Egypt is surrounded by desert–Sinai and the Eastern Desert on one side, for example, and the Libyan desert on the other. Furthermore the Nile is hedged around by desert within Egypt itself so that its irrigating waters have always been critical to a sufficient growth of food. That growth was by no means guaranteed when the Nile, dropping its precious silt, flooded the land only once a year. But the twentieth-century construction of the Aswan Dam and Lake Nasser has made water available at regular intervals, making farming more successful along the Nile and distributing hydro electric power to the population. That technology becomes even more crucial when you consider that the Egyptian population has grown by sixteen-and-a-half million since Mary and I visited in 2011.
Another example of the benefits of modern technology to the Egyptians, citizens and tourists alike, is the lock at Edfu, which allows travel along the Nile to proceed at a fairly normal pace. I took the photos below because the lock seemed to me, as I went through it on our tour boat, not to foul up the environment of the Nile, which is none too lovely as you travel the river further toward Cairo, but rather to beautify it. Engineering and the environment are thus not always at odds. See if you don’t agree.