Why Egypt Tourism is Safe: A Sobering Examination
By Jimmy Dunn
While not as devastating as the events in the United States, some years ago Egypt received its own wakeup call on terrorism. And while not as devastating in terms of lives lost, in many ways, those events were probably, due to the importance of tourism, more devastating to Egypt's economy.
So actions, many similar to those that are being proposed in the United States, were taken. Just as an example, only ticketed passengers in Egypt have been allowed into boarding areas at airports for some time and security at airports, just as in Israel, is handled by the federal government using highly trained personnel.
In many ways, Egypt exercised much more caution in regards to travelers even prior to these events. They have long employed tourists police whose sole job is to look after the interests of travelers, but after the terrorist events in Egypt years ago, this force was strengthened, more training was implemented and in general, a more serious approach was taken.
In addition, certainly just as the United States government has suggested, there were certain cautionary measures taken that many might think of as being somewhat restrictive. These included checking cars for explosive devices at major hotels, and even using metal detectors at hotel entrances, as well as even limiting and scrutinizing closely those who are allowed to enter hotels.
In other words, a complete set and system of very serious precautionary measures were taken.
But additional steps were taken far in excess of these surface remedies. Unlike American, Egypt is a predominately Islamic state and therefore certain social measures were required. The Egyptian government determined that their were hotspots of radical unrest, mostly in some Middle Egyptian universities, where many of the trouble makers were being hatched. First, many of the students at these universities were moved about to other more moderate schools, while moderate students were moved into the problem universities. And to prevent the problems from reoccurring, professors were strictly prohibited from lecturing on most religious doctrine, and this prohibition has been enforced. The government even went to the extent of providing poorer students a monetary allowance. Today, we find many of the girls at these universities wearing makeup rather than covering vales, and the areas are looking for new tourism.
Finally, in an act that the United States might have condemned a short time ago, most of the suspected extremists were simply rounded up and either jailed, or expelled form the country. Egypt, just as the United States has now declared, has zero tolerance for would be terrorists. In this regard, it should well be pointed out that any Egyptians who might have been involved in the horrendous acts carried out in the US probably long ago lost their homeland.
Finally, Egypt and President Mubarak long ago called for a coalition against terrorism, a call that for a large part, went unanswered.
In the end, today we find an Egypt that is the most moderate, pro-western country in the Middle East. We find an Egypt with McDonalds, TGI Fridays and Hard Rock Cafes, where western sitcoms such as Married with Children co-occupy TV land along side modern Arabic versions of popular game shows. We find a society in love with cell phones and world fashions. It is not a country that has given up its own culture, but rather one that has matured into a member of the world society.
Egypt is a loving, caring nation that regardless of the pockets of sensationalism that the media may find, as a whole grieving for, and shocked by the American loss, both in human life, and perhaps in innocence's. But long ago, Egypt made itself safe for travelers, and today it remains so.
Last Updated: June 22nd, 2011