My young taxi driver, Ahmed – suffering from a combination of a late night out with friends, his Ramadan fasting (no food or water/drink from sunrise to sunset) and the 43 degrees Celsius heat picked me up from Mara House at 10am. However, none of the above was bothering him as much as a rumour he had heard that the deposed President Morsi might be coming back! It took me the 15 minute journey into town to raise his spirits by listing the reasons why that was NEVER going to happen.
Ahmed’s second question was the same one that I am now asked by everyone I meet in Luxor – “When do you think the tourists will be coming back?” My answer was “About 4 weeks time.”
I instinctively feel that with the Morsi government gone the entire nation of Egypt is resting – apart from the MB (Muslim Brotherhood) supporters still remaining in the streets, refusing to recognise that their time has come and gone. I feel that everything is happening in perfect synchronicity for Egypt, everything is as it should be for the rebirth of the cradle of civilization. It is only now that Egyptians realise the level of continuous and aggravated stress they have all been feeling over the last two and a half years. Now they are taking a much needed sleep, rest and rejuvention time. They will relax for the next 19 days of Ramadan. Then they will waken and start rebuilding the country in earnest at street level.
In the meantime I am hunting for good people with the energy and enthusiasm to be the ones at the forefront of making things happen – especially in Luxor. Yahia from the Steigenberger Nile Palace is the first person on my list. I met Yahia when previously trying to interest the 5 star hotels in coming together on some projects about 3 months previously. I had invited many general managers to a meeting but only Yahia showed up 🙁 But, as the day progressed I was to discover that Yahia was possibly one of the most important people I needed to meet.
During my conversation with Yahia in the Steigenberger Nile Palace, I heard myself say “that is why I need to meet the General Manager here now, NOW……..” I cannot remember what came before those words and I saw the surprise on Yahia’s face. However, he kindly went off in search of the General Manager of the hotel. Within a few minutes he was back to say that the General Manager said the person I needed to meet was the Owner – Mr. Gamal Said…and was, fortunately for me, in the hotel at that moment.
Mr. Gamal turned out to be a most charming man who gave me much insight into Luxor’s business and tourism history, telling me whom I should also speak with, who would be likely to join me and forewarning me of possible pitfalls. I told him I was working on a project to end the tourist hassle in Luxor – he was surprised, told me of previous he and others had made in regard to this, all unfortunately had not succeeded. He said he would much admire me if I succeeded – I told him I already had succeeded in getting agreement from the men in the main Souk and the project was ready to launch. He will introduce me to the new Governor when he arrives. He offering me any assistance he can provide and designating Yahia to be the person from the hotel to work with me. I am so looking forward to meeting him again next month when he is back in Luxor.
One hour later Yahia was in the lobby making a list of people I should meet – wow he knew everyone and seemed to have all their phone numbers too! He even knew who was on holidays and where they were and he kindly offered to set up appointments for me which meant I could now take the rest of the day off.