Lights out, Cairo! It’s 10pm already!

Downtown Egypt PIC: Belle Jackson
It’s not a hoax, the Egyptian government plans to turn the lights off in Cairo at 10pm.
Cairo’s been voted the world’s most 24-hour city, and I’ve heard it described not so much as ‘the city that never sleeps’ as ‘the city that sleeps in shifts’. 
Most Egyptians here in Australia are amazed at how early we shut up shop, and our household is constantly scrounging for somewhere to eat, midweek at 3pm, when all the sandwich bars and cafes have packed up, and the restaurants are only starting to think about dinner (6-9pm, no latecomers) Admittedly, this is country Australia we’re talking, but they’re still horrified. 
The plan to shut the country down at 10pm (midnight for restaurants) is the Egyptian government’s way to save electricity and increase productivity, to the tune of $1 billion a year. Hello? Cairo’s toddlers would laugh at the idea of being in bed at 10pm, let alone their parents doing so. 
People celebrate the massive festivites of Eid al-Adha (think Christmas times 10) by giving new clothes to children, and I saw, with my own eyes, parents out shopping with their children for new threads at 3am. The kids didn’t seem to mind. 
In a newspaper article I read this morning, locals laughed at the idea. One joker suggested the government “wants to turn us into Switzerland.” 
Perhaps it’s easier, as a traveller, to love places like Cairo for their chaos and their unwieldy wildness when you don’t have to live there yourself. But my heart says this town won’t close down. 
Eid Mubarak!

About the author

Fear is found on a creaking glacier in the Caucasus mountains and joy is encapsulated in the perfect Shanghai dumpling. And while I love a $500-a-night hotel room (who doesn’t?), sometimes the best stories are found in a $20 guesthouse. With an eye always out for good markets and great street eats, I write the travel news and features for the Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne’s The Age newspapers, and features for whoever else asks. I have a particular soft spot for the wilds of the Middle East, scarves and carpets. My articles and photographs have been published in a range of consumer magazines and newspapers in Australia and abroad, and occasionally I chat on radio, too, from Essentials Magazine to 3AW or the Irish Times.

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