Situated at the border of the Great Sand Sea, Siwa is considered the easternmost extension to the Berber culture which spans North Africa. Up until the construction of the first road connecting Siwa to Egypt’s coastal road in 1986, the oasis was almost completely isolated from Egyptian and international cultures alike.

Famous for its produce of olives and dates, Siwa relies primarily on agriculture. Prior to the January 25 Revolution, domestic and inbound tourism were considered second in regards to the oasis’ economic dependence. Recent elements which have added to the appeal of Siwa to national and international business investors include discovering salt reserves and opening various mines at the beginning of this year. Furthermore, given Siwa’s abundance of water, paralleled with Egypt’s leading position in desert farming, the oasis is regarded an optimal location for desert reclamation and agriculture.

In hopes of promoting tourism and foreign investment after the recent political turmoil, the government has turned its interest towards projects of infrastructural development. New roads connecting the oasis to Libya and Cairo, as well as the opening of an airport for civilian use, are going to make the oasis more accessible and inviting for new developments.

However, despite the emergence of new opportunities, many people find it hard to benefit from the promising developments due to limited education which renders them inadequate. The growing interest in the oasis continues to expose the local people to a multitude of new cultures from within and without Egypt. Due to the absence of proper communication tools, such exposure brings along a threat to the outstanding authentic Siwan culture rather than an opportunity for growth and development.

Picture gallery

el Masr el Youm: Foreign women living in Siwa

Siwa is what desert dreams are made of. This unique place in the Western Desert of Egypt has kept its culture, traditions and own language very much alive, partly due to its isolated geographic location. Yearly, the oasis attracts many tourists, who want indulge in the slow pace of the desert life.

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