Wikimania 2007/Alexandria

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Alexandria, Egypt | Wikimania 2007 Candidate City.

Wikimania 2007 candidate cities. Winner: Taipei
Other candidates: Alexandria | London | Torino

Hong Kong | Istanbul | Orlando | Singapore


Qaitbay citadel

Bid Brief[edit]

  • Country: Egypt
  • City proposed: Alexandria
  • Venue: Bibliotheca Alexandrina Conference Center (BACC)
  • Proposed dates: Friday 10 August 2007 through Sunday 12 August 2007, with optional side-events before and after, Bibliotheca Alexandrina has also informed us that we can use any date window in June/July/August, provided we decide reasonably early (i.e October).
  • Contact person(s): Evan, Mido.

The City[edit]

The city of Alexandria is named after its founder, Alexander the Great. Founded around 334 BC and designed by Deinocrates of Rhodes, Alexandria was one of the greatest cities in the Hellenistic world, second only to Rome in size and wealth. It was well known for its Lighthouse, which is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the Library of Alexandria, the largest library of the ancient world and the place where great philosophers and scientists of that age came to seek knowledge. In modern ages, Alexandria is the leading port of Egypt and considered to be a major industrial city and a major tourist city with millions of tourists and guests coming to the city every year.

Alexandria has 5 well-known museums, which are the Greaco-Roman Museum, Alexandria National Museum, Royal Jewellery Museum, ElMax Aquarium and the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Museums (for antiquities, manuscripts, and science), and there are other 3 under construction. There are also 5 smaller museums including the Cavafy Museum.

Conference Venue[edit]

Venue will be provided totally for free for hosting Wikimania, including technical facilities in The Bibliotheca Alexandrina Conference Center (BACC).


Alexandrina Conference Center is a state-of-the-art meeting and exhibition facility and is an integral part of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina complex. It is located on the waterfront across from the Eastern Harbor and Silsilah Peninsula. The Conference Center and the main Library are connected underground below the Plaza of Civilization.

The Conference Center and the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, with their joint capacity, will be a center of culture and a beacon of knowledge to serve Egypt, the Mediterranean Region, Africa and the world.

A distinguished feature of the BACC is that it was designed, first and foremost, for international conferences, and offers comprehensive services and diverse facilities.

It satisfies the requirements of highly sophisticated conferences. It accommodates symposiums, meetings and presentations and can host, simultaneously or independently, exhibitions and poster sessions.

It houses four conference halls, four meeting rooms, two exhibition halls, a VIP lounge and a VIP meeting room, three restaurants and a coffee shop.


Contacts[edit]

  • Nermine Toma: Nermine.Toma <at> bibalex.org
  • Noha Khalil : Noha.Khalil <at> bibalex.org

Halls[edit]

Check the full summary for the Halls and Seminar rooms.
The halls normally cost at $9,413 per day, offered kindly for free by Bibliotheca Alexandrina.
Hall Description
Great Hall [1] The main auditorium, in a theater-style setting, can comfortably accommodate 1630 persons.
East Hall [2] A theater-style setting and has the capacity of accommodating 270 persons.
West Hall [3] Similar to the East Hall, is a theater-style setting and has the capacity of accommodating 270 spectators.
Middle Hall [4] Accommodating 248 persons.
Seminar Rooms Location Level Maximum Capacity
Theater Classroom U-style Roundtable Triangle Shape
Auditorium Main Library E 100
Nobel Main Library F3 20
Gad Rausing Main Library F3 65
Floating Room Main Library F3 35
Floating Room Main Library F4 35
Meeting Room A Conference Center B1 60 25 20 25
Meeting Room B Conference Center B1 60 25 20 25
Meeting Room C Conference Center B1 60 25 20 25
Second Floor Meeting Hall Conference Center 200 50 110

Technical facilities[edit]

  • Internet access and computers

Internet is accessible from within BA at a speed of 155 Mbps. Wireless Internet access using Wi-Fi Hotspots for visitors is available in limited places and is planned to be deployed in the Library's open area serving the public, the BA Conference Center and the Library Plaza among other potential locations. System will be complete by 2007.

Computing equipment, as well as full Internet access, are available in special locations such as the Internet Café and BA Conference Center to serve conference participants, journalists and press agents.

  • Video Conferencing
BA night water.jpg

BA has Video Conferencing facilities which enable the participation of up to four parties in live conferences and which operate using IP and/or ISDN technology. Fixed VC systems serve the Board of Trustees (BoT) room and the four main halls of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Conference Center (BACC), while a mobile unit with 2 plasma screens provides VC services at various locations within the Library.

  • Web casting

Conferences, lectures and other multimedia content can now be broadcasted to users worldwide through the Internet with the help of the recently developed web casting portal. This has also facilitated interactive participation in video conferences through the web. The system also offers broadcasting of archived events.

  • Plasma/LCD screens display system

This system consists of 18 plasma screens (50-inch or 40-inch each) of which 13 are located at the entrance levels of the main library and the BA Conference Center (BACC). Five mobile screens are also available for the various events. The screens are controlled by the ICT Department using Scala InfoChannel IC200 software. The system is used to display multimedia shows to announce and focus on conferences and other BA activities.

  • Teleprompting system

A teleprompter is a display device that prompts the person speaking with an electronic visual text of a speech or script. This method helps presenters make the best presentation they are capable of without the distraction of reading from hard copy.

BA has installed two mobile 20'' LCD double set Conference Teleprompting systems with prompting software that supports Multi languages. Flat screen technology is employed for use with the Teleprompting system, which offers a low profile look.

Catering[edit]

The Conference Center houses three restaurants and a terrace coffee shop open in the summer. They accommodate 550 guests seated at tables, with an attractive view of the Plaza of Culture and a magnificent panoramic sweep of the sea on one side and the Library of Alexandria on the other. The BACC banqueting team, Hilton, provides a variety of dishes and catering services for any conference, meeting or cultural event.

  • The International Restaurant:

The International Restaurant only caters to conferences and meetings. The restaurant is located opposite the Middle, West and East Halls and it offers a variety of dishes for different meals whether lunch or dinner, as well as coffee-breaks.

  • The Terrace Coffee Shop:

The Coffee Shop is located on the terrace on the second floor overlooking the Eastern Harbor. It is open mainly during summer for the public and conference participants.

  • Fifth Level Restaurant:

Located on the 5th level, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, it is open daily to visitors and may be reserved upon request for conferences.

  • The BA Hilton Coffee Shop:

The Hilton Coffee Shop is an extension of the Library of Alexandria’s main building. It offers a variety of dishes as well as snacks, soft and hot drinks and is open daily to visitors from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Transportation and visa information[edit]

Visas[edit]

Most visitors are not required to have a visa prior to coming to Egypt, as it can be obtained at the country's ports of entry. The citizens of the following countries are required to be in possession of a pre-arrival visa:

Visa Needed Afghanistan, Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Chechnya, China, Croatia, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz, Lebanon, Macau, Macedonia, Malaysia, Moldavia, Montenegro, Morocco, Pakistan, Palestine, The Philippines, Russia, Serbia, Slovenia, Sri-Lanka, Tajikistan, Thailand, Tunisia,
Qaitbay plaza.jpg
Stanley Bridge.jpg

However it is recommended that you contact the Egyptian embassy or consulate in your country. check list of Egypt's embassies in various countries.

A Visa would normally cost approximately $15 - $90 depending on the nationality (about 20$ for US citizen).

Those in possession of a residence permit in Egypt are not required to obtain an entry visa if they leave the country and return to it within the validity of their residence permit or within six months, whichever period is less.

Air flights[edit]

  • Africa
    • Johannesburg: US$ 692
    • Casablanca: US$ 530
  • Asia
    • Tokyo: US$ 1968
    • Beijing: US$ 1597
    • Mumbai: US$ 638
    • Abou Dhabi: US$ 477
    • Al Riyad: US$ 545
  • Australia
    • Melbourne: US$2500
    • Perth: US$1800
  • Europe
    • Frankfurt: US$ 554
    • London: US$ 688
    • Athens: US$ 793
    • Moscow: US$ 899
  • North America
    • New York: US$ 976
    • Los Angeles: US$ 1636
  • South America
    • Buenos Aires: US$ 1360
    • Rio de Janeiro: US$ 2864

(All estimates for Thursday-to-Tuesday flights, roundtrip, from Expedia.com and Travelocity.com)

Airports[edit]

  • Cairo:
    • Cairo International Airport [5]
      Duration to BA: 4hrs.
  • Alexandria:
    • Alexandria International Airport
      Duration to BA: 25 min.
    • Borg el Arab Airport (mostly recommended)
      Duration to BA: 1hr.

From the Airport[edit]

To get from the airport to your hotel or around the city, you can take a taxi as described below and there are also limousine services offered by different companies for fixed fees.

Inside the City[edit]

Corniche.jpg
We will arrange free dedicated bus transportation through local sponsors for all participants throughout the event (For Touring and transportation to and from the Airport).'
Taxis
There are two types of taxis, the first is operated by individuals. For that type, you should agree on the expected fee for your ride beforhand, ranges from 2LE(0.3USD) for short distances up to 10LE(1.7USD), you shall find no problems finding this kind of taxis as they roam all around Alexandria.
The second type is better but more costly but still cheap if you just seek more comfort, which is ordering a taxi from the taxi company by phone, an air conditioned taxi will be sent to you which costs 4LE(0.7USD) + 1.5LE (0.25USD) per KM and you can pay for it using a credit card.
Bus
Public buses cover the major cities and are much cheaper, but are usually crowded. However, there are the similar air-conditioned buses that charge 3 L.E. (about 0.5 USD) for the trip and prohibit standing inside the bus. They can be found in the main squares like Saad Zaghloul Square, and are also available from the bus stop right in front of the BA entrance.
Tram in Alex.jpg
Tram
There are two major Tramways in Alexandria that cover most of the city proper, they are only crowded at peak hours, the fair is 0.25 LE (0.05USD) which makes it the cheapest transportation means around Alexandria. The Tram Station is just 2 min. walking from BA.
Private car
If you prefer driving your own car and have a valid international license, you can rent a car from car rental services found in all major hotels in the city. To rent a car, you must be over 25 years of age, have a passport & credit card and pay part of the charge in advance. Cost of renting a car is aroung 150LE(26USD) per day (unlimited KM).
Trains
To travel from Alexandria to another city, you can take the train, bus or car. Each of the major cities has a central train station; in Alexandria there are two stations: Sidi Gaber and Misr Station, each are 20 min. away from the BA premises. In Cairo, it’s in Ramses Square.

Accommodation[edit]

Saint Marc College

Dorms[edit]

Saint Marc College, Confirmed[edit]

In Saint Marc school, we will be able to rent the dorm (can hold up to 500 people) for 30EGP(5.2USD)/night per person including continenntal breakfast, an open buffet breakfast can also be available for an additional 25 LE (4.3 USD). The dorm contains 55 rooms each can hold up to 4-5 persons, and another 14 large room can contain up to 15-20 persons. The dorm can offer also lunch and dinner, and it contains a large garden which can be a perfect place for hosting the large party and can be prepared for such an event.

The place of the dorm are a 5 min. walk away from the venue along Alexandria's beautiful Corniche by the sea, check Wikimapia for exact locations and other surronding places.

Greek School[edit]

We're still contacting the school for details about the rooms and prices. The place of the dorm is just 5 min. away from the BA across the tram way passing beside the colleges complex at the south of the venue.

Hotels[edit]

Check the sub-page for Hotels' details and contact information

There are various levels of hotels around the city serving the visitors of Alexandria around the year. BA has hosted several conferences and has good connections with hotels and can get special prices for groups. NOTE: Prices listed below are special prices set for BA in 2005, prices will be slighlty changed when updated. check the map down for locations.

Hotel Class Capacity The Place Price Rates
Address How far from BA Single Double
Africana Hotel **** (4) 85 King Mariout - Borg El Arab Road at km11 10 min. by car from Airport, 35 min. from Alex. $40 B&B $50 B&B
Union Hotel ** (2) 46 164, 26 July avenue, Raml Station 5 min. by car, 12 min. walking 57 EGP(~10$) 84 EGP(~15$)
Sea Star ** (2) 65 24, Amin Fekry St, Raml Station 5 min. by car, 12 min. walking , 2 Stations using Tram (10mins) 55 EGP B&B(~10$) 73 EGP B&B(~12$)
Delta Hotel *** (3) 63 14 Champillion St, Azarita 8 min. by car, 15 min. walking, 1 Station using Tram (5mins) $42 B&B $52 B&B
Kaoud **** (4) 99 133 ElCorniche Road, Sporting 10 min. by car, 6 Stations using Tram $30 B&B $40 B&B
San Giovanni **** (4) 32 205 ElCorniche Road, Stanley 15 min. by car, 12+ Stations using Tram $30 B&B $40 B&B
Paradise Inn **** (4) 63 17 El-Shohada St., Raml Station 10 min. by car, 2 Stations using Tram $55 B&B $70 B&B
Cecil **** (4) 86 16 Saad Zaghloul Square, Raml Station. 7 min. by car, 2 Stations using Tram $55 B&B $65 B&B
Metropole Hotel **** (4) 65 52 Saad Zaghloul St, Raml Station. 10 min. by car, 2 Stations using Tram $55 B&B $70 B&B
Hilton Green Plaza ***** (5) 219 Semouha 20 min. by car $60 Bed only $75 Bed only
Helnan Palestine ***** (5) 230 Montaza Garden, Montaza 25 min. by car $70 B&B $85 B&B
Sheraton ***** (5) 289 ElCorniche, Montaza 25 min. by car $70 B&B $75 B&B

Banking & Currency[edit]

Stanley Sea.jpg

Egyptian Pound (Livre Egyptienne) LE = 100 piastres. Notes are in denominations of LE100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 1, 0.5, and 0.25. Coins are in denominations of 100, 50, 25, 20, 10 and 5 piastres.

  • Currency restrictions:

The import and export of foreign currency is unlimited. The import of local currency is unlimited. The export of local currency is prohibited.

  • Exchange rate indicators: around 1EGP = 0.174USD check xe.com.

Climate[edit]

Egypt generally has hot sunny weather in summer. In Alexandria it's sunny all summer with medium temperature ranging 25-30 C. You will enjoy the weather and the beautiful beaches of Alexandria.

Party opportunities[edit]

  • Attendees party, for large numbers:
    • Saint Marc College garden, 5 min. walking from the venue, inside the accommodation place.
      Open air, with relaxing fresh air around the place. can host the number of people required easily and comfortably.
    • Salamlek Hotel, Montazah Gardens (open air).[6]
  • For VIPs and sponsors:
    • Salamlek Hotel, Montazah Gardens (both open air and indoor restaurant available).. Used to be part of King Farouk's palace.
    • Helnan Palestine Hotel(30mins using car)[7]
    • Four Seasons Hotel ( San Stefano ) still under construction expected to open Nov 2006(20mins using car)[8]
    • Hilton Green Plaza BallRoom (20 min drive from BA)[9]

Local sponsorship opportunities[edit]

Beside the Above confirmed sponsors, we have contacted many others and they have expressed great interest. Based on the current prospects, we are confident we can cover Catering for the whole conference period and dedicated transportation through buses. We may be able to cover accomodations but we are not 100% confident of that. Contacts that we have approached/are approaching:

Local team[edit]

Bidding Team[edit]

Will help if chosen[edit]

Miscellaneous[edit]

Bibliotheca Alexandrina[edit]

the library's mission is to be a center of excellence in the production and dissemination of knowledge and to be a place of dialouge, learning and understanding between cultures and peoples.

Bibliotheca Alexandrina is a place of learning, dialogue and tolerance. This vast complex of culture and scientific excellence includes not just a library that can hold millions of books but also maintains:

  • Copy of the Internet Archive database.
  • Six specialized libraries for:
    • Audio-visual materials
    • The visually impaired
    • Children
    • The young
    • Microforms
    • Rarebooks and special collection
  • Three Museums for
    • Antiquities
    • Manuscripts
    • The history of science
  • A Planetarium
  • An ALEXploratorium for children’s exhibitions;
  • Two permanent exhibitions;
  • Six art galleries for temporary exhibitions;
  • A conference center for thousands of persons;
  • Seven research institutes covering many fields.

Major Conferences held in the library[edit]

    • 2006
      • Natural Resource Policies in the Near East and North Africa: From Management to Governance (3-4 July 2006).
      • EUMEDIS (EUro MEDiterranean Information Society) conference (10- 13 June 2006).
      • Our Solar Neighborhood videoconference (6 May 2006).
      • BioVisionAlexandria 2006 Conference (26-29 April 2006), [10].
    • 2005
      • IAU 1st Global Meeting and International Conference (14-16 Nov 2005), [11].
      • WSIS Pre-Summit conference (10-11 November 2005), [12].
      • What Happened to the Ancient Library (26-28 September 2004), [13].
      • Einstein Symposium Part I (4-6 June 2005), [14].
      • Calligraphy, Writing & Inscriptions (24-26 April 2005), [15]
      • Mediterranean City (21 February - 3 March 2005), [16].
    • 2004
      • Beacon for Freedom of Expression (18-20 September 2004), [17].

And many more events which has international and local importance.

Self-evaluation[edit]

Weaknesses[edit]

  • Weather
Although upper Egypt can reach extremely high temperatures, Alexandria lies on the Mediterranean Sea, which moderates the temperature dramatically. Typical temperatures in August for Alexandria range from 75°F to 90°F (25C - 32C). The Bib.Alex. is right on the beach, giving even better ambient temperatures, and the facilities are climate-controlled.
  • Crowd
Alexandria – being one of the Mediterranean most beautiful cities – can be really crowded in Summer. However, there will be no problem concerning going around the city. First, almost all the hotels are near the conference venue. Second, the city is connected by a net of wide roads, and several methods of transportation are available see Transportation: Inside the City section.

Strengths[edit]

  1. Symbolic association of Wikimedia with the ancient Library of Alexandria
  2. Shared purpose of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina with Wikimedia: the library's mission is To be a center of excellence in the production and dissemination of knowledge and to be a place of dialouge, learning and understanding between cultures and peoples.
  3. Emphasize the Foundation's commitment to reference and learning materials in Africa
  4. Since Wikipedia materials will be used on the $100 notebooks that are going to be used in developing nations and continents like Africa this shows the Foundation's commitment to reference and learning materials for developing nations and regions.
  5. Great sunny weather all year round, not very hot in summer as the rest of Egypt.
  6. Hosting such a conference in Egypt will surely expand the number of people interested in both fields, open source software and open-content culture in the whole Arab world and encourage them to participate more in the Arabic Projects of Wikimedia.
  7. Low cost of living. As you may have noticed from the rates for transportation, food and accomodations, most things in Alex are very cheap by western standards.
  8. Alexandria is easily accessible by plane and land and even by sea.
  9. Many areas of attraction in Alex and all over Egypt – Egypt has 1/3 of the world antiquities!

FAQs[edit]

Will Alexandria be able to handle a large conference? 
The following is from one of our contacts at BA: Bibliotheca Alexandrina (BA) hosts over 500 events every year: symposiums, workshops, concerts, and conferences. This definitely gave the highly qualified young staff of the BA the experience required to run effectively large and huge events. You can have a look at the BA website http://www.bibalex.org/English/Conf/index.html to see a list of major conferences held at and/or organized by the BA. Moreover, these events are usually attended by a large number of foreigners either as guests or participants. An example of these events is the BioVision conference which was held at the BA for three times: 2002, 2004, and 2006. The 2006 conference was attended by major Nobel Science Laureates: Georges Charpak, Harold Varmus, Jean-Marie Lehn, Peter Doherty and Stanley B. Prusiner. There is also a list of speakers that you can have a look at http://www.bibalex.org/bioalex2006conf/Listofspeakers.aspx. None of these foreigners felt at any point harassed or abused because they are foreigners. On the contrary, they felt quite at home because of the warm welcome and appreciation they received from everyone around. Bibliotheca Alexandrina also receives over 800,000 Egyptian and foreign visitors every year. I believe that a staff capable of handling this huge number of visitors each year and provide excellent services will definitely be able to handle the Wikimania 2007 conference.
Is there a danger of terrorism? 
Sadly, terrorism has become a fact of life for people all over the world -- in North America, in Europe, in Asia. Terrorist attacks are not limited to certain countries. It is worth mentioning that Alexandria is a very safe city where no attacks occurred. The number of tourists and visitors from all around the globe who enter the city and the number of international events that are held in Alexandria is increasing every year. Tourism in Egypt has already recovered from Sharm El Sheikh attack in 2005, internal security has been dramatically enhanced and more precautions are taken.
Will Israeli citizens or residents have any problems visiting Egypt? 
A great number of Israeli tourists enter Egypt every year. The diplomatic relations between Egypt and Israel are maintained and the Israeli embassy in Cairo is open. Moreover, the official airline of Israel "El Al" is operating in Egypt and has an office in Cairo. The entrance of the Israeli participants is not different from other nationalities and the regular procedures are followed.
Egypt is a Muslim country. Will visiting women be required to cover their hair or wear any special clothing? 
Egypt is a Muslim cosmopolitan country and particularly Alexandria is a metropolitan city. Egyptian Muslim women are free to wear a veil or not, and non-Muslims are not by any way forced to wear a veil. This is a totally personal matter, and no one is going to tell a woman or a man to dress in a certain way. People are supposed to get dressed in the way they find appropriate. Women whether Egyptians or foreigners, of any age or belief, are encouraged to attend the conference and participate in all its events.

Around the city![edit]

Gallery[edit]

Useful links[edit]

  • alexandriaegypt.com More info, photos, history, emergency numbers, shopping, entertainment ... etc.
  • Take a look at Alexandria a 100 years ago!!! [18] (French)
  • More Galleries [19]