I was going to take part in the Yahoo Global Summit of Human Rights in Cairo, Egypt. I needed a visa to be able to enter Egypt so I called the phone number of the Egyptian Consulate in San Francisco listed in their website
I had called the listed number over 30 times and no one picked up the phone. So I decided to put a smile on my face and pay them a visit. I went to the address listed on their website which is 1255 Post st, San Francisco, California. I actually lowered my expectation to the lowest possible degree in which they could ask me to come back some other day or come up with a list of needed documents not listed on their website but I never thought that the address is of a empty building with no entrance. Here are pictures of the building that is supposed to be the Egyptian Consulate in San Francisco
So I called the phone number of the Los Angeles Consulate and at my surprise, someone picked up the phone. She explained to me that in order for me to get a visa, I need to first mail her a copy of my passport, green card, business invitation letter and 2 photos. Once they send my information to Egypt and receive the approval, they will notify me and I will then need to mail them my passport with a self addressed envelop.
I bet if pigeons are still used for mailing, she would have told me that all the mailing will have to be done with pigeons…
With a great feeling of disappointment, I will not be able to attend the Summit in Egypt since my visa will take forever.. and all I can think of is Egyptians in Tahrir Square waving the Tunisia flags and chanting slogans from our revolution.
If there is any lesson to be learned by the Arab Governments is that we used internet and social media to bypass all the physical borders politicians imposed on their people. It is time to submit to the people demands and free up access between neighboring countries.