Cross Egypt on Scooters

October 01, 2011 By Sankalita Shome

A 1,700 kilometer ride across the major tourist destinations of Egypt - starting at the Mediterranean city of Alexandria and ending at Abu Simbel, the iconic Pharonic site - sounds like a fun trip. Yet, Ahmed El Zoghby and his team members are on a mission

El Zoghby and his friends, natives of Alexandria, love driving their scooters to different places in Egypt. Initially, the idea was to take a trip to Sharm El Sheikh. “However, we decided to use our passion for scooters for doing something bigger,” says El Zoghby, explaining the genesis of the idea for the Cross Egypt Challenge.

They hit upon the idea of driving across Egypt on their small machines; “We want to show Egypt is the place where you can get everything - culture, history, as well as, natural beauty,” says El Zoghby.

The challenge, which starts on 14 October, will take this determined team through the most famous landmarks in Egypt; from Alexandria to Cairo, then onto Suez, before they get to Dahab and Sharm El Sheikh on the Sinai Peninsula. They will then drive to Hurghada on the Red Sea and finally the Pharonic cities of Luxor and Aswan.

Tourism is a huge foreign exchange earner for Egypt; post the 25 January Revolution, tourists to the country have fallen 35% during the second quarter of 2011, compared to the same period last year, as stated by the tourism ministry. Cross Egypt Challenge’s unique endeavour is aimed at drawing the attention of the world to Egypt and getting the tourists to come back.

“Nobody would have expected that a small machine like the scooter can be taken out into the desert; we want to show that the roads of Egypt are safe,” says El Zoghby, expounding on the choice of the mode of transportation for the challenge.

The team of Cross Country Egypt could have easily chosen to cover this distance comfortably in cars, but the idea was to choose a mode of transport that was less polluting so as to also make their drive across the breadth of Egypt more environment-friendly. “We also hope to encourage people to move to more environment friendly modes of transportation,” says El Zoghby. Moving to alternate modes of transport would also help ease the traffic congestion on the roads in Egypt, he points out.

Mona Madany, a member of the team has her own reasons for being a part of the Cross Egypt Challenge. “My challenge is girls,” says Madany. She hopes that by being on the team, she can change people’s culture and attitude towards women. As a resident of Alexandria and someone who loves to ride the scooter, she has not always found it easy to escape attention and harassment. “I have been living here for the last 10 years; Egypt is a beautiful country and I want to make it safe for women.”

The challenge that will run from 14 October to 22 October will be a test in endurance for the participants and they are preparing for it by taking out their scooters on exploratory rides. Initially, the team was confined to El Zoghby and a group of friends, but in a bid to get wider participation, they have invited applications from people who would be interested to be a part of the challenge.

For those who are excited by what the Cross Egypt Challenge is seeking to do but cannot be with the team the entire 1,700 km, there is an option that they can avail of. The team has invited people to ride along with them on two legs of the journey; from Alexandria to Cairo and from Cairo to Suez.

“This is the first time that something of this kind is being attempted in Egypt; earlier, there have been instances where the journey across Egypt was made in four-wheel drive cars, but never on scooters,” asserts Madany.
The team of Cross Egypt Challenge is poised to fulfil the challenge that they have set for themselves.