I'll start off by saying that I'm not a believer of tourism in Egypt. Not that I don't welcome tourists in Egypt, or wouldn't encourage them to spend time here. But I'm just against relying on tourism as one of three main sources of income for Egypt (all being services). Besides the fact that this is an industry that does not allow people to be productive, develop, progress and hence improve the general standard of living. Its one of the main industries in Egypt because its a gold mine that generates revenue without doing any effort from our side. Investors build hotels and resorts, locals tour the toursits around the historical sites, and let them have their fun on the beaches. We're simply making money out of being good hosts, showing off our history and beaches.
Well, we certainly brag about being such great hosts too much. How Egyptians are so kind, and nice, warm and welcoming! At some point in time, I'm sure we were, but do we really still believe that now. I've had an interesting experience regarding that a few months back when a couple of Canadian friends were visiting Egypt. Overall they had a great time, enjoyed the adventure, the history, the sights, the food, and ofcourse, the company;) An adventure it was for them ofcourse, on many levels. Just crossing the street is not a trivial activity here for the unacquainted. But what is it with Egyptians when they see people with white skin and blonde hair?! They attempt to squeeze every penny out of them in any possible way, from over-pricing to trying to fool them to begging to harrassing to being smart-asses, just short of plain theft.
I'll understand the excuse that people are really having it tough around here, and making a living is a hell of a struggle, but I can't accept that excuse.
I couldn't imagine the amounts of harrassement and foul games that we've experienced during their visit, especially in touristic sights. I've been cursed myself by a street seller when I was bargaining with him for a low-quality fake sun glasses that he wanted to sell for 50 pounds. "Why the hell are you bargaining for them, they can afford it"! They came back from Luxor & Aswan telling stories of the great monuments there ofcourse, as well as of stories of people doing their best to rip them off. People trying to sell them a Galabeyya for 500 pounds, eventually going down to 50. A guy who kept throwing himself infront of their camera shot, asking for 'baksheesh'. A guy telling them an item was for 5 pounds only, which sounded really cheap, they go in, try it on, and then when they're about to buy it he says, its for 5 Nubian Pounds, and that amounts to 500 Egyptian Pounds.. what!! I was ashamed listening to those stories, and just couldn't defend those actions, not with the typical excuse of how tough life is, and you guys are a gold mine to them.
We are apparently so isolated into ourselves that when we see a tourist, looking different, carrying a different currency, we treat them like they're aliens coming from outer space. Have a little dignity and decency for God's sake.
I thus find the statement that the Egyptian people are the main asset of tourism in Egypt utter nonesense.
And on the subject of tourism, what is it with those foreign women moving to somewhere like Hurghada, marrying (or not) local men, and settling there. I haven't been able to figure that out yet, and none of the explanations I've heard make sense to me.
Wednesday, February 09, 2005