Online Frenemies: Cairo Websites We Love to Hate
In an unprecedented move, managing editor, Haisam Awad, has forsaken Cairo 360’s strict first person pronoun rules to address readers on a subject dear to his heart – the complexities of rivalry, hatred and begrudging admiration in the online community in Cairo.
One of my first working experiences in Cairo was at a certain English language newspaper, where an office of five people had to share one Ethernet cable, taking turns to get online. To me, at that time, it suggested that the World Wide Web hadn’t quite touched the mainstream consciousness of the masses.
Obviously I was wrong.
Here we are in 2013 and one can only be impressed at the internet entrepreneurship dominating the capital – particularly in the realms of lifestyle and culture. From a Cairo 360 perspective, these types of websites should be mortal enemies. But in the spirit of post-revolution Egypt, I have nothing but love for these guys – a love that I like to believe is reciprocated. Call them what you will – frenemies, rivals, competitors – but I can at least safely call them entertaining.
When I first came to Egypt, Cairo Gossip was on everyone’s lips. If you got snapped by CG, it meant you made it – in a dirty kind of Lindsay Lohan way. To this day, CG seems to have the scoop on everything. It is for this very logical and well-thought out reason that I have deduced that Cairo Gossip is in fact a master bender of space and time, able to foresee the future of nightlife and events in Egypt.
Even more impressive than that, however, is that the ‘moles’ of Cairo Gossip have miraculously managed to train a frog to take photos and upload them to CG Live, giving us all immediate access to the nightlife scene from the perspective of an amphibian. Outstanding.
I don’t like people. I’m at the age where human contact has become more of a necessity to stay in touch with the ‘real’ world – more so than it is any kind of pleasure – and adding phones to the mix makes it all the worse. Tazkarty alleviates some of this phobia by making the chore of exaggeratingly annunciating my every word to restaurant staff via my notoriously unstable Etisalat line, therefore setting me on the path to a good night. It’s as simple as that.
Oh, and they let us hijack their reservation system so that you can book a table at the city’s top restaurants and bars on Cairo 360. For that, Tazkarty gets two thumbs up, a highfive and a soft fist-pump.
I like Cairo Zoom because some months ago, a rather dashing photo of the back of my head was voted ‘Most Fun’ and ‘Most Voguish’. I later found out that this was down to my esteemed colleagues, but I’m still chalking it up as a win.
I’ve generally taken to ducking and diving to avoid their relentless network of photographers – because one website can’t handle that much sexiness. These guys are everywhere, though, be it a restaurant opening or a party headed by a supposedly famous Eastern European DJ. In the end, I’m content having people point out the back of my fun and voguish head in the occasional photo.
What can I say about Cairo Scene – the guys who made ‘sh@rmata kh@wal’ a way of life. I want to say that they’re nice guys, I really do, but the fact that they continue to offend everyone in Cairo has me thinking that maybe they’re just jerks. Or maybe I’m the jerk? On a personal level, I have a pretty intense rivalry with the CS editor – one that goes way back.
Either way, we’re forced to be civil with one another on account of our unholy marriage to their sister site, Tazkarty. All in all though, the freaks and geeks at Cairo Scene are pretty stand-up guys and they know a few things about punching words into keyboards. Having relaunched into a slick new website earlier this year, CS has been pretty unstoppable.
This newest kid on the block is quite something, offering a veritable smorgasbord of everything under the sun. I feel like I have a lot in common with Scoop Empire; I like meatloaf, I like Beach House and I generally like ‘stuff’, and Scoop Empire has ‘stuff’ by the bucket load.
The website has an impressive roster of contributors from all walks of life and I understand that they’re always on the lookout for decent wordsmiths. I can hold my own over 400 words and I plan to pitch some ‘stuff’; the first is a self-help piece addressing the woes of male pattern baldness and the second is a feature on the science of beards.
Hats off to you, guys – but only when no one’s watching.