The short answer is “yes”.
There are armed guards everywhere, both in uniform and in civilian clothes. They are at the tombs and monuments, at the museums, in front of strategic buildings and religious centres, all around airports and hotels and at the many checkpoints along the major intercity roads.
The state of the economy in Egypt is far worse than we expected. Begging was evident but more so was the desperate pleas of the hawkers. Hawking and bargaining is part of the experience in many countries, but it has reached crises point here. Each store and stall has their own spiele “no hassle” “I’ve got everything you need” “please come and visit my shop” “hassle me” “welcome to Egypt” “welcome to my shop” and of course the constant calls to Bruce as “Mr Moustache”.
In Edfu, desperation reached a new height, when I refused the offer to buy from one hawker I was told I was “unwelcome in Egypt”.
Tourism is down at least 50% and it is the hawkers who sell the crappy souvenirs who are really suffering. They say they can’t feed their families and they are particularly angry that each tourist cannot buy from their store.
And for all that, we never ever felt threatened or unsafe. I never felt the need to clutch my bag or my camera. Many people of all ages came up to us to say “welcome to Egypt” and “where are you from?” and “what is your name?” and “can I take your photo?”, either practising their English or simply engaging us in conversation. They talked of the revolution and how desperately they now needed a government.
The lack of government is evident from the breakdown in amenities that we as tourists could see. Empty, even burned out buildings, piled up rubbish, laws such traffic signals ignored, and the hundreds of speed humps put up by villagers on public roads to slow traffic and protect their residents.
There are no tourist offices and no maps to help you navigate around the cities. The concierge at the hotel will tell you they have run out of maps and the “government” has not printed any more.
The road to the international airport in Cairo runs through Heliopolis the upmarket suburb where Mubarack lived, however most of Cairo is squalid and dusty – in need of TLC that I hope a new proper democratic government can provide.
Meanwhile, visit Egypt and spend some money on sightseeing, food, accommodation and souvenirs and help put it on the road to recovery. The people are friendly and the sights are outstanding.