Exhibition “Sinai Park” By Andrea & Magda
Exhibition “Sinai Park”
By Andrea & Magda
Exhibition: from November 12, 2015 to January 17, 2016
Venue: Maison Européenne de la Photographie – 5/7 rue de Fourcy, 75004 Paris
The Sinai region suffered directly from the effects of the Arab Spring and more specifically from the recent events that took place in Egypt. On the coast of the Red Sea, “Tahrir” is synonymous with “catastrophe”. Egypt has largely bet on the tourist industry (around 15% of the GDP), and for the Sinai region it is nearly all of the economy that is based on tourism. A risky bet, since as soon as political tensions occur, it is the entire region that is deeply affected. The terrorist attacks of 2000, the Intifada in nearby Palestine, the 2011 revolution, and more recently the emergence in North Sinai of ISIS affiliated groups have been undermining the coming of Westerner tourists on whom the entire region’s economy depends.
Only the city of Sharm el Sheikh – a fake and highly secured decorum – the business has distinctly restarted, with tourist operators relying on the Russian market with « packages with all-inclusive discount trips ». Hotel owners pride themselves on the recovery of bookings since the election of General Sissi, and boast a government that shows off its many militaries assets as a proof a control. In the rest of South Sinai, carcasses of empty hotels, left abandoned or never completed, cover the entire cost, from Taba to Sharm el Sheikh. According to the Egyptian Information Service, 86% of Sinai’s real estate is allocated to the tourism industry. The Bedouin, a nomadic population indigenous to the Sinai region, endure a very strict policy of military control and are broadly excluded from the tourism businesses.
On this piece of land, a strategic passage point between Africa and Asia, the development of the tourist industry conducted by investors from Cairo or from the Gulf, has completely transformed the region: the architecture, artificial and naïve, reveals the progressive disconnection with cultural local reality. The facilities are conforming to global standards in order to satisfy the client’s expectations. The ambition of investors far from being realistic, results in oversized constructions, devastating the environment. The security requirements lead to an extreme closuring of the land. The Sinai has become a “non place” (following the term used by French Ethnologist Marc Augé) where each one – the tourist, the Bedouin, the soldier or the seasonal worker – is confined to the spaces according to the role that he was allocated.
This work was inspired by the essay “The ParK”, Bruce Bégout