Monday, November 23, 2009

Development: Luxor's Corniche

Al Ahram Weekly (Nevine El-Aref)

Luxor, the City of Palaces, counts among the world's greatest open-air museum. If offers awe-inspiring monuments alongside more homely pleasures, riding a horse-drawn caleche along the Corniche, sailing a felucca across the Nile and even taking to the air in a hot-air balloon.

Haphazard development, though, has unfortunately compromised some of Luxor's charms. In response, Luxor City Council launched a comprehensive development plan three years ago, one of the aims of which is to pedestrianise the Corniche.

The 10-month Corniche Development Project has been designed by Ain Shams University's Faculty of Engineering and is being implemented by the army. It is budgeted at LE250 million, LE150 million provided by the Tourism Development Fund and the remaining LE100 million in the form of a European grant.

Samir Farag, head of Luxor City Council, explains that the project will be executed in three stages. The first, already completed, aimed at sprucing up the city's backstreets, enlarging and re- paving them and installing new lighting in order to facilitate the flow of traffic from the Corniche. The latter, says Farag, is to be left for pedestrians "to enjoy walking peacefully within the gates of Egypt's ancient history and enjoy looking at the vast Nile". Temples on the East Bank, he told Al-Ahram Weekly, will eventually front directly on the river, as the ancient Egyptians intended.

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