<![CDATA[rss-Travel]]> All Rights Reserved for The Cairo post <![CDATA[Travel]]>]]> 100 29 <![CDATA[Development in Egyptian-French political ties contributes to boosting tourism:Tourism min.]]>
In statements to MENA on the fringe of the 39th edition of the IFTM Top Resa - MAP Pro trade fair in Paris, Rashed voiced hope to work under a comprehensive strategy to activate tourism in Egypt - which is one of mainstays of the Egyptian economy.

During a meeting on Sunday with French ambassador in Cairo Stéphane Romatet, Rashed stressed the importance of beefing up the number of direct flights between the two countries.

The talks also took up the Tourism Ministry's program to promote tourism and increase revenues from the tourism sector.

For his part, the French ambassador expressed his country's readiness to cooperate with the Tourism Ministry to increase the number of French tourists in Egypt.

He lauded efforts exerted by the Egyptian government to secure archaeological sites, expecting the number of French tourists visiting Egypt to increase in the coming period.

IFTM Top Resa - MAP Pro trade fair aims to become the single most privileged platform for all major players in the industry. The fair has become today a true multi-segment event bringing together in one place leisure, business, events and groups at a French and international level.]]>
9/26/2017 2:37:35 PM
<![CDATA[New zip line game in Egypt]]>
Photo 1: Climbing the mountain

Photo 2: Flying down the mountain

Today it is possible to experience zip lining yourself and a host of other rope sports in Al Mokattam district around an old church carved inside Mokattam Mountain. The man running these rope games is Mario, a Canadian man who moved to Egypt 25 years ago.

High ropes are ropes of three levels, from the highest to lowest, embedded into the mountain. The space itself is ideal for photography and to enjoy fun physical activities with your friends.

First-timers should start with the lowest ropes, where tickets cost LE 20 ($1.13).

photo 8 : Flying down the mountain

If you are braver, the high ropes provide a breathtaking view of the mountains for the same cost.

photo 3: High ropes tied to Al-Mokatam

photo 4 : People playing zip line in Egypt

The highlight of the day of course is the zip line down the mountain from its highest peak. The zip line will fly you through the air until you arrive safely at the park below. Tickets cost LE 50.

photo 5 : Climbing the mountain

Photo 6 : Youth walking from the one side to other over of the mountain

If you want to see Cairo from a bird’s eye view, put on your sportswear and go on an unforgettable experience.

Photo 7 : Doing low rope game ]]>
9/25/2017 7:41:44 PM
<![CDATA[Dubai starts tests in bid to become first city with flying taxis]]>
The flying taxi developed by German drone firm Volocopter resembles a small, two-seater helicopter cabin topped by a wide hoop studded with 18 propellers.

It was unmanned for its test flight.

Meant to run without remote control guidance and with a maximum flight duration of 30 minutes, it comes with plenty of fail-safes in case of trouble: back-up batteries, rotors and, for a worst case scenario, a couple of parachutes.

Volocopter is in a race with more than a dozen well-funded European and U.S. firms, each with its own science fiction-inspired vision for creating a new form of urban transport that is a cross between a driverless electric car and a short-hop, vertical takeoff-and-landing aircraft.

These include aerospace giant Airbus, which aims to put a self-piloting taxi in the air by 2020; Kitty Hawk, a company backed by Google co-founder Larry Page; and Uber, which is working with partners on its own flying taxi strategy.

"We only go public when we can show something that flies," Alexander Zosel, Volocopter's co-founder and chief innovation officer, told Reuters in an interview ahead of the Dubai trial. "We show facts, not visions."

The company performed its maiden test run in a ceremony staged for Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed.

The UAE has sought to distinguish itself in a region mired in war and strife as a high-tech, forward-looking society.

It plans to send an unmanned probe to Mars by 2021, the Arab world's first mission to space, and Dubai has in many ways led their showy march into the future by introducing the region's first driverless metro and robot policemen prototypes.

"Encouraging innovation and adopting the latest technologies contributes not only to the country’s development but also builds bridges into the future," Sheikh Hamdan said in a statement. ]]>
9/25/2017 4:41:01 PM
<![CDATA[Tourism minister leaves for France to attend Top Resa 2017]]>
The three-day event will be attended by 31,763 travel professionals from 158 countries.

Rashed will be present in the inauguration of the fair and will hold meetings with tourism officials in France.

He will meet with Ehab Badawi, the Egyptian Ambassador in Paris, later today to discuss possible amendments to the Egyptian travel guide map at the French Foreign Ministry.]]>
9/25/2017 12:20:07 PM
<![CDATA[Bali's rumbling volcano spurs travel warnings from Australia]]>
Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, the United States and the U.K. issued advisories on Monday and at the weekend warning that increased volcanic activity at Mount Agung in eastern Bali could disrupt flights at one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations.

“Given the possible eruption of Mount Agung, Singaporeans should defer non-essential travel to the affected areas at this juncture,” the foreign ministry said in an online statement.

Bali’s international airport was operating normally on Monday, as were tourist spots across the island.

Indonesian authorities have imposed a 12-km (7.5 miles)exclusion zone around the crater.

The National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) said on Monday that around 62,000 people lived within the “danger zone” around the volcano and that they all needed to evacuate, though so far only 50,00 had moved to the temporary shelters provided in neighboring villages.

“There are some who are staying behind because the volcano hasn’t erupted yet or because of religious beliefs,” said BNPB spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.

“Our staff are combing the area and urging everyone to evacuate,” he said, speaking at a news conference in the Indonesian capital Jakarta.

Nugroho said Mount Agung has entered a “critical phase”, meaning magma has risen closer to the surface, as indicated by hundreds of shallow volcanic tremors that have rattled the area in recent days.

Evacuees are being housed in makeshift shelters like town halls and school gyms. Host communities were providing food and water, while the central and local governments were providing tents, blankets and other relief.

Officials have urged the public to remain calm amid false reports and videos circulating online of an eruption.

Indonesia, which sits on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, has nearly 130 active volcanoes, more than any other country. Many Indonesians live near volcanoes because lava flows can make the surrounding soil and land fertile for farming.]]>
9/25/2017 12:00:57 PM
<![CDATA[Japan zoo names baby panda after fragrant flowers]]>
After showing a video clip of the baby panda being hugged by proud mum Shin Shin, Koike explained that the name Xiang Xiang -- derived from the Chinese character for "fragrance" -- was chosen from among more than 320,000 suggestions from the public.

The naming of Xiang Xiang threatened to overshadow strong speculation that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would call a snap election. It provided welcome light relief after weeks of tension over North Korean nuclear tests and missile launches.

Shin Shin gave birth at Tokyo's Ueno zoo on June 12, when Xiang Xiang weighed a fragile 100 grams and was tiny enough to fit into a human palm.

Shin Shin, who mated with Ri Ri in February, had previously given birth in 2012 –- the zoo's first panda delivery in 24 years -- only for the cub to die from pneumonia six days later.

Zookeepers have since given the pandas some private space in a bid to create an environment for the bashful creatures to mate successfully -- a notoriously difficult process.

Until recently considered an endangered species, it is estimated that around 2,000 giant pandas remain in the wild, in three provinces in central China.]]>
9/25/2017 11:56:52 AM
<![CDATA[Around 68,000 German tourists visited Hurghada in September]]>

The German tourists amounted to 70 percent of all tourists that arrived to Hurghada.

According to statistics issued by the Egyptian Travel Agents Associations (ETTA), 12,000 Ukrainian tourists also visited Hurghada, coming in second place.

Meanwhile, Czech tourist numbers came in third place, recording nearly 9,600, while ETTA's statistics referred that English tourists came in fourth place.

Chairman of the Egyptian General Tourist Guides Syndicate in the Red Sea, Bashar Abou-Taleb, stressed that German tourists' numbers are still on top of all other tourists from other nationalities who visited Hurghada, noting that the German tourists' arrival recoded 70 percent of total arrivals.

"There are German tourists who come specifically to the Red Sea to go diving on the coral reefs and to try other activities," Abou-Taleb said.
9/25/2017 11:47:39 AM
<![CDATA[Ride your scooter and beat the traffic ]]>

Alex Scooter Riders - official Facebook page

In Alexandria, the situation is almost different with the campaign and startup project, Alexandria Scooter Riders Club. The club allows you to enjoy your commute to work and travel long distances away from traffic.

Scooter Riders in the Highway – official Facebook Page

The Alexandria Scooter Riders club organizes events to push people to take scooters instead of cars around the city. Scooter culture, they believe, can help reduce traffic congestion and teach motorists to be more aware of scooters on the streets. The club is also hosting a slew of events around the country to promote awareness.

Scooter Riders in Alex- official Facebook Page

Alexandria Scooter Club at Cross Egypt Challenging team-official Facebook Page

Women Scooter Riders in Alex – Official Facebook Page

Scooter Riders at Stanley Bridge – official Facebook Page

Alexandria Scooter Riders at Omar Oasis – official Facebook Page

Alexandria Scooter Rider Club team – official Facebook page
9/25/2017 10:48:24 AM
<![CDATA[Berliners vote to keep Tegel airport open]]>
Some 55 percent of voters supported the non-binding referendum to re-consider plans to close Tegel and nearly 43 percent were opposed, the state election supervisor said after about two-fifths of votes had been counted.

Under current plans, Tegel will close six months after the opening of Berlin Brandenburg International (BER) airport - a grand project that has faced repeated construction and planning problems and still has no fixed opening date.

The referendum, which was held on the same day as Germany’s federal election, divided Berliners.

Opponents argued Tegel, with its concrete, hexagonal terminal that dates back to the 1970s, is antiquated, does not meet current safety standards and must be renovated at a cost of at least 1 billion euros ($1.2 billion).

They want the state government to go ahead with plans to convert the site into a new business and technology park to boost Berlin’s economy, and build affordable flats to help alleviate a housing shortage.

Supporters, however, say that even when complete the new airport will be too small to meet passenger demand and want Tegel retained to serve around 10 million passengers per year, mainly on short-haul flights.

Although the vote was non-binding, Berlin’s government will now be forced to review its plans to close Tegel or face accusations that it is going against the will of the people.

Tegel rose in just 90 days in 1948 to support the Berlin Airlift, a huge operation to ship supplies and thwart a Soviet blockade of West Berlin. Despite the squat shape, the airport remains much-loved by many Berliners and business travellers for its proximity to the city center.]]>
9/25/2017 10:39:44 AM
<![CDATA[When I visited Essaouira, Morocco on a mobility scooter]]>
Last year, I found myself unexpectedly flying alone to Essaouira, Morocco. The trip was originally planned with my friend Pip, but due to an emergency at home, she was unable to travel with me. I had a tough decision to make; whether to go alone or cancel the trip.

Disabled traveler Tracey Ebbs

I have been very fortunate to travel extensively and I love my holidays. But I have not travelled solo since being diagnosed with MS in 2006. Anyone with a mobility issue will appreciate that air travel can be tough and, despite my wanderlust, I have always said I could never do it alone.

But if I had cancelled I would have lost all the money for the trip and I was not prepared to let that happen. Pip was also planning to join me once her emergency was resolved, and so I hoped I would only be there on my own for a couple of days.

Getting to Morocco

I steeled myself and set off from Luton airport, which is undergoing major renovations and was pretty chaotic. I always take advantage of Disabled Assistance when flying as it makes a stressful experience slightly more bearable. However, when I checked in at the assistance desk, I was told it could be a long wait for an escort. I was using my Luigi mobility scooter rather than my wheelchair, which made things easier, and so I chose to go through it alone.

Essaouira. Courtesy: Pixabay

The airport was not easy to negotiate with, simply because of the number of passengers. I later found out that there was an ongoing French Air Traffic Control strike causing flight delays and cancellations and that, coupled with the refurbishment, meant that it was overflowing with disgruntled people.

My flight was delayed, and I was stuck on the Ambulift outside the aircraft for 45 minutes before being allowed to board. I was slightly perturbed to be the only passenger on board. After another 30 minutes, I was told it was likely that the flight might be cancelled.

I was horror struck! Having got this far, the prospect of having to do the whole thing in reverse and sit in the airport for hours or, even worse, come back the following day and start again, made me feel like giving up. Thankfully, the crisis was averted, and everyone else was boarded in double quick time.

It was an uneventful flight until we landed in Essaouira, which is a tiny airport that does not have an Ambulift. Despite my explanation that I could walk down the stairs very slowly, I found myself being strapped into a transport chair and carried down by two ground crew members. My scooter was waiting at the bottom of the steps and I was escorted through the airport. My suitcase was carried for me and I was relieved to find my taxi transfer waiting to take me to the hotel.

Travelling around Essaouira

Essaouira. Courtesy: Pixabay

It was a short transfer and I was happy to arrive safely at the Sofitel Essaouira Mogador Golf & Spa. I was disappointed to find that, despite having contacted the hotel prior to arrival to request a room with a walk-in shower, I had been allocated a room with a bathtub, which would have been impossible for me to negotiate. This was thankfully rectified after a couple of hours, but it was a frustration after an arduous journey.

The Sofitel is a modern 5-star hotel set in sprawling gardens on the Atlantic coast. It is just five kilometers outside the ancient town of Essaouira. My new room was lovely and had enough space for me to ride my scooter around. It had a spacious bathroom, equipped with both a bathtub and separate walk-in shower.

The piece de resistance was the stunning view from the huge balcony overlooking the golf course, sand dunes and the windswept beach beyond. I do not need any specific adaptations (although I always take my portable bathroom grab handle with me wherever I go), but the hotel does have some dedicated disabled rooms.

The restaurant and pool area were all very easy to get around and the staff were all eager to help me. Buffets are usually my bête noire. Carrying a plate with a stick in one hand and jostling through the masses eager to stuff their faces can be a pain, but this hotel was different; I was able to do a tour around the buffet on my scooter at each meal, make my selection and a waitress would carry my plate for me. They really could not have been more helpful, and they had an exceptionally talented pastry chef who made the most delicious croissants and desserts which proved fatal to my waistline!

Essaouira. Courtesy: Pixabay

I settled in easily and spent the first couple of days relaxing by the pool. The pool itself is not accessible as it has steps with no hand rails, but the surrounding deck is lovely, because it was on the Atlantic, so there is a very strong breeze (actually it is a gusty wind), which was deceptively strong. Despite plastering myself in factor 30, I managed to get very sun burnt on the first day and spent the rest of the week paying for it.

Pip joined me on day three and we ventured out in to Essaouira on the hotel’s courtesy bus.

They dropped us just outside the ancient city walls and we took a stroll (or, in my case, a ride) around the old souk and down to the harbor. It is very accessible as it is all flat, and the old part of town is for pedestrians only, although you do have to dodge the odd moped, which are apparently exempt from the rules. It is all cobbled though, so I got some interesting vibrations on my buggy!

The centre of the town is distinctly Arabic in flavor and I enjoyed observing the locals answering the muezzin’s (a servant of the mosque) call to prayer. There are also echoes to the French colonial past, with patisseries and tabacs on every corner. It is a small seaside city, and that is what makes it a lot less daunting to get around than Marrakech.

Overall, I enjoyed my holiday and was pleased to have completed the first part on my own. It was a challenge, and I was proud of myself for tackling it successfully, but I was also extremely pleased to see Pip when she was able to join me. Holidays are always better shared and so it was great to have my buddy with me.
This article was originally published by Disability Horizons
9/25/2017 10:37:02 AM
<![CDATA[Technical fault grounds flights at Sydney airport]]>
The issue had been resolved, the airport said on its official Twitter feed, but officials said travelers faced delays as a result of the outage.

Government air traffic controller Airservices Australia said in a statement that it had experienced a “technical issue which is affecting arriving and departing aircraft at Sydney Airport”.

ASA gave no further details but boards at the airport listed flights as “delayed due to ATC radar failure.”

“Our technicians are currently working to rectify the situation,” ASA said.

Qantas Airways Ltd, the country’s biggest carrier, said in a statement posted on its website that there were “significant delays at Sydney Airport affecting all airlines” without giving more detail.

A spokesman later said in an email that “things are starting to flow again but still some delays”.

Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd, the country’s No. 2 carrier, was also affected.

“Due to an issue with Air Traffic Control at Sydney Airport earlier today, some Virgin Australia flights may be impacted. We are working to have all guests on their way as quickly and safely as possible,” it said in a statement.

Hundreds of passengers were expected to face delays as the technical glitch hit during the Monday morning peak travel window and one of the first days of a two-week school vacation period.

Sydney Airport said in a message posted to its official Twitter feed that the “issue has now been resolved”.]]>
9/25/2017 10:29:26 AM
<![CDATA[Whale carcass dug up from Australian beach over shark fears]]>
The 18-tonne animal came ashore entangled in fishing ropes last week at Nobbys Beach in holiday hotspot Port Macquarie on the New South Wales coast, 400 kilometres (240 miles) north of Sydney.

Authorities tried to drag the 12-metre (40-foot) whale back to sea, but gave up when it became caught on rocks.

With only a pedestrian pathway leading to the beach and no road access, the local council winched down a small digger to bury the dead creature.

But concerns that oil and decaying blubber were seeping into the ocean soon sparked a community backlash, with a spate of shark sightings close to shore ahead of school holidays, when beaches in the area are usually packed.

Under mounting pressure, the state government stepped in with enough cash to fund the removal of the decomposing animal.

A large crane was set up on the cliff edge Monday and mechanical excavators lowered to the sand, where they set about digging up the carcass and ripping it apart to be taken to a landfill site.

"We are using an excavator with big teeth on its bucket to actually cut the whale in pieces. It's quite a job," Port Macquarie council's environment director Matt Rogers told reporters.

"There are overseas experiences where whales have been taken off beaches... but nothing like we're seeing here with skip bins being winched up an escarpment, a crane reaching out 60 metres."

Surf school owner Wayne Hudson said locals were delighted the council had acted.

"The community got behind the idea of pulling out the whale carcass for a varied number of reasons and we went to council and respectfully asked for it to be removed," he told broadcaster ABC.

"Council listened and jumped on... everyone I've been speaking to in the community's just so stoked about it."

Each year humpback whales migrate north from the Antarctic to the warmer climate off Australia's north coast to mate and give birth.]]>
9/25/2017 10:18:09 AM
<![CDATA[For famous travelers, Syria was once a paradise on Earth]]>
Ibn Battuta, the renowned Muslim jurist by profession in the 14th century AD from Tangier, Morocco. Aged 20, he set out with the intention of Holy pilgrimage to Mecca in 1325 AD. This first journey arose such strong curiosity in him that he kept on travelling for 24 years straight, covering 75,000 miles (compared with 15000 miles of Marco Polo). His memoirs, The Travels, filled with local anecdotes, are a great read as they provide very accurate description of a local’s life in these areas at that time. The information in this article has been taken from a translated and annotated version. (Gibb H. A., 1958)
When we Google ‘Syria’, all we see is destruction of the worst kind, which only humans are capable of inflicting.

Ibn Battuta reached Syria during the prosperous Mamluk Sultanate (1250 – 1382 AD). Saladin’s efforts in the 12th century had left this area stable and united, a base on which the Ayyubids and the Mamluks were able to build a peaceful state. Battuta had started from Cairo the previous month and had visited cities like Gaza, Jerusalem, Hebron along the way. He wanted to catch one of the state supported pilgrimage caravans from Damascus to Mecca.

1: Hama, Syria by Bernard Gagnon. Courtesy: Creative Commons via Wikimedia

In Syria, Ibn Battuta stayed in the city of Hama in July, 1326 AD. He says it is a city of “dignified metropolitan centers… of exceeding comeliness… surrounded by orchards and garden, supplied by water wheels.” His simple words paint a perfect picture of a classical desert spring, a safe haven for travelers and inhabitants alike. Some of these water wheels have survived up till now and a traveler is filled with awe at the gigantic structures used for water supply from the Orontes River. He particularly favored the “Almond Apricots”, a type of apricot which naturally contains sweet almond in its seed.

2: Umayyad mosque, Aleppo. Courtesy: Unsplash

Ibn Battuta called Aleppo a vast metropolis and describes its citadel which “has no fear of thirst” because of “two wells, fed with water from springs”. The marvelous structure was fortified by two walls with a trench in between filled with water by Saladin’s son. It is still standing today, as a shining crown on Syria’s forehead having survived two sieges from Mongols and the notorious Tamerlane in the middle ages. He says more about the architecture of the city: “It is one of the most illustrious of cities… which has no rival in beauty of plan and perfection of arrangement, and in the spaciousness and symmetrical disposition of Bazaar (markets)” which have a wood roof to provide shade. He has copied a couplet from an 11th century poet:
When for my ill no cure you find,
Fetch me a breath of Halab’s wind.

3: The ancient gate of Damascus. Courtesy: Pixabay

No other city comes close to Ibn Battua’s adoration for Damascus. He is tongue-tied and agrees with Ibn Jubayr’s brilliant comments who visited Damascus two centuries prior: “She is the Paradise of the Orient…. the seal of Islamic lands which we have explored, and the bride of the cities which we have unveiled.” Damascus was the capital of the Umayyad era, the first hereditary Muslim caliphate with kingly qualities of might and luster in the 7thcentury AD. Although the Abbasids moved the capital to Baghdad, Damascus never lost its royal shine. He visited the graves of Umm Habiba (the wife of Prophet PBUH), Bilal (Muezzin of the Prophet PBUH), Zainab (daughter of Ali bin Abi Talib) and Muawiya (the first Umayyad Caliph). He also describes a number of colleges of Damascus belonging to different sects, co-existing in peace, engaged in discussion and progress of social, political and physical sciences.

Ibn Battuta also describes the social support to citizens, “There are other endowments for supplying wedding outfits to girls whose families are unable to provide them and others for the freeing of prisoners. There are endowments for travelers… they are given food, clothing, and the expenses of conveyance. Then there are endowments for the improvement of the streets, because all the lanes in Damascus have pavements on either side, on which the foot passengers walk, while those who ride use the roadway in the center (Gibb H. A., Syria, 1958).”

4: Archaeological teacher in old Damascus, Syria, and is one of the most beautiful old Damascus houses. By Yazan Refai. Courtesy: Creative Commons via Wikimedia.

Of the Grand Umayyad Mosque of Damascus, he says “This is the greatest mosque on earth in point of magnificence… the most exquisite in achievement”. Caliph Walid bin Abdul Malik requested the roman emperor in Constantinople for skilled craftsmen for its construction which is a testament of support showed to art and craft by the caliph. Considered by some Muslims to be the fourth holiest place in the world, this historic mosque is still standing.

Currently, the hours of fairness seem be have indeed been flown from Damascus and Syria but there is always hope of peace and better times. May humans find it in themselves to rise above their pettiness and place humanity above all.

This article was originally published in Mvslim.com]]>
9/25/2017 10:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Five affordable ice skating spots in Cairo, Sharm El-Sheikh]]>
Below is a list of five ice skating locations in Cairo and Sharm El-Sheikh, as compiled by Best Place Egypt’s Facebook page:

1 - Skate Max

Located in Cityscape Mall, 6 October City, a 15-minute session on the ice costs LE 30 ($1.67). For LE 40 you are granted 30 minutes on skates, while for LE 60 you could skate away for an hour.

2 - Genena Mall Ice Skating


If 6 October is far from where you live, you can head to Genena Mall in Nasr City. Half an hour on the ice costs LE 15, and for LE 30 you get 40 minutes.

3 – Fun Kingdom


Sun City Mall on the Autostrad highway of the Sheraton district hosts Fun Kingdom, which gives you 20 minutes of skating for LE 60.

4 – Family Land


Maadi has long provided ice skating for its residents at Family Land, located behind Othman Buildings, and half an hour costs LE 40.

5 - Ice Skating Soho Square


Even in Sharm El-Sheikh, with all the beaches, sunny weather, and water sports, you can ice skate in Ice Skating Soho Square for 20 minutes for LE 50.
6- Sky Egypt Mall of Egypt


Mall of Egypt provided a City of squatting to snow lovers at 6th of October City in front of Media Production City

you are allowed to go to snow park with snow Go Ticket of 300 L.E ( 17$)
You can go for North Pole experience for 480L.E (20$)
if you are professional at skating so you can enjoy two hours skating for 200L.E (16$) , In case of companion children you have to pay for each 150L.E ( 15$) for two hours skating
If you aren’t professional at skating Sky Egypt will provide you with skating lesson there for 925 L.E (25$)
As the temperature inside sky Egypt is under Zero degree , you aren’t allowed to enter with your ordinary clothes you have to wear a special outfit suitable for the weather inside so you can buy :
Gloves for 70 l.E (10 $)
jacket with Gloves for 330 L.E (17.5$)
Noted That all games there is under rules and instructions according to the age and body length
children less than 3 years aren’t allowed to come .




9/25/2017 9:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[10 pictures show how Cairo looked like over a century ago]]>
Here are 10 pictures of how the Egyptian Capital, Cairo, used to look like more than a century ago to visitors back then, compiled by the Egyptian People in the Past Facebook page.

A Cairene wedding around 1890. Source: Egyptian people in the past Facebook page

Abdeen Palace around 1890. Source: Egyptian people in the past Facebook page

Mokattam plateau in 1890. Source: Egyptian people in the past Facebook page

A parade of sending the Kaaba’s Kiswa to Makkah in 1903. Source: Egyptian people in the past Facebook page

Dahabeya boat at the Nile River in 1890. Source: Egyptian people in the past Facebook page

Sandwiches seller sometime between 1870 and 1890. Source: Egyptian people in the past Facebook page

Cairo in 1890. Source: Egyptian people in the past Facebook page

Azbakeya Garden in about 1896. Source: Egyptian people in the past Facebook page

Cairo Streets in the 1870s. Source: Egyptian people in the past Facebook page

The entrance of one of Cairo cafes between 1875 and 1900. Source: Egyptian people in the past Facebook page
9/25/2017 8:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[CAPMAS: Egyptian tourism increases significantly]]>
The agency added in its September report that the number of booked nights this August has increased in comparison to the same month last year. In August tourists booked 10.864 million nights in comparison to 3.488 million nights in August 2016.

The report also mentioned that the number of booked nights per month has increased as it reached 10.864 million nights in August compared to 7.74 million nights in July. As for the occupancy rate of hotels per month it has also increased remarkably reaching 45.2 percent in April compared to 37.8 percent in March and 20 percent in April 2016.

Naama Bay - Naamsvermelding vereist/ Wikimedia commons
9/24/2017 8:04:23 PM
<![CDATA[Young Chinese leading the Global Travel Growth ]]>
young Chinese travelers

China has become vital to the global travel market as the latest Chinese generation pave the way with their curiosity, spending on airfare, hotels, theme parks, and more. This attracts all eyes to the Chinese millennial population, amounting to 400 million, and their contribution to the growing travel market.

In 2015, young Chinese travelers went for 128 million trips abroad as they shaped about 60 percent of out-bounded travelers. By 2020, the percentage will rise to 70 percent, which will give a hard push in tourism and aiding transportation.

The consumer-oriented economy is affected by the Chinese travel industry, which entails that rapid growth in Chinese tourism by the young travelers will positively affect the tourism-oriented economy.
9/24/2017 7:28:23 PM
<![CDATA[There are 38 new planes: Egypt Air Holding Company ]]>

Egyptair official website

This bargain is considered to be the deal of the century in comparison with deals of other airlines in the Middle East, regarding its costs that exceeded LE 60 billion($3.4 billion), and that all the planes included in this deal can seat 350 and can fly for 18 hours continuously, with an option of saving petrol.

Egypt Air received last month the seventh Boeing 737 NG800 model as a part of the latest deal between Egypt Air Company and Boeing Holding Company that includes nine planes of the same model for $1 billion.
9/24/2017 6:32:17 PM
<![CDATA[Tens of thousands flee Bali as magnitude of tremors grows]]>
Indonesia's disaster mitigation agency said the number of people fleeing their homes surrounding the volcano had tripled since Friday amid growing alarm that Mount Agung could erupt at any moment.
"The evacuation process is ongoing and we expect the number of evacuees to continue to rise," the agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told AFP.

The volcano, the highest point in Bali and located about 75 kilometres (50 miles) from the tourist hub of Kuta, has been rumbling since August.

Officials announced the highest possible alert level on Friday following the increasing volcanic activity, and urged people stay at least nine kilometres away from the crater.

"I am actually very worried to leave, I left my cows and pigs at home because we were ordered to vacate our village immediately," villager Nyoman Asih who fled with her entire family told AFP.

The international airport in Bali's capital, Denpasar, was anticipating the prospect of closure but no flight schedules had been affected as of Sunday.

The airport has prepared buses and trains to divert passengers to alternative hubs in neighbouring provinces if the mountain erupts.

Flight disruptions due to drifting ash clouds are not uncommon in Indonesia, which sits on a belt of seismic activity known as the "Ring of Fire".

Last year more than two dozen domestic and international flights to Bali's neighbouring resort island Lombok were cancelled due to a drifting ash cloud from erupting Mount Rinjani.

Bali officials said the island was still generally safe but urged tourists to stay away from tourism spots located within the danger zone.

Pura Besakih temple, one of Bali's most prominent temples which is located just a few kilometres away from the mountain's slopes, has been closed to visitors since Saturday.

Tremors growing

The Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation said the tremors had grown more powerful on Sunday.

"The mountain has not erupted until now. The earthquakes are happening less frequently but the magnitude is getting stronger," Gede Suantika, a senior volcanologist at the agency told AFP.

Indonesia is home to around 130 volcanoes due to its position on the "Ring of Fire", a belt of tectonic plate boundaries circling the Pacific Ocean where frequent seismic activity occurs.

The volcano agency's chief Kasbani said Mount Agung had a history of major eruptions that eclipsed recent episodes in Indonesia, including the 2010 eruption of Mount Merapi in Central Java that claimed at least 350 lives.

The 1963 eruption of Mount Agung killed more than 1,000 people and devastated many villages.

The 2010 Merapi eruption, which also forced hundreds of thousands of villagers to flee, was that mountain's biggest since 1872. However, it was 10 times smaller than Mount Agung's 1963 eruption.

"We hope this time it will not be that big, but we need to be prepared for the worst case scenario and prioritise vigilance," Kasbani told Metro TV.]]>
9/24/2017 3:44:03 PM
<![CDATA[Norwegian Air's UK arm can fly transatlantic, boosting its prospects]]>
Europe’s third-largest budget airline by passenger numbers after Ryanair and EasyJet could already fly to and from the U.S. on its Norwegian and Irish operating licenses.

The permit now granted to its British company by the U.S. Department of Transportation allows the airline to expand its operations at London’s Gatwick airport.

“With a U.S. foreign carrier permit also now received for NUK (Norwegian UK), Norwegian will be able to establish a seamless operation and more effectively utilize its long-haul fleet,” the company said in a statement on Saturday.

Norwegian Air said the decision would mean it would add “thousands more jobs” to the 1,000 pilots and crew already working for the carrier from Gatwick, offer new routes and cheaper fares.

It is a boost at a time when the airline is under pressure to control costs and shore up its balance sheet to weather fierce competition.

Norwegian Air has embarked on an ambitious expansion plan, buying more than 200 new fuel-efficient jets, yet investors worry its drive to put more passengers on more planes is pushing up costs quickly without producing higher returns.

Doubts are creeping in because Norwegian’s fate rests on the still unproven strategy of adapting the success of low-cost short-haul travel to long-haul routes.

The firm’s shares are down 26 percent over the past year and have been the subject of heavy short-selling in recent months.

Countering those doubts, the airline’s CEO and chairman raised their holdings in the company by 10 percent on Sept. 14.]]>
9/24/2017 1:19:52 PM
<![CDATA[5 low-profile, yet mind-blowing museums in Cairo]]>
Here are some low-profile, yet mind-blowing museums in Egypt:
Air Force Museum
The museum is located in Al-Maza Military Base on Salah Salem road, across from Egyptian Military Academy. A tour through the outside of the museum takes its visitors back to the 1973 October War by displaying helicopters and aircrafts of the era.
Inside the museum, there is VIP hall in which there are many 3D films showing footage of the war. The museum also has a park for children and a café, open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

1- The Air Force Museum – Best Places Egypt Face book Page

Gayer Anderson Museum

This museum is the former home of R.G. Gayer-Anderson Pasha, a renowned British soldier in the Egyptian army. The home itself is excellently preserved and boasts hundreds of artifacts, antique carpets and other valuable items. The house itself perfectly exemplifies domestic architecture from the 17th-century Cairo.
Tickets cost LE 3 for students, LE 5 for adults and LE 50 ($2.83) for camera use.

2- Gayer Anderson Museum from the outside – Best Places Egypt Face book Page

The Agricultural Museum

The museum occupies a large area, boasting several buildings. It is well organized and greenish, something we all miss in almost every capital.

It holds skeletons of extinct animals, wax sculptures, stuffed animals, and shows farming customs since ancient Egypt. It is open from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and the entry ticket costs LE 3.

3- Butterflies at the Agricultural Museum – Best Places Egypt Face book Page

Om Kalthoum Museum

Om Kalthoum Museum has dresses, accessories, scarves, shoes and portraits of the iconic Egyptian singer, known as the “Planet of the East.” In many photographs, she can be seen sporting her iconic black glasses, while in the background fragments of her iconic music set the ambience.

The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., while tickets cost LE 5.

4- Om Kalthoum’s dresses – Best Places Egypt Face book Page

The Museum of Weapons in Abdin Palace

This museum is one of the least well-known museums, being inside the Abdeen Palace in Cairo. It displays many weapons used in the era of King Farouk. Entry tickets cost LE 30.

5- Abdeen Palace’s Weapons Museum – Best Places Egypt Face book Page

The Zoological Museum
This museum, the first and largest of its kind in the Middle East, is located inside the Giza Zoo, will take you in a tour in the African jungles. It displays mummified animals from all over Africa and the Middle East.

You can visit it any time from 10 a.m. for LE 10, and it is closed on Tuesdays only.

6 – Mummified rats and mice at the Zoological Museum – Best Places Egypt Facebook page

Egyptian Railway Museum
This museum is the second oldest railway museum worldwide; in 1834, Egypt was the second country ever to establish a national railway system. However, the museum exhibits means of transportation that dates back to the Pharaonic, Greek and Roman eras in Egypt.

You will also see the first locomotive in Egypt that dates to 1783, as well as the first car in 1854. The ticket costs LE 50, and by the way, it will show you how train tickets looked like over time.

7 (1)
7 – An old locomotive at the Railway Museum - Best Places Egypt Facebook page

The Museum of Egyptian Civilization

The museum is located in Fustat, once the capital of Egypt before it became only a district in modern Cairo, behind Amr Ibn al-Aas mosque. It includes crafts practiced for thousands of years in Egypt, such as wooden tools, textile and ornaments. It offers all this for LE 60 ($3.4).


The Museum of Islamic Art
Not only does this museum host priceless pieces that best manifest Islamic art, it is also entirely designed in the Islamic architecture style. It is also the biggest Islamic art museum in the world. Watch some of the finest Islamic art pieces in the world for LE 75 ($4).


Egyptian Geological Museum
It was established in 1904 and located in Maadi, Cairo. Once you get inside, you will see an intact skeleton of a whale and fossils of huge creatures that were once thriving in the area in ancient times.

It comprises three halls; the first one exhibit ancient rocks and metals, the second displays skeletons of vertebrates, and invertebrates are shown in the third.

11 ]]>
9/24/2017 12:18:09 PM
<![CDATA[In Dominica, islanders stand strong despite chaos]]>
Ferry services between Dominica and the nearby French islands Guadeloupe and Martinique resumed Friday. On one leaving Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe, passengers witnessed the extent of the damage — including roofs torn away and hilltops battered by the torrential rain.

One man, Jean-Luc Royer, travelled with supplies including water sterilization tablets for his family, who contacted him by radio.

At the island’s only functioning port, in the capital Roseau, a few weary-looking people waited in the hope of leaving Dominica, and to ask about conditions on other islands.

But the usual stream of taxis was nowhere to be seen. Clumps of wires, sheet metal and wood, along with diminishing gas supplies have made road travel impossible — replaced by lines of pedestrians fetching food and water.

There is no running water, no electricity and limited telecommunication, with a curfew in place between 4 pm and 8 am.

Hurricane Maria killed 15 people when it tore through the island as a Category Five storm, leaving its once-luscious green mountains stripped to dirt | © AFP | Douglas CURRAN
Meanwhile, the island’s stadium is now a heliport for aircraft circling over the island. Soldiers from the Netherlands and St Lucia, United Nations personnel, Venezuelan rescuers and firemen from Martinique patrol on the ground.

A team from Medecins Sans Frontieres from Haiti is also evaluating medical needs — with Dominica’s injured currently treated in the partially destroyed hospital’s corridors.

“The whole country has been devastated. People are still in a shell shock because there is a lot of stress on them. It’s a sudden change of life,” said Deputy Prime Minister John Collin McIntyre, adding that 90 per cent of Dominica’s houses are “compromised.”

Schnyler Esprit, in charge of logistics at Dominica State College, said Maria was “a hundred times worse than Erika”, which killed 30 people in 2015.

“Erika was violent but very localized. This is widespread. Everything is disorganized. I’m afraid we are going to lack food and water very soon. I heard the Red cross have been looted, some supermarkets have been looted, too,” he said.

But despite the chaos, not a single Dominican that AFP came across complained. “Dominica is strong, we will rise again!” said Christina Morancy, from the disadvantaged community of Newtown, near Roseau.

In Roseau itself, a large warehouse of building materials was ripped open as people try to rebuild what they can. Unlike French-Dutch St Martin, Dominica is an impoverished island, with few shops to loot.

“Here, it is every man for himself, nobody comes to help us. It’s survival,” said George Elyzee, 86, whose home was flooded but kept its roof.

“It is as if you were in Syria,” said Casimir Augustus, president of the Dominican Association in Guadeloupe, who came to the island to confirm if his aunt “is still alive”.

But even he remains optimistic, adding, “Come back in six months, you will see.”]]>
9/24/2017 11:00:03 AM
<![CDATA[National celebrations open Saudi sports stadium to women for first time]]>
The festivities are part of a government move to boost national pride and improve quality of life for Saudis.

Also on offer is a concert in the Red Sea city of Jeddah featuring 11 Arab musicians, plus fireworks, air acrobatics and traditional folk dance shows.

“It is the first time I have come to the stadium and I feel like more of a Saudi citizen. Now I can go everywhere in my country,” said 25-year-old Sultana, green and white flags painted on both cheeks as she entered the complex with her girlfriends.

“God willing, tomorrow women will be permitted bigger and better things like driving and travel.”

Several thousand families entered the stadium - where top football matches are held - through a separate gate from single men. They cheered, flashed peace signs and waved green Saudi flags.

A toddler wore a shirt that said in English “I (heart) Saudi Arabia” while a little girl donned a green dress with the faces of King Salman and his son, Crown Prince Mohammed, printed on it. A young man recited a poem praising the 82-year-old monarch.

The events are the latest entertainment sponsored by the government as part of the Vision 2030 reform program launched two years ago to diversify the economy away from oil, create whole new sectors to employ young citizens and open up Saudis’ cloistered lifestyles.

However in a country that adheres to the austere Wahhabi brand of Sunni Islam, which bans gender mixing, concerts and cinemas, the plan’s seemingly anodyne goals to empower women, promote sports and invest in entertainment have been criticized. Saudi rulers are also starting to reform areas once the exclusive domain of the clergy, such as education and the law, and have promoted elements of national identity that have no religious component or pre-date Islam.

They have increased National Day celebrations that were previously attacked by clerics as undermining religious feeling, and are promoting heritage sites, like Nabatean rock temples, once seen as embarrassing in the land of Islam.

King Salman marked the holiday on Twitter, writing: “The kingdom will remain a bulwark for those who love benevolence, their religion and their country.”


The operetta on Saturday told the story of the founding of the modern Saudi state by Ibn Saud, King Salman’s father, following a series of territorial conquests and eight years before the discovery of oil opened the way to making the new kingdom the world’s top oil exporter.

The performance, which praised the kingdom’s religious and martial past while looking ahead to more development, featured horses, camels and hundreds of men dancing with swords and drums. An unveiled woman and two dozen girls joined them onstage.

Pyrotechnics, dancing fountains and lasers elicited cheers from the crowd which snapped photos on their smartphones.

The final segment featured pictures of Crown Prince Mohammed - visiting troops, meeting world leaders, watching a football match - whose face has become nearly as ubiquitous as his father’s since he became heir to the throne in June.

There is widespread speculation, denied by officials, that King Salman intends to abdicate to his son, who already dominates economic, diplomatic and domestic policy.

Saudi flags and green billboards, often bearing the faces of both men, have gone up across Riyadh this week, and at night skyscrapers are flooded in green light - the national color.

Companies from telecoms operators to furniture stores have launched patriotic-themed marketing campaigns offering discounts for the holiday weekend.

Um Abdulrahm al-Shihri, who traveled 1100 km (685 miles) from the northwestern city of Tabuk, to enter the stadium, said she hoped in the future women would be able to attend football matches and other public festivities which are traditionally the reserve of men.

“You cannot imagine how happy we are today ... We feel that there is openness towards us,” she said, wearing the black niqab covering all but her eyes. “Women are at all levels now - women are now (representatives) in the Shura council, women are now doctors, women are now in big positions. So why shouldn’t we join the men in things that matter to our nation?”

The General Entertainment Authority, the government agency organizing the National Day festivities, expects some 1.5 million Saudis to attend events in 17 cities over four days.

Vision 2030 reforms are intended to capture up to a quarter of the $20 billion currently spent overseas by Saudis, who are accustomed to traveling abroad to see shows and visit amusement parks in nearby tourist hub Dubai or further afield. This weekend’s events, though, are free to the public.

Issa Daghiri, attending the operetta in Riyadh with his wife and children, said he was encouraged by the acceptance of families at the stadium, which holds about 40,000 spectators.

“We had hoped for this for a while and now the opportunity has come,” he said. “Each year that passes, the kingdom develops.”]]>
9/24/2017 9:53:18 AM
<![CDATA[Due to shortage of public toilets, Dutch women test public urinals]]>
"Women from across the country are invited to demonstrate the (im)possibilities of urinating in a public urinal built for men," said the organisers of the Netherland's First National Public Urinal Urinating Day, or "Power to the Peepee."

By mid-afternoon, more than 160 largely discreet images had been posted on Instagram under the hashtag #zeikwijf -- a Dutch word meaning "a woman who urinates" -- many showing protesters attempting ambitious gymnastic poses to get the angle right.

While admitting the protest would be somewhat "tongue in cheek", organisers have a serious message, saying they want to prove "that it isn't possible for women to urinate in a decent, hygienic and dignified manner in a public urinal designed for men."

The aim of the protest is to draw attention to the lack of public toilet facilities for women with the images to be sent to Jet Bussemaker, the Dutch minister for Education, Culture and Science alongside a petition entitled "Urination Equality in the Netherlands".

In an example of the problem, organisers say there are 35 permanent public urinals in central Amsterdam compared to three public toilets suitable for women.

The protest was organised by a woman called Geerte Piening who was found guilty earlier this week of public urination in a place where there was no toilet for women for miles around.

Fining her 90 euros, the judge said she could have used a public urinal, saying: "it may not be pleasant, but it is possible."]]>
9/24/2017 9:50:55 AM
<![CDATA[A new Amsterdam hotel staffed and run by asylum-seekers]]>
The new Amsterdam hotel is staffed and run by asylum-seekers, mostly Syrians. Although these asylum-seeking workers may be uncertain about their residence position, working in this hotel is a step for them to earn valuable employment history.

The project’s funding was developed through donations and the assistance of different authorities, organizer Rob Hoogerwerf told The National. He clarified that the hotel’s employees receive certificates that would quality them work in the hospitality industry either in Netherlands or anywhere else.

The cost of this hotel’s rooms range from €99 to €140 per night. Each of the rooms is adorned with only one word written on the wall "Freedom?"
9/24/2017 9:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[The ultimate travel tips for beginners]]>
1- Remember your travel insurance

While planning one’s travels, no one thinks of injured or robbed. Yet emergencies happen all the time. Taking your travel insurance, you will not worry about huge hospital bills or stolen stuff if, god forbids, they happen.


2- Stay hydrated

Hydration during long flights will help you get over jet lag.

3- Write down your hotel address

It is commonplace among travelers to forget their hotel address, which is especially tricky in a country where you might not speak the local language. So write the address down in your phone, or take a card from the reception to help you return easily.


4- Tell someone at home about your trip plans

This tip is especially important for solo-travelers. Although even if you are travelling in a group, it is best to do so.

5- Start your day early

Even if you are a night owl, it’s important to rise early when you’re on vacation. This will help you avert crowds while visiting the best attractions. Photographers would also appreciate taking stunning photographs in natural light.


6- Do not over-plan your trip

Get lost on purpose, and leave enough room for spontaneity. There is no need to be super afraid and cautious. This will give you the best memories when you come back.

7- Go where locals go

“The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see,” G.K. Chesterton
Socialize with the locals. Observe daily life in the country you are visiting. This will be very inspiring and eye-opening.

8- Use convenient travel apps

Technology is facilitating traveling to everyone.

Here is a list of five applications that you will find helpful.

9/24/2017 9:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Jordan: A biblical destination]]>
In Aqaba we already had our first great surprise from this nation. Spiro offered to host us through CouchSurfing but we couldn’t imagine what we would experience. We were absolutely surprised when we were welcomed by his family in Greek! We were trying to realize what was happening and then they started telling us their story.

Serving cold drinks on the street is really refreshing on a hot day. Courtesy: madnomad.gr

A big part of the people who live nowadays in Jordan are actually Palestinian refugees who were forced there when Israel started occupying Palestine in 1948. Jordan up to this day is very welcoming to refugees from its troubled neighbors. The parents of Spiro, like several other Palestinians that we met, studied in Greece. They travel to Palestine almost every year and they always dream to visit Greece again. They were born Greek Orthodox and we were very glad to be with them during the Greek Orthodox Easter and celebrate it all together. We went to their house as strangers and we left as family members. That’s how they made us feel.

Celebrating the Greek Orthodox Easter with Spiro’s family! Courtesy: madnomad.gr

Near Aqaba lies the desert of Wadi Rum. Riding on the sand two-up with lots of luggage was not easy but we quickly found an amazing place to wild camp, in front of Khazali Canyon! We left some of our luggage there and we went to explore the desert on Baobabis. The canyons and the natural bridges formed by rocks were impressive but the most mesmerizing of all was the quiet night under the stars which were extending over the huge desert.

We headed north through the King’s Highway. Actually, it’s not a highway but a picturesque countryside route. It used to be the road which connected the three ancient kingdoms of that region. It was travelled by caravans of traders, pilgrims and from invading armies as well. We ascended up to 1,600 m (5,249 ft) altitude, where the mountains were green and cool. Some interesting medieval castles lie there, including Shobak and Karak.

Exploring the desert of Wadi Rum on an enduro bike and wild camping in its canyons is an unforgettable experience! Courtesy: madnomad.gr

From the heights of Jordan, we descended to its lowest point, the lowest land on earth actually! The Dead Sea, which is a lake to make it clear, is located at about 430 m (1,411 ft) below sea level. It’s funny that you can stand on the part of the road which is at sea level and enjoy a panoramic view of the area which lies hundreds of meters lower! The heat there was intense… We found a secluded beach to cool ourselves down. The Dead Sea is one of the saltiest bodies of water on earth, with a salt content of 34%. Swimming there is funny. We were floating like never before! There are also many healthy minerals there which make the water look and feel oily. You really have to keep this water out of your eyes or any wounds. Otherwise, it will be quite painful!

The ancient King’s Highway passes though rolling pastureland, Roman ruins, Crusader castles and biblical sites. This is Shobak Castle, built in AD 1115 by the Crusader king Baldwin I. Courtesy: madnomad.gr

In Amman, Jordan’s capital, we had the pleasure to meet several members of the small motorcycling community. Jordan was a country where motorcycles were absolutely forbidden until about five years ago! Since they were allowed, motorcycle dealers spread in the town like mushrooms after a fresh spring rain: Honda, Yamaha, KTM, BMW, Harley-Davidson, Indian and other brands… Stella borrowed a Yamaha TW200 and our new, local friends took us to the dirt tracks in the forest. It was a great riding day!

The Dead Sea, located on the lowest land on earth, has a salinity of 34%, which makes you float like never before!Courtesy: madnomad.gr

We spent some days exploring the area around Amman. The picturesque old town of Salt became our favorite one in the region. Of course, we couldn’t miss Jerash, with one of the best-preserved Roman cities that exist up to this day. Madaba was interesting too, with its world-famous Byzantine-era mosaics. Stella had to fly back to Greece for a while, so I finished exploring Jordan by myself.

The Byzantine-era mosaics that were found in Madaba are world-famous. This one is inspired by Euripides’ Greek tragedy “Hippolytus”. Courtesy: madnomad.gr

It was time to head east and explore the desert. I was very close to Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia but unfortunately, I couldn’t go anywhere, either due to war or due to Islamic fundamentalism… I visited some medieval castles, including Kharana and Azraq, which was used in 1917 by the legendary Lawrence of Arabia during the Arab Revolt against the Turks. The caravanserai, bathhouse and hunting lodge at Amra was what really astonished me… It is full of vivid 8th-century frescoes that depict wine and women, even naked! Imagine that Islam does not allow either the depiction of any live being or the consumption of alcohol. However, it seems that Emperor Walid I (AD 705 – 715) found a remote place to freely express himself and enjoy some nice time with his friends.

Islam forbids the depiction of any live being but the remote Amra Caravanserai is full of 8th-century frescoes that depict wine and women, even naked! Courtesy: madnomad.gr

I enjoyed some amazing, real off-road routes in the desert. The ground was usually rocky but I could go up and down the hills and make my own way, which is what I love most! After a few hours, I reached Tuba Castle. The building was not that impressive but I enjoyed it more than any other castle because of its remote location. There was nobody on the horizon. I decided to pitch my tent inside the castle’s courtyard. Thirteen centuries ago it was hosting camel caravans which were trading frankincense. Now it only hosts occasionally some weird travelers who are still looking for adventure.

I enjoyed some amazing, real off-road routes in the desert! Courtesy: madnomad.gr

I left for the end the world-famous ancient city of Petra because I had some doubts about visiting it. That’s the most expensive to visit ancient site around the world that I have heard of. A day ticket for foreigners costs a hefty 65 Euros! I was hosted by some Bedouins just next to the ancient Nabataean city. Nabataeans established themselves to the region and developed an advanced civilization, not because they had a strong army but because they knew how to manage the scarce water resources in the dry desert.

After a short hike from Little Petra through nice scenery, you get to the Monastery. It was built in the 3rd century BC as a Nabataean tomb and it’s actually bigger than the famous Treasury! Courtesy: madnomad.gr

Walking through the deep canyon and suddenly staring at the grand façade of the Treasury is definitely an unforgettable moment! Equally impressive is admiring it from the top of the canyon. I spent four days hiking around the area and exploring the canyons, the hills, the numerous temples, the tombs and the caves where some Bedouins live up to this day. Petra is definitely an interesting destination but to be honest, I don’t think it is worth the price of such an expensive ticket, if you travel on a tight budget. After all, I have visited similar grand monuments in Egypt which are even more impressive and the ticket prices are quite reasonable.

Some caves in Petra are used for housing by Bedouins (and their goats!) since centuries ago and up to this day. Courtesy: madnomad.gr

After almost a month and 2,000 km (1,243 miles) in the small but interesting country of Jordan, I ate my last kunafeh (tasty dessert with lots of cream cheese, pistachios and syrup!) and hit the road to Israel and Palestine. Jordan fascinated me mostly because of its hospitable people. It was a relaxing break between two countries which are hard to visit as an overlander: Egypt and Israel.

Eating my last kunafeh in Jordan with my little friend… I already miss it! Courtesy: madnomad.gr
9/24/2017 8:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[President Sisi issued a decree to renovate Hurghada]]>
In a conference with the large tribes of the Red Sea governorate that started on Saturday, Abdallah emphasized that there are multiple development projects currently ongoing in the city of Hurghada with the cooperation of the civil society. He also pointed out that El-Dahar Square project is fully financed by an investor.

The governor said that the purpose of the conference is to present the achievements of the previous three years.

Hurghada was the first city visited by President Sisi, as he attended the opening of its airport and the port.
9/23/2017 5:46:51 PM
<![CDATA[Quake scares tourists from Mexico City's trendy heart]]>
But by Friday, three days after the 7.1-magnitude earthquake levelled dozens of buildings, local hipsters were starting to return to the Condesa/Roma area, albeit in muted fashion out of respect for the deaths and damage evident in every second street.

Some cafes and restaurants were open, serving customers but also giving free food and drinks to rescue workers, police and soldiers deployed to toppled buildings that were sometimes just a few meters away.

But most places – just a week ago filled with the coffee-and-laptop set – were still shuttered.

Foreign tourists, usually drawn to the area for its artistic vibe and boutique stores, were absent.

Many had scrapped trips to Mexico City on news of the disaster.

Others, like Magali Ricoce, a 36-year-old Frenchwoman on her first visit to the city to see friends, lived through the quake and was traumatized by it.

"At one point I thought I was going to die," she said. The next day she was vomiting from stress as delayed shock set in.

Now, she has temporary lodgings with her friends but "it's a bit like being a refugee ... I'm no longer thinking like a tourist, I'm more thinking 'I'm happy to be alive'."

Though rattled, she said she might return in the future.

But, she said: "I came across tourists who were leaving their hotels with their bags – they were totally in the tourist mindset of wanting to go home".

Hotel losses

For hotels in the quake-hit area, that exodus and an avalanche of cancellations meant an immediate blow to business.

"We've had a lot of cancellations," said Erick Vargas, front desk manager at one hotel in the area, City Express.

His hotel had been fully booked, but when news of the quake flashed around the planet, 300 confirmed nights that had been reserved suddenly evaporated – a loss of nearly US$40,000, (RM167,160) that was expected to double when bookings for later dates were included, he said.

Although the hotel and its guests emerged from the seismic upheaval unscathed, it found itself in a zone suddenly deserted apart from frantic rescue operations.

Vargas said he himself was made homeless because his place in Roma was a couple of doors up from a building that had become unstable.

"I haven't been able to get in. I've been living in the hotel since," with his flat-mate and his dog, he said.

Return to 'a bit of life'

In one of the cafes open in Roma, Bubba Tea & Co., staff were giving away free meals to soldiers.

The owners – who had opened the place just five weeks ago – had struggled with whether to resume business for customers, or whether to stay closed out of respect for the pervasive mourning around them.

It was local residents themselves who convinced them to open.

"It was a way to help them. They wanted coffee, not just basic water and stuff – they want a bit of life back," explained Ingrid Gonzalez-Gracida, who runs the place with her husband.

"This area is usually very lively, very hipster, there are a lot of artists," she said, comparing it with justification to New York City's trendy Brooklyn borough.

As for the foreign tourists who used to saunter around the eateries and galleries, she said: "I don't know where they are. They are afraid. We hope they return".

Tourism campaign

That is precisely the challenge facing Mexico's tourism secretary, Enrique de la Madrid.

He told a tourism industry publication, Travel Weekly, that while structural evaluations were still going on for Mexico City hotels, "our infrastructure was mostly unaffected" across the vast city.

Rather than withdraw tourist promotions, his office was forging on with a new campaign to be launched on Monday, focusing on the country's diversity.

"The main destinations of the country had not been affected at all. And even in Mexico City, the tourist areas were not affected," he said.

"We decided it was more important than ever to let everyone know we're still standing. If people are wondering how to help support Mexico, the answer is to travel to Mexico."]]>
9/23/2017 2:38:21 PM
<![CDATA[Air Berlin to hold carve-up talks with Lufthansa, easyJet]]>
“Authority was granted to conclude one or more agreements with one or more of these bidders,” Air Berlin said in a statement late on Thursday.

Talks over its other Air Berlin assets, such as its aircraft maintenance unit, will continue with other bidders, it said.

Air Berlin, which has about 8,000 employees and operates 144 mostly leased planes, filed for insolvency in August after major shareholder Etihad pulled the plug on funding.

Two sources familiar with the matter had told Reuters on Thursday that Lufthansa was set to pick up a large part of the carrier.

Lufthansa’s CEO said earlier that the carrier wanted to secure the 38 crewed planes it leases from Air Berlin, and was interested in a further 20-40 short-haul planes.

Air Berlin said negotiations with Lufthansa and easyJet would continue until Oct. 12, which means Air Berlin’s board may not make a final decision on Sept. 25 as had been expected.

The news comes ahead of a national election on Sunday in which Chancellor Angela Merkel is set to win a fourth term.

At a rally in the western city of Neuss, where dozens of Air Berlin workers wearing fluorescent yellow crew jackets joined Merkel supporters, the chancellor said: “There are pilots from Air Berlin that we of course wish all the best to, like all people who have a job and would like to keep it.”

The prospect of getting access to Air Berlin’s airport slots, planes and crews had drawn interest from those airlines and other investors, including former Formula One driver Niki Lauda, jointly with Thomas Cook’s (TCG.L) German airline Condor, and aviation entrepreneur Hans Rudolf Woehrl.

Also, two people familiar with the matter had told Reuters earlier this week that British Airways owner IAG (ICAG.L) had joined the field of bidders for parts or all of Air Berlin.

Bidders had been especially interested in Air Berlin subsidiary Niki, which operates short-haul flights from Germany and Austria to tourist hot spots.

The deadline for bids for its maintenance unit, which has about 850 employees, has been extended to Oct. 6, Air Berlin said.

Lufthansa declined to comment further on Thursday evening. EasyJet declined to comment and Condor was not immediately available for comment.]]>
9/23/2017 12:08:48 PM
<![CDATA[Egyptian Nile cruise tops National Geographic's list]]>
National Geographic put together a


of the 21 best cruises in the world and

Nour El Nil's

luxurious cruise ships Malouka (16-passenger capacity) and Meroë (20-passenger capacity) made it to the top six. They were also chosen as the cover picture for the list.

National Geographic promised that the experience will make you, "feel like a modern-day pharaoh."


These two cruise ships are made to take you on one of the fanciest six day long trips in Egypt. They depart from the beautiful city south of Luxor named Esna. The cruise passes by many gorgeous sites such as Edfu and Kom Ombo, eventually reaching Aswan.

Nour El Nil promises to allow you to explore the river of myth and legend in high style. And the ships surely deliver with a level of luxury that cannot be easily matched.

The cruise cost ranges from €1,100 (LE 23,200) and €1,700 (LE 35,800) per person.

screenshot from Nour El Nil's website
9/23/2017 10:19:23 AM
<![CDATA[Surfing the Seine: climate campaigner paddles in Paris]]>
Alison Teal travels the world with her pink "eco-friendly" surfboard to raise awareness about the environment, and it is no coincidence she chose France's capital for the latest stop on her campaign.

The Hawaiian -- named the "Female Indiana Jones" by Time magazine in 2015 -- is urging US President Donald Trump to reconsider his withdrawal from the Paris climate accord.

"If we don't do something to protect our environment and prevent climate change before it's too late, we're gonna be moving to Mars. And I'm not ready to surf on Mars yet," she told AFP.

Teal took an evening paddle in Paris's famous river just metres from the Eiffel Tower on Wednesday.

"I'm just paddling through the Seine river in support of the Paris climate agreement and I hope we all get on board to protect this world and keep this beauty around for our future generations."]]>
9/23/2017 10:13:30 AM
<![CDATA[From yoga to movies: Lisbon embraces rooftop living]]>
Often referred to as the "City of Seven Hills", Lisbon is full of red-tiled buildings with spectacular views over the undulating Portuguese capital as it slips down towards the Tagus River.

Long the domain of air conditioners, satellite dishes and washing lines, Lisbon's rooftops are undergoing a makeover to now host swanky bars, yoga classes, film screenings and concerts.

"It's all about the views in Lisbon," said Katrin Heuser, 39, who started offering rooftop yoga classes at the This Is Lisbon Hostel when she moved to the city from London two years ago.

She now holds classes at four other locations with sweeping views of Lisbon too with the aid of two other teachers.

One regular student, 30-year-old Greek IT consultant Maria Anastasiadou said the classes were "completely different" to those held indoors.

"Your body and mind connects with the environment around you and the sun," she said.

"You start feeling the sun and air touching your skin. Your mind gets clearer, in a strange mix with the noise of the city. All your senses are awake."

- 'Perfect place' -

Lisbon's climate is especially well-suited for rooftop activities. The city on Portugal's western coast is one of Europe's sunniest capitals, with 290 days of sunshine a year.

"It's the perfect place for doing activities on rooftops because of the weather," said Phil Llic, who since June has been showing movies every Thursday night on the rooftop of the Topo Chiado restaurant-bar.

The venue, which opened in 2016 on the back of the ruins of a convent, affords views of the elaborate, turn of the century Santa Justa Lift and the medieval Sao Jorge Castle, two historic Lisbon landmarks.

Under the stars, customers can admire the view at the same time as watching a cult film on a large screen while sipping drinks and lounging on one of the 90 deck chairs.

It regularly sells out.

"Its all about the experience, it's not even really about the movie," said Llic, 31, who also moved to Lisbon from London two years ago, like many before him drawn by the warmer climate and slower pace of life.

He and his business partner, Chris Wood, a 34-year-old from the English northwestern city of Manchester, plan to expand their movie screenings to more rooftops next year.

The 10-story Four Seasons Hotel Ritz at the end of 2016 completely refurbished a 400-metre (1,300-foot) outdoor running track on its roof and set up gym equipment there to allow guests to work out outdoors while overlooking the city.

- 'Fun thing' -

The boom in upgrading rooftops for leisure activities comes as Lisbon is experiencing a surge in visitors that has sparked a drive to renovate buildings in the city's picturesque old town.

Lisbon had 3.9 million foreign visitors in 2016, a 9.7-percent jump over the previous year.

Its rooftop activities are popular among locals. But Heuser, who is originally from Germany, said many of her rooftop yoga students were foreign visitors, especially in August.

"They like the idea, they think it is a fun thing to do and a good way to enjoy the view," she said.

- 'Avoiding the hype' -

Ze dos Bois (ZDB), a trendy concert venue, art gallery and bar, in an 18th century palace in the lively Bairro Alto district -- whose narrow streets are packed with bars and restaurants -- opened a popular rooftop terrace last year that regularly hosts concerts.

The non-profit venue's terrace features a bamboo canopy made by three bamboo "masters" from Macau, said ZDB's communications director, Catarina Monteiro.

"At the time we decided not to promote the space, to avoid the 'hype' about rooftops, but we still managed to build a regular customer base," she said.]]>
9/23/2017 10:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[Roman Photo-session in Alexandria]]> CAIRO - 23 September 2017: Two creative photographers, Henar Sherif and Adel Essam, organized a photography session of Alexandrian youth and children wearing Roman clothes on Wednesday as part of promoting domestic tourism.

Alexandria was the capital of Egypt during the Roman Empire. That is why the city is full of Roman remains; the most famous of them are Pompey’s Pillar/Column, and Roman Auditorium and Bathhouse, as well as ancient graveyards. There are also several Roman artifacts in the city’s most important museum, the Greco-Roman museum.

Courtesy: Alexandria Facebook page

Courtesy: Alexandria Facebook page

Courtesy: Alexandria Facebook page

Courtesy: Alexandria Facebook pageCourtesy: Alexandria Facebook pageCourtesy: Alexandria Facebook page

Courtesy: Alexandria Facebook page

Courtesy: Alexandria Facebook page

Courtesy: Alexandria Facebook page
9/23/2017 10:02:52 AM
<![CDATA[Dragon Boat is the Real Adventure in the Nile ]]>
Trainer gives rowing instruction to guests – Best Places of Egypt Facebook page

Dragon Boat will make it easy, possible and available whenever you want. It is a long boat consisting of 16 seats in the Egyptian Club for Rowing, where you can learn and enjoy rowing in the Nile River with professional trainers.

People rowing in the Dragon Boat – Best Places of Egypt Facebook page

In just one hour in the Nile River, you will surely feel the vibe of both doing sport and relaxing individually or with your family and friends. Only those aged 16 and up are allowed to come aboard Dragon Boat.

People rowing in the Dragon Boat – Best Places of Egypt Facebook page

Tickets are for 150 LE per person, and there is a package to come six times for 500 LE. It is open from the early morning to sunset.

Rowing in the Dragon Boat in the early morning – Best Places of Egypt Facebook page

The Dragon Boat in the Nile – Best Places of Egypt Facebook page
9/23/2017 9:52:36 AM
<![CDATA[This elderly traveler became famous after a viral Facebook campaign]]>
Luckily for us millennials, we know our way around the Cloud, which can backup all our photos. But imagine how a 60 year old, who is unfamiliar about the current technology, felt when she lost her one and only source of graphic memory that is worth 10 years of travel!

A sprained ankle

Ayse Kurucu, known as Ayse Teyze (Aunt Ayse) in Turkey, was hitchhiking with a couple that was driving up to Bosphorus heading to Georgia. Ayse was going to catch her tour bus when she entered Tulin and Emre Oztemel’s car. Not long after dropping Ayse at her stop, Emre found a camera in their car that belonged to her. What they found out in her camera was truly extraordinary and what this couple did next was really courteous.

Though she did not look the part to be a solo traveler, Ayse’s camera revealed that she had been to 25 countries, including some of the world’s most famous landmarks. Ayse’s first country that she traveled to was Egypt! Other countries include, France, India, Italy, the UAE and many more. On an adventurous note, Ayse has been to Tibet, Nepal, and Thailand.

In Italy. Soure: Ayse Kurucu Facebook page

The social network campaign begins

Realizing that this possession must mean (literally) the world to Ayse, the couple uploaded her photos on Facebook. Hoping that someone out there would recognize her, Tulin and Emre’s facebook campaign went viral only after 15 hours. In a world where fake news is passed off as real news all too often, of course there were some netizens who accused Tulin and Emre’s campaign of being fake, claiming that their intention is only to gain popularity, but Tulin has a wicked rebuttal ready. She states in Hurriyet Daily News: “People have already lost their good intentions. Everything became a series of lies. Why do people think an old woman traveling the world is strange? Why do you think this is fake? Can a middle-aged woman who is a housewife not love traveling?”

The “Teyze Araniyor” or “Wanted: The Aunt” Facebook campaign took 5 months before the camera made its way back to its owner. Tulin and Emre recorded their journey from Istanbul to Izmir and paid a visit to Ayse’s home.

In France. Soure: Ayse Kurucu Facebook page

You gave the world to me

Upon receiving her treasure, Ayse could notbe happier as she mentioned that she won’t have the privilege to travel to those countries again. Certainly a camera isn’t as costly but the real gem lies upon the content of the camera, Ayse added in the video recorded by the couple.

Reading all those positive comments on Tulin and Emre Facebook campaign, a commenter had even requested that Ayse visit Rio Carnaval in Brazil on behalf of him.

Praises and admiration for Ayse swamped the Facebook campaign of the couple.

Ayse explains that she got a taste of freedom after divorcing her husband and that motivated her to go out and travel the world. The mother of three describes her life now as an empress that reigns her kingdom well, happily and freely.

In Bosnia. Soure: Ayse Kurucu Facebook page

Newfound Fame

The virality of the couple’s social media campaign has landed Ayse plenty of interviews on national television. Already a buzz that caught the media’s attention, Ayse had several TV channels offering her a spot in commercials and small TV roles. In fact, as we speak, Ayse has already shot her own TV commercial.

Ayse will not stop at 25 countries. Her bucket list includes Japan, China and Spain. She hopes to be visiting the countries in the coming spring.

Regardless of age, it is never too late to start planning your travels. Go out of your comfort zone and experience the world through a traveler’s perspective. It is when you travel that you will have a broader and more open mind. Perhaps when one travels, one can become more compassionate and more understanding of others. As Ibnu Battuta once said, “Traveling, it leaves you speechless and then turns you into a storyteller.”

So tell me, what are you waiting for? What is in your bucket list? Where are you going next? The world is waiting for you.

This article was originally published in Mvslim.com ]]>
9/23/2017 9:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Tourism industry 'vital' to achieve societal development: Min.]]>
Delivering Egypt's speech to a ministerial roundtable of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in Tokyo, Ragab added that the Tourism Ministry works within the framework of the state's Sustainable Development Plan (Vision 2020-2030 for Sustainable Development), of which tourism is one of the most important economic axes.

The Tourism Ministry, in cooperation with all bodies concerned, made great efforts to achieve the goals of sustainable development, the deputy minister said.

She added the election of Egypt's Moushira Khattab for the UNESCO director-general post will create harmony among different cultures and help in preserving heritage.]]>
9/23/2017 3:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Spin N’ Run’: The first duathlon race in Taba ]]>
Cairo Runners member – official Facebook page

The competition is about experiencing your sports skills in running for 5 kilometers, then riding a bike for 20 kilometers, before returning to running for 5 kilometers, so you have to train well before the zero time.

Runner team – official face book page

You can come individually or with your friends; all you have to pay is LE 2400 ($135) per person, including transportation and accommodation at Taba Heights with camp activities.

The age limit is 12 years old and older. If you don’t have a bike, the organizers will recommend you a supplier for rental and transportation.

For Registration you have to access Cairo Runners’ official



9/22/2017 9:39:55 PM
<![CDATA[Thousands evacuated as Bali's Mount Agung volcano rumbles]]>
The alert status for Mount Agung in eastern Bali was at 3, one level below the highest, and authorities warned tourists and residents to avoid camping or hiking within a 6km radius of the crater.

"Volcanic activity remains high and there are indications of magma rising to the surface and causing tremors," said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho of the National Disaster Management Agency.

"There should be zero public activity within the specified radius in case there is an eruption," Nugroho said.

However, flights at Bali's international airport were operating as normal and there was little disruption to tourism operators across the rest of the island, authorities said.

Nearly 6,000 people have been evacuated so far and that number was expected to rise, officials said.

Some residents in villages at the foot of Mount Agung said they were reluctant to leave immediately. Others gathered to watch the volcano.

"I'm here with my husband. We need to feed the animals so that's what we're doing first," villager Wayan Suarda told national television station tvOne.

Others packed their belongings into trucks for evacuation, while more stopped to watch as clouds of white smoke rose from the crater, which is around 3,000 metres above sea level.

Indonesia straddles the "Pacific Ring of Fire", where several tectonic plates meet and cause 90 per cent of the world's seismic activity, according to the US Geological Survey.

Indonesia has nearly 130 active volcanoes, more than any other country.

A series of eruptions at Mount Agung between 1963 and 1964 killed more than 1,000 people and injured hundreds.

9/22/2017 4:16:08 PM
<![CDATA[Storm Maria pitches Puerto Rico barrio into sunken "Venice"]]>
Lying southwest of the capital San Juan, the Juana Matos neighbourhood in Catano municipality took a huge hit from Maria after the storm slammed winds of up to 155 mph (249 kmh) into Puerto Rico early on Wednesday, destroying or damaging an estimated 80 percent of housing in the working-class barrio.

The storm, the second Category 5 hurricane to batter the Caribbean this month, claimed at least 32 lives across the region, including 15 in Puerto Rico, and shut down power and communications across the island of 3.4 million people.

By Thursday, Maria’s floodwaters had turned the heart of the predominantly wood-built Juana Matos barrio into a series of waterways more suited to boats than walking.

“It’s like we’re in Venice,” said 69-year-old steel worker Joaquin Rebollo, looking out across a broad channel that is normally teeming with cars. “It was a really bad experience, really bad. I almost died of fright.”

Pitching the roof off his home and dozens of others in the area, Maria began to work through the wiring around the house as darkness descended across the island.

“It was like (Maria) was chewing the cables,” he said, vividly making as if to bite through power lines with his teeth.

Opposite him, residents trudged up to their knees in waters covering what was the main highway connecting Catano with the municipality of Bayamon further south.

Rebollo and many neighbours left their homes in the hope the flooding that rose to four feet in some areas would recede.

Houses locked for the storm were stripped of roofs or walls. Stranded cars stood half-sunk in driveways and satellite dishes tilted towards the sky to receive signals that had gone.

“I peeked my head out during the storm and felt the wind - and saw the wood, the roof, and the windows in the air,” said Domingo Avilez, 47, who took cover inside a small cement stock room beneath his mother’s house when Maria struck.

By the end, the stock room was the only room left.

Local officials estimate upwards of 2,000 people live in Juana Matos, and many too old or unwilling to evacuate watched from upper floors as the floodwaters turned streets into stagnant canals that seeped through their homes.

“Well, we’re alive,” said 75-year-old grandfather Angel Santos from the debris-strewn second floor of his wooden home.

“These are the works of God, so there’s nothing you can do,” Santos said, reflecting the faith evident among many Puerto Ricans hit by Maria just days after Hurricane Irma left.

Even those on the edge of the flood-prone barrio in homes high enough to avoid shipping huge quantities of water suffered brutal incursions.

Magdalena Oliveras, a 52-year-old housewife, showed the twisted metal blinds of her two-meter high washroom window she said had been mangled by a deluge from a nearby building.

Lidia Espinal, 57, a longtime Juana Matos resident from the Dominican Republic, suffered a double blow on Wednesday morning before phone lines went down with a call from her homeland to say her younger brother had suffered a fatal heart attack.

But Maria’s presence meant she could not travel back.

“I lost everything in my house, the good things, the roof, the windows. The stove is full of water,” she said. “But the death of my brother taught me that we can’t hold on to material things. Because life does not come back.”

9/22/2017 3:13:06 PM
<![CDATA[Boeing boosts Southeast Asia order forecast on strong demand]]>
Boeing sees demand for 4,210 new airplanes worth $650 billion in Southeast Asia over the next two decades, based on an estimate of annual traffic growth of 6.2 percent. That is up from last year’s forecast of 3,750 aircraft valued at $550 billion.

“Look at countries like Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia - that infrastructure has to grow and will grow,” said Dinesh Keskar, Boeing’s vice president for Asia-Pacific and India sales. “Aviation is the biggest source of tourism for the countries, it is the biggest source of moving people and moving cargo.”

Southeast Asia, home to rapidly growing low-cost carriers like Indonesia’s Lion Air, Vietnam’s Vietjet and Malaysia’s AirAsia Bhd (AIRA.KL), is taking on greater importance for Boeing and Airbus SE (AIR.PA) as North American and European markets are more mature with far lower growth rates.

Keskar said single-aisle airplanes like the 737 MAX and Airbus SE A320 were set to account for more than 70 percent of new deliveries as most travel in the region is expected to be short-haul.

China is also trying to compete in this market. The C919 narrowbody, which took its first test flight in May, has received 730 orders to date.

“Certainly we watch that, we watch our competition,” Keskar said of the C919. “We try to bring products which are superior with lower seat mile cost, better fuel burn and a better passenger experience.”

The Boeing forecast does not include any deliveries to Myanmar, Cambodia or Laos, which have less developed aviation sectors than neighboring countries like Thailand and Vietnam.

Airbus has not released a specific order forecast for Southeast Asia but a spokesman said the European manufacturer expected annual passenger growth of 7 percent a year over the next 20 years.

Boeing sees worldwide demand at 41,030 new airplanes over the next two decades. While it sees demand jumping the most in Southeast Asia, it has not yet given breakdowns for each global region.

9/22/2017 3:11:49 PM
<![CDATA[Russia resumes flights closer to winter]]>
Tour operators will arrange programs for up to two weeks, Barzykin added.

Having the last inspection of Cairo International Airport done, Barzykin told “Parlamentskaya Gazette” newspaper that the Egyptian side conformed to the international aviation security requirements especially in Terminal 2 at Cairo International Airport (CAI) second terminal.

Egyptian resorts are always in demand, especially during the fall and winter seasons due to the environment and climate conditions, he explained.

Earlier, a Russian security delegation had visited Egypt and praised the latest security developments made at Cairo International Airport (CIA) second terminal. The terminal is expected to host Cairo-Moscow flights in the near future.

The Russian security delegation that arrived aboard a Turkish flight from Istanbul was comprised of five security experts accompanied by a number of Egyptian security officials and senior officials of the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Ministry of Tourism, and employees of the Russian “Aeroflot” airlines. The delegation is expected to report the observed developments at the security level in the airport to the Russian government, which will inform their decision for the resumption of Russian flights and tourism to Egypt.
9/22/2017 1:22:19 PM
<![CDATA[Video: Migrating stork rescued from sewage in Ras Mohamed]]>
During a bird watching event organized by the Hiking Club group in Ras Mohamed, the group found a white stork in a sewage pond, unable to move and about to sink in the water. Fortunately, Hashim Morsy reached for the wet bird and rescued it, and Ahmed Waheed, another bird photographer, captured the moment in video.

Huge numbers of storks migrate during the winter from Europe to Africa. Egypt is a very important location on the stork’s migration route along the eastern flyway. During autumn, at least 500,000 storks pass through Egypt, with the majority of them flying through eastern Sinai.

9/22/2017 12:20:05 PM
<![CDATA[Fly me to the Moon: For some, lunar village takes shape]]>
To those who mock such talk as science fiction, experts such as Bernard Foing, ambassador of the European Space Agency-driven "Moon Village" scheme, reply the goal is not only reasonable but feasible too.

At a European Planetary Science Congress in Riga this week, Foing spelt out how humanity could gain a permanent foothold on Earth's satellite, and then expand.

He likened it to the growth of the railways, when villages grew around train stations, followed by businesses.

By 2030, there could be an initial lunar settlement of six to 10 pioneers – scientists, technicians and engineers – which could grow to 100 by 2040, he predicted.

"In 2050, you could have a thousand and then ... naturally you could envisage to have family" joining crews there, Foing told AFP .

Mere decades from now, "there may be the possibility to have children born on the Moon", he enthused.

ESA boss Jan Woerner has mooted replacing the orbiting International Space Station with a permanent lunar colony, a futuristic idea that was high on the agenda at this week's expert meeting in the Latvian capital.

Building a market

The ISS is due to be decommissioned in 2024 – the end of an era of unprecedented cooperation in space after the Cold War rivalry between the United States and Soviet Union.

Forty years after humankind set foot on Earth's satellite as a result of that fierce contest of one-upmanship, Woerner has proposed a village on the long-abandoned Moon as the next phase in space teamwork.

Scientists and commercial prospectors are keen on the concept, but politicians have yet to bite – a reluctance that, for now, cripples the idea.

"It is highly frustrating ... We still don't have the top leaders interested," said physicist Vidvuds Beldavs of the University of Latvia, who runs a project called the International Lunar Decade, advocating joint exploration of the Moon.

The missing link? "To demonstrate that industrial activity on the Moon is feasible, that ... large markets can emerge".

Potential Moon resources include basalt, a volcanic rock Beldavs said could be used as a raw material for 3D-printing satellites to be deployed from the Moon at a fraction of the cost of a launch from high-gravity Earth.

There is also helium-3, a rare isotope on our planet but common on the Moon, that could theoretically be used to generate cleaner, safer nuclear energy for Earth.

The main target is water, locked up in ice on the Moon's poles.

Water can be separated into hydrogen and oxygen, two gases which explode when mixed – providing rocket fuel.

"To go into Earth orbit ... it is 40 times cheaper to go from the Moon than from Earth, because the Earth has such high gravity that you have to fight against it," explained Foing.

'Tough' life

Experts argue that the future lies in collaboration between increasingly cash-strapped national space agencies and the private sector, which can profit from selling resources such as Moon-derived rocket fuel.

Robotic exploration is already underway, with several Moon landers and rovers planned for the coming years.

Woerner told AFP the goal "is to join international efforts and to bridge Earthly borders and crises."

But for those who think the Moon offers an escape from an Earth threatened by climate change and nuclear war, physicist Christiane Heinicke warns it is a "tough" life, and not for everyone.

She had spent a year in a mock Mars environment in Hawaii.

"It is completely devoid of any vegetation, all they see is rocks, regolith (loose rocks and dust), and a sky that is different from ours on Earth," she told AFP by email.

"Being either inside the habitat or inside a suit means that you're never able to actually Feel the moon/planet you're on. You can't feel the wind (if there is any, like on Mars), you don't feel the Sun on your skin, and whatever you touch feels like the inside of your gloves."

Another problem: "You can never escape your crew mates," she said.

But Foing, who himself spent some time in one of the many earthly modules preparing aspirant Moon or Mars explorers, is undeterred.

He hopes to visit the village by 2040.

As for his family, "that will depend on the price ... The price of the ticket is in the order of 100 million euros. That's now, but in 20 years, the price of the ticket could be 100 times less."

This will depend largely on advances made by commercial Moon explorers developing new technologies, boosting demand for lunar resources, or tourism, and driving prices down.

Elon Musk's SpaceX, for example, hopes to send two humans on a trip around the Moon in the next few years, and Blue Origin of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has plans to deliver five tonnes of cargo to Earth's satellite.]]>
9/22/2017 9:41:54 AM
<![CDATA[Historic Titanic building in Belfast restored as luxury hotel ]]>
Two years and £28 million (RM159.5 million) later, the historic building of Harland & Wolff Drawing Offices opened its doors this month to usher in an entirely new chapter as the four-star heritage Titanic Hotel Belfast.

Where engineers and shipbuilders once sketched out drafts for 1,700 ocean liners, including the legendary Titanic, guests will find a bar, lounge, ballroom and exhibition space.

Guests can also breathe in the history of the Telephone Exchange, which received the first communication of the Titanic hitting the iceberg.

Other heritage spaces that have been preserved include the board room, directors’ entrance, lobby, and the offices of the Titanic’s leading architects and shipbuilders, including Thomas Andrews, Lord William Pirrie and Charles Payne.

The hotel’s 119 Art Deco-inspired rooms feature subtle nods to the building’s history, with Harland and Wolff artwork and bespoke furniture.

To inaugurate the hotel’s opening, one of the drawing offices is housing a temporary exhibition chronicling the building's construction and conservation. Tours of the building's heritage features will also be offered.
9/22/2017 9:38:18 AM
<![CDATA[U.S. safety board says train crash engineers had undiagnosed sleep disorder]]>
The NTSB released factual findings on Thursday regarding its investigations into the crashes and said it planned to hold a meeting next February about both incidents and safety recommendations.

A New Jersey Transit train crashed in Hoboken, New Jersey, in September 2016, killing one person and injuring more than 100.

In January, a Long Island Rail Road train crashed, injuring more than 100 people.

The NTSB said the brakes were working on the New Jersey Transit train that was traveling at 8 miles (13 km) per hour 38 seconds before the crash. The train then accelerated and was moving at 20 mph at impact, twice the speed limit.

The 48-year-old New Jersey Transit engineer underwent a home sleep study in October 2016 that concluded he had severe sleep apnea, the NTSB said.

The agency also said the engineer was obese and had gained more than 90 pounds in the five years before the crash. There was no record of any sleep apnea test being conducted in July 2016 as required by the transit agency, the NTSB said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control being overweight puts individuals at a higher risk of sleep apnea.

In January, the NTSB said the Long Island Rail Road train that crashed into a bumper at the Atlantic Terminal in New York City’s borough of Brooklyn appeared to have been traveling at more than twice the speed limit of 5 mph.

The engineer was diagnosed with severe obstructive sleep apnea after the crash, the NTSB said on Thursday.

The LIRR began testing all of its 432 engineers for sleep apnea after the accident and told the NTSB that 34 had been screened through May.

Eight of the 34 had were positive for sleep apnea and were referred for more testing. One other engineer told the LIRR he was being treated for sleep apnea.

In both cases, the engineers had no memory of the crashes.

Sleep apnea, often undiagnosed, is characterized by shallow or interrupted breathing during sleep and can leave sufferers fatigued, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

The Obama administration had been considering requiring truck drivers and railroad engineers to be screened for sleep apnea, but the Trump administration scrapped the effort last month.

U.S. Senator Cory Booker, a Democrat from New Jersey, said in a statement, “These revelations underscore just how shortsighted and reckless the Trump Administration’s recent decision was to roll back common sense steps.”

Representative Bill Pascrell, also a New Jersey Democrat, called the government’s decision to not pursue screening for railroad engineers “shameful.”

The NTSB has called for stricter screening of drivers and engineers for sleep apnea.

In 2014, the NTSB said the driver of a train that derailed in New York City the previous year had an undiagnosed sleep disorder. Four passengers were killed in that accident.]]>
9/22/2017 9:29:30 AM
<![CDATA[Poverty in paradise: The dark side of Indonesia's new tourism hope]]>
Stretching across 67,000 square kilometres in Indonesia’s far east, the picture-perfect islands might be as close to paradise as visitors can find.

"It’s amazing. We’ve been to millions of islands and I would say it’s the most beautiful one," Canadian Angelika Redweik-Leung said at a lookout above the Pianemo island group.

Raja Ampat -- which means Four Kings -- is made up of 1,500 islands and is home to about 1,400 varieties of fish and 600 species of coral -- making it one of the most biodiverse marine habitats on earth.

Indonesia's government is intent on turning the area into a tourism hotspot, building hotels, restaurants and investing in new harbours.

But on a palm-fringed island about two hours boat ride from Raja Ampat's capital Waisai, villagers still live in simple huts that lack electricity and clean water, while the nearest high school is scores of miles away.

Locals told AFP they had seen no improvements to their lives despite the dramatic rise in visitors. According to government estimates around 15,000 tourists now come to the area each year -- up from less than 5,000 in 2010.

"They've hurt us indigenous people. They took our land, our water and our forest. We feel betrayed," Paul Mayor, chief of the island's Byak Betew tribe, said of the government's tourism drive.

"That's our land, our ocean, which now is a world-class tourist destination, but we've gained nothing from the influx of tourists," he added.

Mayor also criticised authorities for failing to properly protect the area's unique ecosystem, pointing to a catastrophic cruise ship crash in March, which damaged 13,500 square metres of pristine coral reef.

The 4,200-ton Caledonian Sky ran aground near the island of Kri carrying 102 passengers and 79 crew, but half a year later no one has been held accountable.

- 'We are still poor' -

Researchers from the University of Papua, who assessed the impact of the accident, said restoring the damaged reef could cost as much as $16.2 million.

The head of tourism for Raja Ampat, Yusdi Lamatenggo, said the company operating the boat -- Noble Caledonia -- will be summoned to appear in court soon but so far they have not accepted responsibility or paid any damages.

In the meantime, he told AFP, steps were being taken to prevent further accidents by establishing clearly demarcated cruise ship routes and world-class harbours.

But the accident has fuelled feelings of mistrust and exclusion often felt by Papua's indigenous Melanesian population. The resource-rich region was annexed by Jakarta in 1969 and most Papuans feel they have not been given an even share of its natural riches.

The military retains heavy influence in the region and regularly stifles dissent.

After taking office in 2014, president Joko Widodo pledged to speed up development in Papua, but many locals insist they have been forgotten.

"There has been no change," Ariel Fakdawer, head of Saukabu village in Raja Ampat told AFP.

"The yearly Raja Ampat festival, for example, attracts thousands of tourists but we gain nothing from that. We are still poor, but the organizers of such festivals, outsiders, they have made a fortune," he added.

Indigenous groups say they need communication satellites, electricity, better infrastructure, and the right to govern themselves by customary law.

"The government never fulfils our needs because they don't understand what we want," chief Mayor said.

"I believe the government has to approach us by bearing in mind our cultural needs. They have to talk to us indigenous people," he insisted.

But not everyone is against the rush to open up Raja Ampat to the world.

Villager Medzke Karoswaf explained: "This is a modern world. We cannot live isolated like in a cave forever. We have to be open-minded. Like it or not, we don’t live alone in this world."]]>
9/22/2017 9:26:53 AM
<![CDATA[Gebel Elba will soon turn green, Gabana coffee awaits visitors]]>
Discovering the Gebel Elba Protectorate, one gets overwhelmed with scenes of natural life, including sea creatures, rare birds and mangroves. The protectorate also serves as a stopover for birds migrating from Africa to Europe.

Gabana pot - Yadaweya Facebook page

Descending from Beja people who live along the Red Sea in southern Egypt, Sudan and Eritrea, the Basharia tribes inhabiting the area of Gebel Elba are part of what makes Gebel Elba unique.

The traditional “Gabana” coffee is a must-try in Gebel Elba. Gabana is made by roasting coffee beans over a wood fire, which Bedouins name “Rakia,” adding herbs including ginger and cardamom, then boiling it in a clay or metal pot, and adding sugar in the end.

Gebel Elba protectorate refers to a series of mountains found in the south east corner of Halayeb and Shalateen.

Gabana-making tools - Yadaweya Facebook page
9/22/2017 9:19:36 AM
<![CDATA[87 hours underwater and still going #Support_Saddam_Killany]]>
Saddam Killany and his team underwater - Longest dive in history Facebook page

Whether it is a dive to a deeper length or for a longer time, diving as a type of extreme sport is quite challenging and takes years of training and preparing both physically and mentally. It also requires the help of professionals to supervise the process and ensure the safety of the diver.

Saddam Killany is a 28-year-old Egyptian diving instructor attempting to achieve what no other human has: spending 154 hours (6 days and 10 hours) scuba diving to break the Guinness World Record’s longest open saltwater SCUBA dive. The current record is held by Turkish diver Cem Karabay, who broke the record in July 2016 by staying underwater for 142 hours and 42 minutes (5 days and 22 hours).

Saddam sleeping - Longest dive in history Facebook page

Killany is currently performing his trial dive but not on his own, as everything has been calculated and measured, assuring that the diver’s safety is the main priority. The dive’s official

Facebook page

reported that he is accompanied and observed by:

- a team of specialized underwater medics,
- a team of nutrition specialists, and
- a team of professional divers.

These teams help and assist the diver through supplying him with air cylinders, food and drinks. They also protect him from any harmful sea creature or injuries he might suffer during exercise.

There’s also a specialized team that make scientific observations about the diver’s physical state and the symptoms he experiences along time. These observations are of great importance in analyzing Killany’s body and how it adapts physiologically to an environment whose gravity and temperature are considerably different than those at surface.

The dive is being carried at a depth of 10 meters (33 feet), where Saddam performs a number of activities he has been training to do underwater for eight months now: eating, drinking, physical and mental exercising, and sleeping. These activities help stimulate the blood circulation and improve the physical and mental state of the diver without exerting too much effort that might lead to endangering his life and, therefore, ending the dive.

However, Killany is not the first Egyptian to attempt breaking a diving record, as he was preceded by divers Walaa Hafez and Ahmed Gaber. Hafez broke the world record for the longest open saltwater scuba dive in 2015 by staying underwater for 51 hours and 20 minutes at a depth of nearly 10 meters (33 feet). He performed the dive at Hurghada during the International Red Sea Festival for diving and swimming.

Before that, in 2014, diver Ahmed Gaber was the spark of inspiration behind all these Egyptian attempts. Gaber was the first Egyptian to break a world record in diving when he broke

the world record for deepest SCUBA dive in 2014 at more than 1,000 feet

in a dive off the coast of


in the

Red Sea

. Gaber is an officer of the Egyptian military’s special forces and has been a diving instructor for 17 years prior to his attempt. He devoted the last four years of that period specifically to train for the dive. Attempts to break Gaber’s record have failed, the last of which has unfortunately resulted in the


of the diver, Dr. Guy Garman.

It took Gaber 12 minutes to reach the depth of 332.35 m (1,090 ft 4.5 in) and 15 hours to re-surface safely, avoiding the various risks of pressure changes underwater, according to Guinness World Records it. During a magazine interview, Gaber


that he did the dive as an exploration for the abilities of his body but only after thoroughly testing himself and finding mental and physical harmony.

Killany is currently on his trial dive (120 hours long), which he started on Monday the 18th and is still going. On the 36th hour, he celebrated his birthday underwater with his team. On Thursday, he broke his own Middle East record of 76 hours underwater, and he is still going, followed by the support and love of his

friends, colleagues and divers worldwide.

Saddam Killany celebrating his birthday underwater – Longest dive in history Facebook page
9/22/2017 2:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Country of the month: 5 reasons to visit UAE this winter]]>
1- You will shop till you drop
The United Arab Emirates is the perfect destination for shopaholics. This country has the largest shopping mall in the world in terms of total area, The Dubai Mall, besides many other attractive malls in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Speaking of Dubai mall, it has 1,200 shops, the world’s largest aquarium, and views Dubai’s famous dancing fountain. It also has a room for book-shopping. Kinokuniya, the famous worldwide bookshop series has a huge 38,000 square feet wide store which encloses more than half a million books and about a thousand magazines in different languages.

1: Dubai Mall indoor by Shahroozporia. Courtesy: Creative Commons via Wikimedia

2 (1)
2: Dubai Fountain at Dubai Mall by dusk by: Donaldytong. Courtesy: Creative Commons via Wikimedia

3: Kinokuniya bookstore Dubai Mall. Source: Official Facebook page

2- Louvre Abu Dhabi & Dubai Opera
Planned to open on November 11, Louvre Abu Dhabi will display more than 600 artworks from around the world spanning from pre-history to the contemporary era. In addition to Middle Eastern artifacts and paintings, it will include works by artists such as Pablo Picasso, Paul Gauguin, and Cy Twombly. It will also exhibit works of Islamic and Christian arts as well as representations of Asian deities.

4: Louvre Abu Dhabi. Source: Official Facebook page

Dubai Opera
As for Dubai Opera, it is the city’s first purpose built multi-format performing arts theatre that was opened in August 2016. It has an acoustic concert hall and a 2,000 square meters flat floor event space, the configuration will allow for approximately 2,000 seats for a concert and up to 1,000 for a gala dinner.

Both are wonderful destinations for culture and entertainment experiences.

5: Dubai Opera. Source: Official Facebook page

3- Safari
One cannot visit the inherent desert country without experiencing one of the world’s best safari trips in Dubai or Abu Dhabi. You can go either in a 4x4 vehicle, bike, or a camel, during the day or the night.

6: Safari in a 4x4 vehicle. Source: Safari in UAE website

4- Underwater Yoga
If you are a Yoga lover, you have to seriously consider visiting this country. Every now and then, the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo organize yoga classes; an amazing experience you should never miss.

7: Underwater yoga. Source: Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo official Facebook page

8: Underwater yoga. Source: Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo official Facebook page

5- It is an important destination for photographers
If you are a professional or amateur photographer, the UAE will offer you a wide array of sights that are worth capturing. It has the top-rated Dubai airport, one of the world’s best skylines, beautiful mosques, parks, museums, art galleries, and vast deserts.

9: Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi by Junhan Foong. Source: Unsplash

10: Dubai. Source: Pixabay

When you book your ticket to the UAE, check flights of different airlines and to different emirates, regardless where your hotel might be.
The best time to visit this country is in the winter, during which the Dubai shopping festival usually takes place.
Non-extendable tourist short term single entry visa of 30 days from arrival date costs 330 AED. But if the visa is of multiple entries, it will cost 650 AED.

11: Dubai at night. Source: Unsplash

Five tips before going to the UAE
- One Arab Emirati Dirham is equivalent to around LE 4.8.
- The 2018 shopping festival will be held from December 26 to January 28.
- When you are in Dubai, use the metro as your main means of transportation instead of taxi, this will save you loads of money.
- The UAE is a very safe country where you can stay out till midnight without worrying at all.
- The Emirati police officers are very helpful. If you lose something, do not hesitate to seek their help.]]>
9/22/2017 12:30:00 AM
<![CDATA[Mexican F1 track undamaged by quake, race to go ahead]]>
Marketing head Rodrigo Sanchez told reporters that the Hermanos Rodriguez circuit in the southeast of the city was not damaged.

“It’s been inspected twice already from the track surface and also the buildings, and it’s OK,” said Sanchez, who was in Mexico City when the 7.1 magnitude quake struck on Tuesday afternoon.

“We’ll continue doing the assessments as we go but so far there’s really no concern (about the facilities). We’ll have a race.”

The grand prix, the 18th round of the 20 race season, is scheduled for Oct. 29 on the weekend before Mexico’s annual ‘Dia de Muertos’ (Day of the dead) holidays.

Some 135,000 spectators attended on race day last year, second only to British circuit Silverstone’s 139,000, with about 30 percent of them foreigners.

The race is backed by the government, which pays the hosting fees to Formula One and sees it as an important driver for tourism and Mexico’s image abroad.

Sanchez said the immediate focus was on helping relief efforts and mobilizing international support.

“We’re trying to put out there all the information relevant to how people can help. Right now the concern is really getting everything back to moving from the city perspective and supporting any way we can,” he said.

“If things stay the same, we’ll just keep working on what we’re doing. The track is fine so we just need to re-focus and get this show done.”

Mexico’s only current Formula One driver, Force India’s Sergio Perez, has said he is donating 3 million pesos ($168,000) towards the relief effort.

The Carlos Slim Foundation, set up by the telecoms billionaire whose companies have backed Perez throughout his racing career, will add five for every peso donated.

The quake has killed at least 102 people in Mexico City and 135 from five surrounding states. Fifty-two buildings collapsed in Mexico City alone, according to mayor Miguel Angel Mancera.

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) postponed on Wednesday the world para swimming and powerlifting championships that had been due to be held in Mexico City this month.]]>
9/21/2017 11:39:07 PM
<![CDATA[Pilgrims bring boom times for Iraqi gem traders]]>
Ghoraifi, sporting two weighty rings on the right hand and a third on the left on his latest visit, said they formed only a modest part of his collection.

The collection may have cost him a small fortune, but "the stones have enormous value, whatever the cost", said the 60-year-old pilgrim from Bahrain, wearing a white robe and Bedouin scarf.

Ghoraifi's passion for gemstone rings from Najaf, set with agate stones, rubies or turquoise, is shared by most of the pilgrims, primarily from Iran, who visit the city to pray at Imam Ali's shrine.

READ: Giant diamond discovered in Sierra Leone to be auctioned

Customers come from "Saudi Arabia, Iran, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Pakistan, Lebanon..." said shopkeeper Fayez Abu Ghoneim (45).

In a city where several family businesses are renowned for the size and cut of their gemstones, pilgrims amble into Abu Ghoneim's shop right after visiting the mausoleum of Prophet Mohamed's son-in-law.

"Many of them buy a ring or a rosary as a souvenir of their pilgrimage for family or friends back home," said Abu Ghoneim.

Competition from abroad

In Najaf's main market, strategically located facing the golden gate of the mausoleum, the Shiite religious calendar controls the life of gemstone traders like Abu Ghoneim.

Major religious ceremonies for which millions pour into Najaf are boom times, especially as prices shoot up with the increase in demand, sending the most prized rings into the thousands of dollars price bracket.

But not all pilgrims are ready to fork out large sums.

Issa Mussa, a trader in his 70s, said business had declined because the market was being flooded with cheap imports from Turkey, China, Thailand and Iran.

"Now I've turned into a ring salesman whereas I used to be a jeweller," said Mussa.

READ: Grace Mugabe splurges $1.3m on diamond ring

As for Ali Anwar, he is proud to carry on the artisanal tradition of Najaf, which comes at a price.

"Turkish or Thai jewellery is sold by the gramme, whereas a Najaf ring is sold individually, for between 40,000 and 50,000 dinars," or about $35 to $40 (R468-R535) not including the price of the stone, he said.

Some clients bring in their foreign-manufactured rings for the stones to be recut in Najaf's workshops.

Imported rings are sold by the armful, at a little over $10 apiece, during major religious holidays such as the Shiite holy month of Muharram or the annual commemoration of Arbaeen.

Customers and window shoppers pack the alleyways of the market, a maze of shops built in the yellow stone of the Karbala region and with the names printed in blue mosaic.

The market with its Islamic-inspired architecture plays host in the off-season mostly to Najaf's religious scholars and their students, both local and non-Iraqi, who are estimated to number 25,000.

Many of them wear one or several rings, most often on the right hand - a sign of being a Shiite Muslim imitating Imam Ali.

For health and good luck

For pilgrims, the purchase of a Najaf ring is seen by many as the final rite.

As Sheikh Jassem al-Mandalawi (42) explained to AFP, certain rocks bring "pardon, such as onyx from Yemen, while emerald is a portent of success".

A ring with a red agate stone or a sapphire can sell for 100,000 dinars or more, he said.

The "must-have" item is the Najaf quartz, a stone that looks like glass but is solid as rock, and which is found in the desert that encircles the city, explained Mohammed al-Shamarati (30), a trader in precious stones.

Fadel Abu Abdullah (50) said the stones he sells also have therapeutic powers.

"Yellow sapphire, for example, is good for the heart rate and can also treat jaundice in newborns," he said, while other stones can keep "bad fortune and evil spirits" at bay.

Shamarati said young single women bought his rings to help them find a husband.

For Abu Abbas, a 40-year-old from a remote area outside Najaf, a ring engraved with a verse from the Koran or one of the 99 names of Allah (God) can also protect the wearer.

"I often travel through desert areas and could be attacked with guns at any time," he said, as he scoured the shops for the right stone.]]>
9/21/2017 11:37:52 PM
<![CDATA[China raises bullet train speed six years after crash]]>
The speed limit had been reduced to 300 kilometres per hour after 40 people died in a high-speed train crash near Wenzhou in July 2011.

The acceleration cuts the 1,318-kilometre Beijing-Shanghai journey to four hours and 28 minutes, saving passengers nearly an hour.

Starting today, a total of 14 trains were running between Beijing and Shanghai at the higher speed daily, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

“These trains are so popular that the tickets for today already sold out a week ago,” Xinhua cited Huang Xin, an official with the China Railway Corporation, as saying.

The connection between the two metropolises is one of the country’s busiest, carrying more than 100 million passengers a year.

China’s high-speed rail network is the largest in the world, and seen by Beijing as a symbol of the country’s advance.

But the expansion — which has cost hundreds of billions of dollars — has seen a series of scandals and widespread allegations of corruption, with accusations that safety has been compromised for speed.

In 2013, former railway minister Liu Zhijun was given a suspended death sentence for taking 64.6 million yuan (RM44.5 million) in bribes. The sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment. ]]>
9/21/2017 11:36:35 PM
<![CDATA[Kenya Airways asks state to help it with growing competition]]>
The airline, part-owned by the state and Air France-KLM , is restructuring its finances to cut huge debts and reduce finance costs to help it return to profitability after years of losses.

The losses, caused by a slump in tourism due to frequent attacks in Kenya by militants from neighbouring Somalia, came at a time when the airline was taking on debt to buy new planes and as Gulf-based rivals ratcheted up competition.

“We started out these negotiations both with KAA (Kenya Airports Authority) and ourselves and the government to see how we can better protect us,” Kenya Airways Chairman Michael Joseph told reporters.

“We don’t want to close our airspace,” he added.

Some of the foreign competitors enjoy massive state support including subsidies, Joseph said, without providing names. ]]>
9/21/2017 11:35:30 PM
<![CDATA[Feature: Iceland reaps riches from warming oceans as fish swim north]]>
For the tiny North Atlantic nation of Iceland, however, mackerel are a harbinger of ocean warming.

Until about 2000, mackerel were a rare sight in Iceland, an island whose people have survived for centuries by fishing. But today they are one of the country’s most commercially important fish, both in terms of value and volume.

In 2016, mackerel was the third largest catch for Iceland and its third-most-valuable fish, bringing in $103 million or 8 percent of the nation’s total catch value.

“This mackerel story is maybe one of the most marked ones... demonstrating the changes taking place in the fish stock in the North Atlantic in recent years,” said Ólafur S. Ástþórsson, a scientist at Reykjavik’s Marine and Freshwater Research Institute (MFRI), which advises the Icelandic government on catch levels.

Rising ocean temperatures have altered fish stocks around Iceland, with southern species migrating northwards and northern species shifting even further north, he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Iceland has also seen 31 new species of fish in its waters since 1996, including blue sharks, flounder, megrims and black devil anglerfish, Ástþórsson said. Their numbers are not large, but “they are signs of changing times”, he added.


As climate change brings warmer temperatures in many parts of the world, a growing number of fish species are swimming into new waters, seeking out the temperatures they prefer and shifting fisheries along with them.

Some of the biggest changes have come in Arctic marine ecosystems, which scientists say are warming twice as fast as the global average and creating dramatic changes in fish stocks.

Countries in the far north, such as Iceland, are expected to reap the benefits of climate change, as valuable fish species turn up waters that were previously too cold.

But some experts warn that the picture isn’t clear cut. Warming waters could also bring new predators and diseases - and potentially new geopolitical tensions, they say.

The waters around Iceland have warmed between 1 to 2 degrees Celsius in the last 20 years, said Hreiðar Þór Valtýsson, a professor at the Faculty of Natural Resource Sciences at the University of Akureyri.

Valtýsson’s children can now catch mackerel - a fish usually associated with warmer climes - at the harbour in Akureyri, a town in northern Iceland just 60 km (37 miles) south of the Arctic Circle.

Studies suggest climate change could aid shipping and tourism in northern economies, as well as fishing, but Valtýsson remains unsure.

Cold water species such as northern shrimp and capelin, which are important for Icelandic fisheries, are declining, he said.

Climate change is also increasing the acidity of the world’s oceans as the water absorbs some of the carbon dioxide building up in the atmosphere. That could have serious effects on sea life, including making it harder for shellfish to build strong shells, he said.

New diseases are also appearing and although it is still unclear how much of a factor rising temperatures played, Iceland’s scallop stock has collapsed and there have been mass deaths of herring, Valtýsson said.

“The gains and losses seem to be balanced for now. But in the longer-term, I think it will be slightly positive,” he predicted.


Fishing was once the largest industry in Iceland, but its share of GDP has been declining as the country’s tourism and energy businesses boom. In 2007, Iceland was ranked 15th among world’s largest fishing nations. By 2014, the country had dropped to 19th.

Still, fisheries remain integral, said Ragnar Arnason, an economics professor at the University of Iceland.

Nearly a tenth of Iceland’s economy is directly related to fishing, and the figure rises to nearly 20 percent if associated industries are taken into account, Arnason said.

Iceland also has long international prestige in fishing, hosting the United Nations University’s fisheries program, which provides postgraduate-level training for professionals in less-developed countries.

That means any change to the country’s fishing industry could substantially affect its $16.7 billion economy, which has now recovered from the painful collapse of its financial industry in 2008.

Icelanders need not fear their favorite fish dishes will disappear from the dinner table soon, however. Most of Iceland’s catch is for export, and favorites can be kept at home, fishermen say.

But the changes do require the industry to be nimble - an ability it is already showing, Icelandic experts say.

Arnason said it took the Icelandic fishing industry just two to four years to fully adapt to the increased supply of mackerel in the country’s 200-mile exclusive economic zone.

But investing in new equipment, divesting the old, and developing new product lines and marketing mechanisms can be costly, he warned.

He believes Iceland’s fishery policy, rooted in individual, transferable quotas given to each fishing boat for each species, gives companies flexibility and makes it easier to earn profits, making adaptation “easier”, he said.

The quota system has been praised for being clear, open, well-policed and based on scientists’ assessments of stocks.

The University of Akureyri’s Valtýsson, however, says the country’s lack of fishing subsidies and Iceland’s natural weather fluctuations are what have most effectively kept the industry on its toes.

“If the fishing industry is diverse and both ecologically and economically sustainable, then it will be able to adapt” - and the government need not intervene, he said.


Iceland is hardly alone in seeing changes in its fish stocks.

A November 2016 report by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) analyzed 19 fish species in the North East Atlantic and found all but three showed changes in their distribution.

The report said the main driver for the changes was environmental conditions.

The waters along the west coast of Norway’s Svalbard islands and the Barents Sea also are seeing changes similar to those in Iceland, said Felix Christopher Mark of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Germany.

A report Mark co-wrote last year found Atlantic cod, a voracious predator, moving north into the habitat of polar cod, which are an important link in the region’s food chain.

“Any change in population size of one or both of these species may therefore have economic consequences together with unpredictable ecological interferences,” the report said.

Similar changes could occur with other fish, including herring, blue whiting and mackerel, which have similar diets.

“There is endless competition in the system,” said Ástþórsson, the MFRI scientist. “If a particular stock is gaining from changing environment then it is likely that someone else is losing.”

Such competition can occur between nations as well. Historical examples abound of nations fighting over fish, including the “cod wars” of the 1950s and 1970s - which led to a naval stand-off between Iceland and Britain - and the Pacific salmon dispute between the United States and Canada in the 1990s.

When Iceland attempted to cash in on a surge of mackerel in its waters in 2009, in the aftermath of its banking crisis, a fight over mackerel quotas broke out with traditional mackerel-fishing nations such as Ireland and Norway. After talks broke down, Iceland set unilateral quotas.

“Situations of this kind, where valuable fish stocks move between fishery jurisdictions ... are bound to cause problems around the globe,” Arnason said.]]>
9/21/2017 11:34:29 PM
<![CDATA[Fox, viper rescued in gov’t-civil society cooperation ]]>
Because of tight security at Sharm el-Sheikh Airport, the authorities requested that red foxes, which are common in Egypt, hyenas and hornet vipers be removed from the vicinity of the airport because they may cause technical difficulties during the landing of aircrafts, according to a Monday statement by Youth Love Egypt , an NGO specialized in documenting wildlife in national parks and raising environmental awareness.

“We did not take a long time to release the fox and the viper, especially that the fox looked terrified after being locked in a cage for a long time. Once the door was opened it ran away fast for a long distance. We still followed its movement until we were certain he ventured into his natural habitat,” said Mahmoud al-Shamy, head of the documentation department of the NGO.

A hornet viper released into Ras Mohamed National Park - Youth Love Egypt Foundation Facebook page

The animals are attracted to Sharm el-Sheikh Airport because of the foods available therein; the airport agreed with South Sinai Nature Reserves to release the captured animals into Ras Mohamed, Nabq, or St. Catherine protectorates with the help of the local Bedouins, according to Essam Saadallah, head of Ras Mohamed National Park.

A red fox ready to be released - Youth Love Egypt Foundation Facebook page

Volunteers at Youth who love Egypt visit national parks on monthly basis to clean the protected areas. ]]>
9/21/2017 10:53:47 PM
<![CDATA[Eco-heaven: This resort on Marlon Brando’s island runs on seawater & coconut oil]]>
Brando married co-star Tarita Teriipaia and the couple raised a family on Tetiaroa, now home to a luxury eco-resort that bears the reclusive actor’s name and regularly pampers A-list clientele such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Johnny Depp and Barack Obama.

Guests at The Brando help fund research projects by paying up to $10,000 a night to stay in the elegant thatched villas overlookingAs Pippa Middleton soaks up the rays on honeymoon or Obama seeks inspiration to write his memoirs, scientists quietly go about their work testing ocean acidification to study the effects on coral bleaching.

Behind the butler service and Michelin-star cuisine, the resort has built on Brando’s own vision for a sustainable environment, to become one of the most eco-friendly hotels in the world, running on solar power and coconut oil.

Luxury eco-tourism is a growing sector of the travel industry with big name hotel brands such as Alila and Aman investing heavily in ensuring their green credentials.

Boutique resorts that pride themselves on sustainability and giving back to the local community, such as Song Saa private island in Cambodia, Nihiwatu in Indonesia, and the Soneva hotels in Thailand and the Maldives, are also increasingly in demand.

But Tetiaroa, where legend has it that British sailors who seized control of the Bounty in 1789 found vestiges of a pagan sex cult, has the added bonus of old Hollywood glamour.

Brando’s granddaughter Tumi grew up on the island, fishing for snapper and grouper in the lagoon, home to juvenile lemon and black tip sharks which glide lazily among the corals as guests snorkel.

The 29-year-old works as the chief communications officer for the non-profit Tetiaroa Society, a scientific organisation devoted to marine wildlife founded by the Brando estate, which owns the atoll.

Coconut power

“Our aim is to raise awareness,” she told AFP as marine biologists studied shark populations inside the three-mile (4.8 kilometre) wide lagoon, which contains at least 167 species of fish, including parrotfish and spotted eagle rays. a turquoise lagoon.

“First among local people, because we want to protect our environment. Maybe America or China -- they come to my mind first because they’re the biggest polluters -- can emulate us.”

Opened in 2014, the hotel’s electricity comes from more than 2,000 solar panels which line the island’s tiny runway and generators fuelled by coconut oil. Its air-conditioning is powered by deep seawater -- another of Marlon Brando’s great ideas.

Mosquitoes are dying out at the resort where researchers have found a way to sterilise an invasive species capable of carrying dengue and Zika virus.

Brando previously ran a modest eco-lodge after buying Tetiaroa where celebrity buddy Robert De Niro, a guest in the late 1980s, once amused himself by waiting on tables.

Brando died in 2004, but Tetiaroa, located some 2,700 miles south of Hawaii, has been preserved in line with his ecological vision -- resort staff even keep a pet cat called Marlon in homage.

“He was passionate,” said Tumi. “He was dragged here by Hollywood, then grandma made him come back.”

Following Brando’s blueprint, naturalists at the island’s research centre monitor its countless tropical birds and turtle sanctuary, ready to rescue clumsy hatchlings before they can become a meal for predators.]]>
9/21/2017 8:20:06 PM
<![CDATA[Lions rugby tour boosts New Zealand economy]]>
Statistics New Zealand said the quarterly figure, which was in line with market expectations and released just days ahead of national elections on Saturday, took annual growth to 2.7 percent.

It said exports rose 5.2 percent, the best quarterly performance in almost 20 years, amid high demand for New Zealand dairy and forestry products.

Dairy export volumes surged 19 percent as the sector continued to rebound after a long downturn.

Statistics NZ said retail trade and accommodation rose 2.8 percent as the Lions tour lifted tourist numbers during what is normally a quiet period of the year.

"A boost in international visitor numbers this quarter, especially from the United Kingdom, led to increased international guest nights, which benefitted the industry," it said.

Capital Economics analyst Paul Dales said the growth figures were "decent" and may give an election lift to Prime Minister Bill English, who has campaigned on his economic credibility.

Dales said the only major concern in the figures was a 1.1 percent fall in construction activity, the sector's second consecutive quarterly drop.

"We doubt that construction will be a persistent drag on GDP growth over the next year or so, but it is clear that it's not going to add as much to growth as in recent years," he said.

Dales said the figures would not prompt the central ban to lift interest rates from record lows of 1.75 percent next week, predicting they will remain on hold until late 2019.]]>
9/21/2017 8:17:46 PM
<![CDATA[Today in Pictures, Sept 21, 2017]]>
Fishermen pull up a live 2.5 metre crocodile in their net in the Western Amazon region, Brazil on September 20, 2017. The fishermen were fishing for a large river fish called Arapaima but sometimes crocodiles become stuck in the nets as well. PHOTO: AFP

Jet fighters releases flares during the Zapad 2017 war games at a range near the town of Borisov, Belarus September 20, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

An Indian woman wades through water logged area during rain in Mumbai, India, September 20, 2017. Media reports state schools were closed for a day, vehicular movements affected, trains were delayed, and more than 50 flights have been diverted due to heavy rains in the city. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

A handout photo released on September 20, 2017 shows damaged homes from Hurricane Maria on the island of Dominica, September 19, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS/CARIBBEAN DISASTER EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY/HANDOUT

A handout photograph made available by Secretary of Navy of Mexico shows rescue team members working in the search and rescue of people trapped under the debris of a school that collapsed during the 7.1 earthquake that affected the country on 19 September, in Mexico City, Mexico, September 20, 2017. PHOTO: EPA-EFE/SEMAR / HANDOUT

Israeli army soldiers arrest a Palestinian (C) following scuffling during raids in the West Bank city of Hebron, September 20, 2017. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish pilgrims celebrate Rosh Hashanah holiday, the Jewish New Year, near the tomb of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov in the town of Uman, Ukraine September 20, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

Syrians check the damage in a mosque following a reported air strike on the village of Jarjanaz, in the Maaret al-Numan district of Syria's Idlib province, on September 20, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

A QR code design created using different varieties of rice is seen in a paddy during the harvest season in Shenyang in China's northeast Liaoning province on September 20, 2017. The design aims to promote tourism in the area and boosts the income of local farmers. PHOTO: AFP

A visitor experiences Snoosphere, an interactive multi-sensory installation that encourages people to feel their way through a host of objects and surfaces, during the media launch of the Big Anxiety Festival in Sydney on September 20, 2017. Elena Knox from Lull Studios is the creator behind Snoosphere. PHOTO: AFP

A hedgehog curls up in a garden outside Moscow on September 20, 2017. PHOTO: AFP
9/21/2017 8:16:07 PM
<![CDATA[The Independent's guide to Cairo, a city that has it all]]>
Egypt’s National Committee for the Protection and Renovation of Cairo’s Heritage has revived Cairo again in a celebration of the 150th anniversary of modeling modern Cairo.

They shaped and formed the buildings like samples of the French capital Paris in the era of former ruler Ismail Khedive by reforming its heritage and historical buildings to its former style, according to the Independent.

The entire core of Cairo is glowing more when you walk across the Kasr Al Nile Bridge towards Tahrir Square, the historic square that is totally covered with Egyptian flags flapping in its center. Those are the same flags that take your mind back to the mass protest of Egypt’s 2011 Revolution.

Photo of Kasr el Nile – Reuters

photo of Tahrir square – Reuters

The history will be more expressive after visiting the Cairo Citadel that illustrates the dramatic medieval Islamic era. There is also the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square that will be resettled near the Giza Pyramids in the near future.

Photo of Cairo Citadel – Reuters

photo of Mohamed Ali Mosque - Reuters

The impressive music and variety of arts will fill your soul with one visit to Cairo Opera House, which is considered to be the performing arts platform from Cairo to all over the world. It embraces all types of concerts, including singing, dancing and even seminars.

Photo of Cairo Opera House

Finally, the real entire core of Cairo has not been discovered yet, but soon it will be the highest ranking touristic city worldwide.
9/21/2017 9:40:13 AM
<![CDATA[Egypt witnesses huge increase in numbers of Swiss tourists]]>
The report stands as a solid proof of the successful efforts exerted by the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism in cooperation with the rest of the government's ministries and departments in encouraging tourism to the country through cheap flights to the country and marketing campaigns.

The report added that the flight booking rates to Egypt through the Swiss company Hotelplan, which is one of the biggest travel agencies in Switzerland, has increased by 26 percent in comparison to last year. Moreover, it is expected that booking rates will increase during the fall season because of Egypt's moderate climate that time of the year. The spokesman of Hotelplan pointed out that the decrease in terrorist acts in Egypt reassured tourists that the security situation is better.

That is in addition to the flight booking rates through the travel agency TUI Suisse, which has increased by 60 percent compared to the same time last year. This motivated the company to increase the number of flights from Zurich to Hurghada by the beginning of October. The travel agency Kuoni as well has decided to increase the number of flights to Hurghada and Marsa Alam during the fall because of the increase of the flight booking rates to Egypt in the upcoming period.
9/21/2017 9:29:21 AM
<![CDATA[Love skiing? Visit the world’s largest indoor ski park in China]]>
It was a hot summer afternoon in Harbin and tourists strolled cobblestone streets with the Chinese city’s famous milk popsicles in hand. But indoors, it was perfect weather for skiing. At the city’s new Ice and Snow Park, chilly winds blew snowflakes around skiers zipping down the man-made slopes of the world’s largest indoor ski park, a potent symbol of China’s ambitions to turn itself into a winter sports powerhouse ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

Kept at a chilly -5 degrees Celsius (41 Fahrenheit) by fans and an underground cooling system, the sprawling 80,000-square metre (861,000 square feet) facility boasts six runs, the longest stretching 500 metres (0.31 miles). “Skiing here is just like skiing in a big refrigerator,” ten-year-old Kane Li grinned beneath his neon goggles, who has his hopes pinned on competing at the games.

A student at a private ski academy in the capital, Kane and his fellow young Olympic aspirants used to spend their summers training in New Zealand, but the opening of Dalian Wanda Group’s indoor ski park this summer means they can now stay closer to home. “China’s skiing is still not so great (compared to other countries),” Kane said, adding: “We must train hard every day. Train more.”

Not long ago, skiing was considered a luxury activity in China, inaccessible to the average person. The country is currently home to roughly six million skiers, but President Xi Jinping hopes that number will rise to 300 million in the coming years.

China has had great success at the Summer Olympics, but its few Winter Olympic victories have been centred on speed skating. The country has won just six skiing medals — all in freestyle — including one gold. There are currently about 200 ski resorts in China. Chinese officials are aiming to increase that number five-fold by 2030.

“We didn’t have anywhere to ski when I was growing up,” said Yi Li, the general manager of Wanda’s indoor park. The Beijing native first tried the sport 11 years ago while working at a ski resort in northern Hebei province’s Zhangjiakou, which will host the Olympic alpine skiing events.

He picked up the sport quickly, becoming an instructor and even training in Switzerland. Now he says China is ready to make skiing a national pastime. “Skiing is hip,” Yi said. “From the apparel to the equipment, there’s a lot of freedom.”

He recalled that when he first discovered the sport, most Chinese people were unwilling to try it because the gear was expensive, and they needed a car to reach the mountains. But after the country’s economic reforms, people had more disposable income and more time to take vacations, he said. They bought cars and stopped viewing skiing as “dangerous.”

‘Heroin sport’

There were about 40 people on Ice and Snow Park’s slopes on a recent Tuesday. Some carved through the firm and “sticky” snow with ease, while others struggled to get their skis on. An agile snowboarder helped a stumbling skier to the bottom. The slopes are equipped with a chairlift, a sledding area and a bunny hill, not to mention a ski lodge bedecked with faux wood.

For average visitors, the cost to ski for an entire day, including all rental equipment, is 488 yuan ($74). The most popular package is a three-hour visit at 300 yuan ($45). The average disposable income in China was 23,821 yuan ($3,619) last year.

According to Yi, 13 professional teams from across the country have also been coming to train in the mornings since the slopes opened. And then there are groups like Kane’s, which trains with the Beijing-based International Ski Academy and hopes to make it to the Olympics. The prepubescent athletes planned to spend nearly a month in Harbin, skiing four hours a day at the indoor park.

“At the moment, the government is supportive of skiing,” said Zhao Quan, the principal of the ski academy. “They’re vigorously promoting the development of the sport in primary and secondary schools around the country. Also, for a child, skiing is a ‘heroin sport’ — it’s very addictive.”]]>
9/20/2017 2:22:33 PM
<![CDATA[Nine stray elephants electrocuted in Botswana]]>
Village chief Kelethusitse Mosweu said one of the elephants brought down the electricity pole, which resulted in the transmission cables falling on the entire herd.

“Officials from the wildlife (department) came to my office late on Monday to notify me about the incident,” said Mosweu, who did not specify when the incident occurred.

The ministry of Wildlife, Environment and Tourism confirmed the accident and said it has launched an investigation.

Botswana has the largest elephant population in Africa at over 135,000, according to a 2015 count.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has said the number of African elephants has fallen by around 111,000 to 415,000 in the past decade, the worst drop in 25 years.

And the killing continues at a dizzying pace of about 30,000 elephants a year.]]>
9/20/2017 2:15:52 PM
<![CDATA[Etihad Airways’ new payment method ]]>
Installments can be paid over the course of 3 months or up to 60 months. According to Popsugar Middle East, seventeen big banks have signed up to be part of this new offer by Etihad Airways.

Etihad Airways Vice President of Digital Strategy told Popsugar, “This is perhaps an example of the most intuitive use of technology we can provide as an airline. At a broader sense we're building technology and innovation into all areas of our business as an enabler for better product and service delivery, business efficiencies and customer service.”

9/20/2017 1:51:45 PM
<![CDATA[Uganda: Green, lush, tropical Africa!]]>
It was not easy to leave behind such a beautiful place but when there is a good reason, then it is not that hard… The good reason was an amazing off-road route through the incredibly lush Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and the Queen Elizabeth National Park. The first one is famous for its primates. I love the white-and-black colobus monkeys when they jump from tree to tree and their hair waves with the wind!

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is famous for its primates. Courtesy: madnomad.gr

I had the chance to cross the Queen Elizabeth National Park through the transit dirt road, which is the only one where motorbikes are allowed. I had another one great safari on my own two wheels! I saw plenty of buffaloes, many Uganda kobs, beautiful topis and the usual baboons. I met also a few elephants. I saw some locals running on the dirt road and waving at me trying to say something. Well, a few meters later, I got their point… An elephant was just next to the road! Happily, it was not trying to cross it, so I passed peacefully next to that huge mammal being astonished by the little distance between me and it!

Riding my motorcycle just a few meters away from an elephant! Courtesy: madnomad.gr

It was around there where I crossed the equator for a second time. The first time was in Congo, one year and three months ago. If you would ask me at that time, I would have no clue about what was waiting for me in the southern hemisphere. But it is those unexpected things that make our life beautiful. I love surprises and I had plenty of nice ones in the south.

Crossing the equator for a second time, after one year and three months in the southern hemisphere! Courtesy: madnomad.gr

On my way to Fort Portal, I enjoyed a nice off-road route between some tiny crater lakes. The landscape was really mountainous and green, a scenery that made me stopping often to admire it! Another great off-road route near Fort Portal took me to the foothills of the grand Rwenzori Mountains. The Mountains of the Moon, as the Alexandrian Greek geographer Ptolemy named them, make the tallest mountain range in Africa. It is highest snow-capped peak rises at 5,109 m (16,762 ft).

The road took me through Kampala, the crowded and chaotic capital. I had to be really careful there to avoid all those cars and motorbikes that seemed like they were trying to run into me! Neighboring Jinja is much more peaceful. That’s where one of Nile River’s sources is located. I visited the exact spot where the water comes out, at the edge of Lake Victoria.

From the foothills of Rwenzori Mountains, the tallest mountain range in Africa, you can see the endless Congo Basin. Courtesy: madnomad.gr

This stretch of Victoria Nile River is one of the most amazing spots for white-water rafting! So, I did not miss the chance… After some briefing, we hit the water on our rafts. We are talking about some serious rafting here… The rapids are grade IV and V! We were going down some steep rapids only to see huge waves ready to swallow us! Our raft was overturned twice. I fell in the water and in that mess I had no idea where I am. I did not know where the surface was! Where should I go to take a breath? Well, I just had to trust nature’s laws and let the water uplift me. Then I had to look around me to see if I was still floating on a dangerous rapid or if I was on safe waters. Nevertheless, the beauty of the scenery and the excitement of white-water rafting are always worth the effort!

The exact spot where the Victoria Nile River starts its far way to the Mediterranean Sea. Courtesy: madnomad.gr

Back on solid land, I took some small dirt roads to get to Nyero. That’s where I visited some interesting ancient rock art made by the Twa tribe, who are hunter-gatherers of Pygmy origin. The locals consider this place sacred and smoke from sacrifices in the caves is still visible.

This stretch of Victoria Nile River is one of the most amazing spots for white-water rafting. Courtesy: madnomad.gr

My last stop in Uganda was at Sipi Falls. That’s a series of three large waterfalls in a mountainous location in Eastern Uganda. After some short hiking, I visited all of them and they were all gorgeous! On top of that, I found a wonderful campsite and I pitched my tent opposite of the largest waterfall. That was quite a view!

The ancient rock art in Nyero was made by the Twa tribe, who are hunter-gatherers of Pygmy origin. Courtesy: madnomad.gr

It was time to enter Kenya and of course, I would not go there through paved roads… I chose some beautiful dirt backroads around Mt Elgon National Park. After passing through nice forests and tiny mountainous villages, I got to the border. Uganda, for sure, is not big but it packs a lot! Especially the western part of it is one of the areas I will always remember.

Sipi Falls is a series of three large waterfalls and they are all gorgeous! Courtesy: madnomad.gr

This article was originally published in Mad Nomad blog
9/20/2017 10:51:31 AM
<![CDATA['Potentially catastrophic' Maria eyes Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico]]>
Winds packing 160 miles (255 kilometers) an hour were already lashing the US islands as Maria barreled westwards, forecast to make landfall before heading to Puerto Rico.

"Preparations against life-threatening storm surge and rainfall, flooding and destructive winds should be rushed to completion," the NHC said, warning the eye of the Category Five hurricane was approaching St Croix, one of the US Virgin Islands.

"Very violent and intense right now as we have just begun to experience hurricane force winds," said 31-year-old Coral Megahy late Tuesday, as she hunkered down on St Croix. "We can hear debris banging on the aluminum windows as well right now."

On St John Island, locals reported seeing trees swirling in the wind, with rain coming "sideways" as Maria continued on its path of destruction after battering the island of Dominica and other territories in the eastern Caribbean.

Arriving just as islanders are struggling to recover from devastating Hurricane Irma, which struck earlier this month, Maria claimed two victims in the French territory of Guadeloupe, where two other people were missing.

One person was killed by a falling tree as powerful winds whipped the archipelago, authorities said, while another died on the seafront. Two more disappeared when their boat went missing in the storm.

Judi Buckley, former senator for St Croix Island, traveled to St John from her South Carolina home to help with the Irma relief effort -- only to get caught up in Maria.

"We have become the Irma relief hub and our brothers and sisters across the pond can't afford for us to be crippled," she said, referring to those on St Croix.

On neighboring Dominica, premier Roosevelt Skerrit posted on Facebook that there were initial reports of "widespread devastation," with official communications to the island completely cut off in the wake of the storm.

The airport and ports have been closed on the tropical island of 72,000 people.

St Martin, a French-Dutch island that was among the worst hit by Irma with 14 dead, was under a maximum "violet" alert, with people ordered to stay indoors.

A similar measure was in place in the British Virgin Islands.

"Our islands are extremely vulnerable right now," the territory's premier Orlando Smith said in a statement, warning that the storm could turn debris left by Irma into dangerous projectiles.

On Puerto Rico, Governor Ricardo Rossello described Maria as "the worst storm of the last century."

Schoolteacher Noemi Aviles Rivera, 47, who experienced Hurricane Hugo in 1989 and Georges in 1998, said: "I'm not denying I'm scared. I feel worried because it's the first time I'll see a hurricane of this magnitude."

- 'Everything is shaking' -

Guadeloupe was serving as a base for aid flights to Irma-hit French territories after the hurricane, and there were fears that major damage there could hamper the relief operation. Authorities announced a driving ban, with several areas around the largest city Pointe-a-Pitre flooded and fallen trees blocking many roads.

Some 40 percent of households in the territory of 400,000 were without power.

"Everything around me is shaking," former French minister Victorin Lurel told BFMTV from his home in the south of the island.

The Dominican Republic, whose east coast was battered by Irma, ordered citizens in part of the north to evacuate ahead of Maria's arrival.

St Kitts and Nevis, the British island of Montserrat, and the Puerto Rican islands of Culebra and Vieques were also on alert.

- Preparing for the worst -

Britain, France and the Netherlands boosted resources for the Caribbean ahead of the storm, after facing accusations that they were ill-prepared for the damage done by Irma in their overseas territories.

"We are planning for the unexpected, we are planning for the worst," said Chris Austin, head of a UK military task force set up to deal with the aftermath of Irma.

France said 110 more soldiers would be deployed to the region after widespread complaints of looting and lawlessness on St Martin after last week's storm.

Building supplies were hurriedly flown in to help islanders repair roofs torn off by Irma as Maria approached.

- Hurricane series -

Irma left around 40 people dead altogether in the Caribbean before churning west and pounding Florida, where the toll of deaths linked to the hurricane rose to 58 on Tuesday.

The hurricane broke records when it whipped up winds of 295 kilometers per hour for more than 33 hours straight.

French President Emmanuel Macron said the lethal sequence of hurricanes was "one of the direct consequences of global warming."

Macron hosted US President Donald Trump in Paris in July when he sought to persuade the US leader to reconsider his decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord.

Many scientists are convinced that megastorms such as Irma are intensified by the greater energy they can draw from oceans that are warming as a result of climate change.]]>
9/20/2017 10:34:18 AM
<![CDATA[The godfather of eco-bling: Brando's Tahitian paradise]]>
The tiny, palm-fringed atoll of Tetiaroa was once a favourite holiday spot for Tahitian royalty before the late American movie star fell in love with it while filming "Mutiny on the Bounty" in 1961 on islands close by.

Brando married co-star Tarita Teriipaia and the couple raised a family on Tetiaroa, now home to a luxury eco-resort that bears the reclusive actor's name and regularly pampers A-list clientele such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Johnny Depp and Barack Obama.

Guests at "The Brando" help fund research projects by paying up to $10,000 a night to stay in the elegant thatched villas overlooking a turquoise lagoon.

As Pippa Middleton soaks up the rays on honeymoon or Obama seeks inspiration to write his memoirs, scientists quietly go about their work testing ocean acidification to study the effects on coral bleaching.

Behind the butler service and Michelin-star cuisine, the resort has built on Brando's own vision for a sustainable environment, to become one of the most eco-friendly hotels in the world, running on solar power and coconut oil.

Luxury eco-tourism is a growing sector of the travel industry with big name hotel brands such as Alila and Aman investing heavily in ensuring their green credentials.

Boutique resorts that pride themselves on sustainability and giving back to the local community, such as Song Saa private island in Cambodia, Nihiwatu in Indonesia, and the Soneva hotels in Thailand and the Maldives, are also increasingly in demand.

But Tetiaroa, where legend has it British sailors who seized control of the Bounty in 1789 found vestiges of a pagan sex cult, has the added bonus of old Hollywood glamour.

Brando's granddaughter Tumi grew up on the island, fishing for snapper and grouper in the lagoon, home to juvenile lemon and black tip sharks which glide lazily among the corals as guests snorkel.

The 29-year-old works as the chief communications officer for the non-profit Tetiaroa Society, a scientific organisation devoted to marine wildlife founded by the Brando estate, which owns the atoll.

- Coconut power -

"Our aim is to raise awareness," she told AFP as marine biologists studied shark populations inside the three-mile (4.8 kilometre) wide lagoon, which contains at least 167 species of fish, including parrotfish and spotted eagle rays.

"First among local people, because we want to protect our environment. Maybe America or China -- they come to my mind first because they're the biggest polluters -- can emulate us."

Opened in 2014, the hotel's electricity comes from more than 2,000 solar panels which line the island's tiny runway and generators fuelled by coconut oil. Its air-conditioning is powered by deep seawater -- a brainwave of Marlon Brando's.

Mosquitoes are dying out at the resort where researchers have found a way to sterilise an invasive species capable of carrying dengue and Zika virus.

Brando previously ran a modest eco-lodge after buying Tetiaroa where celebrity buddy Robert De Niro, a guest in the late 1980s, once amused himself by waiting on tables.

Brando died in 2004, but Tetiaroa, located some 2,700 miles south of Hawaii, has been preserved in line with his ecological vision -- resort staff even keep a pet cat called Marlon in homage.

"He was passionate," said Tumi. "He was dragged here by Hollywood, then grandma made him come back."

Following Brando's blueprint, naturalists at the island's research centre monitor its countless tropical birds and turtle sanctuary, ready to rescue clumsy hatchlings before they can become a meal for predators.

- 'Canary in the coal mine' -

Luxury eco-resorts offer high-rollers a chance to offset any guilt they might feel over their carbon-heavy lifestyles.

"You need to look at the full picture of sustainability," said Rochelle Turner, research director at the World Travel and Tourism Council.

"Often these upscale resorts lead the way. They have a much higher profit margin so they're able to do things that make their destinations more protected."

"But they pass on knowledge to the mass market too," she added. "Even backpackers are learning from what is happening at the high end."

Tetiaroa is ideal for ecological research, according to Frank Murphy, executive director of the Tetiaroa Society, to which DiCaprio and Depp donate.

"We're perched here on one the most vulnerable spots on earth. It's kind of the canary in the coal mine for climate change so we better be doing our damnedest to figure out what's going on," he said.

"The El Nino years we've had over the past 20 years gives us a glimpse into what will happen with global warming."]]>
9/20/2017 10:29:49 AM
<![CDATA[Senator urges U.S. airlines to cap fares for people fleeing Maria]]>
“I urge you to begin the process now for implementing capped airfare,” Nelson said in his letter, noting that Maria is already a major hurricane. “Individuals and families should not be forced to delay or cancel their evacuation efforts because of confusion over the cost of airfare.”]]>
9/20/2017 10:26:15 AM
<![CDATA[Threatened Amazon reserve already being mined: Greenpeace]]>
The environmental activist group said its investigators had flown over part of the Denmark-sized reserve known as Renca in the eastern Amazon and found at least 14 illegal mines and eight clandestine landing strips used by miners.

Greenpeace said this showed the risks faced by Renca even without President Michel Temer's proposal for ending a ban on large-scale foreign mining in the mineral-rich region.

"We flew over a small part of Renca and found all these places in just one conservation unit. How many more might exist across the region?" asked Marcio Astrin from Greenpeace in a statement.

"If the Brazilian government can't control the illegal activity now, when this area is under protection, what will happen to Renca with commercial exploration?"

Temer's decree signed on August 25 on opening up Renca was suspended days later after an international outcry. The government says it will allow 120 days of debate before taking a decision.

Temer argues that lifting restrictions will allow Brazil to boost its struggling economy and also push the hugely destructive wildcat mining operations out of business.

At the United Nations on Tuesday, Temer told the General Assembly that Brazil plays a leading role in environmental protection.

"Brazil is proud to have the largest coverage of tropical forests on the planet. Deforestation is an issue that concerns us, especially in the Amazon. To this issue we have dedicated attention and resources," he said.]]>
9/20/2017 10:22:36 AM
<![CDATA[8 essential packing tips for every traveler]]>
Here is a list of essential tips to help any traveler pack wisely:

Courtesy: Unsplash

1- Plan your clothing

Whether you are traveling for vacation, business, or as a honeymooner, it is important to plan what clothes you will need throughout your trip.

2- Pack dual-purpose outfits

If you have two-in-one pieces, they are crucial. If it is a double-face coat or belt, pants that turn into shorts, they deserve to be a priority in your packing list.

Courtesy: Unsplash

3- Do not forget to take your first Aid Kit

Either you buy a readymade first-aid kit, or prepare it by packing pain killers, cold medicines, allergy medicine, cough drops, and bandages.

4- Photocopies

Take a photocopy of your passport in a different bag from the actual passport.
Also, rather than bringing heavy guide-books, photocopy the important pages that you will use during your journey. Or download apps instead that serve the same function.

Courtesy: Unsplash

5- A power bank and extra camera battery

You will most probably have long tours and outings away from the hotel. So a power bank and an extra camera battery are essential.

6- What to put in your carry-on?

If you put a large bottle of shampoo or a body spray in your carry-on, they will most probably be confiscated. All liquids brought onto planes must be in bottles of maximum 100 milliliters. But you can take with you your medicine, glasses, a book, or a swimsuit.

Courtesy: Unsplash

7- Rolling instead of folding

Travel experts advise to roll clothing while packing as opposed to folding. This is because rolled clothes occupy less space and decrease the probability of causing wrinkles.

8- Weigh your luggage

At the end, make sure that you are not taking overweight luggage to avoid fines at the airport. ]]>
9/20/2017 9:51:24 AM
<![CDATA[Pics: Stop at El-Tor on the way to Sharm ]]>

There are four hotels located in the heart of this natural beauty at the sea. There are also many cafes and restaurants with a sea view and breeze, according to Best Places Egypt Facebook page.


The hotels and restaurants of the tiny village overlook Mount Sinai, better known as Mount Moussa, Mount Moses and Moses Spring. You can take a refreshing dip and also benefit from the sulfuric water that flows from a nearby mountain.


The prices are incredibly affordable; it costs only LE 100 ($5.6) a night in most hotels.

Furthermore, you can hike Mount Moses for sport or spiritual purposes. It has an easy trail, except perhaps for the 1,000 steps leading to the summit. At its foothill, there is the beautiful St. Catherine Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


7-The_Red_sea_Vierw_from_El-Tor_Village ]]>
9/19/2017 9:17:59 PM
<![CDATA[Six affordable ice skating spots in Cairo, Sharm El-Sheikh]]>
Below is a list of six ice skating locations in Cairo and Sharm El-Sheikh, as compiled by Best Place Egypt’s Facebook page:

1 - Skate Max

Located in Cityscape Mall, 6 October City, a 15-minute session on the ice costs LE 30 ($1.67). For LE 40 you are granted 30 minutes on skates, while for LE 60 you could skate away for an hour.

2 - Genena Mall Ice Skating


If 6 October is far from where you live, you can head to Genena Mall in Nasr City. Half an hour on the ice costs LE 15, and for LE 30 you get 40 minutes.

3 – Fun Kingdom


Sun City Mall on the Autostrad highway of the Sheraton district hosts Fun Kingdom, which gives you 20 minutes of skating for LE 60.

4 – Family Land


Maadi has long provided ice skating for its residents at Family Land, located behind Othman Buildings, and half an hour costs LE 40.

5 - Ice Skating Soho Square


Even in Sharm El-Sheikh, with all the beaches, sunny weather, and water sports, you can ice skate in Ice Skating Soho Square for 20 minutes for LE 50.
6- Sky Egypt - Mall of Egypt


Mall of Egypt is at 6th of October City in front of Media Production City. The Go Ticket costs LE 300 ($17), or alternatively the North Pole experience pass costs LE 480 ($20)

Skating veterans can enjoy two hours of skating for LE 200, and accompanying children pay LE 150. For those wanting to learn how to ice skate Sky Egypt provides skating lessons for LE 925.

As the temperature inside sky Egypt is below Zero degrees Celsius, you aren’t allowed to enter with your ordinary clothes and must wear a special outfit suitable for the weather inside.
If you do not have your own equipment you may purchase gloves for LE 70. Alternatively a jacket and pair of gloves costs LE 330.

Sky Egypt has strict rules visitors must adhere by and children under the age of three are not allowed to use the facilities.]]>
9/19/2017 8:16:36 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt's tourism authority takes part in Moscow's tourism fair]]>
Ahead of leaving Cairo for Russia, the authority chairman Hisham el Demeiry said the three-day event is the largest tourism fair in Russia, adding that he is keen to meet with several tour operators there.

The official noted that he would brief the tour operators on the tourism authority's plan as regards the Russian tourism market if the European country resumes its flights to Egypt.

Demeiry further indicated that he would hold several press meetings on the sidelines of the fair in order to emphasize that Egypt, as a tourist destination, is safe]]>
9/19/2017 7:36:34 PM
<![CDATA[Rivals add Caribbean capacity to fill Air Berlin gaps]]>
Air Berlin filed for bankruptcy protection in August after major shareholder Etihad pulled the plug on funding. It has been forced to scrap long-haul flights from its two bases of Duesseldorf and Berlin after a leasing company asked for its planes to be returned.

Condor, part of Britain’s Thomas Cook Group (TCG.L), said it was starting flights to destinations in the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Jamaica and Barbados from Duesseldorf from Nov. 1. Condor said it was leasing an A330 plane with crew in order to be able to offer the routes.

The cancellation of the Air Berlin routes has left tour operators seeking an airline to take customers on package holidays that have already been booked.

“We did all we could to find a solution as quickly as possible to keep holiday traffic in the air,” Condor CEO Ralf Teckentrup said in a statement.

Lufthansa’s budget unit Eurowings said it would start flights to the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Mexico from Nov. 8, making Duesseldorf only the second airport from which it offers long-haul flights.

Eurowings, already the market leader at Duesseldorf with its short-haul routes, currently flies long-haul from Cologne and plans to start intercontinental tourist routes from Munich next year.

Both Condor and Lufthansa are among airlines interested in taking on parts of Air Berlin’s business as part of a carve-up of the company.

Air Berlin’s slots at Duesseldorf, in Germany’s most populous region, are seen as some of the airline’s most attractive assets for potential bidders.

By taking over parts of Air Berlin, bidders could get access to more take-off and landing slots at Duesseldorf, other than the ones already surrendered on the long-haul routes.
9/19/2017 3:00:42 PM
<![CDATA[Eiffel Tower starts work on anti-terror upgrade]]>
The changes come after a string of jihadist attacks in the French capital over the past two years in which more than 200 people have died.

A bulletproof glass wall will be installed around the monument’s gardens under the €30-million (RM150-million), nine-month works, the city’s tourism chief, Jean-Francois Martins, told AFP.

Visited by six to seven million people each year, the landmark already has a permanent police patrol.

But Paris councillors voted unanimously in March to boost its security due to the “particularly high terrorist threat”.

Last month a 19-year-old former psychiatric patient leapt over a security barrier at the tower wielding a knife, saying he wanted to attack a soldier.

Some 7,000 troops have been deployed under an anti-terrorism operation known as Sentinelle, patrolling streets and guarding tourist hotspots, since the jihadist attack at the offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine in January 2015.

Martins said the renovations “will not disrupt visitors’ arrival in any way” and that tourists would still be able to walk up to the tower for free, after passing through security checks.

A two-year project to repaint the 128-year-old wrought-iron tower will kick off in 2018, as well as refurbishment of its elevators, which will take two years longer.

The building of a new reception centre will start in 2021 and last for two years, Martins said.

But he indicated that controversial plans for an underground centre with a shopping gallery have been scrapped.

City officials are trying to upgrade the site without denting visitor numbers as Paris prepares to host the 2024 Olympic Games.

In total €300 million have been put aside to improve visitors’ experience of the Unesco World Heritage site over the next 15 years, half of it for maintenance. ]]>
9/19/2017 11:30:28 AM
<![CDATA[Thailand draws 3.1 million tourists in August, a record for the month]]>
Tourism accounts for 12 percent of Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy, whose growth has picked up after years of sluggishness but still lags regional peers.

The August arrivals were 8.66 percent above a year earlier and marked the first time visitors during that month topped three million.

The visitors in August generated 163 billion baht ($4.93 billion) in revenue, up 11.7 percent from a year earlier, Pongpanu Svetarundra, permanent secretary of the tourism and sports ministry, told a news conference on Tuesday.

“The August number is considered very high as it’s the low season,” he said.

During August, the number of visitors from East Asia increased 10 percent from a year earlier to 2.26 million, with nearly one million from China, up 10.3 percent.

Numbers from the Middle East rose 19.4 percent to 103,784 in August while those from Europe were flat, at 437,739.


For January-August, there were 23.55 million arrivals, up 5.36 percent from a year earlier. Revenue in the first eighth months rose 7.5 percent to about 1.2 trillion baht.

The government has forecast about 35 million tourist arrivals this year, up from 2016’s record 32.6 million

The baht’s strength has not yet affected tourism, Pongpanu said. The currency has risen by about 8.2 percent against the dollar this year.

“The baht is not yet an obstacle to tourism, unless it gets stronger,” he said, adding that he hopes the central bank will keep the currency from appreciating further.

A central bank official told the news conference that the baht’s strength had not impacted tourism as other currencies were also appreciating, and that the central bank was closely monitoring the market.

A representative from the Association of Thai Travel Agents urged the central bank to cut its policy interest rate by 25 basis points to help hold down the baht and lower costs for the tourist industry amid increasing competition.

The Bank of Thailand has left the rate unchanged at 1.50 percent, near record lows, since April 2015. It next reviews monetary policy on Sept. 27, and most economists expect no change.]]>
9/19/2017 11:25:56 AM
<![CDATA[Move over Disney, Mexico plans Mayan theme park]]>
The park, dubbed Amikoo -- or "friend" in the Mayan language -- will have rides and characters based on Mayan mythology and be built in two phases in the so-called Riviera Maya, a stretch of pristine beaches on Mexico's southeastern coast.

"We're going to compete with other (parks) up there (in the United States), and I'm sure ours will be better," Pena Nieto said at a ceremony also attended by the Mexican investors behind the project.

Pena Nieto said the park would bolster Mexico's place as a "high-quality tourism destination."

Mexico became the eighth most-visited country in the world last year, according to the World Tourism Organization, with 35 million international arrivals who spent some $19.6 billion.

The vital sector represents some 8.7 percent of the Mexican economy.

The move to challenge US theme parks such as Disneyland and Disney World comes at a time of tense relations between Mexico and the United States.

The two neighbors' ties have frayed since US President Donald Trump was elected on vows to make Mexico pay for a wall on the border and a campaign laced with anti-Mexican rhetoric.

The new 120-hectare (300-acre) park will have attractions such as a flight simulator that lets visitors fly over popular Mexican tourist attractions, a mock submarine and a pirate ride.

It will also have a 320-room hotel, a Mayan archeology and anthropology museum, and dedicate 75 percent of its property to environmental conservation.

The first phase is set to open in November 2018 and the second two years later.

Investors say they expect four million to 4.5 million visitors per year.]]>
9/19/2017 9:58:25 AM
<![CDATA[Merchants say Egypt tourism revival steady ]]>
Abu Aya owns a souvenir shop in the southern city of Luxor which is home to ancient pharaonic monuments, and he fondly remembers the days when the front pocket of his traditional Arabic robe sagged with cash.

"Before 2011 it was filled with dollars and euros. Today the sellers just sit in front of their stores reading the papers because there are so few customers," the 47-year-old said.

In the promenade bazaar lined with shops selling souvenirs and incense, every business seemed to be suffering from the downturn.

For years the North African nation had worked to attract more tourists to its famed ancient sites and pristine Red Sea beaches, a policy that resulted in a record 14.7 million visitors in 2010.

Tourism in the Arab world's most populous country has long provided much-needed revenues.

But an uprising that unseated autocrat Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, followed by years of political unrest, rolled back the gains in a disaster to the four million people whose jobs at the time relied on the tourism industry.

A jihadist insurgency that erupted in 2013 also took its toll. Two years later, security forces mistakenly killed eight Mexican tourists they thought were "terrorists".

Public relations blitz

In October 2015, the Islamic State group said it downed a Russian airliner in the Sinai after it took off from a Red Sea resort, killing all 224 people on board.

Visitor numbers plunged from 9.3 million in 2015 to 5.3 million the following year.

A public relations blitz by the tourism industry including international events and slick advertisements has had some effect, tourism officials say.

Hotel occupancy rates in Luxor are expected to reach 30 percent by the end of the year, compared with 23 percent in 2016 and 17 percent in 2015, said Maher Abdel Hakim, an expert on the hospitality industry who runs a tourism promotion group.

But there is still a long way to go, as suggested by the desperate shop owners and drivers of horse-drawn carriages who resort to pleading for business.

"I'll accept whatever you pay -- I just want to buy fodder for the horse," one yelled at potential clients outside the colossus-flanked entrance of the ancient Luxor Temple.

Sites such as Luxor -- once a pharaonic capital that still boasts stunning ancient temples -- have been hardest hit, compared with the beach resorts that continue to attract a diminished but steady flow of holidaymakers.

"Before the 2011 revolution, 1,500 French tourists would come to Luxor in just a week," said Ahmed Mahmoud, a 35-year-old former tourism industry worker who has since switched to teaching.

'The people are great'

Abdel Hakim said the city's population and its tourism workers were suffering.

"Tourists in the past would walk around the historic sites, and ride carriages and buy souvenirs... everyone would profit," he said.

Abu Aya accepts that tourists have indeed begun to return. But "this hasn't yet been felt by the owners of bazaars and residents of the city".

He says that despite a bungled attack in a Luxor temple in 2015, the city is safe, a view Chinese tourist Ann Zhu agreed with.

"I feel Luxor is safer than Cairo, and the people here are great," said the 28-year-old who had just visited the Karnak temple where the attack was foiled.

Tourists from China have been among the most drawn to the ancient Egyptian sites over the past two years.

China's top public travel agency, China International Travel Service, reported a 58 percent increase in the number of tourists flying to Egypt compared with 2015.

"I've started speaking Chinese," said Ahmed Hassan, who operates a hot-air balloon that gives tourists the chance to experience a different perspective of the area's famous sites.]]>
9/19/2017 9:55:51 AM
<![CDATA[Hitchhiker: ship your order with travelers via app]]>
Hitchhiker was created by Egyptian Hussein el-Terawy in 2015 as a social networking platform connecting the shipper and the traveler.

Hitchhiker is simple; a shipper uploads all his shipment details and cities of pick up and cities of destination, and a traveler uploads his flight details. If there is a match, the two parties can go ahead and determine pickup and delivery location as well as the price of the service.

To guarantee security of transaction and delivery, an automatically generated QR Code is produced.

The fees are based on the weight and dimensions of the package, as well as the distance traveled. It provides a great service for shipper, and means for travelers to make money.
9/19/2017 9:44:24 AM
<![CDATA[Tsunami Museum: how Indonesia turned disaster into hope]]>
Indonesia started to establish Aceh Tsunami Museum in 2005 as a reminder of the tsunami victims. In 2009, the museum opened its doors to visitors from across the world.

The tour inside the museum starts with a narrow, long and gloomy corridor, with loudspeakers producing the sound of sea waves. Reaching the end of the corridor, the visitor would be in a wide hall with big screens, showing photographs of the tragedy, with a simple scientific explanation of the disaster.

3D model of a boat that rescued the “Basayariyah” family – Egypt Today

Passing through the next dark corridor, the visitor steps on the floor of a wide and oval-shaped hall, where he can read the names of all the victims of the disaster.

Names of the victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami 2004 – Egypt Today

A visitor would then walk across a bridge that ascends, expressing new life after the disaster, till he ends up at a bright hall that contains flags of all the nations, including Egypt, which sent Indonesia aid and food, in order for Banda Aceh to overcome the aftermath.

The flags of nations that sent Aceh aids hanging from the ceiling – Egypt Today

The museum not only represents a memorial to victims, it also serves as a huge defensive shelter against further possible Tsunami attacks, in addition to a heliport for rescue helicopters, and an alert system, that would work half an hour before an earthquake.

A helicopter fuselage on the museum’s heliport for rescue helicopters – Egypt Today

On December 26, 2004, Indian Ocean Earthquake, measuring 9 on the Richter scale, according to the WHO, struck Sumatra island, followed by a disastrous tsunami wave, that released 23,000 more energy than that released by the atomic bomb that destroyed Nagasaki, Japan.

Banda Aceh city before the disaster - landscape model in the museum – Egypt Today

Banda Aceh city after the disaster - landscape model in the museum – Egypt Today
9/19/2017 9:39:50 AM
<![CDATA[Catch these 4 water parks while summer's here]]>
This list of water parks in Cairo, Sharm el-Sheikh, Hurghada and the North Coast will make up for water sports you might have missed.

Aqua Park
It is one of the first aquatic parks to open in the Middle East. Only 10 minutes from Heliopolis, Cairo, you can enjoy swimming in 5-star swimming pools, experience artificial sea waves, and hot meals in restaurants.

Tickets cost LE 160 ($9) for adults and LE 140 for kids aged three to ten years old.

Aqua Park - Official website

Crazy water

Crazy Water is located in 6th of October city, with dozens of water slides, a wave pool, a kiddy pool, a playground area with sand and tunnels.

Access to pools and dinner is included in the entry ticket. Customers are not allowed to bring in their own food.

Crazy Water- Official website

Dolphina Show Park

Located in both Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada, Dolphina Show Park offers an opportunity to observe numerous magnificent sea creatures.

The park has dolphin shows and special pools where people can swim with dolphins, and is open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Dolphina Show Park - Official Facebook page

Liquid Park

If you are in Marina Gate 5, North Coast, El-Alamein , you can enjoy the remainder of your summer vacation at Liquid Park. It is one of the largest water parks in the Middle East.

There is a wide range of activities with high standards of safety monitored by qualified staff to ensure that you will have the best service.

Liquid Park - Official Facebook page
9/19/2017 9:27:03 AM
<![CDATA[Ryanair flies into passenger ire on cancelled flights]]>
In a shock move, the company on Friday announced it was cancelling up to about 2,000 flights over six weeks to "improve punctuality".

Ryanair said it would scrap 40 to 50 flights daily -- "less than two percent" of its flying programme -- to address problems caused by air traffic control delays, strikes and weather disruption.

But the Dublin-based carrier admitted that it has been hit also by pilots and cabin crew being forced to take outstanding holiday entitlement by the end of the year under a new system.

While Ryanair admitted that it "messed up" the planning of staff holidays, reports said the airline had been impacted by recruitment issues after losing a number of pilots to rival carrier Norwegian Air.

In reality, all Ryanair passengers are affected owing to them being left unsure on whether their flights will be among those cancelled over the coming weeks.

So far, the airline has published on its website only those flights cancelled through to the end of Wednesday, causing customers to express their anger across social networks.

"What if your (sic) flying out on a flight not cancelled before Wednesday, how the hell do you know if you can get back. Publish full list now!" tweeted Carole Schofield.

Rory Boland, travel editor at consumer rights group Which?, said it was "essential that Ryanair release a full list of flights that will be affected so that passengers have as much time as possible to make alternate arrangements".

Aviation minister Martin Callanan said he was "very concerned" by the airline's actions.

"We expect all airlines to fulfil their obligations to their customers and do everything possible to notify them well in advance of any disruption to their journey," he added.

Ryanair is inviting passengers to either apply for a refund or change their flight without facing the usual charges.

"We apologise sincerely to all affected customers for these cancellations," Chief Marketing Officer Kenny Jacobs said in a statement.

Lack of pilots -
Shares in Ryanair were down 1.7 percent at 16.78 euros in Dublin in afternoon trade.

"We see a modest adverse financial impact from refunded tickets and compensation cost," said brokers Liberum.

"This is clearly a disappointing and embarrassing operational mistake for Ryanair. However, so long as the pilot shortage is rectified in due course, there should be no (long term group) impact," it added in a client note.

In a statement Friday, Ryanair's head of communications, Robin Kiely, said the airline is being impacted by having to allocate annual leave to pilots and cabin crew over the next six weeks.

"This increased leave at a time of ATC capacity delays and strikes (in France), has severely reduced our on-time performance... to under 80 percent," he said.

Kiely added that by cancelling flights until Ryanair's winter schedule starts in early November, the carrier can restore punctuality to a target of 90 percent.

Ryanair had worked hard over the past few years to improve its public image after fierce criticism over its no-frills approach.

Since 2013, the airline has become far more engaging on social media and produced a simplified website. However, it continues to face passenger and media ire over its tough approach to customers, by for example imposing on-the-spot fines for carrying too much luggage weight.]]>
9/18/2017 4:54:12 PM
<![CDATA[Hilton to open 13 new hotels in Egypt within 10 years]]>
Mohab Ghali, the Vice President of Operations of Hilton Hotels & Resorts of the MENA region, stated that several Hilton branches in Egypt witnessed an increase in occupancy rates during 2017, especially those in Cairo, Alexandria, Hurghada and Marsa Allam.

He pointed out that Egypt has all the favorable conditions to advance its rank among the top tourist countries worldwide including; good climate, monuments, beautiful beaches and proximity to European countries.

Ghali also added that tourism in Egypt has improved by 80 percent by the third quarter of fiscal year 2016/2017.
9/18/2017 3:15:12 PM
<![CDATA[Inaccessible island where Napoleon was exiled to be open to tourism]]>
Made famous by French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, who was exiled there from 1815 until his death in 1821, the island of Saint Helena has long been too remote to be affected by tourism. But this may be about to change. From October 14, the South African company Airlink will begin weekly flights from Cape Town and Johannesburg. Flight time will be about six hours with a stopover in Namibia. Until now, the tiny British territory was only accessible by boat.

Located in the South Atlantic to the West of the Namibian coast, Saint Helena is one of the world’s most inaccessible destinations, a fact that figured large in the decision to imprison Napoleon there in the 19th century. Until now, visitors to the minuscule British territory of 122 square kilometers have arrived on the Royal Mail Ship St Helena from South Africa, which takes at least five days to reach the island from Cape Town. Not surprisingly, the announcement of the new air link amounts to a revolution for the 5,000-strong community that lives on the volcanic tropical island.]]>
9/18/2017 1:58:59 PM
<![CDATA[Shanghai temple moves 2,000-tonne hall on rails]]>
As many as 100,000 people visit the Jade Buddha Temple every day and Chinese authorities were concerned about overcrowding and the fire risk created by visitors burning incense.

The solution? To delicately place the 2,000-tonne Mahavira Hall on specially-constructed rails and move it slightly northwards to create more space in adjacent areas.

The job, which involved elevating the building by a metre, was completed on Sunday after just two weeks of works.

The temple complex was established at a different location in Shanghai in 1882 and moved to its current home in 1918, with the hall built some time between 1918 and 1928.

Buddhist statues and relics in the hall were wrapped up for protection and moved with it, the People's Daily newspaper said.

Workers initially pumped cement into the foundations of the hall to strengthen them, before embarking on the big move -- part of a wider project started in July 2014 to alleviate "severe fire safety and public security concerns", the temple said.]]>
9/18/2017 1:55:32 PM
<![CDATA[Deputy Tourism Minister to go to Japan to participate in Jata Expo]]>
The Egyptian tourist convoy will go to Japan’s most important cities, Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya from October 26 to 28, under the supervision of the Touristic office in Mumbai.

Ragab stated that this is one of the most significant tourism expos in Japan. She pointed out that the Japanese market is an important touristic market.

Jata Tourism Expo Japan is a four-day event that will be held from September 21 – 24, 2017 at the Tokyo Big Sight in Tokyo, Japan. It is an important event that displays products including an array of different services about the travel and tourism industry as well as other related services.
9/18/2017 1:41:29 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt to join in International Tourism Fair of Latin America]]>
FIT is the most important tourism fair in all Latin America. This year its target is to attract over 90,000 visitors – including tourism professionals and general public who look for information and first-hand contacts to plan their vacations or to close new and better business deals.

Argentina is an important market that the Egyptian Tourism Promotion Board is targeting to attract for the next winter season.
9/18/2017 1:21:10 PM
<![CDATA[Vietnam’s floating market struggles to stay above water]]>
Surrounded by dusty old scales on his cluttered houseboat, Nguyen Van Ut says vendors are giving up their boats for better lives on terra firma where supermarkets draw the traders who once thronged the waterway.

“I don’t have many customers now. In the past, it was all right, but now many boats have left the floating market... people on vessels have switched to vehicles,” the 71-year-old says.

He got into the repairs business 30 years ago on the Can Tho river to support his surviving children after his wife and two of his sons drowned in an accident. For a time life was good, but now he relies on handouts from his children – three of them work in nearby Can Tho city.

Once reportedly two kilometres long, the Cai Rang market is a shadow of its former self. There are about 300 boats on the water now, down from 550 in 2005, according to the local tourism office.

It has fallen victim to the economic rise of the Mekong Delta, which has rapidly developed over the last decade. Industrial and construction sectors have created nearly 5,70,000 jobs, hauling many from poverty. But people like Ut have been left behind, unable to afford a life on shore.

Even vendors making a decent wage from the tourists who flock to the market yearn for the perks of living on land: better housing, better jobs and modern amenities.

Nguyen Thi Hong Tuoi started working on the water when she was a child, just like her mother and grandmother before her. Though she earns decent money, she doesn’t expect her daughter to carry on the family tradition.

“In the future, I will let my daughter live on land so she can study and have a proper job,” the 34-year-old told AFP, as her elderly mother rested in a hammock surrounded by sacks of tapioca on their boat.

It’s a common aspiration for young people in Vietnam, where more than half the country’s 93 million people are under the age of 30 and eager to move to fast-growing cities for work.

Supermarket squeeze

The origins of Cai Rang market reach back to when Vietnam and neighbouring Cambodia and Laos were occupied by the French, who readily exploited the natural resources of the colony previously called Indochina.
The Mekong Delta’s web of canals -- both natural and man-made -- were used to transport goods and people in the absence of a reliable road network. There are about a dozen surviving markets in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta today, though like Cai Rang, many have shrivelled.

“The local government is trying to keep the floating markets alive to (preserve) the culture and attract more tourists,” said Nguyen Thi Huynh Phuong, a lecturer at nearby Can Tho University who has researched the market’s history.

It still functions as a wholesale market, with vendors waking each day before dawn to load boats with watermelons or radishes and advertising their products by spearing them to a bamboo pole on the bow of the ship.

But its charm also draws millions of visitors each year who buy noodles, fruit and coffee from water traders, making it a well-established pit-stop on the Mekong tourist trail. Recognising the market as a tourism hotspot, the government designated Cai Rang as a national heritage site last year.

For vendors like Ly Hung, who has lived on the water for 26 years, visitors have helped to maintain a traditional way of life. “Without tourism this floating market would disappear,” he said.
9/18/2017 11:22:07 AM
<![CDATA[Fuel shortage prompts flight cancellations at Auckland Airport]]>
A total of 23 international and domestic flights have been cancelled in the last 24 hours, Auckland Airport corporate affairs manager Simon Lambourne told Reuters by telephone on Sunday.

Fuel companies are rationing oil because a leaking Auckland supply pipeline has been closed for repairs at New Zealand’s only refinery at Marsden Point, Whangarei.

Refining NZ, which owns the pipeline, said it could take 10 to 15 days to repair, according to a news report by Radio NZ.

The pipeline is the only source of jet fuel for Auckland Airport.

“Airlines operating at Auckland Airport have had their usual fuel allocations reduced. We appreciate this will be inconvenient and will require airlines to take alternative fuelling measures,” said Andrew McNaught, a spokesman of Mobil Oil New Zealand Limited, which represents fuel suppliers.

Airlines would have to carry more fuel to enable return flights without refuelling and stop to fuel at other airports on the way to and from Auckland, McNaught said in an emailed statement on Sunday.

Air New Zealand has cancelled some services to consolidate passenger loads, and is diverting Asian and North American long-haul flights to refuel at Pacific and Australian airports, it said in a media statement. Qantas and Jetstar said in an emailed statement that they were working to minimise impact on customers and urged people to check their flight status online.

Auckland Airport is New Zealand’s largest international airport with passenger numbers of around 18 million a year. The pipeline also supplies petrol and diesel to Auckland, but Energy Minister Judith Collins said it was unlikely that motorists would be inconvenienced as fuel was being trucked in from the refinery, and from a fuel terminal at Mt Maunganui.

“The fuel companies are confident that supply of these fuels will be maintained,” Collins said in an media release.]]>
9/18/2017 11:02:58 AM
<![CDATA[Dubai awards contract for final phase of solar park]]>
The local government said the contract for the fourth and final phase went to Chinese conglomerate Shanghai Electric and ACWA Power of Saudi Arabia.

The solar park named after Dubai's ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashed Al-Maktoum, went online in 2013 and the final phase is to be launched in stages from 2020, bringing the overall cost to $13.6 billion.

Dubai, which has dwindling oil reserves unlike Abu Dhabi, a fellow member of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has set a target of 2050 to produce 75 percent of its electricity needs from renewable energy sources.

Abu Dhabi, the UAE capital, is building four nuclear power plants, each with a 1,400-megawatt capacity, the first of which is scheduled to launch operations in 2018. The overall costs are put at more than $25 billion.

The UAE has announced it plans to invest a total of $163 billion in projects aimed at supplying the country with almost half of its energy needs from renewable sources.]]>
9/18/2017 10:57:46 AM
<![CDATA[Real Madrid adds lustre to China's wannabe "Orlando" tourist hub]]>
Dubbed by some as China’s answer to Florida’s Orlando - a global tourist magnet with its cluster of major theme parks - Hengqin has seen property prices more than double over the past two years.

While still a dusty mass of construction sites, Hengqin now draws millions annually to its anchor attraction, the “Chimelong Ocean Kingdom” theme park, with a slew of hotel, malls and sprawling residential developments being built nearby.

Spanish soccer club, Real Madrid, announced last week they would open an interactive “virtual reality” complex in Hengqin, in partnership with Hong Kong-listed developer, Lai Sun Group .

The 12,000-square metre venue, set to open in 2021, will include virtual reality entertainment and a museum showcasing the club’s history.

The transformation of Hengqin, which is three times as large as Macau, is part of Beijing’s efforts to bolster links between Hong Kong, Macau and nine cities in the Pearl River Delta region, or so-called “Greater Bay Area”, modelled after other dynamic global bay areas such as Tokyo and San Francisco.

“Hengqin will be the Orlando of China. Macau is Las Vegas (and) Hong Kong is New York,” said Larry Leung, an executive with Lai Sun that is helping build the Real Madrid complex at its “Novotown” project in Hengqin. “Within an hour you can have them all.”

Novotown’s entertainment mix will also feature China’s first Lionsgate movie world with theme rides from blockbuster films such as the Hunger Games and Twilight, as well as a National Geographic educational center. And high-end hotel chains and luxury yacht makers are building more hotels and a marina on Hengqin.


Chinese officials see Hengqin helping Macau diversify away from casinos to a more wholesome tourism industry. More than 80 percent of Macau’s public revenues come from the gambling sector.

Businesses in Macau have been encouraged to invest in Hengqin with the government providing cheaper rent and tax subsidies. Galaxy Entertainment, Shun Tak and Macau Legend have also earmarked developments for Hengqin.

Realtors expect property prices to keep rising once a sea bridge linking Hong Kong, and a high speed rail station are completed.

Hoffman Ma, deputy chairman of Success Universe Group, which operates the Ponte 16 casino in Macau, said Hengqin could take some convention and exhibition business away from the former Portuguese colony.

“It doesn’t make sense for Macau to do that, due to a consistent labour shortage,” he said.

Wang Lian, from Wuhan in central China, brought his daughter to watch whale sharks and polar bears at Chimelong Ocean Kingdom recently.

Industry reports show 8.5 million people visited China’s top theme park last year, more than Hong Kong Disneyland’s 6.1 million, and almost a third of the 28 million people who visited Macau last year.

“China’s population is so big they need something like this nearby ... its (Hengqin‘s) economic ties will also help Macau develop,” Wang said.]]>
9/18/2017 10:49:31 AM
<![CDATA[196 tourists visit Malawi archaeological sites]]>
In statements, Arabi added that 173 Egyptians and 23 foreigners had visited the sites on September 8-14.

They visited Tuna el Gebel area and Hermopolis city, as well as the Malawi museum, Arabi noted.]]>
9/17/2017 5:48:53 PM
<![CDATA[Russia and Iraq restore air travel after 13-year freeze]]>
An Iraqi Airways plane left Baghdad at 10.31 am (0731 GMT) and was expected to arrive at Moscow's Vnukovo airport at 2.19 pm (1119 GMT), according to the Russian airport's online departure and arrival timetables.

"The first commercial flight arrives today," Sergei Izvolsky, spokesman for Russia's civil aviation authority, told AFP.

"It is a signal on the part of the Iraqi authorities that Russian nationals can safely visit Iraq."

The two countries may also later agree on air travel to the Iraqi city of Basra, Izvolsky said.

Russia suspended regular flights to Iraq in 2004 after the US-led invasion in 2003 plunged the Arab country into war.]]>
9/17/2017 12:58:14 PM
<![CDATA[Full Moon in the oasis]]>
Full moon rising above the Ghary Lake in Maraqi, Siwa Oasis - Monika Sleszynska

The time of the full moon is a wonderful opportunity to revive the senses and enjoy a deeper connection with nature. Being in a desert during the full moon is an extraordinary experience. For Siwans, the Berber tribe inhabitants of the Siwa oasis in the western desert, the full moon is like the night sun. The natural environment allows noticing the beauty of the full moon with much more intensity. It is no surprise that the moon is highly appreciated and a noticeable part of life as during its full days the moonlight beams strongly light the landscape of sand dunes, mountains and palm trees. If you have not been to the desert during such a time, be prepared to be surprised. The nights are so bright that you will not need a torch.

Full moon rising above waters of the salt lake, next to Andrere Amalal Mountain in Maraqi, Siwa Oasis - Monika Sleszynska

Over the course of months, the moon rises at different points of the oasis providing a rich opportunity to witness it appearing on the horizon at different stunning nature spots. Depending on when you visit the oasis and from which location you witness the moon rising, you might be up for quite a treat.
If you are in Siwa town centre, climbing the ruins of Shaly fortress will take you to one of the highest points in the oasis from where you will be able to see, from above town buildings and streets, a 360 degree view of the oasis and far stretching surroundings. You will hear distant sounds of daily life at the oasis where the gentle beeps, vehicle engines and donkeys mix into the fluent acoustic background. This is a perfect town spot to enjoy the sunrise, sunset and the moon rising as well as moon setting.

Full moon above traditional Siwan House, Siwa Oasis - Monika Sleszynska

The Siwa oasis has plenty beautiful natural landscapes with meandering roads through the palm groves leading to the outer parts of the oasis where the riches of the salt lakes form a treat for the eyes and heart with widely stretching unique horizons. Whichever direction you take, you will be astonished with the variety of nature formation in the desert oasis. If you set off to watch the sunset from the spots around the salt lake, stay and watch out for the moon rising. There is nothing like spending the night sleeping on the desert dunes under the moon light.

The remains of Shaly fortress provide opportunity for a walk to the high point of town with a 360 degree view, Siwa Oasis - Monika Sleszynska

If you have been thinking about visiting the unique Siwa oasis, the full moon is an extraordinary time to enjoy nature and allow the moon light to reveal the mythological treasures; what could be better that to check the influence of the full moon on your body and soul’s wellbeing? It is believed that during the full moon the senses become accentuated. Till today some people in the oasis and through various practices dedicate this time to reflection and even fasting in order to fully absorb the gifts of this time.

Full moon “looking” through the window, Siwa Oasis - Monika Sleszynska – Monika Sleszynka

The full moon in the Siwa oasis can be a real treasure hunt when you find that you can discover local knowledge, tradition and beliefs around the moon as well as make up for an unforgettable break in the moon light. You can also opt for a special swim in the cold or hot spring at night under the “Evening Sun” as referred to in Ancient Egypt. The moon’s connection could be reasserted further as Siwa is home to the ancient temple of Amun Oracle, the ancient god of sun and air and the father of Khonsu - the moon god.

The full moon finds its literal reflection in the name of one of the hotels of Siwa. Taziry, which in Siwan language means “Full Moon,” is a name of the scenically located rustic eco resort. The architecture and setting in the natural landscape at the foot of the Red Mountain and overlooking the salty Ghary Lake, the sustainable hotel and village truly embraces the connection with nature, Siwan traditions and organic living. The outer architecture blends into the landscape while the interior design welcomes you to a timeless space with handmade decorated wooden furniture and handicrafts. Candles and oil lamps together with the sound of Amazigh desert wind will be your embracing company while falling asleep. The wide stretching open terraces and balconies give one space to feel the connection with the sky.

Annual Siyaha festival near Dakrur Mountain is a 3 day festive celebration during the October full moon, 2015, Siwa Oasis – Monika Sleszynska

The coming October full moon is a great opportunity to visit the Siwa oasis as the annual local Siyaha Festival takes place. This year, October’s full moon falls on Thursday, October 5, with its peak at 8:40 p.m. This festive celebration is a gathering of unity and joy till late night hours over the three days and its traditions reach way back to distant history when tribes used to be gathered to resolve any conflicts and unite. Till today the tradition of equal sharing has been preserved.

Siwa’s oasis is an exceptional location all year round and each season offers different treasures and activities. The timing of the full moon is an irresistible treat. Whoever experienced night under the full moon will surely be mesmerized and illuminated by its glow and effect.

Full moon reflecting in the waters of salt lake in Maraqi area, Siwa oasis – Monika Sleszynska

Consult with local guides for the best spots to watch the full moon rising.
For the moon phases in Siwa Oasis through the year check Time&Date:
9/17/2017 10:54:36 AM
<![CDATA[Egypt to participate in OTDYKH Leisure 2017 in Moscow]]>
“A formal Egyptian delegation will participate in the forum where the members will present a cooperation protocol with Russian travel companies,” Khalil was quoted saying by Russia Today channel.

OTDYKH Leisure is the largest tourism event in Russia. It helps the development of the tourism industry in Russia, facilitates the establishment of business contacts for representatives of the tourist market, and advertises the country´s capabilities on the international level.

Russia, the country with the largest number of tourists visiting Egypt, has suspended its flights to Egypt following a plane crash in 2015 that took off from Sharm El-Sheikh Airport. The crash led to the deaths of all 224 people on board and was claimed to have been downed by the Islamic State (IS) militant group. Furthermore, a number of European countries suspended flights to Sharm El-Sheikh following the crash but have recently reinstated direct flights to the South Sinai hotspot.
9/17/2017 10:44:39 AM
<![CDATA[Meet the castle of Saladin on Pharaoh’s Island in Taba ]]>
Pharaoh’s Island is one of Taba’s main attractions, and it is simply breathtaking. The small island, surrounded by the outstanding blue and turquoise waters of the Red Sea, was once a Phoenician port, later occupied by Crusaders and then taken under control by Sultan Salah El Din (Saladin). The island and the castle remain intact. The reef around the island is popular with snorkelers and divers alike, Egypt State Information service reported.

Pharaoh’s Island, also called Coral Island or Geziret Faroun, lies eight kilometers south of Taba and 250 meters off the coast.

the lake inside the castle of Saladin

Early in the 12th century, the Crusaders built a fortress there to protect pilgrims traveling between Jerusalem and the Monastery of St. Katherine, as well as to boost Arab trade.
Sultan Salah El Din evicted the Crusaders from the island and significantly strengthened the fortress later in the 12th century.

castle of Saladin in the Island of Pharaoh in Taba city

The citadel contained a lot of defense means, like a huge wall that surrounds all over and a number of monitoring towers. There is also an area to manufacture weapons, a conference hall for the rulers to plan how to defend Egypt against any attacks, housing for soldiers, an oven to bake bread, storage rooms, a water reservoir, and a mosque that was built by Amir Hossam El Dine Bagel. The citadel

was built with granite rocks that were taken from Pharaoh’s Island where the citadel was built, Alaadin reported.

castle of Saladin in the Island of Pharaoh in Taba city

Great restoration and development works were carried out inside the castle in 1986.
Descriptions inside the tall walls are flanked by still well-preserved towers, with a rampart and battlements. On two stories there is a succession of architectural units belonging to different periods of the 12th century, including a fortified entrance, a residence of the citadel's governor, a hammam (restroom) with three rooms and a water supply system, and a workshop to produce arrow tips. UNESCO reported.

Saladin (Salah El Din al-Ayyubi), the founder of the Ayyubid dynasty (1174-1260), is considered one of the greatest sovereigns in the history of Islam.

9/16/2017 6:10:01 PM
<![CDATA[Building largest yacht port in El-Quseir: Red Sea Governor]]>
Abdullah mentioned that this project will provide a great number of job opportunities for youth in El-Quseir.

The governor added that another land in Al Hamrony district will be given to El Nasr factory instead of the original one.

9/16/2017 4:31:41 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt wins top WTO’s prize for Best Tourism Promo Video]]>
The Egyptian participant promotional film titled "This is Egypt", is a 1:20 minute movie that features mesmerizing scenes of the unique tourist attractions of Egypt, highlighting the diverse range of tourist activities available in Egypt and the different types of tourism in Egypt that can be enjoyed; including cultural, leisure and marine tourism.

Check out the “This is Egypt” promo:

On receiving the award, Minister of Tourism Yahya Rashid contended that the World Tourism Organization has consistently supported Egypt’s unremitting efforts to boost tourism movement and have it strongly back on the international map.

“This is Egypt" also was chosen as Best Tourism Promotion by "Golden City Gate Award,” on the sidelines of the International Tourism Exchange in Berlin (ITB) held last March.

9/16/2017 2:49:11 PM
<![CDATA[Ryanair to cancel up to 50 flights per day 'to improve punctuality']]>
The cancellations, which begin immediately, are designed "to improve its system-wide punctuality which has fallen below 80 percent in the first two weeks of September," Ryanair said in a statement, describing the number of delayed flights as "unacceptable" to customers.

If the airline cancels 40 flights per day for six weeks at a load factor of 90 percent, approximately 285,000 journeys would be affected.

The Dublin-listed budget airline next week celebrates the fourth anniversary of its Always Getting Better campaign, which Chief Executive Michael O'Leary has described as an effort to stop "unnecessarily pissing people off."

Europe's largest airline by passenger numbers sent emails to the first affected passengers on Friday, giving them the choice of a refund or an alternative flight.

The airline said it would waive a 40 euro ($48) surcharge normally levied to change flights.

A Reuters reporter, whose flight from Dublin to Barcelona on Sept. 18 was cancelled on Friday, was offered a choice of a surcharge of 250 euros to take an earlier flight on Sept. 18 or 60 euros to take a flight on Sept. 19.

Ryanair said its on-time ratio in recent weeks had been impacted by air traffic control strikes and weather disruptions. It also said it was trying to deal with a backlog of crew leave, which must be allocated before the end of the year.

While it currently calculates crew leave from April to March, regulators are forcing it to calculate it from January to December from the start of next year, it said.]]>
9/16/2017 1:41:35 PM
<![CDATA[El Sokhna is waiting for you.]]>
Ain Sokhna – courtsey of Best hang out places in Egypt - Facebook

Ain Sokhna – courtsey of Best hang out places in Egypt - Facebook

Ain Sokhna – courtsey of Best hang out places in Egypt - Facebook

Ain Sokhna is a mere 90-minute drive from Cairo, making it an ideal destination for even a one-day trip that doesn’t interrupt one’s work or school schedule. You can enjoy the breathtaking view with the sea on one side and the mountains on the other, or take part in the myriad activities available, from fishing, snorkeling, sunbathing, and barbequing. According to The best hang out places in Egypt’s Facebook page, there is also a large variety of the best resorts and hotels such as:

Porto Sokhna

Porto is known for its telepherique rides, yachts port and gorgeous beach. Prices are LE 1,200 ($68) for a chalet, LE 1,400 ($80) for a yacht, and LE 60 ($3) for a telepherique ride.

Porto Sokhna – courtsey of Best hang out places in Egypt - Facebook

Porto Sokhna telepherique – courtsey of Best hang out places in Egypt - Facebook

Palmera Beach Resort

One of the finest hotels in Sokhna, with free Wi-Fi, a swimming pool, free parking and a fitness center, all rooms with a sea view. Rooms have two beds and an extra one overlooking the garden. The prices are LE 980 ($55) for two nights. A day use costs LE 280 ($16).

Palmera Beach Resort – courtsey of Best hang out places in Egypt - Facebook

Palmera Beach Resort 2– courtsey of Best hang out places in Egypt - Facebook

Mövenpick El Sokhna

Located at Kilo 64, Al Zaafarana Road, Ain Sokhna. Prices range from LE 1,430 ($81) to LE 3,546 ($200) per person, and facilities include a swimming pool, free car parking, a fitness center and children's activities area.

Stella Di Mare Grand Hotel

With free Wi-Fi, a swimming pool, free parking, a fitness center and children's activities area, Stella Di Mare Gran Hotel has a price range from LE 1,648 ($93) to LE 3,564 ($201), and the beach and food there are excellent.
9/16/2017 10:07:28 AM
<![CDATA[12 things you should know about Ashtum El Gamil Protectorate]]>
1- It was declared a natural protectorate in 1998.

2- The protectorate is located on the coastal road between Port Said and Damietta, seven kilometers west of Port Said.

3- The whole protectorate stretches over 35 square kilometers, while Tennis Island alone is eight square kilometers in area.

4- It includes Bo Ghazi Al Gamiel, Ashtum Al Gamil and Tennis Island.

Ashtum Al Gamil Protectorate - Mohamed Kamal Wikimedia commons

5- Tennis Island is located in Manzala Lake, seven kilometers south-west of Port Said.

6- The Island contains the archaeological hill of Tennis, which has a great historical value. The island is surrounded by 300 meters of water.

7- The protectorate’s climate is moderate in the summer and warm in the winter with rain on the coastal areas.

8- The protectorate is considered a main stop for immigrating bird species seeking food and rest during the long migration in the spring and fall seasons.

9- A large variety of bird species live in Ashtum Al Gamil, some of which are endangered, such as the Wild and Zarkany Ducks, Shelduck, Sultan chicken, Barbary dove and many more.

10- The marine environment is rich with invertebrates, scaly animals and numerous fish species.

11- Tennis Island was one of the most beautiful Egyptian cities since the Muslim conquest of Egypt and until the Ayyubid era. In 1246, king Mohamed ibn Al Adil ibn Ayyub ordered demolishing it and moving its people from it.

12- Ashtum Al Gamil has an economical importance because of the all-year-round fishing in Lake Manzala.

Ashtum Al Gamil Protectorate - Mohamed Kamal Wikimedia commons
9/16/2017 9:58:49 AM
<![CDATA[Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal promotes tourism to Egypt once again]]>
The prince tweeted on Friday a video of him in the most important touristic sites he visited around the world, including Russia, Turkey, France, Portugal and Greece, but it started with Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh.

The video starts with footage of him climbing a mountain, cycling, swimming in the Red Sea, playing volleyball and walking around the city.

Last month, Prince Talal tweeted a four-minute video of his visit to Sharm El-Sheikh in which he explores the city’s tourist attractions as well as following his investments and projects in the city, accompanied by Egyptian businessman Hisham Talaat Mustafa and meeting with Sahar Nasr, Egypt’s Minister of Investment and International Cooperation.
9/15/2017 5:41:27 PM
<![CDATA[Elephants hide by day, forage at night to evade poachers]]>
Like escaped convicts, elephants in eastern Africa have learned to travel at night and hide during the day to avoid poachers who are hunting tuskers into extinction, researchers reported Wednesday.

Normally elephants forage for food and migrate in daylight, while resting under cover of darkness.

But a sharp increase in illegal hunting driven by the global trade in ivory has forced the massive land mammals -- against their nature -- to upend their usual habits.

"As most poaching occurs during the daytime, their transition to nocturnal behaviour appears to be a direct result of prevailing poaching levels," said Festus Ihwagi, a researcher at the University of Twente in The Netherlands.

In an upcoming study, Ihwagi details his findings, based on data gathered from 60 elephants in northern Kenya tracked with GPS devices for up to three years during the period 2002 to 2012.

Working with the NGO Save the Elephants, which has fitted more than 100 of the animals with GPS collars, Ihwagi monitored the movements of 28 females and 32 males in and around the Laikipa-Samburu ecosystem.

Females live in close-knit families and often have young calves at their side, while bulls tend to be more solitary.

To determine how, and to what extent, poaching had changed elephant behaviour, he compared two sets of data.

The first measured the distances travelled during the day and at night, and was logged as a ratio between the two.

The second -- drawing from the Illegal Killing of Elephant programme database -- identified zones and time periods when poaching was more or less severe.

"Simultaneous elephant tracking and monitoring of causes of death presented a perfect 'natural laboratory'," said Ihwagi.

The nighttime movements of the elephants increased significantly in sync with poaching levels, especially for females.

In high-danger zones, females reduced daytime activity by about 50 percent on average compared to low-danger zones, Ihwagi told AFP.

Changing their behaviour in this way may help keep elephants alive in the short run, but could have long term implications for their survival, he added.

Despite their intelligence, deeply ingrained foraging strategies and mating patterns developed on an evolutionary timescale may limit the capacity to adapt.

"For mothers with very young calves, the risk of predation of the calves by lions or hyenas would be higher at night," Ihwagi said.

"For the mature elephants, it implies an alteration of their normal social life."
The real-time data from GPS devices could be used as an early warning system to alert environmentalists and park rangers, the researchers noted.

A sudden uptick in nocturnal travel, for example, could signal that elephants feel threatened.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the number of African elephants has fallen by around 111,000 to 415,000 over the past decade.

The killing shows no sign of abating with around 30,000 elephants slaughtered for their ivory every year, mainly to satisfy demand in the Asian market for products coveted as a traditional medicine or as status symbols.

"The escalation of poaching has become the greatest immediate threat to the survival of elephants," Ihwagi said.

The findings will appear in the January issue of the Journal of Ecological Indicators]]>
9/15/2017 3:59:26 PM
<![CDATA[Rebuilding tourism after Irma, an epic task for islands ]]>
The French-Dutch island of St Martin, where the massive storm killed 15 people, remains fringed by the white sands and turquoise waters that in happier times drew holidaymakers in their droves.

But Irma made light work of destroying beachfront hotels and restaurants, and it is painfully obvious that the tourists - and their badly-needed cash - will not be back any time soon.

"For the coming tourism season, we're screwed," said Paco Benito, manager of the Riu Palace hotel. "We're going to need a total reconstruction and we're going to start as soon as possible," added the bearded 43-year-old, visibly exhausted.

With a staff of 300 - "which is to say, 300 families who are counting on us" - Benito's chic seaside hotel is one of the biggest private employers on the French side of the island.

It would be impossible to repair St Martin's roads and buildings - damage estimated at €1 billion (US$1.2 billion) or more - before the high season, which usually starts in November and runs until April.

Home to some 35,000 people, St Martin sees around two million visitors a year, most of them American cruise ship passengers.

On the Dutch side, known as Sint Maarten, tourism provides four fifths of jobs, according to authorities. Other industries - retail, property, water sports - rely heavily on the continuing influx of holidaymakers.

It's a similar story in the British Virgin Islands, which were also badly hit by Irma.
Tourism directly contributed 34 per cent of the UK territory's GDP last year, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council. But many shopping for luxury breaks will be ruling the islands out for now.


"People save up all year to go on holiday, we can't send them to a building site," said Gilbert Cisneros, head of Paris travel agency Exotismes, a specialist in tropical island getaways.

His firm has already contacted customers who had reserved breaks on hurricane-hit islands over the next three months, proposing that they either delay, choose another destination, or claim a refund.

With barely any tourist dollars set to flow in over the coming months, overseas island territories - legacies of European empires - are looking to central governments for desperately-needed funds.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte promised he would not be "stingy" with aid for Sint Maarten, but described the bill as "enormous" and warned neither the central or local government could cover its entirety.

Dutch newspaper AD quoted Sint Maarten premier William Marlin as saying the island needed at least a billion euros, a figure backed by Merlijn Stoffels of the Red Cross.
"Some experts have even put forward the figure of €1.3 billion, and that's not absurd," Stoffels told AD.

The Dutch Red Cross has taken in donations worth €3.2 million this week, with a national day of telethons and other fund-raising initiatives set to raise more Friday.

Both halves of St Martin will look to the European Union for aid - but this could prove tricky for the Dutch side. While part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, it is not directly part of the EU.

French President Emmanuel Macron, visiting the devastated neighbouring island of St Barts, promised emergency financial aid for those "who have lost everything".
Britain has meanwhile pledged £57 million (US$76 million) for its territories, but some politicians are already worrying that Brexit could cut them off from vital EU funds in the years to come.


Didier Arino, head of the Paris-based consultancy Protourisme, predicted it would take three years for tourism to climb back to pre-hurricane levels. "They're starting from zero," he said.

But he sees hope in the tragedy: a chance to build first-rate tourist infrastructure "which protects the environment better and creates much greater economic and social benefits".

Exotismes boss Cisneros, who has 30 years' experience in Caribbean travel, also sees reasons to be upbeat.

"We've had bad storms before. Every time, it picks back up again, people rebuild," he said, remembering Hurricane Hugo which laid waste to swathes of the Caribbean in 1989.

The industry could even come back stronger than before.

Once the rebuilding is done, St Martin and St Barts "will be the two Caribbean islands with the best infrastructure", he predicted.
9/15/2017 3:55:49 PM
<![CDATA[Britain's easyJet launches platform to book partner flights]]>
EasyJet said that customers would be able to buy other airlines’ flights on easyJet.com, and said it was the first global airline connections service by a European low fares airline.

Its launch partners are WestJet (WJA.TO) and Norwegian (NWC.OL), who will offer flights to North and South America, as well as Singapore, from Gatwick.

EasyJet said it was in talks with carriers in Asia about joining the scheme, which would expand into other airports in Europe.]]>
9/15/2017 3:50:41 PM
<![CDATA[Planning a trip to Amsterdam? A proposed tourist tax hike could make it more expensive]]>
In an effort to attract big spenders and curb “falafel-eating” tourists, who spend most of their holiday loitering around the red-light district, Amsterdam’s city officials are considering a tourist tax hike that could make visits to the Dutch capital more expensive.

Currently, visitors pay 5% of their room rate in the city centre, which is expected to rise to 6% next year. But if Alderman Udo Kock has his way, that could rise to as much as €10 per night in 2019, according to local newspaper Het Parool. Because while the number of tourists has swelled from 12 million to 17 million over the last few years, a good portion of those visitors stayed in budget hotels and poured little into the local economy.

Last week, fed-up locals took to the streets protesting unchecked development and gentrification in their neighbourhoods. Similar ‘anti-tourism’ protests have been taking place in cities across Spain and Italy this summer amongst disgruntled locals, unhappy with the behaviour of disrespectful visitors and unsustainable tourist numbers.

Officials estimate that the new tourist hike could bring in €150 million to Amsterdam’s city coffers. In an interview with Parool, Kock said they prefer tourists who spend more than one night, visit museums and dine out at proper restaurants over visitors making a quick city break, strolling the red-light district with a falafel in their hand. ]]>
9/15/2017 3:47:22 PM
<![CDATA[Kenya: From the Indian Ocean to the highlands!]]>
After meeting the local fishermen, I rode through the picturesque tea plantations of Kericho area.

By the end of the day I had reached Lake Naivasha. Andrew, a local biker, made my stay there very enjoyable… First, we went for a dirt ride and he guided me through the geothermal power plants which dot the area. Since decades ago, they make huge amounts of electricity by using the steam which comes out of the earth. In the evening, we got a boat with some friends and we enjoyed a wonderful sunset in the lake. We stopped in a remote part of the lakeshore and then it was time to enjoy the night as white Kenyans do… We lit a campfire, grilled some juicy meat and exchanged stories under an African sky full of stars!

That’s where Andrew took me for a dirt ride around Lake Naivasha. That was quite a rough descend on my bike! Courtesy: madnomad.gr

It was time to enter chaotic Nairobi, also known as Nairobbery due to its reputation for crime… There I had the chance to experience the luxurious life of Kenyans who live in the suburbs, in beautiful villas surrounded by lush gardens, tended by maids and of course, with inviting swimming pools. I also had the chance to experience the other side of Nairobi, the side that most Kenyans experience. I was hosted in the Orthodox College of Nairobi, which is located in a township full of slums. People are friendly and everything is fine during the day. But when the night falls, the dangerous face of Nairobbery appears. Nobody wants to be on the streets at that time.

That’s just one of the golf clubs in Nairobi for the well-heeled Kenyans. Courtesy: madnomad.gr

Having seen the disappointing scams of the Orthodox missions in neighbouring countries, I was really surprised to see how different the Orthodox mission of Kenya is!

About 400 schools are operated around the whole country by this mission, even in the remote area of Lake Turkana. They also build wells to offer clean potable water to the remote communities of Kenya. I was there during some seminars, so I met tens of African priests coming from all around East Africa. I was surprised to see how dedicated some people were. A few of them could even speak Greek, since they studied in Greece.

One of the 400 schools that are operated by the impressive Orthodox mission of Kenya for the ones in need. Courtesy: madnomad.gr

It was time to explore the highlands and the coast of Kenya and I had a wonderful company for that. Roos is a Dutch who volunteers in Rwanda the last three years. She had hosted me there and then she joined me for three weeks to travel around Kenya!

We started with the otherworldly Lake Baringo, which is full of crocodiles and hippos.

Despite that, the locals organize annual swimming races! They say crocodiles know them, anyway!

It was time to ascend to Nyahururu, at 2,350 m. (7,710 ft.). We enjoyed a lot the cool weather there and the impressive Thomson’s Falls. We left the highlands back and we slowly made our way to Mombasa. It was gradually getting hotter and hotter as we were approaching the coast. We immediately fell in love with the relaxed atmosphere there, the friendly Muslims and the interesting Swahili culture! Our favorite spot in Mombasa was some benches near the Portuguese Fort Jesus, built in 1593. We were drinking our tea or spiced coffee, sitting high above the ocean and enjoying the sunset while chatting with friendly locals who gather there every evening to meet each other and socialize.

You don’t even need to dive to see beautiful corals and colorful fish on the Kenyan coast… Snorkeling is enough. Courtesy: madnomad.gr

If you want to see beautiful corals in that area, you don’t even need to dive. Snorkeling is enough! Mombasa Marine Park is a very nice spot for that, as is the area around Wasini Island. That’s a tiny little island without cars, motorcycles, electricity or running water. It only got some Swahili ruins, houses made out of corals and a few Muslims living there.

We were glad to meet the guys from Motor Safaris, an interesting company which organizes amazing motorbike tours around East Africa! Courtesy: madnomad.gr

South of Mombasa we incidentally met the guys from Motor Safaris, an interesting company which organizes amazing motorbike tours around East Africa! We were glad to be their guests for a couple of days in their cozy Sawa Sawa Beach House. We visited the famous and touristy Diani Beach but the neighbouring Tiwi Beach became our favorite one. There we found one of the most beautiful seaside spots where I have ever camped!

While exploring the dirt roads on the north coast, we found Vuma Cliffs, an isolated and impressive part of the coastline! Courtesy: madnomad.gr

he north coast was also very interesting to explore. We reached some isolated areas through dirt roads, where the scenery was astonishing! We made our way to the picturesque Takaungu village, where the river empties to the endless Indian Ocean. The beach of Watamu was scenic and the coastal town of Malindi was interesting. However, the biggest draw on the north coast for us was Lamu Island.

Lamu is a small island in the Indian Ocean, full of donkeys, coral houses with elaborate carved doors and friendly Muslims walking in the labyrinth of the old town. Courtesy: madnomad.gr

It is not easy to reach Lamu, since you need to follow long dirt roads (not a good idea during the rainy season) and you have to travel next to Somalia. There used to be some security issues there, which emptied the island from tourists and that made it much more attractive to us! Lamu is a small island in the Indian Ocean where the only transport is donkeys. There are about 3,000 of them there! The coral houses are guarded by elaborate wooden carved doors and the narrow streets of the old town form a real labyrinth. This is one of the most authentic samples of Swahili culture. On top of that, when you quietly dine with seafood next to the waves, under the soft light of a candle, it doesn’t get any more exotic.

That’s what happens if you want off-road during the rainy season. Courtesy: madnomad.gr

I would easily stay in Kenya for much longer but the expiration date of my visa was getting closer. I returned to Nairobi, arranged the paperwork and prepared my motorbike for a rough and very interesting route that I was planning to ride since a long time ago. I wanted to reach Ethiopia through the remote region of Lake Turkana. Recent discoveries of hominid skulls in the area, millions of years old, reveal useful information about the human history. After all, that’s one of the areas where our race started its life. However, nowadays it’s a very isolated spot, really inhospitable, with only a few tribes succeeding to survive there.

The mountains around Maralal offered me one of the most scenic rides I had! Courtesy: madnomad.gr

First I had a treat in a beautiful, little, wooden house next to a stream in Naro Moru, on the foothills of Mt Kenya (5,199 m., 17,057 ft.). The mountaintop is famous for being shy, usually hidden behind clouds. So, I didn’t have the chance to see it. After Isiolo, I left the tarmac and I knew I will not see that boring thing in Kenya anymore!

This area is populated by the Samburu tribe and women usually wear these huge, colorful, beaded necklaces. Courtesy: madnomad.gr

The area around Maralal became my favorite part of this route and one of the most scenic ones I’ve ridden! I was on green mountain plateaus at around 2,000 m. (6,562 ft.) altitude. The views were jaw-dropping! The Samburu tribe is offering its color to the landscape with the huge, beaded necklaces that women wear. Men always walk their herds of cows, goats or camels while holding their spear and carrying a big knife on their belt. Their earlobes got huge holes and they wear some big white earrings. Some of them have a thin golden chain going from one ear to the other passing through the chin.

When you first lay eyes on Lake Turkana, after days of rough off-road riding, it’s a special feeling. Courtesy: madnomad.gr

The route north to Barsaloi, Baragoi and South Horr is still on the mountains, so the weather is not too hot. I was wild camping in beautiful scenery every night enjoying the full moon! While I was approaching Loyangalani, the landscape changed… I descended to 400 m. (1,312 ft.) altitude and the vegetation was almost gone. The only feature around was the volcanic rocks. Some parts of the route became rough but when I was standing up on my bike and riding slowly and steady, it was OK. After all, I enjoyed a lot this remote route and my only worry was the availability of water in this dry area. A couple of times I had to use the 2-liter water canister that I carry for emergencies. I have used it only a few times during my trip.

I was usually wild camping next to dry riverbeds, since that was my only chance to find a place without rocks! Courtesy: madnomad.gr

One morning, when I was wild camping next to a dry riverbed, I tried to start my motorcycle but I realized that the battery was flat. After a lot of tests the following days, I figured out that the alternator had failed. It is the first time that I experience this fault but it’s normal for a 20-year-old bike which has covered much more than a hundred thousand kilometers. This was the second time that I was grateful for choosing an XR with a kick-starter. I was on a sandy patch in the middle of nowhere and it would be bloody difficult to jump-start the engine there. However, with the kick-starter it was a piece of cake! The engine was still working properly, so the only issue was that the next month I was kick-starting the bike until I got another alternator shipped from Greece.

The only feature in the landscape around Lake Turkana is these volcanic rocks. Courtesy: madnomad.gr

Seven days after leaving Nairobi, I reached Ileret, at the Ethiopian border. Actually, there is no border post there, so I had to arrange the paperwork in Nairobi. I had finally made it! I knew it would not be easy but it was lovely and it’s one of the routes that I will be remembering. That’s a very authentic and adventurous part of Africa and I’m glad I had the chance to explore it…

After an impressive sunset over the legendary Lake Turkana, my two-month journey across Kenya came to an end. For some reason, this country was one of the countries that felt like home. Maybe it was the nice friends that I made, the diverse landscapes and for sure the relaxed atmosphere too!

This article was originally published in Mad Nomad blog

9/15/2017 1:03:09 PM
<![CDATA[Irma creates bittersweet travel bonus for luckier Caribbean isls]]>
The Carnival Plc ship was meant to dock in Saint Martin, 100 miles (160 km) to the northwest. However, Hurricane Irma devastated the island, wrecking its port and infrastructure, and leaving it out of bounds for tourists.

Antiguan officials now expect the Carnival Fascination to visit every Friday, and have gotten about 25 calls from major cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd and Norwegian Cruise Lines looking to make stops through the end of the year.

For Asot Michael, Antigua and Barbuda’s minister for tourism, the unexpected arrival of thousands of tourists is a bittersweet bonus.

“We are going to be benefiting. I don’t want to benefit from others’ misfortune after such a disaster,” Michael said.

“But because the port is so damaged in Saint Martin, so damaged in Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, we’re getting some of those cancellations. Those cruise lines now are making ports of call into Antigua.”

Hurricane Irma left behind a stark divide in the Caribbean ahead of the winter tourism season that is the region’s economic lifeblood. As travel to the region picks up again, cruise lines, hotels, airlines and other companies are directing customers to places that are able to host them, and away from the worst-hit areas.

Popular winter vacation spots such as Saint Martin, the British Virgin Islands and Saint Barthelemy that were devastated by the storm could be sidelined for weeks or months.

In 2016, 29.3 million tourists visited the Caribbean and spent $35.5 billion, both new records, according to the Caribbean Tourism Organization.

“For Saint Martin and Saint Bart, the holiday season looks very compromised,” said Jean-Pierre Mas, chairman of French travel agency federation SNAV. “My sentiment is that the winter season is lost. Decisions to book for the winter season are taken right now.”

Busy tourist destinations in the western Caribbean, such as Barbados and Trinidad, were well away from the path of the storm. Cozumel, on Mexico’s Gulf Coast, got four additional visits this week as ships were rerouted to avoid the storm’s impact, although Cozumel tourism officials said three cruises were canceled.

Florida, which was anticipating another record year for its $100 billion a year tourism industry, is expected to rebound in time for the peak winter travel months, Moody’s Analytics said earlier this week. Walt Disney Co reopened its Orlando Disney World theme park on Sept. 12. The Florida Keys, however, wrestled with more severe storm damage. [nL2N1LR0N1] [nF9N1L0029] [nL2N1LS1HW]

Some travel companies said they are still assessing the situation and had not made firm decisions about rerouting ships.

Tour operator Virgin Holidays said that it was beginning to return to regular operations in Antigua, despite damage to some properties on the island.

“Antigua wasn’t as badly damaged as we feared, and we have reopened tourism there, although three resorts are currently not on sale because of the damage,” a spokesman for Virgin Atlantic said. “Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Lucia are three big tourist examples that were not impacted.”

However, the small island of Saint Martin, which France shares with the Netherlands, could miss out on much of its tourism season.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday vowed to swiftly rebuild the islands of the French Caribbean, including Saint Martin, and a French public reinsurance body estimated a cost of at least 1.2 billion euros ($1.4 billion) from the damage there and in Saint Barthelemy. [nL2N1LT1SF] [nL5N1LQ09G]

Hurricane Irma badly damaged many hotels on the island, such as AccorHotels Mercure hotel. A spokeswoman for Accor said that while nobody had been hurt, the hotel would be closed until Jan. 8 at least.

While 70 hotel rooms remain operational, they are being used to house military forces and other staff that are supporting the relief effort. AccorHotels is offering cancellation and reimbursement for those who had booked stays at the hotel.]]>
9/15/2017 11:46:47 AM
<![CDATA[Jolie effect helps Namibian tourism defy economic slump]]>
In the middle of the southern hemisphere’s winter, Den Otter and her new husband defied the cold to canoe through a seal reserve to celebrate their honeymoon.

“It’s really nice so far,” said the 29-year-old Dutch woman as she clambered out of their boat on a beach in Walvis Bay, a port town on the country’s west coast.

“The people are very nice and the nature is very good.”

Den Otter, who works in a hotel in Amsterdam, says that she stumbled across southern Africa by chance while seeking travel inspiration.

“We wanted to go somewhere with no rain in June. I checked on the internet the best places to go, and Namibia was among them,” she said. “It has got a combination of everything — the sea, the cities, the desert, game.”

Such a unique blend of attractions and high-profile publicity from Hollywood star Angelina Jolie helped Namibia appear on Den Otter’s planning radar.

Jolie filmed the 2003 blockbuster Beyond Borders in the country, returning in 2006 to give birth to daughter Shiloh Jolie-Pitt in Swakopmund in the west.

The high-profile attention made Namibia an outsider favourite for travel agents the world over almost overnight.

‘Tourism is a critical pillar’

And caught in the grip of a global economic downturn and the related slump in commodities prices, the Namibian government decided to use the limelight to boost tourism as part of a wider effort to diversify the economy.

Among those to benefit from the renewed efforts to develop the sector is Jeanne Meintjes who runs a kayak tour business in Walvis Bay.

“Tourism has grown over the years — more and more people enjoy doing kayaking,” said Meintjes, 60. “Tourists always say the open spaces with so few people make Namibia so special. I have no worries for the future, I just need the seas.”

For the past decade growth in tourist numbers has been modest but consistent. In 2015, nearly 1.4 million foreigners visited Namibia.

The steady increase has already made tourism the country’s third largest sector, bringing in more than 15 billion Namibian dollars (RM5 billion) annually — 20 per cent of the country’s GDP — behind only mining and fishing.

In 2013, 22,500 people were directly employed by the tourism industry, and some 90,000 people were involved indirectly — 16 per cent of the working-age population — according to official statistics.

“Tourism is a critical pillar of the Namibian economy and has transformed the lives of many Namibian citizens — particularly those in rural areas,” said Pohamba Shifeta, Namibia’s tourism minister, who added that the weak local currency had made Namibia attractive to North American and European tourists.

“The tourism industry continued to grow and remain one of the strongest performing sectors despite the negative economic situation.”

‘Something for everyone’

Etosha national park in the country’s north is often high on the list of must-sees for foreign visitors.

As are Luederitz in the southwest and the abandoned mining town of Kolmanskop, Fish River canyon and the sandy dunes of the Dorob national park.

And unlike neighbouring Botswana where tourism is defined by five-star game lodges and champagne safaris, Namibia has not opted only to grow luxury tourism.

“Namibia is offering something for everyone. When I’m a backpacker I can come in here and stay at an affordable lodging. If I’m an everyday person who wants to do extraordinary things, I can come to Namibia,” said Paul Brinkmann, head of the Namibia Tourism Board. “If you do that in Botswana, if you want to do it properly, you have to be mega-rich.”

The government’s goal is clear: to make the country as appealing as possible to tourists and their hard currency.

And while the sector’s major players are delighted by Windhoeks’s upbeat rhetoric, they are nonetheless pressing for a more concrete plan.

“There is an effort but there is not enough being done,” said Ulf Gruenewald, the manager of Luederitz’s largest hotel.

“It is very important that we really, really market the country because we are just a small little country in this big world.”

Brinkmann, the tourist board chief, is frustrated by the decision to ban tourists from certain areas of natural interest in the name of conservation.

“They are stronger on the environment than they are on tourism,” he said.

Business leaders have also been irked by a recent law that demands that at least 25 per cent of the capital of companies in the tourism sector, which is dominated by whites, be held by black entrepreneurs.

“There is not enough money in the country to take that value over,” warned Brinkmann. “The problem is, who will invest capital and infrastructure at a time when you need to invest US$100 for 75 per cent of the shares? The industry has potential for big growth but people are being very cautious.”

Namibia’s tourism minister is undeterred -- believing that the sky is the limit for the nation’s tourism potential.

“One of our desired outcomes is that the tourism industry becomes the second most important contributor to GDP,” said Pohamba Shifeta.]]>
9/15/2017 10:46:15 AM
<![CDATA[Here are the most innovative airlines and airports across the world]]>
At the Future Travel Experience Awards held in Las Vegas last week, Qatar Airways, KLM, Heathrow and Oslo airports were among the standout winners for bringing innovative new products to the market and shaking up the air travel experience.

The big winner of the evening was Qatar Airways, which took home two awards including best baggage initiative and “best up in the air” initiative, for their QSuite, the industry’s first double bed for Business Class. The customisable suite was described as a game-changer when it debuted earlier this year, for its ability to transform into a four-seat configuration, as well as a double bed. The individual suites feature sliding doors for privacy, ambient mood lighting and movable TV monitors.

London’s Heathrow Airport took the award for best gate initiative for its facial recognition technology at Terminal 5, where 36 biometric-enabled self-boarding gates have helped expedite the boarding process for domestic passengers travelling British Airways. Plans are in place to install more than 300 self-boarding gates across Heathrow Airport in the coming year.

Dutch carrier KLM also took to the stage to receive the award for best passenger assistance initiative for their “outstanding use of social media during the travel process”. Flyers can access booking confirmations, check-in notifications, boarding passes and flight status updates in 10 languages on Facebook, Twitter and WeChat, and contact the airline 24/7 via their social media channels.

9/14/2017 12:03:39 PM
<![CDATA[UK's only female panda is not pregnant after all - zoo]]>
In August, the Scottish zoo had said it believed Tian Tian, which translates to Sweetie in Chinese, was pregnant but warned panda breeding was a complicated process.

"It is with sadness that we can confirm Tian Tian, Edinburgh Zoo's resident female giant panda, will not give birth to cubs this year," said Iain Valentine, director of giant pandas at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland.

Tian Tian, born in 2003, is one of two pandas who moved to Britain from China under a 10-year loan. Whilst in China she gave birth to twins in 2009 but has failed to produce a cub since arriving in Scotland in 2011.

The foetuses of giant pandas are extremely small, making it hard for zoos to know whether females are pregnant.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature last year reclassified the species as "vulnerable" rather than "endangered", citing growing numbers in the wild due to decades of protection efforts.]]>
9/14/2017 11:47:44 AM
<![CDATA[Lauda to bid for part of Air Berlin with Thomas Cook's Condor]]>
Lauda holds 51 percent of the consortium which will bid for 21 Airbus A320 and A321 planes of Air Berlin’s subsidiary Niki - formerly owned by Lauda - as well as 17 additional aircraft flying under the Air Berlin banner, according to Kurier’s online edition.

The consortium plans to service short and medium haul flights to tourism hot spots, making use of Condor’s expertise in that sector.

“As we have said previously, Thomas Cook and its leisure airline Condor stand ready to play an active role in the restructuring of Air Berlin and its subsidiary Niki. Clearly, we will explore all options,” said a Thomas Cook spokesman.

A spokeswoman for Lauda confirmed the Kurier report.

Air Berlin, Germany’s second-biggest airline, is set to be carved up, most likely among several buyers, with binding offers due on Friday.

The airline filed for bankruptcy protection last month after its biggest shareholder, Etihad Airways, withdrew funding following years of losses.

Air Berlin had to cancel flights on Tuesday and Wednesday after pilots called in sick in unusually high numbers, a move seen as a protest about job uncertainty but potentially complicating efforts to rescue the insolvent carrier.

Kurier quoted Lauda as saying he did not understand why the pilots “were accelerating a bankruptcy before Air Berlin is sold.”

Germany’s biggest airline, Lufthansa, is seen in pole position to acquire large parts of its rival and a decision on the bids come could as early as Sept. 21, three days before Germany’s national election.

One source has told Reuters that Lufthansa is interested in as many as 90 of Air Berlin’s planes. That number includes the 33 being used by Eurowings, five already leased to Lufthansa’s Austrian Airlines as well as planes used by Air Berlin subsidiary Niki, the source said.

Media reports said British carrier easyJet (EZJ.L) may want up to 40 planes.

Aviation investor Hans Rudolf Woehrl said he had submitted a bid for the whole of Air Berlin while German family-owned logistics company Zeitfracht has also expressed interest.

Air Berlin has also attracted buyer interest from China’s LinkGlobal Logistics, German newspaper Bild reported on Wednesday.]]>
9/14/2017 3:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[EasyJet's new connecting service for long-haul passengers]]>
Both easyJet and Ryanair (RYA.I) have for some time been looking at so-called feeder flights to attract more customers, and have often said traditional carriers should use low cost rivals to bring passengers to their hubs.

The move is an attempt to muscle into the market for connections at international hub airports currently dominated by the big global airline alliances - Oneworld, SkyTeam and Star Alliance.

EasyJet passengers will be able to buy other airlines’ flights on easyJet.com and will also initially be able to connect onto long-haul flights provided by Norwegian Air Shuttle (NWC.OL) and WestJet (WJA.TO) at London Gatwick using the airport’s Gatwick Connect scheme.

Peter Duffy, chief commercial officer at easyJet, said 70 million passengers currently begin journeys at easyJet airports, and make a stop before traveling across continents, and that easyJet wanted a slice of that market.

“This will open up lots of new competition for long-haul travel and will drive prices down,” Duffy told reporters.

The Gatwick Connect scheme allows passengers to pick up their bags and drop them off at a transfer desk before going through security for their next flight. Passengers will have a minimum 2-1/2 hour connection time.

The move also increases pressure on British Airways (ICAG.L) at Gatwick, RBC analyst Damian Brewer said, where it lacks the short-haul feed for its intercontinental routes.

In January, Ryanair said it hoped to start offering connections to long-haul flights from Norwegian and Aer Lingus from May, but later said that would more likely be from September. It said technical issues were causing delays.

Norwegian’s chief commercial officer Thomas Ramdahl told Reuters it was still talking to Ryanair.

“We have a solution that works for two parties within the low-cost model, so we can easily bring this solution onto Ryanair if they are willing to join us,” Ramdahl said, adding easyJet had greater flight numbers to Gatwick, which is home to Norwegian’s biggest long-haul network.

Ramdahl said Norwegian was looking at similar arrangements in the United States and Asia, and had talked to Qantas-owned Jetstar (QAN.AX) about a connecting partnership for Norwegian’s flights to Singapore.

At 1430 GMT, shares in Norwegian were up 2.6 percent, while easyJet's rose 1.6 percent, the biggest increase on Britain's FTSE 100 .FTSE.

Aviation consultant John Strickland said easyJet’s platform would make customers’ lives easier, but as the airline already operated very full planes, it was more a case of topping up business where available.

“Importantly for easyJet it won’t pick up the tab for any missed connections or baggage disruptions,” he added.

EasyJet said it did not expect any additional costs as a result of the new service. It also said it was in talks with carriers in the Middle East and Asia about joining the scheme, which would expand into other airports in Europe.]]>
9/14/2017 2:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Central African Republic still on the tourist market ]]>

However, the country does have its charms, which come in various shapes and sizes, ranging from rare butterflies to gorillas and elephants — let alone the hospitality of the people. There is nowhere on Earth that is more suitable for safaris and lovers of wildlife as the Central African Republic.


Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, is situated on the banks of the Ubangi River and ranks atop the most worth-visiting places in Africa, especially if you are a fan of shopping and nightlife.


If you are to visit the country, you must be a fan of primitive nature. You must be adaptable and flexible to the change in the elements, especially the weather. At times, you will witness all the seasons in one day: from soaring temperatures to cloudy skies and ending up with heavy rains.


In addition, the presidential palace is a key attraction. The setting of the city within the rapids of the Ubangi River and the rolling hills nearby make it a city with natural charm.

green spaces

The city has rough and dusty roads, the so-called “Big Mosque”, and a number of museums that document the colonization of the country and the suffering of its indigenous people. If you enjoy the sights and the atmosphere, stick around. You may end up spending more time than you planned.


South Africa

9/14/2017 1:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[A walk in Old Islamic Cairo with American convert ]]>
Egypt Today accompanied Jeffrey, who also goes by Jafar, in the walk on Tuesday.

Egypt Today with Jafar outside Al Hussein Mosque, built in 1154

As soon as we arrived to the Hussein district, Jafar was interested to start his tour by visiting Al Hussein Mosque, built in 1154. He walked inside the large mosque and visited the shrine of Imam Al Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Mohammed.

Jafar at Imam Hussein shrine inside the mosque

He then went to a fruit juice shop near Al Hussein Mosque and had sugar cane juice while wandering around the mosque taking photos and playing football in the vicinity, which is used as a picnic destination for many Egyptians.

Enjoying sugar cane juice

He kept walking until he reached Khan Al Khalili to buy souvenirs and take photos of the historical places and bazaars.

Jafar outside a bazaar of Islamic and Pharaonic items in Khan al-Khalili

He visited the nearby Al Azhar Mosque, built in 970, and met some Al Azhar University scholars giving lectures there.

Jafar inside Al Azhar mosque

Finally, he walked to Al Azhar headquarters, across from the famous Al Azhar Park, to obtain a certificate of his conversion. He met Professor Ahmed Omar Hashim, one of the most famous scholars at Al Azhar.

Jafar outside Al Azhar Institution headquarters

“I embraced Islam in 2008 after having lived in Egypt for two years while studying at the American University in Cairo. I then returned to the U.S. for a few years. Now that I’m back in Cairo, I wanted to get a certificate of my conversion from al-Azhar,” Jafar told Egypt Today.

Jafar meeting Shaykh Ahmed Omar Hashim

At the end of the tour, he expressed his wish to spend his life in Egypt.

9/14/2017 12:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[et Photography: Chameleon ]]>
Reptiles are one form of life that serves the planet tremendously and is important for the balance of nature. Although some are life-threatening for human beings, others are just a beautiful creature to watch crawling.

1 (2)
Chameleon - Amr Salah

The beauty is in their skin tone and texture. This is specifically found in those that have the ability to camouflage. Captured here is one Chameleon standing on sand and imitating its colors perfectly.

We thank reptile lover Amr Salah for sharing his photo with us. Find more of his work on his Facebook page



9/13/2017 5:53:59 PM
<![CDATA[Air Berlin sees flight operations stabilizing on Thursday: staff memo]]>
“Since last night more than two dozen captains have reported they are fit to fly,” Air Berlin said in the memo.

It called on its remaining pilots to support the airline as the sale of its assets nears the home stretch, saying continued flights were a pre-requisite for jobs at Air Berlin to be saved.

It said at least 32 flights would be canceled on Wednesday, and that it was unable to operate 35 flights for Lufthansa’s (LHAG.DE) budget airline Eurowings.]]>
9/13/2017 1:44:49 PM
<![CDATA[Morocco tourists make tracks on 007's 'desert express']]>
The train, made famous in the 2015 Bond movie "Spectre", trundles tourists between the town of Oujda and the former mining city of Bouarfa along a 350-kilometre-long (215-mile) stretch of desert.

"It takes between eight and 12 hours to make the trip, sometimes even more," says Kunz, 70, who is known as Edi, blaming sandstorms for frequent delays.

His passion for trains put him in the driver's seat more than 10 years ago when he persuaded Morocco's National Office of Railways to let him run a tourist train on a disused railway line.

The track that runs near the border with Algeria was originally built nearly 100 years ago when Morocco was a French protectorate.

It was part of an ambitious project, the Mediterranean-Niger railway, to link the sea to inland Africa.

However, the project was short-lived and, in time, the mines and factories in Bouarfa shut down, until the desert region with its lunar landscapes was rediscovered by Kunz and the location scouts for "Spectre".

Exterior shots of the train making its way through the desert darkness were used in the Bond movie, a star-studded spy thriller with Daniel Craig reprising the role of 007.

One of the most striking sequences in the film depicts a romantic dinner between Bond and a character played by French actress Lea Seydoux that is interrupted by the villain Mr Hinx, played by wrestler Dave Bautista.

The resulting fight between Bond and Hinx in a train carriage has been praised by some critics as one of the best scenes in the whole movie.

- Cradle in the desert -

The tourist train that Kunz hires from Morocco's national railway operator is not quite as luxurious as the one featured in "Spectre".

Tourists can choose from a first-class, air-conditioned carriage and another that dates back to the 1960s, in which they can open the windows to take in the scenery and snap pictures.

The train moves at a top speed of 50 kilometres per hour (30 mph), but this can often drop to 10 kph and sometimes the train has to come to a complete halt because of sand on the tracks.

When that happens, workers resort to shovels to get rid of the sand before the train can proceed.

"Some people buy BMWs but I bought myself a train," Kunz says, with a chuckle, recalling how he struggled to make a profit with his desert train project.

In a good year, he says, he makes five to six trips between Oujda and Bouarfa.

On the route to Bouarfa, the first dozen or so kilometres are through a fertile plain, and then the train passes through the Tiouli tunnel.

After that it is mostly desert.

Along the way, passengers see abandoned train stations -- and the more unusual sight of a former Roman Catholic church turned into a judo club, near a mosque.

Kunz is hoping to transform one of the abandoned stations into a restaurant, but for the time being dinner is served in the train.

The chef, Aziz, prepares local specialities -- spicy tajine stews and mint tea -- for the tourists.

"This train is important. It creates jobs and helps promote our country," Aziz says.

One of the passengers on the Oriental Desert Express is Mona, a young Moroccan based in Paris.

"It is a welcome change of scenery. It's nothing but an infinite desert behind us and ahead of us," she says.

"There's an extraordinary atmosphere on the train," she adds, comparing its slow progress through the Saharan sands to being rocked in a cradle.]]>
9/13/2017 11:52:12 AM
<![CDATA[Taiwan battens down for Typhoon Talim, mainland China on alert for twin storms]]>
Talim was expected to gain in strength as it sweeps towards Taiwan’s northern cities, lashing them with strong wind and heavy rain, the Central Weather Bureau said.

The brunt of the storm would be felt later on Wednesday and on Thursday, when it was expected to slam into the north and northeast with maximum sustained wind speeds of 137 km per hour (85 mph) and gusts of up to 173 km per hour (107 mph), according to the bureau’s website.

“Typhoon Talim has been changing its course and is not entirely predictable. It’s been expected to hit Taiwan directly, but its trajectory has altered further northward and eastward,” said Taiwan’s Premier William Lai.

“But at this point our emergency operation center has not lowered its level of alert,” the premier added.

It had not yet been determined whether the Taiwan government would close financial markets, companies or schools on Thursday. An announcement would be made later on Wednesday if closures were considered necessary.

China Airlines and EVA Airways, Taiwan’s two largest carriers, said they would cancel some inbound and outbound international flights scheduled for later on Wednesday. A warning for sea traffic was also issued by the Central Weather Bureau.

Formosa Petrochemical Corp, Taiwan’s second-biggest oil supplier, said it had prepared to close its supply port if necessary, although it was waiting for a government directive.

Typhoons are a seasonal routine for Taiwan, but the island has enhanced its preparations and been on guard against the potential for severe and deadly storms since Typhoon Morakat devastated the island in 2009.

Morakat was the deadliest typhoon to hit the island in recorded history, killing close to 700 people, most of them in landslides.


As early as Thursday night, Talim could make landfall along the northern coast of Zhejiang province on the Chinese mainland as a strong typhoon, packing gusts of up to 48 meters per second (173 kph), China Meteorological Administration said in a statement on Wednesday.

The agency maintained an orange warning on Wednesday - the second-highest in a four-tier color-coded system for severe weather.

Throughout Wednesday and Thursday, strong winds and rain are expected to buffet the coastal areas of Zhejiang and Fujian as well as the East China Sea and Taiwan Strait, the mainland’s weather agency said.

Talim could strengthen into a super typhoon with winds of 52 meters per second (187 kph) in the late afternoon on Thursday just before making landfall in Zhejiang.

Zhejiang authorities have told fishing vessels to seek shelter by Wednesday. A fishing ban will be in place until Friday.

The railway bureau in Shanghai, north of Zhejiang, said it had stopped selling tickets for hundreds of trains over the next few days.

The storm is expected to turn northeast towards Japan on Friday, while another heads toward southern China and Vietnam.

Tropical Storm Doksuri is expected to steadily intensify and become a strong typhoon and brush past the southern coast of Hainan province in the evening on Thursday or early Friday.

In face of incoming twin typhoons, provinces in their way have been on high alert for heavy rainfall, storm surges, flash floods and landslides.

As many as half a million people may need to be evacuated if the storm intensifies, according to Chinese media reports.

Fujian said more than 20,000 people had been evacuated by 7 a.m. local time (2300 GMT) on Wednesday. Provincial authorities have also shut some coastal scenic spots and suspended thousands of ships and ferries.

The Fujian meteorological agency said it would maintain its yellow alert for Talim, the second-lowest in the four-tier warning system.

Hainan has suspended all trains in and out of the island province over the next few days. Ships and offshore workers have been told to seek shelter.

Cathay Pacific Airways said on Wednesday that flights to and from Sanya, the southernmost city on Hainan island, may be affected on Friday.

Doksuri, known as Maring in the Philippines, had dumped heavy rain on the Philippine capital of Manila and nearby provinces earlier this week, causing widespread flooding and landslides.]]>
9/13/2017 11:16:49 AM
<![CDATA[After Irma, a mixed journey home for Florida evacuees]]>
Tinkler, a retiree from Jupiter, Florida, said she was about to end “the best experience of my life” after waiting out the storm at a high-end convention hotel with her two daughters, their two babies and seven cats.

But at a nearby Days Inn, Lopez’s spirits were low as she shared a bucket of fried chicken with four families from the Florida Keys bunking together in two cramped rooms. They were returning to salvage belongings from destroyed homes.

“I don’t have a house, I don’t have a job,” said Lopez, 50, who works for a gas station that was also devastated. “We go back to nothing.”

They are part of a complicated return home after the largest evacuation in U.S. history which saw 6.5 million people flee the storm in Florida.

After surviving what began as one of the fiercest Atlantic storms in a century, many are returning with conflicting emotions. The relief of going home is at times overwhelmed by the logistics of the trip and then putting their pre-storm lives back together.

On social media, travelers traded advice on how to avoid the chaotic scenes many experienced on the way out: long lines for gasoline and traffic so bad that people slept in their cars.

Hoping to avoid such congestion, Cathy Bobal, a 59-year-old retiree from Coconut Creek, Florida, decided on Tuesday to spend a fifth night in Orlando before leaving at 3 a.m.

As she arranged her check-out from the Rosen Center, which reduced rates and waived pet and parking fees for evacuees, others were checking in.

“It’s round two,” she said. “People are coming in because they don’t have power.”

Tinkler, 73, left with plans to return the next time a hurricane menaced her home.

“I want to live in this world forever,” she said, envisioning disaster reunions with the other guests. “We had a party.”

Across town, the group from Marathon, Florida, was ending five nights at Days Inn not knowing whether authorities would even allow them back into their homes.

“It’s a total disaster. Our house was destroyed. I’ve seen the pictures,” said Heidi Hernandez, 23, a school teacher. “We’re going down there to salvage what we can and then come back up.”]]>
9/13/2017 11:14:16 AM
<![CDATA[Packed with tourists, Ibiza struggles to house locals]]>
Known as much as a wild party island as a place of tranquility with coves of turquoise blue water, Ibiza has increased in popularity over the years.

But behind the sea, sun, dancing and yachts lurks a serious problem of tourism overcrowding that is preventing many locals from finding affordable accommodation.

"It's not easy living in a van but rental prices are crazy, you just can't pay them," says Andrade, a 47-year-old Argentine who has lived in this part of the Balearic Islands since 2000, but was forced to move out of his home when he separated from his wife.

In his metallic blue van, he sleeps on a sofa-bed and makes meals on a small gas cooker. On the roof, solar panels provide him with electricity.

Just under a decade ago, he says he could rent a country house for just 400 euros ($470) a month. Now for that price, he would be reduced to sharing a room.

The number of tourists visiting Ibiza, a small island of just 142,000 inhabitants, has almost doubled from 1.7 million in 2010 to three million in 2016, according to the regional statistics institute.

This mirrors a similar trend in the rest of Spain, the world's third tourism destination which close to 76 million people visited in 2016, although there are fears last month's terror attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils may dampen their enthusiasm.

In Ibiza, high demand for accommodation prompted the appearance of scores of tourist rentals, most of them without a permit, provoking a rise in real-estate prices and making it hard to find a room for less than 600 euros.

The citizens' Platform of those Affected by Rental Prices in Ibiza has detailed the existence of countless abusive offers -- 500 euros a month to live on a balcony, 300 euros for a mattress not including the bathroom, or 2,100 euros for a small caravan.

- Trouble attracting workers -

With a salary of just 1,400 euros as a truck driver and vendor, Andrade chose to buy his van for 3,000 euros.

Four caravans are parked next to his van in a wasteland, its occupants opting for a nomadic lifestyle due to high rental prices.

The situation gets even worse in high season, when the number of people on the island triples and temporary workers are needed in the tourism industry and other sectors, such as health services.

Such is the difficulty to find affordable housing that the Can Misses Hospital in Ibiza, the main one on the island, has rehabilitated an unused floor to provide accommodation for temporary workers.

Javier Segura, a 30-year-old microbiologist, arrived in June and was forced to stay there after an unsuccessful search for a flat.

"Some of the offers were rip-offs and others were really pricey... over 2,000 to 3,000 euros," he says.

"And the offers with accessible prices, between 1,000 and 2,000, were all taken."

In an ironic twist, the tourism sector itself is finding it hard to find much-needed temporary workers if it doesn't offer accommodation with the contract.

Years ago "in May, I would receive 10 to 12 CVs every day to come work in the summer, now just one or two come," says Joan Riera, owner of the Can Alfredo rice restaurant in Ibiza Town, who has since opted to hire local personnel only.

- Reducing tourism -

"We have perverted the system," deplores Lucas Prats, president of an organisation that promotes tourism.

Before there were "buildings dedicated to residential homes and those in tourism zones. Now everything is for tourism."

As such, the regional parliament of the Balearic Islands has passed a law banning the use of apartments for tourists without a permit.

It also limits to just over 623,000 the number of visitors who can stay in hotels or legal rental accommodation in one go, and plans to reduce that figure to around 500,000.

The aim is to stop locals from turning against tourism, an important activity for an island that was once poor and relied solely on fishing and agriculture before turning into an attraction for visitors in the 1960s.

"In Ibiza there are no exceptions, we all live off tourism," says Prats.]]>
9/13/2017 11:11:53 AM
<![CDATA[Irma: US crisis cell brings stranded tourists home]]>
More than 2,000 Americans left stranded by the passage of Hurricane Irma have been flown out of the holiday island of Saint Martin by the Air National Guard -- or loaded onto passing cruise ships.

As many more again are thought to be in the region, although exact numbers are hard to come by with many phone and power lines down.

Now the focus is shifting to farther flung resorts, where hundreds more tourists and expats await news -- some of them cut off without communication, other just in need of a flight.

On the seventh floor of the State Department in Washington, between a table heaving with emergency supplies of coffee and doughnuts and banks of screens and phones, Lucia Piazza is taking stock.

The air bridge set up by the New York, Kentucky and Puerto Rico National Guard units is bringing out tourists by the planeload, and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines has picked up hundreds more.

"Part of the challenge has been we don't have a presence there and communication lines were almost completely disrupted," said Piazza, the head of a team from the office of crisis management support.

"But where we know we have a few pockets of American citizens we think we may have a couple of thousand more," she estimated.

"We're also starting to focus resources on the British Virgin Islands, where we know we have a number of American citizens in distress," she told AFP on a visit to the center on Monday.

Maps of the Caribbean islands are plastered along the walls of the room, where staff in headsets and in front of screens monitor the rotation of the planes and the collection of stranded families.

A young man -- one of the diplomats and civil servants seconded to the emergency team -- puts his phone aside after a call from one of the islands and says: "A plane just landed, it can take 120."

- Critical situations -

Most of those picked up in the islands are brought out to San Juan in Puerto Rico on National Guard flights. A Royal Caribbean liner will stop at Saint Thomas and a flight has arrived in Turks and Caicos.

In a room across the corridor from Piazza's emergency logistics team, Elizabeth Cherry -- director of consular crisis management -- has a team taking calls from anxious US families.

The State Department has issued an emergency number and a switchboard ranks the incoming calls in three tiers.

Tier one calls from citizens expressing general concern or offering donations are politely redirected. Tier two calls with news of citizens stranded in the hurricane zone come to the crisis center.

There, so-called tier three calls get priority, Cheery explains: "Those critical situations. Someone who has run out of medication, or there's an infant child in distress."

The operation is proceeding, and so far there have been no nasty surprises -- no US citizen has been confirmed killed by the storm on the holiday islands -- but the search continues.]]>
9/13/2017 10:10:59 AM
<![CDATA[Enjoy the best hikes with EcoTravel ]]>
An event is taking place in Sinai on September 20 for two days with EcoTravel Egypt, that will cost LE 1200 ($68).

EcoTravel invites people to hike up three mountains in two days, and sleep upon the highest mountain in Egypt as payback for the effort. The weather is perfect for a good hike, they added.

The program includes hiking to Jebel Ahmar or “Red mountain”, a beautiful highlight of Saint Catherine city, but get ready to scramble up your way.

Mount Moses and Mount Catherine will follow with their astonishing out of this world scenery.

"Hiking level is not easy so anyone interested should contact us directly and personally to make sure that he/she is fit enough," EcoTravel stressed.

Join this trip through their Facebook page


Cleaning the shore – Eco Travel
9/13/2017 12:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[10 Realistic photos showing how Cairo is actually like ]]>
Thanks to photographer Hossam Abbas for sharing his photos with us. Find more of his work on his page here

https://www.facebook.com/hossam.abbas.photography/?ref=br_rs .

1. From the Egyptian Museum – Hossam Abbas

2. From the Egyptian Museum – Hossam Abbas

3. Al Refai Mosque – Hossam Abbas

4. Church of St. George for Roman Orthodox – Hossam Abbas

5. Dahshoor pyramid – Hossam Abbas

6. Nile – Hossam Abbas

7. Cairo Street – Hossam Abbas

8. Nile – Hossam Abbas

9. The cave where Jesus and his mother, Mary, peace be upon them, hid in Egypt – Hossam Abbas

10. Giza Pyramids from Helwan – Hossam Abbas

Although this list highlights some of Cairo mesmerizing sceneries, it is a drop in the ocean compared to how huge the city actually is.]]>
9/12/2017 11:05:02 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt wins membership of WTO commission for Mideast]]>
This came during the 43rd meeting of the WTO's Commission for the Middle East, which was held earlier in the day in China's Chengdu.

Egypt was also chosen to host the 44th meeting of the commission, slated for the second quarter of 2018.

Minister of Tourism Yehya Rashed called during the meeting for cooperation among the member states to promote tourism industry in the Arab world.]]>
9/12/2017 7:17:11 PM
<![CDATA[Three astronauts set for ISS blast-off]]>
Alexander Misurkin of the Russian space agency, NASA first-time flyer Mark Vande Hei and veteran colleague Joe Acaba prepared to set off for a mission of more than five months aboard the ISS at 2117 GMT.

The Soyuz spacecraft is expected to dock at around 0300 GMT on Wednesday.

As NASA beefs up its crew in space, the launch will mark the first occasion two US astronauts have blasted off together on a mission to the ISS from Russia's Baikonur since June 2010.

The American space agency stopped its own manned launches to the ISS in 2011 but recently moved to increase its crew complement aboard the orbital lab as the Russians cut theirs in a cost-saving measure announced last year.

Acaba, 50, has spent nearly 138 days in space over two missions. Rookie Vande Hei, 50, served with the US army in Iraq prior to training as an astronaut. Misurkin, 39, who is beginning his second mission aboard the ISS, also has a military background.

Speaking at the pre-launch news conference on Monday, Acaba, who is of Puerto Rican heritage, said he would be taking some "musica Latina" on board to lift his crewmates' spirits.

"I can guarantee my crewmates they will not fall asleep during that music and if you want to dance at about 3 am tuned into our Soyuz capsule I think you'll enjoy it," he told journalists.

- 'Praying for people' -

The launch has been overshadowed by deadly storms that have battered the Caribbean and the southern half of the United States.

External cameras on the ISS captured footage of hurricane Irma last week brewing over the Atantic as it prepared to wreak deadly havoc.

NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston said earlier this month it suffered "significant" damage during Hurricane Harvey, although Mission Control remained operational.

Vande Hei struck a sombre note in his pre-launch tweet on Monday.

"L-2 days. Sunrise over Baikonur, Kazakhstan. Praying for the people of Florida as well as the continued recovery of the Texas Gulf Coast," he said.

Space is one of the few areas of international cooperation between Russia and the US that has not been wrecked by tensions over the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria.

The ISS orbits the Earth at a height of about 250 miles (400 kilometres), circling the planet every 90 minutes at a speed of about 17,500 miles (28,000 kilometres) per hour.]]>
9/12/2017 6:43:22 PM
<![CDATA[Pilots ground Air Berlin flights as bid deadline nears]]>
Air Berlin filed for bankruptcy protection last month after its biggest shareholder, Etihad Airways, withdrew funding following years of losses. Potential investors have until Sept. 15 to submit binding offers for the German airline.

“We must return to stable operations. That is crucial in order to bring talks with investors to a successful conclusion,” Chief Operations Officer Oliver Iffert said in an internal memo. “Today is a day that threatens the existence of Air Berlin.”

About 100 flights had been canceled by late Tuesday morning after 200 Air Berlin pilots called in sick. Some short-haul flights at Lufthansa’s (LHAG.DE) budget airline Eurowings were also hit because it leases 33 planes with crews from Air Berlin.

An industry source said Air Berlin could lose 4 million to 5 million euros a day because of the cancellations.

Pilots union Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) said it was surprised by the absences and that it had not called on its members at Air Berlin to call in sick.

In a similar incident last year, German leisure airline TUIfly was forced to cancel flights after cockpit and cabin crew called in sick. The union Verdi, which represents cabin staff, said then its members were concerned that merger talks, which have since failed, could lead to job and pay cuts.

While a German government loan is helping keep Air Berlin alive, the carrier has also been forced to scrap some long-haul destinations from Sept. 25. Iffert said in the memo seen by Reuters that this was because a leasing company will no longer provide Air Berlin with 10 long-haul planes.

Germany’s biggest airline, Lufthansa, is seen in pole position to acquire large parts of its rival and a decision on the bids come could as early as Sept. 21, three days before a national election.

One source has told Reuters that Lufthansa is interested in as many as 90 of Air Berlin’s planes. That number includes the 33 being used by Eurowings, five already leased to Lufthansa’s Austrian Airlines as well as planes used by Air Berlin subsidiary Niki, the source said.

Thomas Cook’s (TCG.L) German carrier Condor is preparing a bid for parts of Air Berlin, another source said, while media reports say easyJet (EZJ.L) may want up to 40 planes.

Aviation investor Hans Rudolf Woehrl said he had submitted a bid for the whole of Air Berlin while German family-owned logistics company Zeitfracht has also expressed an interest.

Ryanair (RYA.I) said on Tuesday that Air Berlin could be of interest to the Irish low-cost carrier but it didn’t want to wait until after Lufthansa had finished talks.]]>
9/12/2017 5:58:50 PM
<![CDATA[Stonehenge road tunnel gets go-ahead despite protests]]>
The 1.8-mile (2.9-kilometre) tunnel is planned to reduce frequent congestion on a major east-west road axis across England and has a budget of £1.6 billion (1.8 billion euros, $2.1 billion).

Officials have moved the planned route away from the UNESCO World Heritage site in response to criticism.

But Stonehenge Alliance, a group of non-governmental organisations, said it would cause "severe and permanent damage to the archaeological landscape".

"The project needs a complete re-think, not a minor tweak which still threatens major harm to this iconic landscape," said Kate Fielden from the Campaign to Protect Rural England, a member of the alliance.

Conservation groups English Heritage and the National Trust gave their approval to the plan, however.

"We welcome the amended route and believe it can, if designed and located with the utmost care, deliver a lasting legacy for the World Heritage Site and restore peace and tranquility to the Stonehenge landscape," the charities said in a statement.

Transport Minister Chris Grayling said the new tunnel would provide "a huge boost for the region".

"Quicker journey times, reduced congestion and cleaner air will benefit people locally and unlock growth in the tourism industry," he said.

Stonehenge was built in stages, from around 3,000 BC to 2,300 BC.

Thousands of people gather at the mysterious circle of standing stones on Salisbury Plain for the pagan fest of the summer solstice every year.

It is one of the most impressive prehistoric megalithic monuments anywhere due to its size, sophisticated plan and architectural precision.

Archaeologists have identified similar prehistoric monuments in the area, including another buried circle of stones measuring 500 metres (yards) across.]]>
9/12/2017 5:56:57 PM
<![CDATA[Portuguese beauty pageants in Luxor to promote tourism]]>
Their trip includes visiting the main attraction spots of the historic city and promoting tourism through taking pictures at the ancient Egyptian temples. This tour is organized by one of the subsidiaries of the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism, which organizes trips of celebrities as an effective means of promoting tourism.

Out of 18 contestants, Filipa Barroso has won the title of Miss Portuguesa in July 29, 2017. As an elected winner, she will represent her country at the Miss World 2017 pageant in November which will take place in China.

1 (1)

2 (1)


9/12/2017 5:55:23 PM
<![CDATA[et Photography: Milky Way as seen from the Karnak]]>
The architecture of the ancients meeting the beauty of the cosmos makes for a magnificent view.

Al-Karnak temple is one of the largest temples in Luxor. Considered one of the biggest open museums globally, it is certainly worth a visit. A night visit makes the experience even more spectacular.

Talented photographer George shared his breathtaking photographs of his experience there with us. For more of his work, check out his


large web photo template
Karnak and milky way - George Geo
9/12/2017 3:39:42 PM
<![CDATA[The exotic murals of Burullus]]>
In the last four years, Burullus has been hosting an annual mural painting festival that aims to put the small town on Egypt’s tourism map. Thanks to this festival, artists from Egypt and other countries flock to the fishing town to decorate its walls with art.

The murals are basically inspired by the fishing culture of the town, as well as the ancient Egyptian heritage.

Burullus murals. Courtesy: Walk Like an Egyptian Facebook page

Burullus murals. Courtesy: Walk Like an Egyptian Facebook page

Burullus murals. Courtesy: Walk Like an Egyptian Facebook page

Burullus murals. Courtesy: Walk Like an Egyptian Facebook page

Burullus murals. Courtesy: Walk Like an Egyptian Facebook page

Burullus murals. Courtesy: Walk Like an Egyptian Facebook page

Burullus murals. Courtesy: Walk Like an Egyptian Facebook page
9/12/2017 2:59:28 PM
<![CDATA[Here’s why Japan is the go-to destination for a laid-back holiday. See pics]]>
Heated toilets that spray users clean, train seats that revolve so passengers can admire the scenery and a convenience store on every corner: welcome to Japan, where hospitality and customer service form part of the country’s DNA.

Visitors readying to flock to Tokyo for the 2020 Olympics can expect a dizzying array of services in Japan where quirky, futuristic gadgets and everyday conveniences ease the passage through the stresses of daily life.

“Attention to others is at the root of Japanese culture,” said Kazuhiro Watanabe, a consumer trends analyst at Nikkei BP consulting group. It even has its own word in Japanese – omotenashi – or a focus on hospitality. “Here, we anticipate customers’ desires,” stressed Watanabe.

Don’t believe it? How about this typical – if not exhaustive – day in Tokyo. The alarm goes off. Bleary-eyed, you head to the washroom. It’s chilly but don’t worry: the toilet seat is heated.

Enjoyed by foreign celebrities and legions of tourists alike, Japan’s multi-function toilets have an astonishing range of other features too, from jets to wash yourself, deodorisers or a flushing noise button to cover up embarrassing sounds.

But what if you’re alone with a child and nature calls? Many public toilets (spotlessly clean, of course) have infant seats inside the stall. Park baby in the holder and you’re good to go.

Back at home, you’re late for work and there’s no time for breakfast. So you head to the konbini – Japan’s ubiquitous convenience stores – for some food. While you’re there, why not pay that electricity bill and pick up fresh socks or underwear while you’re at it.

Grab some yen from the ever-present ATM, which itself has a handy umbrella and beverage holder.

Needing a caffeine fix, you can buy a canned coffee – hot or cold – from a vending machine. You won’t have to go far: Japan has more than two million drinks vending machines.

Perfection, but at a price

Eating out in Japan is also an exercise in convenience. Most restaurants come complete with realistic plastic versions of the meals in the windows so the hapless tourist can just point. And why wait to actually order your lunch? Many eateries have vending machines outside, so you can order your meal before even going in – speeding up the whole process considerably.

Most places also give you a basket so your bag doesn’t get dirty on the floor. A hot or cool hand towel -- depending on the season -- is standard and if you don’t have a glass of iced water within a couple of minutes of entering, something has gone very wrong.

On the move, order and service smooth the journey even through the most packed station. Commuters line up politely and wait for their train. What’s the rush when they are always on time and there is always another one about to arrive.

The stress of long-distance travelling is also eased by a courier service known as takuhaibin that will ship bags to your weekend retreat for a modest fee. Not weighed down by heavy bags, you can line up for the bullet train in an orderly fashion -- painted markings on the floor will guide you -- and enjoy the seats that rotate so you can watch the scenery at 300 kilometres an hour (186 miles).

“Japanese are very pragmatic -- comfort and practicality are paramount,” said Muriel Jolivet, a sociologist who has lived in Japan for four decades. The country famously has its share of quirky objects too: a book-pillow that lets you catch a few winks in between reading, a shirt fan for those broiling summers, and pocket heaters for winter.

“These kinds of things have always existed,” Watanabe said. “(Japanese) are very good at making existing products better, rather than creating entirely new concepts from scratch.”

Does that make Japan the perfect place to live? Maybe not. There are rules, rules and more rules. “People cannot do what they want -- that’s the other side of the coin,” Watanabe said.

And perfection has a price, Jolivet added. “There is a psycho-rigidity underneath all this,” she said. “Mistakes are not tolerated.”]]>
9/12/2017 2:20:06 PM
<![CDATA[Five helpful apps for beginner travelers]]>
By: Michal Parzuchowski. Courtesy: Unsplash

1- Travel List

We all, one way or another, have a problem with packing. And this is what this app is for. Travel List, obviously, provides travelers with checklists of important items not to miss while packing. It also has a calendar and reminders for last-minute packing items, to help you travel comfortably.

Dubai. By: Robert Bock. Courtesy: Unsplash

2- Walc

This app is designed for those who prefer getting lost on foot rather than taking cabs. Walc orients users to numerous landmarks, whether it is a museum or a nearby Starbucks branch.

White Desert, Egypt. By: Anirban Chatterjee. Courtesy: Unsplash

3- Foodspotting

The first thing travelers think of once they arrive from their long journeys is food. Foodspotting helps users find local eateries of all cuisines.

Petronas Towers, Malaysia. By: Vlad Shapochnikov. Courtesy: Unsplash

4- Scout
This application offers a unique service. Forget about texting overbearing parents or obsessive friends. It automatically sends your worried parents and friends' alerts on your estimated arrival time, and updates them about any changes in your scheduling.

By: Rawpixel.com. Courtesy: Unsplash.com

5- Solo Traveller

If you are traveling on your own, this app will instantly connect you with the travelers around you. It is a wonderful platform to discover backpacking destinations near you.

It is especially helpful for female solo travelers to meet other female company and help them enjoy a safe travel experience.
9/12/2017 1:43:08 PM
<![CDATA[Graffiti in Beirut’s Hamra Street revives Legend Sabah ]]>
In the heart of Beirut, the famous Hamra Street keeps the legendary singer alive by an awesome shining graffiti which is 24 meters high on a building called "Beirut’s Heart" or “Qalb Beirut”. The huge portrait was made by the Lebanese artist Yazen Halwany in 2015 in honor of the beloved singer.

The graffiti reflects the greatness of her talent and presence which paved her way to the hearts of her fans.


Sabah, Lebanese singer and actress, whose real name was Jeanette Gergis al-Feghali, first came to prominence in the 1950s as a star of Egyptian movies.

She is one of the Arab world's best-known entertainers, and died aged 87. Sabah was the first Arab singer to perform at Olympia in Paris, Carnegie Hall in New York, Piccadilly Theatre in London and the Sydney Opera House, BBC reported.

9/12/2017 1:16:57 PM
<![CDATA[S.Sinai governor meets Ukrainian media team to promote tourism]]>
The governor highlighted the depth of the Egyptian-Ukrainian ties.

During an interview with Channel 1 of the Ukrainian TV, Fouda urged Ukrainians to visit Sharm el Sheikh which has a bounty of sightseeing attractions and beaches]]>
9/12/2017 12:45:31 PM
<![CDATA[Delta to cancel about 800 flights due to Irma]]>
"Hurricane Irma is expected to bring to the Atlanta hub strong crosswinds that exceed operating limits on select mainline and regional aircraft," Delta said on Monday.

The No. 2 U.S. airline by passenger traffic, whose business is heavily dependent on operations at the Atlanta airport, said it was planning to resume service to airports in Florida.

Irma, ranked as one of the most powerful hurricanes recorded in the Atlantic, hit a wide swath of Florida over the past day. It is now a tropical storm with sustained winds of up to 70 miles per hour (110 km per hour).

Bigger rival American Airlines Group Inc said on Sunday it would not resume commercial flights at its Miami International Airport hub on Monday, but may operate flights to bring in staff and supplies.]]>
9/12/2017 10:45:22 AM
<![CDATA[Japan: the land of a thousand conveniences]]>
Visitors ready to flock to Tokyo for the 2020 Olympics can expect a dizzying array of services in Japan where quirky, futuristic gadgets and everyday conveniences ease the passage through the stresses of daily life.

"Attention to others is at the root of Japanese culture," said Kazuhiro Watanabe, a consumer trends analyst at Nikkei BP consulting group.

It even has its own word in Japanese, omotenashi, or a focus on hospitality. "Here, we anticipate customers' desires," stressed Watanabe.

Don't believe it? How about this typical, if not exhaustive, day in Tokyo.

The alarm goes off. Bleary-eyed, you head to the washroom. It's chilly but don't worry: the toilet seat is heated.

Enjoyed by foreign celebrities and legions of tourists alike, Japan's multi-function toilets have an astonishing range of other features too, from jets to wash yourself, deodorisers or a flushing noise button to cover up embarrassing sounds.

But what if you're alone with a child and nature calls? Many public toilets (spotlessly clean, of course) have infant seats inside the stall. Park baby in the holder and you're good to go.

Back at home, you're late for work and there's no time for breakfast.

So you head to the konbini - Japan's ubiquitous convenience stores, for some food. While you're there, why not pay that electricity bill and pick up fresh socks or underwear while you're at it.

Grab some yen from the ever-present ATM, which itself has a handy umbrella and beverage holder.

Needing a caffeine fix, you can buy a canned coffee, hot or cold, from a vending machine. You won't have to go far: Japan has more than two million drinks vending machines.

Perfection, but at a price

Eating out in Japan is also an exercise in convenience. Most restaurants come complete with realistic plastic versions of the meals in the windows so the hapless tourist can just point.

And why wait to actually order your lunch? Many eateries have vending machines outside, so you can order your meal before even going in, speeding up the whole process considerably.

Most places also give you a basket so your bag doesn't get dirty on the floor. A hot or cool hand towel, depending on the season, is standard and if you don't have a glass of iced water within a couple of minutes of entering, something has gone very wrong.

On the move, order and service smooth the journey even through the most packed station.

Commuters line up politely and wait for their train. What's the rush when they are always on time and there is always another one about to arrive.

The stress of long-distance travelling is also eased by a courier service known as takuhaibin that will ship bags to your weekend retreat for a modest fee.

Not weighed down by heavy bags, you can line up for the bullet train in an orderly fashion (painted markings on the floor will guide you) and enjoy the seats that rotate so you can watch the scenery at 300 kilometres an hour (186 miles).

"Japanese are very pragmatic and practicality are paramount," said Muriel Jolivet, a sociologist who has lived in Japan for four decades.

The country famously has its share of quirky objects too: a book-pillow that lets you catch a few winks in between reading, a shirt fan for those broiling summers, and pocket heaters for winter.

"These kinds of things have always existed," Watanabe said.

"(Japanese) are very good at making existing products better, rather than creating entirely new concepts from scratch."

Does that make Japan the perfect place to live? Maybe not. There are rules, rules and more rules.

"People cannot do what they want, that's the other side of the coin," Watanabe said.

And perfection has a price, Jolivet added.

"There is a psycho-rigidity underneath all this," she said.

"Mistakes are not tolerated."]]>
9/12/2017 10:42:05 AM
<![CDATA[Mud and glory: Vietnam revs up for biggest off-road race]]>
He was one of some 80 competitors at last weekend's race on a hilly track outside Hanoi, the ninth year of a competition that has ballooned in popularity among adrenalin junkies.

"There aren't many thrilling sports in Vietnam. We want to play thrilling sports but there are no opportunities for us. So this is exactly what I'm looking for," Hung told AFP, speaking after his leg of the race at the mud-slicked course.

But the exhilaration comes with a steep price tag.

Hung has spent $14,000 souping up his $32,000 Ford Ranger, now covered in colourful racing stickers, despite protests from his family.

"My wife and relatives tried to stop me because they said it's a dangerous and costly hobby. But compared to other men's addictions I think my hobby is pretty nice," Hung said.

The sport has taken off in Vietnam, where driving addicts like Hung say they can get a safe rush -- unlike drug users, alcoholics or gambling addicts.

But it's still far from mainstream in a country better known for its rowdy football fans than for gold-medal athletes.

Like all other road hobbies, off-road racing is not recognised as an official sport and therefore does not receive any government funding.

Instead, drivers pay out of their own pockets to compete and bring their own 4x4s and SUVs to races.

"We wish Vietnam could have an official sports car federation," said Khuat Viet Hung, deputy head of the national traffic safety committee.

Improving the sport's profile would help novice drivers to compete in neighbouring Malaysia or Thailand, where it is better established and receives more funding, according to race organiser Nguyen Manh Thang.

He also hopes the race will sharpen car-driving skills in a country where motorbikes rule the roads, and where 30 people die daily in traffic accidents.

"Because traffic in Vietnam is chaotic, many people leave their homes and never return. We want safe driving in Vietnam," Thang said.

For competitor Pham Viet Thanh, competing for the second time, the race is about more than just skilful driving.

"It's a passion. It's in my blood and brain. Anyone who wants to be manly should be involved in at least one sport and I consider this a sport," said the government employee, standing amid thousands of cheering fans at the race.

The secret to his success? An unlikely mistress.

"This cute little girl is with me all the time," he says of his purple SUV.

"When she's broken, I have to be gentle with her, fix her properly. I consider this car my second wife."]]>
9/12/2017 10:39:50 AM
<![CDATA[Moscow unveils $240m park with tundra, ice cave]]>
Zaryadye Park has replaced a gigantic Soviet-era hotel on the banks of the Moscow river, which was demolished in 2006 leaving a lot that stood empty for many years as investors and City Hall clashed over the space, valued at more than $1 billion.

Spanning an area just over 10 hectares (25 acres) in prime location near Red Square and the Kremlin, the lot was eventually converted into a park because "nothing else worked," said Moscow culture department chief Alexander Kibovsky as he gave a tour to journalists at the weekend.

Initially, "nobody had the courage to suggest it could be a park... the lot was valued at 1.5 billion in foreign currency," he said.

"We were shocked" when Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin floated the idea. he said. "I don't know another metropolis where they would disregard commercial value and use the territory as a public space.

"It's fantastic."

The park consists of a landscape with different geobotanical "zones" including one resembling a tundra, as well as attractions like a philharmonic hall concealed under a hill with a "glass crust" roof and an ice cave with a labyrinth.

"Since we (Russia) have a lot of territory beyond the Arctic circle, we are showing it here," Kibovsky said.

Park director Pavel Trekhleb pointed out that climate control for the park's southern plants will be provided with infrared lanterns, while fish will be supplied into the pond on a weekly basis.

"You can come with a fishing pole and get fish for dinner," he said

- Moscow 'fat cat' -

Zaryadye Park is one element of the current mayor's push to remake Moscow which has turned the city of some 12 million into a vast construction site over the past few years.

Other initiatives include a $62.1 billion plan to raze thousands of Soviet-era pre-fab apartment blocks, the $2 billion effort to revamp Moscow's central streets and the $3.5 billion new train line connecting some outlying neighbourhoods.

Compared with these expenditures, the park's budget of 14 billion rubles ($244 million) seems modest, but critics have called some of its pricey elements frivolous at a time when the country is trying to recover from recession.

"What a scale! That's two annual budgets of Tver (a city north of Moscow) on one park!" one Facebook user Alexey Nikonov wrote of Zaryadye's cost.

The park ended up costing three times the original budget of five billion rubles, RBK news agency said.

"No money in the budget to pay salaries to doctors, pensions in the provinces are miniscule, while Moscow is behaving like a fat cat," wrote another critic Svetlana Popova on Facebook.

Historically Zaryadye was a bustling merchant quarters and became a mainly Jewish neighbourhood in the late 19th century.

However after Jews were forcibly moved out of the Russian capital in 1892, Zaryadye began to disintegrate and Soviet authorities decided to knock it down.

It was replaced by the Rossiya hotel which was the biggest in the world with 3,182 rooms when it was built in 1967.]]>
9/12/2017 10:37:17 AM
<![CDATA[Sunsets at the “Sunset oasis”]]>
Pic 1 – Sunset reflection at the Fathnas Island, Siwa Oasis - Monika Sleszynska

One of the unique places to enjoy beautiful sunsets is Siwa Oasis in the Western Desert, as Bahaa Taher’s 19th-century novel describes. The magical sunsets of the Oasis gained the book its title, “Sunset Oasis”, and the novel was awarded the International Prize for Arabic Fiction.

Pic 2 – Sunset pier and mountain reflection in the salt lake from Fathnas Island, Siwa Oasis - Monika Sleszynska

Those who have visited the oasis know the enchanting beauty of the sunset. The sun is the maestro of the desert’s climate. Although watching the sunset in a desert is a popular safari attraction and a special experience, you will find far more than just the sun dunes in the oasis. Siwa is abundant in fresh springs and salt lakes.

Pic 3 –Sky reflection in the salt lake in Maraqi, Siwa Oasis - Monika Sleszynska

The salty Siwa Lake shapes the oasis’s landscape and dictates agriculture as seldom plants and trees can accept to grow on salty water. The water spreads to the outskirts of the oasis, creating picturesque bays and forming extraordinary landscapes.

Pic 4 –Sunset in Maraqi, Siwa Oasis - Monika Sleszynska – Monika Sleszynka

The widely spread waters are a stunning backdrop for the sunsets, especially when the lake water stays still and acts like a mirror reflection. Sunset in the oasis is a time when activities change as the day switches into the night.

Pic 5 – Mountain reflection in a shallow salty lake in Maraqi, Siwa Oasis – Monika Sleszynska

Set below sea level, Siwa is a unique environment and landscape permeated with salt where the alchemy of nature is reflected in a visual manner that could never be duplicated.

Pic 6 – Sun, palm trees, and mountains mirror reflection in Maraqi area, Siwa Oasis – Monika Sleszynska

Each spot around the salt lake provides special scenery, where no two details are the same. It is a feast for the senses and a visual celebration of the beauty of nature. The peaceful wide-spreading land offers an opportunity to observe the miracle of nature filled with calmness and stillnesss, where the only sounds come from the occasionally passing birds and distant sounds of the donkeys, or sporadic vehicles.

Pic 7 – Sunset reflecting in the waters of salt lake in Maraqi area, Siwa oasis – Monika Sleszynska]]>
9/12/2017 12:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Airbnb sees 80 percent jump in visitors to Britain]]>
The company said the growth in inbound visitors to the United Kingdom using its platform was 81 percent between July 2016 and July 2017, taking visitor numbers to 5.9 million and generating 3.46 billion pounds ($4.6 billion) for the economy.

Airbnb said the country was its fifth largest home-sharing community in terms of numbers of listings.

“The UK continues to break records on Airbnb - both as a world-leading destination, and for the benefits that hosting generates for local families and their communities,” James McClure, general manager for Northern Europe at Airbnb, said in a statement.

Official figures show tourism to Britain has been rising, helped by a drop in the pound since Britain voted to leave the European Union in June 2016.

Britain received the highest number of foreign visitors ever in the second quarter, while Heathrow, Europe’s largest airport, on Monday reported a record August.

Airbnb has shaken up the market for travel accommodation, and competes with hotels by allowing people to rent out their homes or apartments, either in full or as part of a house-share.

Its rise has not been without controversy.

The firm has clashed with authorities in Barcelona over whether it enforces regulations to prevent crowds from overwhelming the city.

There have also been disputes in other cities such as Berlin and Paris that claim it deprives locals of accommodation for permanent rent and hikes rental prices.

London has reached 64,000 active listings, Airbnb said. In December, it introduced a new rule to block hosts from renting out homes in the British capital for more than 90 days in a year, a move welcomed by the mayor of London.]]>
9/11/2017 11:18:42 PM
<![CDATA[Dubai developers unveil mega projects despite downturn]]>
Exhibitors at the three-day Cityscape Global showed off models of high-end skyscrapers and even "Floating Venice", a resort complete with underwater suites.

The $680 million Venice development four kilometres (2.5 miles) off Dubai will have capacity of 3,000 visitors.

Real estate is a mainstay in Dubai which has the most diversified economy in the oil-rich Gulf, with oil sales bringing in under 10 percent of state revenues.

Dubai first became a magnet for property investment when it opened the sector to foreigners in 2002, in a region where freehold ownership is often restricted to nationals.

The emirate's property market surged at breakneck speed until the global financial crisis hit debt-laden Dubai in 2009, sending prices into free-fall.

A recovery led by tourism, trade and transportation pushed prices up again between 2012 and 2014.

But the market has seen prices fall again since 2014 for both rents and sales as demand dropped following the slump in oil prices and weak economic growth.

"Over the past three years, prices have dropped by 14 percent and we are now 30 percent lower than in 2008," Faisal Durrani of Cluttons, an international property services and research agency, told AFP.

But he said Expo 2020, the international mega exhibition which Dubai is hosting, is expected to drive a comeback.

He said Expo is expected to generate as many as 300,000 jobs by 2020, creating more demand for real estate.

Dubai-based real estate services firm Asteco said apartment prices fell seven percent year on year in the first half of 2017.

"We do not expect the market to recover until economic sentiment improves in line with increased government spending, further implementation of diversification strategies and the anticipated gradual rise in oil prices," Asteco managing director John Stevens said in a report.]]>
9/11/2017 11:13:15 PM
<![CDATA[Turkey's tranquil eastern highlands transformed by megaprojects]]>
Only when standing on a street in the city of Artvin and looking east towards the scarred landscape around the giant Deriner hydroelectric dam does the impact of mega infrastructure projects in Turkey’s eastern highlands become clear.

Dams, highways and now, a copper mine, have wreaked ecological havoc across the region, threatening farmers’ livelihoods and locals’ health, say environmental campaigners.

In July, Turkey’s council of state, the highest administrative court in the country, backed a local court decision to approve the reopening of a mine on the state-owned Cerattepe hill, just south of Artvin.

More than 200,000 tonnes of copper and several thousand tonnes of gold and silver are set to be mined.

Activists who have opposed repeated attempts to mine the hill for 35 years say around 50,000 trees may be felled, and protestors have already come into conflict with police.

“The nearby crops are covered in dust. Herdsmen are banned from using this road (because of heavy traffic to and from the mine) and they are forced to take their flocks along a further and more difficult path,” said Neşe Karahan of the conservation group, Green Artvin Association.

Last year, riot police used teargas and detained activists and farmers - some of whom who say they have lost livestock due to chemical seepage from the mine - for blocking machinery from reaching the site.


Farmer Fikret Beyaz told the Thomson Reuters Foundation he had lost 11 beef cattle collectively worth more than $15,000.

“The chemicals from the mines have poisoned the local waters. The animals I pastured came back with sicknesses. I told this to the mining firm but they didn’t want to clean or do something about the water,” he said.

Cengiz Holding, the Cerattepe mine operator’s parent company, did not respond to requests for comment.

The region’s bucolic charm has been undermined by other major projects. Several hydroelectric dam systems along the Çoruh river have not only affected farmers’ access to water and property, but cost lives, they say.

Locals blame these projects, as well as climate change, for triggering deadly floods and landslides. In August 2015, powerful floods, the worst for half a century, killed eight people and destroyed houses.

Three months later, three people, including a toddler playing in her room, were killed by a landslide in Borçka village, 30 km (19 miles) north of Artvin. The village lies a short distance downstream from a hydroelectric dam built at the confluence of the Murgul and Çoruh rivers.

Activists say the combination of new hydroelectric dams and a changing climate due to global warming have made life more precarious in the valley.

Turkish authorities, however, says dam systems help to control flooding. “With the construction of dams in the main branch of the Çoruh basin, flood disasters are no longer experienced due to the storage characteristics of the dams,” said State Hydraulic Works (DSİ) general manager, Murat Acu.

Further west along the Pontic mountain range, a new mass tourism project is set to present more problems for farmers and shepherds.

At 2,600 km (1,600 miles) long, the “Green Road” tourist highway will connect dozens of valleys across eight provinces, along routes trodden for centuries by shepherds to bring their livestock to high pastures - or yaylalar - during the summer months.

More than 40 “tourism centres” are planned along the route, in the hope of increasing the number of visitors to the region fivefold. The project is expected to be completed next year.

An officer at the state-run Eastern Black Sea Regional Development Plan (DOKAP), who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the project only uses and extends existing roads.

Conservationists, however, say the so-called Green Road is anything but that. As well as cutting off shepherds’ ancient routes, the widening of roads would affect the traditional honey making industry, a central plank of the local economy.

But the government claims the project will be beneficial for local communities. “With the project, which will make life easier, the employment in the region will develop and the people of the region will have access to the Green Road, too,” said Acu head of the State Hydraulic Works, a state agency.


The projects have bought benefits. Hydroelectric dams provide employment and electricity for millions of residents across a part of the country that suffers from brain drain to cities in western Turkey. Artificial lakes created behind several dams along the Çoruh river are used to farm fish, an additional source of income.

And on the banks of the Tigret Creek in Şavşat, a village in Artvin province, DOKA, a government development agency, is constructing a recreational park and cultural centre that, says the mayor, will offer a new space for locals to socialise.

But when a Thomson Reuters Foundation reporter visited the project in Şavşat, heaps of freshly moved soil could be seen to have fallen into the creek, a waterway prone to flash flooding in summer, just metres from the construction work.

Five people were killed in 2009 when barriers erected by the General Directorate of State Hydraulic Works (DSI), the state agency responsible for dams, collapsed following heavy rainfall.

Asked if such large projects are responsible for deadly flooding, the DOKAP officer said: “Before the projects were started, a masterplan was established to research how they and their results would affect people (but) these are projects created to serve people and we can’t know their full consequences without further research.”


Conservationist Neşe Karahan said tunnel digging and explosives use at the Cerattepe hill mine were hazardous for residents.

“These activities secrete hazardous chemicals that poisoned specifically the river on the borders of the Hatila National Park,” she said.

“Gardens can’t be watered anymore and people have lost their jobs and their centuries-old culture.”

For landowners such as Fikret Beyaz, the mining work is making him reconsider his livelihood, but he said quitting would leave his neighbours worse off.

"I'm one of the biggest livestock holders in the area,” he says. "If I leave, the mining firm will continue ruining the waters." (Reporting by Stephen Starr, Editing by Ros Russell.; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org)]]>
9/11/2017 4:56:02 PM
<![CDATA[Korean oil spill threatens marine farms]]>
Park Myung-Jae, the minister of government administration and home affairs vowed immediate aid of 5.9 billion won (R42.8 million) and said more state funds would be forthcoming soon.

But newspapers criticised what they called a slow response to the disaster, saying no lessons had been learned since the previous incident.

"Precious time was lost in preparing seaside communities for the impending ecological disaster," a Korea Herald editorial said.

"Equipment to contain the oil spill was not distributed promptly, leaving villagers helpless as they watched the oil move ashore."

The JoongAng Ilbo said it suspects "authorities tackled the accident in a loafing and idle manner."

As almost 9 000 people struggled to clean up the huge slick, officials said the spill could deal a heavy blow to tourism and oyster and abalone farms in the area.

Cho Kyu-Sung, a Taean county official, told AFP that the slick had hit 160 marine farms so far and was still spreading, with a total of 445 farms in the coastal area under threat.

"At this stage, it's difficult to estimate the direct and indirect damage. The damage will be enormous if you include long-term environmental expenses," he added.

Park said the area would be declared a disaster zone during a visit to the fouled beaches, where soldiers, police, volunteers and residents worked with shovels and buckets to try to clear the oil.

The designation makes four townships in Taean county eligible for subsidies and compensation.

About 10 500 tons of crude oil leaked into the Yellow Sea when a drifting barge smashed into an oil tanker on Friday.

Some 140 ships and five planes were helping, but the Coast Guard said the slick has already hit 50 kilometres of coastline. More was expected to come ashore.

"Most of the crude oil left on the water will likely float onto the Mallipo or Cheollipo beaches as the northwest wind is expected to blow for two to three more days," an official at the maritime affairs and fisheries ministry told Yonhap news agency.

The slick has already reached the mouth of Garorimman Bay, the country's largest fish farming area, Yonhap said.

The barge, carrying a construction crane, slammed into the 147 000-ton Hong Kong-registered Hebei Spirit tanker after its cable to a tug snapped in rough seas 90 kilometres southwest of Seoul.

Newspapers and maritime officials reported difficulties contacting the tug captain to warn him of the imminent danger.

The Korea Times said the maritime officials tried twice to alert the crew that the barge was too close to the tanker, but could not make radio contact.

A maritime official in Taean told AFP on condition of anonymity that they had been forced to send a text message to the tug captain's mobile phone.

The crane punctured three of the five oil containers on the tanker, which was anchored eight kilometres off the coast, and the leak was only completely stopped early Sunday.

The oil spill is about twice the size of South Korea's previous worst such case in 1995.

Maritime Minister Kang Moo-Hyun said Sunday he estimated the clean-up would take "at least two months" given the size of the slick.

He told reporters there was serious contamination along 17 to 20 kilometres of coastline, with the oil sludge either glued onto beaches or sinking to the seabed.

On the beaches, police, troops and volunteers carried buckets of sludge to huge rubber pools from which they scooped black oily sand into sacks.

This stretch of coastline is one of Asia's largest wetland areas, providing important habitat for migrating birds. - AFP]]>
9/11/2017 4:55:15 PM
<![CDATA[People of Egypt: Suzan Gaber the trap shooter ]]>
Alexandrian Suzan Gaber is a 27-year-old trap shooter committed to spreading positive vibes. In addition to being a one-of-a-kind champion, she also has a Master’s degree.

1 (1)
Scoring in Egypt

“It's always a surprise to people that I am a shooter and that I excel in this field. Support from the media and federation should be far greater than it is now,” Gaber told Egypt Today.

For some, she is a teacher who helps them better understand the curriculum. For others, she is an example to follow in achieving sports goals.

Although Gaber has always enjoyed sports, the shooting hobby came late into her life. She instantly excelled at it, even far more than her male peers.

2 (1)
Trap shooting in action

With not a single championship missed without a medal, she fluctuated between gold and silver awards. She holds the first place in Egypt and in Africa. Her achievements include first place in the African Championship 2017, first place in the Arab Championship 2016, and third place team in the World Championship Bird 2017.

3 (1)
Arab Championship 2nd place 2016

It is never too hard to maintain a good balance in your life if you know how to commit with the right attitude. Gaber was once only one target away from making it to the Olympic Games, and now she has her eyes on Tokyo 2020.

We wish her the best!

4 (1)
Suzan with her tools
9/11/2017 3:42:10 PM
<![CDATA[After Irma, tourists party and Cubans take a dip in flooded streets]]>
British visitor Josephine Breslin, 49, spent the night on an inflatable bed in a hotel bathroom when Irma’s 120 mph (195 km) winds walloped Cuba’s top beach destination, but after helping sweep up on Sunday morning, she felt ready to start relaxing.

“I think the atmosphere now is relief, knowing it is past and the building is still there and everyone is OK,” said the British woman, wearing a colorful pareo over her swimsuit.

“You can feel people are settling down, the winds are going, the sun is coming out, its business as usual, Cuban rum – yes please!” she said.

Irma was packing 160 mph (260 kph) winds when it made landfall in Cuba, the first storm of that power to reach the island since 1932, and it caused major damage to tourist infrastructure including an international airport on the sandy keys popular with Europeans and Canadians.

It tore off roofs and downed electricity poles throughout the country before turning northwards and plowing through Florida on Sunday. But even with the power out across most of the country of 11.2 million people, the damage to inland Cuba appeared less than devastation wrought on smaller Caribbean islands.

Winds had slowed a little by the time Irma reached Varadero.

The storm, which killed at least 28 people in the Caribbean and at least one man in Florida, did not lead to reported fatalities in Cuba, which carried out a major evacuation effort prior to the storm.

Havana was spared a direct hit but locals in the poor central district of the colonial city close to the seafront were dealing with waterlogged homes and possessions after 36 foot (11 meter) waves breached the city’s curving sea wall, turning roads into canals.

Some let off steam on Sunday by diving into deeply flooded streets, paddling on wooden boards, or wading to stores for rum through the waist-deep water.

In the Barcelo hotel, Breslin was full of praise for the Cubans who evacuated them on buses along with thousands of others from the keys before Irma, and for the hotel staff who brought sandwiches to her room during the hurricane.

Earlier in the day, the mainly British guests on inclusive package tours with operator Thomas Cook had cleaned up the pool, put sunbeds back in their place and helped workers clear away the fallen trees and branches, everyone mucking in.

In the afternoon, guests milled around the lobby area, drinking from plastic cups, where the reggaeton summer hit Despacito blasted out of loudspeakers and hotel staff geared up to provide an evening of entertainment including salsa dancing.

“We put the music on to bring stress levels down and so the clients feel better,” said Juan Carlos Varcas, 30, a Cuban salsa teacher at the hotel.

Another British tourist, Dave Kelsey, said he was winding down after spending part of the night huddled in a bathtub as winds howled through the hotel, flinging sunbeds far away, tearing up palm trees and flooding rooms.

After a few drinks, Kelsey was horsing around with a friend, both wearing random items of women’s clothing and about to jump into the swimming pool. Other guests egged them on.

While it will take much of Cuba’s tourism industry weeks, if not months to recover from the hurricane, guests at the Barcelo said they would not be deterred from returning to the Caribbean’s largest island.

“Don’t get me wrong, my children don’t want me to come back - they have been worried sick,” said Breslin, who has visited Cuba each of the past four years. “But I will come back to Cuba ... because the Cuban people are lovely.”
9/11/2017 2:31:42 PM
<![CDATA[Pics: Why Egypt hosts the world's biggest Islamic Art Museum]]>
Its main wing displays its invaluable artifacts divided into the different eras; Umayyad, Abbasid, Fatimid, Ayyubid, Mamluk, and Ottoman Islamic era.

The museum from inside. Photo for Egypt Today

The museum from inside. Photo for Egypt Today

The first piece at the entrance of the museum: Quraan from the Umayyad era. Photo for Egypt Today

Marbel panel from the Mamluk era. Photo for Egypt Today

Jars and dishes from different Islamic eras. Photo for Egypt Today

Stucco panels from Iraq during the Abbasid era. Photo for Egypt Today

Wooden panels from the Fatimid era. Photo for Egypt Today

One of the museum's fountains. Photo for Egypt Today

Wooden portable Mihrab from Al-Azhar mosque. Photo for Egypt Today

It has a wide range of aesthetic pieces, including wood panels, ceramic dishes, metal tools, whole doors, lanterns, fountains, mihrabs, and minbars from historic mosques.

After browsing the museum for some time, visitors will trace the evolution of Islamic art through different Islamic eras.

Two flint windows from the Ayyubid era. Photo for Egypt Today

Another fountain. Photo for Egypt Today

Wooden panels from the Ayyubid era. Photo for Egypt Today

Wooden ceiling Mamluk era, Photo for Egypt Today

Wooden portable Mihrab from Sayyida Nafisa mosque. Photo for Egypt Today

Ceramic tiles from Iran. Photo for Egypt Today

Stucco stain-glass window. Photo for Egypt Today

Copper ewers, basins, and cases from the Mamluk era. Photo for Egypt Today

Glass bonbonnaire from Mohamed Ali dynasty. Photo for Egypt Today

Another wing in the museum is different, yet equally interesting. The pieces of this section are classified according to different themes: medicine, science, calligraphy, textile, daily life, and gardens.

Among this eye-opening collection are surgical instruments, medical books, scales, sand clocks, astrolabes, Persian carpets, copies of the Quran, tombstones, musical instruments and a myriad of other things.

The museum is one large floor, yet has enough exhibits for at least two hours of interesting browsing. The museum's interior was designed with a neat setting and depends on the natural light which makes it among the most comfortable museums in Egypt to visit.

Quran from the Mohamed Ali dynasty. Photo for Egypt Today

Ceramic foundation slab from Ottoman era. Photo for Egypt Today

Marbla door from Afghanistan. Photo for Egypt Today

Sample of bride trousseau from the daily life section. Photo for Egypt Today

Ceramic tiles from Ottoman Turkey. Photo for Egypt Today

The science section. Photo for Egypt Today

Manuscript on the medical herbs at the medical section. Photo for Egypt Today

Headstone from Iran at the calligraphy section. Photo for Egypt Today

Wool carpet from the Ottoman era at the textiles section. Photo for Egypt Today

What makes this museum the best of its kind is the large number of antiquities and their intactness.

The museum's tickets are fairly affordable. Foreigners are charged LE 20 ($1.13) per adult and LE 10 per student; Egyptians are charged LE 10 per adult and LE 5 per student. A photography ticket costs LE 50.
9/11/2017 1:53:29 PM
<![CDATA[et Photography: enjoying spring water swimming]]>
So if you have not had the chance to try it yourself, here is the best representation of how it really feels.

The photo is from Siwa from a place known as Fitnass. A partial island that is well known for its amazing sunsets and mesmerizing breeze.

You are likely to meet some beautiful locals whenever you pass by.

Thanks to the talented photographer Sameh Abohassan for sharing his photo with us.

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Spring water – Sameh Abohassan
9/11/2017 11:03:05 AM
<![CDATA[In sunny Monte Carlo, insurers tally hurricane costs]]>
The takeaway so far: Irma and its predecessor Hurricane Harvey, which caused massive flooding in Texas two weeks ago, are likely to take a toll on profits in a sector struggling with thin margins, stiff competition and falling prices.

But at this early stage, the damages are not expected to be so excessive that they hit insurers’ capital base in a way that would lift slumping insurance prices or hurt their credit ratings.

Irma is a “major event for Florida and also a major event for the insurance industry”, Torsten Jeworrek, member of the board of the German reinsurance giant Munich Re (MUVGn.DE), told journalists on Sunday.

Along with some 2,500 insurance executives, he is in Monaco for an annual conclave to haggle over reinsurance prices and strike underwriting deals.

The meeting typically occurs at the height of the Atlantic hurricane season, but not since Hurricane Katrina in 2005 have catastrophes weighed so heavily.

The industry is only slowly coming to grips with Harvey’s likely costs.

Munich Re’s Jeworrek said the loss assessment was “complex” and that it would “take a long time for the necessary estimates, leaving high uncertainty in the market”.

He estimated that insured losses for the global industry would total between $20 billion and $30 billion, which would put the storm on a similar scale to Hurricane Sandy, whose storm surge caused flooding in New York in 2012.

For Irma, which hit Florida early on Sunday after ravaging the Caribbean, the loss estimates are more severe.

AIR Worldwide on Monday forecasted total insured losses in the United States of between $20 billion and $40 billion.

All combined, the storms are likely to “translate into an underwriting loss for the year”, said Robert DeRose, senior director at the insurance ratings agency A.M. Best.

His firm estimated that $75 billion in insured losses would result in an average industry-wide combined ratio, a closely-watched measure of expenses to premium income, of 106 percent compared with 95 percent in 2016. Ratios greater than 100 point to losses.

The big question for the industry has been whether reinsurers will see such high losses that they can then demand higher prices for their coverage. That would be the first major reversal since Katrina, the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history with insured losses of around $80 billion.

The verdict so far among analysts is that profit will take a hit, but the dynamics of capital and pricing will not.

“We don’t see this as a market-turning event,” said Brian Schneider of Fitch Ratings. “Pricing is not likely to respond.”

Both Hannover Re (HNRGn.DE) and Swiss Re (SRENH.S), in a sign of optimism for the sector, said on Monday that they generally see reinsurance prices stabilizing after years of decline.

Irma’s timing is giving attendees plenty to talk about and in some cases disrupting their own travel plans.

Reinsurance broker AON Benfield told some staff who had planned to travel to Monte Carlo to instead remain to deal with Florida claims, Chief Executive Officer Eric Andersen said.

With Monte Carlo’s yacht-filled harbour and billboards advertising private jets offering a contrast to the destruction wrought in Texas and the Caribbean, one journalist asked whether insurers might move their annual meeting to a more modest venue.

Monte Carlo is “the place to be at the end of the day,” said Munich Re’s Jeworrek. “The industry wouldn’t move to another location to get rid of the reputational damage to its image.”]]>
9/11/2017 10:29:31 AM
<![CDATA[German investor Woehrl submits 500 mln eur takeover of Air Berlin]]>
Air Berlin, Germany’s second-largest airline, filed for bankruptcy protection in August, spurring interest from several buyers seeking to snap up about 140 leased aircraft and valuable take-off and landing slots in Germany.

Woehrl, who bought German airline Deutsche BA from British Airways for a nominal 1 euro in 2003, said Air Berlin’s insolvency administrator had been shown a letter of credit for 50 million euros, to guarantee an initial payment for his bid.

The full offer was for 500 million euros, INTRO Verwaltungs GmbH said.

“It is a bid for the whole of Air Berlin,” Woehrl’s INTRO-Verwaltungs GmbH said in a statement on Sunday, adding that it planned to pay a further 450 million euros in instalments.

Airlines Lufthansa, Condor, and Germania as well as travel firm TUI, and investor Niki Lauda had been informed about an opportunity to “participate” in the Woehrl bid, INTRO said in the statement.

In late August, Woehrl said he planned to bid together with partners, although Lufthansa had turned down his offer to team up as bidders.

INTRO said Airlines were now being invited to offer to charter Air Berlin’s aircraft. “If there is no participation by other airlines, INTRO and its investors are in a position to turn around Air Berlin by themselves, they have repeatedly proven their ability to do this in the past,” INTRO said. ($1 = 0.8324 euros) (Reporting by Edward Taylor; Editing by Sandra Maler)]]>
9/11/2017 10:25:43 AM
<![CDATA[Hurricane Irma threatens Florida's bustling tourism industry]]>
Some of the state’s biggest attractions have announced temporary closures, including amusement park giants Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, Universal Studios, Legoland and Sea World, which all planned to close through Monday.

About 20 cruise lines have Miami as a home port or a port of call, according to the PortMiami website, and many have had to move ships out of the area and revise schedules.

Carnival Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean have canceled and revised several sailings as a result of the storm and have offered credits and waivers on trips where passengers are unable to travel.

A Carnival spokesman said the situation in Florida on Sunday was still not clear enough to fully assess how widespread the effects will be.

“We will know more in the hours ahead since the hurricane is active in Florida right now,” spokesman Roger Frizzell said.

Irma made a second Florida landfall on Sunday on southwestern Marco Island as a Category 3 storm bringing winds of 115 miles per hour (185 kph) and life-threatening sea surge.

Disney canceled the Monday sailing of one of its cruise ships and said it is assessing future sailings, which stop throughout the Caribbean and in the Bahamas.

Florida is one of the world’s top tourism destinations. Last year nearly 113 million people visited the state, a new record, and spent $109 billion, state officials said earlier this year. The first half of 2017 was on track to beat that record pace, officials said.

The damage Irma’s winds and storm surge do to Florida’s 660 miles (1,060 km) of beaches and the structures built along them during more than 30 years of explosive population growth will be critical to how quickly the state’s ’s No. 1 industry recovers. The Gulf beaches west of St. Petersburg and Clearwater, are squarely in the storm’s path.

In 2016, more than 6.3 million people visited Pinellas County, which encompasses those cities, and generated more $9.7 billion in economic activity.

Up and down the wide, sandy beaches of Pinellas County are traditional “old Florida” waterfront hotels such as the Don Cesar, a coral pink 1920s hotel on St. Pete Beach, which was closed by the storm. There are also modern high-rises and resorts that are part of the nation’s biggest chains and brands including Hyatt Hotels, Marriott International, Intercontinental Hotels Group, Hilton Hotels & Resorts and Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company.

The low-lying barrier islands would be inundated if Irma’s storm surge reaches forecast heights of as high as 15 feet (4.6 meters).

While some newer structures in the area are built on elevated pilings, many older homes and businesses are not.
9/11/2017 10:23:48 AM
<![CDATA[“Sobia Al-Rahmany”: Something amazing]]>
Food in Egyptian culture is treated with much respect and meaning. No surprise, since it is an important element of celebrations, gatherings and beliefs. It is an invitation to sharing and nurturing.

Al-Rahmany cafe has been serving Sobya since 1920 - Monika Sleszynska

The warm Egyptian tradition is caringly reflected in the little local café Al-Rahmany in Al-Sayeda Zainab. Set few minutes’ walk east behind the Garden City; Al-Rahmany has been serving Sobia dessert since 1920.

Mostafa Shokry enjoys visiting the area of his childhood for a taste of 'Sobya Al-Rahmany’ - Monika Sleszynska

For Mustafa Shokry, who used to be a resident of the Al-Sayeda Zainab area, visiting Al-Rahmany cafe is a celebration of childhood memories, as whenever he received money, he would come for a treat with friends to buy Sobia and walk to the Nile and eat it there. Sitting by the Nile with a friend and enjoying Sobia is certainly a delicious taste of Cairo.

Sour version of Sobya at Al-Rahmany - Monika Sleszynska

Sobia at Al-Rahmany is different as its texture is thick and therefore is served as a dessert not a drink. Sobia is more than just a white tasty portion that brings joy to ones’ taste buds. Commonly called ‘Sobia Al-Rahmany’ comes in two variations; sweet and sour, both served in a glass, with sprinkled cinnamon to be eaten with a spoon.

Mostafa Shokry with Sobya in front of Al-Rahmany cafe - Monika Sleszynska

Al-Rahmany cafe is famous for its unique tasty recipe and thick consistency. The place is highly popular not only in Ramadan but all year round and especially in the summer evenings. The recipe is kept secret and no one but the family of Al-Rahmany knows the secret to its texture and taste.

Al-Rahmany cafe and the neighborhood streets in Al-Sayeda Zainab, Cairo - Monika Sleszynska

The traditional and widely known Sobia comes in a form of a rice and coconut drink. The sweet white liquid mixture is one of the most popular fast breaking drinks for the first meal of the evening iftar, so during the holy month of Ramadan Sobia appears on many dinner tables and is sold abundantly by street vendors, little stands, shops and trough home deliveries packed in bags or bottles.

Liquid Sobia is commonly found in juice shops along the year. Many enjoy making Sobia at home. In general, Sobia recipes vary slightly with preparation methods and ingredients. For example, the Egyptian Sobia is much different from the Saudi variations which are based on grains and richly flavored with spices like cardamom. Usual recipes are based on soaked powdered rice mixed with coconut milk and sweetened with sugar. The white liquid mixture is chilled and served cold as a smooth milky drink.

Sayeda Zeinab Mosque is a few steps away from Al-Rahmany cafe - Monika Sleszynska

There are no tables or chairs at Al-Rahmany cafe. People enjoy it while standing or take it to go. The idea of having the special Sobia by the Nile is certainly appealing.

Sweet Sobya with cinnamon at Al-Rahmany - Monika Sleszynska

Sobia is also a female Islamic name meaning, “good and noble girl”. Egyptian white Sobia dessert certainly reflects the goodness and nobility food can bring.




5 Al Gawali

5 Al Gawali, Al Inshaa WA Al Munirah, El-Sayeda Zainab, Cairo Governorate


15 minute walk towards east behind the Four Seasons Nile Plaza hotel.

Two minutes south from French Cultural Centre and Cairo French Institute.
Entering the area from southern direction of Nile Corniche turn right into Ismail Seri, take first left into El-Shaikh Ali Youssef and the second right is Al-Gawali Street.
9/10/2017 6:20:37 PM
<![CDATA[Tourism Minister to attend 22nd UNWTO General Assembly in China]]>
The session titled, "Tourism and Sustainable Development Goals", will be held at the International Conference Center in Chengdu, China from September 11 to 16.

Prior to his departure, Rashed stressed that the ministry is “very interested in green tourism,” adding that the gradual shift towards green tourism has become “important, as the preservation of the environment is a global trend and a key factor in attracting a large segment of tourists.”

Rashed will meet with Chinese officials and high-ranking tourism specialists to promote bilateral collaboration in the tourism sector on the sidelines of the conference. China “is one of the most promising tourist markets for Egypt,” he said.

The number of Chinese tourists who have visited Egypt in the first five months of this year has nearly doubled from the comparable period last year. Over 150,000 Chinese tourists visited Egypt during the first five months of 2017, versus 18,000 Chinese tourists during the first five months of 2016. Consequently, China is the fourth largest source of tourist inflows to Egypt, according to MENA news agency.
9/10/2017 2:48:58 PM
<![CDATA[Russian tourists return to Egypt within a month]]>
Sokolov had said in an interview with the Russian news agency Sputnik, during the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, “Our airlines will deal with this task quickly, especially that they have been prepared for it. I do not think it would take longer than a month to perform the task.”

Hisham al-Demery, chief of Tourism Development Authority, stated that there is a plan to promote traveling to Egypt ready to be carried out in the Russian market, but is not legally possible at the moment due to the banning decision. It is however possible to participate in travel and tourism fairs which are held in Russia. He added that the Tourism Development Authority will be participating in International Trade Fair for Travel & Tourism “Leisure” which will be held in Moscow between September 19 and 21.
Demery added that Leisure is one of the most important travel and tourism fairs in Russia, which is set to be held before the winter season which is the most favorable touristic month in Egypt, especially coming from the Russian market. Furthermore, he added that Egyptian resorts’ level of preparation to receive the Russian tourists will be reassured through the participation, assuring that the level of service in hotels and resorts will be enhanced.

The chief of Tourism Development Authority urged the owners of hotels and resorts to carry out a “quality rather than quantity” policy. On the other hand, Ramy Rizkallah, the manager of one of the famous hotels in Sharm el-Sheikh assured that in the event of Russian airlines resuming their trips to Egypt, regular flights will be heading to Cairo airport and in that case the cost of the tourist’s flight trip will rise, because there are no charter trips to Sharm el-Sheikh which will lead to a decrease in the number of Russian tourists at the beginning. However, Rizkallah predicts that direct flights to touristic cities will resume after a few months of the trips resuming decision.
9/10/2017 10:27:45 AM
<![CDATA[5 reasons why Egyptians love Alexandria]]>
Its beautiful beaches, history as a metropolitan city, and of course, lively spirit, make up a colorful touristic city for people from all over the world.

1: Iconic Egyptian singer Abdul Haleem Hafez singing his famous song for Alexandria. Source: YouTube screenshot

Here are 5 reasons why Alexandria has a special place in Egyptians' hearts:

1- Childhood summer vacation memories

2: Bibliotheca Alexandrina by Néfermaât. Courtesy: Creative Commons via Wikimedia

Long before trips to the north coast became trendy, Egyptians' number one summer vacation destination was Alexandria. We all have warm memories of vacations with our families as little kids.

Additionally, Egyptian students grew up studying Alexandria's lengthy history. That is why school day-use trips from different cities to visit Alexandria's Citadel of Qaitbay and of course Bibliotheca Alexandrina are common.

2- Suitable for all social levels

3: Stanley Bridge, Alexandria. Courtesy: Pixabay

Alexandria has a range of attraction spots suitable to wealthy, middle class, and low-income visitors. All Egyptians, one way or another, relate to the Alexandria.

3- Alexandria's beautiful winter

4: Alexandria in Winter by: Ahmed herz. Courtesy: Creative Commons via Wikimedia

Alexandria is not only a summer destination. It is also famous for being an Egyptian winter wonderland.

4- Yummy Food

An important advantage of Alexandria is its delicious food. Although it serves typical Egyptian dishes, Alexandrian food taste more delicious!
And by food I mean all types of food, drinks, and desserts. No one can stay on a diet while visiting this beautiful city.

5- The priceless Corniche

6: Sunset in Alexandria. Courtesy: Pixabay

A sit, walk, jog, or run down Alexandria's irreplaceable Corniche is important to all Alexandria visitors.

And as the sun goes down, you see families, groups of friends, as well as couples sitting to watch the sunset as it melts behind the Mediterranean horizon.]]>
9/10/2017 10:26:27 AM
<![CDATA[The Utter beauty of Pharoah's Island]]>The island has a unique location in northern part of Gulf of Aqaba near the Egyptian border with Palestine, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. In recent years, it has become a popular sightseeing attraction among tourists due to its crystal-clear water and breathtaking nature, which makes it an important destination for divers and snorkelers.

Pharoah's Island. Courtesy: Egypt Tourism Campaign Facebook page

Moreover, the island has a historical value, with the Saladin Citadel built on it. That is why Pharoah's Island was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003.

9/10/2017 10:10:41 AM
<![CDATA[Hurricane alters Disney World plans, but only slightly]]>
With Hurricane Irma looming over the entire state of Florida, Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom remained open until 9 p.m. on Saturday night, well before the storm was expected to threaten the area but close enough to fray a few nerves.

The four Disney parks just southwest of Orlando were due to shut down on Sunday and Monday, the company said in a statement, allowing guests, many of whom made plans months in advance, to enjoy the rides, parades and actors dressed as cartoon characters until the last minute on Saturday night. A few attractions operated on modified hours.

A number of competing theme parks in the area including Universal Studios, Legoland and Sea World also stayed open on Saturday, when the weather was balmy, and were set to be closed on Sunday and Monday, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

Irma was expected to reach Central Florida starting on Sunday, bringing hurricane force winds and soaking rains.

"I'm a mom, so I'm very nervous. My stomach is a mess," said Elizabeth Pokaly of Worcester, Massachusetts, as she left the Magic Kingdom with her daughter, 11-year-old Nyia Gonzalez.

Nyia appeared far less nervous, still beaming from her day at the theme park.

"This is the safest place to be," she said.

Another group of Disney visitors from Israel also got stuck in the Orlando area a few extra days, lamenting that it shaved time off the next leg of their holiday, in New York. One said their tumultuous homeland prepared them for a hurricane warning.

"We're from Israel," said Dor Amir, 24, "so we're not afraid." ]]>
9/10/2017 7:30:00 AM
<![CDATA[New round of talks to resume Moscow-Cairo flights]]>
A source in the Egyptian government told the Russian news agency that resuming Russian flights to Egypt is an issue of high priority for Egypt and that it has actively pursued a solution. According to RIA Novosti, the source said, “we expect flights to resume between Cairo and Moscow in the very near future.” The source added that “the consultations with technical experts will also continue regarding other airports like Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada.”

Russia, the top source of tourists visiting Egypt, suspended flights to the country following a plane crash in 2015 after taking off from Sharm el-Sheikh airport. The crash led to the deaths of all 224 people on board, and was claimed to have been downed by the Islamic State (IS) group. Furthermore, a number of European countries suspended flights to Sharm el-Sheikh following the crash but have recently reinstated direct flights to the South Sinai tourist hotspot.

On September 5, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated in a press conference that Russia intended to resume flights to Egypt this fall during his meeting with President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit in China. In addition, the Civil Aviation media advisor Bassem Abdel-Karim told Egypt Today on Thursday that Egypt is making notable progress in negotiations with Russia in an effort to lift the ban on flights to the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Shiekh. “We have not set a certain time to resume flights or put a timetable, but we constantly communicate with each other and move forward,” said Abdel-Karim.

According to Egyptian state-owned Al-Ahram news agency, Egypt's revenues from tourism dropped to $3.4 billion in 2016, a 44.3 percent decline from the previous year.
9/9/2017 10:08:21 PM
<![CDATA[Turkey cautions citizens about travel to 'anti-Turkey' Germany]]>
The advisory is likely to further exacerbate tensions between the two NATO allies, whose ties have soured following last year’s failed coup against Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and his subsequent crackdown on alleged coup supporters.

“The political leadership campaigns in Germany are based on anti-Turkey sentiment and preventing our country’s EU membership. The political atmosphere... has actually been under the effects of far-right and even racist rhetoric for some time,” Turkey’s foreign mininstry said in a statement.

Last weekend German Chancellor Angela Merkel said during a televised election debate that she would seek an end to Turkey’s membership talks with the European Union, in an apparent shift of her position that infuriated Ankara.

Merkel, whose conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) have long been skeptical about Turkey’s EU ambitions, is expected to win a fourth term in office in Germany’s Sept. 24 election.

“Turkish citizens who live in, or who plan to travel to, Germany should be cautious and act prudently in cases of possible incidents, behavior or verbal assaults of xenophobia and racism,” the foreign ministry said.

The advisory marks a reversal of roles. Earlier this year Germany warned its own citizens traveling to Turkey about increased tensions and protests ahead of a Turkish referendum on April 16 which considerably expanded Erdogan’s powers.

Merkel and other EU leaders have strongly criticized Erdogan’s actions since the failed coup, saying his purges of Turkey’s state institutions and armed forces amount to a deliberate attempt to stifle criticism.

More than 50,000 people have been detained and 150,000 suspended in the crackdown, including journalists and opposition figures. Some German nationals have also been targeted.

Turkey says the purges are necessary given the extent of the security threat it faces.

9/9/2017 7:27:20 PM
<![CDATA[As U.S. ban on travel to North Korea kicks in, tourists say their farewells]]>
The problem is, the destination was North Korea and a U.S. State Department ban on travel to the isolated country takes effect on Friday.

Burkhead, a 35-year-old resident of Virginia, was among the last American tourists to leave North Korea, landing on Thursday in Beijing.

“I was surprised at how friendly everyone was,” Burkhead said after stepping off the last scheduled flight to Beijing from the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, before the U.S. travel ban kicks in.

“It was very relaxing - beautiful scenery and they fed us very well in the restaurants there, but the exchange rate wasn’t too good for the local won,” he told a waiting scrum of reporters.

Burkhead arrived in Beijing on North Korea’s state-owned Air Koryo after visiting Pyongyang as well as the city of Kaesong near the heavily armed border with South Korea. His five-day tour cost 1,850 euros ($2,200).

Other Americans on the flight included two aid workers as well as Jamie Banfill, 32, who had led tours to North Korea but was visiting this time as a tourist.

Banfill, who had made the trip to say goodbyes after regularly traveling to the North for a decade, said the travel ban short-sighted.

“It’s an extremely complex situation on the Korean peninsula and they oversimplified it,” he said.

The United States last month announced a ban on U.S. passport holders from traveling to North Korea, effective Sept. 1. Journalists and humanitarian workers are allowed to apply for exemptions under the ban, which is similar to previous U.S. restrictions on travel to Iraq and Libya.

Heidi Linton, director of Christian Friends of Korea, who has been working in North Korea for more than 20 years, told reporters she worried about the people her aid group helped, if her exemption was not granted soon.

“We started a hepatitis B program and we have 705 patients that have been started on life-saving medicine, that if they go off that medicine then their lives are in danger,” she said.

It was not immediately clear how many Americans had sought, or been granted, exemptions or how many were still in North Korea. An official at the state department said it was not able to give an estimate on the number of U.S. citizens there.


North Korea is under growing international pressure over its nuclear tests and repeated ballistic missile launches, including one this week that flew over northern Japan.

The U.S. ban on travel to North Korea followed the death of U.S. college student Otto Warmbier, who was jailed during a tour last year.

Warmbier, who was sentenced to 15 years hard labor for trying to steal a propaganda sign, was returned to the United States in a coma in June and died six days later. The circumstances surrounding his death are not clear, including why he fell into a coma.

Warmbier had been detained leaving the airport in Pyongyang.

“I was expecting a strict security check on exit but there was nothing like that,” Burkhead said.

The State Department declared U.S. passports invalid for travel to, in or through North Korea. The restriction applies for one year unless extended or revoked by the secretary of state.

North Korean state media has described the ban as a “sordid” attempt to limit human exchanges.

North Korea is currently holding two Korean-American academics and a missionary, as well as three South Korean nationals who were doing missionary work.

This month, North Korea released a Canadian pastor who had been imprisoned there for more than two years.

Hundreds of Americans are among the 4,000 to 5,000 Western tourists who visit North Korea annually, according to U.S. lawmaker Joe Wilson.]]>
9/9/2017 2:37:21 PM
<![CDATA[CORRECTED-Caribbean islands fear grim tourist season in Irma's wake]]>
As one of the most powerful Atlantic storms in a century, Irma has killed 21 people, leaving hotels, airports and other buildings damaged or flattened across prime vacation islands such as St. Martin and Barbuda. On Friday, it hurtled north of Cuba toward Florida.

Jack Richards, president of U.S.-based tour operator Pleasant Holidays, said it may be well into next year before the local tourism industry begins to normalize, costing it billions in lost business. The region’s busiest travel season runs from mid-December to Easter, when Americans, Canadians and Europeans leave behind snow and cold for the warm, turquoise Caribbean waters.

“Can this be repaired in time? The infrastructure to rebuild these countries simply isn’t there,” he said. “This is just massive.”

Just a few days after Irma razed the first islands, Richards said his bookings have already dropped for the Caribbean, his company’s second-most popular destination worldwide for U.S. tourists.

More than 26 million international tourists were expected this year in the Caribbean, the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) projected before Irma hit.

In 2016, foreign visitors spent $31 billion in the Caribbean and were expected to spend an additional 5.3 percent in 2017. The WTTC estimates that in 2016, travel and tourism contributed $56 billion in gross domestic product.

“Any disruption in the tourism industry is a disruption of our livelihood,” Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) spokesman Hugh Riley said.

Officials across the islands have struggled to gauge the scope of destruction, after Irma knocked out electricity and cell phone service, and forced airports to close.

The trouble may not yet be over for the Caribbean, with Hurricane Jose forecast on Saturday to pass as a powerful Category 4 storm close to the same group of islands that were trashed by Irma. The hurricane season is set to run for several more weeks.

As of Friday afternoon, the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism was urging visitors to stay away from St. Thomas, where four people died in the storm and where the airport remains closed to comercial traffic. The St. Croix airport was slated to reopen on Friday.

The 150-room Windward Passage, an upscale hotel overlooking the St. Thomas harbor in the U.S. Virgin Islands, plans to close for six months, it reported to the Department of Tourism.


On the tiny island of Barbuda alone, home to about 1,800 people and reef-lined beaches, preliminary damage estimates top $100 million, Riley said. Some 95 percent of the island’s buildings were destroyed.

Cruise lines, tour operators and airlines have scrambled to accommodate tourists or postpone plans. Royal Caribbean Cruises , Carnival Cruise Lines and Norwegian Cruise Line each canceled several of their Caribbean-bound cruises through the weekend and rerouted others to avoid sailing through the storms’ dangerous paths.

European tour operator TUI said it had evacuated its Florida customers to hotels in inland Orlando, and brought vacationers in Cuba to shelters.

German tour operator DER Touristik said it would bus tourists arriving by cruise ship in Miami on Friday directly to shelters, and that ships would leave the harbor again before the hurricane hits.

Recovery efforts in hard-hit areas have so far proven difficult.

Rolando Brison, St. Martin’s director of tourism, said firefighters struggled to hose off sand dumped by the storm onto the airport runways, leaving nearly 3,000 tourists stranded. The airport remained closed on Friday.

“Tourism is the economy,” he said. “It’s how our people eat.”]]>
9/9/2017 1:40:42 PM
<![CDATA[Rise of the globetrotter]]>
The number of international tourists surged to around 598 million between January and June, some 36 million more than during the same period last year, the Madrid-based United Nations body said in a statement. Rising business confidence and strong outbound demand from major source markets such as Britain, China, France and the United States were behind the rise.

"The first half of 2017 shows healthy growth in an increasingly dynamic and resilient tourism market, including a strong recovery in some of the destinations impacted by security challenges last year," said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai.

Mediterranean destinations reported "particularly strong growth" in the first half of 2017, including those such as Egypt, Tunisia and Turkey, which suffered terrorist attacks in recent years, causing a slump in visitors, the organisation said.

Southern and Mediterranean Europe saw a 12 per cent rise in international visitors, North Africa posted a 16 per cent rise and the Middle East recorded an increase of 8.9 per cent.

Tourist arrivals overall in Europe, the world's most-visited region, grew 7.7 per cent.

Africa saw a 7.6-per cent rise in visitor numbers, while Asia and the Pacific posted 5.7-per cent growth.

International arrivals in the Americas were up 3.0 per cent in the first half of the year.

Growth was solid in South America, up by 6.0 per cent, while North America saw just 2.0 per cent growth as a decrease in arrivals in the United States offset robust results for Canada and Mexico. In the whole of 2016, the number of international tourist arrivals grew by 3.9 per cent from the previous year to 1.23 billion and the UN body expects the figure to grow by three to four per cent this year.

Meanwhile the International Air Transport Association (Iata) has posted global passenger traffic results for July show strong but moderating demand growth. The Middle East carriers have posted a 4.5 per cent increase in demand for July. This was an acceleration from the 3.6 per cent annual growth seen in June, but was still well off the 5-year average pace of 11.2 per cent. The Middle East to North America market has been affected by a combination of factors in 2017, including the recently-lifted cabin ban on large portable electronic devices, as well as a wider impact from the proposed travel bans to the US. Traffic growth on the Middle East-US route was already slowing in early 2017, in line with a moderation in the pace of expansion of nonstop services flown by the largest Middle Eastern airlines. July capacity climbed 3.6 per cent compared to a year ago and load factor rose 0.7 percentage points to 81.5 per cent.

Total revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs) rose 6.8 per cent, compared to the same month last year, down from 7.7 per cent year-over-year growth recorded in June. All regions reported solid or better growth in passenger volumes over the past year. Capacity (available seat kilometers or ASKs) increased by 6.1 per cent, and load factor rose 0.6 percentage points to a July record of 84.7 per cent.

"As is evidenced by the record high load factor in July, the appetite for air travel remains very strong. However, the stimulus effect of lower fares is softening in the face of rising cost inputs. This suggests a moderating in the supportive demand backdrop," said Alexandre de Juniac, Iata's director general and CEO.

"As the first full month in the summer peak travel season, July is a bellwether month, and demand continues to be very strong. People want to travel and aviation connectivity is vital to the smooth functioning of the global economy. But the economic and social benefits that aviation brings need to be supported by adequate, affordable airport and air traffic management infrastructure. To do this effectively, governments must include aviation's requirements as part of their national economic strategy."

July international passenger demand rose 6.2 per cent compared to July 2016, which was a slow-down compared to the 7.6 per cent growth recorded in June. Total capacity climbed 5.5 per cent, and load factor edged up 0.5 percentage points to 84.6 per cent.

The European carriers posted a 7.5 per cent rise in traffic for July compared to a year ago, down from 8.8 per cent annual growth in June. Capacity rose 5.9 per cent, and load factor climbed 1.3 percentage points to 88.7 per cent, highest among the regions. The economic backdrop in Europe has strengthened; however, on a seasonally-adjusted basis, the upward growth in travel demand has moderated sharply since February. The Asia-Pacific airlines' July traffic rose 5.9 per cent over the year-ago period, a deceleration compared to June growth of 8.8 per cent . As with Europe, carriers in the Asia-Pacific region are seeing a slowing of demand growth. Capacity increased 6.7 per cent and load factor slipped 0.6 percentage points to 81.0 per cent.

The North American airlines' traffic climbed 3.5 per cent compared to July a year ago. This was down from 4.4 per cent growth in June, but still ahead of the 5-year average pace (2.9 per cent). Outbound travel is being supported by the relatively solid economic backdrop in North America; however, anecdotal evidence suggests that inbound demand is being negatively influenced by the additional security measures in place for travel to the US. July capacity rose 3.8 per cent with the result that load factor slipped 0.3 percentage points to 85.9 per cent.

The Latin American airlines recorded the strongest growth among regions, posting a 10.5 per cent demand rise compared to July 2016. Capacity increased almost as fast, up 10 per cent and load factor climbed 0.4 percentage points to 84.9 per cent. International volumes between North and Central America continue to strongly trend upward while traffic on the North-South America market segment has also started to trend upwards, in part helped by the healthier, albeit still fragile, economic backdrop in Brazil.

African airlines experienced a 6.5 per cent increase in traffic compared to a year ago, down from 9.8 per cent demand growth in June. Capacity rose 1.7 per cent, and load factor jumped 3.4 percentage points to 74.1 per cent. Conditions in the region's two largest economies continue to diverge, with South Africa in recession while business confidence levels are at a two-year peak in Nigeria.

Domestic passenger markets

Domestic travel demand grew by 7.9 per cent year-on-year in July, in line with eight per cent growth recorded in June. With the exception of Australia, all markets recorded annual increases. China led all markets (+15 per cent). Domestic capacity climbed 7.1 per cent, and load factor rose 0.6 percentage points to 85 per cent.

China's domestic traffic surged 15 per cent in July. Although this was down from the 17.2 per cent growth in June the trend line remains strong, with the latest second quarter GDP figures coming in better than expected. Demand is also being supported by supply factors including a near 15 per cent increase in the number of unique airport-pair routes this year compared to last.

Australia's traffic slipped 0.8 per cent year-on-year but with a 1.9 per cent decline in capacity, load factor actually rose 0.9 percentage points to 80.1 per cent. This marked the first time since 2009 in which the July load factor came in above 80 per cent. - AFP, staff report]]>
9/9/2017 1:37:41 PM
<![CDATA[Bulgaria sends thank-you postcards to tourists]]>
The “Thank you for choosing Bulgaria!” cards, showing the Thracian tomb in Kazanlak or the Rila Monastery, will be sent to 400,000 tourists chosen randomly from the five million who visited as of July 31.

Tourism Minister Nikolina Angelkova said on her ministry’s website that the cards would be personally signed by her as a sign of her “gratitude”. The addresses were obtained from hotels.

Bulgaria is a cheap winter and summer holiday hotspot bordering Greece and the Black Sea, and tourism accounts for 13 per cent of its economic output.

The country, the European Union’s poorest member, posted a 7.2 per cent rise in visitors through July 31.]]>
9/9/2017 1:15:15 PM
<![CDATA[India's first all-woman crew on around-the-globe mission]]>
Lieutenant Commander Vartika Joshi, who is leading the voyage which will begin in the western state of Goa, told AFP the project was "revolutionary" in bringing women to the helm and would inspire others in the country.

In recent years, the Indian navy has sought to open its doors to women to take on more challenging roles, with the latest project winning the backing of Prime Minister Narendra Modi who urged the crew to "project India's capabilities and strengths across the world".

The navy commissioned a 17-metre (56-foot) yacht "Tarini" in February for the mission, with the crew kicking off preparations for the voyage in 2014.

"For me it's a matter of conquering a feat that has been achieved by a chosen few," Lieutenant Commander Pratibha Jamwal told AFP.

"It's not been an easy journey in terms of preparation but as they say 'the more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war'," she added.

Retired naval officer Captain Dilip Dhonde, who undertook India's first solo around-the-world expedition in 2009-10, mentored the crew.

The team sailed twice to Mauritius and once to Cape Town in preparation.

"It is going to boost the spirits of everybody across the country. Not just women but it can also be an inspiration for the male counterparts. Our aim is to rekindle the spirit of adventure," Joshi said.

Their journey will feature stops in Australia, New Zealand, the Falkland islands and South Africa. They are expected to return to Goa in March next year.]]>
9/9/2017 1:13:12 PM
<![CDATA[Egyptian section has highest number of visitors in Astana Expo 2017]]>
Expo 2017 visit – Egypt Today

The Astana Expo is held from June 10 to September 10 in the capital of Kazakhstan under the theme "Energy of the Future.” The total number of visitors to the exhibition since June 10 to August 27 is over 3.1 million, according to the Organizing Committee's report.

Egyptian wing in Expo 2017 Kazakhstan- Egypt Today

The Astana Expo was inaugurated by Kazakhstani President Nursultan Äbishulliy Nazarbayev, in the presence of Russian President Vladimir Putin, King Philip III of Spain and a number of leaders and state heads, with the participation of more than 115 countries and 32 international organizations.

Akhenaton statue in the Egyptian wing in Expo 2017 Kazakhstan- Egypt Today

The distinctive design of the Egyptian section, which is located on an area of 350 square meters, played an important role in drawing the attention of the visitors to the Expo, as well as the use of a huge statue of King Akhenaten in the middle of a giant pyramid, in addition to using short documentary films promoting Egyptian tourism, sights, culture and tourist attractions.

Akhenaton statue in the Egyptian wing in Expo 2017 Kazakhstan- Egypt Today
9/9/2017 12:00:00 PM
<![CDATA[Spinner dolphins in Marsa Alam lagoons to give birth]]>
Eleven spinner dolphins left the shallow waters north of Marsa Alam Friday, while one big dolphin and two calves stayed behind, the authority of the Red Sea Nature Reserves said. The authority added that the three dolphins that stayed behind are in good health and are being monitored daily.

On August 25, the authority detected 12 spinner dolphins and two newborn calves in Marsa Seifein north of Marsa Alam. There had been a concern that the dolphins may be unable to ventur out into open waters.

The dolphins freely leave to open waters and return to Marsa Seifein and need no assistance in swimming into deeper waters during the ebb tide, said Ahmed Ghallab, general director of the authority.

Dolphins protect their young by spending the morning in lagoons and shallow waters to avoid their natural predators. At night, they swim into deeper waters in search for food, the statement said.

Spinner dolphins are known to inhabit Marsa Alam, especially the Samadai area, which became a nature reserve in 2004.

Dolphins, dugongs, sea turtles, colorful coral reefs and beautiful, rare fish are major snorkeling and diving attractions in Marsa Alam, especially that the water there is crystal clear.

Some of the most popular diving spots in Marsa Alam include Samadai (Dolphin House Reef), Elphinstone Reef, Abu Dabab, Wreck of the Hamada and Sataya.

9/9/2017 9:31:49 AM
<![CDATA[Ethiopia : The historical circuit of the north!]]>

Thousands of pilgrims spend the whole night of Christmas chanting, praying and reading holy books in the medieval, rock-hewn churches of Lalibela

The most important religious festival in Ethiopia is Epiphany. The best place to celebrate that is Gonder, famous for its 17th-century African castles! The most famous of them is the impressive 32-meter (105 ft) tall Palace of Emperor Fasiladas. The celebration, actually, takes place in Fasiladas’ Baths. The huge pool is slowly filled with water over a period of three days. At the morning of Epiphany Day, when a priest puts out a candle in the water, it becomes blessed. That moment hundreds of devotees jump in the pool laughing and throwing water all over the place! People give them bottles to be filled with holy water while youngsters jump from really high trees in the shallow pool.

Epiphany is the most important religious festival in Ethiopia. Hundreds of devotees jump that day in Fasiladas’ Baths at Gonder

We crossed the beautiful Simien Mountains and after cornering the whole day on lovely and quiet mountain roads, we reached Aksum. That was the capital of the ancient Kingdom of Aksum. An advanced civilization started to develop there as early as 400 BC. Some huge steles stand there since ancient times, including the Great Stele, which was the largest single piece of stone that humanity ever tried to erect. It was weighing an enormous 520 tonnes! Things went wrong, however, and the Great Stele was left broken on the ground.

An advanced civilization started to develop in the Kingdom of Aksum as early as 400 BC. These huge steles were playing the role of tombstones and monuments to the local rulers

After admiring the remote, medieval, rock-hewn churches of Tigray region, it was time to explore the most unique place in the whole of Ethiopia: the Danakil Depression! That’s like going to Mars… It’s one of the lowest and also the hottest inhabited place on earth. It is located next to Eritrea at 125 m (410 ft) below sea level. The temperature there often exceeds 50o C (122o F)! Only Afar people can survive in this inhospitable area but even themselves live a semi-nomadic life. They move to the mountains every summer.

Abuna Yemata Guh Church is carved in a small cave halfway up a rock pinnacle. It’s a steep and scary climb but the setting and the old frescoes are worth the effort

It is not allowed for independent travellers to visit the Danakil Depression by themselves. So, I had to use the services of

Ethio Travel and Tours (E.T.T.)

and join a group. That landscape is definitely worth the effort… It’s amazing to see the Afar people extracting salt from the ground the same way their ancestors were doing hundreds of years ago. Even today the camel caravans are seen travelling for five days from -125 m (-410 ft) altitude to about 2,100 m (6,890 ft) in order to sell this precious commodity in the town of Mekele.

In the otherworldly Danakil Depression, one of the most inhospitable places on earth, Afar people mine salt since hundreds of years ago

Dallol Lake is an unearthly sight by itself… The rich minerals of the ground make an extraordinary colourful natural palette! Sulphur gives the yellow colour, copper gives the reddish, manganese gives the purple and salt fills in like snow with its white colour making weird formations. The water sounds bubbling and you must be careful not to let your toe in, since that thing is really acidic!

That’s not Planet Mars… It’s still on Earth! That’s the natural palette of Dallol Lake

It was only becoming even more astonishing as we were approaching another enormous feature of Mars… eh, sorry, we are still on Earth! I never imagined I could be so close to one of the most active volcano’s crater, Irta’ale! We could actually see the lava floating and exploding. In the absolute darkness of the area, the flaming red lava was looking like an endless set of fireworks!

I never imagined I could be so close to one of the most active volcano’s crater, Irta’ale

It was only becoming even more astonishing as we were approaching another enormous feature of Mars… eh, sorry, we are still on Earth! I never imagined I could be so close to one of the most active volcano’s crater, Irta’ale! We could actually see the lava floating and exploding. In the abolute darkness of the area, the flaming red lava was looking like an endless set of fireworks!

Everything is carved out of rock in the medieval churches of Lalibela
9/9/2017 7:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[8 facts to know about Nabq reserve, Sharm El-Sheikh]]>
#1 Mountains, desert, sand dunes are all present at the reserve, especially at Wadi Kaid. You will never have enough of natural diversity.

Mountains – Sinai trekking

#2 Valleys rich with a variety of plants, highlighted by the mangrove trees, which grow right on the sea shore.

Mangrove - Wiki CC

#3 Under the water is a rich colorful, vibrant life. With astonishing coral reefs, fish and sea animals, a dive there is a beautiful experience.

Diving – wiki CC

#4 A wide array of animals are found there — from deer to camels, even foxes, to name a few. Rodents and reptiles are present too. If you are lucky enough, you will come across some of those.

Camels – Wiki CC

#5 Eagles and herons are among the migrating birds arriving there annually.

Eagle – Ahmed Waheed

#6 Nomadic tribes live in the area. You will be overwhelmed by the authenticity and wisdom once you meet them.

Tribes – wiki CC

#7 You can enjoy all types of activities there. Wether you are a nature photographer, a diver or a safari goer, you will find your pleasure there.

Resting place – Sinia trekking

#8 The highlight of the place is that it hosts extremely rare and even almost-extinct plants, making it a rare and open library for those who appreciate a place’s flora.

Overview map – Google Maps
9/9/2017 3:07:46 AM
<![CDATA[The Telegraph says pyramids must be on everyone’s bucket list]]>
Giza Pyramids – Ahmedalbadawy – Wikimedia commons

Egypt’s pyramids came in third place among twenty-three other African destinations, such as Morocco’s Atlas Mountains, Zambia’s safari and Tanzania’s



Pyramids - Eduard Spelterini - Wikimedia commons

The Telegraph reported that, for 3,800 years, the pyramids of Giza kept the title of the tallest structures in the world.

It added that sub-Saharan Africa is expected to receive 18.6 million tourists from all around the world this year, after the increase in numbers of visitors to South Africa, Nigeria, Mozambique, Cameron and Tanzania.

Still, the newspaper considered this a small number for a continent as large as Africa, especially considering that a city such as Venice in Italy alone is visited by around 25 million tourists every year.]]>
9/9/2017 2:40:31 AM
<![CDATA[Spectacular Northern Light display illuminates Finnish sky]]>
Travel magazine ‘All About Lapland’ posted a video on social media of the impressive light show seen from Pallas, in the Muonio region, adding it had rarely seen anything on this scale.

The Northern Lights are a result of collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun that enter the Earth’s atmosphere. A strong geomagnetic storm was behind this week’s particularly stunning show.

Known as aurora borealis, or the Northern Lights, in the northern hemisphere, they go by aurora australis, or the Southern Lights, in the southern hemisphere.]]>
9/8/2017 9:26:03 PM
<![CDATA[Virgin Atlantic confident of Anglo-U.S. aviation deal post Brexit]]>
Virgin Atlantic’s chief executive Craig Kreeger also said that while the weaker pound had had a negative effect on the airline, this had not been as large as expected.

Britain needs to negotiate an air transport service agreement with the EU to keep airline services running when Britain leaves the bloc and will also need a replacement for the “open skies” agreement between the United States and the EU.

Ryanair’s Michael O‘Leary has issued stark warnings about the prospect of flights to the EU being grounded when Britain leaves in March 2019. However, Kreeger said that such a scenario for flights to the United States was unlikely.

“I have a lot of confidence that what we’ve seen this year is an indication of the fact that the UK is not going to cut itself off from the rest of the world, from a travel perspective,” Kreeger told Reuters at an industry conference.

“I‘m confident that the UK and U.S. will have a bilateral arrangement in place that means flights don’t cease. The things that are really important will work their way out over time.”

A sharp fall in the pound was one of the immediate impacts of Britain’s vote to leave the EU in June 2016. That hurt Virgin Atlantic, which relies on revenues from British travelers in pounds but has many of its costs in dollars.

However, Kreeger said that demand from Britons to travel had held up better than expected, while the airline had also benefited from more visitors than expected from the United States and Asia.

“We’d anticipated it being a really rough year. But we’ve had a really encouraging year against that backdrop,” he said.

“We have seen that Brits are resilient. The summer holiday is sacrosanct. Demand has dropped a little bit, but nowhere near what you would expect with a 15 percent increase in the cost of travel abroad.”

In July, Virgin Atlantic said Air France-KLM would buy 31 percent of the airline from Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, making it the second largest Virgin Atlantic shareholder after U.S. airline Delta, which owns a 49 percent stake, and reducing Virgin Group’s stake to 20 percent.
9/8/2017 3:59:10 PM
<![CDATA[Dublin Bus route operator targets growth abroad]]> 8 September 2017: Go-Ahead Group, the company recently awarded a contract to run around 10 per cent of Dublin Bus routes, aims to make 15-20 per cent of its profit abroad within five years, it said on Thursday, as it forecast further challenges in the UK where its Southern rail business has been hit by strikes.

The company said slowing growth in passenger revenues at its rail business in southeast England was set to continue amid a squeeze on consumer incomes, cutting its profitability expectations for its rail division in its new financial year.

For the year ended July 1st, group operating profit fell by 7.4 per cent drop to £150.6 million ($196 million), hit by the strikes and one-off costs at its bus business.

Go-Ahead’s London bus business has failed to retain some contracts in the face of increased competition.

In August, the company also failed in a bid to retain its West Midlands rail franchise after running the network in central England for 10 years.

Offset impact

It said on Thursday that international contracts would help to offset some of the impact.
“While it was disappointing to be unsuccessful in our bid to retain London Midland, progress in our international strategy will see some of the lost revenue from the franchise replaced with contracts in the targeted markets of Singapore bus, Dublin bus and German rail,” chief executive David Brown said in a statement.

Go-Ahead had previously not disclosed a formal international expansion target.
Jefferies analyst Alex Paterson said the new target was “encouraging”, retaining his “buy” rating on the stock.

But he cut his share target price to 2,050 pence from 2,250 pence, citing a larger than expected slowdown in the company’s southeast rail business.

Go-Ahead shares were down 4.7 per cent at 1,678 pence in early trading.]]>
9/8/2017 3:47:06 PM
<![CDATA[et Photography: The wild night next to the mountains ]]>
A faint hearted will not make it to a night camp at Sahara desert, but whoever has the courage to do will get rewarded.

The simple form of housing that is presented in a white tent will remind you of the basic requirements to live, putting down the toll of a fancy life and the association of happiness with it.

Get your back covered with a mountain as you watch the stars in the Egyptian desert. And you will grow into the best version of yourself.

Thanks to the talented photographer Nader Makram for sharing his photo with us.

Beauty of night - Nader Makram
9/8/2017 1:42:15 PM
<![CDATA[Cuba evacuates 10,000 foreign tourists as Irma approaches]]>
Among the evacuees were more than 6,000 vacationers who were relocated to Vardarero and Havana, located outside the danger zone, given the hurricane’s probable trajectory.

A further 2,400 tourists were transferred from the exposed eastern province of Camaguey to facilities in the interior, it said.

“Most Canadian visitors, who represent 60 percent of the total, have absolute protection” in the areas where they have been taken, Tourism Minister Manuel Marrero said.

In recent days, Canadian tour operators have repatriated some of their clients, he said.

Irma, packing winds of 185 miles per hour (295 kilometers per hour), has left a trail of devastation across small islands in the Caribbean, killing at least nine people.

It is set to sideswipe Cuba in the early hours of Friday morning.

The capital Havana, with a population of two million, is outside the probable trajectory and has been put on a lower level of alert by the authorities.

According to the US National Hurricane Center, the eye of Irma is unlikely to touch Cuba.]]>
9/8/2017 1:36:16 PM
<![CDATA[Your guide to parks in Cairo]]>
1- Orman Park

Orman Park by Hatem Moushir - Courtesy of Creative Commons via Wikimedia

Ticket Price: LE 10

Open Hours: 9am - 4pm

Address: Square, Oula, Giza, Giza Governorate

Founded in the late 19th century, this is oldest park in this list. It is very beautiful destination that is considered as one of the largest botanical gardens in the world.

2- Safari Park

Safari Park - Courtesy of Creative Commons via Wikimedia

Ticket Price: LE 15

Address: Al Matar, Imbaba, Giza Governorate

This is a very suitable park for family outings. It is the second largest park after Al-Azhar Park, which is designed in the country style. It has a Romanian theatre, puppet show, artificial lake, as well as a number of restaurants and cafeterias.

2- Al-Andalus Park

Al Andalus Park - Courtesy of Best Places in Egypt Facebook page

Tickets Prices: LE 10 for Egyptians, LE 50 for Tourists and Cameras. And cell phone photography is for free.

Adress: Al-Andalus, Zamalek, Cairo. (The nearest metro station is Opera)
Open Hours: 9 a.m. - 12:30 a.m.

This is a marvelous spot by the Nile that is worth visiting. It is divided into two parts; the Southern part is constructed in an Arabic-Andalusian style, while the Northern is constructed in an Ancient Egyptian design.

It is a historic park constructed in 1935, in which concerts of classical singers from all over the Arab world were held, Like Egyptian Abdul Halem Hafez, Lebanese Fairuz, and others.

3- International Park

International Park - Courtesy of Best Places in Egypt Facebook page

Ticket: LE 10

Nasr City, Cairo

Open Hours: 8 a.m. – 11 p.m.

4- Gezira Park

Gezira Park - Courtesy of Best Places in Egypt Facebook page

Ticket: LE 5

5- Al-Fonoun Park (Arts Park)

Al-Fonoun Park - Courtesy of Best Places in Egypt Facebook page

Ticket: LE 5

Adress: Abdul Aziz Al Sooudstreet, Al Manial, Giza

Open Hours: 8 a.m. – 12 a.m.

A comparative advantage of this park is that it has Nile boats, which you can use as a Nile cruise.

6- Om Kolthoum Park

Om Kolthoum Park - Courtesy of Best Places in Egypt Facebook page

Ticket: LE 5

A placid beautiful park that is unfortunately not famous. It is named after the Egyptian
legendary singer Om Kolthoum

7- Family park

Family Park - Courtesy of Best Places in Egypt Facebook page

Address: Rehab Gate 2, Suez Rd, New Cairo

Open Hours: 9 a.m. -10 p.m.

Ticket Price: LE 60

Beside the vast greenery, this park has a military museum, a zoo, and a playing area for the children. The ticket includes visiting all of them.
9/8/2017 12:42:35 PM
<![CDATA[10 things to know about Gilf Kebir natural reserve]]>
1- Gilf Kibir means Great Barrier.

2- It is rich in silica glass fields.

3- Gilf Kibir has vast sand valleys, sand dunes and caves that date back to prehistoric era.

4- The most famous of these caves is the Cave of the Swimmers in Wadi Sora.

5- Wadi Sora is rich in rock art sites, the most famous of which is the 'Giraffe rock.'

6- In 2007, the former Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif issued a decree to launch Gilf Kibir National Park (GKNP).

7- The rocks and geological formations in the GKNP are concrete evidence of an ancient history that dates back to hundreds of millions of years ago. Researchers believe that this area tells about the history, not only of the region, but of the planet itself.

8- Discoveries revealed many valleys rich in plant life that tribesmen used for grazing.

9- A typical visit of the Gilf Kibir takes off from Cairo by 4x4 or camel.

10- In 2007 an Egyptian tour guide discovered in Gilf Kibir, a bag belonging to a World War II British combatantwho served in the eighth army after lying there for over half a century.
9/8/2017 12:33:26 PM
<![CDATA[Best video demonstrating Siwa ever]]>
Thanks to the talented and hard worker Photographer Nader Makram for sharing his video with us. Find more of his work at



Siwa will never cease to amaze it with its natural beauty. It has a great collection of different natural scenes. No matter how much you visit it. You can never have enough of it.

It might be the authenticity and simplicity of its people that keeps it this way. You will love yourself all the more when you get connected to it at Siwa.

Enjoy this video that will make you want to visit instantly.

Siwa - A Paradise in the Western Desert (Shot in 5.2k) from Nader Makram on Vimeo.

9/8/2017 12:27:22 PM
<![CDATA[The death of the car show?]]>
Besides the glaring absence of Tesla (TSLA.O) and its electric Model 3, the roster of big names staying away has grown this year to include such venerable brands as Nissan (7201.T), Peugeot, Fiat (FCHA.MI), Volvo, Jeep, Mitsubishi and Infiniti.

The uncertain fortunes of the traditional car show mirror those of an industry in flux, its incumbents threatened by emissions regulation, tech giants and the sharing economy.

“Car shows need a new approach,” said Patrick Koller, chief executive of Faurecia, a parts supplier with 19 billion euros ($23 billion) in global sales. “Otherwise they will disappear.”

Frankfurt and Paris host two of the world’s biggest shows in alternate years, punctuated by the Detroit show in January and other events in China, Japan, the U.S. and Switzerland.

But many of the traditional gatherings have seen visitor numbers fall since the turn of this century, when most new cars were still unveiled under their lights, framed by show girls.

The decline may be accelerating. Paris attendance was down 14 percent last year - with fear of attacks also weighing on tourism - and January’s Detroit show drew 9,000 fewer visitors.

The sense of upheaval is acute in Germany, as Frankfurt prepares for its first car show opening since the Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) emissions scandal blew up. Days before the event, Chancellor Angela Merkel was urging local officials not to ban diesels, as her re-election campaign drew opposition fire over perceived government cosiness with the industry.


But diesel scandals are just one of the problems challenging automakers and the legendary largesse of their trade shows.

The emergence of tech as the main battleground for the connected, autonomous cars of the future has drawn exhibitors to competing events such as the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas and Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Footfall is becoming less important anyhow. Thanks to social media, Daimler (DAIGn.DE) reckons its Mercedes-Benz innovations reach the same global audience of 1 billion whether unveiled in Frankfurt or at CES - a trade-only show closed to the public, with less than a fifth of the German event’s attendance numbers.

“Daimler’s media strategy has changed with the rising significance of tech,” spokeswoman Bettina Fetzer said.

Although Mercedes will be out in force on Frankfurt’s 200,000-square meter show floor, it is “getting more complex” to decide how and where to showcase new products, Fetzer said.

To counter the drift, show organizers and exhibitors are rethinking formats and scrambling to associate with events and brands outside the staid universe of the combustion engine.

Next week’s show will debut a New Mobility World forum with Google and Facebook as partners, while Mercedes hosts a conference under the banner of South by Southwest, the eclectic cultural gathering held in Texas. Rival BMW’s (BMWG.DE) program includes TED Talks-branded presentations.

Anxious not to be outdone, Paris show managers traveled to Las Vegas in January to discuss collaboration with CES, but came away empty-handed. “There are no discussions at this time for event expansion into Europe,” a CES spokeswoman said.

“These are attempts to stay relevant in the public domain,” said analyst Arndt Ellinghorst of Evercore ISI, a brokerage.

“The way people consume products and brands is changing,” he said. “The days when it was enough to lure consumers to shows with half-dressed girls on car bonnets are long gone.”


The modernization efforts have not prevented Tesla, Nissan or another half-dozen brands from quitting the car-show circuit.

For several years, Tesla attended the main European shows before opting out of both Geneva and Frankfurt this year - just as the North American launch of its $35,000 Model 3 makes waves.

“We look for events where automobiles might be less expected,” a Tesla spokesman said, citing golf and boat shows as well as a European summer road trip with pop-up Tesla displays along the route. “We can reach a lot of people that way.”

Nissan’s decision to skip Frankfurt followed a “full review at global level of our event and show strategy to facilitate maximum brand visibility”, the company said.

Reports of the car show’s inevitable demise have been exaggerated, however.

As networking events up to CEO level they remain unmatched, while suppliers and new entrants are already filling gaps left by the patchier presence of some carmakers.

German industrial group Thyssenkrupp (TKAG.DE) is returning after a decade’s absence. “If the sector is going to change so dramatically we want to be there and show what we can do,” said Karsten Kroos, head of the company’s auto parts division.

Others skipping this show will be back. Instead of turning up every year, many carmakers simply want to opt in when they have something to announce.

“A car show is a marketing tool like any other, so it has to provide a return on investment,” Peugeot (PEUP.PA) brand chief Jean-Philippe Imparato told Reuters earlier this year. “But that doesn’t mean we won’t be in Frankfurt again before too long.”]]>
9/8/2017 12:23:21 PM
<![CDATA[20 inspiring quotes to encourage you to travel more]]>
1- “Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller,” Ibn Battuta

2- “A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving,” Lao Tzu

3- “I read; I travel; I become,” Derek Walcott

4- “To travel is to live,” Hans Christian Andersen

5- “Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world,” Gustave Flaubert

Beirut, Lebanon. By: Piotr Chrobot. Courtesy: Unsplash.com

6- “To travel is worth any cost or sacrifice,” Elizabeth Gilbert

7- “To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries,” Aldous Huxley

8- “Not all those who wander are lost,” J.R.R. Tolkien

9- “I think one travels more usefully when they travel alone, because they reflect more," Thomas Jefferson

10- “I'm in love with cities I've never been to and people I've never met,” Melody Troung

By Thomas Brault. Courtesy: Unsplash

11- “The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see,” G.K. Chesterton

12- “I have found out that there ain't no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them,” Mark Twain

13- “The very basic core of a man's living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun,” Christopher McCandless

14- “Every hundred feet the world changes,” Roberto Bolaño

15- “The journey itself is my home,” Bashō Matsuo

Abo Simbel temple in Aswan, Egypt. By AussieActive on Unsplash

16- “Travel far enough, you meet yourself,” David Mitchell

17- “The impulse to travel is one of the hopeful symptoms of life,” Agnes Repplier

18- “But the beauty is in the walking -- we are betrayed by destinations,” Gwyn Thomas

19- “Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore,” Andre Gide

20- “The best traveler is one without a camera,” Kamand Kojouri]]>
9/8/2017 11:40:23 AM
<![CDATA[A visit to Textile Museum]]>
The ceiling of one of the halls

Statues of men in a workshop

The collection of the Ancient Egyptian textiles contains clothes, bed sheets, mummy covers, cushionsand even diapers. Beside the pieces of cloth, the museum also displays small statues of men, women, servants, and gods with their outfit carved on their bodies to display the variation in their dress codes.

A belt from the Old Egyptian Kingdom and a piece of cloth from the New Kingdom

Statue of a priest clad in a baggy shirt tied with a broad sash

Three women clad in white carrying sacrifices

A shroud painted with a portrait of the diseased

Mummy Cover

The section that displays the Roman era holds a number of sowing tools beside the textilesas well as a small model of a spinning and weaving workshop.

The entrance of the Roman section

Long-sleeved baby's tunic, fourth century

The Coptic areain the Museum shows this era was revolutionary in the textile production in terms of colors, and the use of other materials, as cotton, wool and silk.

Tools from the Coptic era

The Islamic section features different styles of Arabic calligraphy and holds parts of a cover of the Ka’ba, which Egypt used to produce.

Linen and wool Coptic garment

Piece of the Kaaba cover

The museum finally displays some pieces from outside Egypt, mostly from Iran.

A piece of silk textile from 16th century Iran

The lights of the museum are dim which is not very helpful for photographers, but this is because the lights, temperature and humidity are controlled to preserve the antiquities.

The museum's tickets are fairlyaffordable. Foreigners are charged LE 20 ($1.13) per adult and LE 10 per student; Egyptians are charged LE 10 per adult and LE 5 per student. Photography ticket is for LE 50.
9/8/2017 11:05:59 AM
<![CDATA[Must-visit 10 places when your destination is Siwa]]>
Do you like to travel? Where was your last destination to spend a holiday? Whether you are a safari or sea person, you are surely looking for a new adventure away from everyday life and the hustle bustle of the town. Save your time and money, and get ready for a no equal adventure. Egypt primitive nature relates to your ceaseless search for serenity and a collateral excitement. This experience will be as new and interesting as ever but it will not be your last.

Today we pick you a stunning tripthat combines scenic views that different hue of abound with desert sand, sky, and birds of every hue, and the beauty of the hot and cold fresh water springs.

Yet before you buckle up and get enthusiastic for a dream-like journey, take a look at our ready-made list for the best selected must-be-visited ten places in Siwa Oasis.

1. Mountain Camp hot spring

photo of nature landscapes at Siwa Oasis - File Photo

Just do not forget to pack your swimming suit with you. Yes, that is right! It is a desert Safari and you will need a swimming suit though. And it will not be any ordinary swimming. You will swim in natural springs known for their reviving qualities. Trust our choice; the trip will be different as promised.

2. Sand Dunes at Great Sea of Sand, Siwa Oasis

photo of nature landscapes at Siwa Oasis - File Photo

Here you got to slow down as life has taken a different slower pace and days are permeated with the breath of nature, wide stretching palm trees, sand dunes, kind people and local stories. The architecture is different, the local custom and culture of the original inhabitants of the oasis, the Berbers, make up for a unique direct feel of timeless life in a desert environment. In other words, here, you will find the best components for the perfect trip together in one place.

3. Ghaliet Eco Lodge Fresh Spring pool

photo of nature landscapes at Siwa Oasis - File Photo

There are 226 fresh springs in the oasis though not all are active and accessible. The springs vary in size and qualities. Some are cold water springs and others are hot springs. Many hotels in Siwa have fresh water pools built into the architecture of their premises. Since Siwa is the land of sun, you will enjoy getting into the water. As the oasis is filled with highly oxygenated air, you can expect the experience of fresh water to be accentuated.

4. Fresh water pool at Taziry Eco Lodge

photo of nature landscapes at Siwa Oasis - File Photo

The cold ones are so called to differentiate them from the warm ones and are usually of a pleasant refreshing cool temperature. You will have plenty of space to swim in the near town Cleopatra circular spring. You can enjoy refreshing drinks afterwards in cafe Juba overlooking the spring. There is more Siwa, be patient, this is still the beginning.

5. Fetnas Island, Siwa Oasis

photo of nature landscapes at Siwa Oasis - File Photo

You will find another popular fresh water spring in Fatnas Island (Fantasy Island). The place is a famous spot for sunset watching with a cafe offering tea, coffee and fresh juice.

6. Abu Sherouf between Siwa and Bahareya

photo of nature landscapes at Siwa Oasis - File Photo

Out of town but not of size is the Abou Shrouf fresh water spring. This natural pool has beautifully clear cool water and is of a wide enough length which allows swimming; undisturbed as the spring is located on the outskirts of Siwa.

7. Bir Wahed hot spring - Courtesy of Siwa

photo of nature landscapes at Siwa Oasis - File Photo

If you make a trip to the desert, you will get a chance to dip in the mineral rich hot spring Bir Wahed just several kilometers from town. The hot spring is small and acts like a Jacuzzi with plenty of bubbling water. The qualities of this spring are very powerful so you might like to dose your sessions’ time with consideration. When getting up from the spring you may feel a bit dizzy from the rich charge of the spring. Resting on the dunes and watching sunset afterwards will give you a boosted connection with the natural spirit of the desert.

8. Bir Wahed lake

photo of nature landscapes at Siwa Oasis - File Photo

During your desert trip to the Great Sea of Sand, you will most likely stop at Bir Wahed’s cold spring. It is one of the biggest fresh pools in the nearby area of the oasis. You can enjoy your swim in this desert lake while looking at the surrounding dunes. It will make up for an unforgettable experience of the miracle of water in the pure desert.

9. Fatnas Island after sunset, Siwa Oasis

photo of nature landscapes at Siwa Oasis - File Photo

Try something different and have a dip in a hot spring at night. You can swim under the stars and absorb the reviving qualities of the naturally heated fresh spring. You will be amazed at the quality of your sleep afterwards. The most popular springs are called Almaza, Osman Camp and Mountain Camp. Swimming at night has a special feel and you can surely experience the best of it in Siwa.

10. Taziry Eco Lodge Fresh water pool

photo of nature landscapes at Siwa Oasis - File Photo

Whether at the hotel or out in a desert, swimming in Siwa is an unforgettable experience as the pools are set in unique locations. You will feel as though you jumped inside the land of dreams. It is a good idea to carry the swimming attire with you wherever you go as you never know when you will find yourself in front of one of the natural miraculous waters of Siwa. This way you can be ready for every swimming opportunity. The good news is that all places are relatively close to each other so you can explore various fresh swim spots at a relaxed pace. ]]>
9/8/2017 10:36:27 AM
<![CDATA[UN: World tourism numbers post biggest first-half rise since 2010]]>
The number of international tourists surged to around 598 million between January and June, some 36 million more than during the same period last year, the Madrid-based United Nations body said in a statement.

Rising business confidence and strong outbound demand from major source markets such as Britain, China, France and the United States were behind the rise.

“The first half of 2017 shows healthy growth in an increasingly dynamic and resilient tourism market, including a strong recovery in some of the destinations impacted by security challenges last year,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai.

Mediterranean destinations reported “particularly strong growth” in the first half of 2017, including those such as Egypt, Tunisia and Turkey, which suffered terrorist attacks in recent years, causing a slump in visitors, the organisation said.

Southern and Mediterranean Europe saw a 12-per cent rise in international visitors, North Africa posted a 16-per cent rise and the Middle East recorded an increase of 8.9 per cent.

Tourist arrivals overall in Europe, the world's most-visited region, grew 7.7 per cent.

Africa saw a 7.6-per cent rise in visitor numbers, while Asia and the Pacific posted 5.7-per cent growth.

International arrivals in the Americas were up 3.0 per cent in the first half of the year.

Growth was solid in South America, up by 6.0 per cent, while North America saw just 2.0 per cent growth as a decrease in arrivals in the United States offset robust results for Canada and Mexico.

In the whole of 2016, the number of international tourist arrivals grew by 3.9 per cent from the previous year to 1.23 billion and the UN body expects the figure to grow by three to four per cent this year.

Read more at http://www.themalaymailonline.com/travel/article/un-world-tourism-numbers-post-biggest-first-half-rise-since-2010#c6A5dPt0xZi0z3bW.99]]>
9/8/2017 10:25:40 AM
<![CDATA[The beauty of Taba's road of Shak al-Te'ban]]>
Despite being dangerous due to its frequent bends, the road is a very interesting ride due to its utter beauty that makes the driver feel like they are in the middle of nature.

Taba is a small town in South Sinai, which lies at the Egyptian border with Palestine.

By Mohamed Elnjjar. Courtesy of Egyptian Tourism Campaigns Facebook page
9/8/2017 9:43:53 AM
<![CDATA[Tourist turnout in Egypt rise 54%: Italian newspaper ]]>
The Italian newspaper added that Egyptian tourism has faced a couple of setbacks over the past period, one of which was the Russian airplane incident in October 2015. Since then, the newspaper added, Egypt has recovered gracefully and is back on the right track. Furthermore, Egypt is expecting the number of visitors to reach eight million this year, compared to last year’s 4.5 million, it added.

Travel Quotidiano predicts that the income from tourism to Egypt will reach $6 billion by the end of 2017, compared to $3.4 billion last year, in spite of the current halting of Russian flights to Egypt since the 2015 incident.
9/8/2017 9:36:51 AM
<![CDATA[Cairo hosts first Arab Economic Forum for Ecotourism]]>
The forum, which will be co-organized by the Euro-Arab Environment Organization and the Arab Tourist Guides Union, will be held in Cairo in February.

In this regard, President of the Euro-Arab Environment Organization (EAEO) Ibrahim Abdul Ghaffar Jamjoom said on Thursday that choosing Egypt to host this forum is due to the position of Egypt between Arab nations, and 30 nature reserves Residing in the country as well.

“The world has 44 nature reserves, and Egypt has the two most important; Wadi el-Hitan (Whale Valley) and the Petrified Forest,” said Jamjoom in a statement to MENA; adding that the forum is a chance to raise awareness about environment in order to increase the society's willingness and efforts to protect our planet.

He pointed out that the tax revenue of ecotourism is very high in some countries like Canada, which reached $1.7 billion, and Costa Rica, which turned 25 percent of its land into nature reserve to receive 800 foreign tourist a year, indicating that ecotourism promotes participation with regional national governments, tourists, investors, citizens, universities, research centers, cultural organizations as well as companies.

For his part, Abdul Rahim Rihan, Media Coordinator of Arab Tourist Guides Union (ATGU), said that this forum will be organized by the ministries of Tourism and Environment in Egypt and the Arab League as well as many other organizations to review their experiments in preserves and ecotourism and how to secure our planet.
Rihan underlined the general principles governing such kind of tourism including maintaining the environmental identity of touristic places to keep species from extinction and pollution.

The growth of leisure tourism that resulted in increasing the number of resorts has damaged the natural environment, and then the need for the ecotourism emerged to provide tourists who seek natural areas to enjoy, Rihan noted.

He added that ecotourism contributes to preserving nature, culture and heritage as well as highlighting the natural and cultural heritage of countries.
9/7/2017 4:58:39 PM
<![CDATA[Wadi Degla Protectorate: Nature is minutes away]]>
Whether you are an athlete who wants to climb or ride a bike, a family person who wants to have a nice BBQ picnic, or simply love nature and want to enjoy a day far from the city and its crowd but you do not have enough time to go that far, Wadi Degla is the place for you.

Wadi Degla – Mohammed Said - Wikimedia commons

Wadi Degla Protectorate is minutes from Maadi, next to Wadi Degla SC in Zahraa al Maadi. The place is open every day from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. You can go by car or on foot; tickets cost LE 3 ($0.17) per person and LE 3 per car! Normal cars can go up to 2 kilometers in the protectorate, and then you continue the rest on foot; although, land rovers are allowed to go as far as they want.

You can also go with your car and park it outside and walk, or you can walk all the way into the protectorate; it might take a while, but you will surely enjoy it. Other than that, if you have a bicycle, you can go inside with it and you will find that the place is really suitable for the ride.

Wadi Degla Map – Photo courtesy of Best hang out places in Egypt/Facebook

The protectorate can be a perfect place for jogging, running, rock climbing and so many other activities; just make sure to stay hydrated and not stay in the sun for too long. As for nature lovers, according to the Facebook page

Best hang out places in Egypt

and its contributor Ahmed Abady, not only can you observe the animals that live there, such as deer, wild rabbits, red foxes, mountain goats, tortoises and birds, you can also camp and spend the night at the protectorate! On top of all that, the scenery is breathtakingly magical because of the mountains and caves, which were carved over millions of years, as well as the desert plants.

Riding bicycles at Wadi Degla – Photo courtesy of Best hang out places in Egypt/Facebook

Make sure to take a lot of water, a hat and some healthy snacks with you in case you are not going to have a barbecue, because there are no shops inside. So what are you waiting for? Start planning that picnic, enjoy it and let us know how it went in the comments!

BBQ at Wadi Degla – Photo courtesy of Best hang out places in Egypt/Facebook

Wadi Degla - Ma7moudsmile - Wikimedia commons
9/7/2017 9:49:25 AM
<![CDATA[Russian airlines to resume Egypt flights within month after ban lifted]]>
"They are already gearing up for this. I don’t expect this period to last long. This task will be solved within a month," Maxim Sokolov said on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum.

Sokolov said Wednesday there were prerequisites to resume flights as early as this year and the question was being considered at the highest level.

In 2015, Moscow suspended flights between Russia and Egypt after a Russian passenger plane crashed over the Sinai peninsula, killing all 224 people on board.]]>
9/7/2017 9:30:41 AM
<![CDATA[Tanta prepares for 3M guests for Badawi birthday ]]>
Visitors prepare for the Mawlid of Al-Sayed Al-Badawi

The annual celebration of Egypt’s largest mawlid will start next month from October 6 to 13, gathering people from northern and southern Egypt. Many Upper Egypt residents only visit the Nile Delta region during the Al-Badawi celebrations. Visitors buy hummus, meshabbek and halawa, which are popular types of snacks and desserts sold during the celebrations.

People pray at Maqam Al-Sayed Al-Badawi in Tanta

The mosque, which occupies 5,000 square meters, can hold up to around 20,000 people during the mawlid. There will be imams from all over the world, especially from North Africa, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. About 70 Sufi groups will participate in the celebrations with their own folkloric shows and sessions, according to a source at the mosque who refused to be named due to not being authorized to speak to media.

People from different places come to visit Al-Sayed Al-BadawI

The mosque is covered with lights, and loud, devotional religious songs are played from speakers in every corner as circles of worshippers whirl, chanting the word “madad” (God help us). Simple tents are set up in the streets and alleys surrounding the mosque, full of people sleeping, eating, gathering and chatting.

Maqam Al-Sayed Al-Badawi

Al-Sayed Al-Badawi is a well-known Sufi saint whose lineage is believed to go back to Imam al-Hussein (may Allah be pleased with him), the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). He is also the founder of the famous Badawiyya Sufi order.

Visitors prepare for the Mawlid of Al-Sayed Al-Badawi

He was born in Fez, Morocco in 596 AH/1200 AD and then studied Quranic sciences in Medina and jurisprudence in Iraq, before settling in Egypt in 640 AH/1243 AD to spread Islamic knowledge. There he joined the Egyptian army in the war against Louis III, and he played a significant role in his capture. He died in Tanta in 675 AH/1277 AD and is entombed at the mosque that bears name.

9/7/2017 2:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Flying at Cairo Festival]]>
1 (1)
Gear - Best places in Egypt

After 20 minutes of instruction lessons, you put on the safety gear and will be allowed to fly freely and fearlessly through the strong air pushing upwards at a speed of 223 kilometers per hour. The maximum weight accepted is 135 kilograms.

2 (1)
Gear - Best places in Egypt

Aerodium tickets start at LE 350. There are several offers available. Get to know more about them here:

https://www.facebook.com/AerodiumEgypt/ .

9/7/2017 1:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[The other side of Luxor]]>
But, what you probably did not know is that there is a very modern side to the ancient city which the government pays great attention in developing. A great example of that is Luxor’s Corniche. Here are a few pictures courtesy of the Facebook page

Best hangout places in Egypt:

Luxor’s Corniche and the Nile – Photo curtesy of Best hangout places in Egypt/Facebook

Luxor’s Corniche – Photo courtesy of Best hangout places in Egypt/Facebook

Luxor’s Corniche and the Nile River – Photo courtesy of Best hangout places in Egypt/Facebook

Luxor’s Corniche – Photo courtesy of Best hangout places in Egypt/Facebook
9/7/2017 12:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Ethiopia: What a special country!]]>
Orthodox liturgy in Addis Ababa’s St. George Cathedral – Madnomad Blog

Ethiopia is also known to be a difficult country to travel, especially on your own vehicle. A lot of people are not really friendly and the hassles are too many for most visitors. Kids all over the country throw stones to passing vehicles and the roads are full of animals, people, cyclists and carts. Ethiopia is quite unique on this aspect too… The people and the animals don’t walk on the roadside, as it happens in most of the world. If there are five cows, for instance, they walk next to each other in order to block the road. So even on the “highways”, you have to suddenly stop every few kilometers, as there are thousands of animals on the Ethiopian roads.

The traditional centuries-old way of preparing the authentic Ethiopian coffee… no additives, no preservatives! Madnomad Blog

Well, after all, the animal “owners” have a profit out of this. The rule in Ethiopia is that the drivers are always blamed for an accident, no matter if it was their own fault or not. On top of that, the animal “owners” demand a hefty compensation not only for the animal which was killed but also for the animals that would be born by it in the future! So, especially in Ethiopia you have to drive very carefully and slowly.

Tattoos are an ancient tradition in Ethiopia. Mostly Christian women are marked with them in order to show their strong faith. Madnomad Blog

Konstantina Chamou, a Greek friend of mine, joined me for three months to travel Ethiopia and Sudan two-up on my humble Baobabis! My motorcycle was looking like a truck once again with the total weight of it, our luggage and both of us exceeding 350 kg (772 lb)! Since it didn’t break even after almost 10,000 km (6,214 miles) in these conditions, it means it was properly made.

Konstantina Chamou, a Greek friend of mine, joined me for three months to travel Ethiopia and Sudan two-up on my humble Baobabis! Madnomad Blog

The far southwest of Ethiopia, the Omo Valley, is the homeland of ancient tribes which live more or less the same way for centuries… The Hamer, the Mursi, the Karo, the Banna and others, all have their own distinct traditions. Visiting a market where various tribes come together once a week is a very colorful and lively experience!

Hamer villagers come to Turmi during the weekly market to sell their vegetables, grains, tobacco, cotton or wood- Madnomad Blog

The villages around Konso are inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site due to their unique culture, traditions and architecture. The complicated funeral ceremonies are particularly interesting. Konso people make wooden totems (waga) in memory of their chiefs and their village’s heroes, surrounded by their family members or the enemies and the wild animals they had killed.

Busso is one of the Konso villages. It looks picturesque with its communal house and the totems of their chiefs and their village’s heroes. Madnomad Blog

Unfortunately, in the village of Gesergio we were ourselves victims of Konso peoples’ brutality. Some teenagers, disappointed that we didn’t give them plenty of money or pens, had blocked the main dirt road of the village holding huge stones on their hands. I knew what was going to happen… Even in my travel guide, happily provided by

Travel Bookstore

, was written that the same happened to the writer years ago, when his group didn’t hand out “enough” money.

I was riding my motorcycle a whole month with a failed alternator until I got a replacement from Greece- Madnomad Blog

While I was approaching slowly and very carefully, I saw the young villagers trying to smash our heads and the motorcycle. Of course, we were wearing helmets. Happily, when they made some space, I immediately accelerated hard enough to escape! On the mirrors I could see plenty of stones flying towards us. One of them hit the motorbike but happily none of them hit us.

Gorgeous Ethiopian mountains! Madnomad Blog

I was looking forward to getting on the mountains which make most of Ethiopia. First it was the thick, moist forests around Dorze that we visited. The huts there are made traditionally by hardwood poles, woven bamboo and false-banana leaves. They look like a huge beehive. The climate there is quite cold, so domestic animals sleep inside the huts playing the role of central heating!

Huts around Dorze are made traditionally by hardwood poles, woven bamboo and false-banana leaves. Madnomad Blog

The rain kept us there a bit longer. It was supposed to be dry season but El Niño brought a lot of rain in East Africa this year. As if this was not enough, the extreme raining was followed by an extreme drought due to La Niña. That’s a disaster for people who depend on the land to feed their family. In Ethiopia alone about

15 million people are threatened with famine!

That’s worse than the famine of 1983 to 1985. The government tries to keep voices low and pretend everything is under control but that makes the disaster even worse because it is not known out of the affected areas. Due to this suppression, I haven’t personally met people who help on the field. However, if you google, you can find many humanitarian organizations which accept donations for that reason, like



Ethiopian cuisine is unique! It’s based on injera, a flatbread made out of teff, which can be accompanied by meat (sometimes raw!), lentils, chickpeas, potatoes, vegetables or salad.- Madnomad Blog

My favourite place in Southern Ethiopia was Bale Mountains National Park! That’s where we enjoyed some horse riding on the grasslands of the high plateaus which are full of wildlife: mountain nyalas, reedbucks, warthogs and plenty of baboons. I had missed horse riding…

Wildlife watching on a horse! These are mountain nyalas. Madnomad Blog

We also enjoyed a great ride on my iron horse. We crossed the thick Harenna Forest, a unique cloud forest which develops under the usual cloudy weather of this region. The most amazing thing was that we got two-up on my motorbike to one of the highest peaks of Ethiopia, Tullu Deemtu, at 4,377 m (14,360 ft). It was quite cold up there and we had to wear all of our clothes. Thanks


! for the amazing clothing that kept us warm even on such an altitude!

Bale Mountains became my favourite place in Southern Ethiopia! Madnomad Blog

We made a detour (just 1,500 km, 932 miles) to visit Eastern Ethiopia. The old, Islamic town of Harar is picturesque and atmospheric. Being close to the Red Sea and modern-day Somaliland and Djibouti, it was an important hub on the caravan route for centuries. A weird tradition is taking place there… Every night people feed wild hyenas by hand! That started in order to prevent them from attacking the livestock. During the annual Ashura festival, the fortune of next year is being predicted. If hyenas don’t eat, it is going to be a terrible year.

The old, Islamic town of Harar, being close to the Red Sea, was an important hub on the caravan route for centuries -Madnomad Blog

It was the first time I approached hyenas so close! First I fed them by hand. Then I put a short stick on my mouth with a piece of meat on it. I kneeled down and a hyena approached my mouth… It didn’t want to kiss me! It just got the meat quickly. Wow, that seemed insane! I could see the eyes of many hyenas in the darkness but they were not aggressive

Due to a weird tradition in Harar, people feed wild hyenas from mouth to mouth! I tried that too ;-) Madnomad Blog

This article was originally published by Madnomad ]]>
9/6/2017 4:37:13 PM
<![CDATA[Tourists evacuate as Category 5 Hurricane Irma nears Caribbean]]>
The monster hurricane coming on the heels of Harvey, which struck Texas and Louisiana late last month, is expected to hit a string of French islands including Guadeloupe late Tuesday before heading to Haiti and Florida.

The Miami-based National Hurricane Center said Irma had strengthened to the most powerful Category Five, packing winds of 180 miles (280 kilometers) per hour.

The front was moving west at 14 miles (22 kilometers) per hour, and is expected to dump up to 18 inches (45 centimeters) of rain in some areas when it hits land.

"These rainfall amounts may cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides," the NHC warned, calling the storm "potentially catastrophic" and urging that "preparations should be rushed to completion" in the region.

Schools and government offices in Guadeloupe have been ordered shut, while hospitals are stocking up on medicines, food and drinking water. People living on shorelines will be moved to safety, authorities said.

Saint Barthelemy and Saint Martin islands, both popular holiday destinations, are expected to be especially hard hit.

The Dutch defense minister said soldiers arrived in the Dutch part of Saint Martin on Monday and two vessels, including one equipped with a helicopter, were in place to help.

Officials had on Monday ordered the evacuation of 11,000 people living in affected areas on both islands, which began in many neighbourhoods on Tuesday, an AFP correspondent said.

- Threat to Florida -

The governor of the US state of Florida, Rick Scott, declared a state of emergency, saying Irma posed "a severe threat to the entire state", barely a week after Harvey claimed at least 42 lives.

He asked President Donald Trump to declare an emergency for the state as well, which would help draw resources to the area to respond to any damage.

Tourists in the popular Key West islands were packing their bags on a mandatory evacuation order and were due to begin leaving at sunrise on Wednesday, with a similar order for residents due to follow.

"We're emphatically telling people you must evacuate, you cannot afford to stay on an island with a Category 5 hurricane coming at you," said Monroe County emergency operations center director Martin Senterfitt.

There were long queues as people rushed to get batteries, bottled water, groceries and fuel, while many cut trees around their homes and sought to tie down objects and seal up their windows.

In a crowded supermarket in Miami Beach where people were scrambling to buy provisions, it was already difficult to find some basic supplies, like water.

Whole shelves stood empty.

"It's because people go crazy and buy up everything," 81-year-old resident Gladys Bosque told AFP.

"They believe the hurricane will last a month when it could pass us by. Look, there's no water, no milk, there are very few cans -- and no cat food."

Category Five hurricanes are rare and are capable of inflicting life-threatening winds, storm surges and rainfall.

A hurricane of this magnitude can tear off roofing, shatter windows, uproot palm trees and turn them into projectiles that can kill people.

Irma is projected to bring water levels up to 11 feet (3.3 metres) above normal, rainfall of up to 10 inches (25 cm) in places, and "large and destructive waves," the US National Hurricane Center warned.

Harvey, which dumped as many as 50 inches of rain in parts of Houston, turning neighbourhoods into lakes and causing material damage estimated at around $100 billion (85 billion euros), was a Category Four hurricane.

In Puerto Rico, a US territory of 3.5 million, Governor Ricardo Rossello activated the National Guard and announced the opening of storm shelters able to house up to 62,000 people.

The mayor of the Puerto Rican capital San Juan, Carmen Yulin Cruz Soto, ordered 900 municipal employees -- police, emergency personnel, and aid and social workers -- to report for rotating 12-hour shifts.

Even if Puerto Rico is spared a direct hit, the mayor said, three days of pounding rain will do heavy damage.

- US carrier in position -

A US aircraft carrier with a field hospital and dozens of aircraft able to conduct rescue or supply missions have been positioned in the area, according to Alejandro de la Campa of the Caribbean division of the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Local press identified the carrier as the USS Kearsarge.

Irma's precise path remains unclear. But several projections have it passing over the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba before turning north toward Florida and then possibly swinging up the US East Coast.
9/6/2017 4:00:20 PM
<![CDATA[Beneath the surface beauty of the desert]]>
Cave from inside - Moustafa Mahran

Serenity provided by nature.

shade and light - Moustafa Mahran

The breaking of light through the walls of the cave creates astonishing formations of bright colors, adding to its awesomeness one color at a time.

Amazing colored rocks - Moustafa Mahran

If you ever wonder how this cave came into existence— its limestone were carved by spring water 700 meters down in the earth ground.

This cave is incredibly easy to visit from Cairo.
9/6/2017 3:54:33 PM
<![CDATA[Luxor to take part in Arab Smart Cities Forum]]>
Hammam said the governorate will expound its experiment in a workshop on smart electronic transformation in Arab cities, dubbed "Reality and Looking Forward".

He also pointed out that the forum aims at honing Arab cities' capabilities in smart electronic transformation in implementation of the 2030 sustainable development plan.

Moreover, Hammam underlined the importance of this forum to generalize success stories as well as enable member states to become smart cities.

Luxor governorate will host the forum members on October 9-10 to continue joint workshops and take up the most important means of smart electronic transformation.]]>
9/6/2017 3:10:27 PM
<![CDATA[Cairo to participate for first time in Shanghai Tourism Festival]]>
The international teams participating in the event tour Shanghai main streets while performing their shows and introducing the cultures they represent, Youssef told MENA correspondent in Beijing.

The diplomat further indicated that the Egyptian participation in the six-day festival would thus promote tourism to Egypt.]]>
9/6/2017 3:02:18 PM
<![CDATA[A trip to Fayoum with unique settings ]]>
The program includes attractions from nature and history alike. The Deir Abu Lifa Historical Monastery and the Pharaonic temple Qasr al-Sagha are among the historical attractions. Attendees will also visit Widan el-Faras, a landmark of two conical hills in black basalt, the Petrified Forest, and the so-called magical lake, and the Samuel Dunes.

The event will cost LE 1,750 ($100), including full meals, activities, and luxurious facilities for the safari. The overnight camp will be held near the magic lake. Find more information, check their Facebook page.
9/6/2017 2:03:45 PM
<![CDATA[China fast-food operator pilots face-recognition payments]]>
The "Smile to Pay" system will allow customers at a healthier spin-off of KFC in the eastern city of Hangzhou to keep their wallets in their pockets after ordering on a machine.

Yum China, which operates several major fast-food brands in China including KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, teamed up with Chinese mobile payments firm Alipay – started by e-commerce giant Alibaba – on the technology.

Yum China called the concept a "world's first".

The ordering machine will compare the customer's face with the verified picture on their Alipay account.

China is racing ahead in its use of facial recognition technology.

It has even been installed at Beijing's historic Temple of Heaven to stop people pinching rolls of toilet paper.

Airports and train stations are also jumping on the trend, with China Southern Airlines this year using facial recognition in place of boarding passes for the first time.

And in Qingdao, home to China's most famous lager, 25 suspects were recently arrested after they turned up to a beer festival only to be identified by the technology at entrance gates. — AFP]]>
9/6/2017 1:51:30 PM
<![CDATA[Travellers, here are the best places to visit and enjoy the beauty of autumn]]>
Celebrate the Day of the Dead in Oaxaca, Mexico

Despite its macabre moniker, Day of the Dead is a colourful and festive holiday that honours the memory of fallen friends, family members and ancestors, and sends well wishes to the dead on their spiritual journey. The tradition is inscribed on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The city of Oaxaca offers one of the biggest and liveliest editions in Mexico, with processions, marching bands, fireworks and lots of Mezcal. The Day of the Dead takes place between October 31 to November 2.]]>
9/6/2017 1:48:34 PM
<![CDATA[et Photography: Oases of wonders]]>
A rock formation of lime stone made by nature is found amongst other abstract rock formations.

Make sure you attend to these natural beauties when you go on a safari next time to the oases of Egypt.

Thanks to the talented photographer Yaser Elamir for sharing his photo with us. Find more of his work



9/6/2017 1:01:36 PM
<![CDATA[Sharqia prepares for 22nd Festival for Arabian Horses]]>
General Khalid Saaed, Sharqia’s governor, stated that Sharqia’s Festival for Arabian Horses is a dignified sports event that the governorate has hosted for many years. The festival promotes desert sports tourism through equestrian sports, horse riding and Arabian horse beauty pageants.

Sharqia’s governor also added that the festival will last for two days and the participants will be the members of equestrian clubs, owners of horse ranches, and Arabian horse lovers, including Egyptians, Arabs and foreigners. He added that the winners will be rewarded with valuable awards, such as excellence cups and shields from the governorate.

It is worth noting that

Egyptian-bred Arabian horses are very unique

and special, to the extent that European countries such

as Italy and Germany

import them all the way from Egypt.
9/6/2017 8:37:02 AM