Topic: BatzS - Suez 1915
Suez Canal Attack
Egypt, January 28 - February 3, 1915
The Times, 4 February 1915, pt 2
The account is transcribed below.
THE SEASON IN EGYPT.
TOURISTS REPLACED BY SOLDIERS.
(FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT.)
CAIRO, JAN. 15.
There is, to speak strictly, no Egyptian season this winter - that pleasant insouciant life made up of picnics, dances, excursions, and sight-seeing, varied by Nile and desert trips, which centres round the chief hotels of Cairo, fins ceased to be. The Western countries, whence came most of the European tourists in the past, have this year sent out but a handful of British and French visitors. Egypt is closed to Germans and Austro-Hungarians; the Italians, who never formed a large proportion of the winter visitors, have decreased in numbers this winter owing partly to financial stringency at home, partly to the rather alarmist articles of some of their journalists. Owing to the general disturbance caused by the war few subjects indeed of the minor Powers have ventured out to Cairo. Remains America - but America has been hard hit by the conflict, and no more do Poppas and Mommas, rich no doubt beyond the dreams of avarice, submissively follow their smart and self-possessed daughters to Savoy dances and Ghezireh race meetings. And so the Cairo season is one of the victims of the war. Most of the chief hotels are closed. The two great hotel groups are represented only by the “Grand Continental" and "Shepherd’s," Savoy, Semiramis, Ghezireh Palace will not open this season. Helouan is an abomination of desolation, with one hotel and pension alone op en out of at least a dozen. Only the Heliopolis House Hotel, an adjunct to the huge and magnificent Heliopolis Palace, is open at the new desert city which has sprung up in the last nine .years beyond Abbassieh The Luxor Hotel at Luxor and the Grand Hotel at Assuan are open for the benefit of a few old habitués, of invalids, and of occasional officers on short leave or Angle-Egyptian officials in need of a brief rest from what, owing to the general stoppage or curtailment of leave, has been a trying year for many of them.
PRESENCE OF THE TROOPS.
Yet if the season is non-existent there is animation enough in the European life of Cairo. The city has become militarized, for a very large army is quartered in or around it. Shepherd’s and the Grand Continental Hotel swarm with officers of every rank and every branch in the Imperial service-British, Indian, Colonial, and Egyptian. There was a time when N.C.O.'s and men, especially of the Colonial contingents, pervaded both hotels at all hours, but of late certain restrictions have been placed on their frequenting the hotels at certain hours.
In general, it may be said that the military have amply made up for the absence of tourists as far as Cairo is concerned. The dragomans, guides, and vendors of every species of rubbish from inefficient fly-whisks to stuffed crocodiles have thriven exceedingly. There are no tourists at Mena House, but a large force of Australians is camped near the Pyramids, and that renowned, or should I say notorious, tribe, the Pyramid Beduin, are growing deplorably prosperous at the expense of newcomers. The vendors of all sorts of refreshments, restaurant keepers, cabmen, tartars, taxi-cab drivers, &c., are making money. Egyptian and Barbering waiters have taken the place of the German and Austrian in the hotels that remain open.
AN OPENING FOR BRITISH TRADESMEN.
The Mouski Bazaar is not doing badly, though there is naturally a falling off in the demand for the best classes of Oriental goods, and the best known vendors of Egyptian and Greek antiques have comparatively few clients. Book shops and tea shops .are doing excellent business, and one still wonders why no English bookseller has begun operations now that the Germans have left us, and why none of the many London establishments have thought of opening tea rooms in Cairo, if only for the benefit of the Australians, the tea-drinkers par excellence of a tea-drinking race.
It is only in Upper Egypt that the cessation of the tourist traffic has really been felt. Ii Cairo and its neighbourhood not only are the troops, a majority of whom receive at least 5s pay a day, spending large sums, but considerable orders for provisions, forage, &c. are given by the military authorities difficult, it is difficult, of course, to make any but a general estimate of the amount that is being spent the country by the garrison, but there is good reason to believe that it does not fall far shot of £250,000 a month. Egypt has another good reason for being grateful to the Turk.
Social gaieties have, of course, decreases. Dances are not given, but after all one cannot expect Cairo to eat, drink, and be merry when the world is at war. Charity bazaars and similar entertainments are well supported, while the ladies of the British, French, and Belgian colonies have in many cases taken up first aid courses and hospital work with rare zeal. An if the truth be told the average British resides is not altogether displeased at the absence of tourists.