By Islam El Shazly

It has been a little over 11 months since the January 25, 2011, ignited to culminate into the ouster of one of the worst rulers in the Arab world in modern history, Mohamed Hosni Mubarak, right on the heels of his brother-in-arms Bin Ali from Tunisia.

A lot has changed since then, some to the better, and some to the worst. We’re not going to get into either of them; they both have long lists.

What we’re going to be talking about is something that has managed somehow to divide the people, mostly triggered by a media that still plays by the pre-Mubarak days of divide and conquer for the sake of the person who is in charge at the time, SCAF (Supreme Council of Armed Forces) at the moment. That something is “Tourism”.

Karnak temple at night, Luxor. By James Farmer.

The media boiled down tourism in Egypt into the following: Booze, Bikinis, and Gambling. Viva Las Egypt.

All of a sudden, Tourism is in danger; after all, the Islamists are coming. They are winning in the parliamentary elections and how better to fight them than to play the very old and tired Islamophobia card, which is a very funny card to play considering Egypt is an Islamic country. Not only did they come up with all sorts of statistics to prove their strange fantasies, they also became obsessed with it, they became the primary source of concern when interviewing any Islamist Presidential candidate.

They forgot why the revolution took place in the first place, or rather; they shelved it for a while.

The Red Sea. By Niels Rameckers.

Their first and foremost claim is that 75% of tourism in the world is beach tourism, and by extension, Egypt.

That is simply not true; on average the Red Sea resorts get about one to two million visitors per year, which is a far cry from 75%, considering that Egypt had 20.05 million international tourists visiting in 2010, and 11.91 million in 2009, according to the World Tourism Rankings, compiled by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) as part of their World Tourism Barometer publication, which is released three times throughout the year. In the publication, world tourism is ranked both by the number of visits and by the tourism revenue generated.  Source: World Tourism Rankings on Wikipedia.

Which means that Ancient Egypt is still the cornerstone of Egyptian tourism, sites like the Giza plateau, Abu Simbel, Luxor, and Aswan still have enough allure that regardless of the time of year, they still get the lion share of tourists. Even the UNESCO-sponsored Egyptian Grand Museum, when finished, is expected to attract around 3 million visitors per year, still more than what beach tourism attracts per year.

Mohamed Ali Pasha's Mosque insiede Cairo's Citadel. By Andrea De Stefani.

We’re not even going to discuss the gambling industry, I think even the lowliest of gamblers knows that Egypt is not exactly Las Vegas, it’s not even comparable to Macau. In other words it is highly doubtful that gambling would account to even 1% of tourism in Egypt. Same can go for alcohol; Egypt is hardly Napa Valley or known for an Oktoberfest type festival.

That leaves the last point, the wildest claim from the Egyptian media supported of course by the hordes of “experts” who seem to appear out of the blue, then disappear into oblivion after doing their damage. If Islamists come to power, they will shut down tourism, close hotels, deface statues and temples, and put 5 million people out of work permanently!!!

One of the many fellucas on the river Nile in Egypt. By Martyn E. Jones.

There are many reasons why people travel, but tourism is special, it gives people some sense of adventure and exploration, people achieve that by interacting with the culture they are visiting, not by travelling half way across the world just to enjoy a cheap version of where they come from.

Egypt is full of wonders, but the people in charge of the media as well as a vast number of so-called elite, only see a very limited form of it, with no possibility in their skewed vision for any kind of tourism than one that involves bikinis, booze, and gambling. In doing so, they effectively recycle Mubarak’s views of Egypt and echo his words that Egypt is not a land of creativity, entrepreneurship, ideas, let alone a land that would ever be ready for freedom or democracy.

We proved him and the likes of him wrong, we are creative, and we are perseverant, we can think for ourselves, and if the only things that would bring tourists to Egypt are alcohol, gambling and bikinis, then we are in a sorrier state than we ever believed, then we are a doomed mediocre country that had no business revolting in the first place.

When I first started this site the main concept was to shed a different light on Egypt, and the tag-line of choice was “there’s more to Egypt than the Pyramids”, however, it is more appropriate now to change that into: There’s more to Egypt than Alcohol, Bikinis, and Gambling.

A view of Siwa Oasis in the Western Desert. By bebobebo,

We have deserts, ancient architecture and monuments, we have mountains and corals, we have valleys and caves, and we have the mighty river Nile, we have a civilisation that spans millennia and one of the most generous people and cultures in the world. Our progress had been derailed by the incompetency of three consecutive governments, and our ambition crushed by the last of them, but we are back now.

It will take some time to shake of the dust of over 60 years of mismanagement, but we will get there insha’Allah.

As for Alcohol and gambling:

Al-Maa’idah (The Repast)>> 05:90 O you who have believed, indeed, intoxicants, gambling, [sacrificing on] stone alters [to other than Allah], and divining arrows are but defilement from the work of Satan, so avoid it that you may be successful.

05:91 Satan only wants to cause between you animosity and hatred through intoxicants and gambling and to avert you from the remembrance of Allah and from prayer. So will you not desist?

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