as world-class clothes, mobile phones (yes, I'm dreaming), PENCILS AND COPYBOOKS for Heaven's sake? Because when they actually manufacture something, the Egyptians do it very well, much better than the Chinese. I still remember the clothes I got from Mexx, Naf Naf, Dalydress, Rojada years ago that have been worn again and again and withstood time and Cairo's microbuses.
After the white choes and bag traumas, I vowed to buy Egyptian products whenever I can. But forgive me, Egypt, for today I went home carrying a black bag from H&M, Made in China.


Mo-ha-med said...

Inji launched a 'Going Local' campaign which I think you might be interested in..
Check it out!!

Mo-ha-med said...

Hmm, did i mess up the hyperlink? I meant here.

Ma3t said...

Someone once told me that when they opened the door and found a chinese woman speaking in Arabic selling clothes he knew that one day China will rule the world :D

All of the famous shops depend on the abundant cheap labor of Asia. There was an excellent but horrifying documentary on Gap's factories ( I can't remember where it was exactly). It seemed like absolute slavery.

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