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MODERN EGYPT

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Bianca
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« Reply #15 on: January 05, 2009, 10:28:54 pm »











These renovations in Sabil Street are just the latest in a long line of such works in the area commonly known as Islamic Cairo, which runs roughly from the Northern Gates of the Fatimid city wall down to Ibn Toloun Mosque and the Citadel in the south. Several hundred such monuments from the times of Saladin through to the 19th century have been listed by UNESCO since 1979, and each year a couple of dozens see the light magically renewed.

The primary value of such works is in saving the nation’s cultural and religious heritage. But the government is also very much aware of the area’s potential for boosting tourism.

“This renovation work cost Egyptian government LE 11 million, and although we have a close relationship with UNESCO, it was all paid for from our own funds,” said Al-Attar.

“We have more than a thousand Islamic and Coptic monuments just in Cairo, and it’s a problem for us. Today we opened four buildings. In other areas it is possible to restore just one or two buildings per year, but in Cairo we have to restore much faster, maybe 25 or 30 buildings per year. Because if we didn’t do that, they would just crumble.”

It seems the children of Islamic Cairo can look forward to plenty more high-level delegations in the coming years. Maybe next time it will be Suzanne Mubarak. 
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« Reply #16 on: January 05, 2009, 10:30:05 pm »










Clockwise from above:




the minaret and dome of Shaykhu mosque;

the minbar;

Hosni and Zaqzouq inspecting the restoration of the khanqah 's marble floor;

the main façade of sabil-kuttab Prince Abdullah
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« Reply #17 on: January 05, 2009, 10:31:34 pm »











9 - 15 October 2008
Issue No. 917

   
Published in Cairo by
AL-AHRAM established in 1875   





   
 
                                                      Mameluke makeover






Three restored Mameluke edifices in Cairo's Sayeda Zeinab district have reopened to the public. Nevine El-Aref attended last week's inaugural ceremony.
 
As Muslims were celebrating the end of the holy month of Ramadan, Culture Minister Farouk Hosni and Minister of Endowments Hamdi Zaqzouq attended the official reopening of three restored Islamic buildings in Al-Saliba Street in Sayeda Zeinab. The historic mosque and khanqah (hostel for itinerant Sufis) of Prince Shaykhu and the sabil-kuttab (water fountain and Quranic school) of Prince Abdullah Kathuda, which reflect the brilliance of the mediaeval Mameluke period when Islamic architecture flourished in Cairo, have been restored and are again open to the public.

All three monuments were suffering from the same classic problems: leakage of subterranean water, misuse by the area's residents, structural deterioration and serious environmental damage from air pollution, humidity and decaying foundations, and not least the effects of the 1992 earthquake which caused cracking to all three monuments and the collapse of some archaeological elements. Some parts of their original floors had completely vanished, as well as parts of their mashrabiya (wooden lattice work) façades.

"Restoring these monuments is a milestone in the efforts to preserve and protect Cairo's Islamic heritage," Hosni told the assembled guests and reporters. He said the opening marked the end of a 10-year restoration project that cost the ministry almost LE12 million.

Almost 140 Islamic monuments out of the 400 scheduled for restoration have reopened following completion of the work within the framework of the rehabilitation project, while the others are in the process of restitution. The overall vision is to develop the whole area as an open-air museum. So far 45 sabils, kuttabs, mosques, madrasas, wekalas (merchant centres), and khanqahs have been restored and are ready to open their doors to worshippers and visitors. "We will attempt to recapture the area's original fame and splendour after 100 years of negligence," Hosni said.
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« Reply #18 on: January 05, 2009, 10:32:37 pm »










In his speech at the opening ceremony, Zaqzouq stressed the strong amity and mutual cooperation between the ministries of endowments and culture, both of which he said had placed the preservation of Islamic monuments at the top of their list of priorities. "We are exerting all our efforts to protect and preserve Egypt's Islamic monuments, specially the mosques which are under mutual supervision and guardianship from both ministries," the minister said. He described the news recently published in the press about the waves on the surface in the relation between the ministries of endowments and culture as "a media boom".

The first monument to be inaugurated was the mosque of Prince Shaykhu, the commander-in- chief of the Mameluke army during the reign of Sultan Hassan. The great Arab historian Al-Maqrizi described this mosque as one of the most outstanding and beautiful mosques in all Egypt. Its façade is divided into five recessed walls crowned by tiers of muqarnas (honeycomb-like architectural ornamentation adorned with domes and cobles), below which are window openings. On the upper area is a band of inscription carved into the stone in naskh script (a style of Arabic calligraphy). The entrance, located on the left of the façade, is in the style of Mameluke portal design, consisting of an archway with a ceiling topped with a semi-circular dome adorned with muqarnas.
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« Reply #19 on: January 05, 2009, 10:33:29 pm »









The entrance is decorated with polychrome marble decoration, and the spandrels of the arch are adorned with vegetal leafy motifs carved into the stone. A slender minaret made up of three stories tops the entrance. The first and the second stories are octagonal, while the third is crowned by a pinnacle in the form of a small dome.

The minaret is identical in height and form to the minaret of the khanqah opposite. It is adorned with an inlaid casing of red and white stones, arranged in geometric pattern and made up of zigzag lines that assume the form of a linked chain of V-shaped letters.

The mosque is composed of a rectangular courtyard surrounded by four iwans (vaulted halls). Among the most distinguished features in the iwan al-qibla are the minbar (pulpit) and the dikkat al-muballigh (a raised area from which prayers are reiterated to worshippers).

The mosque's minbar is made of stone carved with beautiful geometric decoration.

"This minbar is considered to be one of the very few surviving examples of that kind in Cairo, since almost all pulpits are wooden constructions," Mohsen Sayed, director of Islamic and Coptic monuments section, told Al-Ahram Weekly. He continued that the dikkat al-muballigh, which is also made of stone, is thought to be the first stone dais in Egypt, while daises built of wood and marble were more familiar.
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« Reply #20 on: January 05, 2009, 10:36:09 pm »










The third monument is the sabil-kuttab of Prince Abdullah Kathuda, who was the patron of architecture of his time. The edifice offers richness and ingenuity in its decorative architectural style. It consisted originally of a sabil - kuttab, a house, bakery and a group of bazaars, but through the ages most of this complex had vanished except for the sabil-kuttab and remains of the house as well as three bazaars. The splendid monument is a two- storey building divided into two connected parts; the sabil-kuttab and the houses. The architecture of the sabil-kuttab is typically Mameluke, with mashrabiya façades and with living apartments with a wide open court and four chambers.

Zahi Hawass, secretary-general of the SCA, said all the restoration had been carried out according to the latest and most scientific methods. "Every effort was made to ensure that all original architectural features were retained," he said.

Hawass added that the restoration of the sabil- kuttab had two important advantages: individual monuments were being preserved for future generations, and the entire neighbourhood was being revived and upgraded.

Abdallah El-Attar, consultant of Islamic and Coptic antiquities at the SCA, said the aim of the restoration was chiefly to strengthen the foundations and protect them from future damage. This was achieved using the "micro- pile system" which, he said, was the installation of sharp pointed columns beneath the archaeological complex to reinforce its foundations. The walls were reinforced, missing and decayed stones were replaced and masonry cleaned and desalinated. The edifice now stands as proudly as it did in the past.
 

 


© Copyright Al-Ahram Weekly.



http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/01/photogalleries/Egypt-pictures/
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« Reply #21 on: January 05, 2009, 10:37:54 pm »











                           Egyptian Minister of Tourism to open ATS Annual Fall Conference






TravelDailyNews
Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The American Tourism Society (ATS) Annual Fall Conference will take place in Cairo, Egypt, October 27-30, 2008, under the auspices of H.E. Zoheir Garranah, Egyptian Minister of Tourism. Mr. Amr El-Ezaby, Chairman, Egyptian Tourist Authority (ETA) will join H.E. Zoheir Garranah to officially open the conference on Tuesday, October 28th at the five-star Sofitel Cairo El Gezirah Hotel. Renowned Egyptian Archaeologist, Dr. Zahi Hawass, Secretary General, Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, will be the keynote speaker. H.E. Akel Biltaji, Chair of the ATS Mediterranean/Red Sea Council Region will officially call the meeting to order.

The three-day conference, the first ever ATS meeting in Egypt, will be jam-packed with key tourism industry sessions in the mornings and afternoon tours to some of the famous sights and sounds of Cairo including The Egyptian Museum, the Citadel of Salah El-Din, Mohammed Ali Mosque, the Khan El Khalily Bazaar (a shopper’s paradise), and the Pyramids and the Sphinx, part of a World Heritage Site region, and the only ancient Wonder of the World still standing.

Following a welcome reception on Monday evening October 27, the first conference sessions will take place on Tuesday, October 28. In addition to H.E. Zoheir Garranah, Mr. El -Ezaby, and Dr. Hawass, other opening day speakers will include H.E. the Hon. Margaret Scobey, United States Ambassador to Egypt, David T. Parry, ATS Chairman and Chairman, Academic Travel Abroad, Phil Otterson, ATS President and Executive Vice President Internal Affairs, Tauck World Discovery, Don Reynolds, ATS Executive Vice President. Alex Harris, ATS Co-founder and Hon. Chairman and Chairman, General Tours, will present the first annual Alexander W. Harris Founder’s Award.

One of the program highlights of opening day will be the “Presidents Panel” featuring the Presidents of major travel industry organizations including Bob Whitley, United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA), Bruce Beckham, Tourism Cares, Robin Tauck, Tauck World Discovery, Lisa Simon, National Tour Association, as well as a representatives of the American Egypt Chamber of Commerce and the Egyptian Tourism Federation. The panel will be moderated by Cathleen Johnson, Executive Vice President, Edelman Public Relations International.

Phil Otterson will give an overview of the expansion of the ATS Tourism College initiative “now an integral part of each conference. This is in keeping with the ATS policy that the organization gives back something to the destinations where it meets.” This year the ATS Tourism College program will take place on Sunday, October 26, at the Helwan University, prior to the opening of the ATS Conference itself. The sessions will focus on two topics suggested by the Helwan University professors, E-Marketing led by ATS Board Member, Dave Spinelli, Global Web Solutions and Mike Wargo, Travelocity; The Market for Special Interest and Cultural Travel session will be led by David Parry, ATS Chairman and Chairman, Academic Travel Abroad.  A large number of students are expected to participate in Sunday’s seminar while 50 students will participate each day of the conference itself.

The ATS Conference program on Wednesday, October 29, will feature ATS Tourism College  initiatives and educational sessions that focus on greater interaction with the local travel industry partners, as well as expand on the Tourism College training program.

A US Tour operator panel, moderated by Bob Whitley, President USTOA, will target the Egyptian delegates, focusing on “Trends in North American Tourism.” The first keynote speaker for the Wednesday Sessions will be Bruce Beckham, President, Tourism Cares, who will present “Tourism Cares – Restoring the Past, Preserving the Future.” The second keynote address for that day will be given by El Hamy El Zayat, Chairman, EMECO Travel, who will provide the American delegates with an overview “Trends in Egyptian Tourism.” The Egyptian Tourism Federation will present a panel on “Egypt: Realities vs. Perception,” moderated by Mohamed Salmawy, President, Egyptian Writers Union followed by an update “Tourism 4 Peace” presented by Mr. Rafi Baeri, Dan Hotels, Israel.

American Express Company, represented by ATS Board Member, Donna Flora, Sr. VP, Travel Industry Relations, will host all ATS delegates for a final Gala Dinner at the famous Mena House Oberoi, adjacent to the Pyramids.

Post Conference Five-Night National Tour Association (NTA) Product Development Cruise on the Nile.

The ATS post-conference National Tour Association Product Development Tour will be a luxurious Nile Cruise on the inaugural voyage of the new 5-star deluxe Tamar Henna. Delegates will have the opportunity to view Egypt’s splendors from the comfort of the deck, and then disembark to more intimately experience the unparalleled sights of these exceptional ancient cities. The first ATS / NTA partnership initiative, the cruise will provide Egypt with an opportunity to introduce new tour operators to some of the more famous highlights of Ancient Egypt.

All ATS conference tours and land arrangements are being handled by Wings Tours, the official ATS Conference Ground Operator. Egypt Air, the official ATS conference carrier, will be offering special rates for ATS delegates. As it enters a new era of expansion, Egypt Air is now a partner in the Star Alliance.
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« Reply #22 on: January 05, 2009, 10:46:15 pm »












                                                              BLOOMING IN CAIRO






Written by John Feeney •

A daring “green” experiment closely linked to Cairo’s past is blossoming in an unlikely spot—next to the city’s ancient eastern ramparts, on the site of a vast, almost equally ancient rubbish dump. For half a millennium, residents had tossed and hauled household garbage and building debris “over the wall,” creating a hilly landfill that rose as high as 40 meters (130') in the medieval heart of Cairo. Today, the site has been turned into a park modeled on the traditional Islamic garden, offering peace and quiet, and a view like no other.

The $30-million park project was spearheaded by the Aga Khan, whose family ties to Cairo date back to its founding by the Fatimids in 969. A thousand years later, in November 1984, as part of his interest in inviting local residents to contribute to the modernization of the Muslim world, the Aga Khan called a conference entitled “The Expanding Metropolis: Coping with the Urban Growth of Cairo” to address the city’s rapid population growth, the decline in the quality of its housing and associated problems.

When the meeting concluded, the Aga Khan decided to give a park to the city as a substantive contribution. He had a vision of providing Cairo with a large, open public area with trees, flowers and running water, in the manner of a traditional Islamic garden, “which would enhance the life of local communities” and also serve as a case study for a variety of modern urban development challenges. A park, he thought, would be an ideal gift, if only enough space could be found in this teeming city of 17 million souls where, according to one report, the amount of green space per resident was only about 350 square centimeters—the area of a man’s footprint.

By comparison, densely populated Miami has about 14 square meters of park per resident (150 square feet, or 400 times as much as Cairo)—and Cairo has no beaches.

A short time later, a most unlikely large, open space was suggested for the park: a 30-hectare (74-acre) desert area called al-Darassa, just outside the walls that enclosed Fatimid Cairo. A more desolate location—though occupied by a police horse stables—could hardly be imagined. Since no other land was available, the site was selected, and a bold plan was drawn up to lay out a lush green park with trees, pavilions and running water atop centuries of accumulated debris. It was a most derelict spot, but also a most historic one. Overlooking al-Darassa to the south stood the 11th-century Citadel, built by Salah al-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub (Saladin), whose Ayyubid dynasty supplanted the Fatimids. To the west lay the 12th-century Ayyubid city, a densely packed area of crowded tenements, domes, minarets and mosques forming one of the richest treasure houses of Islamic architecture in the world. To the east sprawled the vast 15th-century Mamluk City of the Dead, with its ornate mausolea.

About 1500 meters (1 mi) from al-Darassa stood one of the oldest universities in the world, Al-Azhar, “the most blooming,” founded by the Aga Khan’s ancestors a dozen years after they began building Cairo. The new public area was named Al-Azhar Park, after the university.
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« Reply #23 on: January 05, 2009, 10:47:16 pm »










But there was a problem. While the Cairo police horses could be moved to greener pastures with relative ease, three giant water reservoirs—each 80 meters (260') in diameter and 14 meters (46') deep—were slated to be installed in al-Darassa to provide much-needed drinking water for Greater Cairo. Undaunted, the planners decided to lay out the new park over the covers of the new water reservoirs, which thus had to be completed before work on the new park could begin.

With the assistance of Sasaki Associates of Boston, developers created a new master plan before the reservoirs were completed in 1995. The park would be built on a grand scale, based on the traditional Islamic gardens of the past: There would be shaded takhtaboush sitting areas, Persian and Timurid elements in the park’s water channels and a bustan, or orchard.

In 1996, the police horses were sent packing and the Cairo Governorate released the site to the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC). The project grew to include rehabilitation of the Darb al-Ahmar district immediately to the west as well as the restoration of several important monuments on the skyline of the old city: the 14th-century Um Sultan Shaaban Mosque and the Khayrbek Complex, which includes a 13th-century palace, a mosque and an Ottoman-era house. A school and 19 residences were also embraced in the project, and parallel social-development schemes involved a housing-credit plan and a microfinance program that gave local residents opportunities to restore their own houses and start small businesses. The trust had done similar projects in Hunza in Pakistan, in Samarkand and in Zanzibar, but this was its biggest and most complex undertaking ever.

In 1997, a team of Egyptian, French, Italian and American architects, engineers and landscape and horticultural specialists started work on the park. A fleet of earth-moving machines began the job of carting away 500 years of rubble —tens of thousands of truckloads amounting to more than 1.5 million cubic meters (1.96 million cu yd)—more than half the volume of the Great Pyramid. Then the excavators made a most unexpected discovery. On the west flank of al-Darassa, under rubbish mounds 30 meters (100') deep, they uncovered a totally buried section of the 12th-century Ayyubid wall built to protect Cairo, complete with its gates, towers, interior chambers, passageways and galleries. The AKTC called the find “one of the most important archeological discoveries of the past decades” relating to medieval Egypt. Plans were changed to incorporate the newly discovered wall into a broader project: It would be restored and used to both set off and link the new park and the old Ayyubid city.

Water, of course, was a key aspect of the project. The builders of the big Mughal gardens of India which, like the new Al-Azhar Park, covered whole hillsides, had paid careful attention to this. Luckily, a large-diameter water pipeline passed nearby that carried water from the Nile to an agricultural area, and a new spur was built to the park site. Agricultural soil and sand were trucked in.
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« Reply #24 on: January 05, 2009, 10:49:58 pm »










At the same time, stonecutters working in a quarry in the nearby Moqattam Hills (where the casing of the Giza Pyramids had also been quarried) began carving out the thousands of limestone blocks required to build the park’s pavilions. Marble to line the waterways and fountains came from a quarry near Suez, more was brought from Carrara, Italy, and some specially colored marble came from as far away as India.

Meanwhile, horticulturalists took special steps to make the barren site bloom. Experiments to determine the best plant varieties to use in the park continued for five years at the American University in Cairo’s desert agricultural research center. Special nurseries were established to propagate some two million plants, and more than 665,000 plants—trees, shrubs, grass, climbers, succulents and ground cover—were established.

By 2004, 20 years after the Aga Khan had broached the idea, Al-Azhar Park was ready to receive its first visitors. It offered what many of the thousands of Cairenes who flocked there had only dreamed of—or perhaps read about in Castilian envoy Ruy Gonzáles de Clavijo’s account of his visit to Tamerlane’s garden in Samarkand in 1403: There was a great garden with many shade trees and all kinds of fruit trees, with channels of water flowing amongst them.

The garden was so large, great numbers of people enjoyed themselves in the summer, with great delight, by the fountain and under the shade of the trees.

As in the Mughal gardens of India, visitors enter the park through an imposing arched pavilion where a dozen foaming jets of water shoot out of the marble-lined pavement before them.

To the left of the fountains, a broad, palm-lined avenue stretches south to a startling view of the Citadel and the Muhammad Ali Mosque. Shaded resting places on both sides of the walk provide refuge from the summer sun.
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« Reply #25 on: January 05, 2009, 10:51:00 pm »










In the opposite direction, another stone-paved avenue leads to the green hills covering the three underground reservoirs. The top of the central one offers panoramic views of Cairo’s domes and minarets. From this spot, on a clear day, one can see as far as the Pyramids of Giza, across the Nile some 15 kilometers (9 mi) to the southwest.

The park’s northernmost hill is surmounted by a grove of date palms, a playground and a five-star restaurant designed by Egyptian architects to recall the Fatimid archways in nearby medieval Cairo. In the entrance court, flush with the floor, plays an eight-jet mosaic marble fountain of the traditional design used to cool the interiors of Cairo’s medieval houses. From there, a narrow, marble-channeled stream flows down the center of almost the entire park. It irrigates formal Islamic gardens of plants and flowers, rests awhile in quiet pools, then murmurs off down a sloping chute, called a chadar in the Mughal gardens, carved to make the water ripple and glisten in the sunlight. On through the park, the water irrigates the bustan of mango and orange trees and flows down to a tranquil lake.

In keeping with the Mughal architectural concept of setting a pavilion on a water surface, the Lakeside Café appears to float. Here, as in the five-star restaurant, water flows through the interior, cooling the tree-filled courtyards. There is another takhtaboush sitting area for visitors, who can look out across the lake to sweeping views of Cairo’s domes and minarets, hypnotically beautiful when silhouetted by a flaming sunset. To enhance an evening’s magic, lanterns set low to the ground light the park at night.

The construction of Al-Azhar Park out of a 500-year-old rubbish mound took more than 20 years, but the dream has been fulfilled. Cairo’s medieval midden now enhances the lives of Cairenes. Taking its cue from the 1000-year-old Al-Azhar University, “the most blooming,” the new park is meant to flower for another thousand years, offering a place of peace and contentment to generations of Cairenes.





 Filmmaker, photographer, writer, chef and friend, New Zealand–born John Feeney contributed
articles and photographs, mostly from his beloved Egypt, to

Aramco World and Saudi Aramco World for some 35 years until his death in 2006. 
 

 

This article appeared on pages 12-17 of the July/August 2008 print edition of Saudi Aramco World.
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« Reply #26 on: January 05, 2009, 10:52:42 pm »











                           Egyptian Minister of Tourism to open ATS Annual Fall Conference






TravelDailyNews
Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The American Tourism Society (ATS) Annual Fall Conference will take place in Cairo, Egypt, October 27-30, 2008, under the auspices of H.E. Zoheir Garranah, Egyptian Minister of Tourism. Mr. Amr El-Ezaby, Chairman, Egyptian Tourist Authority (ETA) will join H.E. Zoheir Garranah to officially open the conference on Tuesday, October 28th at the five-star Sofitel Cairo El Gezirah Hotel. Renowned Egyptian Archaeologist, Dr. Zahi Hawass, Secretary General, Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, will be the keynote speaker. H.E. Akel Biltaji, Chair of the ATS Mediterranean/Red Sea Council Region will officially call the meeting to order.

The three-day conference, the first ever ATS meeting in Egypt, will be jam-packed with key tourism industry sessions in the mornings and afternoon tours to some of the famous sights and sounds of Cairo including The Egyptian Museum, the Citadel of Salah El-Din, Mohammed Ali Mosque, the Khan El Khalily Bazaar (a shopper’s paradise), and the Pyramids and the Sphinx, part of a World Heritage Site region, and the only ancient Wonder of the World still standing.

Following a welcome reception on Monday evening October 27, the first conference sessions will take place on Tuesday, October 28. In addition to H.E. Zoheir Garranah, Mr. El -Ezaby, and Dr. Hawass, other opening day speakers will include H.E. the Hon. Margaret Scobey, United States Ambassador to Egypt, David T. Parry, ATS Chairman and Chairman, Academic Travel Abroad, Phil Otterson, ATS President and Executive Vice President Internal Affairs, Tauck World Discovery, Don Reynolds, ATS Executive Vice President. Alex Harris, ATS Co-founder and Hon. Chairman and Chairman, General Tours, will present the first annual Alexander W. Harris Founder’s Award.

One of the program highlights of opening day will be the “Presidents Panel” featuring the Presidents of major travel industry organizations including Bob Whitley, United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA), Bruce Beckham, Tourism Cares, Robin Tauck, Tauck World Discovery, Lisa Simon, National Tour Association, as well as a representatives of the American Egypt Chamber of Commerce and the Egyptian Tourism Federation. The panel will be moderated by Cathleen Johnson, Executive Vice President, Edelman Public Relations International.

Phil Otterson will give an overview of the expansion of the ATS Tourism College initiative “now an integral part of each conference. This is in keeping with the ATS policy that the organization gives back something to the destinations where it meets.” This year the ATS Tourism College program will take place on Sunday, October 26, at the Helwan University, prior to the opening of the ATS Conference itself. The sessions will focus on two topics suggested by the Helwan University professors, E-Marketing led by ATS Board Member, Dave Spinelli, Global Web Solutions and Mike Wargo, Travelocity; The Market for Special Interest and Cultural Travel session will be led by David Parry, ATS Chairman and Chairman, Academic Travel Abroad.  A large number of students are expected to participate in Sunday’s seminar while 50 students will participate each day of the conference itself.

The ATS Conference program on Wednesday, October 29, will feature ATS Tourism College  initiatives and educational sessions that focus on greater interaction with the local travel industry partners, as well as expand on the Tourism College training program.

A US Tour operator panel, moderated by Bob Whitley, President USTOA, will target the Egyptian delegates, focusing on “Trends in North American Tourism.” The first keynote speaker for the Wednesday Sessions will be Bruce Beckham, President, Tourism Cares, who will present “Tourism Cares – Restoring the Past, Preserving the Future.” The second keynote address for that day will be given by El Hamy El Zayat, Chairman, EMECO Travel, who will provide the American delegates with an overview “Trends in Egyptian Tourism.” The Egyptian Tourism Federation will present a panel on “Egypt: Realities vs. Perception,” moderated by Mohamed Salmawy, President, Egyptian Writers Union followed by an update “Tourism 4 Peace” presented by Mr. Rafi Baeri, Dan Hotels, Israel.

American Express Company, represented by ATS Board Member, Donna Flora, Sr. VP, Travel Industry Relations, will host all ATS delegates for a final Gala Dinner at the famous Mena House Oberoi, adjacent to the Pyramids.

Post Conference Five-Night National Tour Association (NTA) Product Development Cruise on the Nile.

The ATS post-conference National Tour Association Product Development Tour will be a luxurious Nile Cruise on the inaugural voyage of the new 5-star deluxe Tamar Henna. Delegates will have the opportunity to view Egypt’s splendors from the comfort of the deck, and then disembark to more intimately experience the unparalleled sights of these exceptional ancient cities. The first ATS / NTA partnership initiative, the cruise will provide Egypt with an opportunity to introduce new tour operators to some of the more famous highlights of Ancient Egypt.

All ATS conference tours and land arrangements are being handled by Wings Tours, the official ATS Conference Ground Operator. Egypt Air, the official ATS conference carrier, will be offering special rates for ATS delegates. As it enters a new era of expansion, Egypt Air is now a partner in the Star Alliance.
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« Reply #27 on: January 05, 2009, 10:55:19 pm »










                                                 Open doors to sunny shores


Archaeologists working around the Mediterranean met two weeks ago in Cairo to discuss intercultural


                                       relations between the countries of the region,






reports Nevine El-Aref
Al Ahram,
Cairo
Nov. 28, 2008





Anticlockwise from top:

imported jugs from Cyprus;
Narmer's palet;
painted tiles from Medinet Habu;
the exhibition gate at the Egyptian Museum;
Hawass and Kim;
a painted tile;
a shipwreck;
Khufu's solar boat


photos courtesy of
NVIC
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 



Far from being a modern concept that came to pass only with the formation of the European Union and the Barcelona process, the dialogue between the different cultures of the Mediterranean region has been in place since time immemorial. This is becoming increasingly clear as more and more archaeological finds are discovered. Indeed, considering the Mediterranean as an entity deserving research in its own right has recently become a topic of discussion.

In the light of the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue, the Netherlands-Flemish Institute in Cairo (NVIC) organised a conference to look into intercultural contacts in the region. This was the first international convention to address this topic in a southern Mediterranean country.

The conference focussed on theoretical and methodological issues related to the study of intercultural contacts in archaeology on the one hand, and on actual case studies of intercultural contact on the other.

Papers presented at the meeting dealt with a wide variety of topics, including the methods and theory of the study of contacts in archaeology, immigration patterns in different countries including Egypt, trade and exchange, the import and local imitation of foreign objects, the adoption of foreign religious ideas, influences in artistic and architectural styles and seafaring. Although ancient Egypt is often seen by the wider public as a unique, united and rather isolated culture, the presentations made clear that Egypt had many and far- reaching contacts all over the Mediterranean. Not only did Egyptian objects and ideas reach the furthest corners of the region, but Mediterranean people, ideas and objects were also welcomed in Egypt itself.

Seven internationally renowned speakers presented keynote addresses, including Manfred Bietak, the director of the Austrian Institute for Archaeology in Cairo and the director of the excavations at Tell Al-Dabaa in the Nile Delta.

Bietak explained that over the last nine years the Austrian Academy of Sciences had carried out a large research programme in order to synchronise the divergent regional chronologies of the second millennium BC. Sciences and humanities were combined for this programme to include dendro- chronology, Egyptian and Mesopotamian historical chronologies, and archaeological branches of most of the eastern Mediterranean, especially ceramic research. Very helpful were index markers such as Levantine painted ware, different groups of Eell Al-Yahudiay ware, Kamares ware, Middle and Late Cypriot pottery varieties and Mycenaen ware, which mark specific datum lines with their first appearance in the local markets of the Eastern Mediterranean. With their help and with a control of combinations of ceramic types and other artefacts, it was possible to create a dense network of data for a common chronology. For the time being, Bietak continued, this was based on historical Egyptian chronology. A datum line was also created with a first appearance of pumice of the Minoan Thera eruption not before the late Bronze Age in the Levant and not before the beginning of the Tuthmoside period in Egypt.

"The evidence makes it highly likely that the Thera eruption did not happen in the second half of the 17th century BC, as radio carbon dates suggest, but around 1500 BC," Bietak said.
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« Reply #28 on: January 07, 2009, 07:22:53 pm »










                                                  DIGGING IT:   ARCHAEOLOGY IN EGYPT







 

Dr. Mark Lehner describes the ARCE field school,
which teaches Egyptian students archeology

(Staff photo N. Hamedani).
 
   
AT AN OCT. 6 presentation at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, DC, Dr. Mark Lehner, director of Ancient Egypt Research Associates (AERA), discussed archeological endeavors in Egypt “as cultural capacity building.” More specifically, his lecture focused on how archeology in Egypt opens the door to exchanges between Egyptians and foreigners.

Beginning his remarks with a dreamlike photograph of the Pyramids of Giza, Lehner noted that just as “in the popular imagination there’s kind of a fog around the pyramids, as far as who built them and why,” there also is a “fog that surrounds the contemporary Middle East” for many Westerners.

The scholar has excavated in Egypt for over 30 years, producing the only scaled maps of the Giza Sphinx. His more recent focus has been on uncovering the lost city that would have housed the 20,000 to 30,000 pyramid workers.

Under Lehner’s direction, the American Research Center in Egypt’s (ARCE) field school receives financial support from a USAID Egyptian Antiquities Conservation grant, among other international cultural philanthropic and academic organizations. While he considers the field school as “cultural capacity building from the bottom-up”—that being the “robustness behind all successful business organizations”—Lehner acknowledged that the support from the top-down “allows us to be successful, to make change.”

ARCE works with the Egyptian system, explained Lehner, who has a longstanding working relationship with Dr. Zahi Hawass, secretary-general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities.  When an excavation takes place in Egypt, Lehner said, an Egyptian inspector is assigned to the project by law. However, he added, they are “there for a legal reason, but they are not very empowered.” The Egyptian inspectors usually graduated from Cairo University with a monument degree, or a focus on Egyptology as art history, Lehner said, meaning they had little hands-on practice in contemporary archeological practices. Through ARCE, Egyptian inspectors are rotated in to work side-by-side with contract archeologists from around the world and the field school’s local students.

An interdisciplinary approach is being taken in reconstructing the lost city [of Giza], using the standards of “settlement archeology,” which examines not only sediment layers, but pottery remains, bone fragments, plant remains, and so on. This approach enables the archeologists to reconstruct what life would have been like for the builders of the Giza pyramids, right down to their food sources.

Unfortunately, Lehner lamented, although his field school observes the strictest of excavation rules, it more frequently is the case that “information is being destroyed all over Egypt” due to inexperience and inadequate practice.

In an effort to counter this trend, the ARCE field school has published manuals and offers a rigorous lecture series nightly, along with tutorials and exams, so that the students and inspectors who graduate are fully equipped.

Many of the inspectors, who already are in charge of overseeing excavations, go on to provide lectures in Arabic about what they learned at ARCE, which Lehner described as the largest mission in Giza that is so international in scope. In fact, ARCE’s holiday card had to be written in 15 languages—including Japanese, Turkish, Swedish, Norwegian, French, English and Arabic.




—Nina Hamedani
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« Reply #29 on: January 14, 2009, 09:34:46 am »










                               Hieroglyphics Cracked 1,000 Years Earlier Than Thought






ScienceDaily
(Oct. 7, 2004)

— Western scholars were not the first to decipher the ancient language of the pharaohs, according to a new book that will be published later this year by a UCL researcher.

Dr Okasha El Daly of UCL’s Institute of Archaeology will reveal that Arabic scholars not only took a keen interest in ancient Egypt but also correctly interpreted hieroglyphics in the ninth century AD – almost 1,000 years earlier than previously thought.

It has long been thought that Jean-Francois Champollion was the first person to crack hieroglyphics in 1822 using newly discovered Egyptian antiquities such as the Rosetta stone. But fresh analysis of manuscripts tucked away in long forgotten collections scattered across the globe prove that Arabic scholars got there first.

Dr Okasha El Daly, of UCL’s Institute of Archaeology, explains:

“For two and a half centuries the study of Egyptology has been dominated by a Euro-centric view, which has virtually ignored over a thousand years of Arabic scholarship and enquiry encouraged by Islam.

“Prior to Napoleonic times little was known in the West about the ancient civilisation of Egypt except what had been recorded in the Bible. It was assumed that the world of the pharaohs had long since been forgotten by Egyptians, who were thought to have been incorporated into the expanding Islamic world by the seventh century.

“But this overhasty conclusion ignores the vast contribution of medieval Arabic scholars and others between the seventh and 16th centuries. In reality a huge corpus of medieval writing by both scholars and ordinary people exists that dates from long before the earliest European Renaissance. Analysis reveals that not only did Moslems have a deep interest in the study of Ancient Egypt, they could also correctly decipher hieroglyphic script.”

Following the Roman invasion of Egypt in 30 BC the use of hieroglyphics began to die out with the last known writing in the fifth century AD.

While Western medieval commentators believed that hieroglyphics were symbols each representing a single concept Dr El Daly has shown that Arab scholars grasped the fundamental principle that hieroglyphics could represent sounds as well as ideas.

Using his unique expertise in both Egyptology and medieval Arabic writers, Dr El Daly began a seven year investigation of Arabic writing on ancient Egypt.

“The manuscripts were scattered worldwide in private as well as public collections and were mostly not catalogued. Even when they were, they were often wrongly classified so I had to go through each one individually - it is not like researching in modern books with an index which you can check for relevant information,” says Dr El Daly.

“A specialist in only Arabic or Islamic studies reading these manuscripts would fail to grasp their significance to Egyptology. Conversely Egyptologists think that Arabs and Moslems had nothing useful to say about ancient Egypt, so there wasn’t any need to look at manuscripts that were mainly the domain of scholars within the disciplines of Arabic/Oriental studies.”
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