Monthly Archives: March 2012

31Mar2012

Voices from Post-Revolutionary Egypt 6: The Taxi Driver

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We screech to a halt in heavy traffic – a car has accelerated across our path. A overtakes the other driver, blocks him in, and yells his feelings out of the window, before pulling back onto the highway at speed. Other drivers, used to this sort of thing, veer around us without hooting noticeably more […]

30Mar2012

The Friday Photo: The Oldest Mosque In Cairo

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The tranquillity of Ahmed Ibn Tulun mosque came as a welcome relief from a city about which, if I’m honest, both of us have profoundly mixed feelings. There’s a sense of simmering, frustrated male rage in Cairo, which comes out not only in the demonstrations after Friday prayers — two large ones are happening today […]

29Mar2012

The Pyramids 101

Pyramid and Sphinx

The Pyramids are on almost everyone’s travel bucket list, and, with tourist numbers low after the Revolution and Cairo still relatively safe, now is an excellent time to experience them. But… which pyramids? There are, you see, over 100 pyramids in Egypt. The majority of them were built around four and a half thousand years […]

25Mar2012

Diving Dahab: The Blue Hole and The Canyon

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Besides the kittens, the rooftop bars, the seafood and the fireside lounging, Dahab is about two things: the Red Sea and the Sinai desert. And in the Red Sea, the single most famous spot is, of course, the Blue Hole Dahab, a submarine sinkhole surrounded by a 900m wall of coral that drops away deep […]

24Mar2012

Voices from Post-Revolutionary Egypt 5: The Businessman

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A round, amiable man, J is in his 40s, and runs a business in Dahab, Sinai. He has a small son who lives with his mother overseas: his family background is Coptic Christian, but he last attended church for his son’s christening. J laughs. “Yes!” he says. “I have been to Saudi Arabia. It’s quite […]

23Mar2012

The Friday Photo: Texting on Mount Sinai

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This is a timeless scene. A Bedouin man in traditional scarf and djellaba reclines in the sun on the top of Mount Sinai, the place where his namesake Moses received the Ten Commandments. And what’s he doing? Texting. The BBC argued lately that internet and phone access is spoiling the adventure of remote places. And, […]

22Mar2012

Photo Essay: The Sinai Desert

Ein Khudra oasis in the Sinai Desert, Egypt.

The Sinai desert is a place of many colours. The green palms of desert oases; the rich gold wind-rippled peaks of sand dunes. The wasteland that Moses and Jesus wandered has canyons with rocks so rich in reds and pinks they might be painted. In the twilight, rocks cluster like old men gossiping or cast […]

20Mar2012

Voices from Post-Revolutionary Egypt 4: The Guide

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S is 40, and worked as a dive master before he started guiding tourists: he was married in his 20s but it didn’t last. Compact and muscular, he wears shades, designer stubble, jeans and a T-shirt, topped, often, with a traditional Arab scarf. S taught himself English and the word “yani” punctuates his speech as […]

19Mar2012

In the Footsteps of Moses

Mount Sinai Trip

There’s something about Dahab which produces a phenomenon of sloth I like to think of as “mission creep”, but which might better be described as “mission shrink”. For, yes, we have indeed spent a fortnight within two hours of Mount Sinai, one of the holiest sites common to the three Peoples of the Book — […]

18Mar2012

Voices from Post-Revolutionary Egypt 3: The Future Soldier

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A is 24, with rosy skin and auburn hair, an almost Scottish colouring inherited from a Circassian Turkish ancestor. He graduated recently and is travelling around Egypt before he begins his compulsory military service. “I don’t want to do it,” A says. We’re sitting in the sun outside a chicken restaurant in a small town […]