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Egypt: Luxor sets sights on Gulf tourists - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Egyptian women walk by a billboard featuring Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah on September 1, 2013 in Luxor after the city governor named Luxor's main square after him. (AFP PHOTO/STRINGER)

Egyptian women walk by a billboard featuring Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah on September 1, 2013 in Luxor after the city governor named Luxor’s main square after him. (AFP PHOTO/STRINGER)

Luxor’s governor, General Tariq Saadeddine, has announced that the governorate will target the Saudi and Gulf markets to attract new tourists to the ancient Egyptian city.

He said “this is part of Luxor’s attempt to find a solution to its unprecedented tourism crisis, and goes in tandem with the naming of the main park in the governorate after the Saudi Arabian monarch, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, in appreciation for his support for Egypt during the current crisis. It is also an attempt to promote new types of tourism, such as conference tourism, entertainment, sport and therapy tourism.”

The governor claimed that the city was looking forward to welcoming Arab tourists because they carried a substantial weight in regional tourism, in addition to their spending power.

A number of facilities are already being built, including tennis and squash courts, gymnasiums, theme parks, artificial lakes and water sport facilities, in addition to a championship 18-hole golf course.

An official in Luxor said: “There is a plan to build a cable-car to link the Western side of Luxor with the eastern side over the Nile, passing over Karnak Temple and the tombs of Pharaonic kings and queens.”

The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities, meanwhile, announced that it will open the Pharaonic Kabsh (Ram) Road, which links the Luxor and Karnak temples, in March 2014. Minister of Antiquities, Mohamed Ibrahim, said the Pharaonic Kabsh Road is 2,700 meters long and 76 meters wide, and is lined on both sides by statues of old Egyptian kings and gods, similar to the sphinx. The road is considered to be one of the oldest religious roads in the world.

An antiquities expert told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the project of Kabsh Road was one of those projects, which antiquities experts and Egyptologists in Egypt and around the world, dreamt about. Tourists will be able to walk from Luxor Temple to Karnak Temple through the Kabsh Road surrounded by hundreds of statues on both sides.”

The expert added: “There are 1,500 statues on the sides of Kabsh Road which dates back more than 5,000 years, when Egypt’s Pharaonic kings paved the road to use for their holy processions during celebrations every year.”

He added: “The king used to lead the procession, followed by the ministers and senior priests and state officials, in addition to sacred boats filled with statues of Pharaonic religious icons, while the commoners lined on both sides dancing and cheering.”

The expert added that “King Amenhotep III began the road project in tandem with the start of the building of Luxor Temple. However, the greatest credit for the project goes to King Nectanebo I, who founded the thirtieth Pharaonic dynasty, the last dynasty of the Pharaonic era.”

General Saadeddine, meanwhile, said work on the project to uncover and revive Kabsh Road had begun. He added that the project aimed at making Luxor the world’s largest open-air museum. It is considered to be the largest archaeological project in the world, and that technical studies have started into building two bridges over the road, which will be designed to suit the historic nature of road, “the discovery of which, is seen as one of the largest archaeological finds in the world.”

Archaeologist Osama Ibrahim said: “Kabsh Road is the road which links Luxor Temple to Karnak Temple, and it has statues which were based on the Sphinx, but with a ram’s head, which is a symbol of the god Amun.”

Ibrahim told Asharq Al-Awsat: “Ancient Egyptians called the road ‘Wat Nather’ which meant “gods’ road”, and the statues on the road were carved from a single block of sandstone . . . with the name of the king and his titles on the base of the stone. The statues were erected in two forms: The first took the form of a lion’s body and human head (Sphinx), and the second in the form of the body and the head of a ram, a symbol of the god, Amun-Re.”