Gepost door: nuweiba | mei 7, 2010

Worst of vulcano is over

Amirah Ibrahim

As many European airports cleared operations, Egyptian airlines resumed flights to Europe, attempting to transfer more than 17,000 tourists stranded in Egypt. The crisis borne by the volcanic eruption in Iceland, which sent vast ash clouds across much of continental Europe, softened when European transport ministers Monday agreed a deal to cut the size of no-fly zones as airlines and businesses heaped pressure on authorities to reopen European airspace.

On Tuesday, a number of Egyptian airlines offered dozens of flights to help passengers move in and out the country. The Egyptian Civil Aviation Authority (ECAA) released figures showing that five private airlines operated 33 flights from Hurghada and Sharm El-Sheikh airports to European destinations. “The majority of flights headed to cities in south Europe, including Rome and Marseilles, as well as to Barcelona. The only cancellations occurred with AMC airlines which had to abort seven flights to Poland and two to France,” said Sameh El-Hefni, ECAA chairman.

The national carrier, EgyptAir, on the other hand resumed flights to six destinations in Europe, including Frankfurt, Munich, Geneva, Paris, Vienna and Budapest. Brussels, Dusseldorf, Berlin and London remained closed.

Hopes of a resumption of normal air traffic between Egypt and Europe were tempered early week by news that the ash clouds were spewing as far as the southern Mediterranean and may strand Egyptians and remaining tourists further. Reports indicated that at least five Middle East countries were soon to be exposed to volcanic ash in the atmosphere — Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine. But by noon yesterday winds had diverted ash clouds away from northern Mediterranean and they appear now to be heading into the Atlantic Ocean.

Nonetheless, officials remain cautious. “We are watching the situation closely in cooperation with European air traffic centres to see if the ash cloud is a threat to air transport,” commented Ahmed Said, chairman of the Air Navigation Company. “At worst, Egyptian air space will not be closed. We have a contingency plan to operate from Upper Egypt airports as well as Red Sea airports. We have also coordinated with aviation authorities to provide airlines crews who may be exposed to volcanic ashes with useful guides,” Said added.

The air transport business has been trying to overcome the negative influence of a troubling 18-month period where a world credit crunch hit the business hard in Egypt, followed by the H1N1 epidemic that crippled air travel for a considerable time. Now, Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano is adding salt to open wounds.

Aviation Minister Ahmed Shafiq warned that the crisis would affect air transport badly and damage poor countries more than rich ones. He declined to comment on possible means to compensate losing businesses. “We are in the middle of a storm. All we can do for now is to try to face the problem and get through it safely and with the least damage. When it is over, we will estimate the losses and consider how to handle them,” Shafiq said in a press conference Sunday.

For EgyptAir, the crisis is another blow to its financial standing. “This will cripple our efforts to improve financial performance,” explained Hussein Massoud, chairman of EgyptAir Holding Company. “We cannot estimate loses on the spot. Yet, the crisis will affect the annual balance in a negative way, putting into consideration the consequences of the world financial crisis that harmed all airlines,” he explained.

Luckily enough, the national carrier did not have any aircraft stranded at European airports, as it did not operate any night flights last Thursday. All the fleet flew back from Europe by mid-day, just before the volcanic eruption.

According to Ibrahim Manaa, head of the Egyptian Holding Company for Airports and Air Navigation (EHCAAN), which supervises all 22 Egyptian airports, the five-day paralysis in air traffic in Europe will mean great losses. “The air navigation business is losing 50,000 euros every day. Cairo International Airport’s loses exceeded $100,000 in addition to LE1.8 millions so far,” Manna explained. “As for other airports, losses are estimated at $600,000,” he added.

Manna further indicated that the reduction in traffic to Egyptian airports ranged at around 30 per cent, while “the traffic at some airports has been reduced by rates of 47 per cent.”

A statement issued by ECAA stated that 89 flights had been cancelled at Cairo International Airport for Egyptian and foreign airlines. Hurghada Airport topped the cancellations list at 421, followed by Sharm El-Sheikh Airport at 253, the majority of which charter flights. Luxor Airport saw 44 flights cancelled, whereas Taba Airport saw 23 cancellations. In addition to delays, the total affected flights exceeded 1,548.

Lufthansa and Air France operated flights Tuesday with aircraft that had been stranded at Cairo International Airport since Thursday. Air Berlin Airlines operated two flights to Munich and Colon. But even with flights resuming, passengers face the prospect of further delays before they can get to their final destinations as airlines clear the backlog.

“We cannot take the stranded passengers instead of the ones who have confirmed bookings. All we can do is to try to provide more alternatives to those who can travel to a near destination where we have capacity,” stated Captain Alaa Ashour, chairman of EgyptAir. “We will also try to operate additional flights if needed. But this is subject to approvals by European airports,” Ashour explained.

EgyptAir said it had re-issued tickets free of charge for passengers with reservations on cancelled flights. On the other hand, the airline operated larger aircraft to Rome, Madrid and Barcelona, so as to transfer more of those who desired to find a way to their final destination through rail transport or other means in Europe.

Travel agents said that reservations to key European airports cannot be made for the time being; that airlines will take at least a week to clear stranded passengers before taking fresh bookings. “Confirmed seats are available only in first class after 28 April. Reservations in economy class are not available. There is a huge waiting list,” said Amr Sidqi, managing director of one travel agency.

The problem of stranded passengers shook the tourism industry in particular in Luxor, Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada where official figures indicated that more than 17,000 tourists were in need of accommodation. Governor of Luxor Samir Farag moved immediately with travel agencies to secure the stay of stranded tourists in their hotels. “In fact, the stranded tourists replaced tourists who could not arrive from Europe. Nile cruise boats also accommodated a considerable number of them,” Farag told Al-Ahram Weekly.

Tourists were offered many options: “Either to be transferred to any European destination, or to stay and contact their embassies to afford the accommodation and to secure them financially,” explained Farag. The same happened in Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada.

At Cairo International Airport, the scene has been different. Departure halls remained busy with stranded passengers who slept on floors for the first four days, each hoping to take a seat onboard a return flight whenever possible. A number of foreign groupings in Cairo called on compatriots to host citizens of the same nationality in their home. The French League secured accommodation for 50 stranded French passengers in this way.

(Source: Al-Ahram Weekly)

Gepost door: nuweiba | maart 11, 2010

Head of Famous Pharaoh Amenhotep III

The newly unearthed 3,400-year old red granite head, part of a huge statue of the ancient pharaoh Amenhotep III, at the pharaoh’s mortuary temple in the city of Luxor. Egypt’s Culture Ministry says a team of Egyptian and European archaeologists has unearthed a large head made of red granite of an ancient pharaoh who ruled Egypt some 3,400 years ago. AP Photo/ Supreme Council of Antiquities.

CAIRO (AP).- Archaeologists have unearthed a massive red granite head of one Egypt’s most famous pharaohs who ruled nearly 3,400 years ago, the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities announced Sunday.

The head of Amenhotep III, which alone is about the height of a person, was dug out of the ruins of the pharaoh’s mortuary temple in the southern city of Luxor.

The leader of the expedition that discovered the head described it as the best preserved sculpture of Amenhotep III’s face found to date.

“Other statues have always had something broken: the tip of the nose, the face is eroded,” said Dr. Hourig Sourouzian, who has led the led the Egyptian-European expedition at the site since 1999. “But here, from the tip of the crown to the chin, it is so beautifully carved and polished, nothing is broken.”

The head is part of a larger statue found several years ago, along with the parts of the body, the back slab, and the ceremonial beard which Souruzian says will soon be connected with the head.

Amenhotep III, who was the grandfather of the famed boy-pharaoh Tutankhamun, ruled from 1387-1348 B.C. at the height of Egypt’s New Kingdom and presided over a vast empire stretching from Nubia in the south to Syria in the north.

Sourouzian said the pharaoh was famous for leading Egypt at the peak of its ancient civilization, when peace and luxury were prevalent throughout the kingdom. Craftsmen were also honing their artistic techniques during the period, which may explain the symmetrical features of the unearthed head.

“But he may have looked exactly as this statue and he may have been a very beautiful, very handsome man,” Sourouzian told the Associated Press.

Amenhotep III’s massive mortuary temple was largely destroyed, possibly by floods, and little remains of its walls.

The expedition, however, has unearthed a wealth of artifacts and statuary in the buried ruins, including two statues of Amenhotep made of black granite found in March. By: Hadeel Al-Shalchi, Associated Press Writer. Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

Gepost door: nuweiba | februari 17, 2010

EGYPTE | King Tut’s mundane death –

King Tut\’s mundane death –

Gepost door: nuweiba | november 11, 2009

A history of archaeology and excavation at Saqqara

The cemetery at Saqqara is one of the most important archaeological sites in Egypt. Over six kilometres long, it boasts thousands of underground burial sites, as well as the six-step Djoser pyramid – Egypt’s oldest pyramid.

The ruins at Saqqara have long attracted the interest of explorers, grave-robbers and local people. Travellers first reported evidence of antiquities at Saqqara in the 16th century. The Djoser Pyramid and the smaller pyramids around it were hard to miss – but the size of the necropolis only became apparent with the advent of excavations in the 19th century.

It was not until Napoleon marched into Egypt in 1798 with his conquering forces that a scientific study of the area began. One of Napoleon’s aims in ‘liberating’ Egypt was to bring modern, scientific enquiry to the study of its monuments.

The general established the Institut de l’Égypte and despatched hundreds of scientists to document Egypt’s antiquities in depth. The resulting publication, the Description of Egypt, was a lavishly produced catalogue of Ancient Egyptian sites – including Saqqara.

Enter Karl Richard Lepsius.

Gepost door: nuweiba | oktober 12, 2009

Peek inside reveals Egyptian mummy has no organs


The mummy didn’t have a heart.

So doctors at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Aventura and scholars everywhere will never know for sure if it was high cholesterol, or any other type of illness, that killed the person wrapped inside.

On Friday, radiologists at the hospital used modern medical technology in hopes of unwrapping the mummy mystery. The Egyptian mummy, belonging to the Bass Museum of Art in Miami Beach, is at least 2,600 years old and is tucked inside a wooden sarcophagus.

After using 3D scanners to take a peek beneath the ancient bandages, it was what wasn’t inside that most surprised the doctors.

Unlike most Egyptian mummies, all of its organs had been removed. The mummy was essentially wrapped to preserve its bones, said the hospital’s chief radiologist, Jeffrey Neitlich.

“Most cultures left the heart intact, because the heart was considered an important vessel for the afterlife,” said Neitlich. “It could’ve been something cultural, and this might help [researchers] localize what culture it came from.”

Finding a cause of death was one of the main goals of the examination, but learning anything from this particular mummy was a good start.

Until Friday, curators at the museum knew very little of their mummified possession, with no records of where the coffin and mummy were first discovered.

“We knew it was a boy,” said curator Sylvia Cubinas. “It’s a mystery we’ve been wanting to solve for a long time.” The size of the mummy’s leg bones confirmed its gender.

An early analysis revealed that the mummy had a nice set of dentures, with only one bottom tooth missing. It also had signs of early arthritis.

More distinguishing, it appears the person had a severe curvature of the spine that may have caused him to shrink with age, said Neitlich.

Friday’s findings will be incorporated into an ongoing study by researchers at New York’s Brooklyn Museum who began studying the mummy in July. The study’s early findings indicate that the coffin is typical of those used during the Dynasty 26 (circa 664-525 BCE). The date of the mummy itself remains unknown, although the style of wrapping is often associated with the Roman period, Cubinas said.

The mummy now will go back into storage where it will stay until next spring, when it will be the centerpiece of a new exhibit.

Copyright © 2009, South Florida Sun-Sentinel




Gepost door: nuweiba | oktober 12, 2009

‘Moses’ is Egyptian for ‘Newborn’

By Dr. Zahi Hawass

Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- Despite the numerous articles I have written on the Pharaoh who looked after Prophet Moses and the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and the details of their lives in Egypt based on archaeological evidence, and despite that the holy books have approached the issue in detail and that the story of the Jews in Egypt and the Exodus led by Moses is one of the stories most mentioned in the Old Testament and the Holy Quran, there are still many questions that require answers.

Unfortunately, antiquities have not yet revealed any evidence that could benefit us in this regard. There are some facts that cannot be overlooked in the story of the Exodus for example that the existence [of the Israelites] in Egypt has been confirmed by archaeological evidence ever since the age of the Modern Kingdom [of Egypt]. The beginning of the arrival [of the Israelites] to Egypt could be linked to the groups of immigrants arriving along with the Hyksos. They settled in the eastern Nile Delta and stayed there even after the expulsion of the Hyksos from Egypt and the beginning of the eighteenth dynasty of Egypt.

As for the name ‘Moses’ it is undoubtedly purely Egyptian meaning ‘newborn’. It might be the name that the Pharaoh’s wife gave to him the moment he was found. Some argue that the name means ‘son of the water’ or ‘water-born baby’ based on the assumption that ‘Mo’ means water and ‘Ses’ might mean ‘newborn’ or ‘son’.

The third fact of the story of the Exodus is that the Holy Quran mentions the king whose palace Prophet Moses was raised in and during whose reign details of the Exodus emerged. However, he is referred to as ‘Pharaoh’. This is in line with archaeological evidence, as those who ruled Egypt during the age of the Modern Kingdom were given the title ‘Pharaoh,’ not ‘king’ and that was also the case before this age.

But there are still questions to which we do not have answers: who is the Pharaoh of the Exodus? Is he the same Pharaoh as the Pharaoh who raised Prophet Moses? Whilst the Old Testament mentions two Pharaohs – one that persecuted and tortured the Israelites and the other under whose reign the Exodus took place, the Holy Quran refers only to one Pharaoh, or at least that is how the following verse is interpreted: “(Pharaoh) said: ‘Did we not cherish thee as a child among us, and didst thou not stay in our midst many years of thy life?’” (Surat al Shuara: 17).

This does not necessarily mean that the Pharaoh who said these words is the same Pharaoh who raised Prophet Moses. Another matter that still puzzles archaeologists is the area where the Israelites stopped during the Exodus and the places they lived in during the period of wilderness, which is known to have continued for about 40 years. Sinai was thought of as the land of wilderness with regards to the Israelites. Moreover, the Old Testament named several places, but unfortunately, the excavations that had been carried out in Sinai, whether by Jewish archaeologists during the Israeli occupation of Sinai or Egyptian archaeologists after the occupation, showed no indications of the existence of the Israelites in Sinai.

What is even stranger is that some people argue that the event did not take place in Sinai in the first place but somewhere else outside of Egypt. Several sites in Yemen have been suggested in this context, but there is no archaeological evidence to support this argument.

Last but not least, debates over the location of Prophet Moses’ grave and the circumstances surrounding his death still arise from time to time. Surprisingly, the Holy Quran does not mention anything about Prophet Moses’ final days, his passing or the location where he is buried. There is wisdom behind this that only Almighty God knows. It was said that the Holy Quran had not referred to the location of Prophet Moses’ grave so that it would not become a place of worship for the Jews where they could worship the prophet after his death, as they had previously disobeyed the commands of God and committed what he had prohibited.

CAIRO – Archaeologists have unearthed a cache near the Western gate of the National Museum in Cairo, which contained a table made of limestone, a fragment of a slab with hieroglyphic inscriptions, some stones, and the base of a pharaonic pillar, which date back to the pharaonic period around 1,300 years BC.

“This type of slab was quite widespread during the era of the Pharaohs, who used it to mark a special occasion,” Hawass told The Egyptian Gazette.

“The slab shows the head of a cobra,” Hawass said, adding that foreign archaeologists were in the habit of burying antiquities they had considered ‘useless’ in the Museum’s garden.

“The antiquities will be analysed,” said Hawass, who has been supervising a project for giving a facelift to the Museum.

The project, which is near completion, includes upgrading the museum and adding new, showrooms, meeting rooms, a library, a bookshop and a cafeteria. (ANI)

New ancient Egypt temples discovered in Sinai

CAIRO — Archaeologists exploring an old military road in the Sinai have unearthed four new temples amidst the 3,000-year-old remains of an ancient fortified city that could have been used to impress foreign delegations visiting Egypt, antiquities authorities announced Tuesday.

Among the discoveries was the largest mud brick temple found in the Sinai with an area of 70 by 80 meters (77 by 87 yards) and fortified with mud walls 3 meters (10 feet) thick, said Zahi Hawass, chief of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities.

The find was made in Qantara, 2½ miles (4 kilometers) east of the Suez Canal. These temples mark the latest discovery by archaeologists digging up the remains of the city on the military road known as “Way of Horus.” Horus is a falcon-headed god, who represented the greatest cosmic powers for ancient Egyptians.

The path once connected Egypt to Palestine and is close to present-day Rafah, which borders the Palestinian territory of Gaza.

Archaeologist Mohammed Abdel-Maqsoud, chief of the excavation team, said the large brick temple could potentially rewrite the historical and military significance of the Sinai for the ancient Egyptians.

The temple contains four hallways, three stone purification bowls and colorful inscriptions commemorating Ramses I and II. The grandeur and sheer size of the temple could have been used to impress armies and visiting foreign delegations as they arrived in Egypt, authorities said.

The dig has been part of a joint project with the Culture Ministry that started in 1986 to find fortresses along the military road. Hawass said early studies suggested the fortified city had been Egypt’s military headquarters from the New Kingdom (1569-1081 B.C.) until the Ptolemaic era, a period lasting about 1500 years.

In a previous find, archaeologists there reported finding the first ever New Kingdom temple to be found in northern Sinai. Studies indicated the temple was built on top of an 18th Dynasty fort (1569-1315 B.C.).

Last year, a collection of reliefs belonging to King Ramses II and King Seti I (1314-1304 B.C.) were also unearthed along with rows of warehouses used by the ancient Egyptian army during the New Kingdom era to store wheat and weapons.

Abdel-Maqsoud said the fortified city corresponded to the inscriptions of the Way of Horus found on the walls of the Karnak Temple in Luxor which illustrated the features of 11 military fortresses that protected Egypt’s eastern borders. Only five of them have been discovered to date.

Gepost door: nuweiba | september 26, 2008

Visa to Cairo – Tourism report for Egypt released

Over the past year Egyptian tourism has grown at rates not seen since 2004, according to a Companies and Markets report.
The growth in foreign arrivals in Egypt has been attributed to the weakness of the Egyptian pound against the Euro, the development of tourism products and operations, successful marketing campaigns and success in key markets.

Europeans are still dominating the international visitor market in Egypt, who now comprise 74 per cent of all tourists in the country (up from 69 per cent in the previous year).  Arrivals from India and China were also on the rise, reports

An Egypt visa is a permit issued by the Egyptian visa authorities to a person for entry, exit or transit through Egypt. Tourist and Business visas are issued according to the applicant’s status, purpose of visit and passport type.

British and other EU nationals travelling to Sharm El Sheikh, Dahab, Nuweiba and Taba resorts only, for up to 14 days, do not require a visa but can instead receive a free entry stamp upon arrival. 

The Egypt tourist visa (or Egypt visit visa) is issued with a validity of three months, and is intended solely for applicants wishing to visit the country for the purposes of tourism.  However, applicants must leave upon the visa’s expiry and must not engage in any form of employment while on their visit.  Additionally, Egyptian tourist visas can be issued for either single entry or multiple entries. 

The Worldwide Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in Egypt visa and immigration services.

Article by Jessica Bird, Worldwide Visa Bureau.

Gepost door: nuweiba | september 20, 2008

andrea Bocelli in Cairo

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