QENA (pronounced "Gena") has long played second fiddle to Luxor in terms of tourism and investment, a grievance which might explain why it was the site of the first attack on tourists, in 1992. Like Sohag and Assyut, it suffered an economic nose-dive during the Islamist insurgency. Then, in 2000, a new governor – Adel Labib (now in charge of Alexandria) – began improving municipal services with such energy that Qena later won an international certificate of good governance. As the only city in Egypt where every road is paved, its streets are not only spotless but have flowerbeds and mosaics. Where women were once stuck indoors, there are now parks and cafés for family outings, a girls' sports centre and football team. Qenawis are proud that people from Luxor come here to enjoy its café society, yet the police still discourage foreigners from lingering.
Tourists in the convoy only glimpse Qena's riverside cafés and two illuminated mosques that are local landmarks. The older mosque (with one minaret) contains the tomb of a twelfth-century Moroccan Sufi, who is honoured by the Moulid of Abdel Rahim al-Qenawi, featuring zikrs, dancing horses and horse races. The festival starts on Sha'ban 14 and finishes the day before the start of Abu el-Haggag's moulid in Luxor. Qena's City Day (March 8) festival commemorates a series of battles in 1799, when local villages sank a French flotilla of a dozen vessels.
Due to the Qena Bend, the banks of the Nile lie north and south, rather than east and west of the river: the town is on the north bank, with a bridge to Dendara on the south bank.