CERCLE DIPLOMATIQUE - issue 01/2016

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CD is an independent and impartial magazine and is the medium of communication between foreign representatives of international and UN-organisations based in Vienna and the Austrian political classes, business, culture and tourism. CD features up-to-date information about and for the diplomatic corps, international organisations, society, politics, business, tourism, fashion and culture. Furthermore CD introduces the new ambassadors in Austria and informs about designations, awards and top-events. Interviews with leading personalities, country reports from all over the world and the presentation of Austria as a host country complement the wide range oft he magazine.

LE MONDE EGYPT

The Sphinx, the

Egyptian guardian of

eternity.

Egyptian chapati.

FACTS &

FIGURES

White desert in the

north of Farafra.

The Egyptian Museum

in Cairo.

PHOTOS: GARDEL BERTRAND, EUROMONEY/THE EARL OF GUILFORD, CHICUREL ARNAUD, RIEGER BERTRAND

Sometimes, when you fall in love, you do not

know exactly why. So it happened to Anthony

Sattin, a writer for the leading travel guide „Lonely

Planet“. The harder he tried, the less he could

find a final reason for his love of Egypt: ”Is it the way

the glorious past casts long shadows over the present?

Is it the way the lush Nile Valley gives way, from

one footstep to another, to the harshness of the desert?

Is it the light in the eye of the person telling me

a story in a cafe, who has just burst into laughter?“

As often, his resumé ends up in a sweet compromise,

which is certainly shared by the 10 to 12 million

tourists visiting Egypt each year – ”the intensity

of light, the love of life, the sense of family and many,

many more reasons“ are only some of the ingredients

of the magical nectar Egypt is offering to the world.

Among the others, as any of the nearly 150,000 Austrian

tourists who took a trip to Egypt last year is also

well aware of, one may choose from a vast variety of

outstanding attractions.

First of all there is this gentle touch of history turning

every stone into a mirror of the ancient past of

a country that already existed more than 3,150 years

before the birth of Jesus Christ. Whether you visit

the sand-covered tombs, the austere pyramids or the

towering Pharaonic temples, walk through the Valley

of the Kings in Luxor, where Tutankhamun’s

tomb was unearthed, hop off a Nile boat at Dendara,

Edfu or one of the other waterside temples, cross

Lake Nasser to see Ramses II’s masterpiece at Abu

Simbel, or trek into the desert to find the traces of

Roman trading outposts – all of the places will bring

out the explorer in you. And with a little luck, your

donkey might stumble across yet another find, just

like the way many previous discoveries were made.

Then Egypt, which from Austria is only a threehours-flight

away, treats you with unmatched possibilities

of relaxation, leisure and sporting activities.

There are those who prefer empty beaches with

nothing but a candlelit cabin and a teeming coral reef

offshore, waiting for them at the coast along the Red

Sea with its rugged desert beauty above the waterline

and a psychedelic vibrancy below.

Others may head to a holiday paradise like Hurghada,

Marsa Alam, El Gouna, Sharm el-Sheikh or

Soma Bay to train their skills in kite- oder windsurfing,

to improve their handicap in one of the 21 golfclubs

there (with a new 18-hole-course, the Ancient

Sands, opening soon in El Gouna), or to enjoy a dive

into a most diverse and ecologically intact underwater

world. ”We have some 300 diving centers in

Egypt all over the Sinai Peninsula and at the Read

Sea coast“, says Hans Heinz Dilthey, the Vice Chairman

of the Chamber of Diving and Watersports in

Cairo. „Plus up to 170 safari ships offering special

diving trips which normally last for about one week.“

And some may seek the solitude and irresistible

beauty of Egypt‘s vast deserts, taking home an unforgettable

memory of a sun rise between the gentle

shapes of the White Desert, the lofty heights of Mt

Sinai (Gebel Musa) or the shimmering horizon from

the comfort of a hot spring in Siwa Oasis. Or they

just book a cruise on one of the luxury Nile ships to

engage in a personal dialogue with the remainings of

the times of Ramses II., Echnaton and his beautiful

wife Nofretete or the old kings of the mystic underworld,

all along the holy river which for Egypt is the

very source of life, fertility, food and energy.

”Even though our history and culture in scientific

terms is better explored than that of most other

countries, Egypt has lost nothing of its fascination“,

says Tamer Marzouk, the director of tourism in charge

of incoming guests from Austria, Germany, Switzerland

und Poland. But because of recent incidents

– mainly a terrorist strike on a Russian charterplane

last December with more than 200 persons killed,

the threat from Jihadists of the Islamic State, and the

criminal attack in a Hurghada hotel in January,

which left two Austrian tourists injured – Egypt is

confronted with a diminishing number of bookings.

And authorities are getting kind of nervous, since the

tourism industry provides jobs for some 5 million

Egyptians and accounts for over 11 percent of the

country‘s GDP. In reaction to this, at the end of February

a brand new image campain ”Egypt – where all

began“ – has been launched „to re-awake the confidence

into Egypt as a whole-year holiday destination

for families and all guests interested in culture or

sports“, as Marzouk points out.

”Egypt has also drastically tightened its security

measures“, explains Khaled Shamaa, the country‘s

Ambassador to Austria (see interview page 34). With

the help of the international security company ”Control

Risk“ airport controls and street checkpoints as

well as military and police forces have been upgraded.

”One of the main examples of how that has

been done efficiently is the very quick response by

the security forces at the latest incident in Hurghada“,

Shamaa says, adding that this is only one of the

problems modern Egypt is currently facing.

EGYPT

Official Name:

Arab Republic of Egypt

Region: As a transcontinental

country, Egypt is spanning the

Northeast corner of Africa and the

Southwest corner of Asia via the

land bridge of the Sinai Peninsula.

It is bordered by the Gaza Strip

and Israel to the Northeast, the

Gulf of Aqaba to the East, the Red

Sea to the East and South, Sudan

to the South and Libya to the

West.

Area: 1,010,407.87 km2

Population: 90,4 million

(2016 estimate)

Language: Arabic

Religion: Muslim (90 %) Coptic

Christian (9 %), other Christians

(1 %).

Capital: Cairo

Currency: Egyptian Pound (EGP)

GDP: GDP 324,27 billion $

(2015 estimate, nominal)

GDP per capita: 3.724 $

(2015 estimate, nominal)

Government: Unitary semipresidential

republic.

Establishment: c. 3150 BC

The City Stars mall in Cairo.

Cairo, the capital of Egypt,

with the mighty Nile, seen

from a high above perspective.

Whether you are looking for an unforgettable

dive, the solitude of the desert, the never ending

pulse of Cairo or a certain touch of history – you

will find that and more in Egypt – ”where all

began“.

Restaurant San Giovanni,

Alexandria.

Bibliotheca Alexandrina.

30 Cercle Diplomatique 1/2016

Cercle Diplomatique 1/2016

31

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