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 9:35 PM
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.
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

Polls Open in Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

China-India Border Standoff Continues as Leaders Hold Summit

New Delhi accuses hundreds of Chinese soldiers of illegally entering Indian territory in disputed region of Ladakh More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country 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.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid