"Egyptian REPORTER" Monthly Magazine
Selling Security and Savings
July, 2002 issue
ever increasing global prevalence of random acts of terrorism has brought
to light our vulnerability and the dangers associated with one of our
favorite interior design elements: glass. Kati
Gargour reports on one easy way to increase your living
safety and comfort at the same time.
has been a favorite of architects and designers because it takes advantage
of views, provides natural luminosity and makes a home roof building more
attractive. More and more houses today are designed with wide-open spaces,
and lots of windows to bring in large amounts of light. Glass, however,
can have serious drawbacks threatening both our safety, not to say our
life, and - surprise, surprise - our wallet! Fortunately, necessity, as
the mother of all inventions, has brought us remedies to let us keep our
wide vistas without the problems.
It has been said that if it were invented today normal (annealed) glass
would not be approved because it does not meet current consumer safety
standards. When broken by accidents, storms or acts of violence, it produces
dangerous shards that can maim and kill those close by. In fact, most
bomb blast, earthquake and hurricane injuries (many of the fatal) are
caused by flying glass. In Oklahoma City, for example, broken glass was
strewn over an area encompassing six miles to the north of the Federal
Building, and one mile to every other direction, many of the shards embedded
in the walls of the buildings surrounding the explosion. People were also
injured by flying glass from buildings located as far away as 10 city
blocks from the blast site.
Five years ago, an unexpected weather turbulence wreaked havoc in Cairo.
Gale force sand-laden winds exceeding 90 kilometers an hour uprooted trees
and kiosks and hurled debriefs left, right and center for 20 minutes.
Twenty four people were killed and hundreds of others endured injuries
of various kinds, many from broken window shards.
Even unbroken, large window panes bring in many problems along with the
light. Excessive glare washes out Elesion and computer screens and puts
enormous strain on the eyes. light furniture, sending A/C's on overdrive.
During the hot summer months, energy bills skyrocket. Expensive furnishings
lose their brightness and attractiveness as the sun fades their colors.
Furniture wood fades and loses its luster from the damaging rays of the
Glass is also the weakest security link in any building. The more glass
surface there is, the easier it is accessed by robbers or vandals.
Large window panes bring in many problems along
with the light. Excessive glare washes out television and computer screens
and puts enormous strain on the eyes. Light converts to heat sending A/C's
on overdrive. During the hot summer months, energy bills skyrocket.
early as the 60's, people came up with the idea of gluing tinted plastic
sheets on windows to guard against the shunt's harmful effects. It was
then a somewhat unsightly solution, as the adhesives in use lacked proper
ultra-violet light resistance and resulted more often than not in ugly
discoloration as well as bubbling and partial peeling. Around the same
time, another phenomenon was taking root, one that catapulted the hazardous
nature of glass into the forefront of security concerns: terrorist bomb
As the IRA spread fear throughout British neighborhoods, scientist in
England put their clever heads together and, taking the elementary tinted
sheets as their base, came up with a product that would prove to be as
lucrative to those that purchased it as to those who multi-layered PVC
Shatter Resistant Window Film combined elements of sun control, safety
and security in an easy to install, economical product that, once applied
on an existing window would adhere so strongly that even bomb explosions
would not teat though. First produced exclusively by a company called
Armashield in England, the technology soon attracted the attention of
the United States who, in the early 70s, was slowly becoming a favorite
target of world terrorism. Today, the US is the world leader in window
film production with renowned names such as 3M, Bekaert and Madico among
myriad others. The industry today caters to various tastes and needs both
in the market designed primarily for solar control, as well as that geared
towards added security and safety.
1992 the ugly head of terrorism reared in Egypt. A young Walid Bishara
took in the events, like most of the population, with shock and consternation.
In 1993 when Cairo was marred by bomb blast left right and center, he
saw a lucrative market opportunity in safety and security window film,
still a widely unused product in Egypt. Contact with Armashield England
soon secured him represenational rights and Armashield Egypt started filling
its first contracts in 1994. Thanks to these products, which include only
the best tried and tested window films in the world, many an embassy,
business, bank and school in Egypt can rest easier as far as security
As often in the case, as soon as Armashield Egypt's success came to be
known on the market, a slew of other window film dealers opened their
doors. This, however, did not shake Bishara's market position too badly
since his company remained the only one dealing solely in superior quality
products. After eight years in business, Armashield Egypt still control
95 percent of the local market share. "Anyone can sell a square-foot
of film, " explains Bishara, "but the trick is to know what
film goes on what window and then to apply it right." Bishara's crew
has received extensive education on film application and extends service
beyond expectations. "We don't just march in and put the films on.
Fist, we prepare the ground, making sure the curtains are protected as
well as the ground and surrounding furniture," he says. "These
little efforts make a big difference to the customer."
To convince us of his product's worth, Bishara leads us towards
a clear glass pane erected on a wooden frame. With a big brick in one
hand, he lurches towards the glass with all his might. I fear for the
photographer who's places himself behind the window almost directly in
the path of the projectile. A loud crack breaks the surface into a beautiful
spider web-like pattern but the glass stays in place. The brick lies on
the floor, broken into pieces.
Bishara proceeds to pass his hand over the cracks on the film-side of
the pane. NO sharp edges, no cracks; therefore no risk of cuts. The film
is as smooth as it was prior to the blow. To test the product further,
we decided to do the banging. First, with a hammer. The glass crack further
but the film holds firm. Our next tool is a screw driver. WIth sharp stabs
we work hard to try and get though. Eventually, we wedge a small hole,
too small to let even a finger through and attempts to force it in would
be foolhardy indeed because the opening remains edged by the peaks of
the glass shards still held in place by the film.
convince us of the product's worth, we are led to a clear glass pane erected
on a wooden frame. With a big brick in one hand, the man lurches towards
the glass with all his might. I fear for the photographer who's placed
himself behind the window almost directly in the path of the projectile.
Bishara explains that the films, once in place, last for a long time and
probably will not have to be replaced until a glass breaks for one reason
or another. A bit of a tricky situation for a successful dealer who might
find himself hard pressed to find windows to coat once the market is saturated?
Bishara laughs: "As long as buildings are being built, there will
be windows to protect."
In the past, Egypt's primary interest was to shield glass surfaces for
added security and safety. Today, many clients are beginning to understand
the benefits of other kinds of window films as well. A particular favorite
is the "Privacy Film" that prevents visibility from outside
without marring the views from the inside. These are manufactured with
multiple designs to give clients a maximum number of options. Some look
like mirrors from the outside, others like Venetian blinds or frosted
glass, to name but a few. All of them reduce infrared solar heat and ultraviolet
radiation while letting in light. Some can filter out as much as 98 percent
of the heat and block 95 percent or more of the UV radiation. Solar control
film comes either with varying degrees of shading or totally clear for
those who favor brightness. All existing window films offer shatter resistance,
but for serious protection, one should go for multi-layered, specially
designed, Safety and Security Shields, with specific adhesive systems.
One installed, window films are totally undistinguishable - unless, of
course, they come with a pattern of some sort.
Katrin Wegelius Gargour