The entire country was watching and waiting for the royal visit as if it were a daytime celebration. Senior members of parliament extended their hand to the prince when he met President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Hundreds of street vendors displayed royal-themed T-shirts and posters. On the beach near the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, children waved royal hats in the sea. Later, children burst into applause as the royal airplane crossed a runway.
The king had declared this visit a major event on social media, tweeting a picture of the king alongside his wife and two daughters on the tarmac at Cairo airport and stating that his visit was an “important honor.”
For many of the workers in Egypt’s tourism sector, the prince’s visit is one of the most important of the year. One of the Prince’s aides told me that it was to lead a team of British businesspeople on an “economic mission,” to lend his support to the major reforms in the tourism sector, which are necessary if the sector is to survive in the coming years.
I sat down with the mayor of the Upper Egyptian city of Aswan, Mahmoud Mohamed Ahmed Elnadir, as well as security and tourism workers there. In the interview, he discussed the upcoming meetings at the United Nations, the importance of Egypt’s tourism industry and its key role in bringing in foreign investment. Mr. Elnadir said the visits of the Prince of Wales and King Felipe of Spain were “important events” for the country.
The Prince’s visit is also a signal that Britain and Egypt are opening up, for better or worse. Mr. Elnadir said that although some people may have high expectations for the Prince’s visit, the majority of his people are happy with the developments Egypt has made over the past three years.