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Coronavirus Fears Kept Many Tourists from Attending Sun Festival in Abu Simbel

Abu-Simbel temple's entrance was designed more than 3,000 years ago so that twice a year the sun would shine a beam into the inner sanctuary, illuminating three statues - Ramses II, his wife queen Nefertari, and god Amun - leaving the god of the underworld Ptah in darkness. This phenomenon known as "the Sun Orthogonality" occurs on the same two dates (Ramses II's birth on October 22, and his coronation day of February 22) each year,and tourists from around the world attend the event, some for sun-worshiping rituals and others for simply observing the phenomenon. According to the annual report of the U.N. World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) last year, Egypt's tourism sector saw a remarkable 21 percent growth in 2019, welcoming 13.6 million visitors. But this year, the number of visitors has declined as people travel less because of global concerns over coronavirus. One case of the virus was suspected in Egypt, but that person tested negative after quarantine.

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