Egypt: Aida and Nefertari's tomb to relaunch tourism

Tourism minister, we are counting on italian enterpreneurs

12 September, 21:01

    An edition of Aida at the Verona Arena (archive photo) An edition of Aida at the Verona Arena (archive photo)

    (ANSAmed) - CAIRO - Aida, Giuseppe Verdi's masterpiece, will return to Cairo on the 16th of December with the great Pyramids and the Sphynk as setting, Hisham Zazou, Egyptian minister of tourism told the press, adding that the event is sign of the renewed "normality and security" of the Egyptian capital. Zazou also announced two other initiatives likely to attract great interest: the opening during the month of October, for a limited time, of the tomb of Queen Nefertari, wife of Pharaoh Ramses II, known as "the beauty among the beautiful", as well as the inauguration of itineraries retracing the footsteps of Jesus and his family during their flight to Egypt. The minister said that the projects are aimed at relaunching tourism in Egypt, also through the promotion of new resorts, including one on the Mediterranean sea with Carabbean-like colours. "We went through some tough years - Zazou told reporters - my country went through a dramatic upheaval after the Tahrir Square Revolution, but now the situation is under control, there's no danger for tourists". It's time to come back to Egypt, argued the minister, whose message was geared to attract the attention of the Italian market, usually very drawn to Egypt.

    Before the social and political crisis that followed the Arab Spring, almost one million Italians travelled to the land of Pharaohs, the land "where everything began" as a famous slogan branded Egypt, every year. Zazou hopes the tourism figures will soon add up. "Everytime I go to Luxour my heart sinks when I see the empty temples, the unemployment, the cruise-ships at anchor on the Nile. But there is no reason to fear. On the contrary, Egypt is more dynamic, vibrant and full of life than ever before" Zazou tells visitors. He advises Italian enterpreneurs to invest in the construction of resort on the stretch of coastline going from Alexandria to El Alamein.

    "It's a jack-pot there" he says. Having the Aida back in Cairo, one of the four cards up the minister's sleeve, is of great symbolic value. The opera who tells the story of the tragic love between the daughter of the king of Ethiopia and an Egyptian warrior, was first commissioned to Verdi by Ismail Pascià to celebrate the opening in 1868 of the Suez Canal. The first international premiere was played in 1871, in Cairo's Opera Theatre. December's perfomance will be a tribute to the second Suez canal, which is currently under construction and will allow ships to navigate faster both ways through the channel between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea.

    The tourism minister hopes someone as renowned as Riccardo Muti will direct the opera and has assured the cast will be well known with many Italian and Egyptian members. The temporary opening of the marvellous tomb of Nefertari will also be carried out with Italy's cooperation and, in particular, with the involvement of the Egyptian Museum of Turin. It was actually the museum director, archaelogist Ernesto Schiapparelli, who found in 1904, what is nowadays considered one of the most beautiful and most fragile tombs - especially prone to deterioration and ransacks - of the Valley of Queens. The third element in the minister's tourism relaunch are journey's on Jesus' footsteps, following the roads he may have taken during the 42 months in which he fled Herod's persecution and found refuge in Egypt. They will begin in October with a stop in Coptic Cairo and will continue through christian monasteries in the desert, along the Nile and finally reach Minya and Assiut. The fourth suprise Zazou has in store is a complex project: the addition of Egypt's Mediterreanean coast to his country's tourist portfolio. It combines - he argues - holidaying and culture. "The areas between El Alamein and Alexandria combine the relax of sea-side holiday destination with extraordinary crystal waters to the opportunity to visit cities like Alexandria and Cairo, which are just a few hours drive away and even safaris in the desert towards the Siwa oasis where one has the impression of living the Egypt of centuries past". The region is at easy reach, serviced by four airports and currentlly offers accomodation for up to five thousand people, while the target is to reach 15 thousand. The Egyptian cabinet minister is relying on Italian enterpreneurs and he will be in Rome next week to discuss possible partnerships.(ANSAmed).

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