More on the Winter Palace Developments

I’m sure that you are all now aware of the plans for the Winter Palace and the surrounding areas. The Mubarak Tourist Bazaar, which is next door and to the NE, has been running down for a considerable amount of time. In fact it has been an eyesore for a few years. The park area in front has been ‘done up’ several times, but didn’t actually amount to anything very pleasant. Many of the shops within have been empty for quite some time as well.
I took the following picture of (or so I was told) the Luxor Police Band playing there a few years ago.

Click on the picture to make it bigger.

Whilst I am fully aware of the huge amount of distress which has been caused to so many everyday folk here in Luxor by the re-shaping and redevelopment of the town on both East and West banks, it hasn’t actually impacted on me until I saw some of my friends businesses affected the other day. It came about like this:
I was walking along the Corniche, passing the OWP, towards the Temple. Suddenly, I realised that the trees, which have so often been the cause of me walking with my head bent down, were not there! “What’s up here?” I thought. As I approached the two year old shoeshine boy, I began to see!
I rounded the corner only to be met by total devastation,

and a sad looking Mr. Aboudi and his trusty ‘right hand’ Uncle Mohamed. “They came and did this at 1 o’clock in the morning” blurted the old fixer, “when we weren’t here!”
Did I say old? He's the same age as me!!!!

Mr Aboudi, behind his sunglasses, and his devoted cousin, Uncle Mohamed.

Click on the picture to make it bigger.

Needless to say that the Aboudis are in a right state over this. The family whose Grandfather wrote the first Egyptian Guide Book (or so I’m told) feel that they are being treated shamefully. I asked my friends where they would go, and both replied that they had no idea until now.
After commiserating with them in their time of trouble, I stumbled on over the piles of broken tiles, soil and various other debris, until I came across another familiar face (and one which has been on the BBC, no less) it was Mr Jadhallah (just as well known as Mr. Shakespeare) the felucca captain.
He was standing, forlornly, next to what used to be his ‘office’, which was a seat on the grass for many a long year. “To be, or not to be, that is the question, or; what am I going to do now?” But, as ever, he is looking on the bright side “AAACTUALLY, you could brighten my day right now by coming for a lovely sail to Banana Island, it’s a good wind?”

Click on the picture to make it bigger.

I managed to make my escape around the corner before I felt my hand going towards my wallet. (It was empty anyway, so no good to Mr. Jadhallah.) The devastation continued. I finally got near to where my neighbour’s shop is (the last one on the block) and saw that it would be a circuititious route around a felled tree to be able to get into it. There he was, also with a glum face, but chomping on a falafel sandwich and with a smile for the camera.

Click on the picture to make it bigger.

It’s all very well saying that they will all be given the opportunity to have bright new premises somewhere else, even nearby, but when will this be? Will they have the same amount of passing trade? Who will keep them in the meantime?

All this is being done in the name of TOURISM! That’s you and me, I’m sorry to say. Whether we like it or not; the powers that be have decided that this is the sort of development which is needed to increase the tourists’ spend ($$$$$) in Luxor. I loved the ‘quaint’ unpaved streets (like ours, for instance) and the mudbrick buildings and the donkey carts etc. etc. But the truth is that the inhabitants of Luxor deserve better than we, as tourists, would allow them to have. They should be able to depend on decent public services, and to not be afraid of going into hospital, and to feel that the police are on their side! These things, and many more, need to be funded from somewhere. And tourism is the only major source of foreign, or ‘hard’ currency in the area.

It truly seems that the ‘decision makers’ are between a rock and a hard place! As my neighbour, Abdullah, would say, “God help them!”

No comments:

Post a Comment