As the grand reopening of Luxor’s newly renovated Avenue of Sphinxes came to a close on Thursday evening, Egyptians celebrated another triumph of antiquity on the world stage.
The ceremony, held to display the splendour of the city’s pharaonic heritage, and by so doing boost its ailing tourism sector, left millions of Egyptians feeling proud and impressed.
“I was giddy watching it the whole time. Literally, the one thought on my mind was, ‘I have got to get on a plane and see this for myself,” Ferial Magdy, 27, told The National.
The ceremony — which included a procession from the city’s famed Karnak Temple to another of the city’s landmarks, Luxor Temple, 2.7 kilometres away — brought the entire city to a halt on Thursday as locals closed their businesses and cleared the streets.
The event became the top trending topic on Twitter in Egypt, with tens of thousands of social media users expressing their pride in being Egyptian.
“You’re talking about the 2,700 metres that redefined Egypt’s history. All the glee in the wake of tonight’s parade is absolutely well deserved,” renowned Egyptologist Bassam El Shammaa told The National.
“Everyone in Egypt is happy today — even someone like me who has always been critical of the antiquities ministry. But today, I put that aside because there was this beautiful ceremony that we ourselves created. I just love that none of this splendour was imported from abroad as it might have been in the past.”
The event’s musical performances were also lauded, with thousands of commentators in awe over the star power of the night. The most praise was reserved for two of Egypt’s biggest pop stars, Mohamed Hamaki and Lara Scandar, who sang a new song in honour of the occasion.
The period costumes and lighting of the event were similarly praised. The end of the procession was marked with a fireworks display that filled the night sky and lit up Luxor Temple, where the closing ceremony took place.
Behind the famous heritage site, cheers rang out from the city’s locals, many of whom are hopeful that this event will be enough to revamp tourism, their main bread and butter — especially as the celebration is a continuation of a long tradition.
“Herodotus wrote that Egyptians were really the connoisseurs of celebrations. During the reign of Thuthmose III, a time of particular military turmoil for Egypt, there were 54 recorded annual celebrations. I am very happy that the celebratory side of Egyptians is finally being highlighted,” said Mr El Shammaa.
“They were a goofy, happy people, not as sombre and tomb-obsessed as they are often depicted as having been.”