Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Khaled el Anani said the opening of the 800-year-old Fortress of Shali in Siwa Oasis will contribute to attracting tourists to Siwa and transforming the oasis into a global tourism hub.
Anani added that restoration works at the ancient fortress have been carried out over the past two years, with a €600,000 fund from the European Union.
The minister made the remarks during the opening of the Fortress of Shali, in the presence of Minister of International Cooperation Rania el Mashat, Minister of Environment Yasmine Fouad, and Marsa Matrouh Governor Khaled Shoaib.
The Fortress of Shali has been subject to the antiquities law for almost 12 years now, Anani noted. The Fortress of Shali’s restoration project comes as a continuation of works at Al-Masjid Al-Ateek, or the fortress mosque, which was opened in 2015 after being restored, and the Tatandi mosque, inaugurated in 2018 after restoration works there have been completed, the minister said.
Meanwhile, Minister of International Cooperation Rania el Mashat lauded the current cooperation with the European Union to implement several projects, including the Fortress of Shali’s restoration project. The coming stage would witness further work to preserve and upgrade Siwa Oasis & the opening of the fortress is just the beginning on the way of transforming Siwa into an internationally renowned tourist destination.
The opening was attended by the European Union delegation to Egypt, a delegation from the United Nations Population Fund in Egypt, in addition to a number of ambassadors and cultural attachés representing Angola, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Latvia, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Thailand and the United States.
The Fortress of Shali had been built in the 12th century from karshif, the local soil which is made up of salt, fine sand and clay, and is made hard by water and the sun.
Shali is the name the inhabitants of Siwa gave to their town. In historical times, Siwans used to hide from their enemies inside the fortress’s tunnels, and had used the well inside the fortress to drink from. The well is still there today, but it is nearly dry.
While the sun made the karshif stronger, rain had a negative effect on it. The heavy rain caused a partial destruction of the fortress in 1928 and forced its inhabitants to abandon it.