Few cities of the world have a history as rich as that of Alexandria; few cities have witnessed so many historic events and legends. The city that has been immortalized in the works of Cavafy, Durrell and Forster, was 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. Nowadays, Alexandria is the leading port of Egypt and is considered to be a major industrial and tourist city, with millions of tourists and guests coming to the city every year.
Alexandria has 5 well-known museums; 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 another 3 under construction. There are also 5 smaller museums, including the Cavafy Museum.
Illuminating the World
In ancient times, the Pharos of Alexandria was a beacon of light that brought ships to the safety of the Alexandrian harbor. It was important, as it not only provided guidance, but it also acted as a landmark to identify Egyptian soil; a landmark to the land of knowledge, thought and the ancient library of Alexandria. As we attempt here, in Alexandria, to resurrect the importance of the library and what it stood for, it seems suitable for us to regard the new library, not only as a modern version of the older one, but also as a beacon of light and guidance. To us, the new library combines the purpose of the ancient library and the Pharos, if only in a metaphorical sense. The slogan of our proposed Wikimania2008 bid, "Illuminating the World", is to show that we hope to stand for all what is needed to bring this world out of any darkness, to show our desire to enlighten the world and to provide it with the tools necessary to do so. By allowing knowledge to be available for all, as is the aim of the Wiki projects, we believe that we can achieve this goal of " Illuminating the World".
Why Wikimania 2008 in Alexandria?
North America, Europe and Asia have already had their opportunities with hosting Wikimania within their borders in 2005, 2006 and 2007 respectively. It is now time for Africa to have its chance with Wikimania2008, especially with Bibliotheca Alexandrina as a hosting venue. Bibliotheca Alexandrina, as a foundation, supports and helps free access to knowledge, which is inline with the message of wiki projects. Symbolically, hosting Wikimania2008 in Alexandria would help to show the values that Wikipedia stands for: world harmony in the pursuit of knowledge.
- Country: Egypt
- City proposed: Alexandria
- Venue: Bibliotheca Alexandrina Conference Center (BACC)
- Proposed dates: 18-21 July (with a wide range of flexibility)
- Contact person(s): Mido
The venue will be provided for free to host Wikimania2008, including the technical facilities available at 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, in their joint capacity, combine to form a center of culture and knowledge worthy of serving 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.
The proposed site houses four conference halls, four meeting rooms, two exhibition halls, a VIP lounge and a VIP meeting room, three restaurants and a coffee shop. It accommodates symposiums, meetings and presentations and can host, simultaneously or independently, exhibitions and poster sessions.
- Moushira Elamrawy : Moushira.Elamrawy <at> bibalex.org
- Mirette Fayez : Mirette.Fayez <at> bibalex.org
- Check the full summary for the Halls and Seminar rooms.
- Using the halls during Wikimania is offered kindly for free by Bibliotheca Alexandrina.
BA will provide 3 small halls, each can host 100 participants and 1 larger hall accommodating 242 persons, for every day use. The main hall will be available for 2 days (opening and closing) and can comfortably accommodate Wikimania's 400-500 estimated number of attendees. This is our initial estimation for usage of the halls during Wikimania, yet it can be changed while setting the program for Wikimania if necessary.
Each hall will be equipped with up-to-date technical facilities, making it easy to access the Internet, hold video conferences, web cast the whole session and record it, of course, on video tapes. Mobile plasma screens will be available for usage.
The library will be offering technical facilities that can make the conference available for all the people around the world to join in, through video Conferencing, Web casting, regular Internet chat, etc..
Internet access and computers
Internet is accessible from within BA at a speed of 155 Mbps. Wireless Internet access using Wi-Fi is already available now for visitors all over the library halls, BA Conference Center and the open plaza between both.
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.
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.
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
Bibliotheca Alexandrina will provide 16 plasma screens for the use of Wikimania (50-inch or 40-inch each); 8 fixed in the Conference Center (BACC) itself, 4 at the entrance of the library and another 4 mobile ones. 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.
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.
Audio and video recording
Four cameras will be provided each day for recording all sessions of the day, with approximately 6 hours of recording each day. This will be provided for free by the BA.
The BA will offer all its halls and facilities free of charge, which would normally cost around $52,000. Check The venue section in the budget and sponsorship page for details.
At Saint Marc school, we will be able to rent the dorms (which can hold up to 500 people) for 33 EGP (5.8 USD)/night per person, including continental breakfast; an open buffet breakfast can also be available for an additional 27.5 EGP (4.8 USD). The dorm contains 55 rooms each can hold up to 4-5 people, and another 14 large room that can accommodate up to 15-20 people. 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.
See main page for hotels at Wikimania 2008/Bids/Alexandria/Hotels
There are various rankings of hotels around the city serving the visitors of Alexandria around the year. BA has hosted several conferences and has good connections with the hotels and can get special offers for groups. Hotel prices listed on the page aforementioned are special prices set for BA in 2007.
Around the city!
Alexandria is a cosmopolitan city open to all cultures, receiving each year thousands of tourists and visitors enjoying our weather, sea and sightseeing sites around the city. Alexandria is enriched with monuments that belong to many historical eras, such as the Ptolemaic, Roman, Byzantine, and Islamic eras, and they remain main tourist attractions until today. Daily needs for transportation, food (whether fresh food or fast food), etc. can be considered very cheap in comparison to many other coutries.
Restaurants and cafes
The Library, dorms and hotels all lie near or in downtown Alexandria, which is full of traditional restaurants and international fast food. Classic and modern cafes exist downtown too.
- Modern cafes in Alexandria :
Many of those Cafes have Wi-Fi for free, all McDonald's restaurants (There are 8 of them around the city) have Wi-Fi for free.
Money exchange rates
Check below #Exchange rates
- Attendees party, for large numbers:
- Saint Marc College garden, a 5 min. walk 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).
- Saint Marc College garden, a 5 min. walk from the venue, inside the accommodation place.
- For VIPs and sponsors:
Most international news agencies have got local offices in Egypt, covering events and incidents happening all over Egypt. Nearly all international news stations as CNN, BBC (which has an Arabic TV channel planned), Aljazeera and others work in Egypt and shall be interested to cover the event.
There's also a strong Arabic media satellite channels that has wide audiences from all over the Arab world and will be contacted. We believe we can get the most influential stations to cover the event and give us the opportunity to spread the Wiki-culture and that will be done months before Wikimania even begin. Wikimania hosting will give us the chance to raise awareness of Wikimedia projects, as the media here is eager to cover new techniques and websites currently involving the Egyptian community and we shall make wikis the up coming thing in the spot light.
Newspapers are released here daily from so many agencies, whether national ones like al-Akhbar and al-Ahram or private ones. Also there is a lot of youth magazines, some of them are written and published by young people and we have good contacts to get to them and cover the event to spread to this kind of community which is capable of growing the free culture movement here in Egypt.
The library also has a department specialized with press and dealing with media issues, this will be a great help to the event and will surely increase the attendance of both local and international journalists and reporters.
Transportation and visa information
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, 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,|
However, it is recommended that you contact the Egyptian embassy or consulate in your country. Check the list of Egypt's embassies in various countries.
A Visa would normally cost between $15 - $90, depending on the applicant's nationality (about 20$ 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.
Flight costs listed are to Cairo International Airport
All flight costs are from expedia.com for August 2008
For Egypt Air flights, check EgyptAir.com.
- Note 1:A connecting flight (Cairo-Alexandria-Cairo) costs $44/person.
- Note 2:According to seat61.com, "a 1st class one-way ticket for an air-conditioned express [train] from Cairo to Alexandria costs about LE 25, less than £3 or $5..!"
From the Airport
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.
- 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).
- There are two types of taxis available in Alexandria; the first is operated by individuals and the second by taxi companies. For the former type, you should agree on the expected fee for your ride beforhand, which usually ranges from 2LE(0.3USD) for short distances up to 10LE(1.7USD). You shouldn't face any problems in finding this kind of taxis, as they roam all around Alexandria.
- The latter type is better but more costly. However, it is still cheap if you just seek more comfort, as you can order a taxi from the taxi company by phone, and an air conditioned taxi will be sent to you. The initial cost is 4LE(0.7USD) + 1.5LE (0.25USD) per KM, and you can pay for it using a credit card.
- 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.
- There are two major Tramways in Alexandria that cover most of the city proper, they are only crowded at peak hours. The fare is 0.25 LE (0.05USD), which makes it the cheapest transportation means around Alexandria. The Tram Station is just a 2 min. walk 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 around 150LE(26USD) per day (unlimited KM).
- 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 is in Ramses Square.
Conference Budget and Sponsorship
We've contacted many companies and all have showed interest in sponsoring Wikimania 2008 if hosted in Alexandria. Wikimania budget includes many items that will be sponsored by Bibliotheca Alexandrina.
The bid started with the efforts of 5 people (Mido, TheEgyptian, Shipmaster, Moushira, Mirette Fayez), later many people showed interest and began contributing to the bid, which was built originally upon our shortlisted '07 bid which Shipmaster and Mido were in too. currently at least 15 people (all living in Alexandria) showed great interest to be part of the main organizing team in whom will be heads of sub-committees responsible for the whole organization, we've met them all in person but for one (had problems attending) and the rest is willing to help online either from Cairo or from other countries than Egypt.
We've also approached many groups that would like to help with organizing Wikimania '08 in Alexandria like Eglug (GNU/Linux user group), Egjug (Java user group), ACM students chapter in Alex University and SDA (Sustainable Development Association). About and we believe this will increase the number if we win the bid. Wiki workshops will be held this year to all volunteers to teach them basic wiki culture and introduce them to Wikimedia projects.
Confirmed will help:
- EGLUG Alexandria.
- ACM Student Chapter, Alexandria University.
- Sustainable Development Association (SDA)
If you're willing to help with this bid, please add your name to this page:
- 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 75F to 86F (24°C - 30°C) . Bibliotheca Alexandrina is right on the beach, giving even better ambient temperatures, and the facilities are climate-controlled.
- 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.
- Since Wikimania has been in Europe, the US, and Asia in 2005, 2006, and 2007, it would be convenient to be in Africa/Middle East for this conference. Symbolically, it would help to show the values that Wikipedia stands for: world harmony in the pursuit of knowledge.
- There is much symbolism in associating Wikimania with the ancient Library of Alexandria, and paving the way for collaboration with Bilbliotheca Alexandrina, the new Library of Alexandria.
- There is a shared purpose between Bibliotheca Alexandrina and 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 dialog, learning and understanding between cultures and peoples.
- Choosing Alexandria emphasizes the Foundation's commitment to reference and learning materials in Africa.
- Since Wikipedia materials will be used on the $100 notebooks that are going to be used in developing nations and continents like Africa, giving an African country the chance to host Wikimania shows the Foundation's commitment to reference and learning materials for developing nations and regions.
- Here in Alexandria, there is great sunny weather all year round, by no means as hot in summer as the rest of Egypt.
- 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 will encourage them to participate more in the Arabic Projects of Wikimedia.
- Alexandria comes with low living costs. As you may have noticed from the rates for transportation, food and accommodations, most things in Alex are very cheap by western standards.
- Alexandria is easily accessible by plane and land and even by sea.
- There are many areas of attraction in Alexandria and all over Egypt – Egypt has 1/3 of the world antiquities!
- 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 2008 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 increase every year. Tourism in Egypt has already recovered from the 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 no different from that of other nationalities and the regular procedures are followed.
- Egypt is a Muslim-majority country. Will visiting women be required to cover their hair or wear any special clothing?
- Egypt is a free country in which lives both Christians (minority) and Muslims (majority); it is a cosmopolitan country and particularly Alexandria is a metropolitan city. Egyptian Muslim or non-Muslim women are free to wear a veil or not. This is a totally personal matter according to Egyptian civil law, 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.
|Foreign Currency||Value in EGP|
|US Dollar||5.614 EGP|
|EUR Euro||7.84141 EGP|
|CAD Canada Dollar||5.53713 EGP|
|GBP United Kingdom Pounds||11.2347 EGP|
|MXN Mexico Pesos||0.00370898 EGP|
|BRL Brazil reais||3.01829 EGP|
|ARS Argentina Pesos||1.79575 EGP|
|HKD Hong Kong Dollar||0.720884 EGP|
|JPY Japan Yen||0.0483941 EGP|
|AUD Australia Dollar||4.80713 EGP|
|NZD New Zealand Dollar||4.13853 EGP|
|KWD Kuwait Dinar||19.9395 EGP|
|SAR Suadi Arabia Riyal||1.49673 EGP|
|LBP Lebanon Pounds||0.00370898 EGP|
|ZAR South Africa Rand||0.792522 EGP|
|ILS Israel Shekel||1.371801 EGP|