Wikimania 2008/Bids/Alexandria/Q&A

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Wikimania 2008 official bids:
Alexandria | Atlanta | Cape Town
Questions and Answers:
Alexandria | Atlanta | Cape Town

This page is for questions and answers from the Jury to the Alexandria bidding team, to follow the presentation meeting September 23.

Sample [Sample Question][edit]

Why do you like beans? Cary Bass demandez
Response: Because they're nutritious. Cary Bass demandez 13:58, 23 September 2007 (UTC)

Budget[edit]

Hi, could you please give a budget? How much are you planning to spend on which issues, what is your total budget? How much do you expect to gather from which resources? Please be fair, and don't make it look better as it truly is. Thanks. Effeietsanders 16:14, 23 September 2007 (UTC)
BA is providing the venue and all technical facilities and services for free, hence saving about $52000[1]. Other major budget elements are traveling costs for speakers as well as foundation scholarships for which an amount of $46000 is fixed based on 10 speakers and 35 scholarships. Transportation is another category of the budget. It includes transportation from Cairo airport to Alex and vise versa, group transportation, and cabs for VIPs, total of which is around $4500. Catering is another item amounting for about $19300 of the budget; it will be done through Hilton and negotiations are currently in progress with Hilton to sponsor all or part of this category. Promotional material expenses are estimated by $2600 and conference materials by $5900. Amount of $10500 of the budget is dedicated for parties, while administrative fees accounts for $1300 of the budget. And finally awards and souvenirs items are estimated by about $2800.
So the total budget is around $145000, from which around $52000 are already covered by BA leaving $93000 that needs fundraising which is currently in progress. This is not to mention registration fees and funds that are usually provided to the foundation for each Wikimania. --Mirette 21:02, 23 September 2007 (UTC)
Hello Andres, We are planning a total budget of some 145K $. The BA as a hosting venue, will be offering what is worth of around 52K$ as services, including halls rentals, web-casting, video conferencing, plasma screens, and wi-fi. Fund will be raised for the rest of the expenses that include: Scholarships and speakers flights, promotional materials, internal transportation, parties, catering and administrative materials. Scholarships and speakers are the items with the most amount of money that needs to be raised. One possible venue is that Air lines, which have strong presence in the city -not all airline have their flights directly to/from Alexandria-, will be offering some flights for free, given that their tickets are normally of high prices. (British Airways, Lufthansa, Gulf Air..)or others of lower rates such as Olympic Airways. Some other companies, especially non-IT related businesses would welcome to sponsor either the VIP or the attendees party. Not to mention the enthusiasm of companies that are already in the IT business, and are willing to contribute in many venues; some major communication companies can offer strong promotion to the event via their own promotions, which will be a grand asset. Finally, and which is the greatest impact: our government is strongly willing to support the event and most probably will be covering any shortage with expenses; as a developing country, we very much welcome events that are oriented towards raising awareness towards the culture of sharing knowledge. We believe that winning the bid will result in a strong impact and 'refreshness' in the ar.wiki content. We expect a major difference in both content of ar.wiki and culture of sharing knowledge after the event being hosted here, and that is why we are really looking forward to it. For instance, I never edited in Wiki before I became involved in the bidding process. Imagine how many other would start editing and sharing their knowledge when they know that the event shall be hosted here, and that their contribution is definitely required; we actually 'need' this event.
Back to our financial issues, we expect extra money to be raised, especially with the governmental contribution. Extra money shall be dedicated to the foundation of the local chapter, Wikimedia Egypt, which we have already started our very first steps towards its establishment.
Thanks Andres --Moushira 21:23, 23 September 2007 (UTC)
Hi, thanks a lot for your fast reply! Could you maybe summarize the data in a table for more clarity, and especially for the people who have difficulty to get the figures out of a story? I would like to suggest the possibility to make a table in Open Office, and to export it then to pdf, and upload that here. That way you could easily update the file every time, and you have not to spend a lot of time in the lay out of the horrible wiki syntax for tables :) Thanks! (by the way, Effe iets anders is just a nickname, if you really want to use something shorter, maybe Eia is more convenient :) Sorry, I know my nick is hard for foreigners...) Effeietsanders 19:54, 24 September 2007 (UTC)
Hey Eia, currently the fully detailed budget is in a spreadsheet, I've summarized it and put it in a table here
Wikimania_2008/Bids/Alexandria/Budget_and_Sponsorship#Total_budget
to be easily read than an uploaded pdf file :). let me know if you have any other thoughts regarding the budget. Thank you --Mido 10:35, 25 September 2007 (UTC)
Hi, thanks a lot. This makes it more insightful. However, this also raises a few minor questions:
  • How stable is the EGP? Could you say that this rate will be roughly the same in one year? (compared with EUR or USD)
  • I see that for 45 speaker&&scholarships you estimate USD 1000 roughly per person. Do you think this will be sufficient? (for long journeys this sounds not very much to me)
  • I see the accommodation (I read about Saint Marc's College?) is not counted in the budget? Do you want to make reservations for all together, and pay for it in advance? In that case, it might be wise to add it to the budget (you need to have the money in cash to be able to pay), and also add a income for it with attendees paying for their rooms. Is breakfast included then? If you leave the sleeping places up to the attendees themselves, this is no big issue here of course.
Thanks again! (and sorry for being a pain in the ass :P ) Effeietsanders 12:45, 25 September 2007 (UTC)
hello Eia again,
  • Over the last year you can check at yahoo finance, actually today it's around 5.5 not 5.7, so I guess it will be very much around the numbers we put for the items that will be paid here if not less.
  • Not all scholarships will be fully paid for by us; many will be given the flight cost only and I think some people will be willing to pay for part of it too. Speakers from Europe will need less than the 1100 we set for the individual speaker including accommodation. Also this is a rough estimation; extra money may be raised given the wide interest of sponsoring we see now, but I think 46000 will be sufficient for this number of speakers and scholarships.
  • We were planning to include options while registering for Wikimania for accommodation which will be a hotel (number restricted) or the dorms (which will cost around 6 dollars/person/night or less), including breakfast which can be arranged by you for 2 dollars for example, not more. Overall, if you choose the dorms, maximum it will be an extra 8 USD B&B, or 30-40 USD B&B in a double room in a 4-star hotel (less than that can be arranged in 2-3 hotels). There is a possibility of covering this in advance by sponsoring. We expect that there will be a large sum of money to be left over after we cover all expected expenses.
Thanks Eia for your question, plz tell us if anything else needs clarification :) --Mido 13:48, 25 September 2007 (UTC)

Experiences[edit]

If I recall correctly, no one in Alex team has attended past three Wikimanias, and not the team of online part. Some Egyptian editors got scholarship, but they gave up to show at last. Without past participation, how do you think the coming conference can still be "Wikimania", that is, can preserve its virtues, while any of you hasn't known its atmosphere? Aphaia
Response at #Question 6
  • it might also be worth noting that it is almost impossible for an egyptian to get a visa to go abroad (from the egyptian government) - even if they can afford the high exchange rate which makes travelling abroad inaccessible. This does not mean that they lack the experience or enthusiasm present everywhere else! 86.18.207.227 15:37, 3 May 2008 (UTC)

Accessibility[edit]

Is there any country which Egypt doesn't recognize and hence is required visa to enter? Aphaia
Background of this question: We have seen some visa troubles. In 2005, one of our speakers didn't show - he didn't get visa. Oh well. And in 2006 Egypt -> Taiwan travels was sort of trouble. Does it mean the opposite direction trip would be also trouble?
Response:The countries that their people require pre-arrival visas are listed here.--TheEgyptian 09:14, 25 September 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for pointing it out. According to Egyptian Embassy list, most of countries whose citizens are required visa to enter to Egypt has no Egyptian embassy. How can they get visa excluding "to visit a neighbor county and get the visa" (this year we found it almost impossible for economical reasons), specially in case no diplomatic relationship is settled between Egypt and the country in question (e.g. Taiwan)? --Aphaia 10:01, 25 September 2007 (UTC)
Entering Egypt from most countries doesn't require a visa prior to arrival, very few cases left can be fixed individually, most countries in the visas section have embassies in their countries which can be found here [2] (list on the sub page is not complete of course). In the case of Taiwan, I myself was not able to go to Wikimania 2007 due to the visa problem, it was nearly fixed before the event but that was too late for us (I and another editor who was going too). The solution was special visa-on-arrival from the ministry of foreign affairs as I recall; I beleive we can arrange such a solution here for those specific cases (I guess no other participants from other countries would face this problem). Thanks --Mido 11:09, 25 September 2007 (UTC)

Human Rights[edit]

LGBT visitors[edit]

Is this image wrong? If so could you fix it?
A question that was raised in the irc discussion that wasn't answered was the attitude that LGBT delegates might face in Egypt. I remember reading somewhere, maybe the English Wikipedia article on en:LGBT rights in Egypt where it said that LGBT issues were generally looked down upon. Is Alex any different from the rest of Egyptian society in this matter? What would be your recommendations for LGBT delegates wishing to attend in order to avoid possible problems?
- FrancisTyers 13:59, 25 September 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for your question. People with different sexual orientations visit Egypt every year and almost no problems occurred only for their orientation, they're not arrested or harassed by authorities for example if they are gays or anything like this. LGBT people can attend and stay in Alexandria as they wish just like any other tourist, people don't have to declare their sexual orientation to anyone here and no one will ask for this. Thanks --Mido 14:35, 25 September 2007 (UTC)
Response: So what you are saying is that an LGBT delegate from say... Spain or Denmark would not have to alter their behaviour at all in Egypt? - FrancisTyers 16:01, 25 September 2007 (UTC)
what do you mean by "their behavior"?
I didn't say that Egypt doesn't have large penalties against same-sex marriage for example, what I'm saying clearly is that attending Wikimania or visiting Egypt generally won't be a problem to homosexuals. It's not like you're going to be arrested and imprisoned when you arrive in Egypt because of your sexual orientation like some people are trying to say. -Mido 16:53, 25 September 2007(UTC)

Hello, The thing is: How would the attitude towards LGBT -whether from authorities or society- matter to a person who is attending Wikimania2008? Are there going to be side sessions during the conference discussing Gay-Lesbian issues around the world?? Would there be a parade to support same gender marriage in Africa and Middle East?? Would there be any occasion where any person would have to express what exactly his/her sexual orientations are?? The event deals with matters of free 'access' to knowledge. What do LGBT issues has to do in this context, except for statistics or facts about LGBT rights and history, which could be easily added to the wiki content by anyone?? We understand that we are not a 'liberal' society, however that does not stand in our way of accepting and respecting others, especially if they are guests, and more importantly when they are guests discussing vital issues related to knowledge and open source culture, then definitely LGBT perceptions will not then interfere. We are a country of millions of annual visitors from around the world..has nobody from those millions ever been LGBT??:) Has anyone ever had indecent or dangerous reactions because of sexual orientation issues???--Moushira 17:51, 25 September 2007 (UTC)

Response: Well, if the judging criteria are read, one of the critera is "Local laws, customs, attitudes, and culture: whether these are likely to provide any benefits or problems for attendees, and whether they are in keeping with the values of the Wikimedia Foundation". Is the law and social attitudes towards LGBT people in Egypt in keeping with the values of the Wikimedia Foundation?
It seems to be the argument that "so long as no-one realises that you are gay, there will be no problem". This is a long way from " LGBT people can attend and stay in Alexandria as they wish just like any other tourist ", it is more like " So long as they keep themselves in the closet, LGBT people can attend and stay in Alexandria as they wish just like any other tourist".
Would a country where having a parade in support of same-sex marriage would be a problem be a suitable location of a Wikimedia event? - FrancisTyers 19:12, 25 September 2007 (UTC)
I second Moushira, there are millions of annual visitors to Egypt yearly, and they go to places that are not large urban centers like Luxor, Hurghada, on Nile cruises etc.. This implies constant contact with the part of Egypt that is not 'polished' and with common Egyptians that are by no means Ivy league. Has it been safe? of course, Tourism remains one of the main sources of national income in Egypt. Most of those people tourists encounter on a daily basis have a portion of their household income coming from tourism, and they intuitively understand the importance of being courteous to tourists so I do not understand the persistence in the question, would you be legally persecuted in Egypt if you are a tourist coming to a conference or what not because of your sexual orientation? of course not, would the people harass you? of course not unless you consider haggling on the price of a trinket in a local market harassment. Other than that, let's please not turn Wikimania into an advocation forum for something other than the free flow of information. --Shipmaster 18:59, 25 September 2007 (UTC)
Yes, there are millions of visitors to Egypt, who are advised not to be involved in any way with the local LGBT community or they'd risk to get tortured while in prison. Also, they should be very careful in the way they dress or act, as that might upset the local homophobes, such as the governmental forces:
The Egyptian government continues to arrest and routinely torture men suspected of consensual homosexual conduct (hrw.org)
Well, if they stay indoors, there's nothing to worry. There's not much to see in Egypt, anyway. Bogdan 19:24, 25 September 2007 (UTC)
I am sorry If I will not engage into some kind of LGBT rights/advocation discussion, since that's what you seem to be interested in based on the 3 years old link you posted. If you can source the information you say about 'someone' warning LGBT tourists to act or behave different than any normal tourist, I will be more than happy to formally inquire into the matter with the ministry of tourism here. --Shipmaster 19:42, 25 September 2007 (UTC)
Could you do that? Enquire with the Ministry of Tourism, and get an advisory from them for LGBT travellers in Egypt? I think that would allay some of the concerns here. - FrancisTyers 20:13, 25 September 2007 (UTC)
You can post the response when you get it on the talk page. - FrancisTyers 18:48, 26 September 2007 (UTC)
Hey Francis, I asked Bogdan above to provide a verifiable source because that's what I can inquire about, In general, the ministry doesn't offer advisories but if a verifiable source is distributing such a warning I can inquire about that. Since AFAIK there is no policy for treating any tourist class different than the other. However, a little search on the net uncovered tons of companies that offer 'Gay-friendly' trips to Egypt, whatever that is, so I think that proves there is no problem, and with lack of any incidents involving such tourists, shouldn't evidence be the basis of judgment? --Shipmaster 19:27, 26 September 2007 (UTC)
There is some guidance from the UK Foreign Office here. Perhaps you could ask them if they have something similar? I'm pasting a couple of relevant items here:
In which parts of the world am I likely to have particular difficulties?
In some countries same-sex relationships are illegal and punishable by imprisonment or even the death penalty. You should check attitudes towards same-sex relationships in the country you plan to visit, and exercise caution where unsure. Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender travellers may have particular difficulties in countries where a large percentage of the population have strongly-held religious beliefs which have traditionally been opposed to same-sex relationships.
Can I be ‘out’ while travelling abroad?
This is a decision that you need to make for yourself after having carefully examined the local situation. In many parts of the world an element of homophobia and macho-ism is prevalent, and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people often maintain a low profile. Public handholding, kissing and other outward signs of affection are not commonplace in many countries around the world, and excessive physical displays of affection are generally frowned upon for both heterosexual and same-sex couples. While some cities may appear to be gay-friendly destinations with distinct gay ‘neighbourhoods’, outside of these districts, and especially in rural areas, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender travellers may experience open hostility. It is normally best to use caution in situations where you are unsure of the reception you may receive, as you would do in the UK.
Would you say this applies to Egypt? Here is some more information they give about Egypt. - FrancisTyers 19:54, 26 September 2007 (UTC)

According to the American University in Cairo's Faculty handbook, "earrings on men are considered to be a sign of homosexuality" and when foreigners are prosecuted for committing "disgraceful impudent acts" they are often deported instead of receiving the penalty of "one year's imprisonment and a fine not to exceed LE 300". Are you going to advise male Wikipedians not to wear earrings? - Mark 05:28, 27 September 2007 (UTC)

Hi, it seems that you can keep posting endless estimates of probabilities related to LGBT visitors in Egypt. As Shipmaster mentioned: If you have a record of a tourist who has experienced problems or violence because of his\her sexual orientation, kindly mention it and we can then inquire about, otherwise we need not propose a counter evidence of how friendly our people are to all tourists, whatever their sexual orientations are. Actually, you can not guarantee the social reactions towards LGBT persons anywhere in the world. Even in societies with same-sex unions or same-sex marriage, LGBT might not be well received, and mostly looked down by some old, conservative and religious groups or individuals. LGBT visitors then have no guarantee; laws might protect them, but they will really be having a hard time while walking down the streets, and they will not be able to prove it, since they will remain safe and sound. Isn't that possible too?

And Wikipedians who wear earrings, keep your earrings on, and buy more silver ones from here if you want:). We do not undergo a security check for persons with earrings, and you will not be subject to investigation. Do not give up your accessories, guys. Just keep them on. I was expecting questions about sights to visit, or what to do in the city and interesting nearby locations, other than argumentative LGBT topics. Guys you are welcomed, whatever you are:).--Moushira 17:17, 27 September 2007 (UTC)

I was attempting to ask a question, not make an argument. I'm not interested in giving incidents or "digging up muck". Shipmaster offered to contact the Ministry of Tourism, but seems to have retracted this offer. Perhaps you may be able to do the same? - FrancisTyers 18:06, 27 September 2007 (UTC)

Hello Francis:), I do not believe Shipmaster retracted his offer. Nothing is clear to inquire about, you are not providing a specific accident or proven general repeated attitude towards LGBT from Egyptian nationals or authorities. LGBT persons attending Wikimania2008 will be our guests and tourists are just tourists whatever they are: always treated with most respect. We need not contact our ministry to check if we should welcome ALL tourists or not, that would be rather silly. As we said before, among the millions of tourists whom we receive every year all over the country: Has no guest ever been LGBT? Has anyone received a dangerous or offensive reaction for his\her being LGBT? I believe we are now looping between answers that all have the same meaning and questions that represent only 'possibilities'. Shall we come to an end to this?, please :).--Moushira 19:07, 27 September 2007 (UTC)

If there is no willingness to come forward, I suppose people can consult the Foreign Offices in their home countries for advice. I've posted the link to the UK Foreign Office above, here are some links from other English speaking countries. I'll leave it up to other contributors if they wish to add further links.
- FrancisTyers 19:25, 27 September 2007 (UTC)
Thank you FrancisTyers. I would rather suggest that you try to contact other people who have been to Egypt, and Alexandria specifically, in order to get an idea about what you're asking for. That would be better than inquiring about it from a political point of view. You may find people in the neighbourhood, who have had an experience with Egypt and Alexandria. If not, you may wish to contact a local travel agency, and if you're not satisfied, you may find answers to your questions on some websites like Virtual tourist. Thank you once more, and looking forward to seeing you in Alexandria ;)--TheEgyptian 21:15, 27 September 2007 (UTC)
Surprising that this is considered a political question! Thanks for posting the Virtual Tourist link, I'm sure some of our members may find it useful, and good luck with the bid :) - FrancisTyers 21:43, 27 September 2007 (UTC)
I'm afraid you mis-understood my reply. You said people can consult the Foreign Offices in their home countries for advice, and you posted 4 links for governemental offices. That kind of adivce which I considerd to be politically biased, and not your question. Thank you.--TheEgyptian 22:01, 27 September 2007 (UTC)
(This post restored by me, after being removed by TheEgyptian, please if you wish, move the comment to the talk page, don't just delete it) - FrancisTyers 13:21, 28 September 2007 (UTC)
And subsequently removed by me again--it was my understanding that the poster did not understand the nature of his post and allowed for its removal.Cary Bass demandez 13:52, 28 September 2007 (UTC)
Understood, however unfortunately, and to my shame I can only speak English, could you provide links to advisories from governments other than the countries I've listed in any of the languages you might speak? As I mentioned above, it would be particularly useful for travellers to know the advice of the Egyptian government on this matter, but as I don't speak Arabic I'm not in much of a position to search for it! Let alone provide a translation... :) - FrancisTyers 22:29, 27 September 2007 (UTC)

I just read through the whole thread, sorry for being late, I see it all as dancing around the topic at hand. First, Francis, I didnt retract my offer, my offer was for Bogdan to provide sourced information/incidents I can inquire about. Unfortunately I cannot present general inquiries at this time, I can just relay an incident/trusted report and ask for comment, which you haven't provided, I dont see the point of posting general advisories because I didnt respond, homosexual society customs mentioned in some of them (didnt find any in the US one btw) have already been mentioned in the course of this discussion. If you want the same general 'tips' from the Egyptian government sponsored sites, you can find them here and here.

Now, here's the real beef, you asked earlier, would Wikimania come to a place where it is not possible to hold a gay parade in? I think that's the real issue you are pushing. Let me expand and add a bit of background, would Wikimania come to a society, which has different customs than western-coined ones but is willing to tolerate difference and has a proven track record presented by millions of tourists per year in tolerating difference in customs? There is no clear law against homosexuality in Egypt, it has vague public decency laws, but, on the other hand, the government doesn't endorse homosexuality and it is considered a societal taboo. Now we have said over and over that those laws would apply to locals only and there has not been any incidents with tourists who enjoy freedom to do what they want on personal basis. You will not be in any risk of harassment if you hold hands or hug your SO in public (I am assuming that is what is meant by being out), you will not be in any risk if you discuss your sexual preference in casual conversations during the conference. You will be in risk however if you try to hold a gay rights session, I believe those are two very different things and you don't, and this is the core of the issue at hand here. Now as for the rules of Wikimania, I don't believe that we are in conflict, the rule you are referencing says:

Local laws, customs, attitudes, and culture: whether these are likely to provide any benefits or problems for attendees, and whether they are in keeping with the values of the Wikimedia Foundation

Emphasis on attendees, I don't believe that local laws, customs , attitudes or cultures will constitute any risks or problems for conference attendees, this is not just my opinion and it is easily proven (as I am sure we have stressed many times now) by millions of tourists coming to Egypt per year and no incidents that I know of of harassing tourists based on their sexual preference or any personal preference. Now back to your argument, would Wikimania be held in a country that wouldn't allow a gay parade? I believe that, with all due respect to the gay rights movement, promoting it or lobbying for it is not one of Wikimedia's goals last I checked. --Shipmaster 12:56, 28 September 2007 (UTC)

Thank you for your honest and clear reply. - FrancisTyers 13:18, 28 September 2007 (UTC)

Freedom of speech[edit]

Wouldn't it be ironic to hold Wikimania in a country which sentences bloggers for nothing?

A court in the port city of Alexandria has sentenced a young Egyptian blogger to four years' jail for contempt of religion, insulting the president and spreading false information. (bbc.co.uk)

Millions of bloggers have at least one of those things in their blogs. My blog also shows a lot of contempt to Christianity (the local variety), it's insulting my president and spreads false information (which I call sarcasm). Those charges are really nothing but an infringement of the freedom of speech.

I think many Wikipedians would refuse to go to a country where basic human rights, such as freedom of speech, are not respected. Wikipedia is based on the idea of freedom. Bogdan 21:44, 25 September 2007 (UTC)

No, it wouldn't be ironic. Actually the irony is that the government is already supporting the event financially, and the authorities know very well that Wikimania is about free access to knowledge. Such a paradox doesn't make sense; the government can not fight freedom, and pay money to support it at the same time. You might like to try a different analysis for the bloggers issue. Thank you --Moushira 22:48, 25 September 2007 (UTC)

While the event is going to be partially sponsored by government, we don't need to say that Wikimania is a totally independent event and no authority but for the Wikimedia Foundation will control its sessions and goals, also as the BA itself which is not administered by the Egyptian government. I think what we are all after here is the independence of Wikimania and what change it can do for the region that hosts it (Egypt, Africa and the whole neighboring countries) in the fields of free knowledge and open source/content. Your example of the blogger issue is non-relevant, measuring things like this then you can say that hosting Wikimania in Atlanta would be irony for a country like the US that has such a record of human rights violations in Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, we're not saying so regarding Atlanta. What we're trying to say here is that your argument is totally false. Thanks --Mido 23:30, 25 September 2007 (UTC)
  • Actually the case about the blogger from Alex. is very important and very big; it's not like this happenes in Egypt every day. This is one of the most significant cases because of its rareness and the debate that got started from it. It's not just enough to cite a reference for one thing to build a whole theory; you need to get to know the context, if you're to provide useful conclusions, imo. Maysara 04:18, 14 October 2007 (UTC)

conclusions[edit]

It seems that a considerable talk has been prompted by many participants, respecting the issue of Human Rights in Egypt, and whether the conference should be held in such a country where HR values are so violated. Reference so far has been given to two subjects, sexual freedom and freedom of speech.

Well, in respect to the first subject, Egyptian authorities can and does repress not only homosexual but also heterosexual practice, ONLY if it is being done collectively and on a wide scale (which is known as "debauchery"), or if it is being conducted in the context of money making (such as prostitution, etc.). These are the only two cases, in which the authorities are given the right to interfere, according to the Egyptian current law, that is, these are the limits to when and why the authorities can lawfully interfere. Thus, there is nothing in the laws that actually speaks of homosexuals or LGBT; these above mentioned practices are considered to be illegal in Egypt, regarding any sexual practice or behavior, regardless of its variety. Egyptian authorities cannot and do not have the right to concern themselves with the private sexual practice of any individual inside Egypt according to the Egyptian Constitution. So even if one publicly declares him/her self to be homosexual, for example, is no warrant to any authority in Egypt to take action against that. On the social level, yes, it may be said that generally, homosexual practice is not commonly accepted or even ignored in Egypt; it may be considered to be a "bad thing" by the general public, but this does not mean that once an Egyptian encounters homosexuals, he/she cracks down upon them in all aggressiveness and hatred, they simply, at the worst, ignore them and seek not their friendship, that's all. But I generally believe that the type of Egyptians who are to attend this event are very unlikely to be, for whatever reason, unfriendly towards anyone. This said, it is left to those who are concerned with LGBT's welfare during the event, to decide for themselves what is it that they want to do.

There is in fact a big difference between different entities within each whole, that is, though one section of the Egyptian government might be oppressive, other sections don't have to be also; and i suppose this is the only way through which we could understand how the event is being partially supported by the government. In truth, the "government" has never been a ONE thing, and it is amazing that this point seems to have been missed by those who are so concerned with freedoms and rights, since it is in the very essence of democracy that such variety is to be found in every political system.

So, to speak of bad things and the lack of freedoms, using such expressions as "this country" and "that government" and "Egypt", is nothing but a very immature generalization that has nothing to do with the reality of Egypt. And to protest at having the conference in Egypt, because it is not the best place for LGBT, or because the current Egyptian government is oppressive, is, imo, precisely the same as protesting at having it in Germany by the Jews, because of the presence of the neo-Nazis in it, or at having it in USA by many nationals, because of it being a super neo-colonial power that sucks their independence lavishly, or at having it in Taiwan, also because of freedom of speech problems. And if we keep standing aloof from that which yet contains within itself some dirt and decadence, we then perhaps should give our back to every place and every endeavour on Earth. But i believe that it is especially in those places where one has not yet really put the seed, that one should work more. But to isolate oneself in the white clean icelands and their vicinities, which don't really exist, appears to me to be the thing most contrary to the demands of progress and elevation, since a progress of such thing as the Wikimedia foundation, that is, achieving its goals constantly, i think lies essentially in being increasingly inclusive, and not exclusive. So to speak more practicaly and realistically, having the conference in Egypt, for example, is likely to bring more color and life to both some or all of Wikimedia's projects and to some Egyptian people at the same time, than having it in Iceland, if those who want cleanliness would find Iceland to be a clean country, in respect to freedoms and rights! Most appreciatively, Maysara 04:13, 14 October 2007 (UTC)

Terrorism[edit]

Isn't the terrorism against tourists a bit of a problem in Egypt? Terrorism may be found in many countries, but in very few others it's the tourists who are the main target. Hundreds died in the last decade! Doesn't that make the country a bit unsafe? Recent notable incidents include:

  • 1996: 17 Greek tourists and an Egyptian tour guide have been killed by gunmen in Cairo.
  • 1997: More than 60 people have been killed after an attack on a group of foreign tourists visiting a temple in southern Egypt.
  • 2004: Sinai peninsula bomb kills 34
  • 2005: At least 88 people have been killed in bomb attacks in the Egyptian resort of Sharm al-Sheikh
  • 2006: Attack on Egypt resort of Dahab kills 23

Bogdan 13:23, 26 September 2007 (UTC)

Our answer to Q7 already applies to your question, I can just re-highlight a few hints: terrorism is a global problem, marking 5 accidents across ten years doesn't make us a country with a threatened security. These are just accidents that do not reflect the real status of how safe our society and citizens are. We can simply check the record of any country and point out some violence in schools, along with few bombings and claim that this place is not safe anymore. Accidents happen, anywhere and anytime. The ones you listed do not make violence a phenomena, since those are just 'accidents'! We are safe. No better proof than our tourists that are still attracted and increasing in number, especially in Sinai, where you pointed out most of the accidents. Thank you.--Moushira 14:25, 26 September 2007 (UTC)

Transportation[edit]

I notice that you list the cost of flights to Cairo, rather than Alexandria, but you don't really specify how people would get from Cairo to Alexandria, beyond taxis. Would taxis drive you from Cairo to Alexandria? If so, how much would you expect to pay for such a trip? Alternatively, are there buses or trains? And how much do they cost?

Additionally, how safe is it to travel by these means of transportation? I pointed this following quote/link out to either Mido or Moushira (I can't remember which) on IRC a couple of weeks ago, but didn't get any response beyond something along the lines of "Oh, and I used to respect your country so much..."

"Local driving practices and poor road conditions attribute to a high rate of road accidents in Egypt.
Road travel, particularly at night and outside the major cities, can be dangerous as cars, buses and trucks frequently drive without headlights and at high speed. Two major bus crashes, on 10 January 2006 and 31 January 2006, in which Australians were killed and injured highlight the risks."Australian Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade

Another link someone pointed to above was the English equivalent travel advisory page for Egypt, and had the following to say:

"Local driving conditions and poor vehicle maintenance make road travel outside the main cities hazardous. There have been several road accidents, resulting in the deaths of 3 British citizens, so far in 2007. Avoid driving on country roads at night.... In the event of an accident emergency medical facilities are limited. ...
A local transportation bus looks like this
There have been four serious bus crashes since 1 January 2006, in which 72 people were killed."UK Country Foreign & Commonwealth Office

I understand that these might be considered isolated incidents, but shockingly unsafe roads is one of the things for which Egypt has a bad reputation where I live. - Mark 06:11, 27 September 2007 (UTC)

Response for airport transportation: Wikimania_2008/Bids/Alexandria/Budget_and_Sponsorship#Transportation.--TheEgyptian 06:38, 27 September 2007 (UTC)
Oh, I didn't realise it would cover Cairo to Alexandria! :) That's pretty good. - Mark 06:40, 27 September 2007 (UTC)
The caption on the bus is wrong; that is an intercity (direct) bus in the western delta. There are millions of journey from cairo (20million+ inhabitants) to alexandria (4million+ inhabitants & major port) every year, and the best way to travel is to take a flight which is dirt cheap - or a 1st class train (which is almost cheaper than dirt) - or an intercity bus (which actually is cheaper than dirt in some places from what i hear ;) ) so don't worry about it and never look for information on a country from another country. Transport to/from cairo is cheaper and more comfortable than where I am in the UK!! 86.18.207.227 15:23, 3 May 2008 (UTC)

Please add your questions above this section (i.e edit the previous section directly)


IRC meeting[edit]

Full public log of the meeting can be found in Wikimania 2008/Bids/Public meeting log.
Reagarding the questions that were raised during the IRC meeting. We have come up with a few comments:

Question 1[edit]

jan-bart asked > you mention: Africa needs this, and that this will be the perfect push. Do you think Alexandria is tied is close enough to african culture in order to do that? What is immigration like for citizens of African countries.
The way that the question is phrased makes it sound like Egypt is not part of Africa. Alexandria is part of Egypt, and Egypt is part of Africa; to assume that Africa is conclusive to a single type of culture is to downgrade all the other cultures that have come out of this land over the past centuries. Africa is a mosaic of several cultures, not merely one; Africa is divided more by its inner geographical and topographical borders than anything else. True, different African countries have suffered from different dilemmas and problems, but in general all African countries have had a history of struggle and history of culture. Alexandria is inherently a part of African culture, it has been a city that opened the way to Africa’s attaining of knowledge and has been a site of struggle against invasions. I guess the true question is what is meant by African? What do people define as African?
Egypt, as part of Africa, is strongly linked to African countries on all levels. It is an active member in all African committees, initiatives and programs, such as the African Union, the Nile Basin Initiative, the Community of Sahel-Saharan States CEN-SAD (CEN-SAD is a community which includes 23 member states collaborating to strengthen peace, security and stability and achieve global economic, social and cultural development). Further more, Egypt hosts and participates in several African-related events. In the past 2 years, Egypt participated in 120 summits, ministerial conferences, African meetings and summits. The role is continuous as Egypt will be hosting the African-Chinese Forum in September 26th 2007.
Egyptian Fund for Technical Cooperation with Africa (EFTCA) and Mubarak Initiative of Quality Education for African Future Leaders are only examples of the many programs that Egypt has for aiding and coordinating with African Countries. So you can see that Egypt is surely able to convey the message of Wikimania to all the African continent.
As for the immigration topic, we have to admit that we are quite flattered that you see Egypt as a country worthy of being immigrated to. We, however, do attract many students from various African countries, who tend to come to Egypt to study at the national universities, or at Al Azhar university. Sudanese students benefit from the privileges available to the Egyptian students, namely paying the same fees at the Egyptian students, which are nearly nonexistent.--Moushira 13:10, 24 September 2007 (UTC)
Silly question perhaps but are those foreign students staying in August, i.e., during their summary holidays? We'll use the dorms to stay ... fine (and thank you for your arrangement) but does it imply those students are at home at the same time? --Aphaia 07:53, 25 September 2007 (UTC)

Hello Aphaia, your question is attached to the part elaborating on African citizens and students in Egypt. Are you talking about the African students, whether they will be staying in dorms during summer holiday?? If that is what you mean, then yes, most probably they will stay in summer where they usually stay in other school days. But actually Saint Marc Dorms, where the attendees will be staying and which belong to Saint Marc High School, will be vacant during summer, in another words we are going to reserve them. Let me know if you need more clarification.--Moushira 11:10, 25 September 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for your clarification, Moushira. I see. --Aphaia 11:31, 25 September 2007 (UTC)

Question 2[edit]

Britty (Aphaia) asked > what is your better points comparing with Capetown?
Response:
Why are we in the same category with Cape Town? Is it just because both of us are in Africa? Alexandria represents Africa, the Middle east and the Mediterranean. Our conference venue is a global attraction point, providing technical services and support in a very high level, all included within the hosting 'package'; there will be no wi-fi routers rentals, we are not going to seek fund for providing laptops, there is no need for us to rent plasmas, web casting, video conferencing equipments or facilities; our servers and engineers are there ready 24/7, just ask for it and you will find it :). We are talking about Bibliotheca Alexandrina, which happens to exist only in one place over the world; our city: Alexandria.
One another main point that I believe is almost useless to talk about is: safety. There is absolutely no comparison between safety measures here and there, actually you can not compare Egypt to anywhere else in the world when talking about safety in town; we can walk and drive until mid-night and after, our shops do not close before 11 PM..and they mostly stay after mid-night in summer, and same applies to shopping malls. We are lively and safe. Basically, Cape Town is known for its being unsafe, even for its own citizens. I don't want to be offensive, but your question is mainly about a 'comparison' and I am afraid that at some aspects there is actually no way for comparison. Cape Town might be cheap, but we are even cheaper: a meal of local food can cost less than 1$ for a delicious and exotic meal, taxis and other transportation means are also relatively cheap. Alexandria is not the capital; it is the second largest city in the country, which means we have all privileges of big cities; high tech and services, but still with a nice and cozy ambiance. We are not as hectic as Cairo, but yet we have no services missing; we got it all :). Alexandria is pedestrian friendly, with extremely wonderful walking routes; the walk by the sea shore or across downtown streets, they all offer wonderful and rare sights. Walking down the city, you can have a quick scan over thousands of years, in a glance. Does Cape Town provide that??
So Alexandria is a wonderful place, safe, friendly and cheap, but still providing very high tech support and many wi-fi points across its borders, including the dorms and hotels as well.
One more thing is that BA can remain open until mid night, which means that attendees can gather in the different cafes in BA and BACC or the open plaza to work and discuss issues raised during the sessions. The Art Center of BA usually holds a summer festival; our wonderful open theater is installed at the plaza, where you can enjoy music and different performances by Egyptian artists and others.

--Moushira 21:58, 25 September 2007 (UTC)

Question 3[edit]

KJ-Wikia asked > In Alexa, Wikipedia just top 44 in Egypt. How is the effect will be if wikimania held in Egypt. What will you do during this year to let your people know more about wikimedia?
Response:

You know where the irony is? Alexa.com is named after Bibliotheca Alexandrina; our conference venue:). Ask Brewster Kahle if you don't believe me. Wikipedia is not among the top 5 in our most popular sites, but that doesn't actually show anything about interest in Wiki. South Africa has got Facebook on top of the list, and they got wiki content in 9 native languages, does that mean they care more about Facebook than they care about knowledge sharing? UK has got Facebook, Youtube, and MySpace among their top 8; already before wikipedia. Does that make UK a society more interested in 'sociable' applications and sharing personal interests rather than sharing info??? This could actually be a reason why we should host the event and move Wikipedia from rank 44 to rank 4 or above, if you think that Alexa ranking is a good sign:) then let's look forward to it after Wikimania2008.

We can not claim that we are a wikipedia 'obsessed' society, but we are sure that many professionals and students are starting a wiki-revolution..so, be aware:))--Moushira 18:24, 25 September 2007 (UTC)

Actually, this is correct, and it is a corollary of the current state of the Arabic Wikipedia, which is in its infancy, in a country with nearly a 30% illiteracy rate, there is even less people who can communicate in a second language like English or French, most of Wikipedia's hits comes from people looking for information, not from editors, and since the Arabic Wikipedia has only 40K articles currently, people look for other sources of information in Arabic (and they are usually hard-pressed to find any, which is another sad fact, but I digress). So What we are hoping that Wikimania can achieve is bring up awareness among people who can edit, we need more people who can write/translate articles on science, history and various topics, those people exist and maybe willing to help but we didnt reach them yet. I am hoping an event the size of Wikimania will give our edit count/quality a boost. As for what we will do during the year to let people know about Wikimedia, well, bid aside, we are going on our way in trying to increase awareness, we organize local meetups, we join other groups with a bit more momentum in Egypt like the EGLUG (Linux User Group) and the EGJUG (Java user Group) in efforts to increase awareness like holding regular Arabic wikipedia days, there is even a facebook group for an awareness initiative that we are trying to cooperate with. We are also on our way to make a local chapter, which will give us more freedom to solicit funding from various sponsors and expand our awareness campaigns outside Alexandria. Of course, if we win the bid those efforts will be doubled and bolstered by the event size and the consequent interest of sponsors and the government. --Shipmaster 23:46, 25 September 2007 (UTC)

Just for your info, Alexa collects information from users using the Alexa Toolbar. I don't know how many wikipedia users is using this toolbar and is Alexa toolbar popular among Egyptians? I doubt. source of info Alexa_Internet --Ma7dy

Question 4[edit]

Effeietsanders asked > Do you expect that the local community is prepared to be involved in this, and how large is the local cummunity?
Response:Like we said earlier in response to other questions, the local community 'needs' this event. Volunteering culture is already present and just needs something to push it towards the free knowledge movement. We see in Wikimania a remarkable opportunity to direct this power towards Arabic free knowledge, like Arabic Wikimedia projects. From our experience in working on this in Alexandria and in Egypt, we're expecting a large amount of support from many sectors like Linux User Groups which now has a sub-group in Alex, egjug (Java users group) and what we recently got in contact with is the Arabic Wikipedia Initiative which emerged from the 6th conference for Arabic Youth which was held in the American University in Cairo (AUC) at the end of March 2007 and currently the group has 160 members!. Also on the Arabic Wikipedia level the meeting we organized an meeting in Dec. 2006; about 30 attended in a cafe that was equipped by wi-fi and we held small workshops to teach those interested how to edit Wikipedia (the meeting were sponsored by eSpace, the company who is willing to sponsor Wikimania 2008 now). Also other potential groups are working in Alexandria and some of them were approached and are very interested in joining us, like the local students chapter for ACM working in Alexandria University. We are hoping to host Wikimania here in Alexandria, and I'm sure a lot of people will be involved in Wikimania and subsequently into Wikimedia projects and this is really what we're after. --Mido 22:13, 25 September 2007 (UTC)

Question 5[edit]

brassratgirl > why do you want to organize wikimania?
Response:

(Warning, getting on soapbox :) )

Simply, we need it. We see Wikipedia as one of the avenues for the struggling third world to receive free, comprehensive information, from science to history to news. And we see the free flow of information as one of the few shots the third world has to catch up with an already increasingly huge gap with the first world. So increasing awareness of Wikipedia and the open content and free information initiatives through such an event would make a really big difference we believe. I may sound as a bit rhetorical but you will have to look at how many people come to the Arabic wiki asking for information on computer architecture or information on some disease that they cant find information in Arabic about. It makes one think about how the internet low-cost access is giving Wikipedia and similar sources an escalating importance in the third world. We are a country that hinges in the middle, we have a great communication infrastructure, highly urbanized cities but at the same time a high illiteracy and unemployment rate. So we see ourselves as capable of holding such a conference and giving it the coverage it deserves, and also benefit from it not just by enriching the community, but also making a difference (even a small one) in the current state of literacy and the use of information. (off my soapbox) --Shipmaster 00:12, 26 September 2007 (UTC)

Question 6[edit]

theodoranian > Alexandria: Is it important to have Wikimania Alexandria 2008 similar with past Wikimanias? If yes, what to do? If not, what conference style will you choose? Thank you.
britty > +5': do you have people who attended the past wikimania? if so, how many?
Response:We see Wikimania as both the most convenient event to discuss Wikis & free knowledge, and an event for gathering the community that works on these projects. These 2 things will be our 2 main targets for Wikimania 2008. First, for the formal part of the presentations and the speakers, we will be concentrating on the quality of the presentations and offering the best tools that can make these presentations and speeches available to everyone in the world and give a real chance of online participation, given the non regular chance of such highly equipped venue as the BACC. For example, someone can give an overseas live presentation or speech, and of course like past wikimanias, presentations will go side by side during day sessions from the morning till afternoon due to the number of presentations usually prepared and the short time provided.
Another important thing we inspected was the hacking days. I personally talked with Brion who expressed that the hacking days last year were not that successful and didn't come out with the expected results. We believe that the hacking days can come up with very good results to enhance and make Mediawiki a better wiki engine to serve the increasing usage of Wikimedia projects. But, since hacking days are not that practical in reality and few developers got interested to join last year (like 10 on the first day and 40 on the second), we will be inspecting this issue very well and may suggest another idea for such an important target as developing mediawiki and other technical issues related to Wikimedia projects and generally support open source projects online, which need the most advanced technology served to their users while maintaining low cost for servers and other technical issues. One idea, from Brion himself, was to include hacking sessions during the conference course, and I found it convenient as we can extend the conference for 4 days and this won't be a problem due to the low cost of staying an extra day than the last Wikimania and make workshops during the day like the ones in Ubuntu Developer Summit for example with ideas sent online prior to the event, revised and worked on during the conference workshops.
Coming to the other side of the event, which I personally long for, which is the social part. I can imagine how the contributors are willing to see each other after dealing online for a long time, after the Wikimania sessions are over, what will we do? this is a question that is being thoroughly discussed among us. We have in Alexandria many places to go to and enjoy that's luckily near the venue, you can go to downtown, see some of the oldest buildings in the city, go out to the Corniche (our seaside promenade) enjoying the beautiful Alexandria at night, go to the Qaitbay fort plaza (10 mins by car), you can just enjoy your outing as you wish, people here are really welcoming and I bet no one will annoy you in anyway. The dorms which will accommodate many of the attendees will be covered with wi-fi around the staying place and also it has playgrounds for football (soccer), basketball, etc.. The casual party will be exceptional we assure you, wait for this one if we win the bid :)
Next wikimania, if held in Alexandria, will be a remarkable one for all attendees. Thanks for your question theodoranian.
Birtty's question > do you have people who attended the past wikimania? if so, how many?
No, we don't have someone from the bidding team or Egyptian wikipedians who attended Wikimania before. -Mido 22:37, 25 September 2007 (UTC)

Question 7[edit]

Mike H asked > I felt the section on terrorism was very "whitewashed." Do you feel that this is an full representation of Egypt, considering its history of violence and laws against Jews, LGBT, and many Christians, as well as cultural attitudes toward women? Should we not be concerned, in light of the tourism bombings of the last decade and the riot and killings against Coptic Christians in Alexandria in '05?
Response: Hello Mike, I actually find the term 'whitewashed' to be a bit offensive; like we are denying something that we are already accused of, which is not true. Actually, your question and the terms you used really scare me: violence, cultural attitude towards women, LBGT, killings against Coptic Christians, you make me feel like I live in hell and I just can not realize it:). Let me put it this way: violence and terrorism are just global issues, you can not escape it, it is everywhere and for various motives. You are from Atlanta, the south coast is already known for some 'racism', I recall the accident of throwing a pig's head into a mosque during Muslim's Friday prayers, but still USA is a liberal free country. Isn't it??:) I can not raise this accident or other ones and claim that this makes Atlanta a less safe place for people of different backgrounds. Shall I? When talking about violence, riot and terrorism, these issues are complicated with lots of political unrevealed details and they give no clue of how safe or friendly the society is. Those incidents are called 'accidents' because they happen once; we live in peace. I am a girl and I can walk and drive safely in my own city until mid-night. Can you do that in Atlanta, GA?? :)
Just for the record, I have been to California twice before, once I was locked for four hours at the airport for no reason other than being an Egyptian, and with middle name of Ahmed Mohamed and I always was the ONLY one on board the plane who had to undergo a personal security check, just for the same reason. That was in the liberal California that hosts the gay capital in the world. Do you think now I would find Atlanta a welcoming destination?? :). I am just trying to be realistic; talking about facts that happened with me a couple of years ago, rather than mentioning complicated issues of Egyptian Jews that belong to more than fifty years ago..--Moushira 23:24, 25 September 2007 (UTC)
Comment regarding actual location (not the South or Atlanta) of pigs head incident moved to talk page - FrancisTyers 18:27, 26 September 2007 (UTC)
Uh Moushira, you haven't answered yet why Alexandria which has extremely recently had terrorism problems is safe. All you did is bash Atlanta. That hardly seems mature, and hardly seems fair. Instead of arguing ad hominem,(not to mention getting nearly all the facts wrong about the US) please defend why Alexandria is safe? Swatjester 21:13, 4 October 2007 (UTC)
Well, you can simply read rest of this page regarding other issues of security (and I'd recommend reading Moushira's reply too, it may help). We're not going in circles around "terrorism in Alex" which simply does not exist. --Mido 23:44, 4 October 2007 (UTC)

There are large churches and a synagogue in alexandria; the community of christians and jews has existed almost since the time of Christ himself!.. why is this discussion not transferred for atlanta or other places in terms of muslims being comfortable? Because people in general have no problem with each other. Alexandria is even friendlier than the friendly 'common folk' in the west. 86.18.207.227 15:35, 3 May 2008 (UTC)