I'm nearly broke after Christmas, but a few days ago me and a friend got the idea to travel to Egypt to get some warmth and spend the rest of our money. We ordered tickets 4 or 5 days ago and I'm writing this from my hotel. As well as being warm, dirty and lovely, Egypt requires a Visa to get in - but the process was quick and painless: I had to show my passport and write down the flight number (as well as pay a small fee) and had a Visa in a total of 20 minutes. (All done on the flight in, of course.)
If I had to travel as a tourist the other way around, as an Egyptian travelling to Norway, things would be a bit more complicated. Not only does the Norwegian Embassy inform me that I should apply weeks ahead (and they guarantee nothing as to the transaction time), the cost would be doubled to 60 euro and they would have to make a background check to ensure I had at least 50 000 NOK at hand. (I had 900 NOK when I boarded the flight to Egypt). I'll also have to make someone in Norway write me a cover letter, send in a full copy of all pages in my passport and if I'm unfortunate enough to visit a relative I'll have to put up proof that we are in fact related.
Norway has been a liberal democracy since 1814, while Egypt has spent 2011 going from a secular military dictatorship to what looks like a religious and shaky democracy - yet Egypt clearly wants visitors - while Norway does not. And it's of course not only Norway - the same is true for all of Europe. I have to ask the same question the Economist does in this weeks issue:
"Why are the walls of fortress Europe so high? Officials cite security concerns. But few migrants who pose a threat seek to obtain legal visas. Europe is shutting out tourists and businesspeople—exactly the sorts it should be cultivating."http://www.economist.com/node/21542224?fsrc=scn/fb/wl/ar/keepout