Egypt’s Aswan High Dam Is Dedicated (Great Events from History II: Ecology and the Environment Series)
Article abstract: The centerpiece of Egypt’s ten-year development plan and a monument to President Nasser’s achievements, the Aswan High Dam created serious environmental problems.
Summary of Event
Located four miles south of the ancient Egyptian city of Aswan, the Saad el-Aali, or Aswan High Dam, was the centerpiece of President Abdul Gamal Nasser’s ten-year economic development plan, launched in 1960. The plan was designed to industrialize and modernize predominantly agricultural Egypt, an impoverished country that in the 1950’s had only recently liberated itself from colonialism and the decadent monarchy of King Farouk. After Nasser, a former army colonel, became president in 1956, he sought to regain Egypt’s primacy in the Arab world, to create a United Arab Republic, and to implement a program of Arab socialism that involved land redistribution and social and economic reform. In addition to augmenting these goals, construction of the Aswan High Dam was also intended to stimulate Arab pride and to serve as a testament to Nasser’s achievements. Unveiled in January, 1971, on Nasser’s birthday, the dam’s dedicatory plaque thus cited Nasser, who had died only months before, as the “Immortal Leader,” as a champion of freedom and of Arab socialism. Nasser earlier had referred to the dam as “our new pyramid.”
Nasser’s expectations about the dam’s impact were grandiose. He predicted...
(The entire section is 2288 words.)
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