// Egypt's ancient pyramids at Giza get makeover
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jannah
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« on: Aug 12, 2008 08:39 PM »


I guess security is good and not getting ripped off by the camel hawkers is better, but I actually think this is really sad. If they build all these designated routes with golf carts all over the place and gate off access to the pyramids... you just lose out on the experience. When you go there now even though there are hordes of tourists you feel like you've discovered an amazing place rising up right out of the desert. -- J.

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Egypt's ancient pyramids at Giza get makeover

The Associated Press

CAIRO, Egypt: The monuments may be glorious, but visiting Egypt's famed Giza Pyramids has long been a nightmare, with hawkers peddling camel rides and pharaonic trinkets hustling tourists relentlessly at every turn.

But now the hustlers are gone, as Egypt unveiled on Monday the first stage of an elaborate project to modernize the site and make it more tourist-friendly, complete with security cameras and a 12-mile fence with infrared sensors surrounding the site.

"It was a zoo," Zahi Hawass, Egypt's chief archaeologist, said of the usual free-for-all at the pyramids. "Now we are protecting both the tourists and the ancient monuments."

The three Giza Pyramids have long been unusually open for a 5,000-year-old Wonder of the World, especially compared to other world-renowned sites like Greece's Acropolis, Jerusalem's Western Wall or Rome's Colosseum, where security is tight and the movement of visitors is controlled.

The pyramids stand on a desert plateau that was once isolated, but in the capital's expansion in past decades slums have been built right to its edge, separated only by a low stone wall in parts. The rest of the area was wide open to the desert.

Hawkers — many from the nearby impoverished neighborhoods looking to benefit from the tourist dollar — have had free rein, and have become notorious.

Tourists undergo a constant barrage from peddlers selling mock-ups of pharaonic statues and scarabs, T-shirts and other trinkets, or are followed by men on camels selling rides or photos — and rarely taking no for an answer. Young men even try to force their way into taxi cabs carrying foreigners toward the pyramids, looking to steer them to nearby horse stables for a ride around the site.

Tourists have had taken their own liberties as well. Since the 19th Century, climbing the Pyramid of Khufu, the biggest of the three, was a favorite past-time for visitors, continuing into the 1970s — with the occasional fatal fall of an inebriated tourist.

Since then, authorities have cracked down on climbing the giant 2.5-ton blocks, though visitors can still freely ramble around the pyramid grounds, where many tombs and other archaeological sites remain only partially excavated and vulnerable to damage.

The new technology will do away with shenanigans by both sides.

The long metal fence encircling the site is peppered with infrared and motion detectors. Tourists enter through a new brick entrance building, with half a dozen gates equipped with metal detectors and X-ray machines. Once inside, their every step is closely watched by 199 closed-circuit cameras covering every corner of the sprawling plateau.

"It looks clean and beautiful," said Michael Schmidt, 43, a real estate agent from New York City, as he visited the site Monday. "They did a good job."

Shaban Abdel-Gawad, head of the Egyptology department at Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, said the plateau now only has one entrance point, the front gates. "We are making it much nicer for the tourists," he said and pointed to the new bathrooms at the entrance, which he said were of "much better standard."

As Hawass and antiquity authorities showed off the changes Monday, trinket sellers were nowhere to be seen, apparently ordered off the plateau. Three lone camel riders in male Arab headscarf and the traditional galabeyah robes were standing at the edge of the plateau. Instead of chasing customers, they waited for the tourists to come to them for a photo opportunity.

As a reporter walked up, one of them said: "Go away, the police told us not to talk to you."

"I've been working here for 25 years," said a second one, but would not give his name for fear he could lose his permit. "Now I don't know if I will be here tomorrow. I have five children, a wife. What will happen to us?"

It was not clear whether the trinket dealers were pushed out just for the day or whether they would return in a more controlled fashion. Kamal Wahid, the site's general director, said phasing out the hawkers will not be sudden or "unkind."

"Two years from now, you won't see them inside the site," he said. He added that a special area nearby will be designated for horse and camel riding for tourists — with the pyramids serving as a dramatic backdrop for photos.

The changes also increase security.

In 1997, amid a wave of Islamic militant violence, gunmen attacked tourists at a desert temple in the southern city of Luxor, killing more than 60. The militant campaign and most attacks ended in the late 1990s, but bombings in Sinai beach resorts in the past four years have kept officials wary.

The changes are part of a $26 million project that began seven years ago to improve the site, Hawass said. Still to come are a new lighting system, a cafeteria, and a visitors center and bookshop that will give better information on the pyramids, where tourist guidance is sparse.

Once the project is complete, golf cars will drive tourists around the site, similar to those in use in the Valley of the Kings at Luxor and other ancient sites in Egypt.

Exactly how much a future visitor would be able to roam around freely is unclear, but on Monday, Ramish Bissoon, 59, a teacher from Trinidad, felt unrestricted as he explored the plateau with his wife, Molly.

"I don't know what it was like before, but I feel very comfortable and secure," he said. "There are a lot of policemen around."

Hawass insisted none of the innovations will diminish the experience of the visit. "We are giving back the magic of the pyramids," Hawass said.
cheese
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« Reply #1 on: Aug 12, 2008 09:02 PM »

The only reason for the pyramids to exist would have been the poor being able to earn Hallal money by selling things to the tourists or offering them rides on camel and horses. Now there is no reason for the pyramids to exist, they may as well be demolished and the stone used to build affordable housing for the poor.
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« Reply #2 on: Aug 12, 2008 09:35 PM »

Uhh they're impossible to demolish. Previous khilafate tried. They are a cultural and historical artifacts. Architectural marvels. Everyone should go see them at least once a lifetime. There are many lessons to be met here.

Everyone always has this complaint about demolishing sweat shops and shanty towns etc. But in the end it is better for the people themselves. The kids that were hawking things can be sent to school and their parents can work in better conditions/pay inshaAllah. Legitimate shops and museums and security can be set up and this is better for the economy of the locals as well.
cheese
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« Reply #3 on: Aug 13, 2008 09:55 PM »

“Everyone should go see them at least once a lifetime”
No, everyone should go and see Makkah at least once.
I’ve been to Egypt once; I didn’t bother to see the pyramids though. Why would I want to visit the graves of people who are suffering such a painful torment in the grave that they are begging for Jahanum?
Why would I want to visit the graves of sinful Kaffir when I don’t visit the graves of saintly Muslims?


“Everyone always has this complaint about demolishing sweat shops and shanty towns etc. But in the end it is better for the people themselves. The kids that were hawking things can be sent to school and their parents can work in better conditions/pay inshaAllah. Legitimate shops and museums and security can be set up and this is better for the economy of the locals as well.”


This is just the excuse colonialists and the corrupt puppets that replaced them use to destroy peoples homes and livelihoods as well as stealing people’s lands or forcefully buying them at a fraction of the value.
It is never better for any people except the evil doers who make a profit by it.
The kids that a hawking wouldn’t do so if education was an option, and their parents would be working in better conditions if they had a choice. No one chooses bad conditions, people only do so because not doing so would mean worse conditions at best and starvation at worse.
The shops that are called “legitimate” are the ones owned by the rulers and their friends. Shops owned by the poor are the ones that are destroyed so the rich can have a monopoly.
When “sweet shops” are destroyed the owners lose their only source of income, when shanty towns are destroyed, people are made homeless. If “Sweetshop” owners had the option of a better Job, they would already be doing it; if people who live in Shanty towns had the option of living in mansions they would already be doing it. But that is not an option. When thousands of cheep huts are destroyed to build ten mansions, that’s not progress and it certainly doesn’t mean, the poor hut dwellers now live in great big mansions.
Sorry but what you wrote sounds like: Now that Mubarak and his gang have taken bread out of the mouths of the poor, the poor are all eating Cake!

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« Reply #4 on: Aug 14, 2008 10:14 AM »

salam

I dont just complain about sweat shops, I try and steer clear of shops that employ child labour, buy fairtrade whenever possible, and if not do without or better yet find a local alternative. All possible but only doable if you have the determination.

Must say I do agree with Cheese on this one, I dont see the fascination of the pyramids, they were built by tyranny, and stones are mixed with the tears and blood of innocents, they are graves of which the occupants are not even allowed to lay peacefully in this world being shunted from country to country... I was taught to treat the dead with utmost respect and to touch them gently and as little as possible as it causes them pain! What of the mummies currently displayed in the british museum, what must have been their deeds to warrant such punishment in this life?


Wassalaam

And when My servants question thee concerning Me, then surely I am nigh. I answer the prayer of the suppliant when he crieth unto Me. So let them hear My call and let them trust in Me, in order that they may be led aright. Surah 2  Verse 186
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« Reply #5 on: Aug 14, 2008 06:21 PM »

wsalam,

guys that's the point: 3:137 Many were the Ways of Life that have passed away before you: travel through the earth, and see what was the end of those who rejected Truth.

6:11 Say: "travel through the earth and see what was the end of those who rejected Truth."

12:109 Nor did We send before thee (as apostles) any but men, whom we did inspire,- (men) living in human habitations. Do they not travel through the earth, and see what was the end of those before them? But the home of the hereafter is best, for those who do right. Will ye not then understand?

16:36 For We assuredly sent amongst every People an apostle, (with the Command), "Serve Allah, and eschew Evil": of the People were some whom Allah guided, and some on whom error became inevitably (established). So travel through the earth, and see what was the end of those who denied (the Truth)

30:42 Say: "travel through the earth and see what was the end of those before (you): Most of them worshiped others besides Allah."

There's so many of these. Anyway that is the point!! Who were these people? Why did they build these pyramids? How did they build them? How was their society, what did they worship? What was their end? They tried to live forever. They tried to take all their gold and wealth with them. All these are interesting lessons and nope it's not the same as seeing a picture Wink
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