A newly founded Egyptian firm is expected to shake up the undertaking services by offering a full package of funeral and burial services to clients it finds at hospitals.
For a price, Sokna – Arabic for “calm” or “repose” – says it gives the bereaved space to mourn, free from the usual logistics and bureaucracy. This can be stressful in Egypt, partly due to the Muslim custom of burying people swiftly after death.
Sokna gets nearly 90% of its clients through deals with 15 hospitals, circumventing established networks for services to the newly bereaved.
Costs of the services range from 4,500 to 9,000 Egyptian pounds ($287-$574), plus add-on services that go up to 5,000 pounds ($320).
At funerals, uniformed staff is on hand to arrange chairs, umbrellas, and napkins for those who come to attend the funerary procession.
“As a team, and as people, we really believe that death doesn’t discriminate between rich and poor,” said Ahmed Gaballah, who worked for Facebook and Google before founding Sokna in 2019.
Traditional Egyptian undertakers like Mohamed Mahmoud provide coffins, a car, and a driver, but with less of the sleek presentation favored by Sokna.
“I would take 1,000, 1,200 pounds,” Mahmoud said. “And then this firm comes and tells you 6,000, 7,000 pounds. As the hospital administration, how are you okay with that?”
The firm provides a package of services that include preparing documents such as death certificates, burial permits, preparing the body, providing a sheik or priest (for Christians), obituaries, and so on.
“Sokna” may be a practical alternative for morticians over the period to come if it persuades clients with good services.