While a young married couple were getting to know each other, they spent their dates exploring touristic locations in Cairo, not knowing that three years later, these visits would be documented as a part of their project promoting tourism, “Around Egypt in 60 Days”.
“Around Egypt in 60 Days” began online and soon became a book project, founded by newly-wed couple Omar Attia and Dalia El-Debaiky. The duo, who are passionate about travelling, decided to explore all the touristic locations in Egypt while documenting their trips with detailed tips to help those who share their passion in following their path.
The couple chronicled in their project that 60 days is the exact number of days needed to explore all of Egypt. Through their Instagram and Facebook posts, Dalia and Omar documented each place and the number of days needed in order to fully experience it.
“Since we started dating each other, both Dalia and I saw that it’s so fake that we dress perfectly and go out showing our best sides while dating,” Omar told Daily News Egypt. “Not that we have anything against those who follow that path, but it was just not us. Instead, we roamed Cairo and Giza’s touristic places and went on one-day trips.”
From their point of view, Dalia and Omar believe that going on long, unusual dates helped them get to know other sides of each other, which eventually helped them get closer.
After they’ve been married for almost two years, the couple has been roaming Egypt from east to west, exploring all of the unknown sites while posting everything people need to know about them online. The descriptions they shared with their followers are about the duration each site needs to be fully visited, transportation to reach them, and the amount of money needed to fully enjoy the place.
The couple started sharing their virrtual travelling diary on social media, but soon after, they decided to launch a book in which they document their experiences.
“We wanted a long-lasting platform that targets both locals and tourists in order to tell them about Egypt’s hidden gems, whether the famous ones, or those that are not as highlighted. What helped us is the rich photography material we captured through our visits,” Attia explained.
The project also aims to highlight hidden unknown touristic sites in Egypt. “There are hundreds of magnificent places no one knows anything about in Egypt, places that even locals haven’t heard of before,” Attia said.
One of these places is “Tell Basta” in Zagzig governorate. The ancient Roman city was the capital of the 18th Lower Egyptian Nome during the Late Period, “yet no one knows anything about the city, even when I went to Zagazig governorate and started asking residents about it,” Attia explained.
They felt they are required to let people know such places exists as they are rarely talked about in Egypt, he added.
While the couple documented their travels across Egypt, they wrote abut them in a story-telling, entertaining form, something that is rarely found in books that describe touristic places in Egypt.
“I have read so many touristic books; they tell you about the date a certain spot was built in and the historical importance it holds. Yet, you are never informed how to get there from Cairo, or how to spend your day in that place well, or the average amount of money you should spend in it,” Attia said.
The couple’s ultimate dream is to set their book as a part of school curriculums, to educate students about Egypt in a different form than they have been receiving for decades.
“It’s so embarrassing to find many foreigners know a lot about Egypt whilst us [Egyptians] haven’t been to any of Egypt’s most fascinating places. This project helped me see sides of Egypt I never knew even existed and I want everyone else to do so,” he asserted.
While seeking to boost tourism in Egypt, the couple still faced some difficulties in photography permissions in some of the historical areas, saying, “we are still fighting to convince authorities of some places that we need to capture some photos for the book. Nonetheless, we never gave up on getting them in order to cover all of Egypt’s touristic spots,” he explained.
Attia and El-Debaiky are currently working on seeking a publishing house to sponsor their book, which they plan to release by 2018.