11/12/2006 Issue 202 Past Issues

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Feature Article...

In Aqaba, Jordan, Sun and Sand in the Red Sea
Aqaba beach

ANYONE who thinks that young Arabs don’t know how to party hasn’t been to Aqaba during one of Jordan’s national holiday weekends. Here, in the Hashemite Kingdom’s southern speck of a port city, the beach scene along the sandy shores of the Gulf of Aqaba, an arm of the Red Sea, is an Ibiza-light parade of buffed bodies, teeny bikinis, Chanel shades — and the occasional holdout to traditional Muslim modesty clad head-to-toe in billowing black.

Tanning poolside at Aqaba’s year-and-a-half-old InterContinental hotel, it’s easy to forget that the wealthy weekenders from Amman, with their late-model sport utility vehicles and luxury hotel suites, are but the latest new arrivals in a city that has been welcoming visitors for millenniums. Wedged between Israel to the west and Saudi Arabia to the south, Aqaba was a port in the Roman era that linked Damascus to the Red Sea. Under the Ottoman Empire, however, it fell into centuries of stagnation.

Despite the massive Jordanian flag towering 446 feet above its shores, Aqaba still has a sleepy, former fishing-village feel. The city’s stark concrete promenade remains the domain of local families who snack on grilled fish or smoke from snakelike nargilas along the Red Sea. Meanwhile, local fishermen continue to trawl for grouper, although increasing numbers turn to the easy cash available by converting their skiffs into glass-bottomed tourist vessels.

Yet this desert town of 85,000 is clearly moving quickly toward becoming an upmarket destination. In recent years, Aqaba has developed a vibrant fitness scene, complete with its own annual triathlon, and Jordan’s nascent motorcycle crowd regularly descends upon the town en masse, proudly mounted atop Harleys. Minarets have been replaced by satellite dishes in Aqaba’s low-slung core, which sprawls beyond the resort-lined waterfront in a series of grand traffic circles connecting its main commercial and residential districts.

aqaba seaKing Abdullah II of Jordan, who keeps a vacation palace in town, has made Aqaba’s development a priority. In February 2001, Abdullah established the Aqaba Special Economic Zone, a mixed public/private-sector entity charged with maximizing Aqaba’s industrial, transportation and — most important — touristic potential. The agency is capitalizing on the nearby brightly colored coral reefs, stark desert canyons and easy access to the fabled “red city” of Petra.

For instance, the new InterContinental, a 255-room, $55 million spa resort, opened last year and an even more ambitious, $70 million Kempinski hotel is scheduled for completion in 2008. Aqaba’s airport has been upgraded from military to civilian use to accommodate the new Aqaba-based carrier Jordan Aviation to supplement charter flights from Europe and the Persian Gulf and Royal Jordanian flights from Amman.

A fast ferry now links Aqaba to the resort-filled Sinai peninsula in Egypt, while the city’s cruise ship facilities, underused for years after Sept. 11 cut into tourism, are beginning to receive liners full of Europeans and Americans again. Still, with a mere 500 five-star hotel rooms — compared with roughly 16,000 just across the border in the Israeli resort of Eilat or 21,000 in Sharm el Sheikh in nearby Egypt — it’s clear Aqaba will be playing catch-up for years. Nevertheless, the city’s ambience, midway between under-the-radar and overdeveloped, imbues Aqaba with an amiable, Arabian charm that is quickly disappearing from much of the Middle East. (Read More...)

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History of Egypt...

The Old Kingdom is not as much a breach with the Early Dynastic Period as a continuation of it. The kings of the 4th Dynasty are believed to be descendants of Huni, the last king of the 3rd Dynasty. The Turin King-list, in fact, lists all kings from the first five dynasties without any further internal distinction. This means that the composers of the list considered these kings as belonging to a single group.

From a cultural, political and religious point of view, however, the 4th Dynasty has brought about several changes that set it apart from the first three dynasties.

The most remarkable change is the transition of Step Pyramids to 'true' pyramids with smooth surfaces. This transition was not only the result of increasing technical skills, but even more of religious views that shifted from stellar to solar. The Step Pyramid symbolised a staircase to the stars. The 'true' pyramid, on the other hand was considered as a solar symbol and as a representation of the primaeval mound from which all life had sprung.

The image below illustrates the evolution of the Early Dynastic Step Pyramid (to the left) to the 'real' pyramid shape of the pyramids at Giza (to the right). The pyramid of Meidum (second from left) was converted from a Step Pyramid into a 'real' pyramid by Snofru, the first king of the 4th Dynasty. The Bent Pyramid at Dashur was also built by Snofru. The angle of the pyramid may have been changed to alleviate the pressure of the weight of the pyramid.

The building of pyramids would not have been possible without a flourishing economy and a strong central government. Royal estates throughout the country centralised and provided the necessary resources that were needed in the construction of pyramid complexes. This required a powerful administration, both on a local and on a central level, to successfully manage the resources and ensure the flow of supplies, materials and riches to the central government.

Artists and craftsmen became increasingly skilled as state-sponsored ateliers produced the most exquisite objects of art for the royal family and the members of the ruling elite. The high-quality decoration of the private tombs that were grouped next to the royal pyramids, not only hint at the wealth and status of the tomb-owner, but are also a rich source of information about daily life in the age of the pyramids.

During the 4th Dynasty, there was also some military activity in the South, in Nubia, where a fortress was built at Buhen, near the 2nd cataract. This fortress not only confirmed the Egyptian military presence in Nubia, it was also a commercial settlement where traders from all of Nubia would come to trade with the Egyptians. Since the 4th Dynasty, Nubia, rich in many raw materials and especially in gold, has always been of interest to the Ancient Egyptians.

The addition of the title "Son of Re" to the royal titulary from the reign of Djedefre on, shows the increasing importance in the solar cult. Even more, it stresses the role of the king as the representative of the sun on earth.

During the 5th Dynasty, the solar religion was even more firmly established, when the kings built solar temples as well as pyramids. This may well explain why the 5th Dynasty Pyramids are far less dominating than their predecessors: the building effort was no longer concentrated on the building of a single pyramid and their temples.

Economic and political factors may have had some importance as well: the 5th Dynasty government seems to have been less centralised and less strong. Private tombs were no longer restricted to the vicinity of the king’s pyramid and their decoration became richer and more elaborate. Some private people had their tombs built in their own province and not in or near the necropolis of Memphis.

The last king of the 5th Dynasty, Unas, introduced yet another innovation: his pyramid was the first to have been "decorated" with texts, the so-called Pyramid Texts. These texts relate to the fate of the king in the afterlife, when he takes his place among the gods and among the stars.

With the 6th Dynasty, the Old Kingdom would start its slow decline. Although some military activity is reported to the East of the Delta or in Palestine and in Nubia, the central power of the king kept on decaying. This may have been caused, in part, by the long reign of Pepi II, during which more power may have been relegated to the central and local administrations.

Another key factor in the decline of the Old Kingdom was a decreasing inundation of the Nile. By the end of the Old Kingdom, the inundation apparently became less abundant. Local measures needed to be taken to ensure that the inundation would flood enough land and keep it fertile. Local administrators and governors who succeeded in controlling the flow of the floods for their region strengthened their position against the central government.

The kings of the 7th/8th Dynasty lacked the power and prestige to prevent their country from becoming divided. With them, the Old Kingdom has come to an end and the 1st Intermediate Period has started. Some history books have the 7th/8th Dynasty at the end of the Old Kingdom, but since it was during that Dynasty that the central government lost its grip on the country, it seems preferable to already place this dynasty in the 1st Intermediate Period.









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5th AIDA Freediving Team World Championship 2006
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King Tut Died From Broken Leg, Not Murder, Scientists Conclude

Stefan Lovgren
for National Geographic News

King Tut probably died from a broken leg, scientists say, possibly closing one of history's most famous cold cases.

A CT scan of King Tutankhamun's mummy has disproved a popular theory that the Egyptian pharaoh was murdered by a blow to the head more than 3,300 years ago. Instead the most likely explanation for the boy king's death at 19 is a thigh fracture that became infected and ultimately fatal, according to an international team of scientists.
The team presented its results this week at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America in Chicago, Illinois.
"I think it is the end of the investigation. … We can now close this file," said team leader Ashraf Selim, a radiologist at Kasr Eleini Teaching Hospital at Cairo University in Egypt.
But the research effort may add to rumors surrounding the infamous "curse of Tut."
During their investigation, the scientists experienced several mysterious occurrences, from a freak sandstorm to a strange power outage.
"People love to say it's the curse [whenever strange things happen around King Tut]," Selim said, chuckling.
"Of course, being a scientific man, I don't believe in these things." (Read more...)


Egyptian Red Sea resort Sharm el-Sheikh is the most popular holiday destination this winter for UK holidaymakers, according to online travel agency Holidays-Direct.

sharm boat

Flights to Sharm el-Sheikh and hotels in the Red Sea resort for winter 2006 have been booked more often than any other location in the last six months, Holidays-Direct reported.
The UK-based firm believes that holidaymakers are attracted to the Sharm el-Sheikh area because of the perfect winter climate and the high quality of the resorts hotels.
The company also said that the Red Sea is very popular for family holidays as well as being one of the best-regarded diving locations in the world.
Jon Pearce of Holidays-Direct said: "Holidays in Sharm el-Sheikh offer great value for money for families who want to stay somewhere warm and exotic, but not break the bank.
"There are more cheap deals to Egypt on offer than in previous years and it’s a relatively short flight to Sharm from the UK airports, making it popular for people travelling with young children.
"Most of the hotels in Sharm el-Sheikh are well-equipped, self-contained resorts, which is especially reassuring to holidaymakers who are concerned about safety and ways to keep children entertained while on holiday." (Read More...)






www.elgouna.com El Gouna, The Red Sea's Premier Leisure Destination

What's On...



is coming to town

6th of December 2006

5 pm at

Villa Kunterbunt
(Arabia Hotel - Hurghada)

for Details please call
Barbara +20 (0) 10 123 23 54







Parents & Kids...

Beaded Sunglasses Holder

Make these for anyone who only wears glasses part of the time. They will appreciate not misplacing their glasses and having them handy. These make great gifts for children that are prone to misplacing their sunglasses. The children can make them in their favorite colors.

This project is rated AVERAGE to do.

What You Need

* Scissors
* Red faceted beads
* Blue faceted beads
* White or clear faceted beads
* Elastic string
* Glue

How To Make It

1. Cut a piece of elastic string that will comfortably fit around your neck if glasses are attached.
2. Form a loop and tie a knot in one end of the elastic string to fit around the glasses (at the hinge) securely. Put a drop or two of glue to secure the knot. (See photo)
3. String on beads in color order red, white, and blue, or any pattern or order desired.
4. Tie a knot in the other end of the string next to the end of the last bead you put on.
5. Form a loop next to the first knot you made that will fit around your glasses (in the same place on the opposite side) and tie a knot.
6. Do the same to the other end of the string.
7. Slip on to your glasses and enjoy!


Make sure you don't use any beads that are pointed as they will probably irritate the neck of the person wearing them.










Moroccan Chicken with CousCousmoroc chicken

Preparation Time: 30 minutes or less
Cooking Time: 30 minutes or less
Serves: 2


  • 4 chicken thighs, skinned
  • A pinch of saffron (or alternatively 1 tsp/5ml of tumeric)
  • Half a chicken stock cube
  • 2 tbsp/30ml olive oil
  • 1 small onion
  • Half a red (or green or whatever) bell pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp/5ml ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp/30ml honey
  • 0.5 tsp/2.5ml mild chilli powder (or more if you like it spicy)
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 100g of cous cous
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Crumble the half a stock cube into a measuring jug and add the saffron (or tumeric).
  2. Pour in 300ml/half a pint of boiling water and leave to one side.
  3. Peel and finely chop the onions and garlic, and de-seed and chop the bell pepper into roughly 1 inch squares.
  4. Don't forget the easiest way to peel the garlic is to place your knife flat on the clove and smack it (not too hard) with the base of your palm.
  5. Skin the chicken thighs if they are not already, and season them with the salt and pepper.Wash your hands after handling raw chicken!
  6. Heat the olive oil over a medium-low heat in a large frying pan or saucepan. Add the chicken thighs, being careful of spitting oil.
  7. Cook the chicken for 5-10 minutes, turning occasionally, until golden brown.
  8. Add the onions, garlic, and bell pepper to the pan.
  9. Cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent.
  10. Add the cinnamon, chilli powder, chicken stock, and honey.
  11. Bring to a simmer (i.e. barely boiling), cover, and cook for 15 minutes.
  12. While the chicken is cooking, make your cous cous (about 100g of the dried stuff, i.e. roughly enough for 2 people) according to the instructions on the packet, and leave in a covered saucepan/bowl to keep warm (not over heat, though).
  13. Once the chicken is cooked (check inside to see if the juices are clear, if so the chicken is done) remove the thighs from the pan and keep warm.
  14. Raise the heat under the frying pan to boil the sauce, and reduce it by about a 1/3. This will take 4-5 minutes and you should notice the sauce become thicker and more syrupy.
  15. Mix the lemon juice into the sauce, and serve.







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