Khartoum is different from Cairo in almost every way... except for its huge stock of pseudo-brands and signs in Engrish (that is, mangled English). I've seen Abercrombie & Kent, Panashiba, and today, Chicken Hut, not to mention that favorite of tinkerers and hobbyists everywhere: Sado-Mastic (sic) Emulsion Paint.
Sign-reading gets especially fun when English words or phrases are transliterated into the Arabic alphabet (which I am gaining a stumbling literacy in). I still can't sound out the word on 7-UP bottles, but the script is stylized so that the last letter (reading right to left, of course) looks like the numeral 7. The word Pepsi, however, consists of very basic symbols, and I am happy to mutter, "Beebsee," whenever it makes an appearance (there's no P sound in Arabic), and "Shweebs," for Schweppes.
Brand names in English are definitely considered chic. Besides the T-shirts that leave you wondering if their owner understands what they say, all kinds of products are sold with non-Arabic names. That which disturbs me most is Fair & Lovely skin-lightening cream, flogged with great intensity on our UAE cable channel. In the commercial, a miserable young woman with a tan any westerner would die for is unable to land a television announcing job until she realizes that a quick fix with Fair & Lovely cream will make everything all right. Sure enough, in 6 regular applications, it does! What does this mean for the black-African members of Sudanese society? I don't know.
Next time: white egg yolks and geckos!