Wednesday, May 09, 2007

What are they thinking?

I think I can confidently say that this news won't fall well with most Sinai-conscious Egyptians. Sinai has had its full share of problems recently; with the string of bombings that took place over the last few years, insecure borders with an out-of-control Palestinian authority, and a rocky and now getting worse relationship with the Sinai bedouins who more or less control the movement within and without the peninsula's borders. Now the government wants decides to build a highway linking Saudi Arabia with the Sinai. Imagine how a flood of gulf tourism will affect the magic of the ecosystem that attracts us to Sinai, more before than it does now with expanding and often unthought-out development. Think summers in Mohandesseen and Giza, if I may be so apocalyptic...a haven that is cheaper, less restricted, and much closer than Cairo to home.

The Saudi leadership is smart, they know they're not spending $1.5 billion on the project for nothing; they're extending an invaluable tentacle of influence into Egypt that mother nature otherwise never allowed them across the Red Sea. Meanwhile the folks on our side seem only to go dizzy at the sight of the dollar signs going into their pockets. (And what is $1.5 billion anyway? Ya ballash; do you know how much we poor yet pious Egyptians spend over the Hegg every year? According to this 2001 article, somewhere between LE 4 billion and LE 8 billion annually! Now imagine Egyptian pilgrimage traffic quadrupling to Saudi through this land bridge; no longer will Sinai be the secular and spiritual recluse of Moses and the desert fathers, but a roadway to a more important pilgrimage across the other side of the Sea.)

Politically, strategically, economically; everything, this is a stupid move. If this doesn't spell out a last niche in the Sinai's tombstone vis-à-vis Egypt, then I don't know what else will. And the point is we weren't even asked about it (as usual); and I doubt that any of our journalists will have the intention of taking this to the national press.

Isn't it high time really that our ministers of investment (and our supreme head of antiquities especially comes to mind here, at the top of the list) developed some kind of understanding of striking a balance between luring in foreign capital on the one hand, and whoring away / vs. preserving our national assets; which in the end are the very infrastructures which these concerned economies are built upon in the first place?

...And all I can do is complain about it to the two readers of this blog.

[You can read more about it at Issandr's. Besides the actual ecological damage that the building structure will inflict on the coral reefs, I wonder what effect the vibrations emanating from the steady flow of traffic will have on the sea life below...Perhaps a marine biologist can get back to us on this one.]

* If you are a news service and you happen to be reading this, feel free to wire this story, knock if off, whatever; just write about it.


Memz said...

scary man! Its not to exciting when your regional ally choices are Saudi, Iran or Israel. We need a hipper nation

Amnesiac said...