It is not unusual to learn that the cashier at the store, or the musician in a restaurant used to have a more respectable career in Syria as a doctor, engineer or even a teacher.
Unfortunately for many, the best option for professional Syrians in Egypt is to work illegally. Essentially this exposes those Syrians to blackmail by their bosses.
Things have become much worse in Egypt after the coup overthrowing Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammad Morsi, because Syrians have tended to be labelled as pro-Muslim Brotherhood.
That has resulted in restrictions on job opportunities, especially for highly skilled professionals like doctors, lawyers and engineers, while artists and traders have managed, in a way, to find basic work and sources for income.
The law in Egypt is inflexible in granting official working permissions for Syrian professionals. Moreover, the government has started to put in place almost impossible conditions to apply for permission to work after the coup.
Dr. Salim, a dentist from Hama, managed to get a job in a clinic after spending almost two years unemployed. After just four months, he was told that the Egyptian government was targeting Syrian doctors, and that a three-year prison sentence could be imposed on any Syrian doctor found to be working without official permission.
"I came to Egypt with my family because of the unclear future in Syria," Salim told Zaman al-Wasl.
"Form the $40,000 I had, I spent $30,000 within two years of joblessness. Luckily I managed to get a job at a dental clinic. I managed to achieve good professional development, and me and another friend of mine became well-known in the area. However, it seems that local doctors did not like that; they informed the government about us, which put my friend at risk of detention".
"An Egyptian lawyer sorted out the matter through his good relationships, but it resulted in my friend being forced to pledge not to work again. I had to leave my work as well," he said.
Salim said he sees the impossible requirements for Syrian doctors to get registration and licenses to work as being based on a hidden agenda to prevent Syrian doctors from registration.
He still thinks of going back to Syria, as he cannot tolerate staying unemployed any longer. Gven the high cost of living, he does not want to spent the rest of his money.
Translated and edited by The Syrian Observer