Recovering the Egyptian cultural heritage and guiding tourists through its most hidden treasures are the main objectives of “Walk Like An Egyptian”, a tourism initiative that the young Asma Khattab launched eight years ago and which is currently a benchmark in the sector.
Khattab created this company with the intention of offering something new to both foreigners and Egyptian citizens and getting out of the dynamics followed by traditional travel agencies, which offered to see only the most striking parts of the country, leaving behind “the jewels that are not seen with the naked eye”.
“Tourists came with a closed package to see the pyramidsthe Egyptian Museum, navigating a section of the Nile to a temple and eating in a tourist restaurant, where the price-quality leaves much to be desired… They are not really seeing EgyptThey only see 20% of what the country can offer them”Khattab said in an interview with EFE.
Tired of seeing her country represented by some stereotypes in the face of all the wealth it can offer, this entrepreneur started the Facebook page in 2012 ‘Walk Like An Egyptian‘, in which he commented on monuments and places beyond the typical tourist guides, but it was not until 2015 when he started with the tours at street level
“We have countless monuments from Islamic, Coptic, Jewish cultures, as well as everything pharaonic because the history of Egypt is enormous thanks to the diversity of all the communities that have created the country’s identity over the millennia”he claimed.
The routes enter common places for the residents, but alien to tourists, such as the route through the City of the Dead, an area of cemeteries with tombs of famous people from the history of Egypt; or the walk from the mosque of Ibn Tulun to that of Sultan Hassan, passing through the Citadel of Saladin, in the Islamic quarter of Cairo.
Their plans also include routes through Downtown, the center of the Egyptian capital, with explanations about the Franco-English architecture that predominates in the buildings, as well as details and curiosities of the day-to-day life of the Egyptians.
In addition, in their agenda they add plans such as bird watching on a boat that sails the Nile to the delta dam (“Delta Barrages”) with departure and arrival point in the town of Al Qanater Al Khayreya.
The routes are always during the Egyptian weekend, on Fridays and Saturdays, in English and in groups with a maximum of 15 people, although they also offer the possibility of making private guides.
“These tours are not really for tourists or for Egyptians, they are for people in love with history, culture, art, who seek to really know the roots of the place where they are and want to interact with neighbors”Khattab notes.
Bet on local talent
This young guide recognizes that “Over time, the government is seeing the importance of caring for and investing in all these places, as well as looking for formulas to boost tourism as an economic engine.”
This entrepreneur affirms that this type of initiative that focuses on the local allows for the generation of greater direct benefits for the citizens involved compared to large brands that work with commission employees.
“Taxi drivers, guides, shops that are on the route we follow… They all benefit from this project that makes the jewels of Egyptian heritage known”insists.
Khattab is clear that his is just one example of the many projects that Egyptians are promoting to share their heritage, boost tourism and relaunch the economy at a time marked by the economic crisis that the Arab country is going through.
“The government has to do more to support start-ups, especially in the context we find ourselves in now. Betting on a new form of tourism is investing in the present and future of the country”Khattab noted.
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