A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Two Interesting Takes on Chinese Migrants in Egypt

Since my daughter is ethnically Han Chinese, I have a certain interest, in addition to the natural interest as a historian and cultural observer, in the Overseas Chinese experience. When I first lived in Egypt in 1972 I knew of only two Chinese restaurants. There may have been some in Heliopolis or Maadi but the two downtown were not great, and the menus avoided pork dishes (though there may have been separate menus for Chinese patrons even then.) Today Chinese restaurants and even delivery are commonplace in Cairo, but also of interest is a growing ethnic Chinese population working in Egypt.

First, note a current New Yorker article by David Hessler, "Learning to Speak Lingerie: Chinese merchants and the inroads of globalization" about Chinese lingerie sellers in Egypt.  This in turn led me to this 2013 documentary about Chinese workers in Egypt, some of them Uighurs and other Chinese Muslims, and many of them undocumented:

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