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Rise in tourism draws Egypt's remote Siwa oasis into modern age

The ancient Berber settlement, once popular only with ecotourists, is receiving more visitors as government promotes it as a holiday destination.
11.02.24 | Source: The National News

Until recently, most visitors to Siwa in Egypt would probably have had to settle for lodgings in camps of straw or mud-brick huts.

Despite being on the eco-tourism map for decades, the remote oasis city in western Egypt maintained a simple take on life that made it an attractive escape from modern living.

But all that is changing after the government began promoting Siwa as a tourist destination, and its predominantly Berber population say they are enjoying the benefits.

Five years ago the main square in the small city of 60,000 was made up exclusively of traditional mud-brick structures; now there are two-storey concrete buildings with busy restaurants, cafes and handicraft shops.

“The city was a lot more crudely built because there was no reason to develop it. We had always had tourists come, but their numbers were limited to those who were interested in eco-tourism, which isn’t for everyone,” said Ali Mohamed, 63, a driver and tour operator.