Ali Abdelbaset Ali, former resident of the Qurna hillside, describes his life experiences. Coming from the “El-Harbat” tribe, he details his childhood, and discusses the culture and traditions of the Qurna hillside. He recalls the basic material standards for Qurna residents, in terms of food, healthcare, and amenities (electricity coming to the hillside only a few years before relocation). Unlike many others who worked mostly in tourism, Ali worked as a laborer in construction. He later mentions important figures who visited the hillside, including President Hosni Mubarak. Ali discusses the relocation, and how it disrupted the community, as well as broader issues related to rural Egypt. He notes that despite hardships living in Qurna had advantages, such as his house there that was much larger than the small apartment to which he was relocated. He expresses hope for the future under President Abdelfattah El-Sisi.
Mohamed Ahmed Ismail Aly, a former resident of the Qurna Hillside born in 1949, describes his life experiences. Coming from the tribe of Al-Ghaabaat, he tells of living with his parents and siblings during his childhood in an area called Al-Horoobaat. Aly describes good relations among the residents of Qurna in the past, in contrast to what he observes today. He mentions an Egyptian film, "Askar fi el-Mu'askar" (“Troops in the Camp”) which he says was filmed in Old Qurna, and of prominent visitors like President Gamal Abdel Nasser and François Mitterrand of France. Aly also recounts his education (primary and secondary school through some study with Helwan University’s Faculty of Fine Arts in Cairo), and different occupations he pursued, including work with German and Polish-run archeological excavations, on tourist boats, and as a bartender in a hotel where he was later promoted to a food and drinks manager. The relocation of residents from Old Qurna is covered as well, including the demolition of houses which Aly criticizes.
Mohamed Ahmed El-Tayeb, a 34-year-old former resident of the Qurna hillside, describes his life experiences. One of six children, Mohamed speaks about his childhood, including hearing of how people retreated to the mountaintop during the Nile floods, and listening to stories about people who claimed they married jinn or had spirits inside them. He mentions other aspects of local religion, like the position of sheikhs. Describing his father’s work as a police station guard and in agriculture, Mohamed tells of his own graduation from an agricultural vocational school and current work as a secretary in the prosecutor’s office. Mohamed discusses his second job in tourism, aided by his ability to speak several languages, and the impact of the many tourists, researchers, and archaeologists who used to visit Qurna. Addressing the relocation from the hillside, Mohamed tells of reluctantly moving from the big family house to a small apartment he shares with his wife. He describes how the government threatened Qurna’s residents to leave, and demolished their houses, and contrasts the community cohesiveness of the hillside with the places residents relocated.
Mahmoud Mohamed ElSalman, a 76-year-old merchant and a former resident of the Qurna hillside, speaks about his life experiences. ElSalman tells of his family’s profession as shopkeepers and merchants and emphasizes the importance of tourism for the former residents of Old Qurna (to whom they sold food and other products). He describes Old Qurna’s festivals, traditions, and myths, many of which he says persisted after resettlement. He describes homes and other buildings in Qurna, and reflects on the social life and the relations between the area’s different tribes. ElSalman recounts the relocation of Qurna’s inhabitants, describing his own resettlement experience, in which he remained at Old Qurna for four years while the rest of his family and other tribe members were resettled. He discusses significance of tourism and its impact on merchants and shopkeepers dependent on tourists for income. ElSalman expresses longing for his old house in the village, where it stood next to its mosque.
Ahmed Sayed Hassan, a 51-year-old former resident of the Qurna hillside, describes his life experiences. Ahmed recollects his childhood positively, commenting on the communal spirit on the hillside, and the games they used to play as children. He mentions living conditions from that time, such as water being unavailable within the village, necessitating it to be transported from elsewhere. According to Ahmed, spirituality and religious practice varied among families and across generations; his was an orthodox Islamic upbringing. Ahmed comes from a family that worked, as far back as he is aware, in archeology and tourism. He and others were raised from a young age among ancient pharaonic monuments and artifacts and became accustomed to meeting foreigner visitors from all over the world. Ahmed is a university graduate of archeology, working as a tour guide. In discussing the government’s relocation of Qurna’s residents, Ahmed mentions the similar initiative to move villagers to Hassan Fathy’s New Qurna village in the 1940s, which was resisted due in part to their spiritual connection to the hillside. He describes the process of the displacement, including the legal actions some locals took against the governor’s and military’s efforts to relocate them, and security forces’ brutal response to their resistance. Some of the houses were salvaged from demolition, he notes, due to UNESCO’s intervention on the basis of Qurna’s importance to cultural heritage. Ahmed has observed higher rates of population growth since the relocation, as well as significant changes in traditions and customs relating to marriage, death, and other social interactions.