I was only 22, when I for the first time moved to Egypt, thinking of working there and start my life away from the family. By this age I already had few other visits to different countries and a job experience in Dubai. I was a super energetic and fearless girl, and I just loved traveling and changing the environment around as often as possible. I was looking for a new challenge!
Getting the first job in Hurghada.
Relating to my experience in tourism, I had to choose Hurghada or Sharm El Sheikh. I was prepared by studying the Red Sea coаst city and it’s hotels, but things ended up so random. Reaching the Safaga road, wearing formal and looking serious, I entered the first big resort on the line, to see how it goes.
*I will not disclose the hotels names in order to speak freely. Let’s say the things the way they were.
I only wanted to submit my CV, passing through the security, but spontaneously the Front Office manager started to ask me questions in a way that he is checking my English. I guessed, this already was a kind of an interview. After few minutes checking my CV and passport, he decided to know the level of my German and Russian by calling other colleagues who had these languages as their native. It seems like I “passed the exam”, and the Manager concluded:
“So, if you are ready, you can start from tomorrow.”
This was hilarious, and it got me confused. The proposed salary was too attractive to let me think about it. I said to myself “ Let’s just start that and go with the flow, I am losing nothing!”
When I started my work as a Guest Relations Officer at this 5 stars resort I didn’t have much experience in this particular position. I used to be a receptionist before that. Anyhow, things got clear just in few days, and I was unstuck going up and forward.
Here are some facts you should consider
- Some of us were in Hurghada just for few months, others were refugees or had a desperate situation back home, and some were married around. But whoever we were, we all had only tourist visas and the hotel kept us under probation (not hired yet). This was probably a both sides interest, because our salaries were good enough, comparing to those of the locals.
- What were our salaries? Since I hold European passport, my promised salary was 600 Euros a month, same as my German colleague. My Russian and Ukrainian colleagues got 650 $ a month. The salaries of the locals were paid in Egyptian pounds. This was a rule, and their rewards were about 1700 EGP a month (reception). I really hope they got something extra from tips…
How much would it costed living in Hurghada alone?
Considering that the prices in Hurghada were obviously higher than in Cairo, I managed to spend very less and keep almost half of my salary.
- 170 Euros a month for 1 BR including electricity and water consumption.
- 100 Euros a month for food (this was spent due to my frequent outings to the cafes, else I already had 2 meals a day provided by the hotel I worked in).
- 50 Euros for shopping
- 30 Euros as extra pocket money ( I actually didn’t use this money most of the time)
So, 300 Euros were more than enough for me to live a good life and i could save the rest of my salary.
Lifestyle in Hurghada wasn’t for me at all, but at work I started to get used to the environment. Fortunately, I had a good relationship with almost all of my colleagues, except for a guy who was competing with me in a very aggressive way.
The UGLY truth about the work in Hurghada, called “It’s your last chance”
3 times in a week we had a kind of a briefing, to organize ourselves and arrange the workflow. Definitely, A very important target for us who interacted with guests, was to collect as many positive reviews as possible. The review process is online and it is supposed to include our name. Myself was getting only organic reviews from visitors who were really happy dealing with me. But for the hotel this wasn’t enough. After the duty times you would find Guest Relation Officers and Animators, using the free computers to create fake accounts and write reviews about themselves. I couldn’t do the same and cheat this way, for which on daily basis I used to receive the warning
“Lucy, it’s your last chance, understand. If you don’t get the 3 reviews with your name by this day, all your work is not important…” I was tired of hearing the same and laughed at my colleagues who obeyed these “rules”. I was a free and independent bird. And then the time came. They shifted me to the other branch on the same line giving me “another chance”. Maybe I would perform better there with the fake reviews… till one day when I couldn’t hold myself and said to the other manager: “I am sorry, I don’t think this is right, and these are not my true values. What I get for the hotel is real respect and admiration which lasts”.
After few days they fired me
I’ve received my second salary and right after this stopped by the next resort. The burst of energy that I carried got me a new job right away. The salary was 650 Euros, with the same duties. I just loved the environment and the work with my new colleagues at this resort. It was going all much better, still the concept with the reviews was going the same way.
After 2 weeks a new manager came. This was a disaster to all of us. Totally unprofessional lady, acting bossy and unfortunately she was a local, so it was hard to communicate, especially we come from a totally different culture. I was the only one who was trying to respect her and naively took over my head all her inquiries the way it is not supposed to be. She was giving all the orders on the phone, and I was making the record of the same. No e-mails or timings were observed.
One day, she made a big mistake by submitting a group restaurant reservation for a wrong date. She didn’t sign this order as she was rushing to go, but confirmed it with everyone on the phone. The restaurant struggled the next day to manage all the flow coming. No one was prepared. When my Manager was called to a meeting to explain the situation, she threw me in the trap for her mistake, and used my lower position to defend herself.
The next day my new manager locked me in her cabinet:
“Lucy, you know, I am an Egyptian, and I am smart… don’t think that we are friends here. It’s a place of survival, and you must go now, no matter what happened and how”. She took out a paper and forced me to write my resignation letter. “You better do like that, or else you will have problems with your future work. Do it or you will have a very bad referral from me”.
I saved her by leaving. I was disappointed and sad, and that was my 3rd hotel to work at, getting my 3rd salary, for the 3 months being in Hurghada.
Believe me or not, after 2 days I was working in another resort, right next to this one. I continued this work style for 2 more months, and then returned back to my country.
If you are planning to work in Hurghada or Generally Egypt, I would still like to give you some tips over your choice, no matter what field you are looking to work at.
- Know your values. If you are planning to work long term, make sure that the probation period will be written for you upon your joining. Upon signing the contract the employer has to introduce you to what will be done with your residence after the probation.
- Getting your salary in other currency than EGP is a totally independent and best option, because of the big inflation of the local currency. Only 6 years back my 600 Euros were equal to 6500 EGP, while now in 2020 this is almost double.
- Get introduced to the mentality of the people in Egypt. There are almost no common features in the way of dealing between the Western and the Middle Eastern countries. You have to understand it and be flexible with this, rather than act with aggression.
- A modest dress code is always the key to get more respect from the community around.
Read also: A Trip of Survival, The Story of Boat Lucy