Foreword Welcome to Chairman & International Group Publisher
Managing Group Editor
Best of Egypt Lisa Durante
Chairman & Publisher
“If present trends are anything Reham Yehia
to go by, the sky is clearly the Deputy Managing Editor
CEO One2One Media
only limit . . .” Sales & Marketing Director
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has become the peak of an editorial period, which has demonstrated the best of
what Egypt has to offer in terms of innovation, lifestyle and heritage. Four years Yasmine Kamel
ago we began our “Best Of Egypt” series, and it is time to say that the many
people who have made an effort, have made an effort to success. Art Director
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celebrating their success to a global leadership. Office Manager
Egypt is an overwhelming country that brings out wonders, while this edition
traces testimonials of our cultural heritage and progress, interlaced with culture
Abdel El Halim Amer
and innovation demonstrating the power of the emerging Egyptian economy in
full swing. We consider our Egypt edition to be a landmark book for GVP and Financial Manager
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Best of Egypt
Country at a Glance
Natural Features & Geography
Egypt is the world's 38th largest country of 1,001,450 square kilometers, making it approximately
the same size as Central America, twice the size of Spain and 4 times the size of UK. Egypt
is divided into 26 provinces, which include the main 4 city governorates: Alexandria, Cairo,
Port Said and Suez. Also included are the 9 governorates of Lower Egypt in the Nile Delta
region, the 8 governorates of Upper Egypt along the Nile River south from Cairo to Aswan,
and the 5 frontier governorates covering Sinai and the deserts located west and east of the
Nile. Egypt is mainly desert with an area of only 35,000 square kilometers only 3.5 % of the
total land is cultivated and permanently settled. Covering only about 5.5% of the total land of
Egypt, the Nile Valley and Nile Delta are the most important regions, being the country's only
cultivable regions and supports about 99% of the population.
Climate & Atmosphere
There is not much rainfall in Egypt except in the winter. In the South of Cairo, rainfall averages
only around 2 to 5 mm per year and at distance times. On the northern coast the rain can be
as high as 410 mm per year with most of the rainfall between October and March. Snow never
fell in Egypt but does on Sinai's mountains and some of the north coastal cities such as
Damietta, Baltim, Sidi Barrany and rarely in Alexandria, frost is also known in mid-Sinai and
Religion & Spirituality
Ancient Egyptian religion includes various religious beliefs and rituals practiced in ancient
Egypt for over more than 3,000 years. Egypt hosts two major religious institutions; Al-Azhar
Mosque, the first Islamic University in Egypt and the main Egyptian Church the Coptic Orthodox
Church of Alexandria. Egypt is a predominantly Muslim country with Islam as its main religion. About 90% are identified as Muslim
Sunni. A significant number of Muslim Egyptians also follow native Sufi orders and a minority of Sh'ia. There is also large minority
of Christians in Egypt, who make up the remainder of the population. Over 90% of Egyptian Christians belong to the native Coptic
Orthodox Church of Alexandria. There is also a very small community of Jews available as well.
The Egyptian Flag
The current Egypt Flag was adopted on 4 th October, 1984.
The Egyptian flag has three equal bands of red, white and black, respectively from top to
bottom. The three bands are placed horizontally to each other. The 'Eagle of Saladin' is the
national emblem of Egypt which is symbolized on the flag of Egypt. It is placed at the middle
of the white band of the Egyptian Flag. The shield also bears the name of Egypt inscribed in
Arabic. The colors of the Egyptian flag are very significant. The red color refers to the period
in history when the power of the deposed King Farouk was taken over by army men. White
stands for the beginning of the end of monarchy while black is symbolic of the end of cruelty
faced by the people of Egypt at the hands of Egyptian monarchy and British rule.
The Egyptian currency
The Egyptian pound or gineih, is the currency of Egypt. It is divided into 100 qirsh, pronounced
irsh, piastres in English, or 1000 malleem (milliemes).The code is EGP.
Sports & Competition
Football is the most popular national sport in Egypt. The most common Egyptian soccer clubs
are El Ahly, El Zamalek, Ismaily, El-Ittihad el Skandary and el Masry making them the top
teams. The great rivalries keep the streets of Egypt energized as people fill the streets when
their favorite team wins. Since soccer has been around for over 100 years, it makes Egypt
rich in soccer history. The country is home to many African championships such as the African
Cup of Nations with a top score of extraordinary 7 times, including two times in a row in 1957
and 1959 and a unique 3 times in a row in 2006, 2008, and 2010 setting a world record.
Squash and Tennis are other popular sports in Egypt. The Egyptian squash team has been
known for its intense competition in international championships since the 1930s. The Egyptian
Handball team also carries another record; throughout the 34 times the African Handball
Nations Championship was held, Egypt won first place five times with a record of 5 times
second place, 4 times third place and came in 4th place twice. The team won 6th and 7th places in 1995, 1997 at the World Men's Handball
Championship, and twice won 6th place at the 1996 and 2000 Olympics. In 2007, Omar Samra joined Ben Stephens (England), Victoria
James (Wales) and Greg Maud (South Africa) in fixing together an expedition to climb Mount Everest from its South side. On the 17th of
May, Omar became the first and youngest Egyptian to climb 8,850m Mount Everest. Later also became the first Egyptian to climb Everest
from its South face, the same route taken by Sir Edmund Hilary and Sherpa Tenzing in 1953.
Best of Egypt
Art, Architect & Festivals
The Egyptians were one of the first major civilizations to ad codes to design elements in art and architecture. The wall paintings carved in
the service of the Pharaohs followed a rigid code of visual rules and meanings. Egyptian civilization is popular for its colossal pyramids,
colonnades and monumental tombs. Ancient Egyptian art refers to the style of painting, sculpture, crafts and architecture developed by the
civilization in the low Nile Valley from 5000 BC to 300 AD. Paintings and sculptures were used to express ancient Egyptian art & were both
highly stylized and symbolic. Much of the surviving art comes from tombs and monuments and thus there is an emphasis on life after death
and the preservation of knowledge of the past. Serving as the main performing arts venue in the Egyptian capita is the Cairo Opera House.
Egypt's media and arts industry has prospered since the late 19th century, today with more than 30 satellite channels and over 100 motion
pictures produced each year, Cairo has long been known as the Hollywood of the Middle East. With its annual Cairo International Film
Festival film festival it has been rated as one of 11 festivals with a top class rating worldwide by the International Federation of Film Producers
Music & Media
The music of Egypt has always been an essential part of Egyptian culture
ever since ancient times. Music formed an important part of Egyptian life,
and musicians occupied a variety of positions in the society; Finding its way
into many contexts in Egypt such as temples, palaces, workshops, farms,
battlefields and tombs. In ancient Egypt, music was an integral part of
religious worship, there were even gods specifically associated with music,
such as Hathor and Bes. Musical instruments ranged from very simple,
such as percussion instruments, to very complex, such as harps. Some
instruments were strictly Egyptian, while others apparently came to Egypt
from the Near East. All the major categories of musical instruments
percussion, wind and stringed were represented in Pharaonic Egypt. Highly
developed Music was an integral part of religious worship in Egypt, and
had a central role in the religious rituals, hymns and prayers. The Egyptian
media today is experiencing more freedom that was not available in the
past. There are several Egyptian talk shows like “90 Minutes” and “Al-
Ashera Masa'an” that operate on private channels. There are also the state
television programs such as “El-beit beitak” constantly criticizing the
Government; this was banned before due to intense controlling by the
Government. However the public currently is allowed to see and feel the
freedom that the Government allowed for media.
Overview & Conclusion
Egypt acquires one of the most developed and diversified economies in
the Middle East, with sectors such as tourism, agriculture, industry and
service at almost equal rates in national production. Consequently, the
Egyptian economy is rapidly developing, due in part to legislation aimed
at luring investments, coupled with both internal and political stability, along
with recent trade and market liberalization.
28 Best of Egypt
Religious Diversity of Egypt
Best of Egypt
Art & History of Islam
Religion in Egypt plays an essential role in most Egyptians' lives, controls many aspects of social life and is legitimate by law. The majority
of Egypt is predominantly Muslim which is about 80% to 90% of a population of over 80 million Egyptians.
The Qur'an states that all Muslims must believe in God, his revelations, his angels, his messengers, and in the "Day of Judgment.” There
are five essential observances that all practicing Muslims accept and follow… These pillars represent the core that unites all Muslims.
The Declaration of Faith (shahadah); A Muslim testifies that “there is none worthy of worship except God and that Muhammad is the
Messenger of God." This tribute is a foundation for all other beliefs and practices in Islam.
The Prayer (Salah); Muslims pray five times a day: First at daybreak, then at noon, then mid afternoon, then sunset, and finally evening.
It helps keep believers think of God despite the stress of work and family. Resetting spiritual focus reaffirms dependence on God and putting
worldly concerns within the perspective of the last judgment and the afterlife.
The Compulsory Charity (Zakah); Islam teaches that wealth is something given by God for the benefit of humanity and therefore is something
to be shared. The zakat is not charity but is considered a religious obligation requiring an annual contribution of 2.5 percent of a Muslims
wealth and assets. Nevertheless, meets the needs of the less fortunate members of the community to support the poor, the needy and to
help those in debt.
The Fasting of Ramadan (Sawm); Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar which Muslims spend fasting. From dawn to
sunset, Muslims withhold food, drinks and sexual activity. Fasting develops
spirituality, dependence upon God and brings identification with the less
fortunate who live with fewer supplies in their everyday lives.
the Fifth Pillar is the Pilgrimage or (Hajj) to Mecca; every year over two
million believers from a diversity of cultures and languages travel from
all over the world to the sacred city of Mecca. Every adult Muslim who
is physically and financially fit is required to sacrifice time, wealth, status
and ordinary comforts to make the Hajj at least once in his/her lifetime,
putting themselves totally at God's service.
A mosque is a place of worship for followers of Islam which carries a
great social and spiritual place in the lives of the Muslims. Muslim
architecture has developed drastically since the open-air spaces that
were the Quba Mosque and Masjid al- Nabawi in the seventh century.
Although many old mosques still stand perfect today. Egypt has some
very notable, as well as important mosques, some of which may be
visited while others are not open to touristic visits.
The Mosque of Ahmad Ibn Tulun, located in Cairo, is arguably the
oldest mosque in the city surviving in its original form, with 26,318 square
meters in size it is the third largest mosque in the world. The mosque
was commissioned by Ahmad ibn Tulun who was at the Abbasid governor
of Egypt from 868-884 and was built over a period of three years with
known as al-Basatin district, with a tranquilizing atmosphere unlike any
other mosque in the city. The entire complex of the Mosque of Ibn Tulun
is surrounded by a wall covering more than 6 acres, built to establish a
new capital known as Qataia, between Cairo and Fustat. The arches
of the courtyard galleries are decorated with beautifully carved stucco
which is also the first time this medium was used in Cairo. The mosque's
original decorations presenting in both stucco and wood the most valuable
and best preserved examples of the Samarra style, are of considerable
30 Best of Egypt
importance from the standpoint of Islamic art/history. The stucco decorations are
found both inside and outside the mosque and the soffits of the arches were decorated
with bands of stucco ornamentation, although they have been restored many times.
In addition to its historic importance, Ibn Tulun mosque is considered as one of
the leading buildings having a significant impact on the development of architecture
beyond the Muslim boundaries. Its architectural richness exceeded the expectations
of medieval architects, especially Europeans, henceforth becoming a show case
for them to imitate and admire.
The Mosque of Sultan Hassan is considered stylistically the most compact and
unified of all Cairo monuments. It was built between 1356 and 1363 by the ruler
Sultan Hassan, the son of the great Mamluk Sultan; who ruled Egypt not once, but
twice. First time was in 1347 when he was only 13 years old, but he was dethroned
by the other princes and generals. His second rule of Egypt began in 1356 and
lasted until 1361. It is one of the masterpieces of Sultan's architecture. It also falls
under one of the largest mosques in the world, measuring 150m in length and
covering an area of 7,906 square meters. The walls rise to 36m and its tallest minaret
to 68m. The Sultan Hassan Mosque remains the most important monument of
this period. Sultan Hassan imported engineers from throughout the world to build
his great monument. The building was commissioned in 1356 AD as a mosque
and religious school for all four juristic branches of Sunni Islam. Visitors enter the
complex through a tall portal that is itself a work of art. A dark and relatively low-
ceilinged passageway leads to the brightly lit cruciform-plan open courtyard. As
seen from the Citadel, the Sultan Hassan mosque of today is quite irregular. The
domed square of the mausoleum protrudes on three sides and is also particularly
high, at over thirty meters. At its top is a projecting stalactite cornice in carved stone
running along the facade, which has no parallel in any other Cairo mosque.
The El-Hussein Mosque was built in 1154 and located in Cairo, Egypt, near the
Khan El-Khalili bazaar. Lying at Midan Hussein in Islamic Cairo and is one of the
several ancient mosques lying at this junction of Cairo city. The El-Hussein mosque
belongs to the Fatimid period and was constructed in 1154 A.D. It sits on the site
of the cemetery of Muhammad's grandson Hussein Ibn Ali, whose head and body
is believed by some to be buried on the grounds of the mosque. The mosque was
built on the cemetery of the Fatimid caliphs. Earlier this century the remains of the
cemetery were discovered while work was being done on the mosque's foundations.
There are forty-four white marble columns that support the wood ceiling. On one
side of the mosque is the mausoleum which is the oldest part of the complex which
was built in 1154 and then modified in 1236. In the mausoleum are the remains of
El-Hussein. A cupola with a ceiling that is decorated and inlaid with gold surmounts
the tomb. There are two minarets at the complex. The one on the southwest side
is from the same period as the mosque. The other is modern in style as is the tomb.
The mosque was subject to many changes and seems to have little left from the
original building as later dynasties altered and raised the mosque. The Mosque
houses some very sacred items like the oldest believed complete manuscript of
the Quran and has vast amount of value to Muslims'.
Best of Egypt
Art & History of Christian Coptic
The word Copt is derived from the Greek word Aigyptos, which was derived from "Hikaptah", one of the names for Memphis, the first capital
of Ancient Egypt. The modern use of the word "Coptic" describes the unique art and architecture that was developed as an early way of
expression of the new faith and of course it describes the Egyptian Christians and the last stage of the ancient Egyptian language. The
Coptic Christian populations in Egypt are of the oldest and largest Christian community in the North Africa & Middle East.
Saint Mark brought Christianity to Egypt in the first century during the Roman Emperor Nero. The Coptic Orthodox Church was recognized
in the name of Jesus Christ in the city of Alexandria based on the teaching of Saint Mark. He wrote the oldest canonical gospel and was
one of the four evangelists. The religion spread throughout Egypt within half a century of Saint Mark's arrival in Alexandria. Christians
completely integrated into the modern Egyptian nation and have survived as a strong religious entity taking pride in them on their contribution
to the Christian world. The Coptic Orthodox Church is considered a strong defendant of Christian faith. The Church believes that the Holy
Trinity: God The Father, God The Son and God The Holy Spirit are equal to each other in one unity; and that Jesus Christ is the only Savior
of the world. Very little changes have taken place in the Coptic Church than in any other church whether in the ritual or doctrine aspects.
The Coptic Orthodox Church recognizes the Seven Sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Communion (Eucharist), Penance, Marriage,
Unction of the Sick and Holy Orders. The Coptic prides themselves on the Apostolicity of their church and on the fact that Egypt is the only
land in the world to be blessed and honored by the Holy Family visit. The Church produced thousands of manuscripts, biblical and theological
studies which are important resources for archeology. The Holy Bible was translated to the Coptic language in the second century.
Every day in all Coptic Churches located all over the world, Coptic pray for the reunion of all Christian Churches. They pray for Egypt, it's
Nile, its crops, its president, its army, its government and above all its people. They pray for the world's peace and for the well-being of the
The Monastery of St Macarius lies in Wadi Natrun, the ancient Scetis,
92 kilometers from Cairo on the western side of the desert road to
Alexandria. Found in 360 A.D. by Saint Macarius of Egypt, who was
the spiritual father to more than four thousand monks of different
nationalities. From its foundation in the fourth century up to today, the
monastery is continuously occupied by monks. A mass is still held on
that day in this ancient church. In 1969 the monastery entered an era
of both spiritual and architectural renovation with the arrival of twelve
monks with their spiritual director, Fr. Matta el-Meskeen. Before reaching
the Monastery these monks had spent the ten years living together
completely isolated from the world, living in caves in the desert area
known as Wadi el-Rayyan, which is about 50 kilo-metres south of Fayyum.
To their arrival at that time there were six aged monks were living in
the monastery and its historic buildings were on the verge to collapse.
Nevertheless, the new monks were warmly received by the abbot of
the monastery, Bishop Michael, Metropolitan of Assiut, who through his
wisdom and humility was able to create an atmosphere favorable to
the renewal they hoped for. Up to the present time the community has
spent about 5 million Egyptian pounds on restoration and construction.
The monastery receives large numbers of Egyptian and foreign visitors
up to as many as 1,000 in one day.
St.George Church… The image of St George as a Roman soldier
mounted on a fine Arabian horse and spearing a dragon is a familiar
one throughout Old Cairo, where there are two facilities dedicated to
him. Throughout the Christian East, Saint George is undoubtedly the
32 Best of Egypt
most popular warrior-saint, and in the Coptic churches of Cairo there are now more than twenty relics of the equestrian saint.
The Coptic biography of Saint George does not mention his flight with and victory over the dragon. Hence, scholars believe that around
the fourteenth century this theme was a transferal from the biography of St. Theodore Stratelates to Saint George, though it is also possible
that the Copts adopted this tale from the Western Christians.
The origin of he monastery of St. George (Deir al-Banat), located in Old Cairo, is obscure, but it is believed that the foundation of the structure
dates from the seventh or eighth century. Today, the monastery is actually home to between thirty and forty religious women.
Only the chapel which is dedicated to St. George and the large room with an anteroom offer any historical and artistic interest. The chapel
is said to have originally been a palace dating from the Mamluk period, which was transformed into a church probably in the fourteenth or
fifteenth century. Here, St. George's icon is venerated. The large room with an anteroom is separated from the chapel by a double door of
surprising height measuring some seven meters. Animal figures adorn the door.
The nuns in charge of the chapel offer for the veneration of the faithful an iron collar and chain. This wonder-working chain, some 4.2 meters
long, is attached to the south wall of the inner room of the shrine. Normally the chain is applied to women, though men sometimes seek
the blessings of the saint through the chain. Whomever places the halter of the chain around his neck and winds the chain around his body,
kissing the chain piously and offering prayers to Saint George, is considered to be in a state of exceptional grace.
The origins of the Coptic attachment to the chains of Saint George are in the Byzantine tradition. Since the seventeenth century, the chains
of Saint George in the Greek Orthodox Convent of Saint George have been used to tie up those suffering from nervous disorders, anxiety
neuroses, conversion hysteria, obsessional neuroses and even schizophrenic psychoses.
Today, large numbers of Copts and even Muslims visit the Shrine of the Chains of Saint George in the Convent on Fridays and Sundays.
The "Coptic chains" have assumed the function of the medieval chain-cult. At the
convent, Greeks from Greece, Lebanon, Cyprus and Egypt used to assemble for
the panegyris of Saint George on the night of April 22 to behold the apparition of
the celestial rider on his white horse above the dome of the old church. Apparently
the nuns of the old convent have continued the age-old cult.
Although Old Cairo contains a concentration of Christian churches and monuments,
most of the really ancient Christian churches of Egypt are to be found in the isolated
monasteries of the Eastern Desert. It is believed that there was a settlement as early
as the 6th century BC. Later, the Romans built a fortress here which we know today
as "Babylon". Some of these Roman walls still exist today. After the spread of
Christianity throughout Egypt, it became a Christian stronghold, with as many as
twenty churches built within an area of just one square mile. Now only five remain,
along with the earliest mosque ever built in Egypt. After the fall of Jerusalem in around
70 AD, the area saw an influx of Jews, and it's here where Egypt's oldest synagogue,
Ben Ezra is located. Several of the old Christians churches are built into or on the
walls of Fort Babylon…. These include El-Muallaqa (the Hanging Church) and the
Greek Church of St. George. A number of other Coptic churches are nearby. The
area is called Old, or Coptic Cairo (Masr el Atika), for this is indeed the oldest part
of the city, and the remains of the fort are Cairo proper's oldest original structure.
Indeed, Cairo owes its existence to this fort. However, the ancient Egyptians were
conscious almost from the start that this region, on the borders of Upper and Lower
Egypt and originally two independent kingdoms, was the most strategic site in all of
Egypt. Of course, ancient Memphis, which was just south of modern Cairo, existed
from at least the beginning of the unification of the two kingdoms, and was considered
the "balance of the Two Lands". Though various rulers at different times moved the
capital of Egypt to different locations in Egypt, it always seems to have returned to
this strategic location.
Best of Egypt
Art & History of Judaism
Judaism is an Abrahamic religion, a faith which recognizes Abraham as a Patriarch. Although Jews comprise only about 0.2% of the human
race, Jewish influence on the world has been vast and far more than their numbers would indicate so. The background of the Jews in Egypt
cannot fail to capture one's imagination. Those interested in genealogical pursuits will find that, in this century alone, many interesting events
have passed through Egypt. It was probably not until the wars of Ptolemy I against the rival successors of Alexander the Great 320-301
BC that the first scale immigration of Jews into Egypt. In 1979, the Egyptian Jewish community became the first in the Arab world to establish
official contact with Israel. Israel now has an embassy in Cairo and a consulate general in Alexandria. Egyptian Jews were never considered
Egyptian in Egypt; although they were considered Jews, they were perhaps more strongly considered Europeans. Currently the few remaining
Jews are free to practice Judaism without any restrictions or harassment. The Jews of Egypt which are about 500 of the population remain
of a once wealthy and powerful community. Those who remain are nearly all elderly and most now retired.
The Ben Ezra Synagogue located in Cairo just behind the Hanging Church was once a church itself which also used to belong to the
hanging church.. According to local tradition, it is located on the site of where the pharaoh's daughter found Moses in the bulrushes. The
Ben Ezra Synagogue was originally a Christian church and was purchased
for 20,000 dinars by Abraham Ben Ezra, who came from Jerusalem
during the reign of Ahmed Ibn Tulun.
Through the centuries, the Synagogue had gone through extensive
restorations and renovations until it reached its present state. The present
building dates back to 1892; the original one had collapsed and a new
one was built, reflecting the original structure. The Synagogue is no
longer used for religious events but is purely a breathtaking tourist site.
The Synagogue of Ben Ezra has a rectangle plan and two floors; the
lower 1st level for men and the 2nd upper level one for women.
1st floor measures 17m in length and 11.3m wide. It is divided into 3
elements divided by steel bars painted in a marble-like colour. The largest
portion is the centre which is 4.75 meters in width. There is a platform
located in front of the sanctuary, where the rabbi stands to read the
Torah. The lector platform is in an octagonal shape and is made of
marble. A copper fence is situated on the 8th side of the platform, where
the Torah, and its rolls, is rested. There is a memorial Stella located in
front of the platform. In the middle of this Stella is a top part consisting
of 2 semi-arches carried on 3 pillars, with a height of 85cm. There are
2 rooms on each side of the Holy Ark on the 1st floor. The Geometrical
Decoration is clearly seen on the side halls with patterns such as, star
patterns, pentagonal patterns and rectangles; the style goes far back
to the Turkish Period.
Today Ben Ezra Synagogue is a historical monument and the most-
visited Jewish site in Cairo. Be prepared to pass through security in
order to enter the synagogue. At the back of the temple, there is a very
deep well, where the coffers in which Prophet Moses as an infant was
placed by his mother, was reportedly found.
34 Best of Egypt
Culture & Traditions
Best of Egypt
Egypt Society & Customs
Egypt… A Nation with Diverse Cultures
I'm sure you've heard the phrase “Culture shock” before, when anyone heads to a new country with new aspects and point of views; they
go through Culture shock... Every nation has its own traditions, customs and rituals that just suites that specific spot on the globe. Egypt
on the other hand may vary a little bit; beyond our walls lays a nation with diverse cultures.
Each city in Egypt has its own tradition & routine that may have come from the times of the Pharaohs or may have been inherited by different
invaders throughout the centuries. The disagreements and differences that come between Egypt and the other Middle Eastern countries
are actually what make Egypt a further advance and unique place. To many travelers, Egypt is considered to be the most attractive country
in the region. Our customs and approach tend to present extreme kindness to
visitors and foreigners. Egyptians of all class would never hesitate to offer help,
offer warm hospitality, invite strangers to their homes, get out of their way to assist
and of course despite their knowledge of an outsiders' language, they will always
figure out a way to articulate the right dialogue!
The Egyptian population has reached about 78 million people; each with different
lifestyles, talents, customs and religions. Religion garners great respect in the
country, whether Muslims or Copt, the Egyptians are moderately religious and
spiritual principles are quite noticeable in their daily lives. Egyptians form a society
of a mixture of Middle Eastern family standards taken from different religions.
Each family member is responsible for the honesty and wisdom of their aspects,
causing family ties that are far stronger than the west and develops an environment
that may be envied by many people from other countries.
Thanking the media that perfectly draws unkind & untrue stories that usually bare
no relation to reality; many countries believe that Egyptians and Arabs in general
have aggressive and terroristic manners. But those who take the so called risk
and visit Egypt, are opened to another part of the world far from the stories told.
In general Egyptians are very accommodating and gladly go out of their way to
help or respond to any questions a foreigner may have and would most likely
even draw a crowd, discussing which the correct answer to a question is. Talking
about cultures & habits, many may require little space during a conversation and
would stand just inches from you... That ofcourse is understood to cause discomfort
but when you live in Egypt you soon realize that it is all done with good intentions!
Despite the awkwardness or discomfort that may have been caused due to our
traditional behavior, travelers still end up returning to their home country with a
good feeling about Egypt and its population.
The most priceless picture in Egypt is of the generosity from the people of all
ages along a foreigner's pathway. The culture in this country, whether spoken or
written always manifests itself in everything and every way.
36 Best of Egypt
Tanoura & Darawish... Dance and Music at its Best
One of the things that must be on your agenda if you ever decide to visit Egypt is to watch a Tanoura & Darawish performance. Tanoura is
an Egyptian folk dance derived from the spinning dance performed as a Sufi religious practice; the dance has been performed for over 700
years. The Darawish is the dancer AKA (dervish) he wears a black robe which symbolizes the grave and a tall camel's hair hat that represents
the headstone. Over that they wearcolored patterned skirts (Tanoura) that produce hypnotic patterns when spun around in circles. Religion
wise; the twirling goal was to reach inner purity and manage to reach god's satisfaction. The Darawish could spin up to for 45 minutes
continuously, varying their pace to match the music, then stop and be absolutely fine and in balance.
The word "Tanoura" may refer to the dance, the dancer, or the large skirt used in the performance. Whether the performance is by a true
Sufi or simply a performing artist, it is nevertheless entertaining and utterly amazing.The Darawish are the highlight of the show, but the
enchanting music and beautiful singing do not disappoint. Furthermore, there is a unique particular group of performers in Cairo named
"Al Tanoura Dance Troupe.” The Troupe was formed in 1988, which specializes in reviving and renovating the inherited artistic and cultural
themes that have been endangered or are about to diminish.
Outline of the Show
The show beings with the Musical Interlude known as the 'Tahmeila'; where the musicians perform alone. This folk break magnificently
displays the skills of each musician and the capabilities of the instrument itself. The band consists of the folk fiddle (rebaba), the flute (ney),
the shawm (mizmar), the frame drums, the cymbals (sagat) and the oriental doumbek drum (tabla).
Second part of the show brings the Tanoura dance, having very special characteristic as it relies heavily on the dancer's unlimited moves
in circles. This begins with a singer chanting and singing religious material. Then on a group of about six dancers enters, playingan instrument
called (mazhara) it's basically a large version of the tambourine. One senior dancer known as the 'Lafife” enters the center of the stage
and immediately begins spinning in place for about an extended 40 minutes.
The third and final portion of the show consists of another Tanoura dance performed by three junior artistes known as the 'Hanatia' all
simultaneously spinning to the rhythmic intonation of the Tambourines. They are not professionally trained but rather inherited this art
spontaneously from their fathers or family members. The performers implement many folkloric moves, such as throwing the skirts in the
air, spinning the skirts at different levels and angles, and spinning the skirt while lying down.
This particular type of Tannoura dance is a very popular folk Egyptian dance rather than a religious one of which is concerned with the direct
religious ritual. This dance is also a reflection of the marvelous quality of the performed action and the integration of the mental and intellectual
skills of the dancers.
Since there is a lack of actual information as to how the Tanour began, we are
bound to go by the most practical story.The Mevlevi Sufis travelled to Egypt
and practiced the whirling Sema there. The Egyptians picked up the practice
for both the devotional purposes (as practiced by the real Darawish) and as a
folk dance. The Tanoura then evolved to include the bright patterned skirts,
specific movements and music, folkloric introductions…
The revolving and whirling practice is quite ancient and occurs in many cultures
until this day. However, Sufism is just as old as Islam in the wide sense of 7th
century mystic practice, with formal theorists also occurring around the 9th century.
It is therefore reasonable to suppose that both the Mevlevi Sama and the Tannoura
derive from a single, preexisting tradition. In the end, the Tanoura dance in both
levels of religion and folk dancing is set to be an amusing and mesmerizing
Best of Egypt
El Sawy Culture Wheel...
Preserving the Egyptian and Arabic Identity
What was once nothing but a dump yard and a shelter for homeless and
drug addicts is now one of the most important cultural venues in Egypt. In
2003, Engineer Mohamed El Sawy established El Sawy Culture Wheel. It
is a distinguishing cultural center laying on an area of 5,000 m2 right under
the 15th of May bridge on Zamalek Island at the heart of Cairo, Egypt.
Mohamed El Sawy named his center in honor of his father's -Abdel Moneim
El-Sawy; an Egyptian novelist and a former minister of culture. While the
name'El Sakia' or 'The Waterwheel' comes from the five-part novel series
called “El Sakia/ Waterwheel” which is written by Abdel Moneim El-Sawy.
Because the Sawy center is based on culture, the word 'water' was replaced
with the word 'culture' leading to the famous name “El Sawy Culture Wheel.”
The Sawy Culture Wheel provides an ethical environment to help people
expand and strengthen their philosophy through enlightenment, art and of
course creativity. The main branch has 8 halls: The Wisdom Hall, The River
Hall, The Earth Hall, The Word Hall 1 and 2, The Garden Hall, El Naseeb
and Bostan El Nil. Each Hall is equipped with cinema screens and all types of audio-visual aids. In addition to that, there is a children's
library, a general library, a music library and finally an electronic library. It also has a number of educational departments teaching the ethics
and values of art in all its branches. Three more halls are available to hold workshops and seminars.
The Culture Wheel values humans regardless of classification; everyone is treated equally despite their social, official and economic status.
Visits in El Sawy range in an average of nearly 500,000 people a year, counting about 1,500 to 2,000 people per day… It operates all year
seven days a week from 8 am to whenever the last show ends, presenting 2 to 4 events a day. In 2009, 25 festivals and contests were
organized, including an annual theatre festival, the Sakia animated film festival, El Sawy culture wheel festival for documentaries and El
Sakkia conference for Arabic language and Poet Laureate Ahmed Shawqi. Hosting art exhibitions of well-known artists as well as being a
platform for those unknown optimistic students and beginners. Comprise seminars for initiating conversation on different subjects on current
and long-lasting subjects with value thinking and the freedom of thought. Many Awareness Campaigns have taken place, where each year
is focused on a specific topic; this year it is to be “ The year of light” efforts were directed towards Enlightenment, Knowledge, Visual Arts,
Energy and Plants. Aside from the concerts, art exhibitions, plays and seminars there is also a number of workshops teaching principles
of art in all levels from beginner to advance.
The main center in Zamalek provides a library rich in possessing a wide range of books for children and adults in Arabic, English and French.
Everyone is allowed to access the library, pick a book and read it. Members of the culture wheel are permitted to even borrow the books
and read them at home. In 2007, El Sawy Culturewheel embarked its bi-monthly integrated culture magazine known as “El Sakia el Warakeya”
it is written in standard Arabic, intended for the youth. The magazine provides information about all fields of culture and covers news of
the El Sawy Culturewheel as well as other cultural centers. In 2009, The Sawy launched its very own online radio station called “Sound of
Sakia.” They have a mission to enrich the cultural scene in Egypt through expanding the reach out of local artists, workshops and speakers
to audience not only in Egypt but also worldwide. Since children are first of the Sawy's priorities, a program called “Let Me Think” was
initiated. LMT is a workshop created to teach children to think, imagine and develop solutions and ideas for virtual situations and issues.
38 Best of Egypt
The program is purposed to demonstrate to children that thinking could actually
be a fun activity by doing it informally thought mind games and exercises. Further
branches are New Generation School, Qena, Smartvillage and Helwan. The Sawy
has maintained its reputation with its smoke free environment, keeping the principle
that smoking is not allowed in any section of El Sawy Culturewheel, including the
garden. This led them to being the creator of The White Circle, which is a sign for
a smoke free environment. The World Health Organization uses the white circle
in 22 countries. It is targeted to change the Egyptian society's cultural image, by
focusing on new generations to integrate culture, creativity and aspiration in their
personalities. Also preserving the Egyptian and Arabic identity and replacing the
inherited negative ideas by innovative ones. Never ending trials to set new measure
to spread awareness and enhance thinking by supporting arts & creativity. Finally,
committed to excellence and presenting the best, El Sawy Culturewheel Constantly
tries to offer a wide variety of programs from the best that Egypt has to offer to
Cairo International Film Festival... Celebrating the fine art of Cinema
Egyptians love arts in general and has enjoyed a strong cinematic tradition of filmmaking was first
developed in the early 20th century. With progression of active theatre scenes of old times, the cinema
rapidly evolved into a vast motion picture industry. Cinema together with old musical tradition has raised
Egypt to become the cultural capital of the Arab World. The influence of Egyptian cinema has earned
Cairo the title of Hollywood of Middle East. Egypt is an a origin of Arabic literature producing some of
the 20th century's supreme Arab cinema writers such as Taha Hussein, Tawfiq Al Hakim and novelist
Naguib Mahfouz. With consideration to these credentials, it was clear that Cairo should begin to aim
higher and hold their very own film festival. It was not long before that dream came true and ends
pleased the hearts of millions. On Monday August 16th 1976, the Egyptian Association of Film Writers
(headed by Kamal El-Mallakh) launched the first Cairo International Film Festival. The festival features
about 100 films from 33 different countries, along with 14 movies from 14 different countries in the
competition. The Cairo Film Festival proved its daring and flexible year after year effort and ability, with
intentions to continue acting as a meeting point. Their objectives are not only for filmmakers and critics
but also for writers, intellectuals and other artists. For the first 7 years the Egyptian Association of Film
Writers and Critics managed the festival until 1983. In 1985 the Egyptian Association of Film Writers
and Critics joined with the Ministry of Culture and the Union of Artist's Syndicates to form a joint committee
that would improve the quality and financial state of the festival.
The festival began a new era under the control of the prominent play writer Saad El-Din Wahba, an
eminent writer and proficient executive appointed by the Minister of Culture. It was not long when the
Festival became an independent organization. During his first year of responsibility, he contacted the
FIAPF(International Federation of Film Producers Association) and in May 1986 it was acknowledged
that the Cairo International Film Festival as a non-competitive event. In 1990 the FIAPF made a study
of the top three most important non-competitive film festivals in the world, and the Cairo International
Film Festival was ranked second, right after the London Film Festival and the Stockholm Film Festival
came in 3rd place. With these achievements in consideration the President of the Festival contacted
the FIAPF with the request for including competition at the 1991 Festival and the request was granted.
Sadly the last of Saad El Din Wahba's work was a press conference, which he gave just two days
before his death on November 9, 1997, to announce the detailed arrangements for the 20th Cairo
International Cinema Festival. In 1998, the Festival took place under the presidency of one of Egypt's
leading actors, Hussein Fahmi, who was appointed by the Minister of Culture, Farouk Hosni. Four years
later, the eminent journalist and writer Cherif El-Shoubashy became president.
For 33 years, an annual celebration and examination of the state of cinema took place where Egypt
hosted international superstars like, Nicolas Cage, Jhon Malkovich, Morgan Freeman, Cesar Badillo,
Gabrielle Union, Elena Zakharova, Sergi Mateu, Raul Di Blasio and Nicolas Alejandro, Quincy Jones,
Harvey Keitel, Matt Dillon, Mohamed Lakhdar Hamina, Jane Birkin, Omar Metwally, Maryam d'Abo,
Jason Felmyng, Aimee Mullins, Laura Harring, Nurgul Yesilcay,Souzan Najmeldin, Sana Kassous, Suheir
Hammad and Sanaa Mouziane.
The 33rd Cairo International Film Festival took place last year under the presidency of the actor and
musician Dr Ezzat Abou Ouf along with the international superstar and honorary President Omar Sharif.
Being the oldest festival in the Middle East and highlighting the international communication and
understanding between nations has been an inspiration to several other potential festivals and people.
Moreover, Egypt is the main support for all civilizations with its strategic geographical and political
positions. This is not only in acting but also as leading country in the Middle East and an essential
portion of the Mediterranean, but also as one of the most important countries in the African continent.
The Cairo International Film Festival will continue to focus on African cinema and has already dedicated
a unique section known as the Black Pearl to feature films from all over the African nations and presenting
the abilities of Africa that is yet to be discovered. The Cairo Film Festival has proven that this is the
right direction to achieve the dream of developing and enhancing the Egyptian, Arab and African Film
Industry to the rest of the world.
Tourism in Egypt
Best of Egypt
Observe and Sense Genuine Cairo
Khan El Khalili Bazaar... The Ultimate Bazar
Every country has it special tourism spot and attraction, the Khan El-Khalili now more commonly known as the "Khan," is one of the most
interesting bazaars, not only in Egypt, but also in the whole Middle East. This place is purely amazing, narrow streets with all sorts of shops
crammed with just about everything imaginable; from clothes shops to coffee shops tucked away in back allies yet still chock full of people,
making your way around the market takes a lot patience. Shopping in Khan el-Khalili is an experience all on its own. You observe the art
of bargaining become almost a sport and getting a good deal is parallel to a gold medal.
Khan El Khalili was once known as the Turkish bazaar and named after Emir Djaharks El-Khalili, he was one of the powerful Princes in
the 14th century. It is the best known shopping area in Cairo; this place is famous for its unusual oriental souvenirs and handmade crafts.
You will find pretty much any Egyptian product you can imagine here as well as an impressive amount of imported goods. The market
represents Egypt's core since trade was Cairo's earliest source of wealth.
Khan El Khalili is in one of the oldest Cairo neighborhoods in existence and is considered to be in the center of the city. The traditional
market together with the labyrinth layout of the streets, give every visitor
a pleasure and glimpse into what it was like centuries ago. Between
the never ending stream of narrow alleyways, small shops, cafés, historic
buildings, foreigners and the persistent sellers, you'll need to set aside
at least half a day to properly take part in the Khan el-Khalili experience…
Start at one end of the market, and just lose yourself amongst the array.
Besides shopping, the Khan el Khalili is known for its historic cafés.
El Fishawi Café and Naguib Mahfouz are of the very old and famous
ones available; offering drinks like Hibiscus, Karakare, Helba, or any
of the various typical Egyptian beverages. It is a very pleasant experience
for visitors; it gives a real tasteful experience. For smokers, you are
not forgotten; there is of course the very famous Shisha or water pipe
that must be tried. Visiting the Khan El Khalili can be a overwhelming
experience, but with so much to do and see, it is an essential part of
any trip to Cairo and believe it or not, it is worth it. As important as it is
to shop at the khan, equally important is just observing the culture and
local life you can see going on all around you.
Every visitor can and should take the opportunity to enjoy the walk
through the narrow streets of El Khan. This Bazaar is the place where
art and commerce come together to give a unique and remarkable,
harmonious experience. Khan El-Khalili is recognized as being one of
the most remarkable markets, not only in Egypt, but in the whole Middle
East. Although it may not be the average shopaholic's expectations, it
is an ideal place for those who want to experience genuine Cairo.
The things that are rarely seen in today's modern day world are still
norms in classic Cairo. No matter which part of Khan el Khalili you choose
to explore or how much u manage to wonder around, this will be a trip
well worth your time.
40 Best of Egypt
Best of Egypt
Dr. Zahi Hawass
For me, archaeology is not a just a job. It combines everything that I
could want - imagination, intellect, action, and adventure.
Dr. Zahi Hawass is a world-renowned Egyptian archaeologist and is the
current Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities and
directs ongoing excavations at Giza, Saqqara, and in the Valley of the
Zahi Hawass originally intended to become a lawyer but he studied Greek
and Roman archaeology at Alexandria University and obtained a Bachelor's
degree. He achieved a diploma in Egyptology at the University of Cairo.
He finally received his Master of Arts Degree in 1983 and his PhD in
1987 from the University of Pennsylvania. The highly respected
Egyptologist has written numerous academic articles and books. Over
his long career, he has provided with numerous awards and honors.
One of his most recent awards in 2009 was a Medal of the Spanish Order
of Arts and Culture by the Spanish Minister of culture (Cesar Anotnio
Molina) in recognition of his assistance to world culture and his warm relationship with Spain. In addition to that he is known for his charming
personality and ability to reach out to the public, raise awareness of archaeology and the conservation of Egypt's valuable heritage.
Dr. Hawass has shared his knowledge about ancient Egypt along with the thrill of his discoveries in his vast amount of books for general
readers and authored several books for children. The specific book about his great discovery at Bahariya Oasis, The Valley of the Golden
Mummies, became a bestseller and has been published in five languages. He also writes regular columns for Al-Ahram Weekly and the
in-flight magazine of Egypt Air Horus, and has contributed articles to GEO, along with many other popular magazines. It does not end there,
Hawass has been a mentor for several documentaries, films, television specials and magazine stories throughout the years of his career.
He has taught courses and given lectures in both Egypt and the U.S. and holds several committee appointments. Hawass has appeared
on many television specials on channels such as the National Geographic Channel, BBC, The History Channel and Discovery Channel.
He also appeared in several episodes of the U.S. television show Digging for the Truth, discussing mummies, the pyramids, Tutankhamun,
Cleopatra, and Ramesses II. BBC chose him for a profile representing Egypt in the New Millennium, and was featured by CNN in a short
profile in 2008, while National Geographic has produced a film on his life and work. Dr. Hawass is the spokesman for CNN on archaeological
news in Egypt and has also been featured on many TV shows in Europe and Japan. A documentary called “Egypt's Ten Greatest Discoveries”
was created and hosted by him along with some of the world's leading Egyptologists.
Dr. Hawass has made a number of major discoveries over the course of his career, including the Tombs of the Pyramid Builders at Giza
and the Valley of the Golden Mummies at Bahariya Oasis. He has discovered two previously unknown Old Kingdom pyramids, one belonging
to a queen of King Teti at Saqqara and one near the Great Pyramid of Khufu at Giza. The pyramid of the 6th Dynasty queen Khuit, along
with another pyramid that determined belonged to the 5th Dynasty king at Saqqara were rediscovered by him. Being currently involved in
several important archaeological projects, made him authorized to lead the search for the tomb of Cleopatra and Mark Antony on the premises
of a Ptolemaic temple near Alexandria. Alongside of that he is also searching for the tomb of Ramesses VIII and the tombs of the queens
of the 18th Dynasty in the Valley of the Kings. Dr. Hawass plans to reveal the secrets of the hidden doors found inside the Great
42 Best of Egypt
Pyramid soon and is supervising a search for missing obelisks and statues in the Nile waters. One of the most important research efforts
that Dr. Hawass is currently leading is the Egyptian Mummy Project (EMP), which is using modern forensic techniques such as CT scanning
and DNA analysis to answer questions about human remains from ancient Egypt. An important discovery that Dr. Hawass has made through
the EMP is his identification of the mummy of Queen Hatshepsut. The project is currently focused on the search for the family of King
Dr. Hawass is well known to be an archaeologist who is deeply concerned about the conservation and protection of Egypt's monuments.
He has supervised major conservation projects for the Great Sphinx, along with the Serapeum and Step Pyramid at Saqqara. Responsible
for the development of the site management plans for a number of important historic areas, which also includes the Unfinished Obelisk
Quarry in Aswan and the temples of Kom Ombo, Edfu, and Dendera. Currently, he is overseeing the completion of site management plans
for the West Bank of Luxor, Giza, and Saqqara. He has also initiated the construction of nineteen new museums throughout Egypt, including
the Grand Egyptian Museum that will be built near the pyramids at Giza.
With Dr. Zahi Hawass's dynamic personality and extensive knowledge, he has sparked vast amounts of global interest in ancient Egypt.
He set the world of the pharaohs into the homes and hearts of people all over the world through his numerous appealing media appearances.
In 2006, Dr. Hawass received an Emmy from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for a special on ancient Egypt produced by KCBS
in Los Angeles. He has appeared in three live prime-time productions for Fox Television
- the first aired in March 1999, with Maury Povich; the second aired in May 2000 with
actor Bill Pullman and host Hugh Downs; and the third was a look behind the hidden doors
inside the Great Pyramid through the use of a robot equipped with a fiber optic camera.
For the first time in decades Dr. Hawass has been amazingly helpful in sending exhibitions
of the treasures of King Tutankhamun abroad. One exhibition is touring London along
with eight American cities, while the second will visit seven cities in the U.S.
Dr. Zahi Hawas's Most Amazing Discoveries
Mummy of Egypt's Greatest Female Pharaoh and was contacted by the Discovery Channel
with a request for him to appear in a documentary on Queen Hatshepsut to shed new
light on one of the most remarkable women in history.
In March 2nd, 1996 The Valley of the Golden Mummies at Bahariya was discovered. This
discovery is considered one of the most amazing sites to Dr. Zahi and is considered very
special to him giving him a feel of privilege to be a part of this story.
March 22nd, 1993 A Mystery of the Hidden Doors Inside the Great Pyramid of Khufu has
fascinated people for millennia. It is the only one of the seven wonders of the ancient
world still standing today, and its monumental size and the precision of its design astound
thousands of visitors each day
April 15th, 1990 The Cemetery of the Pyramid Builders was discovered. Although many
people have claimed that the pyramids were built by slaves, it was actually ordinary
Egyptians who constructed the great monuments. With the discovery of the Cemetery of
the Pyramid Builders Zahi was finally able to reveal the truth to people around the world.
Best of Egypt
Experience the Cairo Tower...Where millions of
twinkling lights come to life
It is a fact that the higher up you are the better visual you gain. In
Cairo one of the best views you may ever get, would be on the
Cairo Tower, also known as Borg al-Qahira. The perfect view shows
this great city with its very modern, very ancient districts that Cairo
offers. The Tower began to be built in 1956 and was finally completed
in 1961, with the help of the Soviet Union and about 500 workers
and of course the guidance of Naum Chebib. The tower features
a curious blend of Pharaonic and communist details. It was designed
with its partially open lattice-work to resemble a giant lotus plant.
The design is inspired by the lotus flower since it is one of the most
revered plants in Egyptian history. It stands 187m tall, about 43m
higher than the Great Pyramid of Giza. It is located on the Gezira
Island, Zamalek, just north of the Museum of Modern art, offering
a perfect panoramic view of Cairo.
The Cairo Tower in Egypt has hosted several important public
figures and is popular for as dining venue. At that restaurant there
is a special book that contains the signatures of all the important
people who visited the tower. For the Late President Gamal Abdul
Nasser the tower restaurant was a favorite place to dine out with
his family. Located on the 59th floor, the restaurant offers an array
of international cuisine. Along with breathtaking panoramic view of
the City with the option of enjoying an exquisite dinner, is an
unnoticeable rotation making 360 ° in 20 minutes. On the 60th floor
is the Garden Coffee shop having a more casual dining atmosphere.
The new VIP Restaurant and Lounge features luxurious furnishings
and an elegant upscale menu. The Tower now also has space for
meetings and conferences. Finally; there is a viewing room with
telescopes for everyone to get closer views of all that breathtaking
The best time to visit the Cairo Tower is just before sunset as you
get to view millions of twinkling lights come to life around the city
and more upwards into the sky. Cairo awaits you at the top of the
tower and that is not as sight anyone should miss. Last but certainly
not least you can see even more twinkling lights with a belly dancing
performance at the bottom of the tower at the “Legends” nightclub!
The tower is one of the most famous landmarks in Cairo along with
the pyramids and sphinx of course. After all the; tower is the tallest
of Cairo's buildings and required to be a highlight of the fresh city.
44 Best of Egypt
Nature in Egypt
Best of Egypt
A Tropical Paradise…
MarsaAllam... Comfort and Serenity
MarsaAlam just 132km from Al-Quseir also known as the fishing village is situated where the Arabian Desert meets the Red Sea, currently
seeing speedy popularity as a tourist destination and development following the opening of MarsaAlam International Airport in 2001. A number
of other planed tourism projects and many new hotels, is rapidly turning it into much more than just a fishing village. Although remaining a
fairly small tourist town, it is expected to see substantial development in the very near future. The airport is actually part of a larger development
project premeditated to generate a state of the art resort area in Port Ghaleb. This includes both a marina and port with a dockside harbor,
yacht club and spa, along with a highly dynamic town and a cornicheall around the marina area. On the corniche there will be shops, galleries,
boutiques, restaurants and bistros, nightclubs and a casino. In addition, there will be a conference center and festival hall and links golf course.
The private marina is not only the largest in the Middle East, but is also an international sea-gateway for yachts to visit Egypt. With a mass
amount of tourism projects planned;MarsaAlam is set to equal other resorts in Egypt such as Hurghada and Sharm El Sheikh.
It is a tropical paradise appearance full of palm trees, mangroves and
sea coasts fringed with barrier coral reefs makes it exclusive. It has
already gained a strong reputation among divers because of its numerous
stunning diving sites that sit both along the coast and offshore. For those
who undertake its waters will have a good chance of sighting spinner
dolphins, dugongs and hammerhead sharks.At MarsaAlam, you can
relax knowing you've chosen a place to suite your comfort, safety and
enjoyment. No matter what level of diving you're at, you're bound to
have a fabulous time diving at the ideal base for a fishing holiday. One
of the primary diving sites in the area is the Elphinstone Reef.
MarsaAlam also has some inland attractions, such as the Emerald Mines
and the Temple of Seti I at Khanais.It is a village with a small harbor
and stone quay & nature reserve stretches from here to Gebel Elba in
the south.Various attractions range from natural wonders to ancient
Egyptian sites. The mountains surrounding the region had gold and
emerald mines. During Ptolemy II's rule a road was constructed to link
MarsaAlam and Edfu. Some of the major MarsaAlam Tourist Attractions
are; Quseir Fortress,which is an ottoman fortress, constructed to protect
the trade routes to India.MyosHormos, was the main North African harbor
during the Roman Empire.Bir Umm Fawakhir, a complex gold
agreementestablished between the 5th and 6th century. Temple of Seti
I, is a gorgeous rock cut temple built by Set I between 1305-1290 B.C.
The temple chambers feature sketches of Seti's life.
In recent years, MarsaAlam has seen a splurge of development. There
are now many 3 and 4 star resorts along the beach, with five star facilities
soon to open. MarsaAlam is one of the fastest growing holiday resorts
in Egypt, popular with wind surfers, divers and sun worshippers fortunate
enough to have discovered the resort's remote tranquility.
46 Best of Egypt
Basata….Heaven on Earth
When people think of a getaway, most think of a nice hotel, room service, a clean
pool, and every other kind of luxurious accommodation that has all the elements
of metropolitan city life, but without worrying about what awaits them from the
boss the next day! Tourists can easily find such luxury facilities throughout Egypt.
However, there is this spot that takes people to the days when one artificial source
of light was considered a luxury, and trusting people with payment was the trend.
Here, we go back to the simpler days, at a place literally called, Basata.
Basata was the first tourist project in Sinai, established in 1986
. Basata is only 24 km to the north of Nuweiba, but it is about 450 km from Cairo,
located between Taba and Nuweiba on the Aqaba Gulf of the Red Sea. It is
situated in a small bay in an area of a sandy beach a little way off the main road.
Its accommodation varies according to preference. There are a few buildings
and chalets or bungalows built of clay and natural stone, with an Arabian theme
that compliments the Sinai Peninsula and the surrounding landscape. For a
simpler approach, one can find huts made of bamboo and reeds scattered
across the beach. And those who like a camping style of life can just march in
with their tents, or even just a sleeping bag.
The main focus of “anything” such as food, electricity, or just having a group
gathering is the main Hut located almost in the middle of the area. It's the largest
hut and the only one with food, and electricity (the only reason for it being there
is to operate the fridge where dairies and juices are kept). From corners to
corner, Arabian rugs carpet the floor and there are nicely stuffed cushions to
rest your back against. However, no one gets in with shoes or slippers. Got
to keep it sand-free, just as much as the sand is kept free of cigarette butts.
At night fall, people gather in the main Hut for dinner. For those who like more
privacy, they can light a fire and gather round it. Time moves slowly here, in
this pristine seascape so very distant from the crowded cities, and when sleep
knocks, why fight it. There is really very little to do at night except visit with
your companions and enjoy the campfire. Sleep comes easy in this quiet,
detached, and very relaxing atmosphere.
can rest, rejuvenate and recuperate from their stressful daily lives. It is a place
where one can get back to nature, and back to basics. Here, one may think
and reflect against a backdrop of sand and surf
east along Suez Road traveling under the Suez Canal trough the Tunnel. From
there head further east across the Sinai Peninsula to the Naqab Airport. Then
go downhill to the seaside and turn south to Basata.
Red Sea Diving... An Eco-Diving Adventure
Egypt's Red Sea coast flows from the Gulf of Suez to the Sudanese border.
Its mineral rich red mountain ranges inspired the ancient mariners to name it “Mare
Rostrum” or the Red Sea.It cannot be considered anything but a diver's paradise,
with the warmest of warm seas, very little wave action and incomparable visibility.
The Red Sea is a very special location offering hundreds of unique &breathtaking
sites. While everyone has their own point of view, some would say that Sharm
El Sheikh has the best of what the Red Sea has to offer. The legendary dive
location ofRas Mohammed is easily accessible from Sharm El Sheikh. Sprinkled
with at least 10 other interesting wreck sites, the area is also surrounded with
big fish such as barracuda, turtles and eagle rays.For bored divers who have
seen it all, the further south you go, the better the quality and discoveries.
Hurghada and MarsaAlam offer you a starting point from which to explore the
Abu Nuhas wreck system and extremely rich sites and pelagic shark action at
The Brothers, Elphinstone and Zabargad,which always satisfy even the most
The Red Sea is considered to be one of the underwater worlds 7 Wonders,
harboring more than 1,000 species of invertebrates and over 200 soft hard
coral species. This forms the basis of a marine eco-system, which includes
1,100 unique species of fish, of which 20% of these fish species can only been
found here. One of the Main Factors that make the Red Sea So interesting is
the high level of endemism.
The crystal clear waters of the Red Sea offer unmistakable opportunities to
spot tropical marine life ranging from sharks and dolphins to gorgonian fans
and feather stars. Turtles wander the sea while manta rays float over the cleaning
stations while devil rays cruise over the reef.Away from the reef, there are
schools of barracudas as well as grey reef sharks, hammerhead sharks, nurse
sharks and leopard sharks which all patrol the sea. Your Egypt dive holiday
can include shallow patch reefs, drift dives and walls, or a collection of some
of the most interesting wrecks you are likely to find anywhere. In other places
vibrant reefs stretch far into the ocean and form intricate labyrinths of plateaus,
lagoons, caves and gardens.
Divers who swim under the sea level are guaranteed an unforgettable experience
with the rich coral reefs and fish. Adiver may be enjoying a labyrinth of coral
gardens and quickly change to a sheer wall plunging thousands of feet into
dark ocean depths. The Red Sea's great quantity of marine life and pits of the
reef are a thrill that many divers confirmed to be unbeatable.
Best of Egypt
Siwa... Protected Status
In 2002, the Egyptian Government declared 7,800 square km in and around the Siwa Oasis a protected area, in recognition of Siwa's cultural,
biological and environmental value. The new status prohibits all activities that damage or deplete the natural environment, including
indigenous flora and fauna, and has bolstered the movement to preserve Siwa's invaluable resources. Siwa is one of the world's last
remaining pristine oases, home to spectacular natural landscapes, ancient historical ruins and unique cultural traditions.
Famed as the location of the Oracle of Amon, whom Alexander the Great consulted before continuing his Persian conquest, Siwa exists
today much as it always has. Majestic rock formations, lush groves and brilliant salt lakes that have nurtured and inspired its people since
they settled here 12,000 years ago continue to enchant all who set foot in this secluded idyll in Egypt's Western Desert.
Thousands of years of isolation in a vast and unforgiving desert have allowed the Siwa community to develop unique cultural traditions,
building techniques, styles of embroidery and systems of agricultural production that are remarkable for their beauty and harmony with the
Thousands of years ago, rocky plateaus cradled and protected this lush depression. Over the course of time, sandblasting desert winds
have carved reliefs from the plateaus, resulting in a unique terrain. Ranging in size from boulders to mountains, these sedimentary sculptures
punctuate a dramatic landscape - a landscape where the Great Sand Sea converges with fresh water springs, glistening salt lakes, lush
vegetation and significant biodiversity.
The Siwa Oasis enjoys a unique cultural heritage and a society rich in native custom and tradition. Descendents of the Berbers, or Imazighen,
North Africa's original inhabitants, Siwans share more with cultures to its west than with Egypt. Siwa is the easternmost reach of Berber
culture, and the oasis features rites, traditions, dress, tools, and a language distinct from the other oases of Egypt's Western Desert.
While most Siwans speak Arabic, Siwan children first learn to speak the Siwan language, called Siwi. Siwi is a dialect of the northern branch
of Tamazight (the Berber languages) and is closely related to dialects
spoken in other Amazigh (Berber culture) communities in Libya
Algeria ans Morroco.
One of the most popular tourist activities in Siwa is the desert safari,
arranged by many hotels and independent operators. Climb into a
4-wheel-drive jeep at the top of a towering dune, gaze at the endless
plane of sloping dunes, then clutch the seat as you feel the jeep
tip into a steep, exhilarating descent.
Pause to discover marine fossils imbedded in the sand and rock -
leftovers from the Tethys Sea which some 40 to 50 million years
ago reached far south of the existing Mediterranean - before coasting
down a sandy slope on the back of a sandboard.
Excursions also include visits to Siwa's natural and historical attractions
and offer the option to spend the night in a desert tent. Those who
do will dine “Abou Mardam” style, on mutton or chicken roasted
over charcoal in tins buried under the sand, and sleep soundly under
clear desert stars, untainted by the lights of modern civilization.
Siwa art project
Every two years, Environmental Quality International (EQI) invites
an internationally renowned artist or team of artists to design an
installation that showcases Siwa's rich culture, history and natural
environment, and engages Siwa's schoolchildren in its assembly
and exhibition. So far, Siwa has hosted two installations, the first
by Chinese artist Cai Guo Qiang entitled Man, Eagle and Eye in
the Sky (2003), and the second by Russian-born artists Ilya and
Emilia Kabakov entitled The Ship of Siwa (2005).
48 Best of Egypt
Economy and Egypt
Best of Egypt
Winds of Change
Economy on the Nile...Cruise through the World's Oldest Civilization
Egypt resides in the northeast corner of the African continent; most economic activity takes place where the fertile Nile valley divides the
country. In the last 30 years, the highly centralized economy inherited by former President Gamal Abdel Nasser has been completely
rehabilitated by the government.
During the 1990s, Egypt improved its macroeconomic performance with the help of a series of International Monetary Fund arrangements
that coupled with immense external debt relief resulting from Egypt's participation in the Gulf War coalition. The pace of structural reforms
which include finance, monetary policies, privatization and new business legislations all helped Egypt to move towards an economy that is
much more market-oriented ever since the turn of the new millennium, encouraged the increased foreign investment. Since the reform
program is still a job in progress, the government will need to continue its insistent pursuit of improvement in order to maintain the spike in
investment and growth and thereafter begin to improve the economic conditions for the broader population. Egypt's export sectors are
particularly gold and natural gas whichboth have vivid prospects.
The International Monetary Fund(IMF) has rated Egypt as one of the world's top countries in terms of economic improvement, a statement
that is supported by 25% annual capital growth, 7-8% annual GDP growth and a total annual FDI input of over $11 billion which latest figures
available. As the GDP growth rate and the country's official funds increase and national debt falls, the country only looks to be getting richer.
Recent economic success is attributable to the privatization of definite sector industries and new developments introduced by the government
to customs, income and tax.
Egyptian cotton has been the secure crop, however it is no longer essential as an export, production in 1999 was 243,000 tons. Egypt is
also a large producer of corn, sugarcane, wheat, corn, fruit and vegetables, hay and rice. A substantial quantity of wheat is also imported
from countries like the United States of America and Russiain spite of the increase in yielding
since 1970. Rice is also exported in substantial quantities, while the main fruits are citrus,
dates, and grapes. There is a large amount of exercises by government made to control
agriculture, not only to ensure the best use of irrigation water but also to restrict the planting
of cotton in favor of food grains. However, the government's ability to achieve this objective
is limited by crop rotational constraints.
Because Egypt depends on the single Nile River, irrigation plays a major role in the country.
The Aswan high damn is one of the most impressive of all the irrigation projects. A report
indicated by the National Council for Production& Economic Affairs had indicated that the
dam proved to be success in controlling floodwaters and ensuring recurring water supply.
Several precious landswere lost below the dam due to the flow of Nile sludge that was stopped
and therefore increased salinity causing a major problem. In 1996, the level of water behind
the High Dam and in Lake Nasser had reached the maximum level ever since the completion
of the dam. Despite these unusual loads of water supply, Egypt can only utilize 55.5 billion
cu m (1.96 trillion cu ft) per year. This is according to the Nile Basin Agreement signed in
1959 between Egypt and Sudan.
Egypt has not only been the cultural and informational centre of the Arab world but Cairo is
also the region's largest publishing and broadcasting centre. In 1998 the telecommunications
liberalization process started and is still on going yet at a slow pace. Private sector companies
operate in mobile and Internet access. By August 2007,there were 10 million fixed phone
lines, 31 million mobile phones, and 8.1 million Internet users.
50 Best of Egypt
Egypt is the world's oldest civilization that emerged from the Nile Valley around
3,100 BC and is one of the most populated countries in Africa and the Middle
East. The great majority of its estimated 77.4 million people live near the banks
of the Nile River, in an area of about 40,000 square kilometers where the only
arable agricultural land is found, while the large areas of the Sahara Desert
are thinly inhabited. About half of Egypt's residents live in urban areas, with the
majority spread out across the heavily populated places of greater Cairo, Alexandria
and other major cities in the Nile Delta. It is much more than Pyramids and
historical monuments, with its Red Sea scuba diving, hot nightspots, luxury hotels
and five star restaurants. Delightful romantic cruises down the Nile on cheerful
river boats, a night at the grand opera and it is a cultural experience like one
you have never experienced.
For thousands of years, it has been the playground of emperors and kings. Egypt
is a country bustling with life, sound, visual beauty and excitement being heavily
into music and dance. The country's belly dance has gained recognition across
the world. Apart from the unique dance, there are troupes that specialize in
modern adaptations of folk dances.
Crisis Effect on Egypt
Maybe the West doesn't always get it right…
It is never possible for a country or region to be isolated from a financial or economic shock that originates in another part of the world.
Contrary to some point of views, the Middle Eastern countries are most likely to be affected in diverse ways and degrees by the financial
crisis and the related downturn.
In the Gulf, the very wealthy can easily brush off this crisis, however the stock markets have fallen by as much as 40% making savers and
many middle class families poorer after placing savings in the stock market. The Independent Wealth Funds have invested abroad and the
values of their holdings have heavily depreciated. The Gulf countries, like oil-exporters, have faced a significant drop in oil revenues because
oil prices are bound to be much lower than they were in early 2008.
Egypt, on the other hand is a small oil exporter yet a big gas exporter and there is likely to be a loss of revenue from gas exports. The stock
market has lost about 30% of its peak rate, but this affects fewer people than in the Gulf. A deep world downturn could reduce revenues
from the Suez Canal and tourism and lead to the restoration of money from the Gulf. A decline in the rate of economic growth will make
the millions of poor Egyptian even poorer.
The crisis hit many countries, including Egypt during a period they had just started to join international efforts to strengthen the connections
for migration and development. The economic crisis is very much expected to deteriorate implementation of such initiatives. Despite the
fact that Egypt still lacks sufficient data to evaluate the full economic crisis impact, it is expected that this phase will have a severe
consequences for transfer of funds, unemployment, internal migration, migration and development initiatives as well as migrants' rights.
However, the crisis also draws attention to possible positive outcomes: migrants may return to Egypt with their cumulated savings, knowledge,
and experience. These features represent the gains from migration which when recognized would be put to good use and may lead to
strengthen economic development in Egypt. Therefore government policies that support the inclusion of return migrants in development
tactics are essential. Nevertheless, the economic crisis may also be an opportunity to develop the knowledge and skills of the national labor
force and prepare them for the competition on the international labor market after the end of this crisis.
For the last decades, unemployment has been one of the major problems in Egypt. Towards the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009
there has been an additional increase of unemployment rates. Egypt is one of the top fund receivers worldwide and the premier receiver
among Arab countries. Egyptian migrants dispatch an amount of 9.5 Billion USD in year 2000,which represents about 6% of the Egyptian
GDP. In August 2009 a report on Egyptian transfer of funds signified that the migrants' remittances to Egypt decreased from 2.285 billion
USD in the first quarter of 2008 to 1.738 Billion USD in the beginning of 2009 with an total decrease of about 550 million.
The Egyptian remittances can be expected to decrease by more than 20% until the end of 2009 if this trend continues.
The vast increasing rate of unemployment continuously holds back poverty improvement efforts and puts additional burden on the Egyptians
living below the poverty line. There is no data that can show a direct connection between the increase of unemployment rates, return
migration and declining of job opportunities in Egypt and abroad as well, however is it safe to say that the global financial crisis is of the
main factors for the increasing of unemployment rates.
Best of Egypt
The Suez Canal... Man Made Sea Level Waterway
The Suez Canal is synthetic waterway in Egypt that connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Gulf of Suez and then to the Red Sea. Modern
ships mostly use the canal because it is the fastest route from the Atlantic Ocean to the Indian Ocean and therefore shortens a lot of time
required for trading. It is one of the world's most heavily used shipping lanes being 163 km long with various width and 60 meters at its
narrowest... Although taxes paid by the ships represent an important source of income for the Egyptian government the Suez Canal is not
only important to Egypt but is also one of the most important waterways in the world with almost fifty vessels traveling through the canal
daily. The canal cuts through 3 lakes; the Lake Manzala, in the north which is protected from the canal with bedding on its western side,
the Lake Timsah in the middle, and the Bitter Lakes further south, which is also 30 km of the total length
It took three separate periods to finally complete the Canal. The first efforts to build the modern canal came from the Egypt expedition of
Napoleon Bonaparte, with intentions to create a devastating trade problem for the English. Though this project begun in 1799 by Charles
Le Pere, a miscalculation had estimated that the levels between the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea were too great including the fact
that the Red Sea was about10 meters higher than that of the Mediterranean Sea and therefore project was quickly suspended. In 1833 a
group of French intellectuals known as Saint-Simoniens arrived in Cairo became very interested in the Suez project, despite the problems
in sea level differences. Unfortunately, at that time Mohamed Ali had little interest in the project and apparently in 1835, the French were
overcome by a plague outbreak therefore many of the engineers returned to France.
In Paris, the Saint-Simoniens created an association in 1846 to study the truth about the possibility of the Suez Canal once again. In 1847, it
was confirmed that there was no difference in the levels between the Mediterranean
and Red Seas.
Finally in 1858 Vicomte Ferdinand Marie de Lesseps (Founder of the Universal
Company of the Maritime Suez Canal) built the canal. It was completed about a
decade of construction after in 1869. Its ownership remained largely in French
and British hands until Egypt nationalized it in 1956, causing an international crisis.
The final completion of the Suez Canal was an event to be celebrated but
nevertheless, many issues and turmoils caused the closure of the canal for
intermittent times. Between the Suez Crisis and later wars the canal was extensively
damaged and was not fixed for several years after 1967. However, on June 5th,
1975, the canal was finally opened and since then has been modified and enlarged.
The canal stretches over 163 kilometers from Port Saed and the Mediterranean
Sea to Suez, the Red Sea. The famous canal (known as Qana al-Suways) of the
modern era is now one of the greatest engineering nobel acts of modern record.
At its narrowest point it is about 300 meters wide. It is wide enough to allow ships
with a maximum draft of 16 meters. The canal can accommodate ships as large
as 150,000 tons fully loaded.
To many tourists the Canal Zone makes an interesting visit. It can in fact be a
very easy day tour, since Cairo is only about an hour and a half away. On the
other hand, it could also be visited as part of a longer tour, including the Eastern
Desert Monasteries and other site seeing.
52 Best of Egypt