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Dublin: 20°C Wednesday 10 August 2022

14 jarring photos of Egypt's famous landmarks devoid of people

Photographer Ben Terzza spent several months living in Egypt in 2014.

egypt1 “I wasn't expecting the Pyramids of Giza site to be so empty and eerie...” - photographer Ben Terzza Source: Ben Terzza

TOURISTS HAVE TRAVELLED to Egypt’s ancient pyramids and historic monuments for centuries.

But tourism has dropped rapidly in recent years, as violent conflicts following the 2011 revolution have been particularly successful in scaring off travellers.

According to a recent Reuters article, 9.9 million tourists visited Egypt in 2014, compared to 14.7 million people in 2010. The country’s tourism minister recently said that he expects that number to be around 10 million again this year.

“From January until the end of August the rise was very little, barely 5%,” he told Reuters.

In 2014, photographer Ben Terzza left Wales with his partner to live in Egypt for several months. A teaching job had been offered to his partner, so Terzza decided to tag along.

Terzza and his partner eventually made a trip to the capital city of Cairo. What they found there was a disappointing surprise. Cairo felt desolate and was visibly empty, which Terzza captured in a selection of his photos below.

After four months of living in Egypt, Terzza and his partner decided to take a trip to Cairo around Christmas time. It was about five hours north of El Gouna, where they had been staying.

egypt2 Source: Ben Terzza

They were warned to be careful while visiting Cairo, and sure enough, they felt isolation in the air as soon as they got there.

egypt3 Source: Ben Terzza

When they went to the Saqqara pyramids on the edge of the Cairo region, they found they were the only people there. Besides feeling nervous to be off that far alone, they were also being bothered by locals while they were walking around.

egypt4 Source: Ben Terzza

The locals were constantly asking Terzza and his partner for their tickets, begging for money, and trying to show them around the premises.

egypt5 Source: Ben Terzza

Terzza even had to resort to shouting at them to stop them from bothering him, which he was uncomfortable doing.

egypt6 Source: Ben Terzza

But Terzza knew it was deep-seated problem. “As you spoke to more and more locals, the reality of their political, economic, and social cultures started to make sense,” he says.

egypt7 Source: Ben Terzza

He had done plenty of research about the state of the country beforehand, but the level of corruption and dysfunction within the government was still both surprising and upsetting.

egypt8 Source: Ben Terzza

According to Terzza, one of the most disturbing parts of Egypt’s culture was their sense of women’s rights, which were pretty much nonexistent. “To watch my partner be treated like dirt was extremely infuriating,” he said.

egypt9 Source: Ben Terzza

Not many other people were there to check out the pyramids with Terzza.

egypt10 Source: Ben Terzza

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Egypt has had problems with tourism in the past. Visitors declined dramatically after a group of 58 tourists were killed in a 1997 attack by Islamic militants.

egypt11 Source: Ben Terzza

It is a priority for the government to get the industry booming again. Tourism is one of Egypt’s biggest moneymakers, bringing in billions of dollars a year.

egypt12 Source: Ben Terzza

The tourism minister of Egypt told Reuters that the country is planning to launch a global advertising campaign in November.

egypt13 Source: Ben Terzza

Even if tourism makes a rebound, however, the country still has a lot to work out with its government and citizens.

egypt14 Source: Ben Terzza

Until then, a campaign might not be enough to save them.

egypt15 Source: Ben Terzza

More of Terzza’s work can be seen on his Instagram and Twitter.

- Jack Sommer

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