News / Middle East

Egyptian Camel Riders Hope They'll Have a Say

Egypt's Camelmen Still Hope They'll Have a Sayi
|| 0:00:00
X
Elizabeth Arrott and Japhet Weeks
June 18, 2012
Egypt's political transition has hit more snags, with the ruling military council entrenching its position while promising to hand power to a civilian leadership. But one group in Egypt still holds hope that change will come. VOA's Elizabeth Arrott and Japhet Weeks have more on the camel and horse riders of the pyramids.
TEXT SIZE - +
Elizabeth ArrottJaphet Weeks
GIZA, Egypt - Egypt's political transition has hit more snags, with the ruling military council entrenching its position even as it promises to hand power to a civilian leadership.  But one group in Egypt still holds hope that change will come.

Egypt may be in flux, but out on the sands of the Giza Plateau, the Great Pyramids are a reminder that history is a long, slow process.

​Hany Mohamed El Sawi is a desert horseman. Sitting in an open hut offering shade from the scorching sun, el Sawi says Egyptians will be able to overcome anything. “We are a steadfast nation,” he says, 7,000 years old and “we're still standing.”

Many horse and camel riders at the Great Pyramids backed presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq as good for business, Giza, Egypt, June 17, 2012. (Y. Weeks/VOA)Many horse and camel riders at the Great Pyramids backed presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq as good for business, Giza, Egypt, June 17, 2012. (Y. Weeks/VOA)
x
Many horse and camel riders at the Great Pyramids backed presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq as good for business, Giza, Egypt, June 17, 2012. (Y. Weeks/VOA)
Many horse and camel riders at the Great Pyramids backed presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq as good for business, Giza, Egypt, June 17, 2012. (Y. Weeks/VOA)
El Sawi leads tourists through the desert by horse and camel. It's a family business, generations long. But since a revolution rocked Egypt 16 months ago and deposed long-time leader Hosni Mubarak, he and his fellow riders have seen their income all but dry up.

Tourists have stayed away, afraid of the instability and lack of security.  Even Egyptian customers are fewer, as the economy declines.

Which goes to explain why in the presidential vote that ended Sunday, many like el Sawi threw their support to the secular, old guard candidate Ahmed Shafiq.

He says Shafiq is on the scene - he understands tourism, he'll make it work.

El Sawi's relative Ramadan, who owns one of the family's stables, also voted for Shafiq. Even though Islamist candidate Mohamed Morsi gave assurances he is pro-tourism, Ramadan worries a Morsi victory would be another blow to his business.

“He doesn't like tourists to visit our area. Our country. Not only our area, our country. We hope Ahmed Shafiq wins. Not Morsi. If he wins, this area, maybe all the horse was killed,” said Ramadan.

As he walks through the stables, the horses seem healthy and content.  Often good businessmen, the riders are thought by many to be a conservative group, never more so than during the height of the uprising last year.  Horse and camel riders took to Tahrir Square wielding whips against anti-Mubarak protesters, solidifying their reputation as supporters of the status quo.

But el Sawi insists that the revolution was huge step forward for Egypt.

He praised the fact that now there is democracy, he can cast his ballot for whichever president and parliament he wants.

Unlike others, el Sawi says he does not mind that a Mubarak-era court dissolved the first post-uprising parliament last week. He says he will just vote again.

Despite the power struggle between the ruling military council and its Muslim Brotherhood opposition, back in the stables, Ramadan also imagines a future in which regular Egyptians have the final say in who runs the country.

“After four years, if he doesn't do good things for all the country, not only for us, for the country - we'll change him. This is everything in our hands,” said Ramadan.

With the events of recent days, Ramadan may seem overly optimistic. But then, these riders are taking the long view.

You May Like

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
June 22, 2012 11:07 AM
There's something that readers need to be aware of. Mubarak's National Democratic Party leaders paid these people to attack protesters in Tahrir Square last year. They promised them that they would reverse the orders given by Zahi Hawass, their arch-nemesis, to keep them from accessing the archaeological site to conduct rides. Fast forward to the elections, the reason these people are voting for Shafiq is he promised to fulfil the promise that was made last year, and Shafiq has the audacity to claim he had no role in the camel battle!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid