Egypt's Tomb Raiders

Channel 4

Unreported World

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Reporter Aidan Hartley and Director Alex Nott travel to Cairo to investigate the shocking effects the political unrest is having on the tourism industry.

They find ancient archaeological sites being plundered by armed looters; people who previously worked as guides trying to survive without money or food and the corpses of horses and camels which used to carry tourists, now lying in  piles in the desert next to the pyramids.

Egypt’s economy has always relied on tourism, but since the army toppled the Muslim Brotherhood in a bloody coup, tourism has collapsed. The Giza Plateau is home to one of the Seven Wonders of the World and used to see 10,000 tourists visiting every day. Now, the Unreported World team finds it eerily quiet with the average number of tourists more like 10 a day.

At Giza, a once bustling tourist town, Hartley meets Emad Abu Zuba and his assistant Hima Abdurahman, tourist guides who offer camel rides. Before the crisis they did a brisk business but they can’t remember when they last had a tourist client. Hima hasn’t made any money for 14 days in a row and Emad says that people can’t afford to feed their animals any more.

He takes the team into the desert near the pyramids to show them the results. They soon come across several piles of up to 50 dead horses lying in the sand. Emad tells Hartley: “Today if you saw one thousand horses, maybe next month you’ll see two thousand of them. The third month you will see three thousand of them. One horse can feed one family. If you are going to count how many horses that are dead, it means the whole of that family has no money to live now.”

Critics choice 

- The Times, Telegraph, Independent, Daily Mail 

First Broadcast

November 8, 2013



Producer Director

Alex Nott


Aidan Hartley

Executive Producer

Eamonn Matthews


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