Egypt in Transition

By Jean Lacouture; Simonne Lacouture et al. | Go to book overview

VI.
The Aswan Dam Problem

Aswan is first and foremost a masterpiece of negro art. The first Nile cataracts contained by the present dam or barrage since 1902 have polished and carved the purple slabs of rock on the river-bed. You can row among the rapids in a little boat, in a fantastic landscape worthy of Henry Moore. The huge dam (the so-called 'small' one) thrusts a vast sheet of calm water amid this chaos of stone. A group of French and Swedish engineers are now installing the power-stations which in 1958 will supply power for the new industries, especially the fertilizer-factory which is now being erected by Franco-German firms.

After a calm sail on the lake we approach a dark line. Soon the cornice of the temple of Philae emerges, built on an island submerged beneath the waters. In September when the river is in spate and the sluices are open, the island and its temples reappear on the surface. Only during the three months of spate, the hottest months when the temperature rises to 120° Fahrenheit, can one see the thirteen Nubian temples built on the river's edge, as one sails up the river towards the Sudan. Abu-Simbel, the temple-mountain with its four colossi carved out of the rock, alone stands out all the year round amid this strange scenery where the apparently trunkless palms lift their green-plumed heads out of the water. One day there will be nothing left of Nubia . . .

Long before approaching the temple of Ramses on the Sudan frontier, and before reaching Kalabsha and Dendur, two white lines on either side of the river mark out the site for this huge building project. Labourers have been at work there since January 1956. A French company has the contract for the first stage of the project, that is to say, preparing a bed for the foundations. Men are at work night and day on two rafts on the river. Their boat-house is moored lower down. The office is a tiny building high on the riverside, commanding a fine view of the Nile. Here, in the awe-inspiring solitude about three miles south of Aswan, there are neither desert, fields nor

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Egypt in Transition
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 5
  • Contents 7
  • Illustrations 8
  • Introduction - Egyptian Continuity And Revolutions 11
  • Part One - The Awakening of Egypt 37
  • I - The Advent of Bonaparte 39
  • II - Mohamed Ali Creates a State 50
  • III - The Cotton Boom 56
  • IV - A Revolution in Irrigation 60
  • V - The Adventurous Khedive 63
  • VI - The Arabi Revolt 69
  • VII - The Reformers 74
  • VIII - British Technocracy 78
  • IX - The 1919 Revolution 82
  • X - The Wafd 86
  • XI - Making the Best of War -- 1939 97
  • XII - The Burning of Cairo 105
  • Part Two - The Officers' Republic 123
  • I - A Short History of the 'Free Officers' Movement 125
  • II - Power -- to What Purpose? 160
  • III - Neguib's Fall 179
  • IV - The Structure of Nasser's State 192
  • V - The 'Diplomacy' of Small Nations 196
  • VI - The Political Parties 240
  • VII - Revolutionary Tendencies, 1952-57 275
  • VIII - Not a Real Revolution. 292
  • Part Three - Working Life in The Valley 307
  • I - The Land and Its Men 309
  • II - The Agrarian Reform 340
  • III - The Problem of Over-Population 357
  • IV - Economic Growing-Pains 362
  • V - Industrialization and Social Problems 367
  • VI - The Aswan Dam Problem 388
  • Part Four - Forging a Society 397
  • I - Cairo -- City of Convulsions 399
  • II - In Search of a National Culture 413
  • III - Egypt, Islam and the Modern World 430
  • Part Five - The Great Test 451
  • I - Nasser as He Really Is 453
  • II - The Suez Crisis 467
  • III - The Franco-British Invasion 481
  • IV - Egypt Carries On 493
  • V - The 'United Arab State' 505
  • A Chronology of Modern Egypt 515
  • Reading List 519
  • Index 523
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