Egypt's increasing eco-tourism scene is getting the recognition it deserves.
Unique Aswan-located eco-lodge, Eco-Nubia, has been announced as the winner of a UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Award. Recognising its innovative, sustainable and eco-friendly practices on a global scale, the award has also secured the lodge a grant with StartEgypt, who aims to inspire and support Egyptian entrepreneurs in the field of social impact enterprises.
Eco-Nubia was founded by Ahmed Yehia, who was motivated by a deep interest in exploring and showcasing the hidden treasures that lie in Egypt. However, he was alarmed by how most hotels had a negative environmental impact around the areas they service.
By mid 2017, Yehia was treading the many lands of Egypt when he stumbled upon an abandoned Nubian village on the island of Bigeh. Situated between the Aswan Dam and the High Dam, Bigeh faces the iconic Philae temple, and is completely vacant of inhabitants. Leaving the village 40 years ago due to its remoteness and lack of basic services, the residents settled in nearby villages and cities and Bigeh was left to crumble by time.
Yehia saw this as an opportunity and his risk has paid dividends, with the eco-lodge reportedly receiving 10,000 visitors in the last 4 months. With a background in architecture and heritage management, Yehia began rebuilt the decaying village using vernacular methods of architecture and re-purposing the old Nubian houses into sustainable eco-lodges that were connected to newly built infrastructural systems for sewage, water and electricity.
The lodge also strives for zero waste, while recycling water through treatment plants, which later becomes irrigation water for agricultural crops. It also also separates its trash, which it sends to recycling plants. Featuring a Nubian restaurant that serves traditional dishes made by locals, Eco-Nubia has an area dedicated to preserving traditional Nubian handicrafts indigenous to the region.
Not only is Eco-Nubia single-handedly introducing a new kind of tourism, but it has also provided jobs for locals, breathing new life into the surrounding area on all levels.