Egypt/ 4.2 Specific policy issues and recent debates  

4.2.8 Social cohesion and cultural policies

The Minister of Culture stressed that Egypt's cultural policies are based on promoting and reinforcing cultural tolerance which believes that differences in thought and conviction is a legitimate thing and that freedom of expression and conviction are the foundation upon which freedom of citizens and freedom of country are based.

The role of culture hence comes in spotting and fighting the sources of bigotry and highlighting the spirit of tolerance, which is one of the components of Egyptian identity.

Cultural policies are also based on consolidating belongingness to a nation deeply-rooted in the core of history.

The first part of these cultural policies related to spreading tolerance however was not translated in real terms.

With the exception of the issuance of tanweer (enlightenment) book series in the early 1990s to combat terrorism, which contained a limited number of books in only one edition such as tahrir al mar’a (liberation of woman) by Qasem Amin, takhlees al ibriz fi talkhis bariz (salvation by summarizing Paris ) by Refaa Al-Tahtawi and Al Islam wa usool al hukm (Islam and the rules of governance) by Sheikh Ali Abdel Razeq, MOC did not consolidate any ideas related to tolerance and acceptance of the other and the basic education curricula and TV programs supposedly designed to strengthen social cohesion in impoverished neighborhood are still unchanged.

TV dramas, talk shows and sometimes books issued by government organizations such as MOC or High Council for Islamic Affairs, not to mention of course school curricula, all contain ideas that are either racist or ignorant or insulting to non-Muslims.

Museum development, restoration of antiquities and introducing Egyptian heritage to the world occupies important part in efforts of cultural authorities (see chapter 3).

The 1999-2000 figures show that the number of Egyptian museum visitors reached 1.18 million in 1999 but dropped to 1.07 million in the following year. The number of foreign museum visitors on the other hand rose from 2.04 million to 2.59 million respectively. And given the bureaucratic nature of MOC, it is still unable to attract the broad Egyptian museum and antiquity lovers, particularly school and university students whose number is now around 16 million and is still unable to organize educational and recreational trips to museums and archeological sites[1].

In October 2012 the Central Agency for Statistics announced the rise in the tourists numbers coming from all over the world to Egypt. During the month of October, an increase of 80% meant a total of 2.1 million tourists compared to 1.1 million tourists during the same month of 2011. Despite this increase, it did not even come close to the 5.1 million tourists who visited Egypt during October of 2010

The beginning of 2013 witnessed an increase of 12 - 15% from the previous year.

According to the Egyptian State Information Service the tourism sector reached a record high during the Eid El Fitr holiday in July 2014, breaking the record of tourist activity since the January revolution. Hotel and tourism activity reached up to 100% in most of the tourist cities and regions during the first days of the Eid.

Insiders of the tourism sector related the remarkable increase in activity to the stable security situation settling in Egypt, the Ministry of Tourism’s revitalization of local tourism, in addition to special offers and prices offered by hotels and resorts. They also noted that reservations made by Egyptians and Arab tourists increased activity at the Red Sea resorts in Sharm El Sheikh, South Sinai and Hurgada by 100% during the first days of the Eid holiday, whereas room prices in Sharm El Sheikh rose by 25% during the same period last year.   

Egypt’s Tourism Board stated that holiday periods don’t usually have a big local Egyptian turnout at tourist resorts, but the 100% increase in activity as compared to previous years is attributed to the promotional campaign in Arab countries, launched by the Egyptian Government in May 2014, which resulted in positive revenues. 

The Tourism Board also noted that tourism activity from Arab countries - especially Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates and Jordan - rose by 30% this year during the holiday period, and predicts that tourism activity in Egypt of various nationalities will be better from October 2015. 

Reservations made by Egyptians and Arab nationals remarkably rose, contributing to an increase in hotel activity in South Sinai by 100%, as well as in approximately 100% of the hotels in Sharm El Sheikh, while activity of hotels in Dahab and Taba rose up to 80%.

[1]              Violation of Cultural Rights – Dr. Abdel Khaleq Farouk

Chapter published: 01-04-2016