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Planning a holiday? Egypt beckons you

Last updated on: July 26, 2011 13:29 IST

Planning a holiday? Egypt beckons you

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With the recent political turmoil hitting the tourism sector, Egypt has lined up a number of promotional and branding activities to regain its image and boost tourism.

The country will adopt a three-pronged strategy to attract more tourists - through tour operators, media and airlines.

It would also double its budget on advertising and marketing this year (its year starts from July) from the current $400,000, said Adel El Masry, director of Egypt Tourism Authority in India.

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Image: The Sphinx
Photographs: Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters
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Egypt is trying to attract tourists based on its history. After all, it is the world's oldest civilisation. Here, one can experience a blend of old and modern aspects of life.

Egypt in North Africa is home to some great Pyramids. These Pyramids have also caught the attention of Bollywood.

You probably must have seen Akshay Kumar and Katrian Kaif in Egypt in their movie, Singh is King.

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Image: Tourists ride camels at the Pyramids in Cairo.
Photographs: Tarek Mostafa/Reuters
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It is also home to the Great Pyramid of Giza, which is one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

It is considered to be largest and the ancient wonder that enhances the importance of Egypt tourism, worldwide.

The pyramids at Giza were one of the tourist sites to be reopened to the public, after the recent uprising.

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Image: A camel passes in front of the Pyramids at Giza.
Photographs: Nasser Nuri/Reuters
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From the Land of the Pharaohs to the Valley of the Kings, Egypt promises to offer a perfect tourist destination.

Egypt is very proud of its history and culture. Seen here in this picture is a mural in one of six tombs in the New Kingdom Cemetery in South Saqqara.

Of the six, the tomb of Maya, who was the treasurer of King Tut, and the tomb of King Tut's general Horemheb, who also later became king, are considered the most important.

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Image: A worker blows dust off a mural in one of six tombs in the New Kingdom Cemetery in South Saqqara.
Photographs: Asmaa Waguih/Reuters
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Egypt is also known for its unique architecture and design.

For instance, Pharoah Ramses II angled the temple so that the inner sanctum lights up twice a year: one on the anniversary of his rise to the throne and once on his birthday.

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Image: Man examines etchings inside temple of Abu Simbel at sunrise.
Photographs: Goran Tomasevic/Reuters
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Planning a holiday? Egypt beckons you

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Further, this country emerges from the gorgeous River Nile and is endowed with myriad historical monuments, which are wonders for the present day world.

Thus, to make it easily accessible, "We will invest more in joint campaigning with tour operators and add more airlines and new destinations. Along with this, we will also conduct a series of promotional activities, events, exhibitions and trade fairs," Masry added.

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Image: Traditional Egyptian Felucca boats sail on the Nile river in the southern Egyptian city of Aswan.
Photographs: Amr Dalsh/Reuters
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Planning a holiday? Egypt beckons you

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Egypt is also famous for the Red Sea and the sandy beaches.

It is known that the earliest exploration of the Red Sea was conducted by Ancient Egyptians, as they attempted to establish commercial routes to Punt.

One such expedition took place around 2500 BC, and another around 1500 BC. Both involved long voyages down the Red Sea.

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Image: Tourists swim with fish in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh.
Photographs: Goran Tomasevic/Reuters
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Planning a holiday? Egypt beckons you

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Egypt is trying to reclaim its position of an attractive tourist destination.

The uprising in January this year had emptied hotels, casinos and bars and saw a 40 per cent decline in tourist arrivals.

In early 2011, Egypt underwent a revolution, which resulted in the ousting of President Hosni Mubarak after nearly 30 years in power.

The sector's contribution to the gross domestic product declined to 11.2 per cent this year, from 11.5 per cent ($ 12.5 billion in 2010) last year.

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Image: A street vendor stands outside of a store in the Khan al-Khalili area of Cairo.
Photographs: Peter Andrews/Reuters
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With the theme, 'Let's visit Egypt- Egypt is safe', the country is promoting itself as a safe tourism destination.

Of the 14.7 million tourists who visited Egypt last year, around 70 per cent came from Europe and 18 per cent from Arabian countries. It expects this number to grow to 25 million by 2020.

Masry said Asian countries, especially India, was growing in terms of its outbound tourists. "This year, we would focus more on Asian countries."

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Image: Souvenirs wrapped in plastic sit on a shelf at a tourist store in the Khan al-Khalili area of Cairo.
Photographs: Peter Andrews/Reuters
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Indian tourists in Egypt have been growing at 30 per cent over the last few years. Last year 114,000 Indians visited Egypt.

"We are currently in discussion with some of the film producers to shoot films in Egypt and are in the process of assigning another brand ambassador for the Indian market," he said. Bollywood actress Celina Jaitley is now the brand ambassador for Egypt tourism.

Along with the historical, heritage, and cultural destination, Egypt is promoting itself as a destination for wellness, religious, cruise travel and MICE (meeting, incentives, conferencing, and exhibitions).

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Image: A tourist visits Fiela Temple in Aswan.
Photographs: Asmaa Waguih/Reuters
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Planning a holiday? Egypt beckons you

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Also, when in Egypt take time to interact with the locals.

Egyptians are a fascinating and often surprising people who take great pride in their country and love few things more than a good argument.

Sharp and emotive they will do their very best to challenge your views and when you leave Egypt you can find that it has left an indelible mark upon your soul.

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Image: A street vendor selling necklaces passes through a famous shisha bar in the Khan al-Khalili area of Cairo.
Photographs: Peter Andrews/Reuters
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Egypt also celebrates many interesting festivals and religious carnivals, also known as mulid.

They are usually associated with a particular Coptic or Sufi saint, but are often celebrated by all Egyptians irrespective of creed or religion.

Ramadan has a special flavour in Egypt, celebrated with sounds, lights and local lanterns, known as fanous.

During this time, many Muslim tourists from the region flock to Egypt during Ramadan to witness the spectacle.

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Image: A man carries a traditional lantern called fanous in front of a shop selling lanterns on a street in Cairo.
Photographs: Asmaa Waguih/Reuters
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The ancient spring festival of Sham en Nisim has been celebrated by Egyptians for thousands of years, typically between the Egyptian months of Paremoude (April) and Pashons (May), following Easter Sunday.

Further, Egypt is one of the boldest countries in the Middle East in the music industry. The next generation of the Egyptian music is considered to be the rise, as the music was disrupted by some foreign influences, bad admixing, and abused oriental styles.

The new arising talents starting from the late 1990s are taking over the rein now as they play different genres of many cultures.

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Image: Whirling dervishes perform a traditional Sufi dance during a Ramadan night show in Old Cairo.
Photographs: Amr Dalsh/Reuters
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Music and dance are an integral part of Egyptian culture. It is very much evident from paintings and etchings on the walls of tombs to clay figures with their hands held above their heads.

In fact, historians and Egyptologists believe that dancing was a common part of life in ancient Egypt.

There are scenes found in tombs dating as far back as the New Kingdom involving dancers at ceremonies, rituals, and celebrations.

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Image: Egyptians perform a traditional dance in front of the temple of Abu Simbe.
Photographs: Goran Tomasevic/Reuters
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It is also home to a museum that houses some of the ancient world's most spectacular mosaics.

The museum complex contains two ancient churches, and most of the mosaics found in them were removed after their discovery in the 1950s and put in a special display room that is now shut.

The mosaics were created during the reign of the emperor Justinian I (527-65), who named the city Theodorias, in honour of his wife, Theodora.

The fifty vivid tiles that give the site its fame depict everyday scenes for the early Christian residents, as well as wild animals and the mythical creatures that inhabited their imaginations.

As uprisings in neighbouring Tunisia and Egypt erupted, the guardians of these ancient Libyan monuments stepped in to make sure the country's rich heritage was protected from conflict.

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Image: A view of a mosaic on the floor of the Western Church of the Qasr Libya museum complex near Al-Bayda.
Photographs: Amr Dalsh/Reuters
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One can also witness some wonderful antiquities in Egypt.

The Egyptian Museum of Antiquities, which contains many important pieces of ancient Egyptian history, houses the world's largest collection of Pharaonic antiquities, and many treasures of King Tutankhamen.

The Egyptian government established the museum, built in 1835 near the Ezbekeyah Garden.

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Image: A worker in the Egyptian Museum cleans the display case of the Miami Coffin in Cairo
Photographs: Tarek Mostafa/Reuters
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Egypt is also promoting local sports and activities to tourist.

Here, one can take lessons in scuba diving, kitesurfing, windsurfing and even sand surfing.

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Image: A tourist enjoys sand surfing near Dakhla oasis in Egypt's Western Desert .
Photographs: Goran Tomasevic/Reuters
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In addition to sports, culture, dance and music, Egypt is also known for its artwork and craftsmanship.

One such activity includes, tent making. Yes, that's right.

Tent making has existed since ancient times throughout the Arab world as they were widely utilised by both royalty and the local population.

There is also a street in Egypt known as the Street of the Tentmakers, a 350-year-old street located near the 10th century Bab Zuwayla gate, in the historic quarter of Cairo.

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Image: An Egyptian tentmaker sews in his shop during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, on the Street of the Tentmakers, in the historic quarter of Cairo.
Photographs: Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters
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Of course in addition to all these attractions, one can now see the famous golden funerary mask of King Tutankhamun, which is on display at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

Egypt's Antiquities Ministry recovered some of the national treasures that went missing from the Egyptian Museum during an uprising which unseated Hosni Mubarak.

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Image: A golden funerary mask of King Tutankhamun is on display at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
Photographs: Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters
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Lastly, one can indulge in some local Egyptian food like kebabs, which promises some great taste.

Seen here, is an egyptian man preparing kunafa, a traditional Middle Eastern dessert.


Image: An Egyptian man prepares kunafa, a traditional Middle Eastern dessert, on the first day of Ramadan in Cairo.
Photographs: Nasser Nuri/Reuters
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