Was it something I did? On April 5, the very day I moved from Egypt to Shanghai, the Egyptian government announced that its blanket ban on GPS devices was over. If I were more paranoid, I’d be taking it personally.
As Egypt’s Daily News points out, the only two remaining countries banning GPS device use by citizens are now Syria and North Korea.
It will be interesting to see whether the early adopters of Egyptian iPhones, sold until now without GPS functionality turned on, will be able to get the GPS chip turned on via a firmware or software upgrade. Or else, it really sucks to be a law-abiding early adopter in Egypt.
Cairo-based friend and blogger The Arabist recounts an interesting rumor doing the rounds there as to why this change, now:
Ahmed Ezz, Gamal Mubarak’s right-hand man, imported a luxury vehicle equipped with GPS that customs did not want to release. So he asked his buddy Gamal [son of President Mubarak] to change the regulations.
The Arabist goes on to say he thinks the story is likely apocryphal, but it is telling nonetheless that this kind rumor has legs in Egypt, because many people consider it to be an entirely plausible explanation of how government policy is made.