Classic Egypt back on map as FCO relaxes advice for tourists visiting Luxor and Aswan

British tourists wishing to visit the Valley of the Kings, home to Tutankhamun’s famous tomb, can once again do so safe in the knowledge that they will be covered by travel insurance after the British government relaxed long-standing advisories.

The FCO is still warning against all but essential travel to a large part of the country including Cairo and the North Sinai but destinations such as Luxor, Aswan and the Abu Simbel temples in Nubia are back on the map.

A spokesperson for the FCO said: ‘We continue to urge British nationals already in Egypt to follow the instructions of the local authorities and obey curfews where they are in place. There remains a high threat from terrorism throughout Egypt. This has not changed.’

They continued: ‘As always, the safety of British nationals is a priority. We continue to follow developments carefully, and keep our travel advice under continuous review.

‘British nationals should continue to monitor FCO travel advice closely for any updates and stay away from any demonstrations or protests.’

Speaking at a holiday industry conference in London last week, Egypt’s minister of tourism Hisham Zaazou told journalists: ‘More than 18 countries have lifted the travel advisory on Luxor and Aswan. As soon as the FCO revises its travel advice for the UK, we will work tirelessly with our valued media, travel agent and tour operator partners to communicate that the whole of Egypt is open.’


Egyptian minister announces webcams at tourist sites

The Egyptian tourism minister told a conference in Milan Thursday evening that live webcams will be placed in the country’s major tourist destinations to show the world the true conditions of the country.Live-streamed surveillance of Luxor, Aswan, Sharm el Sheikh, Hurghada and Marsa Alam will reveal to anyone connected to the Internet how tourists are spending their vacations in the land of the pharaohs.”Egypt is a safe country,” Egyptian Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou repeated several hisham Zaazoutimes to a packed press conference Thursday evening at the BIT tourism trade fair in Milan. ”One can not reduce a country extending millions of square metres into a few hundred square meters,” he added, making reference to Tahrir or ”Martyr” Square in downtown Cairo.And although the Salafites are boycotting Valentine’s Day as a ”Western, ‘Christian’ tradition that goes against Sharia law” Zaazou sought to reassure the Italian market. ”Bikinis are welcome, and no restrictions exist of any type,” he guaranteed.”I am a technocrat and I do not belong to any political party. But I assure you that everyone in Egypt is very clear on the importance of the tourism industry, the only one able to function at the moment.” ”This government and the president himself are firmly convinced of the fact that the path to take is openness and development in the sector,” Zaazou said, adding that tourism employs four million people in Egypt. No administration ”can change this trend – I guarantee it,” said Zaazou.
Zaazou thanked Italian tourism operators who continued to support Egypt over the last two years.

Zaazou reported that despite Egypt’s political crisis, which hit the entire Egyptian tourism industry, there were 700,000 visitors from Italy in 2012. ”We expect to reach 1,000,000 Italian tourists” this year, added Zaazou.

But if many of the beach locations are more-or-less managing, archeological sites continue to suffer, he said. ”At Luxor and Aswan, operators are suffering a lot,” Zaazou confirmed.

Things may improve substantially thanks to a decision adopted by the Italian national tour operators’ association FIAVET to hold its annual conference this April in Luxor.

”To calm Italian tourists and travel agents, we are going to a safe country,” affirmed FIAVET President Fortunato Giovannoni.

Zaazou also asserted that, in addition to continued development of the Red Sea, the Mediterranean coast must also grow.

”Our intention is to increase domestic air transport to allow vacationers to more easily reach archeological pearls like Luxor from beach locations like Mars Alam. We’ll do so by opening flight connections,” Zaazou said.


Egypt hosts Japanese children

In the frame of Egyptian Ministry of Tourism endeavors to increase the tourism flow from the Japanese market, the Ministry of tourism hosted 15 children who had suffered from the earthquake on December 2010, in an eight days trip to Cairo, Luxor, and Aswan ( from 26 December 2012 to 2nd January 2013 ) .

The trip will include visiting the Pyramids, Salah El Din Citadel, and a nile cruise from Luxor to Aswan, in addition to celebrating the New Year at Steinberger Nile Palace hotel.


Winter in Egypt – what to expect in the land of the pharaohs

Those looking for a cheap package holiday destination, but abhors the mass tourism  that should spend the winter in Egypt, because, although there is persistent rumors indicate contrary, this year no bikini ban, not only have the Red Sea resorts have sufficient capacity available. No matter what attractions you want to visit in Egypt, they have been virtually alone for themselves.

There are places for a cruise on the Nile, for example, have enough. To sail on the longest river in the world around is considered a particularly romantic way to discover Egypt. Travel of this kind can, as the Egypt holiday deals from Thomas Cook book on short notice at a travel agency in Internet or even on site. The namesake of the second largest German tour operator, among others organized the first ever cruise on the Nile, is regarded as the inventor of the package.
What he would think of a trip to Egypt in 2012? Not only in the center of Cairo Egyptian Museum missing visitors, which yes, the proximity to Tahrir Square would be more understandable. Finally, the name was linked from the outset with the uprisings against former dictator Hosni Mubarak. At the moment there is virtually unobstructed view of the pyramids. There, where a previously crowds blocked the way, now there is nothing but emptiness.
Even the White Desert and Alexandria seems to want to visit any more.
Here, the Mediterranean city was just on the point to follow up on their old feats. On the island of Pharos in the Bay of Alexandria once stood the lighthouse, it was expected to be the Seven Wonders. But almost more famous was the Library of Alexandria. In this haven of learning were formed Archimedes, Euclid and Eratosthenes. With 700,000 papyrus scrolls in ancient times it was the largest library in the world.
Since 2002 it again, the famous Library of Alexandria. Not far from the old location it was rebuilt. However, not only the facade is modern: it was created space for eight million books (in about 1.5 million have been around) and a backup copy of the Internet Archive, which includes about three petabytes.
The library, which is currently used primarily by students should also be a tourist attraction, but the largest with 2000 seats open reading room lures – like all other classic attractions – at barely more visitors.
What Thomas Cook would say probably it? He probably would advise Europeans in need of recuperation, not to be deterred by the uncertain political situation and to take an educational trip to Egypt. After all, he has done 1860.

8 million tourists visited Egypt in 2012: Minister

Thebes (Luxor Temple pictured) was the capital...

Thebes (Luxor Temple pictured) was the capital of many of the Dynasty XVI pharaohs. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tourism minister Hisham Zazou stated that he is concerned about the negative impact of political events on cultural tourism

Around 8.1 million tourists visited Egypt over the past ten months, injecting some $10 billion into the economy, announced Minister of Tourism Hisham Zazou on Monday during the annual conference of the Scandinavian embassies in Cairo.Zazou added that around 96 million overnight stays by tourists in Egyptian hotels were recorded in the same period.

Malin Karre, the Swedish ambassador in Cairo, said that Scandinavian tourists consider Egypt to be one of the best beach tourism destinations worldwide.

The Egyptian minister confirmed that beach tourism in the country has bottomed out, while cultural tourism in Luxor and Aswan is suffering due to the negative impacts of political events.He hopes that the number of tourists will reach 11 million by the end of 2012.Zazou referred to the tourism as a vital pillar of the national economy, representing 11.3 per cent of Egypt’s gross domestic product and 17 per cent of its foreign currency reserves, in addition to 12.6 per cent of the total manpower of the state, with four million people directly employed in the industry.

Recently, Egypt’s Coalition to Support Tourism (CST) has that said it will file a case against top Egyptian officials for inaction in response to statements by a Salafist sheikh who called for the demolition of the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx.

In a television interview on Saturday night, radical Salafist scholar Morgan El-Gohary called for the destruction of Egypt’s monuments as they “were once worshipped and could be worshipped again.”


Egypt to auction land for tourist developments:Tourism Minister

Egypt Red sea – Luxor  – Aswan

Tourism could return to pre-revolution levels by next year, says minister, as he outlines news plans for land auctions in key Red Sea resorts

Egypt will auction sites covering 28 million square metres of land for tourist developments in the next 14 months to expand the vital industry, its tourism minister said.

Hisham Zaazou is tasked with reviving a sector that accounted for 10 per cent of economic activity before the revolt that ousted President Hosni Mubarak last year drove away investors and tourists.
Tourists are returning to Egypt but do not yet match the levels of 2010, before the uprising, when 14.5 million people visited, earning the country $12.5 billion.
Speaking late on Tuesday, Zaazou told Reuters that Egypt could match those levels in 2013. By 2020 the country targets an ambitious 30 million tourists, prompting the government’s plans for selling new plots.
“I will start auctioning (the land) maybe next month and before the end of 2013 all of the 28 million sq metres will have been put on offer,” Zaazou said, adding that the offer has already been met with interest from European and Gulf investors.
Some of the sites to be auctioned would be sold, others would be for lease.
Sites due to come up for auction will include Red Sea resorts such as Ain Sokhna and Marsa Allam.
“Investors will be putting their money in areas that already have customers, not in a barren desert,” said Zaazou, who was appointed in August. He worked with private tourism firms, including in the United States, before moving to the ministry.
Zaazou said he was studying incentive programmes to lure investors, including a plan for the state to pay social security payments for employees of firms investing within a set period.
He also said he was working with the civil aviation and transport ministries to improve access to tourist areas, including plans to improve the quality of overnight trains from Cairo to popular destinations of Luxor and Aswsan in the south.
Zaazou said Turkish Airlines had launched direct flights from Istanbul to Red Sea resorts such as Sharm El-Sheikh, helping to lure more Turkish and European visitors, and said he wanted to improve connections to the Far East and South America.
Echoing earlier comments, he said Egypt – now governed by an Islamist president – wanted to draw in tourists holding conservative Islamic values but not at the expense of others from the West or elsewhere, who might be discouraged by any move to ban alcohol or impose other Islamic restrictions.
He said drawing in Islamic-minded tourists “will not detract from mainstream tourism nor will it be an alternative to it.”
“I wish that people can co-exist … like in Turkey and in Dubai,” he said.
As an example, he said some Arab investors were building a five-star hotel in Cairo that would not allow alcohol, smoking, loud music or gender-mixed swimming pools. It would also focus on spa and health services to cater to customers who want an Islamic tourism package or others seeking a health resort.
The biggest present challenge to tourism, he said, was local and international media conveying what he said was an exaggerated image of lax security. Pictures of protests and sometimes violence in Cairo’s Tahrir Square have deterred some.
“The image that is being conveyed about Egypt is an image confined to 1 square kilometre of the country, so to speak, namely Tahrir square,” Zaazou said. “This is a challenge.”
“When tourism to Cairo is affected, this in turn affects the rest of cultural tourism such as Luxor and Aswan,” he said, adding that if protests till year-end remained peaceful in the square, this would revive tourists’ confidence in Egypt.

Ahram Online

What’s it like to study Egyptology ?

Just over a decade ago, Gemma Smith decided she was going to be “the next Evelyn O’Connell”. She has since graduated from Swansea University with a first class honours degree in Egyptology
, and is about to start her MA in Ancient Egyptian Culture.
If you had asked me on A Level results day “Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?”, I would have probably told you that I’d be a Geography teacher. I never dreamed that I’d have graduated with a first class degree in Egyptology from Swansea University and that I’d be about to embark upon Swansea’s MA in Ancient Egyptian Culture.

My passion for ancient Egypt was awakened during my childhood. My mum got the old slide projector out one day and showed the photographs of her visit to Egypt. From that day on, I was hooked. I recorded all of the documentaries about ancient Egypt on the History Channel and when ‘The Mummy’ was released in 1999, my mind was made up: I was going to be the next Evelyn O’Connell.

Unfortunately, my desire to be sensible and get a ‘proper’ job overshadowed my new ambition. “Play to your strengths,” said the careers advisor when it was time to choose my GCSE options. So, I opted for Art and Geography, my best subjects. Similar logic prevailed when I chose my A Levels: Art, Geography, Maths and English Literature. Sensible and well-rounded. Consequently, when it came to looking at universities, I had no idea of what I should study, and was less than enthusiastic about my options.

Six years later, I found myself working in an office, dreaming of being an Egyptologist. I started researching Egyptology degrees, after some words of encouragement from my fiancé and my boss (where were they in high school?), and I discovered Swansea University. A beach-side campus with a collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts on-site? Perfect. I sent off my application and was delighted when I was invited to attend an interview. When I received the letter from UCAS a few weeks later, informing me that I’d been offered a place on the BA Egyptology course, I was thrilled. However, I suddenly realized that I knew very little about Egyptology, and that the next three years would probably be the hardest of my life so far. How on Earth was I going to be able to make sense of hieroglyphs? All those birds, eyes, and wiggly lines…

Three years on, I can honestly say that I was right. These have been the hardest years of my life, but they have also been the most enjoyable and fulfilling. The university campus is such a vibrant and dynamic place to learn, and it truly feels like a second home. The academic staff are so passionate about their subject, and that’s passed onto the students through engaging and thought-provoking lectures and seminars. The lecturers often talk about their own research and fieldwork, giving a taster of what could happen if you are dedicated and work hard.

Hard work is not an exaggeration. Learning to read hieroglyphs and the various phases of the language (Middle Egyptian, Late Egyptian, not to mention hieratic, demotic and the other scripts and phases of the ancient Egyptian language!) is a huge challenge in itself. Learning a ‘dead language’ is not the same as learning modern foreign languages. You can’t just hop on a ferry to spend time with the locals, practicing ordering food and asking “Où est la gare?” of random passers-by. It is one of the most intensive parts of the course and has required hours of practice in my own time. It has been frustrating at times, but it is also extremely rewarding – having the ability to read inscriptions, stories, and letters that were written over 3,000 years ago is out of this world, quite literally. The language modules are core to the degree, emphasizing the integral and complementary nature of understanding the textual sources as well as the material culture to the analysis of an ancient culture.

The course encompasses so many different aspects. Studying the history involves getting to grips with hundreds of pharaohs and a confusing chronology. Modules on Egyptian religion initially left me perplexed about the vast pantheon of gods and goddesses and bizarre cult practices. However, the more I have read (and you must read a lot), the more has been revealed about this captivating civilization. Classes in Swansea’s Egypt Centre, the museum on campus, have increased my knowledge of Egyptian archaeology. It is a truly magical experience to be able to touch and study an artifact and to imagine who it once belonged to or how it was used.

Another key part of studying Egyptology is research. For my BA dissertation, I decided to combine my Egyptian language skills with my love for working with artifacts. I translated the inscription of an unpublished limestone stela (a stone slab, typically bearing a commemorative inscription) in the British Museum, and attempted to find out where in Egypt it was originally found and what period it dated to by analyzing the text and the iconography. The majority of my final year was spent in the university library, scouring books for information. Research is really like a treasure hunt, following clues to your conclusion. I am now as passionate about research as I am about ancient Egypt, and this has encouraged me to pursue my study of Egyptology to doctoral level.

I am often asked what job I can get with a degree in Egyptology. Job opportunities in the field are quite rare, and are highly competitive. I know that I will have to continue to work hard to earn a career in Egyptology. But by studying Egyptology I have acquired so many skills that are useful in any job, including analytical skills, problem solving, communication, and the ability to understand other cultures. My time at Swansea has shown me how important it is to follow your passion, because if you are passionate about something, you will have the drive and determination to succeed. Even the ancient Egyptians themselves agree – an inscription within the Luxor temple reads: “Growth in consciousness doesn’t depend on the will of the intellect or its possibilities but on the intensity of the inner urge.”


A mural of a blind musician playing a harp, fr...

A mural of a blind musician playing a harp, from the tomb of the ancient Egyptian scribe called Nakht. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Abu Simbel featured in the doodle of the day

Egypt AswanAbu Simbel

The Google doodle today shows the moment that the sun shines on the faces of the statues, drawing the attention of the world to this intriguing phenomena and highlighting the treasures that Egypt has to offer to its visitors.

Every year on February 22nd and then again on October 22nd, the sun creeps into the inner sanctum of the carefully aligned Temple of Ramesses II, lighting up the statues of the sun gods  Re-Horakhte and Amon-Re, as well as a statue of the pharaoh himself. Only one seated figure remains in the shadows at all times, Ptah, the God of Darkness. The magical Solar Festival happens twice a year, once to celebrate Ramesses II birthday and then again to celebrate his coronation. The Abu Simbel temples have been moved from their original location after they were put under the threat of submersion by the water’s of the Aswan Dam. The holy mountain that was their home now lies under water. The relocation by UNESCO and the Egyptian Government in the 1960’s was almost as monumental as the temples themselves. Ramesses’ temple and a smaller temple built for his favorite wife Nefertari were both moved to the new site. The move to higher ground caused the solar festival to take place one day after the actual anniversary of the king’s birthday and coronation. Now instead of celebrating the Sun Festival on the 21st of February and October we celebrate on the 22nd. At sunrise crowds gather in the temple to watch this magical spectacle then head outside where festivities and dancing are taking place. For thousands of years these two days have been celebrated with merriment and wonder which is exactly what Ramesses would have hoped for!