Al-Ahram Weekly Online   8 - 14 March 2012
Issue No. 1088
Travel
 
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Yet more secrets unravel

The ancient times weave with the modern era in Luxor, reports Amira El Naqeeb

Click to view caption
An up-close view to the newly raised Colossus Statue of of Amenhotep III

Luxor, the city which houses 30 per cent of Egypts antiquities, and is one of the most important open museums in the world, hosted two events this week: the raising of the Colossal Statue of Amenhotep III in quartzite in the Funerary Temple of the king on the West Bank, and the holding of an international conference on booking travel technology. Both events took place on 3 March.

The colossus Statue of Amenhotep III was erected in its original place by the members of the project called Colossi of Memnon and Amenhotep III Temple Conservation'. Mansour Boraik, director general of Luxor Antiquities, said the colossus was a masterpiece of Ancient Egyptian sculpture. "It is perfectly sculpted in a very hard block of quartzite, which was brought from Al-Gebal-Al Ahmar near Cairo and which is the only quarry in Egypt that has quartzite. This stone represents the sun god because the worship of the sun god started at the time of Amenthotep III," Boraik explained.

According to Boraik this major event will enjoy a huge touristic impact. Now that we have this colossus which is the Northern one of a pair of colossi, this should attract more tourists, and avid archeologists to the site. Also accompanied by the colossus was a beautiful and well preserved statue of Queen Tiye standing near the right leg of the king. The inscriptions at the base of the statue are also in good condition.

The project was led by Houring Sourouzian, and with the support of Mohamed Ibrahim Ali, minister of state for antiquities, who officially inaugurated the event.

Luxor or Thebes was nestled in the lap of history for a long time. It was the capital of the Empire of Egypt for almost 1,000 years, during the New Kingdom.

Walking in the streets of Luxor, there is yet another sacred route waiting to unfold, the Sphinx Avenue. "It's a dream coming true," said Boraik. One of the greatest sacred routes ever made by an ancient civilisation, he continues, it is 2,700 metres and connects Luxor Temple with Karnak Temple. "We assume that there were 1,050 sphinx statues. It was a dream to bring back this route again. It was a memory in the history books, because since medieval times, Luxor began building over this route. We are working on the Sphinx Avenue for the past six years. It is in its final stages, and it should be inaugurated in a month. Hopefully it will be open for free for tourists," Boraik told Al-Ahram Weekly.

The aim is to integrate the avenue in the city as there will be shops, and recreational venues around the site.

With the new tomb discovered in the Valley of the Kings, we now have 64 tombs. Yet Luxor has still more history to unfold and more secrets to be uncovered.

Steigenberger Nile Palace Luxor hosted the International Conference for Booking Travel Technology. The event gathered professionals working in the tourism industry, mostly from Germany, under one roof. Luxor Governor Ezzat Saad and Deputy of the Minister of Tourism Hesham Zazoou welcomed guests. The conference highlighted the importance of E-marketing and social media in the tourism industry. It also discussed the fact that there is international concern that these services might increase the cost in the tourism sector, and that this may decrease the number of potential online booking users.

New smart phones applications and social media forums are changing the interface of the world, and taking the world into a new era. Online booking is becoming more and more popular, as it saves time and facilitates booking for regular travellers.

Last-minute booking is another element discussed. Many tourism companies report that most of their sales come through last-minute clients. Zazoou gave an address that emphasised the importance of the German market to the Egyptian tourism market. Tourism might be the way out of Egypt's economic ordeal, since one out of seven Egyptians work in the tourism sector," Zazoou said.

The Ministry of Tourism recently relaunched its website in 14 languages in an attempt to keep pace with E-marketing, and attract the two billion potential customers in the travel world. "Im here to emphasise the importance of tourism to Egypt, and when people ask me how they can help, I simply say: come visit.

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