'Characters of Egypt' festival begins in Aswan

Dalia Farouk, Thursday 27 Oct 2011

Event will celebrate Egypt's ethnic diversity by showcasing customs, traditions of various tribal groups

The three-day “Characters of Egypt” festival kicked off on Thursday on Aswan’s Heisa Island, where 33 different ethnic tribes from across Egypt are set to meet and exchange cultural perspectives.

The annual event aims to raise awareness of the cultural variances between Egypt’s multifarious ethnic groups. This cultural diversity will be recognised and celebrated at the festival through the display of indigenous practices, clothing, music, art, cuisines, literary traditions and sports.

This year, 350 tribesmen from 33 ethnic groups from areas throughout the country – including the Siwa and Farafra Oases in the Western Desert, the northern and southern Sinai Peninsula, the Eastern Desert and the Nile Valley – are expected to participate at the festival.

According to festival founder Waleed Ramadan, the event’s overriding objective is to open up lines of communication between the representatives of tribes that have existed in the Egyptian desert for years without ever meeting.

The festival will also be attended by Egyptians and foreigners who wish to learn more about Egypt’s diverse ethnic groups, says Ramadan.

During the event, participants will be given firsthand experience of the Bedouin lifestyle by staying in tents and eating traditional foods in an unpolluted environment. Tribesmen, meanwhile, will present their music, traditional dances, poetry and food, and hold traditional Bedouin camel races.

On the occasion of World Tourism Day on 27 September, the United Nations World Tourism Organisation and the Egyptian Tourism Authority both highlighted the festival’s importance to Egypt’s tourism industry.

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