World Clock

Cairo, Egypt


Fulbright Reception at the Lohofs’


October 30


The Fulbrighters met at Bruce and Annamarie Lohof’s house for a Fulbright dinner tonight. I went with Sussan Babaie and Richard in their car. This night was for the scholars (the students had another night at the Lohofs). I had an extended conversation with Bruce (director of the Fulbright Commission of Egypt) about the state of “American Studies” at AUC. While he likes the fact that AUC pays for half of my Fulbright costs, he is not sure how much use they actually put me to in American Studies. I said that because of turf wars between American Studies and Sociology, there was little coordination between the departments, so I am left a little in limbo.


I also had an extended conversation with Samr, who told me about the Islamic/Middle Eastern Studies department at University of Texas—Austin. He also told me that his parents are Egyptian, and came to the US back in the 1970s. His parents still own some apartment buildings in downtown Cairo, and he explained why the once glorious European-style architecture of downtown Cairo has deteriorated: because of Nasser’s socialist reforms, apartments underwent rent control that neither Sadat nor Mubarak were willing to reform. Thus, renters pay only $12 or $15 dollars a month for rent in downtown Cairo—with that little money coming in, there is no incentive for building owners to make sorely needed renovations. Thus, buildings fall apart and the rich move out to the gated suburbs, leaving just the poor behind. What needs to happen, Samr said, was for rent controls to be lifted, and allow the market to stabilize the rent prices. There will be economic dislocation, but then with rent money flowing, there will be funds for upgrading the declining city center.

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