This scene photographed above may not last much longer if the state does not act to protect it. The ministries of interior, tourism, environmental protection, antiquities must act immediately
The following is an open letter posted by Youssef Abagui of The Sycamore - Al Gemeza eco lodge retreat and self study center
The Minister of Tourism
Mr. Hisham Zaazou
Subject : Dahshur - A World Heritage site.
Dahshur is not only an important heritage site constituting three of the oldest pyramids - prior to the Giza pyramids - The Royal lake - an ancient water reservoir that has remained so far as a one of the last vestiges of Egypt’s agricultural ingenuity - and until recently a spawning ground for migratory birds. The antiquity of this area is one of the least officially explored sites and contains some of the crucial clues to Egypt’s past. All this is surrounded by superb palm grove countryside.
In the absence of security forces and lawlessness the area lately has seen drastic changes. Mass antiquity thefts of the plateau east of the Pyramids by local sponsored gangs and in broad daylight. The ease of usurping non guarded antiquities land; by digging wells and planting trees on what could potentially be of paramount importance hence left to oblivion.
In addition, the degradation of the countryside by local land prospectors is in agreement with local officials who have little or no foresight, except for individual profit at the cost of the ruination of pristine irreplaceable nature.
The lake too, that once filled in September - a paradise for bird watchers, has been left fowl for three years as part of a plot to ruin it, then buy it as land for an imaginary tourist project - thus ending a six thousand year old tradition of migratory birds that found it an ideal winter home.
This rapidly degrading situation brought about in the name of ‘tourism’, is associated by unchecked corruption of some of the local officials - the neglect of the police, or the turning of a blind eye to infringements, and not to go so far as aid.
The situation has become drastic, as acres are being torn down actually, for two roads that are least needed; these will accelerate ecologic degradation. Local sand and stone quarries nearby are beneficiary - and they have increased profusely in the area too close to the monuments - causing a vast amount of trucks to pass and damage the ecosystem of such a special place. In fact it was the lack of large roads, and traffic, that had kept Dahshur beautiful and clean.
Roads have lead to obsolete gas stations in the midst of greenery that gradually ruin the land around them like a cancer - and giving a pretext to more of the thousands of tire shops and car mechanics - least needed in that area supposedly a World heritage site.
In the past decades - the state’s attempts to “over sophisticate” tourism sites has had contrary effects - the ruination of those very sites. The continuation of heavy handed tourism is no longer compatible with this day and age - especially that such examples are already set and hard to compete with. On the contrary - a more eco friendly tourism is paramount - a gentle approach - where Egypt’s image is that of a romantic journey in time - something few countries can offer, but certainly not one that has great roads or concrete hotels.
We the inhabitants of the area, see the urgency of an action to stop all works immediately, and to send an independent investigative team - that can see for itself the transgressions - and thus bring the issue to your close attention.
The prime assets we have as a nation are our ecology and our heritage, and to preserve those we need the full cooperation of all state ministries for that crucial purpose.
As a quarter of a century inhabitant of Dahshur - facing the lake - having passionately loved the place, and known it intimately - I can’t begin to tell you what we are on the verge of losing as a nation - ‘Magical mysterious Egypt’.
Surely no one should take that chance - therefore we the undersigned, will stand hand in hand with all local authorities as responsible citizens to preserve our heritage from extinction.
Youssef Abagui - 16th of October 2012.
Share this and spread till the authorities know we and the tourists watch nature not concrete.