Egyptian hotelier Gamal Aziz is the President and Chief Executive Officer of MGM Hospitality.
In early February, I was asked to comment on Egypt tourism on Fox News when the events of the day were images of thugs on camels, horses and donkeys attacking protestors. I shared with the audience that this was a fleeting moment that would pass. And I did so because I was confident something meaningful was coming – a civilized revolution that would capture 7,000 years of history. To me, these events foreshadowed that our country and our people were poised to rise and inspire on the world stage – a moment that’s been a long time coming.
I am one of the many who left Egypt as a young man to live a life of dignity abroad, and to pursue my dreams in an environment free from corruption, poor planning, and lack of execution on the most basic of goals – challenges faced for decades by those who stayed behind, holding out hope that someday, something might be different.
I have frequently returned to Egypt during the 20-plus years I have lived in the U.S., staying connected to family and friends and to the homeland that holds so many cherished memories for me.
I have been humbled by the way many in my field of hotels and tourism greet me with respect and pride in what I have achieved. That courtesy and reverence has been extended on a much grander scale to those who have excelled in other areas – most notably in the sciences and as Nobel Prize winners. I am honored to know many of these successful Egyptians, and we have always collectively envisioned an Egypt where young people don’t have to leave to become the authors of their life’s dreams.
In recent years I’ve sensed this was possible. I have been exposed to a whole new generation of intelligent, youthful and talented Egyptians who inspire me with their competence, passion, creativity, and determination. I have imagined that if they could just be afforded the same opportunities within Egypt that we enjoy abroad, they would achieve a level of success far beyond our own.
This potential for a real future for Egypt and its people is what I saw exhibited on January 25th. Groups of highly educated men and women decided to peacefully change the system and open the door for an Egypt that my generation always imagined, but never attained.
My hope now is that these young leaders will build Egypt’s future on the same principles by which they created the revolution. This means giving every Egyptian a stage where they are encouraged to work hard and excel. It means we mentor those with talents and not discredit them out of fear they may take our jobs. It means we stop paying lip service to putting the right man or woman in the right position, and start filling these openings with competent people. It means creating a level playing field for all to contribute and achieve, and to stop creating cults of personalities, and focus on institutions.
If today’s youth can establish a vision for Egypt that is guided by the revolutionary principles of peace, equality, technology, science, hard work, perseverance, courage, selflessness, and, above all, the confidence in our abilities to move mountains, they can duplicate one hundred times what we have achieved abroad. They can give millions of Egyptians the opportunities they deserve … in fact, they just did.