Ahmed Abd Elsayd Gaber prepares a comforting campfire for visitors to enjoy in Egypt's Western Desert.

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The Safari Oasis Western Desert Tours Team and their guests.

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Ahmed Abd Elsayd Gaber takes a peaceful moment to enjoy the dramatic landscape of the Western Desert.

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Ahmed Abd Elsayd Gaber prepares a comforting campfire for visitors to enjoy in Egypt's Western Desert.

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Slideshow images provided by Melissa Bays.

 

Ahmed Abd Elsayd Gaber - Driving Sustainable Tourism through Community Engagement

Since the discovery of the 'Valley of the Golden Mummies' in Bahariya Oasis eighteen years ago, more and more visitors, foreign and Egyptian alike, have been venturing to Egypt's Western Desert. 

 

Enter Ahmed Abd Elsayd Gaber, a Cairo-born tour operator who saw the 

opporunity to connect international and Egyptian tourists with the unique cultures and peoples of the western oases.

 

"[I have] spent my life in the region," says Ahmed. "[...] I have always had a deep appreciation for our people, the landscape, the oases, and desert environments, as well as the immense history and tradition that this region holds. Quite simply, I love the oases and surrounding desert and I feel proud to be able to share that passion with my colleagues, citizens of Egypt, and people from all over the world."

 

Ahmed established Safari Oasis Western Desert Tours at the main centre of Bawiti in Bahariya Oasis in 2000​, with the aim of providing access to a region that many Egyptian citizens have yet to travel to and many are not even aware exists. 

Photo courtesy of Melissa Bays.

 

Photo courtesy of Kelly Krause.

 

Employing local guides who know the desert intimately, Ahmed and his team ensure that visitors appreciate the natural, social, and archeological history of the region and its peoples. The inhabitants of the area themselves are a mixture of the original oasis dwellers, the Bedouin tribes of the Western Desert, and families who have migrated from Middle Egypt and the Nile Valley. 

 

"The people of these traditional communities [at Bahariya, Siwa, Farafra, Dahkla and Kharga] are different from any other population in Egypt, [each with its own style and magic]. They have their own unique habits, customs, and beliefs."

Working with these communities and ensuring that they benefit from the bringing of tourists into a currently struggling marketplace is a major objective for Ahmed and Safari Oasis. "We always employ local staff and actively practice the patronage of local businesses, no matter the journey or excursion," says Ahmed. "We strongly believe in sustainable tourism [...] and seek to help to educate and reinforce the value of maintaining a healthy environment [and community] into the future of locals and tourists alike."

 

The oases of the Western Desert are plentiful with wildlife and are supplied with water by many natural hot and cold springs. Bahariya Oasis has been an important center for agriculture and a source of minerals since Egypt's Pharonic Era. Throughout history, it has served as an important trade route for caravans through the desert.