Amidst The Signs of Hope in Cairo

Known for its history, culture and oldest Civilization, every school child in the world learns about Egypt.

Known for its history, culture and oldest Civilization, every school child in the world learns about Egypt.

A beautiful country in the Northern part of Africa by the Mediterranean sea also referred to as black land due to its rich, dark soil along the nile river where its first settlement began. Egypt is referred to as ‘MISR’ in many history books meaning ‘country’, a name still in use by Egyptians in present days.

It has been a tourist destination since the presidential era of Anwar Al-Sadat, and it continued to be a famous tourist destination world wide. People go to Egypt to visit the Pyramids, the Egyptian Museum, Luxor and the coastal cities of Egypt, as they have beautiful beaches and wonderful weather all year round.

Always known for its Pyramids and caves, today the world knows Egypt for its terrorist attacks and demonstartions by political parties. Lots of websites advice tourists to cancel travel unless it is unavoidable which comes with lists of precautions to be taken while traveling. Since Egypt has  seen disturbances from early 90s it has never impacted its tourism the way it has in the last 4 years. 2010 was known to be the best tourism year in Egypt and the numbers have kept declining since 2011. Today its difficult to confine terrorism to one part of the world. Terrori
sm always have a very big impact on tourism which is a major component of economic development.  It not just stops there but also has its repurcussions on other sectors like airlines, hotels, catering and various businesses that are linked to supply goods. Wheneve
r I hear about a terrorist attack on the place that I have visited, I revisit all the memories related to my travel and various questions flood my mind and the most common, Does terrorism really impact tourism? And somewhere I feel its not much true. After the attacks travellers may change the destination temporarily but they do come back. Though recouping takes tim
e but the history, beauty and richness of the place always instil the confidence back in travelers. Having grown in the terrorized land of Punjab, in India, I can relate to how terrorism can slow down the place both in terms of economic growth and development of people, but once the resurgence happens, it bounces back.

 

Seven years ago I had landed in Cairo late in the evening, all by myself. My hotel was in down town, an hours drive from the airport. I hired a pre paid taxi from the airport to go to the old part of Cairo. I was surprised to learn that my Chauffeur knew how to greet an Indian- He joins his hands to say NAMASTE and his next question to me was, Do you know Amitab Bhacchan? That was enough to break the ice. Egyptians are very fond of Indian culture and Bollywood. This interaction put some ease into me and I quickly accepted his invitation to explore the buzzing nightlife of Cairo at Khan-al-Khalili bazar before we hit the hotel.  He also reminded me to call my family back in India and helped me procure a local sim card. Yes I am talking about the same city, country where tourism has dropped drastically due to series of disturbing activities. However despite the huge upheaval of the past year, millions of visitors still chose to come here, and that’s a testament to the assets of this country. Every schoolchild in the world learns about the pyramids; I’m confident people will still want to come and see them for themselves.

Ten days in Egypt mainly at Cairo, Alexandria and Luxor made me discover the diversity of this country with oldest civilization, rich heritage, pharaonic  monuments, buzzing night life, scenic beaches, sumptuous cuisine and amazing hospitality of Egyptians, which inspires me to revisit the place.  
As the sun sets, people start spilling onto the streets, congregating in coffee shops and restaurants. Go to any waterfront – along the Nile in Cairo and Luxor, or the seafronts in Alexandria and Sharm el Sheikh – and you’ll find the corniche humming with the chatter of friends cruising arm in arm to catch the breeze. Street vendors selling kebabs, chai-sellers shouldering giant urns and trinket merchants with the latest colourful imports vie for the attentions of passers-by. This is the place to meet the locals, gauge the national mood and share in the jubilations of a local football success.
A huge draw for visitors – both domestic and foreign – are the sound and light shows held in spectacular fashion in many of the country’s archaeological sites. Here, you can come face-to-face with the spot-lit Sphinx at Giza or watching the entire Temple of Karnak unfold to music at Luxor.
These virtual tours run fresh through my mind whenever I hear the name of Egypt. I am so glad I have reasons to go back to this beautiful country, Egypt.
DSC01014.JPGCity view of Cairo

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