To most people in the West, Egy.best may not ring a bell, but in Arabic speaking countries, it’s been a piracy beacon for years.
The site, which proudly boasted a “Made in Egypt” tagline, offered access to pirated copies of movies and TV-shows. These could be downloaded and streamed for free, often with subtitles.
Egy.best was most popular in Egypt where it was among the ten most visited sites in the country. In addition, it was also the number one pirate site in many neighboring countries, including Algeria, Kuwait, Morocco and Saudi Arabia.
This week, however, the site’s operators decided to throw in the towel, without prior warning. Those who access Egy.best today only see the site’s logo, with النهاية. underneath it, which means “the end.”
It’s unclear why the site, dubbed by some as the Netflix for the poor, took this drastic decision.
In a message on the site’s official Facebook account, which has since been removed, the site mentioned that several Egyptian ISPs has started to block the site. Shortly after, the site shut down, but whether there’s a connection remains uncertain.
ISP blockades were indeed put in place recently. They didn’t just target Egy.best, but also other sites including Arab Lions, Akoam, Movies land, Arab Seed, Mazzika Today, Shahid4u, and Cima4up. Some of these switched to new domain names subsequently, but Egy didn’t.
Some people assumed that the blockades triggered the shutdown, but that would be a rather unusual response. This is also what a follow-up message in the Facebook comment section suggests. There, a site operator noted that it’s bigger than just the blocking efforts in Egypt.
Without an official statement on the reason for the shutdown, people can only speculate. The most likely explanation, perhaps, is some kind of legal pressure, but until the operators share more details, that remains a guess.
Whatever the real reason might be, for millions of people the site’s closure is a big blow. Twitter is littered with messages from people mourning the site’s demise. Not just from Egypt, but from many other Arabic speaking countries as well.
“Whoever did it & was reason of closing it [sic], you take some good prayers from many of us in this Ramadan..,” one commenter noted, with someone else adding that “Summer without
#egybest will be a sad summer.”
Others expressed their state of mind through memes.
Considering the massive size of the site, there’s a huge void to be filled and several ‘copycats’ and competitors are eager to jump in. We’ve already seen several people hijacking the #egybest hashtag on Twitter to promote alternative streaming sites and piracy portals.
There’s little doubt that many of Egy.best’s users will ultimately find a new home, but considering the massive response on social media, the original will be missed.