After graduating my MBA from University of Minnesota I was employed by the Danish conglomerate A.P.Moller-Maersk. I commenced at the Copenhagen headquarter at Kongens Nytorv in spring 1978 working in the so-called Financial Planning department.
But the opportunity to see the rest of the world soon knocked on the door. The finance manager of one of APMM's joint ventures in Egypt was relocating back to Denmark and a replacement was needed.
Cairo was low on the list of desirable locations so several more senior finance people had turned down this assignment before they approached me.
So why did I accept the assignment?
For two reasons: (1) Because the job looked like a huge and interesting challenge and (2) because Egypt was so immensely different from the Western world that I knew and therefore offered so many new things to see and experience.
A four engine DC-8 whisked me non-stop from Copenhagen, Denmark to Cairo, Egypt in under eight hours. I flew SAS, which operated the route Copenhagen-Cairo-Abu Dhabi back then. The DC-8 was at that time the most modern, long-distance aircraft in world wide service, so I traveled in style.
After crossing the somewhat familiar landscape of Europe we soon found ourselves over a seemingly endless blue mediterranean.
And then, boom!, the Egyptian coastline came into view. From now on everything below except the Nile delta had the same, brown-yellowish color. It is close to the background color on this page.
This was a color that I learned to hate and love at the same time over the next half-decade. On the one hand, it signaled "home" but on the other hand it created an craving for other colors, like a blue ocean or green pastures.
But I am getting ahead of myself. After an hour of endless brown-yellow ground, the airport at Heliopolis came into view and we landed safely.
We taxied to a spot some 100 meters from the terminal and after waiting some 10 minutes unprotected on the tarmac in the blazing sun we were bused over to the terminal proper. There was no such things as jetbridges in those days.
The area inside the terminal was packed with arriving passengers all fighting for their place in the few queues lining up at the immigration booths. Aircondition? You must be kidding ...
Once through immigration I was always greeted by Said, our local contact person who had a special airport pass, which allowed him into the customs area.
he would be helpful by getting your suitcase and then explain to the customs officials why it was OK for this particular foreigner to bring this or that stuff into Egypt even though it was normally dutyable.
Oh, I almost forgot the most important thing: Said spoke perfect English and had abundant patience, something all we visitors were very short of having already perspired profusely for almost half an hour since touch down.