The Faiyum Today

Today the Faiyum is a prosperous province which is growing in importance and prosperity. It is under the jurisdiction of the Faiyum Governorate which governs a 4,578 sq km area. There are five main centres, which are the centre of five administrative areas called markaz (Sunnuris, Ibshaway, Tamiya, Itsa and Faiyum, with the main town, Medinet Faiyum occupying the area of Roman Crocodpolis, under 200 villages (qarya), and over 1500 hamlets (‘izba).

 Agriculture is the main industry (most of the land in the Faiyum being cultivated), followed by cotton production and tourism (there are now several hotels in the Faiyum). Hewison (2001, p.9) cites the 1878 Baedeker as calling the Faiyum “the land of roses” in recognition of the old rose growing practices, which rather sadly no longer exist.  Other crops are now grown instead, including onion, wheat, beans, maize, melons, rice, eggplants, cabbage, cauliflower, potatoes, palms, tomatoes, fruit and herbs. Domestic animals include donkeys, cattle, sheep, some goat, chicken (often said to be the best in Egypt), ducks, geese and pigeons.  The lake, now brackish due to being fed by drainage and irrigation waters, is fished for fish, shrimps. The local craft industry specializes in basketry (sabat). Coptic monasteries, which had fallen out of use, have been restored and reoccupied. 

Tourism offers both opportunities and risks to the Faiyum - while it will bring tourist money into the area, it also brings in new threats to sites (both geological and archaeological): “The increased number of tourists arriving by four wheel drives has . . . led to a severe loss of the fossils by visitors” (AAPG 2002, p2).

There are around two million people in the Faiyum, of whom over half are men, and two ethnic groups - Egyptians in the central area and Bedouin on the outskirts.  Nile waters are delivered to the Faiyum my canal from the Bar Yussef and this is controlled at el Lahun by a series of sluices. (Hewison 2001 and Vivian 2000).

“When taken as a whole the the Fayoum area deserves a much broader protection and planned interpretation” (AAPG 2000, p10).