Friday, February 17, 2006

King Tut and the American tourist

Zahi Hawass, in his Al Ahram column, talking about the relationship between Egypt and American tourism: "We always say that we do not have many American tourists in Egypt because they think it is dangerous to travel here. Whenever there is a terrorist incident it receives a good deal of coverage in the American media, making Americans more and more afraid. They believe that Egypt is not safe. Once, during the question and answer session at the end of my lecture at the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles, a man stood up and asked why he should travel to Egypt, because he was always hearing about Egyptians killing tourists. I explained that terrorists do bad things everywhere -- in the main squares of famous European cities, in the streets of Los Angeles, and in New York. People are killed all the time. I told him that last New Year's Eve I had invited my friend Betsy Bryan from Johns Hopkins University to a party at the Capital Club in downtown Cairo. When Betsy wanted to leave and go back to her hotel, which was about a mile away from the club, I told her to wait and said I would take her, but she insisted on going alone. She told me that she often walked through the streets of Cairo after midnight, and felt absolutely safe. But in the end I told the questioner at the lecture that when he died and went to heaven, he would never go to paradise because he hadn't visited Egypt. Everyone in the audience laughed a lot."

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