Monday, July 28, 2008

Oasis in Egypt

The National, UAE (Simon Mars)

Oh alright, so it's not really anything to do with either Egyptology or travel in Egypt, but I found it interesting:

It’s not supposed to be like this. The desert does not give up its grip lightly. Yet some 60 kilometres north-east of Cairo, what should have been (and was 30 years ago) a parched dry scrubland of desert and rock is now a place of vivid green, a patchwork of fields rich in fruits, and vegetables, herbs and spices, all contained within a network of mud brick walls and spotless lanes that lead through avenues of tall trees to the Sekem farm.

Today Sekem produces fruits and vegetables; herbs, spices and seedlings; milk; cotton for textiles and clothing and phytopharmaceuticals (natural medicines, medicinal teas and healthcare products). Everything, including the cotton, is organic.

The first impression when you arrive and breathe in the pure scent of herbs, spices and acacia trees is that it shouldn’t be here. It doesn’t make sense, surrounded as it is by a dry country on the edge of Cairo’s suburban sprawl. But then you meet Dr Ibrahim Abouleish, the man whose vision and laughter and unbounded optimism brought Sekem into being in 1977, and you begin to understand: perhaps the land had no alternative but to surrender to his infectious will.

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