This post is an excerpt from the forthcoming book, "150 Times Around the World," by Dr Jac Fitzenz. Its a culmination of his life's travels around the world and a compelling window into his vast journeys. Take a seat and come along for the experience of a lifetime as you join Dr Jac on his travels. Click here if you'd like to be notified when "150 Times Around the World" is available for purchase.
Redux. Six years later, in June 2010, I returned to Cairo to present a one-day program at the InterContinental Cairo City Stars. This is a fairly new luxury hotel set amid lush gardens next to the Stars Centre Mall. It’s east of central Cairo and only a mile or so from the airport. This is a gorgeous property, five stars in my opinion. Laura would have felt much more comfortable here.
My program topic was Predictive Management: Managing Tomorrow Today. This theme had attracted a good deal of attention as it was the outcome of the Predictive Initiative research project of 2007 and 2008. The sponsors, Awareness Programs, predicted several hundred people would be attending the conference. My segment was a one-day leadoff seminar. It was a pleasant experience as everything was well organized and went off without any surprises. At the conclusion, I had a couple days for sightseeing.
The sponsors put me in the care of an energetic young man and off we went. He was very talkative. Along the way he didn’t seem to miss anything, large or small. I saw everything from a tiny Jewish temple tucked in an alley—lots of alleys in Cairo—to the Grand Mosque on the Citadel Fort. It’s full name is Muhammad Ali Mosque – The Citadel of Cairo
Saladin Citadel of Cairo is a huge fortification on part of the Muqattam Hills near the center of Cairo. The citadel was fortified by the Ayyubid ruler, Salah al-Din, between 1176 and 1183 to protect the mosque from the Crusaders. The fort and mosque sit atop the high hill that overlooks all of Cairo. The complex was completed in 969 and dedicated in 972.
Soon, mosque authorities hired scholars and the mosque slowly developed until today it is the second oldest continuously run university in the world. The oldest is the University of Karueein, founded in 859 AD in Fez, Morocco. The Citadel has an intriguing history having started as a Shiite center and later changed to Sunni, which it is today. Regardless of its history, it is a stunning building with several minarets and domes. The height of the central dome is 82 meters or 270 feet. Inside there are so many features, I can’t begin to list. Simply stated, I was very impressed.
We went from the grandeur of the mosque to a tour of some of the poor neighborhoods. The gap between the two was shocking. My guide pointed out all things great and small. I don’t think we missed anything of value. We burrowed into places that tour groups would never include. It’s a strange feeling to walk with just this one young man casually through narrow, sandy alleys, past children playing in the dust, old men dozing in the sun, wondering what their reactions are to this obviously blonde alien in their midst. From great wealth to abject poverty, within sight of each other, explains the civil unrest and basis for revolution. The next morning, I caught the 10:20 Egypt Air flight and headed home.
I left Egypt with an appreciation of how difficult it must be to live there and to govern the irreconcilable differences in wealth distribution. It’s something that we in America might keep in mind.