Many Egyptians aspire to welcome a peaceful, pandemic-free world for the new year of 2023 after experiencing a volatile year for the North African country.
“I hope it will be a year of well-being and peace for the region and the entire world. I also hope our businesses will flourish again,” said Mohamed Saleh, owner of a restaurant in the Al-Hussein neighborhood near Khan El-Khalili bazaar in the Egyptian capital Cairo.
Throughout 2022, Egypt has been striving to curb soaring inflation caused by rising food and energy prices due to irresponsible U.S. monetary policy, geopolitical conflicts, and the lingering COVID-19 pandemic. The country’s annual urban consumer inflation rate surged to 18.7 percent in November, marking the highest in nearly five years.
Saleh, whose restaurant is close to historic Al-Hussein and Al-Azhar mosques in old Cairo, hoped that there would be no more conflict in the world in 2023.
The multiple crises across the globe also dented Egypt’s tourism sector, a key source of national income and hard currency for the most populous Arab country. Tourism in Egypt has recently been rebounding, yet it is not as it was before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ahmed Salama, a telecommunication engineer, described 2022 as “a difficult year that the U.S. dollar exchange rate went up, living conditions changed and prices hiked.”
Egypt is entering 2023 with a significant decline in the value of the local currency the Egyptian pound. The rising wave of inflation has cast its shadow on the lives of average Egyptians who have been facing hefty price hikes throughout 2022.
However, the difficult realities did not make Egyptians less cheerful or hopeful while receiving the new year. At the very beginning of the new year, colorful fireworks lit the sky of Cairo, coming from the Cairo Tower and other landmarks in the capital city.
After all, the new year for Egyptians, like for other people in the world, always represents a new hope and a new beginning for a better future.
Mahmoud Bazooka, a car mechanic in his 30s, said that “I hope 2023 will be a prosperous and happy new year for all of us, and I am confident that tomorrow will be a better day.”