The first sentences numbered 1-4 are missing. Put them back into the appropriate paragraph.
In these days of mass tourism it’s difficult to find any destinations that have managed to escape the impact of the tourist industry. It’s harder still to find a beautiful palm tree-filled slice of paradise that has not been irrevocably changed by tourism. And yet Siwa, an idyllic Egyptian oasis, has somehow managed to embrace a very limited amount of tourism and is so far keeping its unique culture and way of life more-or-less intact.
1. Close to the Libyan border, 560 kilometres from Cairo and in the middle of a military zone, Siwa was all but impossible to visit until an asphalt road connecting it to Mersa Matrouh on the Mediterranean coast opened in 1986. A regular bus service to the coastal town meant that a few curious visitors started appearing, after obtaining the then necessary permit, that is. They found only the most basic food and accommodation, but an incredibly rich culture, far removed from the rest of Egypt.
2. Their customs, and marriage ceremonies in particular, are entirely different to Egyptian culture. Women are occasionally glimpsed on the back of donkey carts, but take no part in public life and are almost totally covered up when they do venture out of their homes. Houses are simple and traditionally made from mud bricks. Agriculture is the main source of income. The oasis is very fertile and the main crops are dates and olives, which are cultivated in gardens with intricate irrigation systems.
3. The Siwans, who until then had lived entirely from agriculture, began to offer services to those backpackers who had found their way to the oasis. New hotels were built, restaurants opened and signs offering donkey cart tours around the oasis appeared. Children started selling lavishly embroidered shawls by the roadside, and women visitors were invited into homes in the hope that they would buy traditional crafts and silver jewellery from Siwan women. Local people have always been the main beneficiaries of tourism in Siwa, and they are keen to keep control of the development of tourist amenities.
4. Built entirely of mud bricks with palm roofs, local builders were employed to use traditional Siwan building techniques. The hotel has no electricity and guests pay $300 dollars a night to experience the peace and quiet of the oasis, staying in traditionally furnished rooms lit only by oil lamps. Siwa’s nine sheikhs, who control the oasis, want to encourage this kind of ecotourism and would prefer to keep the number of tourists visiting the oasis at the level it is now, around 8,000 visitors a year. Time will tell if they can manage it.
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