Africa Cup of Nations Notebook - Day 31

Saturday July 20 2019

The Giza pyramids, on the south-western outskirts of the Egyptian capital Cairo. PHOTO | FILE |



Massive minimum wage increase


What a contrast. In Kenya when the government announces increase in minimum wage, it is normally a paltry 5 per cent or less. In Egypt, from this month, the government began applying a series of measures aimed at increasing people’s incomes, including - wait for it - a 60 per cent increase on the minimum wage and a 15 per cent increase in pensions according to local media. This was the first minimum wage hike for state employees since 2014, when it rose from around 700 Egyptian Pounds (about Sh4,375) to 1,200 EGP (Sh7,500). But price hikes have also hit Egyptians hard in recent times.

Photography now allowed in all museums



For your information, starting on August 1, visitors to Egyptian museums and archaeological sites will be allowed to take photos using cell phones for free.

Previously, if one wanted to take that desired selfie or memento photo they had to pay a certain fee. The Ministry of Antiquities here said that this decision would help in promoting Egyptian antiquities, archaeological sites and museums. “These photos will promote our great and unique ancient Egyptian civilisation and uplift tourism," said head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Mostafa Waziry. However, no flash light will be allowed.

Must-visit places in history-rich country

If you have not been to these places then you have not visited Egypt: The Great Sphinx of Giza, believed to have been built about 2500BC and to represent the face of Pharaoh Khafre; the Pyramids of Giza, the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and only surviving one; the Fortress of Babylon, believed by some to have been built by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, when he occupied Egypt in the second half of the sixth century BC; Mosque-Madrassa of Sultan Hassan, a massive mosque and madrassa built during the Mamluk Islamic era early in the second millennium. And the list goes on and on.

A civilisation miracle indeed


A final thought. This titbits column has already mentioned the population of Egypt is almost 100 million and is the third largest in Africa after Nigeria and Ethiopia. Now, according to the United Nation Development Programme, about 95 percent of Egyptians live along the Nile - on less than 5 percent of Egypt’s territory - making the Nile Valley one of the world’s most densely populated areas, especially in greater Cairo, Alexandria and other major cities in the Nile Delta. As a visitor, you just blend in unnoticed and life continues as it has for millenniums in this world famous valley.