El-Gawla: A Tour by Mina Zaki That Uncovers Alexandria’s Beauty

As always, Alexandria is full of wonders. A culture so mixed and diverse it became its own thing, distinguished from the rest of Egypt. With a history so deep it predates entire civilizations. Loved for its vibrancy by its people that there is always a love song, a story, a movie, and many other things about Alexandria. One of those love letters to the Bride of the Mediterranean is “El-Gawla;” written by Mina Zaki. We sat down with Zaki for an exclusive interview where he told us all about the tour.

The “Tour Guide” 

Mina Zaki, the man of the hour, or more specifically the man of a couple of hours every Friday when he is guiding spectators through the old parts of Alexandria. He has a degree in Archaeology and Graeco-Roman Studies, from Alexandria University. An avid history lover and enthusiast who wants to spread knowledge and ancient history of his favorite city in the world. Even though he never studied to be a tour guide, his charm, charisma, and welcoming personality combined with his obsession with history and the abundance of information has made tourism the ultimate job for him. When asked about tours in other governates and whether every governorate needs a “Mina” that is obsessed with his hometown, he jokingly answers, of course then continues saying that “Passion and drive are a must. A drive to continue just for the sake of the place, continuity is our main success, over four years and still going.”

The Tour

“El-Gawla” which simply translates to “The Tour” is an early idea that originated in March 2017.

When asked about how it started, Mina says “One of my friends asked me to show some visitors from Italy around Alexandria. Later when I posted about the day we had and the places we visited, I was shocked to see friends in the comments not knowing about Alexandria’s National Museum or historical neighborhoods.” Just just like that, he decided to do weekly tours for different hidden or unknown gems in Alexandria. The first official tour started in April 2017 with just eight “tourists.” Even though it started slow and low, just by the fourth tour there were 68 tourists from 12 different nationalities. Fast forward to today, “The Tour” has covered 15 governates in Egypt with over 10,000 guests. 

The Sights 

As mentioned before, the sights were limited to historical and unknown places in Alexandria, and with time passing by and “the tour” gaining a huge following on Facebook, it kept the same format of specific unknown places but across Egypt. 

Sights in Alexandria include but are not limited to, The Roman Theater, Kom El-Deka, Amod El-swari, and many old worship places like historical churches and mosques. When asked about his favorite achievement since starting the tour Mina responds “We reopened an old Italian church that’s been closed for over 15 years.” Since the tour is making that much of an impact on the history and reintroduction of culture in the city, we had to ask if there are any plans on expanding and going official and not just an initiative? Mina had an interesting response saying that “The beauty of the whole tour is how simple and accessible it is, so there is no plan to go mainstream with the tour.”

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