It began with my puppy’s mother. She greeted me whenever I approached my apartment in Downtown Cairo. She never jumped or barked, and would often accompany me to the corner. In another life she would have been a beloved family pet, but she was born an Egyptian street dog. I named her Basbousa.
I always laugh when people ask me how many times I have visited the Pyramids of Giza. As an Egyptologist who has worked as a tour guide for the past 23 years, I must have been there over 6,000 times; more than the age of the pyramids themselves (4560 years old).
Enticing young people to travel abroad and see the world should be a priority for any society. They are our future leaders, and in today’s globalised world, cross cultural exposure is a quality every top leader needs.
The Egyptian youth are resilient, resourceful, and keen to leave their comfort zones to build relationships with their contemporaries around the world. They have a drive to interact with other people and cultures.
Nature Conservation Egypt (NCE) is an Egyptian NGO working to conserve Egypt’s wildlife and natural habitats through research, policy, capacity building, as well as awareness raising. As part of NCE’s awareness raising activities, we are shedding light on the white stork as September’s bird of the month.
After the death of her husband, an Egyptian woman who disguised herself as a man for 43 years in order to make a living for her daughter was honored by the government as the ‘Ideal Mother of the Luxor Governorate’.
This reminds me of a Chinese legend Hua Mulan who had also disguised herself as a man to replace her father’s duty and fight many wars for the country. Later she received an award from the emperor for ‘his’ outstanding courage.
Slaves and Plagues
The death of Shagarat ad-Durr the last female ruler of Egypt, in 1257, marked the beginning of a new age in Egyptian history. The state came under the formal control of the ‘Mamluks’ (slave soldiers), and would remain so until the Ottoman invasion in the 16th century.
The 15th August marks the beginning of a two week holiday in Egypt: wafaa al-Nil or, ‘the flooding of the Nile’. Throughout the centuries, this has been an occasion of the utmost importance for those who live along the banks of the river. Without the annual floods, civilisation could not have flourished in the desert as it has. Far more than just hydrating the land around it, the river bursts its banks each year, to carry minerals and salts from East Africa over the flood plains of the Sahara.
“Suppose I want to drive into the desert and not see another soul for six weeks,” I ask, “could you arrange that?”
“Of course, no problem,” comes the reply that we are all too familiar with from Egyptians.
“Suppose I want to drive from London to Cape Town in record time. Could you get me through the border in less than eight hours?”
“Twenty minutes, no problem”.
In 1160, the leadership of Egypt was in shambles. The power of the last Fatimid caliph, Al-Adid, had waned considerably, so much so that his own vizier, Shawar, was able to take de facto control of the government. To make matters worse, the country was under constant threat from the Crusader States to the Northeast, as well as the Zengids from Syria.
This is the time of year when Cairo is gripped by the summer heat. As temperatures push above 40 degrees, now is the time to get your things and run to the beach. Although not commonly thought of as a beach destination, the city of Alexandria on the Mediterranean coast can be a great summer getaway. The city is as vibrant and cultural as any in Egypt but a lot calmer and less chaotic than Cairo. As it is so easily accessible from the capital, whether by road or rail, Alexandria can be the ideal weekend destination or daytrip, as well as accommodating for longer stays. With so much to see and do, you can be sure not to run out of activities.
On the 5th of February 969, a great army set out in the direction of what would soon be known as Cairo. This invasion force was phenomenal in size. The troops numbered 100,000 men, both on foot and horseback. They took with them, not just their weapons and supplies, but huge caskets of silver and giant millstones made of gold, to impress their vast wealth on the people of the towns and villages they passed through. At the head of the army, marched Jawhar Al-Siqilli (‘The Sicilian’).
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