VISITING DAHAB AND CHANGING PARADIGMS ABOUT EGYPTIAN CULTURE
January 1, 1970
by Gaya Project
One of the reasons why we enjoy traveling is because of the opportunity you get to face your paradigms, ideas and perceptions of a place or a culture against reality. The trip to EGYPT opened our eyes in so many ways.
THE WRONG PICTURE
When we decided to visit this country, we set as our main destination, DAHAB, located in the Sinai Peninsula. From the moment we decided to visit that place, people tried to alert us about the dangers of going to a country that has just undergone a revolution, besides, it is located on one side of the most conflictive area of the world and of course, it’s a Muslim country! One friend told me to be careful with the way I dress “You will not want to be stoned!” And indeed, all these comments made us nervous and a little scared, we even considered buying a burkini! But the reality we came across was a totally different one.
ARRIVING TO DAHAB
We arrived at the airport in Sharm el Sheikh at dawn, a place that only a year ago, a plane destined from Russia to here was destroyed by a terrorist attack…the area seemed totally desolate. From there, we took a taxi to DAHAB and one hour later, we had reached our destination…
Later that day we walked around the area. It is a beautiful beach town located on the southeast coast of the Sinai Peninsula in Asia. Its population is about 10,000 inhabitants, mostly Bedouin natives and many foreigners that one day came for its natural beauty, great variety of water sports and activities between the mountains, the desert and the sea, fell in love with the area and decided to live here.
DAHAB has beautiful beaches on the coral reef and offers stunning diving areas for any lover of this activity, including the internationally known Blue Hole.
The town is incredible. It offers a landscape difficult to describe. Its mystical location, between the vast Sinai desert and the Red Sea, makes the deep blue color of the sea and the ocher color of the mountains seem like a magical mirage. Added to this, the sunrises and sunsets, are accompanied by Islamic chanting that invite to pray, we felt lost in a tale of “The thousand and one nights.”
Since the first moment we came across a totally different reality from what we had imagined. In this place you feel a totally peaceful energy. You can leave the house without closing the doors and as a woman, walk in the streets with shorts and swimsuit.
Despite being a tourist village, there are areas that seem to be totally abandoned. We were told later that since that terrorist attack, Russia had suspended flights and, on the other hand, the situation in northern Sinai does not help, so tourism has been terribly affected.
After 10 days of enjoying this paradise, we went to see Cairo; a gray, dirty and chaotic city. To see the great buildings with an impressive architecture being practically abandoned, it is easy to imagine the glorious past of this city.
First we visited the Egyptian museum, an impressive place despite how neglected it is. Here you can lose yourself for a few hours learning more about their history, wandering and imagining what the old empire was like. But undoubtedly, the cherry on the cake are the great pyramids of Giza. To enter is as if you were transported to another time. For some strange reason, although the settlement is inside the chaotic city, when you go in this zone, it feels a strange tranquility, it is as if the city disappears.
We were fortunate to stay in the house of a good local friend with whom we shared very interesting talks about religion, politics and many more things, it was thanks to him that we opened the vision of everything happening in this region.
What we learned
About Political Situation
First of all, we learned about their absurd political situation. The fact of having lived a revolution such a short time ago and that all that they sacrificed has been worth so little, since only a few years later, they are suffering again with a military regime and what seems to be a new dictator. The most outrageous of all, is to know that the people who are fighting on military lines, are not necessarily people who support the cause, they are young people forced to do so, because if they do not fulfill their military service, they will not have the right to have a job, a passport or a normal life.
Another thing we have learned is, that the concept that Westerners have about Islam is completely wrong, largely because terrorists or Muslim fundamentalists who have dedicated themselves to give a bad name to a beautiful philosophy of life, which speaks only about to love one’s neighbor and to worship only one God, Allah, who is love and loves all that has to do with beauty. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
About the role of women in society
Some of us in the West, think that women are subjected or are considered less in this culture, completely erroneous idea, since in the Koran it`s clearly written that they are equal to the men. It is difficult for us to understand the use of the veils and we badly believe that this custom is imposed by religion or by man to subdue the woman, but in reality, the Koran only obliges to cover the area of the genitals and breasts and almost all women who choose to use it, make it completely convinced of its symbol of modesty and privacy.
Definitely the greatest wealth of this place is its history, its CULTURE and its people. Unfortunately, and as in most countries, its leaders only think about power and money and they forget all about the real value of things.
Our experience in this country was revealing, the greatest learning we get from here is that before issuing any judgment or opinion, we must read, curiously the first teaching of the Koran is: “READ”.