Tuesday, May 31, 2011

More re Faiyum archaeology and ecology under threat


Fayoum is a lush area around an ancient sea in the desert 130 kilometers south of Cairo. There is a small city and several villages. There are also natural reserves and bird areas, an artist village and Egypt’s caricature museum. This sounds like Fayoum has enough uniqueness and attractions to be the star of Egypt’s next tourism campaign. Alas, this is not what the government thinks mainly because there is no big five-star hotel development copy and pasted from another location. So Mubarak’s government decided to sell the natural reserve, legally a protected area, to Amer Group, a massive developer who builds the worst of neolibralism from resorts to malls. The super rich developer has a 99-year leasehold on the land for $28,000/year! that comes down to 1 cents per square meter. If this isn’t a clear case of corruption I am not sure what is.


Environmentalists currently represent a small subsection of activists in Egypt, but like everybody else they've received a boost from the revolution, as well as more problems to deal with. The former comes in the sense that people are generally more willing to pay attention to the kind of political, economic, ecological and community problems environmentalism attempt to deal with — everyone is more empowered and has a great sense of community belonging. Yet, at the same time, the partial collapse of the state has led to many abuses (most notably illegal construction) and many people prioritize security or party politics ahead of environmentalism.

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