Al-Ahram Weekly Online   17 - 23 December 2009
Issue No. 977
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Snap shot

By Mohamed El-Hebeishy

HURGHADA and El-Gouna are well known tourist destinations on the Red Sea Coast. While Hurghada is famed for its lack of urban planning, El-Gouna is exemplary, not only when it comes to organisation and planning, but also for cultural integration and artistic development, writes Mohamed El-Hebeishy.

The prospering community at El-Gouna enjoys the typical bouquet of luxurious hotels, five-star professional hospitality, as well as facilities for recreational and sports activities. In addition, the town is recognised for its well-managed infrastructure. Covering an area of 11 million square metres of premises and home to 15,000 residents, buses are a common method of transportation. In El-Gouna, however, they have an artistic flare.

The heavily decorated carnival style vehicle is inspired by the Philippines' Jeepneys, yet with a local touch -- Arabic inscription on the roof. The buses connect El-Gouna's downtown area to several locations around town for a LE5 day pass, or LE10 for the weekly one -- a good deal if you are here for an extended stay. El-Gouna's exotic buses perform their duty efficiently and their attention-grabbing look adds an artistic touch.

But El-Gouna buses are not the only example of how the resort town showcases its unique character. Instead of dull plastic recycling bins to dispose of paper, plastic and glass products separately, El-Gouna's trash cans are made of local pottery painted in distinctive vibrant colours. Not only are they attractive, making people more interested in the green cause, but they boast an Egyptian identity. This traditional zeer look, inspired by the conventional container used to mainly store water, is very common in Egypt's countryside.

photo: Mohamed El-Hebeishy

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