Sunday, 17 November 2013

"The only people thriving in post-revolution Egypt — tomb raiders"

The Sphinx and the Pyramid of Menkaure.    Courtesy: The Specator
The Sphinx, the pyramids and churches are being ransacked by looters and Islamists
 9 November 2013, The Specatator
Millions of other Egyptians whose livelihoods have depended on their country’s ancient culture are suffering. In Giza, for generations, families have made a living out of taking tourists around the pyramids on horse or camel rides. It is a memorable experience. The Egyptians touting for business never, ever leave you alone — but it’s also breathtaking to be able to ride around the famous pyramids.
Locals told me that on a normal day, back in the good old days, 10,000 tourists visited the pyramids daily. While I was there the people at the ticket office claimed only ten visitors had paid for entry that day and a fellow trying to sell me various bits of tat sincerely burst into tears when I purchased a handful of postcards.
It was tragic. But worse was to come. Towards twilight, near the stretch of dunes where I found the looters’ holes dug into the desert, within sight of the pyramids, a local camel rider showed me dozens of dead horses. Families in Giza have between 5,000 and 6,000 horses working in the tourism trade. In the boom times, these animals are sorely mistreated, filled up with sugar and ridden day and night. But now that the tourism trade has collapsed, the poor horses’ plight is even more ghastly: slow starvation.

The whole sobering article, is here.
I was in Cairo in October 2011, at the end of a Classic Car rally from Cape Town to Cairo.  At the time, we happened to arrive at a bit of an interregnum, and all was calm, though the scars of the so-called "Arab Spring" demonstrations were still on many blackened buildings...