Green and sustainable tourism in Egypt (Green Tourism)
A travelogue by Greta Hessel Phil. M.A.
Environmentally friendly and ecologically working hotels in Egypt can be certified by the „GREEN STAR“ (GSH). There are a total of 76 GSH certified hotels in Egypt, including 24% in El Gouna and 8% in Hurghada.
We visited the Steigenberger Makadi Hotel in Madinat Makadi, which was awarded 5 green stars (the highest star rating).
Five stars mean: The hotel is outstandingly environmentally friendly and belongs to the small group of hotels that work in all areas for an intensive and continuous protection of nature and the environment. Both management and employees attach great importance to protecting nature and the environment.
The Green Star Hotel (GSH) is a national green certification and capacity building program managed by the Egyptian Hotel Association (EHA) under the auspices of the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism. More information at: https://www.greenstarhotel.org/
Bottleneck water supply
Egypt is one of the poorest countries in the world. Around 95% of the country is made up of desert. It rains too little, so there is hardly any groundwater. 85% of the water comes from the Nile and is transported on long routes. Due to the heat in summer, up to 48 degrees and the increasing flow of tourists, there are bottlenecks in the water supply.
Right from the start, every tourist has been anxious about how safe the water in the hotel is, because in most travel guides tap water is not recommended. The drinking water can contain high levels of E-Coli bacteria and ammonia, which has been officially determined by the Ministry of the Environment.
Alternative water resources are required here. An interview with General Manager of the Steigenberger Makadi Hotel, Mister Ayman Anis.
Greta Hessel: How safe is the water in the Steigenberger Makadi Hotel?
70% of the hotels in Hurghada have a water treatment system, the others get the water from the Nile. Our water treatment plant is located near our hotel and is pumped up out of the ground, not out of the sea, through the sand. The water from the earth contains less salt and the sand is already a natural filter system. The water is cleaned, desalinated and filtered. That is why our guests can use the water without hesitation, even for brushing their teeth. In winter we even produce our ice cubes ourselves, only in summer we have to buy ice cubes due to the high heat and demand. The ice machine has a filter system and is 100% clean.
Even the golf course is supplied with our treated water, which tolerates the grass better, but the green areas are supplied with our waste water, because a law prohibits the discharge of waste water into rivers and seas. The hotel has existed for 10 years and the water treatment plant was planned from the start.
Greta Hessel: What happens to the garbage? A worldwide problem, because usually the garbage is not separated in Egypt.
We separate our garbage and try to avoid garbage from the start. In our restaurants there is nothing made of paper or plastic, even the drinking straws are made from recyclable paper. The butter is stored in pots, the tables are equipped with cloth napkins. Organic waste is put on the compost and used as fertilizer for our plants or brought to farms. Our employees are supplied with the remaining food. The plastic waste is picked up by a company and brought to Cairo.
Next I want to reduce the consumption of plastic bottles. The treated water is filtered again by a Britta system, then the guests get a glass bottle in their rooms, which is refilled, and a PBA-free plastic bottle for the pool, which they can refill during their stay.
An environmentally friendly bag is planned for natural rubbish that can be buried in the earth.
We have an “Environment Day” or cleaning day. All hotels invite guests to collect rubbish. The garbage disposal company itself brings guests to the islands by boat to collect the garbage there.
Every season, the uniforms are collected by employees and distributed to the needy.
Greta Hessel: Many hotels spray poison in the rooms and facilities against mosquitoes and flies. How does it look in your hotel?
Yes, we have mosquitoes and annoying flies, depending on the season and weather change or climate change. We also spray, but only with environmentally friendly products and above all not in the rooms, but only in the green areas. Here too we are checked and checked! Our cleaning agents are also built on an environmentally friendly basis and are not chemical clubs.
Greta Hessel: Many people are afraid of the stomach and intestinal diseases. What are the hygienic regulations in your hotel?
Often it’s not the food. Stomach and intestinal diseases arise primarily from drinks that are too cold, because the diseases are increased in summer. The body is heated and not yet acclimatized.
We are under the control of an English hygiene company CRISTAL. There comes a tester every month, unannounced. He takes samples from the doorknobs, the rooms, the kitchen, etc.
We have our own hygiene officer in-house who carries out checks every day. The pool is tested for chlorine three times a day.
Guests can disinfect their hands themselves before entering the restaurant.
Greta Hessel: What does Green Star certification mean?
We have to register and present our concept in order to be accepted, then we will be tested and do it every year.
We always have to get better and use less, that’s the challenge. Less water consumption, for example, because if we don’t improve, we don’t get a star, so we have improved our lighting system this year and installed LED lamps.
Eat Faitrade and live sustainably!
Eating and drinking in the land of the pharaohs – the fertile Nile valley
Egypt is one of the most fertile countries in North Africa, most of the food comes mainly from the Nile Valley, which lies in the middle of a hostile desert. The lower Nile valley has been used for agriculture for thousands of years. Due to the monsoon rain and the associated floods, the Nile transports huge amounts of fertile mud, which it is supplied from the volcanic areas of Ethiopia. The sludge is dried in bricks and used for building houses. However, the Nile threshold and drought led to problems in agriculture. However, the Egyptian farmers developed an irrigation system early on in order to keep the Nile valley fertile forever. Mainly wheat, barley and emmer were grown. Wheat was used for bread and barley for beer. Bread and beer were the staple food of the people, and grain growing was one of the greatest riches.
In addition, the ancient Egypt lived on wine, milk, water, meat, fish, vegetables, rice and fruits. You ate with your fingers and placed water bowls on the table to clean your fingers.
The Nile Valley still cultivates today: pineapples, apples, oranges, apricots, small bananas, pears, dates, strawberries, figs, pomegranates, guava, cherries, mango, peaches, plums, watermelons, grapes.
Vegetables grown in Egypt include:
Eggplant, okra, cauliflower, beans: green beans, broad beans, watercress, peas, cucumbers, chickpeas, carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, garlic, cabbage: white cabbage, red cabbage, pumpkin, leek, lentils, lupine, corn, bell pepper, red pepper, Parsley, radish, beets in different varieties: white beet, beet, beetroot, celery, spinach, tomatoes, wheat, green wheat grains, lemons, zucchini and onions.
Fairtrade farms in Egypt
Fairtrade certified are foods and products that come from fair trade and in the production of which certain social, ecological and economic criteria were observed. This seal is given to small farmers‘ cooperatives with stable prices and long-term trade relationships. Both farmers and employees on plantations receive an additional Fairtrade bonus for joint projects. The standards also contain criteria for democratic organizational structures, environmental protection and safe working conditions. The controls are carried out by FLOCERT. https://www.fairtrade-deutschland.de/ Faitrade seal Cultivation of Egyptian farmers: potatoes, grapes, sesame, fruit juices, oranges, limes, lemons, mandarins, cotton.
Between Cairo and Alexandria is the Magrabi farm with about 3700 hectares of land, which is spread over six farms. 4000 permanent workers and around 3000 seasonal workers grow oranges, limes, grapes, lemons and mandarins here under fair trade conditions.
In the meantime, the Magrabi farm has already built a small hospital, a day care center and a sports club. The clinic has even been expanded to such an extent that small operations are possible on site. Not only Magrabi staff are treated in the clinic, residents of the entire area of Noubaria receive medical support here. Four nurses enable treatments around the clock. Of particular importance is the new ambulance, which was purchased through Fairtrade awards and which transports patients quickly and safely to the cooperative or to the nearest hospital. The cooperative has its own packing houses, where the fresh delicacies are carefully packaged and shipped in accordance with European standards. In our own laboratories, highly qualified specialists work on the diagnosis and control of plant diseases, pollutant analyzes as part of quality management and residue controls.
Even ecological spices and spice mixtures come from the cooperative. The SEKEM group (Lebenskraft) has been working there for many years according to the guidelines of fair trade. The companies united in this small joint-stock company not only produce food but also textiles and herbal medicines, which are mainly intended for the Egyptian market itself. For example, the herbs and spices that small farmers from all over Egypt supply to SEKEM are all organic, many of them even work according to the particularly strict rules of the Demeter organic farming association. Pure, in mixtures or as raw materials for the ecological food industry, they come onto the German market, among other things. Dried dates, honey, fruit spreads and herbal teas can also be found in this country.
The main spices in Egyptian cuisine are: cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, turmeric, black cumin and thyme
Tea: The most popular tea is hibiscus tea, but also anise tea, mint tea or broth made from ginger and cinnamon are often drunk or lemon juice with peppermint.
Tea is also made from the flowers and fruits of other plants. The most popular fruit tea is certainly the hibiscus tea. The following fruit teas are on offer:
Hibiscus, marshmallow, also known as mallow tea, anise tea, mint tea, ginger and cinnamon tea,
Hibiscus is also available as loose goods.
The beer tastes very good, no wonder, because this has been brewed in Egypt for over 100 years – the tradition goes back 5000 years.
The production of wines also has a long tradition.
Unfortunately there are only light table wines, rose, white and red with the meal. The grapes of most of the wines come from the wine region of Dschanāklīs. They are drinkable, but wine connoisseurs affectionately refer to them as „Château Migraine“.
The wine and spirits available at the hotel (for Al inclusive offers) are all Egyptian products. (Foreign products have to be paid extra and are very expensive.) Cocktails made of gin, vodka, rum or tequila are offered.
Time for vacation
When it gets dark, cold and uncomfortable early in winter in Germany, then it is time for a vacation in warmer areas. In less than four hours of flight time, it is possible to lie on the beach at 25 degrees and enjoy the sun. Egypt offers about everything your heart desires. The white sand beaches, cushioned lounge chairs, cocktails at the bar, and a romantic dinner by the sea.
The magic of the country can be felt everywhere. Around 5000 years ago, a high culture emerged in Egypt with exceptional knowledge, revolutionary sciences, high morals and spiritual ethics. Scholars such as Plato, Solon and Pythagoras not only found their deepest knowledge in Egypt, they even trained in Egyptian secret schools in order to make their own culture blossom. The country’s puzzles and secrets have still not been solved.
Establishing a harmonious connection between heaven and earth was the goal of the ancient Egyptians. The principle of world order and justice, above all divine, is the core of the Egyptian religion and way of life.
If you love culture, you can visit the millennia-old monuments, the colossal pyramids and the Great Sphinx of Giza as well as the hieroglyph-covered walls of the Karnak temple and the tombs in the Valley of the Kings near Luxor, visit Bedouins, or experience the desert with a quad.
Golfing is guaranteed on the most beautiful golf courses with 0% rain.
The red sea is a heavenly underwater world with dolphins, blue lagoons and colorful coral reefs for snorkeling, surfing or diving.
A caravan trip on the camel to the oases bordered by palm trees is just as possible as relaxing in the sand dunes, surrounded by white rocks, whoever wants can simply enjoy the beach vacation.
The Egyptians are very warm and friendly. Names are easy to remember, all are either Mohamed, Ahmed or Ali,
Tips should be distributed in Egyptian pounds, the locals cannot exchange hard money. Usually you give 5-10 Egypt. Pound. A waiter earns around € 80 a month.
Yoga and the greeting to the sun
Anyone who practices yoga knows how difficult these exercises can be. The combination of breathing and movement is a real challenge for beginners.
Yoga is an ancient practice and contains exercises for the body and mind. Yoga is booming and is part of the new green lifestyle. No wonder that in our hectic world, people long for relaxation and rest. In addition, most people are so tight in the shoulders that they often have to take painkillers. It would make sense to start with a few easy exercises.
The sun salutation also called „Surya Namaskar“ („Surya“, the sun and „Namaskar“, the greeting) should also be carried out at sunrise, which is not a problem in Egypt, because the sun is always there, except at night.
Cat, cow, cobra, crow or looking down dog are not roaming animals, but the best-known yoga exercises.
Yoga can improve and strengthen the back muscles. Yoga is stress-reducing and has a calming, balancing effect. You do not have to dislocate all parts of the body straight away, breathing and silence alone result in inner contemplation, so that problems can be better solved. To begin with, it is sufficient to carry out a simple exercise, e.g. „The tree“ and leaning against a wall. The neck tension in particular is released when the hands are folded over the head, the arms should be pressed against the ears.
Of course, it always makes sense to entrust yourself to a yoga teacher and start with light exercises.
Yoga is not easy to learn, but various hotels offer yoga or stretching for free.
Our recordings took place in the Steigenberger Makadi Hotel. Mishaa Michel made his knowledge available to us.