China Star is situated next to the Ibn al-Khattab Mosque, and not long before the first call sounded for sunset prayer a sheikh arrived at the shop. He was tall and fat, with strong, dark features, and he wore a brilliant blue galabiya, a carefully wrapped turban, and a pair of heavy silk scarves. He was followed by two large women in niqabs. The sheikh planted himself at the entrance of the shop while the women searched purposefully through the racks and the rows of mannequins. Periodically, one of them would hold up an item, and the sheikh would register his opinion with a wave of his hand.
…The two women in niqabs quickly found two items that the sheikh approved of: matching sets of thongs and skimpy, transparent nightgowns, one in red and the other in blue.
An excellent piece from Peter Hessler in the New Yorker that begins with a teaser on how the Chinese pioneered the market for lingerie in Egypt and just expands from there. Lots of lessons on development economics, foreign policy and more.
Hat tip: David Zetland.