What's New About the New Egypt?
A Traveller's Observations from a Post Mubarak Egypt
So what's new about the new Egypt?
From a traveller's point of view... not a lot.
Egypt is still a beautiful, fascinating, sunny, safe and hospitable place to spend some time.
Below are a few differences the repeat visitor might note about the New Egypt.
Hosni Who? – Former Presidents Mubarak’s tangible (albeit superficial) legacy is gradually being painted over – literally. Former murals of the grinning dictator that once welcomed visitors to Dahab, Sharm and other destinations are rapidly being replaced with Egyptian flags and symbols of the revolution.
See the photo above as a case in point, the outline of the not-so-royal wave is still just about visible.
Names of streets and landmarks too are being ‘de-regimed’ and replaced with more celebratory alternatives.
Talking bout a revolution (and politics) – Since the demonstrations of Jan 25, and for the first time in my lifetime Egyptians are avidly talking politics and seizing the opportunity to engage foreigners in the discourse.
Everyone from cab drivers to hoteliers, passers by and market vendors are quick to dis the old school regime and voice an opinion on the way forward.
Their passion is sufficient to inspire even the most jaded European.
What Police State? – Ok so the checkpoints are still there and the police have made their reappearance at them but things do seem better.
What was once a time consuming affair where bus loads of tourists were made to produce their passports for a cursory glance from a disinterested officer have now become quick wave-throughs and not the disruptive headaches of old.
Travel Like an Egyptian – Perhaps due to the lack of western visitors, Egyptian tourists now make up a significantly greater ratio of the travellers one meets on the road.
This gives foreign visitors a great opportunity to meet ‘real’, everyday, Egyptians - ones who don’t necessarily work in tourism, and to get to know them beyond buying a carpet or haggling over a taxi.
If you’ve never met an Egyptian you’ll find this to be a great plus that will lead to good conversation, many laughs and if you’re really lucky, lot’s of Egyptian food in the form of a home cooked dinner invite.
And with the new nationwide obsession with social media, there’ll be no problem keeping in touch with your new friends when the holiday is over.
It’s mine, all mine! – And finally, the very best thing about the new Egypt from a tourist’s perspective… the overwhelming lack of tourists.
This is increasingly worrying for the Egyptian economy which depends on the tourist dollar and hopefully - for the good the country – this will not be a lasting trend.
But for the time being it’s possible to have some pretty unique experiences across the country and some great bargains to boot.
I recently watched the sunset from the top of Mount Sinai in complete solitude where previously I would have felt fortunate to be one of just fifty.
The red sea coastal resorts have lots of bargain up for grabs and plenty of room for sunbathing on the beach.
And the Pyramids and other prodigious ancient sites haven’t known such a state of continued peace and harmony since the zenith of the middle Kingdom.
If they’re on your bucket list, there really has never been a better time to go.
If you’ve also travelled in post revolution Egypt please comment below so that other readers may benefit from your experience.