Egypt January 2011: The Aswan Dam

The hotel shown in my earlier post was close to the Cairo airport, so it was relatively easy for our tour to catch a flight to Aswan, which sits at the base of the Nile River at Egypt’s southernmost tip. The first photo is of me at the Aswan Dam, an enormous piece of construction work undertaken by Egypt’s President in the 1950’s, Gamal Abdel Nasser. The so-called High Dam has succeeded in managing flooding, improving irrigation, providing hydroelectric power and in all these ways contributing to the economy of Egypt, Unfortunately, it also came close to extinguishing the ancient Nubian population around Aswan–farmers, mostly, who suddenly found themselves in an alien technocratic society. The huge man made reservoir resulting from the construction of the High Dam is called Lake Nasser.

In the background to the left a monument to Egyptian-Soviet cooperation in building the dam

The second photo is an instructive map of the African states to the south of Aswan, including, if you look closely, Sudan (a protector of the Nubians), Ethiopia, the Congo, Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.

The third photo shows you the Nasser Memorial (in the distance in photo 1) closer up. The tendency of Middle Eastern countries to play East against West and vice versa (as in Turkey’s current purchase of jets from Russia) was also evident back in the Cold War era when both the United States and Russia were interested in supporting Egypt’s construction of the Aswan Dam and Nasser looked to Russia to fill the necessary monetary gap. This stunning memorial to Soviet-Egyptian cooperation stands as a reminder of that period when, by the way, I was still in high school.

Finally there is this photo of a stern fellow I know nothing whatever about. I call him my “Egyptian buddy.”