Adventurous couple explores Egypt in 60 days

The pair are on a mission to document the country’s must-visit attractions. (Photo courtesy: @aroundegyptin60days)
Updated 13 August 2017
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Adventurous couple explores Egypt in 60 days

CAIRO: A thrill-seeking Egyptian couple are traveling through the entire country in 60 days to encourage tourism among locals by shedding light on the country’s little-known gems.
Dalia El-Debaiky and Omar Attia share a passion for exploration and together have taken pictures of the most fascinating locations across Egypt, all compiled on their informative and inspiring Instagram account @aroundegyptin60days.

Day 1: More than a thousand years before Picasso, Van Gogh and Da Vinci, artists in Egypt painted some of the most beautiful portraits in the history of art! . On our 1st day in touring the Egyptian Antiquities Museum in Cairo, and aside from all the mummies and statues we saw, Dalia and I were stunned to explore a hall named "Fayoum's Mummy Portraits" which features dozens of naturalistic painted portraits on wooden panels. These portraits covered the respective faces of bodies that were mummified after death! . The portraits were mainly found in Hawara, Fayoum, and date back to the Coptic Period at the time of Roman Occupation of Egypt, at the end of the 1st century B.C!! . Oddly enough, as old as they are, they touched us as if they were painted last month! The colors are very strangely preserved, unfaded by time! Stay tuned for more photos of possibly the oldest surviving painted portraits in the world in our book :) . اليوم ال١: أكتر من ألف سنة قبل بيكاسو و فان جوف و ليوناردو دي فينشي، فنانين في مصر رسموا أجمل لوحات ذاتية في تاريخ الفن! . في يومنا الأول لزيارة المتحف المصري في القاهرة، و بجانب كل الموميات و التماثيل اللي شفناها، أنا و داليا ذهلنا لما اكتشفنا قاعة اسمها "لوحات موميات الفيوم" اللي بتعرض عشرات اللوحات لأشخاص على ألواح خشبية. اللوحات دي كانت بتغطي وجوه الأشخاص اللي أجسامها كانت بتتكفن بعد الموت!! . معظم اللوحات دي اكتشفت في هوارة في الفيوم و بترجع للعصر القبطي أيام ما الرومان احتلوا مصر في آخر القرن الأول قبل الميلاد!! . كان من الغريب لينا إن على قد ما اللوحات قديمة جدا، على قد ما هما لمسونا كأنهم مرسومين من شهر بس! الإحتفاظ بالألوان على مر العصور عجيب! خلليكوا متابعين كتابنا إن شاء الله اللي حيعرض صور أكتر لأقدم اللوحات الذاتية في العالم! . Photography Courtesy of @omarattia84 . #egypt #travel #tourism #tourist #book #travelgram #bookgram #lonelyplanet #tripadvisor #thisisegypt #myegypt #egyptshots #museum #art #portrait #photography #photo #photographer #photooftheday #pic #picoftheday #instagram #instadaily #instagood #peoplescreatives #discoveregyptwithdaliaandomar #aroundegyptin60days

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They have already been to all of Egypt’s 27 governorates on a mission to document the country’s must-visit attractions and shed light on the nation’s forgotten historical sites in a book which is set to be published in the near future.
Celebrating love differently
The married couple are both “marketing gurus” and their passion for exploring Egypt has been an intrinsic part of their relationship since its beginning.
Attia told Arab News that they decided to hold their engagement party, the signing of the marriage contract ceremony and the wedding reception in different iconic locations across Cairo.
“Our engagement was celebrated by the Nile River and our Katb Al-Kitab (the Islamic marriage ceremony) pictures were captured outside the enormous Saladin Citadel in Cairo. Added to that, we held our wedding at the glamorous Mohammad Ali Palace.

Day 4: When 'Art' finds its way out of the slums' darkest tunnels and prevails! . On our way to the Religions' Complex in Al Fustat, Egypt's first capital city under the Muslim ruling, built by Amr Ibn El Aas, Dalia and I stumbled upon a beautiful arts village amidst old alleys and slums called "Al Fakhareen Village" designed to support local handcrafted talents! . "Tourists' agencies diverted their sightseeing routes and no longer bring tourists here; and locals unfortunately either look down upon local talent and prefer to brag about buying expensive imported products or no longer appreciate art" - Farouk, an old pottery maker in this village claimed. . After roaming the entire village and talking with the craftsmen there, Dalia and I insisted on supporting them and bought 2 plantation pots, 4 cooking clay pots and 3 miniature clay statues to place in our kitchen! :) ↔️Swipe for more photos :) . Go support local handcrafted talent and craftsmen barely surviving to make a living there. Kindly share this post among your friends and family :) . اليوم ال٤: عندما يعثر الفن طريقه للخروج من أنفاق العشوائيات المظلمة و يسود! . في طريقنا إلى مجمع الأديان في الفسطاط، عاصمة مصر الأولى تحت الحكم الإسلامي، على يد عمرو بن العاص، أنا و داليا إكتشفنا "قرية الفخارين" بالصدفة وسط عشوائيات و حارات قديمة. القرية المبدعة دي بتدعم الصناعات و الإبداعات الفنية اليدوية المحلية! . " شركات السياحة غيرت مسارها و مبقتش تجيب سياح هنا زي الأول و المصريين يا إما بيفتكروا إن المنتج المحلى ردئ و بيتباهوا بشراء المنتجات المستوردة الغالية أو مبقوش يقدروا الفن من الأساس!" - صرح عم فاروق، رجل عجوز صانع للفخار. . و بعد لما طفنا أنا و داليا القرية كلها و اتكلمنا مع الحرفيين هناك، قررنا إننا نشجعهم و نشتري من عندهم ٢ وعاء نباتات و ٤ وعاء فخار للطبخ و ٣ تماثيل فخار للمطبخ! :) . روحوا شجعوا الصناعات اليدوية المحلية و ادعموا الحرفيين اللي بالكاد عارفين يعيشوا هناك! و انشروا الكلام ده وسط صحابكم و أهاليكم :) . Photography Courtesy of @omarattia84 . #egypt #travel #travelling #tourism #tourist #book #travelgram #travelphotography #travelwriter #thisisegypt #egyptshots #cairo #art #photography #photo #photographer #photooftheday #picoftheday #insta #discoveregyptwithdaliaandomar #aroundegyptin60days

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“We wanted our festivities to be different, a celebration of love and heritage at the same time, and an experience that could hardly be forgotten by our guests.”
Both husband and wife went to the American University in Cairo and were first introduced at a Cairo Runners event.
During their engagement, they would avoid going to commonly-visited dining establishments and would instead take a boat ride on the Nile or spend time at one of Cairo’s several museums.
“Part of us knowing each other was also as we discovered more about our country,” Attia said.
After the wedding, they decided to take it to another level by venturing into other parts of Egypt and documenting their experience in pictures.

Day 13: I've always wanted to go Venice!!! . The idea of touring a city with houses built on water canals without roads; and boats are the only way to commute, has been dreamy and always tickled my mind! . Never in the world would I have imagined that we have our own Venice here in Egypt though, until today! More shabby, yet exploding with culture, colors and stories to tell, this fishing village in El Mexx, in Alexandria is truly a fascinating, hidden gem! :) . Stay tuned for Dalia and I's full story and more photos of our boat tour in El Mexx and home visits to the fishermen living there :) . اليوم ال١٣: طول عمري كان نفسي أزور فينيسيا في إيطاليا! . فكرة إني أزور مدينة ببيوت مبنية على قنوات مياه من غير شوارع، و المراكب هي الطريقة الوحيدة للتنقل كانت دايما حالمة! . عمري في حياتي ما تخيلت إننا عندنا فينيسيا مصغرة هنا في مصر لحد النهاردة! أقل جمالا أكيد بس متفجرة بعادات و ألوان و قصص كتيرة، المكس، قرية الصيادين في الإسكندرية هى من أجمل الكنوز المخفية في المدينة! . خليكوا متابعين قصتنا الكاملة و صور كتير لرحلتنا بالمركب في المكس و زيارتنا لبيوت الصيادين هناك في كتابنا إن شاء الله :) . Photography Courtesy of @omarattia84 . #egypt #travel #travelling #tourism #tourist #book #travelgram #travelphotography #travelwriter #lonelyplanet #tripadvisor #thisisegypt #egyptshots #alexandria #venice #sea #boat #photography #photo #photographer #photooftheday #pic #picoftheday #instagram #instadaily #everydayegypt #discoveregyptwithdaliaandomar #aroundegyptin60days

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Their 60-day trip around Egypt — which is yet to be completed — encourages others to embark on a similar trip to see some of the country’s forgotten treasures.
“I’m trying to encourage people to dedicate 60 days of their lives to roam the entirety of Egypt,” Attia said.
They embarked on the first leg of their trip in 2013, but their photographs only recently saw light. Having completed 40 days of non-consecutive travel across Egypt, they still have 20 more days to go.
Writing a book
Once complete, the couple will finish off a bilingual trilogy on the journey, with hopes that it succeeds commercially and becomes part of the educational curriculum in Egyptian schools

Day 22: Completely off the commercial touristic track, who would have thought one could ever visit 'Al Zagazig' for a major sightseeing tour?! . After reading a random online article about Bubastis (also known as Tell Basta), an ancient capital city of Pharaohnic Egypt and the centre of worship for the feline Goddess 'Bast', I headed there immediately with low expectations but was shocked to see thousands of stunning, scattered artefacts from Ancient Pharaohnic, Greek and Roman eras!! A gold mine for avid explorers that very few locals sadly know about! . Stay tuned to roam with us for a partial fraction of our 22nd day within the walls of this ancient city and temple in our book :) . اليوم ال٢٢: بعيدا عن المعالم السياحية المعروفة، مين يصدق إن واحد ممكن يفكر يزور الزقازيق عشان يعمل جولة سياحية كبيرة فيها؟! . بعد لما قريت مقالة عابرة على الانترنت بالصدفة عن تل بسطة، مدينة عتيقة كانت يوما ما عاصمة في عهد مصر الفرعونية و كانت المقصد لعبادة القط الإلهي 'بسط'، إتجهت لهناك فورا بس بتوقعات منخفضة؛ لكني اتفاجئت بآلاف الآثار هناك من العهد الفرعوني و الروماني و اليوناني! منجم ذهب للمستكشفين الشغوفين اللي مع الأسف أقلية من أهل البلد يعرفوا عنها! . طوفوا معانا في جزء صغير من يومنا الاتنين و عشرين داخل أرجاء المدينة و المعبد، في كتابنا إن شاء الله :) . Photography Courtesy of @omarattia84 :) . #egypt #travel #travelling #tourism #tourist #book #travelgram #travelphotography #travelwriter #lonelyplanet #tripadvisor #thisisegypt #egyptshots #zagazig #temple #pharaoh #photography #photo #photographer #photooftheday #pic #picoftheday #instagram #instadaily #everydayegypt #discoveregyptwithdaliaandomar #aroundegyptin60days

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“Just like Malaysia and Thailand, Egypt should include tourism as a subject in schools to teach youth the importance of tourism and how it contributes to the GDP,” Attia said.
The book, Attia told Arab News, will include information on each destination, where to go and how much time should be spent in each place, in addition to tips on how to respect a destination’s culture and heritage.
It will also include the costs the couple incurred — at the time of their visit — in each destination.


World Cup 2018: A Muslim-friendly travel guide

Updated 13 June 2018
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World Cup 2018: A Muslim-friendly travel guide

Moscow

Both Tunisia and Iran are based in the vibrant 800-year-old Russian capital, renowned for its golden domes and stunning orthodox architecture. It is home to the famous Russian ballet and a wealth of art, culture and iconic scenery, including the breathtaking Red Square. A truly multicultural capital, Moscow is home to a sizeable Muslim community, which first began to settle here around the time of the Golden Horde. If you want to explore some of the capital’s Islamic heritage, visit the historic Muslim area, Zamoskvorechie, and head for the ‘Historical Mosque,’ built in 1823 by Muslim tatars. Reopened in 1993 after a lengthy closure under communism, the mosque has recently undergone a major refurbishment. Along with the 10k-capacity Moscow Cathedral Mosque (pictured), it is the capital’s most significant Muslim building.
Halal Food: You’ll find plenty on offer, from highly rated restaurants including Mr. Livanets (Lebanese), Dyushes (Azerbaijani), and Gandhara (Asian) to halal food carts.
Mosque: The Moscow Cathedral Mosque on Pereulok Vypolzov.
Qibla: South.

Saint Petersburg

Saudi Arabia’s national team will be based in this bastion of Russian imperialism, known as the Russian ‘Venice’ for its stunning network of canals, neo-Renaissance architecture and its plethora of culture, arts and all things splendid. Visitors can enjoy a wealth of museums, galleries, open promenades and the finest dining in the northern hemisphere — talking of which, sun lovers will be delighted to know that during the World Cup the sun will barely dip below the horizon. Muslim visitors should not miss the St. Petersburg Mosque’s sumptuous Central Asian architecture and mesmeric blue tiles (pictured) — a design inspired by Tamerlane’s tomb in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.
Halal Food: Limited, in comparison to Moscow, but both Eastern European restaurant Navruz and Oh! Mumbai (Indian) have received generally positive online reviews.
Mosque: St. Petersburg Mosque on Kronverkskiy Prospekt.
Qibla: South-east.

Grozny

Egypt’s ‘Pharaohs’ should feel right at home in the Chechen capital, which is home to a huge Muslim population (its coat of arms features a mosque), making it one of the most halal-friendly destinations on our list. The mosque in question is the city’s flagship monument and main tourist attraction, the Ottoman-style Akhmad Kadyrov Mosque. Modelled on Istanbul’s Sultanahmet Mosque and sited in a serene location on the west bank of the Sunzha River, it is part of an ‘Islamic’ complex also housing the Russian Islamic University, Kunta Hajji, and is the spiritual headquarters for the Muslims of the Chechen Republic. Much of Grozny is still being rebuilt after being virtually destroyed in two wars with Russia in the 1990s and 2000s, much of it through investment from the UAE.
Halal Food: Chechnya is majority-Muslim, so you’ll be spoiled for choice, from fast-food chain Ilis to high-end restaurants in five-star hotels.
Mosque: Akhmad Kadyrov on Prospekt Putina.
Qibla: South-west.

Voronezh

Morocco are based in quiet (at least until the tournament starts), picturesque Voronezh. The city is littered with lush green spaces and stunning churches. It’s home to a large orthodox Christian community, as well as small Jewish and still-smaller Muslim ones. The city’s beautiful 114-year-old synagogue on Ulitsa Svobody is a popular tourist attraction. Those looking for more ‘familiar’ heritage should head to the Kramskoy Museum of Fine Arts on Revolyutsii Avenue, home to an impressive collection of ancient Egyptian works of art on stone and sarcophagi.
Halal Food: Very sparse. The Asian restaurant Bahor bills itself as offering the “only halal food in Voronezh,” and there are reportedly a couple of grocery stores selling halal meat, one in the city’s central market.
Mosque: While no official mosque has yet been built in Voronezh, Muslims do gather to pray. According to Halalguide.me, there is an informal mosque on Ulitsa Gvardeyskaya.
Qibla: South.

Essentuki

Essentuki, which will host Nigeria in its Pontos Plaza Hotel (pictured), is famous for its health spas and mineral water, so the 'Super Eagles' should at least be able to relax after their games. Muslim visitors may want to drop by Kurortny Park, where the drinking gallery was inspired by Islamic Moorish design.
Halal Food: Hard to find. There is a kebab house that may be able to provide halal options. Otherwise, head to the area around the mosque in nearby Pyatigorsk.
Mosque: The nearest mosque is 25 minutes drive west in Pyatigorsk, on Skvoznoy Pereulok.
Qibla: Southwest.

Kaluga

It’s all about space exploration in the city where Senegal will be based. Space travel pioneer Konstantin Tsiolkovsky taught in Kaluga in his early years. The town’s main attraction — unsurprisingly — is the Tsiolkovsky State Museum of the History of Cosmonautics, reportedly the world’s first space museum. Second billing goes to the rocket scientist’s quaint old wooden family home.
Halal Food: Very hard to find. Asian restaurant Chaikhana and Russian eatery Solyanka (pictured) appear to cater to alternative dietary requirements, and may be worth a call.
Mosque: The town’s main mosque is a converted building off Ulitsa Annenki.
Qibla: South.