Talk:Wikimania 2007/Alexandria

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


Evan,

Did a little bit of research and here's a list of hotels in Alexandria, which I release into the public domain so you or I can import into the Alexandria guide later.

  • Renaissance Alexandria Hotel, 544 El Geish Avenue - Sidi Bishr, Phone: +20 3 549 0935 (Fax: +20 3 5497690), [1].
  • Sheraton Montazah Hotel, Corniche Road, Phone: +20 3 5480550, [2].
  • Sofitel Cecil Alexandria, 16 Saad Zagloul Square, Phone: +20 3 4877173 (Fax: +20 3 4855655), [3].
  • Mercure Romance Alexandria, 303 Tareek El Gueish, Phone: +20 3 5840911-12, [4].
  • Hilton Alexandria Green Plaza , 14th of May Bridge Road, Phone: +20 3 4209120 (Fax: +20 3 4209140), [5].

German Wikitravel link[edit]

The German Wikitravel Reiseführer to Alexandria can provide a good starting point for German speakers. -- Sapphire 00:41, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

Dissent[edit]

I like the symbolism. Unfortunately, Alexandria the city is a festering shithole and attempting to organize an event of this size in a country as chaotic as Egypt, especially without any competent local staff, would be an exercise in pain. Practically everybody needs a visa to get in and flights are expensive. Jpatokal 04:13, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

I am posting the following on behalf of Noha Khalil, she is 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.--Shipmaster 13:53, 10 September 2006 (UTC)

Visa[edit]

Could someone clarify what are the visa (duties, etc.) required for somebody (of several citizenship) to enter Egypt if he/she is not travelling with a tour operator with a prefixed itinery. AnyFile 20:30, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

see the visas section on the page. --Mido 23:45, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

Hard questions[edit]

So, I've proposed this location, and I think it's the best possible location for Wikimania 2007. However, we should be prepared for some hard questions. Probably we should note them in the bid ahead of time, rather than waiting for critics to bring them up. Here are some possible questions we might be asked:

  1. Terrorism. There have been several incidents in the last 10 years where Western and Israeli tourists have been targets of violent attacks, not least the en:2005 Sharm el-Sheikh attacks. We should have an answer to the question, "Is it safe?"
  2. Israel. Will Israeli Wikimedia participants be able to get visas to come to Alexandria? Will they have insurmountable problems in attending? One of our largest sponsors for Wikimania 2006, Answers.com, is partly based in Israel. Will they be able to attend? Will they want to continue to sponsor us?
  3. Women. In some Arab countries, women -- Muslim or not -- are expected to cover their heads when in public. At least as far as I know, this isn't the case in Egypt, but: can women attending Wikimania in Egypt expect fair and reasonable treatment?

Let's see what we can do to get them answered. --Evan 14:35, 9 September 2006 (UTC)

Good Questions, Evan, And I really think they would come up, here is what I think:
  1. Terrorism is a fact we (sadly) cannot deny, however, there are several things that I think that we should take into consideration:
    1. The government provides increased security for conferences, both at conference venues and popular city spots during a major conference (will contact authorities to confirm this).
    2. There has never been an attack on similar events, like the annual Aida opera at the pyramids, the Annual Cairo film festival and the conferences held in Bib. Alex., perhaps due to above measures...
    3. While extremism exists, most people in Egypt are very friendly to foreigners, and the normal crime rate is very low, if you put terrorist attacks on the side,Egypt is a usually very safe place.
    4. There has never (not that I know of) been a security attack on Alexandria and the north coast, so it is relatively off radar for terrorists.
  2. I know for a fact that Israel Residents can enter the Sinai peninsula without a visa, (part of the Camp David Accords), we see a lot of Israelis vacationing there, but we are contacting authorities to see if there will be any special requirements for them to come to Alexandria.
  3. Not a problem at all in Egypt, I know it is a big problem in Saudi Arabia for example, but it is very common for women to go in western attire in Egypt, it is completely tolerated and has never been a problem. --Shipmaster 11:02, 10 September 2006 (UTC)
Again, here are more answers from our contact in BA, Noha Khalil, I guess we need to move the most appropriate of these to the main page weakness analyis:
  1. Terrorist attacks are not limited to certain countries. There were a number of attacks that took place in countries including Germany, USA, Canada, and others. 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. Also, Egypt doesn't suffer from external attacks or civil wars and it maintains peaceful relations with its neighbor countries. In addition to that, Egypt is far away from violence prevailing in Iraq and Lebanon.
  2. 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. More information about the visa from Israel can be obtained from the following link: http://www.israel-embassy.org.uk/web/pages/egypt.htm
  3. Egypt and particularly Alexandria is a metropolitan county. 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 women or a man to dress in a certain way. People are supposed to get dressed in the way they find appropriate. Women either Egyptians or foreigners, of any age or belief, are encouraged to attend the conference and participate in all its events.--Shipmaster 15:26, 10 September 2006 (UTC)
Thanks to everyone. These are good, reassuring answers. I've added them to the main bid page. Lest anyone worry that these are excessively negative or picky, look at Wikimania 2007/London, which also mentions terrorism and other factors. --Evan 20:47, 11 September 2006 (UTC)

A few q's[edit]

  • Please differentiate b/t the local team that are actively helping now with specific things, and those that will be willing to help out if Alexandria is chosen as the host city. See Wikimania 2007/Taipei for an example of what I mean.
I second that question. It is very important to know what the capacity of thenearby hotels is. Thanx. notafish }<';> 20:23, 13 September 2006 (UTC)
The most nearby hotels from which you can reach the Venue on foot or little distance riding, can hold up till 380 if fully occupied. As for the other option which I find more suitable, we can take the 3 5-stars hotels listed, the sum of them is about 730, we can get prices there for double rooms for about $40/night per person (which was the cost of the dorms for last year Wikimania). Transportation are easy and very cheap, either for individuals by taxi or air-conditioned buses or for groups to hire a bus to get them from/to the venue in about 20 min. maximum (will be hired through BA, paid by the sponsors).
The BA itself lays beside ElRaml Station which is considered a popular destination for tourists visiting Alexandria and commonly seen there, 15 min. from Qaitbay citadel and many other interesting places. Detailed info about the hotels and venue connections will be added very soon. --Mido 00:10, 15 September 2006 (UTC)

GLBT concerns in Egypt[edit]

I am concerned about Egypt as a hosting venue considering the significant number of GLBT individuals who are involved in Wikimedia. According to ILGA, Egypt nominally tolerates gay men and women, but there has been an active campaign against gay men since 2001 of sufficient vigor to raise concerns from Amnesty International and the UN Committee against Torture. Scattered news stories show that persecution of gay men has continued into at least 2004 despite a 2003 court ruling overturning a mass arrest in 2002. The country is considered "very dangerous" to GLBT people, and I would probably elect not to attend if the meeting is held in Egypt. Kelly Martin 13:58, 13 September 2006 (UTC)

Egypt recieves around 8 million tourists per year, and welcomes them all regardless of their nationality, religion or orientation. The tourism industry is around 6 Billion USD and employs around a million people. And given that volume, there has not been an incident (that I am aware of) where a tourist/guest of Egypt was harrased due to his religion/orientation. --Shipmaster 21:57, 13 September 2006 (UTC)

I too am concerned about this as Egypt has had recent crackdowns on individuals who were presumed to be gay, simply for associating with each other. See en:LGBT rights in Egypt for details. Why should Wikimania support a country without basic human rights protections?

- 67.64.133.217 16:17, 29 October 2007 (UTC)

Questions from the jury[edit]

closer and more "together" accommodation?[edit]

Is there any accommodation where people can be more together, such as a hostel or university campus? Are hotels the only option? Is there anything closer considering most people won't be driving? Angela 23:38, 14 September 2006 (UTC)

Reocgnizing the need for a place like that, yesterday we got the info that we may be able to book the dorm of Saint Marc's school,which is free in the summer, and will be enough for around 300 people and is a 5 minute walk from the library, the availability of which will be confirmed next week.Pictures here http://saint-marc.ws/SITE/VisiteCollege/Ecole%20Saint%20Marc/index.html --Shipmaster 07:57, 15 September 2006 (UTC)
We may be able to book the dorm of the Greek school in Alexandria which is a 10 minutes walk from the library, the availability of which will be confirmed next week. Noha Khalil
Contact have been done with the head master of the school and it's possible to rent to the dorm from them. A meeting will be held in 2 days to finalize the agreement and get prices and photo the rooms and facilities there. the greek school dorm contact is still in progress, if done too, we will be able to host the full number of participants in these 2 dorms, both close to the venue and no transportation will be needed to move to the venue. --Mido 16:51, 16 September 2006 (UTC)

Layout of conference venue in relationship to accomodation[edit]

And when you have the above, could you provide a rough sketch of how conference venue and accomodation are connected to each other? ie. lay of the land of sorts. Nothing fancy, a hand drawing will do, but just to give a better feel of what is where. Thank you! notafish }<';> 10:13, 15 September 2006 (UTC)

Yes check.svg Done --Mido 11:03, 16 September 2006 (UTC)

Party location opportunities[edit]

There is one thing we forgot to mention in the offcial requirements, but that we'd like to know now and that is what are the party locations that we can use for Wikimania. Wikimania usually has two parties, one in a cool and relaxed place for attendees (must hold 250-350 people), one in a quiet and chic place for sponsors and VIP (40-60 people). What locations would be good for that in Alexandria? Thank you. notafish }<';> 10:31, 15 September 2006 (UTC) PS. this question is being asked to all bidding teams.

is it necessary to be near the venues? if it is acceptable to be far we have the following options
1. Helnan Palestine Hotel(30mins using car)[6]
2. Montaza Garden a beautiful garden used to be King Farouk's Garden (30mins using car)
3. Four Seasons Hotel ( San Stefano ) still under construction expected to open Nov 2006(20mins using car)[7]
4. i will brainstorm with the others and give you feedback

--Ma7dy 22:21, 15 September 2006 (UTC)

For large number: Hilton Green Plaza BallRoom (20 min drive from BA)
For VIPs and sponsers: Salamlek Hotel, Montazah Gardens (both open air and indoor restaurant available).. Used to be part of the King's palace. -- Noha Khalil
Where is the Salamlek Hotel with respect to BA? +sj | help with translation |+ 19:43, 20 September 2006 (UTC)
20-30 Minutes By Car, In Montazah Gardens, at the other end of the Corniche --Shipmaster 08:40, 21 September 2006 (UTC)
Great. Thank you for adding the proposals to the bid page. Be aware that where we might be able to provide transportation for sponsors, it is quite impossible for attendees. So the party location for attendees should definitely be reachable by public transportation at the least. notafish }<';> 16:00, 19 September 2006 (UTC)
There are two choices here: either we make the attendees party in the Saint Marc Garden, which can be prepared for the event, the vice headmaster of Saint Marc offered this. The other option is that we are discussing providing dedicated bus transportation through local sponsors, so we can shuttle attendees to any of the number of places suggested.--Shipmaster 03:19, 20 September 2006 (UTC)

Community venue[edit]

One of the most important parts of Wikimania is community. At Wikimania 2005 in Frankfurt, one the most effective community-oriented features was the shared courtyard that was obviously the place to mix (the Village Pump of sorts), and a dedicated room for folks to "hang out" after hours. Wikimania 2006, unfortunately did not quite recapture this dynamic.

What does your bid do to accommodate a social space? Namely:

1) Is there a communal space that is obvious or could be allocated for this function? And how large is it?

2) Can it be a 24 hour space that people can use at any time of the day or night?

3) Are there any innovative features you can put in this space in addition to Wifi access, like computer terminals for people to use, free flowing coffee, cameras or videoconferencing to bring in Wikipedians from around the world, etc?

Thanks very much. -- Fuzheado 04:22, 22 September 2006 (UTC)

  1. There are two such spaces that are already available:
  1. The first is the courtyard and lounges in the BA itself, The BA has a huge courtyard overlooking the Corniche called the 'Plaza of civilization' and many lounges inside, There is a large lounge adjoining one of the major conference halls that can hold up to 200 people at the same time, conference attendees are also welcome to use any of the BA's other lounges, restaurants and cafeterias, which will all be covered by the BA's wifi infrastructure. And when the sun is not too hot either in the morning or afternoon and evening, the attendees can hang out in the plaza of civilization in open air.The BA will be completely covered by WiFi at the start of 2007.
  2. The other option is the Saint Marc courtyard and garden, Saint Marc, where the Dorm is, is a large victorian-style building (see gallery on main page)with a large courtyard and adjoining garden overlooking the Corniche, which will be virtually dedicated to the conference and we are planning to cover it with Wifi for the duration of the conference (Internet infrastructure is relatively advanced and cheap in Egypt since it is subsidized by the government,so Wifi, DSL, ISDN and CDMA setups are all readily easy to do).
  1. The BA cannot be available 24 hours, but the Saint Marc facilities sure can since it will be dedicated to the Conference attendees. The BA Closes formally at 7pm but can relax that for pre-arranged events.
  2. The BA of course has web casting and Video conferencing facilities as listed in the main bid page, and it has lots of computer terminals with internet access available to the public (since it houses a public library). Free flowing coffee can be arranged with local sponsors, and since both the BA and Saint Marc have their own catering agents, I think coffee stands shouldnt be a problem.--Shipmaster 18:45, 22 September 2006 (UTC)

public transport[edit]

Hello,

I was unable to find it, please excuse me if I'm being blind again. How is the public transport in Alexandria? If people want to see something of the city, will that be possible without having to rent a car? Are there possibilities of car-rental at all, is there a subway, buses, and at what price-rate? Effeietsanders 10:48, 16 September 2006 (UTC)

Info are already available with prices, Transportation_inside_the_city Inside The city. Thanks --Mido 10:54, 16 September 2006 (UTC)
Hmmm, could you maybe also mention which of those public transports are near the conference and how long each will appr. take? Effeietsanders 11:31, 16 September 2006 (UTC)
I guess the section is now much more clear, moved to Here.Thanks --Mido 16:06, 16 September 2006 (UTC)

more on accomodation[edit]

just to confirm, what dates are Saint Marc's school dorms available for? Are they available a few days before and after the conference weekend as well, so that people coming early (to set up, to tour, or to attend preconferences) will have someplace to stay? Thanks, phoebe 16:43, 19 September 2006 (UTC)

The Contact person in Saint Marc (Vice Headmaster) says that any date and period of time in the summer monthes (from Start of July Till Mid September) will be available to us given that we give notice early ie. before the end of 2006. So we can book the whole week of the conference or more if we want.--Shipmaster 16:59, 19 September 2006 (UTC)

Congratulations[edit]

Hi, everyone. First, I wanted to congratulate the Alexandria bid team for their excellent work in making this bid such a strong contender for Wikimania 2007. I'm very proud of my small part in this bid, and I'd like to thank everyone for their great work in bringing Alexandria into focus for the Wikimedia Foundation.

I strongly suggest that we make a bid for Wikimania 2008. I think that Alexandria is still a great city to have Wikimania in, and I think it's really important that Wikimedia make this outreach to the Middle East and Africa. The BA and Wikimedia have such harmonized purpose, it seems like a match made in heaven. --Evan 01:44, 25 September 2006 (UTC)

Thank You Alexandria[edit]

We are glad to share the opportunity with you & the other teams to bid for the Wikimania 2007. Apart from the right to host the conference, we also got a lot of experience from you. We are looking forward to further cooperation with all of you, in order to achieve the ideal of the Wikimedia Foundation in all around the world.

After all, we would say "Thank you" & express our pleasure & honor to share this valuable chance with all of you, again.

Truly,

Wikimania 2007 Taipei Bidding Team. --theodoranian 16:13, 25 September 2006 (UTC)