President Hosni Mubarak celebrates his 80th birthday on Sunday amid a wave of popular discontent marked by a call for Egyptians to stay at home in protest at price hikes and curbs on freedom.
But the call for the nationwide strike -- the second in a month -- failed to draw any response as Egyptians went to work as normal and Cairo traffic was heavy.
"There is no sign of protest anywhere. But there is tighter security, with riot police trucks stationed in downtown Cairo and in (the northern industrial city of) Mahalla just in case," the official told AFP.
The most visible sign of protest came from about 15 people chanting "Down, down with Hosni Mubarak" outside the Lawyers' Syndicate in downtown Cairo, an AFP journalist reported.
The call circulated via email, text messages and Facebook, and urged Egyptians to stay at home or wear black to coincide with Mubarak's birthday.
In the run-up to his 80th, official news outlets called the president a hero, while the state-owned Al-Ahram described May 4 this year as "the day Egypt was born again."
The state-owned Akhbar al-Youm newspaper dedicated Saturday's front page to a rosy picture of Mubarak in a wheat field against a bright blue sky under the huge headline "Why we love you, chief."
English-language daily the Egyptian Gazette said that on Mubarak's 80th "Egyptians will light a new candle in the victorious life of their leader who has a high sense of self-denial and has made many sacrifices for Egypt."
The official Al-Gomhouria paper championed Mubarak as "the hero of social justice," referring to a pledge he made on Wednesday to raise public sector salaries by 30 percent in 2008 to combat soaring food prices amid rising public discontent over the state of the economy.
On Tuesday the main opposition movement the Muslim Brotherhood threw its weight behind the call for a day of protest.
"The Muslim Brotherhood declares its endorsement of the call to stay at home next May 4, with the exception of those working in medical and public service institutions, and those who have exams in any educational institution."
A day of nationwide action called for April 6 saw riots erupt in the Nile Delta industrial city of Mahalla where three people died and hundreds were detained after demonstrators pulled down posters of Mubarak.
Esraa Abdel Fattah, 27, who created the Facebook group calling for the April 6 strike, was arrested and jailed for three weeks for "inciting unrest."
In recent months Egypt has seen a number of strikes and protests against low salaries and price rises that have been the one of the most serious challenges to the Mubarak regime.
Born on May 4, 1928, in the village of Kafr El-Meselha in the Nile Delta province of Menufiyah, Mubarak rose through the ranks of the air force to become the vice president in April 1975.
He was catapulted into the top job after the assassination of president Anwar Sadat by Islamists in 1981.
Mubarak was re-elected unopposed three times in yes-no referendums until 2005 when he introduced Egypt's first multi-candidate presidential elections in a bid to soften his autocratic image, partly under international pressure.
In 2007, he introduced a set of constitutional reforms billed by his National Democratic Party as a way of fulfilling his promise of democratic change.
But critics lambasted the reforms as a major setback to basic freedoms and an attempt to put a lid on the Islamist opposition's popularity while ensuring a smooth transition to his increasingly visible and influential son Gamal.
Rumors in the press last year that the president was suffering from ill health landed some newspaper editors with heavy jail terms, prompting international rights groups to call for greater press freedom.