07/08/2006 Issue 185 Past Issues

Red Sea Newsletter

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Feature Article...

Egypt Uses Water Resources to Make Deserts Bloom
Voa News, by Leslie Boctor

Roughly 96 percent of Egypt's land mass is made up of desert. Since the time of the pharaohs, the country has relied on a fertile narrow strip along the Nile River to support every aspect of social and economic life. Now, once again, Egypt is looking to the desert as well as the Nile to build new communities and grow more food. Leslie Boctor has more on Egypt's ambitious plans to reclaim desert from our Middle East bureau in Cairo.

Along the banks of the Nile, you'll still find ancient irrigation devices known as "shadufs" pulling up water from the river to irrigate the lush fields. The land is among the most productive in the world, and most of Egypt's population lives in the Nile valley that makes up only four percent of the country's total area. The rest is sand.

Egypt is facing a population boom in its already overcrowded Nile corridor. It has no choice but to move into desert lands and redirect people and agriculture. Over the past 50 years, the country has invested enormous resources to divert water from the Nile into desert areas.

Yet how can desert expansion be sustained when Egypt's very limited water supply is consumed virtually for free? Developers continue to set up five-star resorts in the Sinai that rely on water pumped in from the Nile. Anthropologist Donald Cole, from the American University of Cairo, has reservations about how water is being used and at what cost.

"There are other activities that are taking place in the desert lands - tourism, location of new industries, schools, new urban communities, golf courses - which have water uses," said Mr. Cole. "All of which is using Nile water, largely free. The water is not priced in ways that one would have to think of if you have to pay the true cost of the golf course. There is a kind of private sector development that is pushing into and taking advantage of what is available in water, acting as if the water is here forever, and plenty of it, no problem."

Whether the government will move toward a realistic pricing of water remains to be seen. In the meantime, it is pressing forward with reclamation plans. Over the next 10 years, it wants to reclaim 1.4 million hectares of desert. Critics, however, say this is unrealistic and estimate the figure to be half of that, water permitting. One highly visible example of desert reclamation exists on the desert highway connecting Cairo and Alexandria.

President Hosni Mubarak inaugurated the world's largest water-pumping station last month in Egypt's Western Desert as part of a massive reclamation project. The station pumps more than 14 million cubic meters per day of water from Lake Nasser, behind the Aswan High Dam, to irrigate over 200,000 hecatres of desert land. The ultimate plan is to resettle some six million Egyptians from the Nile Valley to southern Egypt and the western oases.

>> Read More




Egypt's History... Suez Canal


The Suez Canal: Historical Flashback

The idea of a canal linking the Mediterranean to the Red Sea dates back to ancient times. Unlike the modern Canal, earlier ones linked the Red Sea to the Nile, therefore forcing the ships to sail along the River on their journey from Europe to India. It has been suggested that the first Canal was dug during the reign of Tuthmosis III, although more solid evidence credits the Pharaoh Necho (Sixth Century BC) for the attempt.

During the Persian invasion of Egypt, King Darius I ordered the Canal completed. The Red Sea Canal consisted of two parts: The first linking the Gulf of Suez to the Great Bitter Lake, and the second connecting the Lake to one of the Nile branches in the Delta. The canal remained in good condition during the Ptolemaic era, but fell into disrepair afterwards. It was re-dug during the rule of the Roman Emperor Trajan, and later the Arab ruler Amr Ibn-Al-Aas. Over the years, it fell again into disrepair, and was completely abandoned upon the discovery of the trade route around Africa. It was Napoleon's engineers who, around 1800 AD, revived the idea of a shorter trade route to India via a Suez Canal.

However, the calculation carried out by the French engineers showed a difference in level of 10 meters between both seas. If constructed under such circumstances, a large land area would be flooded. Later, the calculations showed to be wrong, and the final attempt to dig the Canal was undertaken by former French Consul in Cairo and famous Canal digger Ferdinand de Lesseps. He was granted a "firman" or decree by the khedive Said of Egypt to run the Canal for 99 years after completion.
In 1859, Egyptian workers started working on the construction of the Canal in conditions described by historians as slave labor, and the project was completed around 1867. On November 17, 1869, the Canal was officially inaugurated by Khedive Ismail in an extravagant and lavish ceremony. French, British, Russian, and other Royalty were invited for the inauguration which coincided with the re-planning of Cairo.

A highway was constructed linking Cairo to the new city of Ismailia, an Opera House was built, and Verdi was commissioned to compose his famous opera, "Aida" for the opening ceremony. Ironically, Verdi did not complete the work in time and "Aida" premiered at the Cairo Opera a year later.

Advantages of the Canal

  • Longest canal in the world with no locks
  • Compared with other waterways, the percentage of accidents is almost nil. Navigation goes day and night
  • Liable to be widened and deepened when required coping with the expansion in ship sizes
  • The VTMS (Vessel Traffic Management System) has been introduced. It is a very accurate electronic system envisaging a most up-to-date radar network.
  • The Suez Canal can now accommodate all mammoth tankers in service on their ballast trips.

Influence of the Suez Canal on world trade

  • The distance between Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) and the Port of Constanza (Black Sea) is 11771 miles via the Cape of Good Hope, while it is only 1698 miles via the Suez Canal (SC), thus a saving of 86% in distance is achieved.
  • A saving of 23% in distance is also achieved by using the SC for the trip from Rotterdam in Holland to Tokyo in Japan, if compared with the route round the African coast.
  • 7% of sea transported world trade passes through the Suez Canal, 35% of this trade is loaded from and to the Red Sea and Arabian Gulf ports, 20% from and to the Indian and South East Asian ports and 39% from and to the Far East area










Tourism and shopping festival light up Egypt

Light and laser shows from rooftops overlooking the Nile, three-dimensional videos and live music will be among the new attractions of the Egypt Tourism and Shopping Festival 2006 which runs until 20 August.

The retail extravaganza will be held in malls and outlets across the 15 governorates of Cairo, Giza, Marsa Matrouh, Red Sea, Al Esmaeiliya, Port Said, Swees, Manufieyah, Al Gharbiya, Al Oqsur, Asuit, Al Miniya, Bani Sweef, and Al Faioum.

Information centres will be erected at Cairo, Alexandria, Hurghada, and Burj Al Arab airports to distribute festival literature to visitors.

Street decorations, concerts and competitions will also be held during the month-long festival.

A reception party for Tourism and Shopping Festival 2006 was recently held at Cairo’s Marriott Al Zamalek, under the patronage of H.E. Zoheir Garannah, the Egyptian Minister of Tourism, and was attended by senior businessmen, government officers, tourism agents, and media. “The participation of all these organisations in this important national campaign demonstrates the love Egyptians have for their country,” said Ahmed El Khadem, chairman of the Egypt Tourist Authority. “This was apparent in the new ideas and technologies which will make this festival a giant tourism and business event.”

He said the introduction of new technologies would help portray Egypt’s retail scene in a contemporary light.

“Our shopping scene is vibrant and diverse,” added El Khadem. “Most visitors associate our shopping scene with a walk down Khan El Khalili, but we want to tell them there are plenty of fashionable items on sale in modern malls away from the souks, all across the city.






El Gouna, The Red Sea's Premier Leisure Destination

What's On


Mediterranean Travel Fair
5th - 7th September 2006, Cairo International Convention & Exhibition Centre (CICC)

As Mediterranean Travel Fair is the only event dedicated to the Eastern Mediterranean region, visitors can expect a wealth of information on the exciting changes in the area and the growing presence of the Middle East.

Never before has the region seen such an exciting time for tourism. In 2005, despite a turbulent year, International Tourism sustained the sharp upturn that began in 2004 (UNWTO) and overseas tourist numbers grew to over 800 million for the first time ever.

The Eastern Mediterranean countries are maximising the potential of the 'untapped' destinations that tourists are striving for and this is being rewarded by excellent growth rates.

In Egypt there has been a hub of activity around the creation and redevelopment of airports such as Luxor, Aswan and El Alamein. The capacity of Cairo International airport is expected to double to 20 million by the end of 2007. Many hotels are expanding their Middle East portfolio and 85,000 hotel rooms are under construction in Egypt alone.

The Mediterranean Travel Fair event programme consists of seminars, press conferences and social functions. This year there will be increased numbers of press conferences and seminars, keeping delegates informed on the latest product launches, industry news and exhibiting company information.

Mediterranean Travel Fair is a trade exhibition dedicated to the international travel and tourism industry. It is not open to the general public.

For more information please refer back to www.mtfcairo.com







Body & Soul

Balanced Food Chart

Choosing the right foods during these two days will help detoxify your body and keep you cool. Throughout the weekend, drink plenty of water and herbal teas; each day aim for 8 to 12 glasses of water and as much herbal tea as you would like. Be sure to drink cool, not cold, water, since cold water dampens the digestive fire (agni) that is responsible for efficient digestion.


  • Cool, sweeter foods
  • Cool drinks
  • Peppermint tea
  • Fresh fruit juice and smoothies
  • Seasonal fruits with a high water content
  • Raw or lightly steamed vegetables
  • Light, brothy soups
  • Cool fruit and vegetable soups
  • Fresh herbs


  • Hot, spicy foods
  • Excess alcohol
  • Heavy or fried foods
  • Meat
  • Dairy products
  • Salty foods
  • Sour foods






  • International Cuisine
  • T-Bone, Porterhouse and Filletsteaks
  • Incredible Delicious Salads
  • Daily Specials
  • Sandwiches to match a Main Course
  • Cake & Sweet of the Day
  • Variety of Bread from our Bakery
  • Catering & Party menu

Now Wireless Internet Connection available!!!


Parents & Kids


Keeping kids active: Ideas for parents

Children seem to become more sedentary every year, watching television and playing video games instead of biking to the playground or playing kickball in the backyard with their pals. Even schools have stopped emphasizing fitness. In some school districts, physical education has vanished completely because of underfunding.

If you want an active child, be active yourself. Take the stairs instead of the elevator and park the car farther away from stores. Never make exercise seem a punishment or a chore. Find fun activities that the whole family can do together, such as: Swimming, Nature hikes, Cycling, Canoeing, Walks with the family dog

"If mom and dad exercise, it's a very powerful stimulus for a child to exercise. The key is to get kids moving. Free-play activities such as playing tag, hide-and-seek, hopscotch or jump-rope can be great for burning calories and improving fitness."

Limit screen time

A surefire way to increase your children's activity levels is to limit the number of hours they're allowed to watch television each day. Other sedentary activities — playing video and computer games or talking on the phone — also should be limited.
Start young

Remember your energetic toddler? Direct that energy into a lifelong love of physical activity. For instance, have your child show you how bunnies hop, eagles fly or dogs wag their tails.

Some other suggestions for keeping kids interested

Play games your elementary school child loves, like tag, cops and robbers, Simon says and red light, green light. If you don't remember the rules for these games, make up your own or walk to your local library and check out a book on games.

Let your toddlers and preschoolers see how much fun you can have while being active. Don't just run with them. Run like a gorilla. Walk like a spider. Hop like a bunny. Stretch like a cat.

Plan your family vacations around physical activities — hiking, biking, skiing, snorkeling, swimming or camping. Take along a ball or Frisbee disc to sneak in some activity at rest stops.









Classic Egg Salad

Serves 4; Prep time: 5 minutes; Total time: 5 minutes

  • 8 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons celery, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • few dashes hot-pepper sauce
  • Salt and pepper
  • Lettuce or watercress
  • Bread or toast
  1. In a medium bowl, coarsely chop 8 peeled hard-cooked eggs.

  2. Add 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons chopped celery, 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, and a few dashes of hot-pepper sauce (or more, if you like a spicier salad). Season to taste with salt and pepper; stir gently to combine. Serve with greens—such as lettuce or watercress—on bread or toast.

Note: Other mix-ins: sliced black olives, chopped fresh parsley, chopped fresh chives, walnut pieces, chopped dill pickles, capers



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