I started out feeling scared - of the foreboding mountainous landscape and the dark drive from the airport through it; of the inevitable street hassle one gets as a European walking past Egyptian shops. On my first trip I even had a panic attack because a guy offered me tea in the back of the shop and I suddenly had visions of him bundling me off in to the desert.
What impressive dexterity our prime minister is demonstrating. In February 2011, there he was, grandstanding in Tahrir Square, celebrating with Egypt's pro-democracy activists the overthrow of the country's former leader, Hosni Mubarak. And here he is now, less than five years later, warmly welcoming Mubarak's successor, the former field marshal who seized power in a coup that ended Egypt's imperfect experiment with democracy.
David Cameron should think further ahead than the short-term "benefits" that arms deals and power stations bring, and press for countries we do business with (whether trade or security) to create stable and peaceful societies; the kind only possible where young people like Israa and Mahmoud are able to peacefully express their views without fear of imprisonment and torture.
Today, some powers and principalities are trying to lure the MENA genie back into its bottle - with brutal force, lavish financial inducements or political shenanigans. But this genie is cunning: it has tasted freedom outside the bottle and sees its own world with different lenses. Its instincts cannot easily be tamed back into the bottle!
Over the years I reckon we've all had our run-ins with dress code authoritarianism. Requirements to wear suits ("lounge suits"). Being told you've got to wear a shirt with a collar. Or a tie. The need to turn up in "smart" attire. Or footwear that isn't a pair of trainers. Or trousers that aren't tracksuit bottoms. Tops that aren't football shirts ...