I spent my 24th birthday in the two countries that make up my blood. Yemen and Egypt. I know you’ve all heard me rant on about Yemen, a place so dear to me. But the truth is that I am only half Yemeni, my other half is Egyptian. Because of my distant relationship with my mother, I had never been to Egypt.
After news of my wonderful Swedish friends heading to Cairo to report, I decided to join. My family in Yemen threw me a surprise birthday party fully equipped with delicious food, amazing music and belly dancing, and I hopped onto a plane for Egypt right after.
Upon arrival, a football player-sized Egyptian man, Mowafak, was waiting for me with a sign that said my name in both English and Arabic. I immediately felt at home. We drove through Cairo with Om Kalthoum softly playing on the radio, until we reached the houseboat on the Nile that would become home for the next nine days.
Cairo was home to both my mother and father when they were my age. It’s where they met, where they were educated, a place that had to exist in order for me and my siblings to come into existence. As I roamed through Tahrir, I wondered what it was like for my father to go to that same square every day, attending university, having no clue of the symbolic value it would hold for me and my generation today.
Tahrir was an experience beyond words and photographs. The energy was epic, historic. I met brilliant and caring people in Tahrir. I felt a country coming together for freedom. Yes, there was violence, tear gas, disgusting instances of sexual harassment, but the good energy overpowered all of these things.
Egypt really stole my heart, and now that I’m in Abu Dhabi, I’m not really sure if this is where I’m meant to be living.
Cairo, I believe I’ll be seeing you again, very soon.