EGYPT: Abu Kir Bay RegionThe Egyptian case study will deal with the Abu Kir Bay Region. The region is located on the Mediterranean Sea to the west of the Nile delta of Egypt. It belongs to three provinces (Alexandria, Behaira and Kafr El Shiekh). It includes important historic cities such as Rosetta, Abu Kir and Idku. It also includes a large lagoon (Lake Idku) as one of the less polluted lakes of the five northern lakes of Egypt. These lakes represent about 25% of the wetland of the Mediterranean. The Rosetta branch of the River Nile delivers to the Mediterranean about 4-5 billion m3 of the Nile water yearly.
Abu Kir bay is considered one of the most important natural habitats for marine organisms in the region, in addition to the historic and cultural nature of the region. The Governorate of Alexandria has recently decided to upgrade environmental and tourist conditions along the coast. Extensive extensions of waterfront have recently changed the national and international image of the city. Of particular interest, is the eastern side of Alexandria, which includes Abu kir city and is linked to other eastern governorates through a recently established international road that runs along the coast of the delta.
Abu Kir is located in a highly promising site overlooking the western side of historic Abu Kir Bay. It is also close to Lake Idku and historic sites of Rosetta city and Rosetta region, which includes Lake Idku and associated wetland. The vicinity to many historic and tourist sites makes it appealing for various types of tourism including eco-tourism, historic and religious tourism as well as commercial activities. Developments in progress at the Rosetta region, discoveries of sunken fleets in the Bay, recent discoveries of ancient sunken city as well as implementation of the International Coastal road will trigger further development of the region. The city has a population of about 200,000 people, mainly fishermen. The city suffers from many environmental problems including shortage of services and infrastructure. Rosetta City is located at the northeastern tip of Behaira Governorate, on the western bank of Rosetta branch of River Nile. It forms its estuary twelve kilometres to the north. The area surrounding the city extends towards the west till the borders of Lake Idku, which is located on the eastern zone of Alexandria Governorate.
The potential of tourism activity is expected to increase in the near future, especially after discoveries of sunken Napoleonic fleet and sunken cities underneath the bay water and the announcement of the Supreme Committee of Polices which considered the area including Rosetta, and Idku cities as potential tourist area. It has also declared Rosetta City among the group of monumental cities, which are covered by a plan of monumental restoration of Egyptian cities. Also, the regional attraction potential is expected to increase after the construction of an international coastal highway connecting Matruh and Alexandria cities (at the northwest of Egyptian Mediterranean coasts) to Sinai and Arish City to the east. This will facilitate its regional development and will link the city to the surrounding region.
Lake Idku is situated about 30 km E of Alexandria. It is a shallow (1.0-1.5 m depth) brackish water lake with one connection to the Mediterranean at El Meadia. It has an area of about 125 km2. The lake receives water from three drains along the southern and eastern sides. Seawater is primarily affecting the western side of the lake near the outlet. After construction of the Aswan High Dam, the annual drainage in the lake has increased. This has caused an increase of the level of the lake and induced flow from the lake into the sea and the lake became less influenced by salt water from the sea. Rosetta region has been suffering from various aspects of mismanagement, neglect and deterioration in the past. Problems of coastal erosion, land based pollution to water resources and international water, urban encroachment in agricultural land, vulnerability to sea level rise (e.g. El Raey et al, 1997,1998,1999) and shortage of urban and environmental planning. Loss of marine biodiversity due to increased load of dumped waste in the bay and loss of agricultural and bird biodiversity due to deterioration of soil conditions and water quality in the region. The impact of climate change including SLR and salt-water intrusion is also another threat to the region. Losses of resources in the region have caused large-scale deterioration of socio- economic conditions.
Recently, the region has attracted attention for development because of recent discoveries of sunken historic ships and cities. Integrated upgrading of both marine resources through conservation of biodiversity in the bay, better monitoring and assessment of international water dumped in the region as well as planning and development of urban coastal area will render this area into a highly desired area for tourism. Resources in the region include beautiful and scenic view of the Bay, Lake Idku, Lake Burullus and coasts, historic tourism in Rosetta city, Alexandria city and in the Bay, eco-tourism in lake Idku and adjacent area, religious tourism for Islamic area in Rosetta and Near by Alexandria, diving, snorkelling and yachting in the bay, with a unique mixture of urban, rural and marine culture.