On the way back to Aswan from Abu Simbel, we made a quick stop at the Aswan Dam. The dam, which was completed in 1970, controls the flow of the Nile, prevents the annual floods, and provides electricity to millions of Egyptians. A lot of people on the tour weren’t impressed and even bored, but it was interesting to me and I thought it was worth the 20 minute stop.
The most interesting story about the dam was how Egyptian leader Gamel Abdel Nasser used it as a political bargaining chip to get the funds to build it. He played both the USA and the USSR, receiving offers of both loans and weapons. In the end, the USSR’s offer of $1.2 billion at 2% interest won out. A nearby monument called Lotus Flower commemorates Arab-Soviet friendship during the building of the dam.
When it was finished, the Aswan Dam created the largest manmade lake in the world, Lake Nasser. 22 ancient temples, monuments, and archaeological sites, including Philae and Abu Simbel, had to be moved to prevent being submerged by the new lake. The Temple of Kalabsha, which was never completed, is also one of those temples. It’s visible from the dam.