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Egypt has a lot to woo tourists
Egypt attracted 346,500 tourists in February 2016 compared to 640,200 in the corresponding period in 2015.
Egyptians see a ray of hope in President El Sisi for turning the country into regional economic power.

One needs weeks to visit historical sites in Egypt and know about the thousands-of-years-old majestic wonders of the country, considered to be the cradle of civilisation.
No other civilisation of the world has captured the imagination of scholars and people than that of Egypt. It is by dint of the nation's ancient civilisation that Egyptians call it the "Mother of the World".
A majority of Egyptians are courteous, friendly and hospitable, especially towards tourists. Tourist destinations here are safe to visit, with foreigners having no problems and they gather positive experiences after visiting the country.
Unfortunately, some incidents like militant attacks and air crashes had the potential to sabotage President Fattah El Sisi's efforts to attract foreigners in a bid to revive the tourism industry, a lifeline of the country's economy.
The country attracted 346,500 tourists in February 2016 compared to 640,200 in the corresponding period the previous year despite the fact that Egypt has a lot to offer and it is safe and welcoming for tourists.
But despite all this, El Sisi has largely succeeded in ensuring an atmosphere of calm in the country.
Tourism in Egypt accounts for about six per cent of GDP and employs more than a million people - 12 per cent of the workforce.
Whether it is the Nile, the world's longest river at 6,853km, or Cairo's 1,000-year-old Al Azhar University, one of the most prestigious and oldest Islamic institutions of learning in the world, you are fully captivated by these icons.
And the museum in Cairo that is home to innumerable ancient Egyptian antiquities and the majestic Mohamed Ali Mosque that stands on the highest point inside the courtyard of the Citadel of Saladin, all offer you a feast of historical and religious treasure. The architectural marvel was built by Yousf Boushnaq, a Turkish architect, who had come from Istanbul to construct the place of worship for Mohamed Ali Pasha, the ruler of Egypt from 1805 until 1849.
Your craving for the wonders of the world will not complete until you visit Cairo, which has is one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Here the Great Pyramids of Giza, located on a plateau on the west bank of the Nile, are the architectural wonders. These are some of the most magnificent man-made structures in history.
Thousands of people visit the pyramids every year, drawn by their towering grandeur and the allure of Egypt's rich and glorious past. More than 4,000 years later, the pyramids still retain much of their splendour, offering a glimpse into the country's rich heritage.
No pyramids are more celebrated than the Great Pyramids of Giza. The oldest and the largest of the three pyramids in Giza, known as the Great Pyramid, is the only surviving structure out of the famed seven wonders of the ancient world.
The Giza complex consists of three large pyramids built for the pharaohs Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure. According to historians, the grand structures were built between 2589 BC and 2504 BC. Approximately 2.3 million blocks of stone (averaging about 2.5 tonnes each) had to be cut, transported and assembled to build Khufu's Great Pyramid.
The Great Sphinx itself is a great attraction for tourists. It is a large human-headed lion that was carved from a mound of natural rock. Located in Giza, it looks like guarding the front of Khafre's pyramid. It was the largest statue in the ancient world, measuring 240 feet long and 66 feet high. The pyramids' massive scale reflects the unique role that the pharaoh, or king, played in ancient Egyptian society.
I got the opportunity to visit the pyramids during a recent visit arranged by Siemens for the installation of cutting-edge Siemens gas turbine technology in Beni Suef, some 120km from Cairo. During the visit, Abdullah, a tourist guide, told Khaleej Times that there is about a 50 per cent decline in the number of tourists since the uprising against former president Hosni Mubarak.
He said air crashes and militant attacks have kept the tourists away from visiting the country but he was confident that El Sisi would be successful in bringing back the confidence of the foreign tourists.
"President El Sisi is fighting on many fronts for revival of the tourism industry as well as the country's economy. We hope that one day his policies will bring fruits and once again the pyramids will be a big tourist attraction," Abdullah said.
No visit to Cairo is complete without a stop at the Khan El Khalili bazaar. It's a major souk in the Islamic district of Cairo. Shop owners calling you to their stalls, the scent of spices, the hustle and bustle of trade, and the many beautiful objects that can be purchased will have you lost among alleys for hours. While visiting this bazaar, keep in mind that the prices are not fixed; remember to bargain to get the best price. The Khan El Khalili Bazaar is place where art and commerce come together to give a unique and remarkable experience.
Taufique, a tourist guide cum shopkeeper, told Khaleej Times during the visit to Khan El Khalili bazaar that El Sisi is working day and night to retain the clean image of the country and revive the tourism industry.
He said: "President El Sisi is doing all to lure the tourists. He is making new roads, beefing up security and building new projects."
He said that for making Egypt self-reliant in power, El Sisi had signed an ?8 billion agreement last year with Siemens to establish world's biggest gas-fired combined-cycle power plant complex. The plant will boost the country's power generation capacity by 50 per cent. It will not only provide foundation for solid and stable economy, but will also be helpful in revival of tourism industry, he added.
Egypt has tremendous potential to become a regional power, said Mohammad Ali, a taxi driver.
There is no load-shedding now. And with the completion of Siemens plants we hope that Egypt will not only meet its own demand but will be in a position to export energy to neighbouring countries.
He said El Sisi is making all-out efforts to win the hearts of tourists. There is no doubt that President Sisi's steps are showing positive results.

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