The Intersection of Two Egypts: Ancient & Modern

Of course, no trip to Egypt is complete without some time immersing ourselves in the sites left behind by the Ancient Egyptians. While modern Egyptian culture is largely based around the country’s place in the North African community and the Arab world, we found that people do still look to Egypt’s incredible past with pride.

It wasn’t until our first meeting day with our Egyptian start-ups at American University of Cairo that my team asked our founder how she came up with the name “Esorus”. She said that there were two interpretations. First, the “e” highlights how the platform is bringing the furniture sourcing process online and “sorus” sounded like “source” or like “thesaurus”, reflecting the function of the image recognition-based search tool they’d produced. However, she also said that she got the idea for the name from “eye of Horus” – Horus being the Ancient Egyptian god who was protector of the pharaoh.

The final day of our trip consisted of a cultural visit to Upper Egypt, exploring the historic sites at Luxor and Karnak. This visit absolutely took my breath away. As a Classics major in college of course I heard about many of these sites. However, what most surprised me is how much these sites lived and breathed – as if they were created in my lifetime!

First, I was completely awestruck by the vibrancy of all of the colors. The materials the Ancient Egyptians used to paint the tombs in the Valley of the Kings and other sites has all managed to last to this day just as if they were just painted. Incredible! I was also fascinated by the volume of artifacts that could be found from that era across Egypt. I hope that makes this history more accessible to the masses while also providing insurance as time passes and artifacts get damaged or decay. Finally, the experience seeing surviving colossal structures up close was so immersive you could forget you were in modern times.

It’s interesting to thing about how all of this has an impact on modern Egypt, or specifically on business. On the more obvious note, it is a clear indication that Egypt will continue to thrive from businesses focused on the tourism industry – and it is inspiring to see how far along Giza has come with the building of its new Grand Egyptian Museum.

Where once Egypt was a country that led by example and came up with some of the most innovative advances in science and technology for millennia, it was exciting to see a modern Egypt that is once again a rising star in the Arab world, Middle East, and North Africa.

Victoria Harman is a 2020 MBA Candidate at Columbia Business School.

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