A great deal of discussions are going on right now about Egypt and the state of their country. Everything from their governments attempts to gain Ethiopia as an ally, to an Al Jazeera journalist being imprisoned for another 45 days. There are many subjects that are not being talked about however. Smart Village Cairo, for example, is a bit of an interesting read. Opening with five buildings in 2003, Smart Village Cairo began creating a truly amazing work environment for many tech companies that were interested in its development. By 2011 the park boasted 59 buildings, and clients such as Microsoft, HP, IBM, and Intel are among the 160 diverse large tech companies that have had offices there, at one point or another.
Anyone would be hard pressed to find a more appealing place to work than Smart Village. Boasting lakes, waterfalls, restaurants and amazing architecture this beautiful park must be an inspiring place to work for the 40,000 plus employees. Currently the park rests on just over 129 acres of land, but has major expansion goals of up to 250 acres by 2016. Because of this massive expansion the amount of support services staff will have be increased up to a total of around 2,300 people.
The national scene being what it is in Egypt, there have been a few minor set backs and challenges for the companies doing business in Smart Village. Microsoft, for example, had to redirect some of its internet based projects out of the country when the Egyptian government shutdown all internet traffic in or out of the country in 2011. During the outage Hewlett-Packard also issued a notice to its employees, working in Smart Village Cairo, advising them to stay at home.
The outage lasted five days and ended the day after the president, Hosni Mubarak, stated that he was not seeking re-election. As Egypt came back online cyberspace lit up with new life and everything, in the digital world at least, started to get back to normal. Protests continued to rage that day and violence increased as well. For some though, a small sense of normalcy returned to their lives. Being able to “Tweet” again helped some to vent their anger while others were just happy to be able to talk to their friends again.
The ground in Egypt is still a little shaky these days, but for the people of Smart Village Cairo life has returned to normal, for the most part. Being tech companies in a country where the freedom of their internet is at stake, as well as their jobs, must be pretty nerve racking. As the world continues to shift around it, this little village continues to grow, in both size and value.
Earlier this year the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology(MCIT) in Egypt stated that they would be holding a “Safer Internet Day”, dedicated to creating an awareness for the need for more responsible internet for teachers and children alike. While bad things can be said to be happening in any country in the world, there are also wonderful little corners and nooks that are still beautiful and welcoming. Egypt’s Smart Village in Cairo is one of those places where it is so beautiful it almost outshines the turmoil surrounding it.
Opinion By Phillip Schmidt