News / Middle East

Egyptian Tourist Haunts Rejoice at Morsi's Downfall

A man waits tourists at a souvenirs shop at the Khan el-Khalili market in Old Cairo, March 17, 2013.
A man waits tourists at a souvenirs shop at the Khan el-Khalili market in Old Cairo, March 17, 2013.
Reuters
These days there may be more mummies than tourists in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, and few footprints in the sand around the Pyramids.

Visitors to Cairo's wonders are scarce, a little over a week after the military deposed the first freely elected leader and deadly street violence shook the capital, making life harder for the millions of Egyptians who depend on tourism.

But for those making a living from the visitors, there are signs of hope. They are glad to see the back of ousted president Mohammed Morsi, believing his Islamist rule would have killed tourism.

“I'm smiling from ear to ear, even though we haven't seen a disaster for our business this bad in all our lives,” said Mohammed Khodar in front of his perfume shop - one of the few businesses around the Pyramids that is not shuttered.

“Under Morsi prices rose, there was violence and the tourists went to beach resorts, not here. We want a democracy that can help with tourism, not religious rule,” he said.

Before the 2011 uprising that ousted Egypt's veteran autocrat Hosni Mubarak, tourism was worth more than a tenth of Egypt's economic output. In 2010, 14.7 million visitors came and generated $12.5 billion in earnings.

Morsi's government raised taxes on alcohol in December but backed down after the move was criticized by the tourism sector and by liberals.

The appointment of a member of a hardline former militant group as the governor of Luxor - home to the country's greatest Pharaonic temples - led many to wonder whether the government was committed to its ideology at the expense of development.

“We felt this contempt for our archeological sites in their rhetoric, that they somehow represented paganism,” said Ahmed El-Khadem, a former chairman of the Egypt Tourism Authority and now shadow tourism minister for a liberal party.

El-Khadem says that while the current instability has scared off tourists from Cairo, the army was right to intervene in politics and oust the Islamists.

“How could you blame the doctor for saving the patient's life?” he asked. “It hurts now, but it will get better.”

For its part, Morsi and members of his Muslim Brotherhood's political wing said they were committed to maintaining a welcoming atmosphere for tourism and improving the industry.

In the first quarter of 2013, about three million tourists visited Egypt, a 14.6 percent rise from the same period last year, Hisham Zaazou, tourism minister appointed by the ousted government, said in May.

“Total desperation”

In happier times at Cairo's Egyptian Museum, hundreds would jostle to catch a glimpse of King Tut's golden burial mask or Ramses II's 3,000-year-old features.

Now, the occasional visitor snaps pictures of armored personnel carriers lined up outside.

“There were whole rooms empty, with just soldiers walking around in them.  It looks like they were bored and trying to get out of the heat,” said one recent U.S. college graduate, adding that she hadn't told her parents of her Egypt visit lest they worry.

At the Pyramids, horse and buggy drivers desperate for fares pound on the windows of taxis carrying tourists.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs