Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Egypt Copyrighting the Pyramids!

Here's a Christmas gift for Egypt, Egyptians & Egyptian Antiquities !

From http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7160057.stm

Egypt's MPs are expected to pass a law requiring royalties be paid whenever copies are made of museum pieces or ancient monuments such as the pyramids.

Zahi Hawass, who chairs Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, told the BBC the law would apply in all countries.

The money was needed to maintain thousands of pharaonic sites, he said.

Correspondents say the law will deal a blow to themed resorts across the world where large-scale copies of Egyptian artefacts are a crowd-puller.

Mr Hawass said the law would apply to full-scale replicas of any object in any museum in Egypt.

Entrance to Luxor casino, Las Vegas
Las Vegas' Luxor complex mimics Egyptian monuments
"Commercial use" of ancient monuments like the pyramids or the sphinx would also be controlled, he said.

"Even if it is for private use, they must have permission from the Egyptian government," he added.

But he said the law would not stop local and international artists reproducing monuments as long as they were not exact replicas.

The Luxor hotel in the US city of Las Vegas would also not be affected because it was not an exact copy of a pyramid and its interior was completely different, Mr Hawass told AFP news agency.

But he said claims by the hotel that it was "the only pyramid-shaped building in the world" could no longer be made.

The announcement came two days after an Egyptian newspaper called on the hotel to pay a share of its profits to the central Egyptian city of Luxor, which administers the ancient Valley of the Kings burial site.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Great Bargaining Game

A friend of mine has written a beautiful piece on Bargaining in Bombay. A lot of what she said is applicable to Cairo too.

So for those of you who are fed up / jaded / disgusted / exhilarated ......... by bargaining in Egypt, this is quite an interesting article to read.

Here's an excerpt to get you interested enough to click the link below :)

So I sat down to explain it to my American friend. I said, shopping in India is a state of mind, a game that you play. To treat this overcharging-bargaining game as a personal insult, or worse, to think of yourself as a victim because this doesn't happen in your country, is just totally missing the point.

Read the entire article on Deepa's blog : Mumbai Magic

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Cities of the Dead off the tourist route

Cairo's Cities of the Dead houses thousands of tombs and also thousands of people who cannot afford to live elsewhere.

Cairo's Cities of the Dead houses thousands of tombs and also thousands of people who cannot afford to live elsewhere.
Photo: David Wroe

SUNLIGHT falls through a hole in the crown of the beehive-shaped tomb that Saad Mahmoud and his family call home, illuminating an oblong gravestone that serves as a kitchen table.

Mr Mahmoud's daughter, taking a break from washing clothes that will be strung up between other tombs to dry, stands at the gravestone and pours tea into chipped glass cups.

Nearby, one of the Mahmoud family's neighbours known as Umm Antar — meaning Mother of Antar — tends to the graves of wealthier families.

Thirty years ago, Umm Antar's husband ran off with another woman, leaving her with no money and four daughters to feed. She was forced to go and live among Cairo's dead — and become something of a tourist attraction.

These are the people who have been pushed to the margins of Egyptian society by Cairo's housing squeeze and wealth gap — victims of misfortune and neglect who the Egyptian Government now wants to make invisible.

The Cities of the Dead, the sprawling cemeteries in central Cairo where an estimated 600,000 people live, often in small tombs without electricity or water, are having a "damaging impact on Egypt's civilised image", according to a letter sent out to Egyptian tourism operators.

Egypt's Interior Ministry is threatening to strip travel agents of their licences if they arrange tours to the cemeteries or allow tourists to photograph the necropolis and its residents. It has also closed key tourist attractions within the cemeteries including the Qaitbey mosque — which features on Egypt's one pound note — in a bid to keep foreigners away.

The letter, sent by the tourism peak body to travel agents at the behest of the ministry, says "photos taken and conversations held by tourists with residents" are damaging Egypt's image and states the Tourism and Antiquities Police have "permanently banned" tours and photography.

Despite Egypt's being the darling of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank for its pro-business reforms and its strong economic growth, many Egyptians have been left worse off by the country's real estate boom, which has enriched investors while pushing housing further out of reach of the poor, experts say.

"We have nowhere else to go," Mr Mahmoud said. "Houses are expensive. Everything is becoming expensive. Only man is becoming cheap."

While Mr Mahmoud and Umm Antar make meagre livings tending graves, some entrepreneurial tomb-dwellers have carved out a modest slice of Egypt's most prized industry by acting as guides or selling crafts to intrepid tourists.

Residents such as Reda Zaki, 50, whose parents tended graves but who himself guides tourists, are likely to be hit hard by the ban.

Abouzed Rageh, former chairman of Egypt's National Research Centre for Housing and Building, said years of bad urban planning meant overcrowding had reached breaking point, with half of Greater Cairo's 17 million inhabitants living in "informal" housing.

"This city is like a sponge," Mr Rageh said. "It absorbs people from rural areas and squeezes them in wherever they will fit. But it's reaching saturation.

"We now have two societies. The gap is widening alarmingly. When you talk about economic growth, you have to ask, which society are you talking about?"

The Government has provided some services such as schools and a hospital in the cemeteries, but many people still live without electricity or water.

"The Government does not give anybody anything," Mr Mahmoud said.

Mohamed Ali, 60, who has lived in the necropolis for 30 years, said the decision to bar tourists was "stupid". "They do not do us any harm," he said. "They come here and take photos and that is it."

Other residents applauded the ban, agreeing the necropolis gave Egypt a bad image.

An official who spoke on condition of anonymity said: "The cemeteries are full of disorganised housing and this is not good for Egypt's image abroad."


Monday, December 03, 2007

Gearing up for Christmas in Cairo

Are you feeling all homesick and nostalgic that you are far away from home during the Holiday Season ? Are you loking for ways to get into the Christmas mood but just not feeling it ? Well just slip in some Christmas Carols on your music/CD/MP3 player and read on for some easy ways to get into the mood right here in Cairo.

1. Joy to the World
Volunteer at one of the charity organisations or Donate money, time, clothes
Resala Charities (Teaching children, dictating books on tape for the blind, delivering food to the needy, orphanage) info@resala.org
Refugee Ministry of St Andrews www.standrewschurchcairo.com
Spirit of Giving Catalog of the St Johns' church in Maadi : www.maadichurchstjohn.org/catalog

2. Silver Bells
Contribute while having fun and shopping at the many charity Christmas Bazaars & Auctions
1st December - Womens Association Annual Bazaar at Nile Hilton Gardens 11am-4pm
4th, 5th December - Elegant Whisper : Exclusive Christmas Exhibition At Kattameya Heights Club House
7th December - Maadi Womens Guild Christmas Bazaar, Wadi Degla Club, 12-4pm
7th December - Swiss Club Christmas Bazaar 2007, 11am-6pm
14th December - YWCA bazaar at the Jesuites Petit College School, Salah Salem Street

3. Hark the Herald Angels Sing
Go Carolling or listen to Carollers
3rd, 4th December - Community Choir of Maadi Christmas Concert held at St. John's Church
11th December - BCA Mohandaseen
13th December - BCA Heliopolis
Form your own group and rehearse in advance to sing at all those parties you will be invited to.

4. Winter Wonderland
A lot of clubs and hotels are working hard to recreate a Christmas wonderland here in Cairo.
Attend Christmas eve dinners, Christmas lunches and Christmas Balls
30th November - CPW (Cairo Petroleum Wives) Winter Wonderland Community Dinner Dance at Sofitel Maadi
4th December - MBA Traditional English Christmas lunch from 10.45am at the Four Seasons in Giza
4th to 14th December - "Chocofest Cairo 4" Chocolate Festival at El Sawy
6th December - Christmas Disco Party at Cairo Rugby Club
7th December - BCA Heliopolis 2nd Annual Christmas Ball at Mariott Hotel, Zamalek (500LE all inclusive)
Check out the 5 star hotels in-house events & make sure you book early to avoid disappointment.

5. I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas
Nostalgic for snow and a fresh fir tree ? Enjoy being in a different country & climate and Shop for Christmassy stuff with an Egyptian touch.
Try and pick up some local flavour for your tree this season and as gifts for people back home. Have u seen the lovely blown glass christmas tree ornaments decorated in intricate designs all over the khan ? Or the stuffed camel Christmas ornaments? Try the Fair Trade centre in Zamalek or Mido Glass on Road 9 in Maadi if you aren't in the mood to brave the Khan.

6. We Three Kings of Orient Are
Take in a show/pageant with the 3 kings or the Nutcracker or even Dorothy
9th December - Maadi Community Church has its Christmas Pageant.
10, 11, 12 of December - Modern English School is putting on "The Wiz"
12th December - Mendelssohn's Elijah - Cairo Choral Society - Ewart Hall
13th December - Mendelssohn's Elijah - Cairo Choral Society - All Saints Cathedral
15th December - Christmas Pageant at St Johns Church, Maadi

7. Let it Snow
Don't want to step foot outside in the maddenning traffic, then pop some corn & Curl up with a DVD that suits your Christmas Disposition
Miracle on 34th Street
How the Grinch stole Christmas
A Charlie Brown Christmas
A Christmas Carol

8. Santa Claus is Coming to Town
Take your kids (or the neighbours kids or your friends kids) to a party.
Having kids along helps you enjoy Christmas from a pre-jaded perspective.
1st Dec - Maadi British Association childrens Christmas party at ACE Club. 1-3pm
7th December - Swiss Club Christmas Bazaar 2007 with Santa.
15 Dec BCA Mohandaseen
22nd-24th December - Meet Santa at Diwan.

9. Oh Come all ye Faithful
Attend a mass/service at one of the many churches around town.
Most of them are multi denomination, so attend a service in a different language or denomination and do your bit for better global understanding, tolerance and harmony.
Try the All Saints Cathedral, Zamalek Holy Family Catholic Church, Maadi St Claires Catholic Convent, Heliopolis Maadi Community Church

For more up-to-date and detailed information on events sign up to whazzupcairo on yahoogroups or googlegroups by sending a blank mail to whazzupcairo-subscribe@yahoogroups.com or whazzupcairo-subscribe@googlegroups.com
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