About the High Dam
The High Dam in Aswan is one of the most successful achievements of the Egyptians during the 21st century. It also marked the success of the Egyptian revolution in 1952 as it became a major objective of the Egyptian government in that period to construct a dam to control the flood of the water of the River Nile and also produce a considerable amount of electricity.
Constructed by Gamal Abdel Nasser, the former Egyptian president, it would not be exaggerated if we say that the High Dam has changed the lives of the Egyptians who have always feared the flood of the Nile and its damaging effects. Today people who visit Egypt explore this wonderful Egyptian construction during their visit to Aswan or as part of their Nile Cruise tour between Luxor and Aswan.
Geographical Location of the High Dam
The High Dam is located in the Southern section of the city of Aswan near many famous monuments like the Unfinished Obelisk and the Philae Temple. These monuments are included in many travel packages to Egypt and many tourists from different sections of the world who spend their vacation in Egypt enjoy exploring them especially in the spring time when the sun is warm and the weather is wonderful in Upper Egypt.
The Builder of the High Dam; Gamal Abdel Nasser
Gamal Abdel Nasser is the second president of Egypt. He ruled Egypt from 1956 until he passed away in 1970. He was one of the leaders of the Egyptian revolution of 1952 which made King Farouk, the last kings of Egypt, step down changing Egypt from a kingdom into a republic with the first president being Mohamed Naguib.
Abdel Nasser was one of the most famous Arab nationalism supporters and one of the few socialists that ruled Egypt. He started a nationalization campaign that remained for many years when the government took the ownership of large pieces of land, many factories, and private establishments. Abdel Nasser is really noted for the construction of the High Dam and the nationalization of the Suez Canal in 1956.
The History and the Story of the High Dam
The first attempt to construct a water dam near Aswan goes back to the 11th century AD when Al Hakim Be Amr Allah, the Fatimid ruler of Egypt called Ibn El Haitham, the famous Iraqi engineer. However, he was never able to design such a huge project and he ended in jail pretending to be crazy to avoid the anger of the Fatimid Sultan.
Before the construction of the High Dam, the peasants in Egypt used to face two challenges; the strong flood of the water of the Nile in some years which resulted in the damaging of the crops, and the lack of the water in other years which resulted in having very weak and unfruitful crops.
The Egyptians have tried throughout time to solve this problem through projects that helped in the storage of the water of the River Nile like the Aswan Dam and the Nile Barrages.
However, these constructions only partly solved the problem. This is because the quantity of water that reaches Egypt varies greatly every year as it is sometimes more than 150 billion square meters and sometimes it is less than 40 billion square meters. This was why the construction of the high Dam became vital.
Before the revolution of 1952, the Greek engineer, Adrian Daninos, has presented an ambitious project to the government. However, it was always refused. Until the year 1953, when Daninos decided to present his project; the construction of a huge dam in Aswan to store the water of the flood of the Nile and produce electrical energy with the usage of this large amount of water.
The Egyptian government, which consisted of the Egyptian Revolutionary Command Council accepted the project but there was a big challenge in collecting the funds needed to establish such a dam in Egypt.
The primary cost of the construction of the High Dam was estimated to be around 400 million Egyptian pounds. The Egyptian government tried in the beginning to get a loan from the World Bank which agreed to provide Egypt with quarter of the total cost in 1995. However, after being exposed to pressures from England, France, and USA, the World Bank withdrew its offer to Egypt in 1956.This made Abdel Nasser announce the nationalization of the Suez Canal in the same year to benefit from its revenues to construct the High Dam.
Egypt afterwards signed an agreement with Russia in 1958 which agreed to lend Egypt an amount of money that was enough to fund the first stage of the construction of the dam. Moreover, another agreement between the two sides was signed in 1960 stating that Russia would lend Egypt the rest of the money needed to finish the second stage of the construction.
The construction work of the High Dam started in the 9th of January 1960. This included the digging of the canal which was used to change the direction of the water of the River Nile and to lay the foundation of the electricity station. The water of the River Nile was directed towards the Nasser Lake for the first time.
The body of the High Dam was completed in the second stage. This is besides the finishing of the electricity station and all its different sections and parts.
The High Dam started generating electricity in October 1967 and two years later in 1968, the High Dam worked with its full capacity before it was officially opened in 1971 to mark an important chapter in the Egyptian history.
The Description of the High Dam
The High Dam has a length of 3600 meters. Its base is around 980 meters wide and 111 meters high. The main body of the High Dam exceeds 43 million cube meters of Material which was built with cement, iron, and rocks.
Among the most important sections visited by tourists who spend their holidays in Egypt is the Arab-Soviet Friendship Monument which marks the role the Russian government played in the construction of the High Dam.
The construction of the High Dam resulted in the creation of one of the largest artificial lakes in the world; the Nasser Lake which is about 550 kilometers in length and 35 Kilometers in width on average with a storage amount that exceeds more than 132 Kilometer cube of water.
Although the High Dam provided Egypt with the water needed for agriculture and a large portion of the needed electricity of the country, it had some negative effects including the displacement of many Nubian people, the loss of some of the important Pharaonic monuments, and the relocation of many important ancient historical sites like the Temple of Philae and the Temple of Abu Simble.
The High Dam makes Egyptians feel proud until today as it embodied one of the dreams the people of the land of the Nile made true. Furthermore, travelers from all regions visit the High Dam everyday as part of their travel program in Egypt to view and admire this great Egyptian achievement.