The project is implemented under “The Revival of the Shali Fortress in the Siwa Oasis Initiative”, funded by the EU and co-financed, designed, and implemented by Environmental Quality International for Small and Medium Enterprise Development (EQI-SME). Also attending the event were Ambassadors and Cultural Attachés representing Malta, Angola, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Latvia, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, and the United States of America. They came to explore the opportunities for transforming Siwa into the internationally acclaimed hub for sustainable living and travel that it deserves to be.
The aim of the event was to highlight the Initiative’s considerable achievements since 2018, and the work remaining to be implemented until the end of 2020. Designed to revive, restore, and conserve Shali’s kershef-built archaeological site and the partially abandoned and degraded settlement surrounding it, the Initiative will also stimulate Siwa’s economy by improving its international standing as a leading eco-tourism destination.
“The recognition that we are indeed at one with our cultural and natural heritage, and with each other, irrespective of who, or where we are, is a good way to reconfigure our common future; the Siwa Sustainable Development Programme is about this opportunity,” conveyed Dr. Khaled El Anany.
Dr. Rania Al Mashat highlighted that, “Never has the call for public-private partnerships been more relevant. It is by engaging local communities and all stakeholders in an environment of national and international cooperation that we can spur impact through fostering inclusive and sustainable growth.”
Dr. Yasmine Fouad, added that, “Connecting people with each other is key for human development, connecting people with nature is essential for natural resource preservation, but connecting people with each other and with nature, is the foundation for sustainable development. We are all meeting here today to make Siwa a world-acclaimed ecotourism destination where the local community and travellers can share the rewards of sustainable living.”
The Initiative comprises many key elements that together have been instrumental in the economic empowerment of the people of Siwa through heritage preservation. This has been carried out through the restoration, conservation, and adaptation of the use of structures and spaces in the archaeological site, elevating Shali’s standing as one of Siwa’s prime cultural tourism attractions, and building the capacity of local residents to restore their properties using traditional methods.
“Siwa is a unique, magical place. It offers its own blend of natural beauty, heritage sites, and culture, which is built and nurtured by the community that has lived here for generations. I am proud to see that the EU is encouraging a sustainable approach to heritage preservation that is not only attracting more tourism, but also benefitting the local community, by offering better opportunities for sustainable economic growth,” said H.E. Christian Berger, Ambassador of the EU to Egypt.
The Initiative was also successful in designing, establishing and equipping an Earth Architecture Museum to showcase and document the distinctive and unique architectural and cultural heritage of the Siwa Oasis. The Earth Architecture Museum is a rich repository of knowledge that celebrates Siwan architecture as an example of Egypt’s architectural legacy.
The Initiative has demonstrated that the conservation of heritage sites alongside the upgrading of environmental and health services improves living conditions and stimulates local economies. As the founder of EQI-SME, Dr. Mounir Neamatalla said, “The Shali Revival Initiative was created to safeguard the heritage of Siwa and engage its residents in positive actions that will ensure a healthy and sustainable local economy.”
In order to respond to the socioeconomic needs of the Oasis’ young population, the Initiative has provided a platform for the improvement of livelihoods through the reconstruction and restoration of commercial zones, traditional marketplaces known as `khoss`, where small business owners and artisans can display and sell their products.
Additionally, the Initiative helped respond to the urgent healthcare needs of the Oasis’ most vulnerable population segments — women and children — by establishing and equipping a Maternal and Child Healthcare Centre that provides basic reproductive healthcare services for women, and primary healthcare for children.