Will anybody notice?

Working Remotely from the Middle-East

After a month of working from home in San Francisco on a fairly technical UI design project, it suddenly struck me that I could be doing my work from just about anywhere.

One of my goals for the year had been to visit the middle-east, so I decided to put one and one together, packed my bags, and flew to Cairo.

Note: This is a fairly old article, but I’ve kept it around for posterity. You might enjoy my more recent article about working from the beach.

On my first day, it took a couple hours for me to get my mobile office set-up and situated :

  • I found a delightful quiet little hotel in downtown Cairo for $45/night. Hotel Osiris
  • I picked up a pay-as-you-go ‘holiday’ SIM card from Vodafone and inserted it into my unlocked GSM cellphone. I now have an egyptian telephone number, and can call the US for between 20c/min and 60c/min.
  • I set up a Skype-In number, and forwarded it to my egyptian cellphone number.
  • I forwarded my US home phone and cellphone to my Skype-In number. – Calls to my US landline and cell forward to skype and on to my egyptian cell number. No-one will even notice I’m gone. Unless, that is, they call me at 5pm which is 3am my time. Then I’ll be grumpy!

Does it work? On Tuesday evening (11pm Local time, 1pm Pacific) I fired up my laptop, plugged into the hotel router, called into my clients from my cellphone, and badda-bing, badda-boom, and I’m working…. just the same as in SF.

During the mornings and evening, I work on my laptop from my hotel, and in the afternoon I take off for a little walk around town to pick up the culture. I’ll head out to the pyramids at the weekend, but for now just getting around the traffic is good fun.

On to the beach

 A week later….

I’m now in Dahab, working by the beach. I’ve been called into a few conference calls while here, and been meeting my deliverables, and so far so good. No-one even realizes where I am.

Onto Israel

A couple weeks later…

My cover is blown. I arrived in Jerusalem today, and found an affordable hotel in the Arab quarter of the old city. It’s beautiful and the wifi works well. I had a call to present my work this evening at 6pm. I tested the connectivity with a friend, and it all went fine. Then at 6, I called into WebEx, made small talk, and then….. Alllahhhhhh-uuuu-akbar.  There’s a mosque right next door, and sunset coincided with the call.

Well, that was embarrassing. We all had a good laugh, and I called back in 15mins later. Call went well. Clients are happy.

Cranking it out from a cafe in Jerusalem

Now that my work’s done

Headed back to the US on Tuesday. That gives me five days to get to the root of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

No Comments

  1. Dave on December 3, 2007 at 11:43 am

    Awesome! Loved the videos. I’m jealous of your freedom/flexibility… If you get the chance pop over to Libya and check it out for me. I tried to get in there 3 different times during the 90’s and was denied, but I hear it’s easier now.

  2. Robert on November 23, 2007 at 3:35 pm

    Thanks for the great high-impact filmed demonstration of traffic flow and seeming near-anarchy in Cairo. Amazing how it seemed to be all so good-humoured, with pedestrians accepted as part of street life rather than as targets for autos, and a flagrant U-turn against the flow with no angst at all.. one could get to like this gentle way of driving from these clearly caring people

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