Dear Egypt

Dear Egypt:

We just spent two weeks touring your country.  What are you thinking?  You have such an astounding history, much of it still more or less intact.  And you treat it so dreadfully.  Egypt, here are a few suggestions:

1.  Your country has 84 million people with an unemployment rate estimated in the 30-40 percent range.  Put some of these people to work cleaning up the trash all around your pyramids, tombs, museums, and city sidewalks.  After two weeks in Egypt, we’re convinced that the word in Egyptian for “trash can” is “any public space, especially one of great historical significance.”

2.  Get the corruption out of your police force.  Everywhere we went, there were “tourist police.”  As best we can tell, they spend their entire day standing around, smoking cigarettes, and trying to extract money from tourists.  We saw some egregious tourist actions at sites we visited, and the tourist police did nothing to stop it, probably because the perpetrator slipped them a five pound note ($1 U.S.).  BTW, is it out of the question that these “tourist police” might actually keep the place looking halfway presentable?

3.  Change the way you staff these sites.  Everywhere we went, we were met at Egypt’s historic sites by chain-smoking scuzzy-looking guys whose job was to take tickets.  These guys were of no help whatsoever.  They seemed to thrive on polluting tight, closed-in spaces with volumes of cigarette smoke.  Occasionally, they’d grab your camera and make the oh-so-familiar Egyptian hand motion of rubbing their fingers against their thumb — meaning “give me money.”  Egypt, you can do soooo much better than that!

4.  Your sites really are fragile.  If you let millions of tourists a year climb all over them, chip away at rocks, rub their hands all over 3,000 year old carvings, well . . .  THEY AREN’T GOING TO LAST!   And if things like your great pyramids are located in a city with horrendous air pollution, that won’t help.  Make sure these great monuments last another 3,000 years!  Your future depends on it.

5.  The rest of the tourism infrastructure in Egypt is also in need of help.  For instance, your restaurants generally have surly waitstaff, mediocre food, and two sections — smoking, and heavy smoking.  You have to be starving to death before eating in an Egyptian restaurant begins to have any appeal.  

Egypt, you have no oil.  Only 4% of your land is inhabitable.  You have meager natural resources.  But you have the world’s greatest man-made treasures.  Ancient Egypt was an amazing civilization.  Modern Egypt needs to keep pace.  If you have any hope of lifting your country up, you need to treasure your treasures, not treat them as the country’s garbage dump.


Our Family

One Response to “Dear Egypt”

  1. Gibson Says:

    They also need to stop people from smoking hookas in the restaurants!!

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