Egypt Independent: Living-Main news en Free bus tours for dogs organized in London <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>Free bus tours for dogs and their owners to canine-friendly destinations in London were organized&nbsp;in the British capital this week, the Daily Mail website reported.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The trip was the first of its kind in London and extended over four days from January 16 to 19.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Dogs and owners could disembark from the green-colored bus at dog-friendly areas like Hyde Park, Kingston Palace, and Green Park for short walks with their pets. They were handed leaflets on pooch-friendly restaurants and pubs where they could drop in for a rest after the walk.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The tours started and ended at Millbank in central London and ran three times a day at 10 am, 12 pm and 2 pm over four days. &nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;The venture is backed by UK insurance company More Than,&quot; Daily Mail said.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;London is a city famed for its fascinating history and rich culture, much of which man&#39;s best friend has been heavily involved in,&quot; said More Than spokesperson Steve Jay.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;The K9 Bus Tour aims to celebrate this often under-appreciated fact, while also providing owners with a fun and unique way to spend time entertaining their beloved pet,&quot; he added.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><img alt="" src="/sites/default/files/ei/img_1145.png" style="width: 536px; height: 354px;" /></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>A London tour bus designed specifically for dogs and their owners hits London streets this week</em></div><div><img alt="" src="/sites/default/files/ei/img_1146.png" style="width: 536px; height: 322px;" /></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><img alt="" src="/sites/default/files/ei/img_1147.png" style="width: 536px; height: 513px;" /></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em><img alt="" src="/sites/default/files/ei/img_1149.png" style="width: 536px; height: 353px;" />.</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div> Thu, 19 Jan 2017 12:03:00 +0000 Egypt Independent 2475651 at sites/default/files/photo/2017/01/19/16030/img_1148.png Shezlong: First online psychotherapy in MENA stirs controversy <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>Software engineer Ahmed Abu el-Haz was going through a debilitating phase in his life after an operation. Being the dynamic and vibrant person he is, the surgeon&rsquo;s instructions hit him hard: bed rest for three months. &nbsp;</p><p>He fought to think positively, but weary thoughts consumed him. He knew he needed psychological help to get through the dull, repetitive days, but he was bedbound during his recovery.</p><p>This is when he decided to create Shezlong: a platform to bring online&nbsp;psychological therapy to anyone in the MENA region who struggles with the daily battle of their own mind.</p><div>Shezlong provides anonymous, online contact with professional, certified therapists. The services are provided through videoconference therapy sessions and online chatrooms.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In July 2015, Abu el-Haz partnered up with psychiatrist Mohamed el-Shamy to bring Shezlong to life. Together they built the platform, where now 14,000 patients from 45 different countries seek therapy through online video sessions.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;I realized the importance of having someone to talk to when I needed it myself following surgery; mental health is important and it should be digitalized like everything else,&rdquo;Abu el-Haz said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>When clients log into the website, they are asked to choose which language they&rsquo;d prefer to proceed with. They select from 88 therapists in different specializations, and then choose a therapist according to their case. They can send a message, or book a visual session appointment.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Shezlong is a much-needed service... it gathers all those therapists together in one place, and allows clients to make a choice based on the different rates and specialties of the therapists,&rdquo; said Yomna Zaki, a licensed counselor in the state of Maryland, who offers counseling sessions through Shezlong.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Zaki received her Master&rsquo;s degree in counseling psychology from Towson University. Eager to work with Egyptians, she recently joined Shezlong to offer her services from abroad.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Confidentiality through digital platforms remains an issue for many, and the 27-year old therapist does not view this as a concern solely for online clients, but a general worry for all.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;I believe it&rsquo;s the therapist&rsquo;s role to listen to the client&rsquo;s concerns about confidentiality in the first session and make sure to address these concerns &hellip; which might require different approaches according to the setting,&rdquo; she said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Zaki currently has three female Egyptian&nbsp;clients that she sees weekly for one hour through Shezlong. She helps them overcome anxiety, grief, self-esteem issues and depression. Her clients&rsquo; ages range from 20-50 years old.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Going online is the safer option, patients can talk more freely and without any restraints,&rdquo; the founder said, adding that the lengthy commute times in Egypt&rsquo;s overpopulated streets, along with the stares as they wait for appointments, can be a burden to patients.</div><div>
</div><div>The startup does not only aspire to boost its user base, but also fight the cultural shame related to psychotherapy.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;We are carrying out social media awareness campaigns to battle the stigma of mental health [in Egypt]. A mental disorder does not mean you are crazy,&rdquo; Abu el-Haz added.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Numerous psychiatrists, however, believe that face-to-face sessions are more effective as the lack of physical proximity hinders the therapeutic process.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Safinaz el-Moghazy, a consultant of psychiatry and family therapy, believes that being in the same breathing space with a patient is crucial, as well as natural.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;I need physical interaction in my sessions. I need to see the changes in body language and facial expressions. We are partners in the healing process, we have to communicate naturally. &nbsp;Virtual chat rooms lack real emotions and feelings, El-Moghazy said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>She added that while Shezlong could be helpful by allowing patients of a certain social class and educational background to sign up for therapy, it will not maintain their healing process.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Farida*, 23, gave Shezlong a shot a few months ago but didn&rsquo;t stay for long.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;I preferred face-to-face therapy for the interaction. The therapist I was talking to via Shezlong had a rather cold attitude. It was as if she was telling me: I&rsquo;m sorry I have nothing to do for you. We communicated a couple of times and then I stopped,&rdquo; Farida said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Mariam*, on the other hand, had a better experience.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Shezlong is a perfect way to have someone to talk to you and guide you from the comfort of your own home, everything about it is very professional and user friendly,&quot; the 34-year old said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>After securing a US$150,000 tech investment with A15 a few months ago, Shezlong is looking to expand by providing &quot;texting therapy&quot; via Whatsapp.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;We are aiming to launch the service next month; anyone can have access to a therapist through Whatsapp,&rdquo; Abu el-Haz said.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>An hour session starts from LE50 up to LE 400 according to each therapist&rsquo;s fees.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>*Names have been changed as per their request due to the sensitivity of this topic.</div> Wed, 18 Jan 2017 09:26:00 +0000 Noureldin,Ola Noureldin 2475617 at sites/default/files/photo/2017/01/18/43/140610101239-stressed-businesswoman-horizontal-large-gallery.jpg 'Books Bike' roams Cairo streets <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p dir="LTR">In Cairo we used to see fava bean (ful), Taamiya and Kebda food carts roaming the grey streets every day, with dozens of people lined up awaiting their turn.</p><p dir="LTR">Recently, a wave of new, modern and well-decorated mobile carts presenting updated products like sushi, chocolate desserts and even flowers, have made their appearance. But, did you ever imagine that one day would come when you could actually find a roving bike with books, in Egypt?!</p><p dir="LTR"><span style="font-size: 1em;">The answer is &#39;yes!&#39; </span></p><p dir="LTR"><span style="font-size: 1em;">If you walk down Tagamou Khames neighborhood, you will find a tricycle-shaped cart stationed at several places with lots of books and a young lady in attendance, waiting for manic readers. &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;</span></p><p dir="LTR">Along with their passion for reading and their many years of experience in selling books, Hadeer Mansour, 27, a commerce graduate and her colleague Mohamed, 26, both were tired of heavy job restrictions and bosses&#39; authoritarianism, and were enthused to start their own private project in which they can invest all their effort and love. And so -- naturally --&nbsp; they launched &quot;Books Bike&quot; a moving bicycle, roaming the Cairo streets.</p><p dir="LTR"><img alt="Image may contain: 1 person" src=";oe=591F2D8E" style="height: 769px; width: 536px;" /></p><p dir="LTR">&quot;Both of us love books and we were thinking for a long time about launching a library or a bookstore to start our own independent business,&quot; Mohamed told Egypt Independent. &quot;But renting a place costs a lot of money, so we thought about getting books from publishers and re-selling them in fairs and schools but the idea seemed exhausting and worthless, then we thought about a big car that sells books but it also seemed very expensive, so we decided to launch a bike.&quot;</p><p dir="LTR">The idea of creating the bicycle design was Mohamed&#39;s, as he saw it as a new and unique idea, one that does not exist in Egypt. Plus, it&#39;s affordable.</p><p dir="LTR">The team drew the imaginary design and spent a long journey searching for someone who can produce it; they finally found an engineer who has his own workshop and that produces this type of mobile carts.</p><p dir="LTR">&quot;At the beginning, he was a bit surprised, saying that people usually ask him to design bikes to sell sweet potatoes and other food, but that it&#39;s the first time he hears about a bike to sell books! Then, he became enthused to develop the design of the bike and he made the exact shape we asked him for, adding some extra shelves,&quot; Mohamed recounted.</p><p dir="LTR">The project was launched in mid-December. The team buys the original books from the publishing houses to safeguard the copy rights.&nbsp;</p><p dir="LTR"><span style="font-size: 1em;">The Book Bike recently visited several classy residential compounds in Tagamou Khames, after taking the permission from the landlords union. Currently, they are also planning to reach out to other areas, including Zamalek, Heliopolis and Maadi. </span></p><p dir="LTR"><span style="font-size: 1em;">&quot;We usually choose a good spot to stand, in order to minimize the street harassment that Hadeer encounters in other crowded locations,&quot; Mohamed said.</span></p><p dir="LTR">The project&#39;s main aim is to spread the culture of reading. &quot;When people get out of their building and see books right in front of them every day, this will motivate them to buy books, even if they were not much interested in reading,&quot; Mohamed explained.</p><p dir="LTR">&quot;Moreover, the Book Bike aims to break the wrong habit of purchasing illegally copied books from street vendors which is violates the publisher&#39;s copyrights; the bike also saves the time and effort people may spend to reach bookstores and libraries, especially since we also have a delivery service throughout the Cairo area, within three days,&quot; he said.</p><p dir="LTR">Mohamed said that most of the people&#39;s feedback was really positive and many passers-by stopped to congratulate and support them. &quot;One of the most amazing feedbacks was from an old man who gave us chocolate and water saying that he is so proud of what we are doing,&quot; Mohamed said.</p><p dir="LTR">Mohamed narrated another intriguing feedback which was from a man who was looking at them for a long time, and when they inquired about the reason, he said that he is very astonished by their project, because he used to see books carts in Europe and other countries abroad, but he had never seen one in Egypt.</p><p dir="LTR">Meanwhile, there were a few frustrating comments from some people, who said that the bike is opening the way for street vendors to come to their residential compounds.</p><p dir="LTR">The bike is selling books in several languages and many genres including arts, history, literature and kids books. In fact, the bike targets children especially, as it has a specially-designed shelf in the kids&#39; sight level, so that they can easily see and chose from all the books meant for them.</p><p dir="LTR"><span style="font-size: 1em;">&quot;We wish that when the Egyptian children walk in the street, they find the culture surrounding them is enabling them to go and purchase a book with their family; and that they get used to the design of the Book Bike, as they are already familiar with the other food carts,&quot; Mohamed said.</span></p><p dir="LTR"><img alt="Image may contain: 2 people, people sitting and outdoor" src=";oe=58DEAE80" style="height: 331px; width: 536px;" /></p><p dir="LTR">The bike moreover is trying to be a guide for the readers to tell them, for instance, which are the best-selling books, as the team reads many of the books they sell and are well informed about their contests, which helps them find the appropriate books that suits their customers&#39; tastes and needs.</p><p dir="LTR">&quot;we are doing this service through our Facebook page too as we usually write background and short descriptions about some books to make the reader more aware of the book they want to read and to change the traditional image of the book store which is a place only sells books,&quot;</p><p dir="LTR"><span style="font-size: 1em;">The books bike is planning to expand their services and host special events, including of book-signing ceremonies with famous writers; &quot;there is already a popular writer supporting us and trying to give us some payment facilities with publishing houses,&quot; Mohamed said.&nbsp;</span></p><p dir="LTR"><span style="font-size: 1em;">The bike has received an offer from people in Alexandria to join the city&#39;s book fair in February 2017. &quot;We will do our best to go, but I believe it will not be easy because we have been officially rejected from <span style="font-size: 1em;">General Egyptian Books Organization for </span>joining the Cairo Book Fair,&quot; Mohamed said.</span></p><p dir="LTR">Mohamed&#39;s big issue was obtaining the license for the bike: &quot;The big problem is that this mobile bike has no license in the Egyptian law; so, it seems that if I&#39;m doing something illegal. But I&#39;m doing my very best to get a license in order to move easily through the Cairo streets, especially since I was asked once by a policeman to leave,&quot; he explained.</p><p dir="LTR">Mohamed pointed out that it&#39;s hard for them to travel from one city to another by the bike, but their dream is to spread many book bikes across the country.</p><p dir="LTR">While he said that going to popular areas and slums is complicated because most of the people there don&#39;t have a good knowledge about reading and no books culture. &quot;But we are planning to launch an event to let people sell each other their used and old books,&quot; he said.</p><p align="right" dir="LTR">&nbsp;</p> Tue, 17 Jan 2017 09:45:00 +0000 Hend El-Behary 2475577 at sites/default/files/photo/2017/01/16/501184/books_bike3.jpg Delta, United, Emirates lead the way on in-flight Wi-Fi <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>Global airline passengers have a 39% chance of stepping onboard an aircraft equipped with Wi-Fi. According to an international report from RouteHappy, Delta, United and Emirates have the biggest number of available seat miles offering Wi-Fi access.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Air passengers&rsquo; chances of enjoying onboard Wi-Fi have increased 8% compared to last year, according to an international study, with more than one billion extra Wi-Fi-equipped seat miles available. Delta, a US-based airline that runs domestic and international services, comes top of the table for world airlines, offering the greatest number of seat miles with wireless internet access.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The report&rsquo;s rankings are based on Available Seat Miles (ASMs) which are equal to the number of seats available multiplied by the number of miles traveled by the airline&rsquo;s planes. United Airlines comes in second place, ahead of Emirates, which has been committed to rolling out Wi-Fi in 2016 with 126 million extra seat miles now benefitting from the service.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>For long-haul flights, Emirates passengers have the highest chance of being able to surf the web, ahead of United then Lufthansa. The Dubai-based airline takes the lion&rsquo;s share thanks to its fleet of Airbus A380 aircraft, offering the highest passenger-carrying capacity of all current aircraft.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>European airlines trail in the rankings. After the German flag carrier, Spanish airline Iberia (12th), Air Europa (19th) and Scandinavian Airlines (20th) are the only other carriers flying the flag for European air travel in the Wi-Fi ranking for long-haul routes.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In-flight Wi-Fi should improve further in 2017, as a host of airlines have already announced plans to launch services. Passengers can also hope to see the cost of surfing the web from 35,000 feet drop in the coming years. However, passengers may have to wait considerably longer to enjoy free onboard Wi-Fi on all aircraft.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div> Sat, 14 Jan 2017 11:18:00 +0000 AFP 2475517 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/02/17/43/fli-fi.jpg