I asked Galal how it's going so far. Web Cafe had been open just six weeks when we met and it was holiday time—many local folks were out of town enjoying the beaches further west on the Mediterranean or on the Red Sea. During our visits to the cafe customers were few and far between—Galal was lax in opening at the posted 11:00am (once I had to track him down on his cell phone).
"Not bad," he answered. "Most people come here accidentally. Some foreigners told me about Lonely Planet. I spent three days trying to have contact with a Lonely Planet editor to advertise my place in the Egypt guide and I failed. But I put some flyers in hotels and it works—I have you (laughs)."
What about the new public library—will there be internet access there? "Sure." Will they charge? "I'm not sure about this." Seems like something you should be concerned with. "If you are a user you will look for two things—the nearest one and the best. For instance, I have three or four in my neighborhood. I will pick the best one. This library is on the other side of town so it's too far. It won't effect my business."
I think Galal is right about this. Free web access from such places as public libraries is typically set up for surfing the web; for research—not for email or chat. At LE5 per hour people are willing to pay.
And what of the future?
"It's growing," Galal said. "One year ago most people didn't know about the internet or they didn't care. Even if they heard about it they didn't care. Now it's a lot different. Everyone is concerned and wants to know. Even the older people who don't know about the computer, they want to hear about the internet and encourage the kids to start learning."
And the farm?
"It's still running. I have a manager there. My personal interest is now with computers."
Galal can be reached at: email@example.com