Smokin’ in Cairo

Just to prove I’m not moaning on Facebook about nothing, here’s the lead story for this week’s English version of Al-Ahram newspaper.

‘For once, as it turns out, the burning of rice chaff by Nile Delta farmers is not responsible for the seasonal air pollution known as the black-cloud phenomenon, writes Mahmoud Bakr. Or so the Ministry of State for Environmental Affairs assures us.

Air pollution this week is the result of a dust storm that started in Chad and blew over North Africa, according to Ahmed Abul-Soud, head of the Air Quality Department at the ministry, taking a northeasterly direction and covering a large expanse of southern and northern Egypt on Saturday evening and the next day. For their part farmers have not however stopped burning their chaff, despite more severe fines and other efforts on the part of the ministry. Maged George, the minister of state for environmental affairs, warned of air pollution in the next few weeks due precisely to the burning of rice chaff, elaborating on the ministry’s plan to encourage recycling on a large scale.

photo: Mohamed Mustafa

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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