Radwa Abdelaziz, wife of Egyptian Ambassador to Mexico Klaled Abdelrahaman Abdellatif Shamaa, offered a “Taste of Egypt” luncheon at their Bosques de las Lomas residence in Mexico City on Tuesday, May 25, to both commemorate Africa Day (which marks the 1963 foundation of the Organization of African Unity) and to showcase Egyptian culture.
The guests, who included wives of other diplomats as well as friends of Abdelaziz,, were, from the very moment they arrived at the garden event, were transformed into “queens for a day.”
Each guest was assigned the role of a famous ancient Egyptian queen and goddess, and given brief histories of the woman they were to represent.
The event also included an exhibition of classic Egyptian art, with a replica of a miniature golden barge and three-D reproductions of monuments from Luxor and other famous Egyptian archeological sites.
The guests enjoyed a lavish buffet meal of traditional Egyptian cuisine, accompanied by Egyptian music.
The main objective of the luncheon, Abdelaziz said, was to introduce her guests to Egyptian history and to help promote tourism to that African nation.
Tourism in Egypt, a mainstay of the national economy that usually brings in an estimated $13 billion in revenues each year, has been badly affected in recent years due to political instability, terrorism and, most recently, the global covid-19 pandemic.
In fact, according to the Global Tourism Association (a United Nations agency), as a result of covid travel restrictions, border closings and reduced hotel capacities, Egypt registered a 69 percent drop in international visitors in the first eight months of 2020, with tourism revenues plunging 67 percent.
In order to help counter the drop in visitors, the Egyptian government has launched an all-out effort to repackage tourism, showcasing new archeological sites and implementing strict covid-19 safety protocols for Egyptians and foreigners alike.
The government has also sought to attract travelers by reducing the cost of tourist visas and entrance fees to archaeological sites.
Additionally, the government has, in the last 12 months, invested heavily in infrastructure to the tune of nearly $15 billion
The plan seems to be working.
Egypt’s tourism industry is quickly recovering, spurred on by visitors from Europe and newly vaccinated tourists from the Americas.
According to Egyptian Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Khaled el-Enany, the influx of international travelers has more than doubled since the start of the year.
And the eternal lure of ancient pyramids and massive monuments like those at Luxor and Assam simply cannot be extinguished by disease or political unrest.
“There is no better time to visit Egypt than now,” Abdelaziz said.
“There are great package deals and the archeological sites are not as crowded now as they sometimes are.”