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Kai Ryssdal: The most recent numbers we have for economic growth in Egypt are semi-reliable. Best guesses are, it’s about 1 percent so far this year. Which is bad enough, but only part of the reason tens of thousands of people have been in Tahrir Square in Cairo the past few days. Today, the military government there said it would shift to civilian rule earlier than previously promised, following elections next week.
Nabil Mansour runs the Osiris Hotel in Cairo, about a three-minute walk from the square, he tells us. Mr. Mansour, welcome to the program.
Nabil Mansour: You are welcome, yes.
Ryssdal: Let me start by asking you this, Mr. Mansour: What has it been like for you the past 10 months, since January?
Mansour: The last 10 months has been going up and going down, going up and going down. We have like two months, have no people who actually want a room or two rooms.
Ryssdal: Only one room or two rooms rented out?
Mansour: Yeah and then we have some rough months. We are working not bad, like 40 percent or something like that.
Ryssdal: Forty percent? But still, are you making any money? You can’t be making any money.
Mansour: No, no, no, no. No one makes money in this moment. But people still need to have some place to sleep. Even if you have one room or two rooms.
Ryssdal: Yeah, but what do you do? How do you pay your suppliers? How do you pay your workers? How do you survive?
Mansour: Yeah, you pay from your pockets, that’s all.
Ryssdal: You pay from your pocket?
Mansour: Yeah, yeah. This is true, yes.
Ryssdal: Do you have very deep pockets?
Ryssdal: So it can’t last very long, can it, if you don’t have very big pockets?
Mansour: Yeah. You’re obligated, you know? Sometimes you’ll obligated to do something.
Ryssdal: So what would you see happen? I mean, clearly, you’re losing money, your business is at risk. What do you want to have happen?
Mansour: Yeah, you cannot stop your job, you know? You cannot, because I live in a place, you know? So I cannot stop with this job. And you cannot tell your guests, ‘We are closed, and go out.’
Ryssdal: What do you think is going to happen in the elections on the 28th?
Mansour: I want it to have everyone quiet and everyone wants his choice, these people for the government and everything be changed for the good, for the best. Everyone likes his country, you know?
Mansour: We like our country, and we like Egypt, and we like the people to be better. Just everyone wants that.
Ryssdal: Yeah. So we have a saying in this country, it goes around election time and it goes, ‘Are you better off now than you were four years ago?’ So are you better off now that you were?
Mansour: No, no. We are not better than before, but we hope to be better after. Yeah.
Ryssdal: Thank you very much for your time, sir.
Mansour: You are welcome.
Ryssdal: Bye, now.
Mansour: You are welcome, bye.
Ryssdal: Nabil Mansour runs the Osiris Hotel in Cairo.
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