Novel Attempt to Lure Tourists to Return
Tour guide Ahmed Seddik has a plan to lure frightened tourists back to Egypt. He will offer them “revolutionary tours” that trace Egypt’s history from ancient times until today.
“I offer an eyewitness account of the rise and fall of regimes that were in power in Egypt,” Seddik, 33, told The Media Line. “Revolutions came from revelations that led to the ultimate triumph of the power of the people.”
Seddik’s schedule is busy. He starts working in the wee hours of the morning in order to beat the heat and Cairo crushing traffic. Early morning is also ideal for the plethora of photographers who enjoy Seddik's choice of ancient and modern sites.
"Early to bed and early to guide gives man a plan and a command of his field," he said. Seddik walks tourists through the splendor that was Egypt from the Pharonic, Ptolemaic, Roman, Islamic, and into the Modern period.
Seddik explores the revolutionary leaders who made Egypt what it is today. There is Talaat Harb, founder of the Bank of Egypt in 1920, Hafez Ibrahim, a 19th century Egyptian poet and Umm Kulthum, the famous Egyptian singer from the 1950’s and 1960’s. For more contemporary history, there is Khaled Saied, a young man who died in 2010 after being arrested and allegedly tortured by Egyptian security forces. His death sparked the protests that eventually led long-time autocrat Hosni Mubarak to resign in 2011.
“They are the seminal influential figures who made Egypt revolutionary and the Egyptians susceptible to revolt,” Seddik said.
A typical walking tour includes stops at the Palace of Khedive Ismail (Egypt’s leader in the 1860s) and Egypt’s National Radio and TV building, which Seddik calls “Mubarak’s mass brainwashing machine”; as well as the bridge of Qasr El-Nil, where the police killed dozens of protestors during the Egyptian revolution of 2011.
Ahmed Seddik tries to mix the old with the new and show how Egypt progressed throughout history. “I shed light on the revolutionary figures in art, politics, economics, poetry and singing,” he says.
The tour starts from Zamalek, the upscale Cairo district where he lives, and ends in Tahrir Square, the focus of the demonstrations that led Mubarak to step down.
“Egypt is a gift of the Nile and the Egyptian freedom is a gift of Tahrir,” he said.
Ahmed also takes tourists and students to a "Picnic among the graves" in the city of the dead, a giant cemetery on the outskirts of Cairo. Nobody knows how many people live here, but estimates range from half a million to five million.
Ahmed describes the cemetery city as “so full of life and amenities that it is more town than slum. We will be able to see the fabled vast necropolis and feast our eyes on glorious monuments.”
Cairo in English means Victorious. The "city of the dead" was built at the height of the Islamic art period and there are many good examples of this architecture in the tombs.
Ahmed Seddik’s revolutionary tour is part of his activism as a travel consultant, trying to make a difference for Egypt and Egyptians. He tries to educate both Egyptians and foreigners about the history of Egypt in a simple and poetic way.
“I consider my tours as part of a global educational program,” he said. “Through the revolutionary tour I try to revive the spirit of Egypt’s recent revolution as well as older revolutionary events. Egypt is in a continuous state of revolutions to get the best out of its people.”
Ahmed Seddik’s tour “Evolution to Revolution” ends in Tahrir Square, the birthplace of Egypt’s most recent revolution where he deciphers colorful graffiti about Mubarak’s fall. He hopes that tourists will realize that Egypt is not dangerous and will soon return.