Current Situation/Trouble/Unrest in Luxor Nov. 2011

Hi, I've been noticing that people are being directed to my Blog because they're searching for the above. Well, it so happens that I too am searching for the same things as I go about my daily wanderings around our little town!

Other foreigners who live here do the same. After all, we do live here, and we really need to know if there is any significant threat of danger to ourselves and/or our families and friends, and that's before we even take into account our possible, or potential, guests and visitors!

So, there we are, wandering around the places where we would expect tourists and other visitors to normally also wander around, during the day (now that it's more comfortable, temperature wise) and in the evenings too. The most offensive thing we've found so far is that the caleches are parking right outside some of the hotels and causing a very bad smell, through the horses standing there for hours on end and pooing and weeing with no prospect of it being washed away. Phewww!

Mind you; there was a demonstration the other night. Apparently it centred upon the Police Headquarters in the farther reaches of Madina Street, in the more southerly part of town, at 10.30pm ish (or so I'm told). Of course, the security forces (no idea whether it was the Army or the Police or what) took fright and set off some tear gas canisters in order to give the impression that they were actually taking control of the situation. One or two restaurants in the Little Britain area were reported to have closed their doors in case the drifting  tear gas disturbed their diners. I cannot imagine there being all that many people dining at that time of night, but you never know, do you? Likewise, I cannot imagine many tourists being out and about in that area at after 10 at night anyway! I certainly wouldn't expect any guests of ours to be up there at that sort of time in the winter.

So, where does that leave us? Under normal circumstances, we can expect up to 190,000 visitors per month in Luxor at this time of year, that's well over 6000 per day. I just wonder what proportion of them (given normal numbers) might have seen this demonstration, or might have been in one of the restaurants at 10 o'clock at night, or wandering the streets in that area in the cold and dark?

As it happens, tourist numbers are still very low (although they have been slowly improving bit by bit) so I suspect that the actual number of visitors (even very slightly affected by this show of dissatisfaction and/or the over zealous response of the security forces) might have amounted to 15 or so? (A rather generous estimate in my opinion.) Of all the demonstrations which I have seen, (there's only been a half dozen or so) during the revolution and since, none of them have been anything other than overwhelmingly peaceful, even good natured! As I stood by, watching, I was getting smiles along with waved sticks and swords, combined with "Welcome to Luxor! Welcome to Free Egypt"

Which brings us to TripAdvisor and the Luxor Forum! I know that several of my faithful readers are also fans of this forum, and rightly so as it can often give first rate advice and info regarding our adopted home town. Nevertheless, there is a hard core of posters who will just not accept that those of us living here can be objective or, indeed even tell the truth, about what is going on here. Personally, I don't think that the latest demonstration was at all newsworthy! Although ex-pats are often to be found in that area, either shopping, dining or drinking, very few tourists (and even fewer first-timers) are likely to be there later than 8.30 or 9 in the evening. So of what interest would it really be to them, apart from causing them to possibly feel apprehensive about the safety of their up-coming holiday? In the actual event; it would have been of no consequence whatsoever to probably 99% of tourists, and even to the remaining 1% who could have possibly been it the area; they were in no danger at all, and would surely have been assured of such by the restaurateurs etc. As they say, 'One swallow doesn't make a summer'; likewise 'One badly handled demonstration doesn't make a no-go area for tourism'! Unless, of course, you're one of the 'Luxor lovers' who come up with inane statements like "Take off your rose-tinted specs, and see the deterioration of law and order, look at the videos of the violence etc in the demonstrations. It won't stop ME going, but the first timers really need to know what's going on." (Immediately translated by the potential first timer as "You'll be killed if you go to Luxor! You need to find somewhere else.") Don't these people think before they post their ill-advised rubbish? Not only are they consequently adding to depriving a whole region (Upper Egypt) of the means to make a living (yes, including the likes of me, for my sins) but they are also depriving thousands of eager tourists of the holiday of a lifetime!

Nearly forgot, I haven't really mentioned the "Lawlessness" have I?   Well: relatively speaking (relative to before the revolution, that is) Luxor is becoming a less 'crime-free' town. I cannot (neither would I) deny it! Before the revolution, crime was almost unheard of, as the consequences of getting caught would not be worth it, and would have been quite astonishing to Western sensibilities! Nevertheless, there was the 'odd' common robbery from tourists. I don't have any figures, but I have only heard of a very small number, even in the rumor-mill which is known as Luxor.

Since the revolution there has been a spate of bag-snatchings from tourist and ex-pat women; I believe about 8 or something in the past few months. I only know of one such incident from the 'horse's mouth', so to speak. (The lady in question isn't like a horse, but actually very attractive!) Along with another lady, she was exiting a very well known, ex-pat frequented, eating and drinking establishment and looking for a taxi, at after 1.00 o'clock in the morning, when two young men on a motor bike came past, turned around, and came past again, this second time snatching her bag and dragging her to the ground. Luckily she only suffered relatively minor grazing and bruising, but also the loss of ALL her money, her fancy telephone and a newly purchased bottle of vodka! It was (and they are) absolutely appalling! But, then again, would many of the 190,000 tourists be out drinking at that time of night, and with no return transport arranged?

I'm not, for one minute, advocating that we should only go about in groups, and during daylight or that we shouldn't be able to walk around the streets of Luxor in complete safety, day or night. But the fact remains that you wouldn't do it at home, and most newbies wouldn't think of doing it here either. Yes, times have changed, but comparatively speaking; Luxor is still one of the safest holiday destinations available as far as the tourist goes.

Luxor the rumour-mill! After the beginning of the revolution, there were all sorts of rumours going about. Gangs of newly-released violent prisoners were supposedly roaming around at night and just taking whatever they wanted, they were 'armed and dangerous!' So, our unofficial 'Neighbourhood Watch' was duly set up! Several of our neighbours armed themselves with stout staves and 'fighting sticks' (one or two even produced old scimitars) and would patrol the main street all night, till the danger abated. They even blocked the road with the street's rubbish skips (dumpsters for our American readers). Every person or vehicle which came down our main street was stopped, and ID cards produced before they were allowed to proceed. I suppose it must have been a bit like the road block where that poor Canadian man was shot last week, except that my neighbours didn't have guns to wave about. Anyway, even though the rumours didn't abate, the nightly watch dwindled out after a week or so, and we're all still here, alive and kicking!

It's not all rosy for the Egyptians though! There is a criminal element here (as there is everywhere) and they generally know whom to target. It's not tourists (thank heaven)  but people who are known to carry, or keep, large amounts of cash or jewellery. Sadly, a jeweller was shot and killed in his small shop near the Temple a few months ago, I'm sure that 400,000le was mentioned as the haul. Another jeweller was shot and injured in the leg near to the Emilio Hotel and robbed of his briefcase (full of money, no doubt) just a few weeks ago, again very late at night after closing up his shop. The Egyptians are getting scared of this criminal element. Although we have several VERY wealthy neighbours, they are not stupid enough to (or bent enough to HAVE to) keep their fortunes in the house, they are honest businessmen. However, there are a significant number of wealthy Egyptians who (for one reason or another) do keep their cash in their houses, and the criminals know who they are, through familial connections or whatever! Some of these people are so fearful of the bandits that they have actually armed themselves with guns, and sometimes shoot them off at night, just to warn the burglars that they are ready for them! We can  hear the odd shot or two, late in the evening. Again though, this is hardly likely to impact on any tourist. The worst that a tourist might come up against is the bag-snatchers, or some other opportunist thief who might see a big expensive camera or suchlike, or possibly the note changing slight-of-hand caper. In short; nothing any different from elsewhere in the world, but probably a lot less of it!

So that's about it, I think. Nowhere is 'entirely safe' from either criminals or political unrest, but I truly believe that you are more likely to be knocked down and killed in your own street than you are to be either deliberately or accidentally killed here in Luxor.

My view, therefore, of the 'Current Situation in Luxor' is that it is certainly safe enough for us to stay here without undue concern, and that ordinary tourists are still very welcome, and not in any significantly more danger than they were pre-revolution.

Well that's that off my chest, it must be time for a cuppa!!!!


  1. Thanks for the honest appraisal of the current situation Edward. I'm still coming to Egypt in March and am bringing 4 to 5 first timers with me. We will be spending a significant part of the trip in Luxor and we are really looking forward to it!


  2. Thankyou my son who is seven and myself are due to stay in Luxor over christmas.My husband died this year and I could'ent face christmas at home,we are looking forward to our hoilday,thankyou for the above info.
    Linda and Charles aged 7.

  3. Hi Linda (and little Charles, of course), I do hope that my Blog has furnished you with some sort of insight into what it's like here at the moment, and thereby prepared you a bit for the possible ups and downs of it.
    It's queer, but some people don't get much in the way of hassle at all, and yet others are seemingly plagued by it! I have no real remedy, I'm afraid. But keeping your wits about you and having a good sense of humour should see you through, insh'Allah! (God willing)
    Have a great time, and maybe we'll see you in Luxor on a future occasion.
    God bless,