This is a love story between an entrepreneur and an ancient oasis in the Sahara.

When Mounir Neamatalla, President of the private Egyptian firm, Environmental Quality International (EQI), first set eyes on the Siwa Oasis in 1995, in the Matrouh region of Egypt, he was enthralled. Neamatalla, a consultant who had studied environmental management at Columbia University, was visiting the oasis on a project for the Canadian Development Agency. He was struck by the fact that, with a few exceptions, the community he was visiting could easily have been the one described by Herodotus 2,500 years earlier. Here was an ideal fit with EQI’s mandate to promote sustainable development projects wherever the opportunity beckoned. Where others saw poverty and isolation, Neamatalla saw riches: a culture, tradition, and heritage untouched by millennia of history. Over the coming years, EQI designed and implemented a number of commercial ventures aimed at promoting economic development in Siwa—an economic development that would be in harmony with Siwa’s environment and that would revitalize its unique cultural heritage. EQI's approach has been to draw on the old wisdom, traditional skills, and creativity of the local community, and complement them with modern know-how, to develop Siwa into a model of sustainable development that could serve as a source of inspiration for other communities around the world. Some of these ventures are currently being replicated by EQI in other parts of the region.

This documentary accompanies the INSEAD/Rensselear Polytechnic Institute paper case study. This film has been made possible with a grant from the Lally School of Management ( lallyschool.rpi.edu ).

Link to the case study: tinyurl.com/ecch-siwa

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