Welcome to Egypt, or in Arabic… Ahllan fi Misr.
Actually, I was enrolled in the Faculty of Engineering; in Egypt you can go to a top university to get a high degree like medicine or oil engineering. But my university was very far from where I live, and my dad was ill so my brother told me I shouldn’t go there because of this. So I changed to a lesser university. I couldn’t say no to my brother. Actually it turned out that he was right – although at first I didn’t like it, then I started to love it.
To be a tour guide here, you have to be very highly educated. Tourism in my country is the number one industry. To be a tour guide you have to study at least five years. It’s Egypt – we have a big history and tourism makes our living. If you go to any place and there is a doctor, a tour guide and an engineer, the tour guide is respected more than the others.
I discovered I had to study the history of ancient Egypt so I disliked it and I wanted to change, but then I got a good professor and she made me love history. Especially when I entered my first tomb at the Valley of the Kings, I got this feeling inside of me and I realised that I actually love history. I studied ancient Egyptian language, hieroglyphics, and art history. I also studied English, French and Russian.
When did you start working as a tour guide?
After earning my degree, I got my licence in 2004. I was working as a tour guide without a license before that. It’s not easy to get work – it’s so hard. You have to know someone. So I had to go to the border to take people coming from Eilat across the border. I worked there for two years. I went to places that no guides go because it is so hard.
I started my own business eight years ago. I had a friend of mine from Ireland, she is my best friend, and she was pushing me to do something for myself. And I did it and succeeded.
Are people worried about safety in Egypt?
Lots of people come to Egypt nowadays, and lots of people are very scared and they don’t feel that Egypt is safe. They don’t understand that I am with them so if anything happens to them it will happen to me. I am Egyptian so I’d put myself in front of them to protect them.
What do you like most about your job?
I love to meet travellers. I like to look into the eyes of people after they see the Pyramids of Giza and the Golden Mask of Tutankhamun. I like to look into their eyes after they see the wonders of my country and see their surprise with our history. Some of them are crying, some of them have something to tell me with their eyes. I love to meet people who respect our culture.
I like to share with people my love for my country, I love to show them everything different – the pyramids, the mummies. Some people like to taste the local food, culture and life. They all like to see the pyramids.
One problem is our government doesn’t give enough attention to tourism. They do not do a good job of promotion for Egypt.
People are scared to come here, but the reality is that the areas where there are problems are very far away. People don’t understand that. If you love Egypt, come. If you love Egypt and you want to make your heart happy, come and see our pyramids and treasures. We are waiting for you.
What surprises your guests the most?
People are most surprised by the traffic. You know when you are in traffic and it’s so crowded but suddenly you see the pyramids before you – you know that contrast between the old and the new. This is what surprises people.
In your view, what makes a good tour guide?
A good tour guide will give his travelers love and trust and he must know they are in his country for their happiness and it’s their holiday. A good guide will give his best, provide you with excellent services, smile, be happy, and make you want to come again to visit.