El Gouna EN BREF  #1
Everything you never knew you needed to know about the El Gouna International Squash Open


It is my first time in Alexandria, and to be honest, I really like it. The hotel, Azure, is virtually on the beach, and the breakfast room has a nice terrace, with both sun and shade, perfect for me white skin.

Room is really comfy, spacious, and on the ground floor with reception, no stairs/lift necessary. A nice and large corridor from the reception area leads to a sort of round room, from which our rooms (they put more or less all of us together) are located.

OK, we have to admit that Internet here is a bit of a problem, not really working and horribly expensive (we are talking per hour the what we would pay in Europe per day. So Omar El Sherbini, who is seconding Amr Mansi in the tournament, saved the day by providing us with dongles…

A nice drive along the sea, then turn left, turn right, and zoom, we are at the Alexandria Sporting Club, a lovely/huge Egyptian style venue, as in so many different sports, ladies, men, kids, all smiling and very welcoming. Lovely atmosphere. And everybody here is making us truly, truly, TRULY welcome.

And my tea might you ask….

OF COURSE, they provide us with tea, coffee, whatever you wish really. A nice little café on the 2nd floor (free drinks, food, etc), with a lift please, and a lovely terrace where the Shorbagy’s mum and dad were kind enough to share their lunch with me yesterday, and today, Omar, bless him. A lovely view, peace and quiet really.

And to crown it all, our press room is like 15metres from the courts, easy, nice knowledgeable crowd, plenty of smiling faces all around….Excellent conditions to work in. Absolutely stunning atmosphere. Loving every minute of it.

Welcome to Alexandria.


Of course you know Amr Swelim
Raised in Egypt, but with an Italian dad, pt,  Amr - or actually Vincente as his team mates would call him -  was able for a few years now to play for his second country's Team, Italy.

Well, an opportunity arose via the likes of Amr Wagih, coach to stars, who knew that the company Otsuka was looking for a marketing man in Egypt for their sport drink Pocari Sweat.

"It was a one lifetime opportunity", said Swelim, it's a complete change of life which I truly enjoy.

"Otsuka is an enormous company in Japan and in so many countries, and are now set to develop on Egypt. I hope I can be of some help".

So, there is it. He has apparently played his last PSA match. I just hope we'll still see him for the Team events....

Inch'Allah... ?


To be honest, when I was told that I was to land in Cairo in the evening, to be picked up by a driver who was going to take me to Alexandria, I sort of worried a bit that things wouldn’t go that fluidly…And well, it was a bit of a bumpy ride, but thinking about it now - not at the time, though - quite a funny one!

Lovely Egypt Air flight arrived spot on time from Paris, new plane, great seats, no trouble at the visa desk/passport/ picking up luggage, nice I thought. Cubs’ pick up had gone nicely about two hours before, he was in the car close to Alexandria, nothing to declare really.

My bag on wheels, I passed the customs, and arrived in the hall. Nobody with my name of their signs. Ah.

I wait. Ten minutes. Fifteen minutes. I’m on the phone to Cubs, as I can’t get through to Omar El Sherbini. Cubs’ driver is trying too. About 30m of standing up in the middle of the thinning crowd – apart from the 3,456 nice people that keep on asking me if I need a taxi bless them – I decide to go and have another look around the drivers waiting with signs.

One, with a "Francis" on the sign, attracts my attention. Being used to have my name spelled wrong, I suspect it could be me. “I’m waiting for a Mister Francis”, says the man, very kindly. Ah. Not me then.

It’s now been 45m, with me frantic on the phone, as I do not have a clue what to do. Omar is now trying desperately to locate my driver, the Agency who arranged the travels is sending another one, Amr Mansi, the Big Man, calls me, and assures me that everything is being done to sort the situation asa.

I have now got some money out of the magical wall, am sitting down at the café just in front of the arrival door, and is sipping a nice Chai Latte – note to myself, not adding sugar when ordering a Chai Latte in Egypt – waiting for my new driver.

Until the man I actually spoke to, the Mr Francis one, comes to me, with a big smile. I was "Mr Francis" after all… The Agency just misspelled both name and gender. Blesss…What’s in a name, hey.

But. As we had to wait for John Massarella (the poor driver just didn’t have a clue how to spell that one, I wrote it down for him) – his London plane for 1h30 late, we actually left Cairo about 10.30pm, and missed out on the traffic completely. And whereas others took up to 6 hours to get from Cairo to Alex, it only took us 3!

“A quelque chose, malheur est bon”. A blessing in disguise really.


When I tell you that we are made to feel extremely valued here, we've been spoiled for food and nice company.

First night, Heba El Torky and her mum, along with her younger sister 12 year old Raneem – with a name like that, she is bound to become world junior champion soon enough – invited Cubs and myself to a meal in a stunning restaurant, well known of Alexandria’s crowd, Balba.

Then at lunch the next day, Nour El Sherbini wanted to invite us, but really, we didn't have the time, too much work to catch up with, and in the evening, it's the Shorbagy's that took a few of us to another stunning fish restaurant, the Fish Mart, with a splendid view over the sea/harbour.

Two points in common those restaurants. Their speciality is fish. And the food is out of this world. First, they ask you to choose which fish you would like, and how you want them cooked. As there was actually nothing that Steve and I wouldn’t eat on there, we let the ladies choose for us.

And as you can see, they did spoil us. Amazing, stupendous, gorgeous. Les mots me manquent to describe how stunningly beautiful, healthy and tasty those meals were.

It was a lovely evening, Steve didn't stop chatting, whereas I was quiet and well behaved, as ever... And such good company, well, expect for Mohamed of course, a bit of a pain, but hey, he had to come along, after all, his mum insisted.


Issue ONE
Issue TWO