With Sissi, Egypt Sees a Return of the Pharaohs

Prof. Elie Podeh August 2015
Op-eds / Israel and the Middle East

On August 6, the new Suez Canal was inaugurated with great pomp and circumstance. In honor of the historic event, there were two ceremonies, attended by both Egyptian and foreign dignitaries, that recalled the festive dedication of the original canal in 1869.

Numerous media reports discussed the political and economic aspects of this event, but they missed the aspect that was simultaneously most interesting and most surprising: Islamic and Arab identity are both out, while pharaonic culture is returning in a big way. One could say the most salient trend at both ceremonies was their presentation of the new Egypt as marching forward while also connecting to its pharaonic past. As President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi put it in his speech, “Egypt is a great country and has a civilization of 7,000 years.”
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