Western Tourism between Two Revolutions, 1919–1952
This chapter examines the tourism of the unsettled era from 1914 to 1952 in Egypt with respect to hotels, transportation, Nile cruises, guidebooks, tourist promotion, and relations with Egyptian guides or dragomans. Along with the railroad and the steamship, the tourist empire of Thomas Cook & Son, modern guidebooks (Baedeker, John Murray, Cook, Guide Bleu), and Cairo's Shepheard's Hotel were all nineteenth-century creations. The persistent romance of the pharaohs and the sensation of Tutankhamun's tomb only partially counteracted the depressing effects on tourism of two World Wars, nationalist protests, the Great Depression, and the Arab-Israeli conflict. Compared to the golden Edwardian years, new investment in Egypt in Nile steamers, hotels, and revised editions of classic guidebooks (the last of the classic Egyptian Baedekers came out in 1929) was severely limited. With nationalists challenging colonial power and arrogance, guidebooks toned down their anti-Islamic bigotry. The career of Mohamed Aboudi, an enterprising Luxor-based dragoman-turned-effendi, illustrates the fraught relations between Western tourists and their Egyptian guides, and Hassan Fathy's failed utopian village of New Qurna (or Gourna) across the Nile from Luxor illuminates the tangled and often opposing interests of the many stakeholders in antiquity.
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