NICK LEES, EDMONTON JOURNAL
Our guide gave us the wrong idea about terrorist threats in Egypt when he climbed aboard our coach on the second day of our Cairo tour.
Our guard received his name when our 16-member University of Alberta Alumni Association party spotted two Glock pistols under a well-tailored suit jacket.
“They are only for show,” said our Egyptian tour director Ashraf Massoud. “There won’t be a problem.”
His reassuring smile was as wide as the blue sky that shines on the country’s 984,195 square-kilometre area, 95 per cent of which is desert.
But when four security guards had stopped our airport cab on arriving at the barrier to the Four Seasons Hotel on the Nile Plaza, and a snifter dog walked around our vehicle while our luggage was searched, what were we to think?
Ten days later however, we took armed guards and snifter dogs for granted and members of our well-travelled, intrepid U of A group decided such security measures were merely prudent.
“Egypt enjoyed some 15 million visitors each year before the revolution, or the so-called Arab Spring,” said Massoud. “Now it’s about one million. We need to make sure people know they are safe.”
Keith Robinson, a construction consultant who lived in Cairo from 1982 until 1985 while helping his Edmonton’s DIALOG company build a hotel, said the time was right to visit the Nile.
He had planned on a Nile sail to celebrate the retirement of his U of A teaching-grad wife Heather Lockley in 2015.
“But the uncertainty over the Arab Spring made us postpone,” he said.
“Conditions have stabilized and it is the time to visit a stunning country and the river that runs through Egyptian history, culture and politics. The Egyptians themselves are like Albertans, kind and generous.”