Friday, August 13, 2010

Heritage tourism vs local lifestyles in Luxor

BBC News (Yolande Knell)

All her life, Um Abdul Aziz has lived on the green banks of the River Nile, close to Luxor in Upper Egypt.

Now 95, she rests on a bench with her great-grandchildren and proudly points out the mangoes, guavas and other crops which thrive in the family garden.

"I look at the Nile as soon as I wake up," she declares. "If I don't, it's like I've not seen my children. If they offered me millions I wouldn't move."

Until last month, residents of the village of Marees feared that 10,000 of them would have to leave their homes and fertile land because of a scheme to build a huge marina for sight-seeing boats.

It was only after they threatened legal action that the government backed down, saying it would consider other locations.

Wide-ranging plans to redevelop Luxor, 15km (10 miles) away, have stirred up a debate about putting tourists' interests before those of locals.

Thousands of visitors come to see the site of the ancient capital, Thebes, each day and the authorities want to add to their holiday experience.

"The big vision is to change the city into the largest open-air museum in the world," says governor Samir Farag.

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