Egypt

Only so much for all the readers of my blog, especially the Egyptian readers: I have buried the official (handmade) New7Wonders certificate of candidacy for the Pyramids of Giza in an airtight tube in a sand dune closest to the pyramids, for someone to find (like a “message in the bottle”). I would especially encourage the Egyptian people, children and adults, to try to find it so that it stays in Egypt rather then be taken out of the country by a foreign tourist, like happened so often with many Egyptian artifacts in the past.

The treasure hunt is on!

A hint: The tube with the Certificate is not buried at the location shown in the video or on the event page photographs, rather near the location of the main picture on top of the event page.

I would greatly appreciate hearing from the person who finds the Certificate — an exciting reward and invitation will be waiting for you! Thank you.**

AUGUST 2007, Montreal, Canada – UPDATE Now after the campaign and the voting are over, let me describe our New7Wonders visit and experience to Egypt and what really happened there. An Italian saying can describe best what our stop in Egypt was like: “Una presa in giro” (this is the mild version and means “you are being taken in a circle”). It started right at our arrival at the new Cairo airport terminal. Where the signs say “Taxi,” there are no taxis to be seen. So I asked a policeman where the taxi stand was. “They are all here,” was his response and he pointed toward some hungry-looking men who all pointed at their cars. I picked one and asked him where his car was parked (as you can imagine, on a world tour, you carry some heavy luggage!). He pointed to a car across the street and I reconfirmed, “that’s the one, yes?” “Yes,” he said, but when we approached that car, he pointed to another car down the alley, once we reached that one, his car was to be found in the parking lot …and so on. He knew he had long since taken me beyond the point of returning back to the terminal … when we finally got to his car, I thought that we must already be halfway to the city and I was covered in sweat. The door of his car had to be locked with a piece of wire and the springs of the rear seat poked out! Air-conditioning … never seen nor heard of.

But much worse was the fact that an Arabic-language Egyptian newspaper had published a New7Wonders ranking of the votes based on a list that we published in ALPHABETIC order to announce the 21 finalist candidates back on January 1, 2006!

Unfortunately, the word Pyramids starts with a “P” and that meant it appeared on line 16. This made the supreme court of Antiquity’s chief Mr. Hawass flip out, he was evidently panicking at the thought of “his” Pyramids not making it into the New 7 Wonders! He published an article with the headline “New7Wonders is an attack on Egyptian culture.” And the Egyptians read this literally and physically as “ATTACK!” All positive people and energy in Egypt were suddenly turned against us during our stay in Egypt. A group of 16 military policemen from the Ministry of Defence followed us. We were not given a permit for a press conference and our hotel was sealed off by policemen so that no Egyptian TV media could enter the lobby.

You will ask yourself, how did I get the films and photos taken in front of the Pyramids? Well, at the gates, of course, all our big professional equipment was confiscated. Only the smaller (basically same-quality) cameras were allowed in. Once we were in, I had to pay money to a guide who, in turn, paid money to the watching guards to leave us alone, to go away and not to look back at what we were doing. This is how we were able to take our films and photos.

Before leaving Egypt, our logistic person had luckily had the intuition to change departure airlines (out of respect, we always tried to fly with the visited country’s national airline), so we travelled out of Egypt on Lufthansa instead of on Egypt Air. Because Lufthansa was leaving from a different airport terminal than Egypt Air, the five policemen arrived to check all passports just as we were boarding (obviously, it took them some time to find out that we had changed flights). Not a very pleasant way to leave a country—that is the least I can say.

When I got to Switzerland the next day, I read a long story in a major national newspaper on the torture and rapes that take place in Egyptian prisons every day, even for simple causes like driving infractions, just to “break” and humiliate the prisoners. I was very glad our experience Egypt was over.

Since we have left their country, the Egyptian authorities have found ways of injecting all kind of ridiculous arguments into UNESCO, getting them to issue press releases and statements that make little sense. It is, in fact, not very encouraging to see how large “neutral” organisation like UNESCO can be misused, and I have now a better understanding of how wars can start without any real reason, because of pure ignorance and lack of dialogue!