What happened in Damaitta can be a lesson that all of us (governors,
government officials – all Egyptians) can learn from. As we all know, a
Canadian company – Agrium - was pursuing construction of a fertilizer
factory on the island of Ras El Bar and because of the recent controversy
parliament appointed a committee to study the case and they decided to
move this factory away from Ras El Bar. First I would like to say that I
am from Damaitta and I have always been proud of my origin. When the
National Geographic made a film about my life story and work, I took them
to Ras El Bar, the seashore where I spent my childhood. I took them to a
unique place where the red water (from the fertile land) of the Nile used
to join the Mediterranean Sea, the beautiful setting called El Lessan
This area has been developed by the great man and architect, Dr. Mohamed
Fathi El Bradey. If you go there at sunrise or sunset, you will witness
remarkable seashore that does not exist in any country in Europe. Many
famous actors, writers and politicians used to spend their summers
relaxing at this magnificent seashore. After the 1973 war, the seashore
was ruined by immigrants who turned it into a city, but Dr. El Bradey
returned it to its former glory and made it into a national park. No one
can believe, that the authorities would allow an industrial factory to be
built on one of our treasured seashores, destroying the natural beauty,
fish and wildlife and polluting our atmosphere. How could this happen? We
also must ask ourselves why the Canadian company agreed to this. Would
they have accepted this damage if it was being done in their own country?
Would they destroy one of their national parks? I think not!
This important case can teach us a lesson. First, the governor, Dr. El
Bradey stood with the people and spoke out against the government project.
Normally in his position he should support government projects but he put
himself on the line and stood with the people of his district. He is a man
with ethics and integrity. He felt that history would be his judge and if
he didn’t say anything to help protect this area he would be blamed. He
was not afraid about losing his position, instead he stood with courage
and in a quite way without using an antagonistic voice he analyzed the
project and he concluded that the factory would ruin all his dreams to
make Ras El Bar a protected site; a contribution from him, a gifted
architect, to the people of Damaitta.
The second lesson is how the people, together as one, stood against the
government project. The people in Damaitta did not stage violent protests
or marches. They did not destroy cars or busses. To show that they opposed
the project they put black flags above their houses to demonstrate that
the factory would change their lives. All the parties in Damaitta, the
Democratic Party and the opposition parties, and the members of parliament
rejected the idea of this project that would ruin the beautiful seashore.
We can learn discipline and determination from the people of Damaitta.
President Mubarak, during his latest visit to Damaitta, announced that he
hoped to see all the Egyptians to be like the Damaittans.
The third lesson is that we need city plans. Our cities and villages do
not have city planning like other places in the world. For example, when
the city of New York was originally planned (organized) more than 200
years ago they set certain restrictions that are still followed today. It
is the duty of every governor to bring expertise and help establish plans
for their cities and villages that designate specific locations for
tourist and industrial activities. So when they retire and governors in
the future take over (even hundreds of years from now) they will have a
plan to work by. We need to keep areas that are considered national parks
safe because these natural wonders cannot be replaced. We have a vast
desert that can house factories but these factories must still follow
regulations so they do not destroy our atmosphere. We can look to the
desert road in Upper Egypt to erect these types of industrial projects.
Dr. El Bradey should be seen as an example of man who taught all of us an
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