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Author Topic: MODERN EGYPT  (Read 6726 times)
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Posts: 3423

« Reply #165 on: December 17, 2009, 09:25:52 pm »


Desert tourism

Some critics say that Egypt should look at desert tourism rather than agriculture, which might not be sustainable or particularly profitable and could destroy fragile wildlife habitats that might otherwise be a drawcard for tourists.

A desert reclamation project last decade, south of Cairo, destroyed much of the Wadi Raiyan oasis and its population of slender horned gazelles.

"The price tag on these assets is huge, both as natural heritage and as a resource for tourism," said ecologist Saleh.

Saleh is vice president of an Egyptian firm that built an electricity-free ecolodge, consisting of rock salt and mud houses, amid olive and palm groves in the desert oasis of Siwa.

The lodge, which costs $400 per night and has attracted guests such as Britain's Prince Charles and Belgium's Queen Paola, shows that the desert would be better used for ecotourism than farming, he says.

"In Egypt, water is the most critical resource and we should be careful to use it to maximise revenue," Saleh explained. "Agriculture is not the best option for Egypt. Nature-based tourism could bring in much more money."

At the Desert Development Centre, irrigation water comes through a canal connected to the Nile, about 15km away, where it is used to keep crops flourishing and grass green for hardy hybrid cows to graze.

Experts at the centre believe greening the Sahara might be Egypt's best hope of bringing prosperity to its people.

Workers graft fruit-bearing plants onto the stems of plants that survive well in the desert. Favourite fruits are citrus as they flourish in hot climates and can land on supermarket shelves in Europe hours after harvesting.

Proximity to markets in Europe and a lack of pests, which usually thrive in humid environments, make desert farming economically viable, said Richard Tutwiler, director of the Desert Development Center at the American University in Cairo.

Water supply, Tutwiler said, shouldn't be an issue at least for the next ten years. It makes sense, he says, to expand agriculture onto land that was once useless.

"There is no frost and there is sun all the time here," he said. "Plants just go nuts."

« Last Edit: December 17, 2009, 09:26:35 pm by Qoais » Report Spam   Logged

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