<![CDATA[rss-Travel]]> All Rights Reserved for The Cairo post <![CDATA[Travel]]>]]> 100 29 <![CDATA[All you need to know about taking pets on EgyptAir flights]]>
Egypt Today lets you know the requirements for taking pets on EgyptAir flights:

• The weight of the animal or its cage does not exceed 5 kilograms.

• Dogs and cats must be at least 8 weeks old when traveling.

• Passengers assume full responsibility for their pets.

• EGYPTAIR assumes no responsibility for the injury, loss or death of these pets.

• Passengers must carry enough food for the pet during the flight.

• Pets will not be included in the normal free baggage allowance, which is about 8 kilograms.

• Passengers may be accompanied by falcons, but under the terms of EgyptAir Company.

• Passengers must provide pet passports.
10/22/2018 12:57:49 PM
<![CDATA[Azerbaijan to launch direct flights to Sharm El-Sheikh in Nov.]]>
South Sinai Governor Fouda revealed on Monday, Oct. 22 that Sharm El-Sheikh attracts global interest, confirming that the city will witness a huge number of tourists, including Russian tourists, in 2018-2019 winter season.

In the same context, many Russian tourism companies expect that once charter flights to Egyptian resorts are resumed by the end of 2018, tourist inflow to several cheap world resorts such as the United Arab Emirates, India, Vietnam, and Thailand will decline.

The tourism sector is one of Egypt’s main foreign currency earners; it has suffered badly from the travel ban that turned the once 100 percent occupied resorts to empty buildings.

Tourist inflow to Egypt peaked in 2010, when 14.7 million tourists visited the country, but the number fell to 4.5 million in 2016.

Russian and British tourists capture the largest portion of tourist inflows to Egypt. According to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS), the Russian tourist inflow to Egypt reached its peak in 2014, with tourists recording 3.1 million. Following the Russian plane crash, this number plummeted to 2.38 million in 2015.

The British tourist inflow used to range between 800,000 and 1 million tourists, but this number also declined after the suspension of flights to Sharm El-Sheikh. British flights are now limited to the tourist landmarks in the Red Sea and the Upper Egyptian cities of Luxor and Aswan.

Tourism in the whole country has been greatly affected since the uprising that overthrew former President Hosni Mubarak in 2011. The most fatal blow to Egypt’s tourism is that the Airbus A321, operated by Metrojet, crashed over the Sinai Peninsula in October 2015, while carrying Russian tourists returning from the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh to St. Petersburg, killing all 224 on board.

Following the incident, both Russia and the UK halted direct flights to Sinai; as a result, Egypt’s tourism revenues have been reduced.
Government efforts

During the 26-month air traffic suspension, a lot of false reports about the expected resumption of direct flights between Egypt and Russia circulated in the media.

During that period, the Egyptian government spared no effort to settle the case and speed negotiations with the Russian side, as well as other countries that imposed a ban on direct flights to Egypt.

Russian authorities always stressed that the resumption of flights would only be possible after Egypt satisfies all the demands of Russian experts on ensuring security at domestic airports.

Since the crash, Egypt has been implementing new, tighter security measures at all of its airports to meet the Russian demands for the resumption of flights, with multiple visits by Russian security to behold changes implemented by the government.

During these visits, the Russian side affirmed that Egyptian aviation authorities have made significant progress in complying with Russia’s aviation safety requirements.

On December 11, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Cairo for the second time since President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi was sworn into office in May 2014. The visit showed increasing interest from Moscow to boost cooperation with Egypt after the bilateral relations have been up and down.

Asked about the return of direct flights to Egypt, Putin said “The Russian security services have reported to me that, on the whole, we are ready for opening the direct air link between Moscow and Cairo ... This would require signing a corresponding intergovernmental protocol.”

On December 15, Egyptian Civil Aviation Minister Sharif Fathi travelled to Moscow and met Russian Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov.

The two ministers signed an air security agreement that set the required procedures to pave the way for resuming Egypt-Russia air traffic.

“The first flight will likely be launched in February,” said Sokolov.

In mid-December 2017, Russia and Egypt signed an agreement on aviation security and a special protocol on restoring air service between the two countries. Russian President Putin signed the decree on resumption of scheduled flights to Cairo on January 4, 2018. ]]>
10/22/2018 12:42:00 PM
<![CDATA[S. Sinai official receives Ukrainian media delegation to promote travel to Sharm el Sheikh]]>
The Ukrainian delegation come upon an invitation by a travel agency to visit to tourist destinations in the Red Sea resort city.

The delegation is on a four-day visit during which they will visit Soho area, Tiran island and Ras Mohamed National Park. ]]>
10/22/2018 12:32:51 PM
<![CDATA[EgyptAir announces 50% discount on Aswan flights]]>
Also, additional 12 flights to Aswan will be arranged as a huge number of travelers is expected to visit Aswan to witness the phenomenon.

In February 2018, the sun illuminated the face of Ramses II in Abu Simbel temple in south Aswan for 20 minutes in a phenomenon that takes place twice a year.

For most of the year, the inner sanctum of the main temple of Abu Simbel is shrouded in darkness.

On February 22, a day celebrating the king's birthday and again on October 22, a day celebrating his coronation, sunlight illuminates the seated statues of the sun gods Re-Horakhte and Amon-Re, as well as a statue of king Ramses II. The statues sit in the company of the Theban god of darkness, Ptah (who remains in the shadows all year).
10/21/2018 2:23:40 PM
<![CDATA[3rd direct China-Cairo air line to be launched from Chengdu Tuesday]]>
The Chinese airlines will operate two flights a week from Cairo to Chengdu on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Sitchuan Airlines had announced that it will launch the third direct line between China and Cairo in Chengdu, the capital of the southern province Sitchuan, using Airbus A330.

Beijing and Guangzhou also operate direct flights to Cairo. In 2017, Chinese tourism to Egypt increased by 94 percent, becoming the fourth largest in Egypt.
10/21/2018 1:32:58 PM
<![CDATA[Tourist delegations of various nationalities arrive at Cairo airport]]>
Cairo International Airport received on Saturday 815 tourists coming from China, the US, Italy, Colombia, Taiwan and Indonesia to visit tourist and archaeological sites in Cairo and other governorates, a source at the airport said on Saturday.

Authorities at the airport have formed teams from the public relations department to receive the tourists and help finalize their procedures, the source added.]]>
10/20/2018 2:30:14 PM
<![CDATA[Aswan sees leap in visits by media delegations in 2017, 2018]]>
Ahmed Ali Ebeid, the head of the Press Center for Foreign Correspondents in Aswan, said that the years 2017 and 2018 have witnessed an “unprecedented leap” compared to the past eight years regarding the presence of foreign journalists in the city, coming from different media institutions in U.S., UK, France, Switzerland, Russia, Italy and others.

Foreign media delegations visiting archaeological sites in Aswan - Egypt Today

Foreign media delegations visiting archaeological sites in Aswan - Egypt Today

Media delegations that arrived in Egypt over the past period have featured their visits in documentary films, TV series, soap operas and movies, shedding the light on Pharaonic and Egyptian ancient civilizations that are found in different Egyptian cities.

Ebeif said that a UK delegation came to Egypt during the last period, and highlighted the work of the Spanish mission that discovered the cancer-infected mummy, and its transfer to Aswan Hospital for medical examination.

Ahmed Abdel Mohsen, an Egyptian-Swiss lecturer who works at a Cinema Institute in Zurich said that Egypt’s Aswan has recently started to attract back a number of world film directors after a long reluctance in making documentary films on Egypt.

Ridley Scott has chosen Aswan, Abu Simbel and Kom Ombo cities as locations for some scenes of his Exodus: Gods and Kings movie, Abdel Mohsen added.

Foreign media delegations visiting archaeological sites in Aswan - Egypt Today

Some directors choose to shoot their documentary films in locations with archaeological scenes, like the Director Pascal Hoffmann who did a film on the cities that inspired the works of Sculptor Not Vital, including Aswan.

French Director Olivier Lommeter visited Egypt recently to film the second part of his documentary film on temples that were saved from drowning in Aswan during the construction of the High Dam from 1960 to 1970.

Foreign media delegations visiting archaeological sites in Aswan - Egypt Today

Speaking to Egypt Today, Lommeter said “I love Egypt very much, and my admiration increases to the charming sites in the city of Aswan. We love your country, and I am still hoping I can reach certain concerned bodies in Egypt with whom I can cooperate in producing my future films about the country.”

For his part, Ebeid argued that the fees set for filming the archaeological sites is very high, after the last official raise by the Ministry of Antiquities from L.E. 1,600 to L.E. 5,000, “which is unaffordable to some delegations.”

Ebied called for some facilitation that will benefit the publicity of these sites in Egypt, given the costs that the foreign delegations bear like: travel, flights, accommodation and filming location.

10/20/2018 9:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Resuming Russian tourism to Egypt to decline tourist flow to Turkey ]]>
Tulchin remarked that resuming charter tours to Egypt will lead to a decline in tourist inflow to several cheap world resorts such as the United Arab Emirates, India, Vietnam, and Thailand.

In the same context, Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed on Wednesday, Oct. 17 during his meeting with President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi that flights resume between the two countries, referring that Egypt exerts many efforts to secure air flights.

In October 2015, the Airbus A321, operated by Metrojet, crashed over the Sinai Peninsula, while carrying Russian tourists returning from the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh to St. Petersburg, killing all 224 on board.

Although Egypt-Russia investigations have not revealed the reason behind the crash, Russia, along with some other countries, had decided to suspend direct flights to Cairo and Sharm El-Sheikh for indefinite period. The decision decimated Egypt's vital tourism industry.

The tourism sector is one of Egypt’s main foreign currency earners,and has suffered badly from the travel ban that turned the once 100 percent occupied resorts to empty buildings.

Tourist inflow to Egypt peaked in 2010, when 14.7 million tourists visited the country, but the number fell to 4.5 million in 2016.

Russian and British tourists capture the largest portion of tourist inflows to Egypt. According to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS), the Russian tourist inflow to Egypt reached its peak in 2014, with tourists recording 3.1 million. Following the Russian plane crash, this number plummeted to 2.38 million in 2015.

The British tourist inflow used to range between 800,000 and 1 million tourists, but this number also declined after the suspension of flights to Sharm El-Sheikh. British flights are now limited to the tourist landmarks in the Red Sea and the Upper Egyptian cities of Luxor and Aswan.

Government efforts

During the 26-month air traffic suspension, a lot of false reports about the expected resumption of direct flights between Egypt and Russia were circulated in the media, making Egyptians doubt if this issue will find any end.

Through that period, the Egyptian government spared no effort to settle the case, using all diplomatic capabilities to speed negotiations with the Russian side, as well as other countries that imposed a ban on direct flights to Egypt.

Russian authorities always stressed that the resumption of flights would only be possible after Egypt satisfies all the demands made by Russian experts on ensuring security at domestic airports.

Since the crash, Egypt has been implementing new, tighter security measures at all of its airports to meet the Russian demands for the resumption of flights, with multiple visits by Russian security to behold changes implemented by the government.

During these visits, the Russian side affirmed that Egyptian aviation authorities have made significant progress in complying with Russia’s aviation safety requirements.

On December 11, Russian President Putin visited Cairo for the second time since President Sisi was sworn into office in May 2014. The visit showed increasing interest from Moscow to boost cooperation with Egypt after the bilateral relations have been up and down.

Asked about the return of direct flights to Egypt, Putin said “The Russian security services have reported to me that, on the whole, we are ready for opening the direct air link between Moscow and Cairo ... This would require signing a corresponding intergovernmental protocol.”

On December 15, Egyptian Civil Aviation Minister Sharif Fathi travelled to Moscow and met Russian Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov.

The two ministers signed an air security agreement that set the required procedures to pave the way for resuming Egypt-Russia air traffic.

“The first flight will likely be launched in February,” said Sokolov.
In mid-December 2017, Russia and Egypt signed an agreement on aviation security and a special protocol on restoring air service between the two countries. Russian President Putin signed the decree on resumption of scheduled flights to Cairo on January 4, 2018.

Additional report by Mohamed Abdel Maguid
10/19/2018 10:58:37 AM
<![CDATA[Nothing to see here: Sri Lanka to revoke rogue bikini ban]]>
The signs erected by local police at Habaraduwa Beach, about 130 kilometres (81 miles) south of the capital Colombo, depicted a pair of western women in bikinis crossed out with a red "X".

"According to Sri Lankan culture, please dress in an appropriate suit," it stated, declaring bikinis "improper".

A police official in Colombo said local law enforcers had not sought approval for the signs, which stirred controversy after going viral on social media.

Sri Lanka does not allow visitors in revealing clothing -- including men in shorts -- to visit Buddhist temples and other religious sites, but beaches are generally more relaxed.

Tourism authorities said visitors to the island's famed coastline had nothing to worry about, and steps were being taken to remove the signs.

"Dress code policing is unneeded and unwarranted for tourists enjoying the scenic beaches of Sri Lanka," the Tourism Development Authority said.

Sri Lanka, a Buddhist-majority island popular with tourists, has criticised foreigners in the past for offending moral tastes.

Foreigners with clothing, tattoos or jewellery depicting the Buddha have seen tourists deported from the island for "hurting the sensibilities" of Sri Lankans.

Last month, three Sri Lankan men landed in hot water after exposing their bottoms near a Buddhist temple as part of a social media challenge and posting the images online.

They were tracked down and charged with offending Buddhist sentiments.
10/18/2018 11:18:15 AM
<![CDATA[Croatia on course for Schengen zone entry in 2020 - government official]]>
Croatia is one of six European Union members not to be part of the passport-free Schengen zone, which area comprises 22 EU member states as well as four non-members — Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

“Our goal is to meet all the technical criteria by the end of this year. The European Commission must then assess if we’re ready to join which we hope it will do before the next elections for the European Parliament next May,” Terezija Gras, state secretary in the Interior Ministry, told Reuters in an interview.

Gras said Schengen zone membership would help to improve security in Croatia and the wider EU. The free movement of people would also benefit the economy, especially tourism which accounts for almost 20 percent of Croatia’s gross domestic product, she said.

“Control over the EU’s external borders is the most demanding aspect of our preparations. We have already fully equipped our border with Serbia and now we’re doing it on the border with Bosnia,” Gras said.

Croatia is on the route taken by many migrants from the Middle East and central Asia who are trying to reach wealthier EU states. Some cross into Croatia from Bosnia undeclared.

By the end of September, the number of unauthorized migrants in Croatia had risen by more than 30 percent from an estimated 4,800 people last year, police said this month. Most of them were from Afghanistan.

Once the European Commission gives its approval, member states must approve it politically. One potential stumbling block is Croatia’s border dispute with neighboring Slovenia, which blocked Croatia’s EU bid in 2009 for the same reason.

“I believe a win-win solution is possible and we’re keen to work on that. We think as well that, for security reasons, it is also in Slovenia’s interest to have Croatia within the Schengen area,” Gras said.

Croatia’s conservative-led government also hopes that in 2020 it will also achieve entry to the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM-2), a waiting room for adopting the euro.
10/17/2018 11:13:17 AM
<![CDATA[Bulgaria Urged to Save Communist-era Architectural 'Masterpiece' Buzludzha]]>
The striking circular building has been left to fall victim to vandalism and decay, as Bulgaria has been eager to forget its communist past, but now western experts want to preserve it as a heritage site.

The 70-metre (230-foot) high structure -- made of 70,000 tonnes of concrete, 3,000 tonnes of reinforced steel and 40 tonnes of glass -- looks like it is hovering at around 1,400 metres above sea level.

It has a 40-metre-wide ceremonial hall with room for 400 people and was covered from floor to ceiling in mosaics depicting the history of Bulgaria's communist party.

Inaugurated in 1981, it fell into disrepair following the collapse of the Iron Curtain in 1989 and now lies empty and crumbling.

In recent years, only the most adventurous foreign tourists have visited the isolated spot, prompting local authorities to lock it up to prevent any accidents.

Nevertheless, experts from cultural heritage organisation Europa Nostra visited the site last month and have urged the Bulgarian authorities to rescue what they believe is "a masterpiece of architecture, engineering and art".

- Endangered site -

Europa Nostra listed it as one of the most endangered heritage sites in Europe this year.

During the Cold War era, the communist party claimed that the red glass stars on top of a tower that is part of the complex could be seen as far as Romania to the north and Greece to the south.

"With its brutalist style, it is a genuine architectural achievement of the 20th century," said Laurent Levi-Strauss, of Europa Nostra and a former deputy chief of UNESCO's Cultural Heritage division.

For British architect Graham Bell, Buzludzha is "an unbelievable building, unbelievably impressive and unbelievably sad in the way it is deteriorating.

"This monument is part of European cultural heritage, but most of Europe doesn't know it exists," Bell said.

The experts are convinced that what remains of the building could -- and should -- be saved.

Following their visit, they called for "urgent action" to stop the decay. And they proposed giving the site national protected status, which would allow EU funds to be used for its rescue.

"It is good that Europe cares about it as Bulgaria doesn't," Buzludzha's 89-year-old architect, Georgy Stoilov, told AFP.

Indeed, the cash-strapped local authorities never regarded Buzludzha as much of a priority and saw little point in the upkeep of a site that had such bad connotations.

It was Bulgarian architect, Dora Ivanova, born a year after the fall of the regime, who has been responsible for the revival in interest in Buzludzha.

- 'Explaining history' -

She came across the monument on the internet while she was at university in Germany and started a campaign for its conservation four years ago.

"It's not possible that such an amazing piece of architecture is in such bad condition. It is a part of Bulgarian history whether we like it or not," Ivanova said.

She said her aim was to conserve the building, rather than restore it, "as restoring it would be to glorify communism". "I just want to explain history," she added.

Part of her project would use three-dimensional projection mapping to show what the missing parts of the mosaics might have looked like.

And Ivanova also suggests offering augmented reality self-guided tours.

Europa Nostra's Levi-Strauss conceded that it would be difficult to restore Buzludzha to its former glory given the controversy surrounding its past.

But that should not prevent the authorities from making use of it for "educational purposes, for conferences and concerts," he said.

Tourism expert Rumen Draganov suggested that Buzludzha could also help boost tourism to a region already known for its Thracian tombs and famous rose gardens.]]>
10/16/2018 1:16:28 PM
<![CDATA[Egyptian tourist delegation to visit Serbia Sunday]]>
He posted them also on an upcoming trip by Red Sea Governor Ahmed Abdallah to Serbia, leading a tourist delegation comprising representatives of 25 companies.

Guwaili said that his embassy has organized an expanded program for the team, with several talks to be held with top officials including the prime minister, foreign minister, deputy premier, trade and tourism minister and the head of the Egyptian-Serbian parliamentary friendship society.

The Egyptian delegation will also participate in a round-table meeting with travel agencies. The round-table meeting is held in cooperation with the chamber of commerce and tourism and the national tourism organization, he added. ]]>
10/14/2018 11:41:42 AM
<![CDATA[EgyptAir to launch 2 new routes in Jan. 2019 to Rwanda and Cameroon: Min.]]>
In the same context, EgyptAir will launch two new routes in the African continent as of the end of January 2019. The new routes are to Kigali, Rwanda and Douala, Cameroon.

This comes within the framework of the efforts to promote the continent's air transport industry by establishing routes to meet the future challenges.

The minister added during an inspection tour around Cairo International Airport that the ministry welcomes the cooperation and exchange of experiences with African countries to develop a vision for the future of the civil aviation industry, enhance the economic yields of African countries and keep up with the growth in investment, shipping and tourism in the region.

The ministry is seeking to develop cooperation with African countries, develop a plan to improve and maintain the level of the aviation industry in the continent, modernize airports infrastructure, develop air navigation systems and facilitate the issuance of visas among African countries.

مصر للطيران تسير خطان جديدان لرواندا والكاميرون فى يناير

قال الفريق يونس المصرى وزير الطيران المدنى، إنه من المخطط أن تسير الشركة الوطنية مصر للطيران #دوت_مصر #فيديو_7 #الدكش #قبلة_الفيشاوى شاهد ايضا http://goo.gl/hTZCtm http://goo.gl/d1r48q تابعونا على الصفحات الرسميه مواقع التواصل الاجتماعي Official website : http://videoyoum7.com/ Official Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/VideoYoum7 Official Twitter: https://twitter.com/videoyoum7 Official youtube : http://www.youtube.com/MubasherYoum7

10/13/2018 11:48:05 AM
<![CDATA[Get to know more about the city where Sisi, Putin will meet]]>
According to statement issued by the Kremlin on Thursday, the two leaders will be discussing several issues of mutual interests and exchange views on current international affairs.

Earlier this month, Egypt's Presidency announced that Sisi is expected to pay a visit to Russia in October to meet with the Russian president; however, no official dates were mentioned.

sochi 2

The magnificent Russian city Sochi which falls on the Black Sea coast is dubbed the cleanest city in the world due to its wonderful climate. Sochi has been announced as a summer resort since 1872.

sochi 3

Sochi’s climate is subtropical with a moderate lovely weather, worm at summer and mild cold at winter. It hosted 2014 Green Olympics.

sochi 4

The magnificent Russian city contains a number of archeological sites. It houses ancient rock dolmens and Sergo Ordzhonikidze spa resort. In 1838, the Alexandria Fort was built on the sea shore.

Now, the city serves as the unofficial summer capital of Russia. One of the remarkable landmarks is the famous Caucasus Mountains in the vicinity of Sochi.

Sochi hosted several global sports tournaments of XXII Olympic Winter Games, XI Paralympic Winter Games , Russian Formula 1 Grand Prix from 2014 to 2020. It also was one of the Russian host cities for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

About two million tourists visit Greater Sochi each summer to enjoy Caucasus Mountains, pebble and sand beaches. Sochi visitors as well enjoy its large number of parks, monuments, and marvelous Stalinist architecture.

This is the second time for Sisi to visit this magnificent Russian city. The first visit was in 2014.
10/13/2018 11:30:00 AM
<![CDATA[Egyptian pavilion at Italy's TTG Travel Experience opened]]>
About 2,250 exhibitors and 1,500 tourism service providers from 90 world countries are taking part in the event.

While opening the pavilion, the ambassador asserted the Egyptian government's interest in increasing the number of tourist arrivals from different world countries, especially Italy.

In this regard, he spotlighted that the Egyptian Tourism Ministry has picked a new international alliance to promote Egyptian tourist attractions, through launching extensive promotion campaigns in the main tourism markets, notably the Italian one.

He pointed out to a significant increase in the number of Italian tourist flights coming to Egypt.

Several Italian tour operators are planning to operate charter flights from the cities of Milan and Rome to Luxor as of March, Badr said.

Egypt's inbound tourism in the first six months of 2018 upped by more than 50 percent, he said, adding that the number of tourist arrivals is expected to rise by 90 percent at the end of the year.

The TTG Travel Experience saw a high turnout from tour operators, charter airlines, and regular and low-cost air carriers that seek to operate additional flights to the Red Sea resort cities of Hurghdad and Sharm El Sheikh, as well as Marsa Alam and Luxor.]]>
10/12/2018 6:53:45 PM
<![CDATA[EgyptAir to launch 2 new routes in Jan. 2019 to Rwanda and Cameroon: Min.]]>
In the same context, EgyptAir will launch two new routes in the African continent as of the end of January 2019. The new routes are to Kigali, Rwanda and Douala, Cameroon.
This comes within the framework of the efforts to promote the continent's air transport industry by establishing routes to meet the future challenges.

The minister added during an inspection tour around Cairo International Airport that the ministry welcomes the cooperation and exchange of experiences with African countries to develop a vision for the future of the civil aviation industry, enhance the economic yields of African countries and keep up with the growth in investment, shipping and tourism in the region.

The ministry is seeking to develop cooperation with African countries, develop a plan to improve and maintain the level of the aviation industry in the continent, modernize airports infrastructure, develop air navigation systems and facilitate the issuance of visas among African countries.

مصر للطيران تسير خطان جديدان لرواندا والكاميرون فى يناير

قال الفريق يونس المصرى وزير الطيران المدنى، إنه من المخطط أن تسير الشركة الوطنية مصر للطيران #دوت_مصر #فيديو_7 #الدكش #قبلة_الفيشاوى شاهد ايضا http://goo.gl/hTZCtm http://goo.gl/d1r48q تابعونا على الصفحات الرسميه مواقع التواصل الاجتماعي Official website : http://videoyoum7.com/ Official Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/VideoYoum7 Official Twitter: https://twitter.com/videoyoum7 Official youtube : http://www.youtube.com/MubasherYoum7

10/12/2018 1:30:28 PM
<![CDATA[Pilot operation of Sphinx airport Monday]]>CAIRO - 11 October 2018: Civil Aviation Minister Younis el-Masry said the experimental operation of Sphinx International Airport will take place on Monday.

The minister said the move was coordinated with EgyptAir.

The construction of the airport started in 2016 and the project site was inspected by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) in February.

The airport, located 12 kilometers away from the Giza Plateau, was established on an area of 25,500 square meters.

The airport, constructed by the Armed Forces Engineering Authority in cooperation with the Egyptian Company for Industrial Investment, can accommodate more than 300 passengers per hour.

A group of hotels are planned to be established next to the airport to boost tourism. ]]>
10/11/2018 1:36:51 PM
<![CDATA[Sphinx International Airport to be inaugurated in few weeks]]>
The new airport was established on an area of 25,500 square meters, 12 kilometers away from the Pyramids of Giza Plateau, a location that aims at boosting tourism.

The new airport will serve the cities of Sheikh Zayed and 6th of October, and is close to Alexandria, Fayoum and Beni Suef governorates. It is also significantly close to the Grand Egyptian Museum and the Giza Pyramids.

The airport, which was constructed by the Armed Forces Engineering Authority in cooperation with the Egyptian Company for the Industrial Investment, accommodates more than 300 passengers per hour.

The pilot operation of the airport started in January.

In June 2018, Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathy told reporters that the airport will be enrolled on the list of international airports.

10/9/2018 10:51:41 AM
<![CDATA[Japanese, Indian, French tourists return to Aswan]]>
The source added that 2018 witnessed a huge number of tourists in Aswan’s street in addition to the increase in the number of Nile tours. He said that the price of one Nile tour has reached $50 up from $30.

For his side, tourist expert and owner of a cruise ship in Aswan Ashraf Farag told Egypt Today that this season is better than the last one, explaining that it is expected that the number of cruise ships increase during the mid-year vacation.

Head of the Tourism Companies Chamber in Aswan Abdul Hadi Mohamed also confirmed that the occupancy rate of hotels has increased compared to last year, where Abu Simbel Hotels received during the past few days about 1800 guests.

Earlier in September, Luxor received the first charter direct flight from the Heathrow Airport, carrying 120 Britons, according to Major-General Hesham Issa, the director of Luxor International Airport.

In August, Turkish airlines announced that it will start sending flights to Luxor directly. The first flights will start in October 2019.

Luxor and Aswan are probably the two most popular and important touristic destinations in Egypt. However, to arrive in Luxor, tourists had to first land in Cairo International Airport and then take another internal flight to Luxor. Egypt needed a faster, direct route to Luxor so that tourists are encouraged to come.

These direct routes will solve the problems tourists face when planning their visits which will, in turn, improve tourism in Egypt. It is worth noting that Turkish Airlines is considered cheap compared to other airlines; this will be even more encouraging for tourists who are suffering financially but are still looking for a good vacation.

10/8/2018 11:48:31 AM
<![CDATA[In Pics: US First Lady visits Giza Pyramids]]>
She was accompanied by Egyptian Minister of Antiquities Khaled Anani and Egyptian Minister of Tourism Rania al-Mashat.

U.S. First Lady Melania Trump and Minister of Antiquities Khaled Anani visit the Pyramids of  Giza Egypt Today- Karim Abdel-Karim
U.S. First Lady Melania Trump and Minister of Antiquities Khaled Anani visit the Pyramids of Giza Egypt Today- Karim Abdel-Karim

U.S. First Lady Melania Trump and Minister of Antiquities Khaled Anani visit the Pyramids of Giza Egypt Today- Karim Abdel-Karim

At the panorama of the pyramids plateau, Melania was welcomed by a band performed an pharaonic show.

A Pharaonic show at the Panorama of the Pyramids- Egypt Today/Karim Abdel-Aziz

U.S. First Lady Melania Trump visits the Sphinx in Giza Egypt Today- Hussein Tallal- -
U.S. First Lady Melania Trump visits the Sphinx in Giza Egypt Today/Hussein Tallal

U.S. First Lady Melania Trump visits the Sphinx in Giza Egypt Today- Hussein Tallal,,
U.S. First Lady Melania Trump visits the Sphinx in Giza Egypt Today/Hussein Tallal

Mrs Trump was received by her Egyptian counterpart Entissar al-Sisi at the Cairo International Airport.

The First Lady left Washington Tuesday to make stops in Ghana, Malawi, Kenya and Egypt in a week-long journey focusing on children. The first lady has said that she looks forward to spreading the message of her “Be Best” child-welfare initiative. She launched the campaign in May to focus on the overall child well-being, with an emphasis on opioid addiction and online behavior.

U.S. First Lady Melania Trump (L) and Egyptian First Lady Entissar al-Sisi (R)- Press photo

In her meeting with President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi and Egyptian First Lady Entissar al-Sisi at Cairo-based Presidential Palace on Saturday, Melania voiced her admiration for the Egyptian civilization.

She also expressed her keenness to strengthen the bilateral relations between Cairo and Washington, said Egyptian presidential spokesperson Bassam Radi in a statement.

President Sisi praised the role played by USAID in Egypt to finance small and medium-sized enterprises in support of Egypt's economic and social reform, Radi said, adding that the President also highlighted the strong relations between the two countries in fields of health, education and tourism.

The meeting also tackled Egypt’s efforts in maximizing women’s role in the society, and the protection of children and youth’s rights, Radi continued.
10/6/2018 5:16:02 PM
<![CDATA[Philippines to rein in visitors to Boracay island, strained by tourism]]>
Boracay, located off the northern tip of the central island of Panay, is famed for its sugary white sands, turquoise waters, lively nightlife and abundant water sports, which attracted nearly 2 million domestic and foreign visitors last year.

But in April, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the closure of the island, calling it a “cesspool”, because of sewage dumped into the sea and buildings constructed too close to the shore.

About a third of the 600 to 700 resorts on Boracay, about 308 km (192 miles) from Manila, the capital, were operating without permits, authorities found.

Just 19,000 tourists will be allowed on the island on any given day, with the number of workers capped at 15,000 daily, the environment official, Sherwin Rigor, said in a television interview.

Only half of the island’s 12,000 existing hotel rooms will be allowed to open each day, he added, to ensure the number of guests on the tiny 10-sq-km (4-sq-mile) island is below its “carrying capacity” of 55,000.

Rigor, who is an undersecretary at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, added that authorities would ban beachfront parties, and activities such as eating, smoking and drinking there.

The closure of Boracay, which earns the Philippines more than a billion dollars in tourism revenue every year, weighed on gross domestic product in the second quarter. Growth slowed to a near three-year low of 6 percent in April-June.
10/4/2018 1:50:56 PM
<![CDATA[Five years on from migrant tragedy, Italian island of Lampedusa seeks to lure back tourists]]>
Just before dawn on October 3rd, 2013, a boat from Libya carrying over 500 migrants sank off the tiny Italian outcrop. Fishermen and rescuers managed to pull only 155 survivors from the water, along with 366 bodies. The images of the coffins lined up in an airport hangar shocked the world and prompted rescue operations in the Mediterranean off Libya.

It was not the island's only encounter with death: boats bringing migrants to safety also carried body bags. The cemetery filled up, while its famous beaches began to empty.

But while the number of vessels attempting the perilous crossing multiplied between 2013 and 2017, increasingly few landed on Lampedusa, a 20 square kilometre island with just 6,100 inhabitants that lies closer to Africa than Europe. Rescued much further south, migrants either stayed fleetingly in Lampedusa's reception centre or were taken directly to Sicily or the Italian mainland.

The locals have leapt at the chance to restore the island's reputation as a holiday paradise, revamping hotels, vacation rentals and restaurants and widening offers of boat trips to discover hidden caves, scuba diving spots and friendly dolphins.

Now, even at the close of the season, it is hard to find a place to lay your towel on Rabbit Beach, a cove of white sands and crystalline waters fewer than 600 meters from where the 2013 shipwreck still lies.

"Why go to the Maldives when you have beaches like this here?" says pensioner Marzia Davoli, 66, on holiday from central Italy.

There has been a boom in arrivals at the island's new airport, with numbers jumping from 86,000 in 2014 to 128,000 in 2017, and another 3.5 percent on top of that over the first eight months of this year.

'World's most beautiful sea'

"I can guarantee we have the most beautiful sea in the world," said Gaspare Natozi, 50, who runs a little beach shop near the only town.

Banker Argentino Sarto, 55, from Monza in northern Italy, is delighted, telling AFP "the sea is fantastic, the beaches too. The people are very nice and, to be honest, I've seen many more migrants in Monza than here".

Where locals once poured their energies into helping their dispossessed guests, the challenges they face are now tourism-based: some rather tatty hotels, ageing rental vehicles and overcrowded beaches.

The reception centre is still there. Much of it has been closed since March for renovations, but there are 95 places open and regularly occupied.

But since the withdrawal of both humanitarian and military rescue vessels off the coast of North Africa, arrivals directly from Libya have resumed. Over 2,500 migrants have reached the island since the start of the year, mostly from Tunisia. Last week, a boat from Libya carrying 65 people from Eritrea, Somalia and Morocco landed here after a three-day crossing.

But while locals once pulled people from the water and fed them hot meals, the mood has now changed.

In a sign of the times, ex-mayor Giusi Nicolini, who won the Unesco Peace Prize in early 2017 for her efforts with migrants, came third in the municipal elections last year, losing to the president of the fishermen's consortium, Salvatore Martello. Perhaps most tellingly, the anti-immigration League celebrated a breakthrough, pocketing six percent of the vote.

No longer welcome

Puffing on a cigar in his office, Martello accuses Tunisians -- who since 2017 have once more been arriving here in larger numbers -- of committing petty crimes.

"If Lampedusa receives delinquents instead of people in need, fleeing war, then it is no longer a matter of welcome, but of public order."

Amin, 35, a Tunisian who arrived a couple of weeks ago, complained that new arrivals are all tarnished with the same brush. "Here people are a little suspicious, but I heard that there were Tunisians who created problems before us.

"If you come to someone's house, you should show respect," he said.

Standing on the steps of the church at dusk, he smiles as he watches an improvised game of football between migrants and local youngsters. "It's Lampedusa 0, Tunisia 1..."

But when the ball soars across the street to a supermarket, four plainclothes policemen intervene, and the match ends.
10/3/2018 12:57:33 PM
<![CDATA[Thailand Struggles to Win Back Chinese Tourists During Golden Week Holiday]]>
Lured by Thailand’s proximity and plentiful attractions, visitors from China accounted for nearly a third of last year’s record 35.38 million arrivals in the Southeast Asian nation.

But a Thai tourism official said he expected arrivals during the Chinese holiday to dip 1 percent this year.

“The decrease is because the boat incident has affected our safety image,” said Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

The agency has rounded down its forecast of Chinese arrivals for the year to 10.5 million from 11 million, he added.

Thailand has tried to lure back Chinese tourists by offering special immigration lanes at key airports and is also considering offering them a double-entry visa.

In July, Chinese arrivals fell 0.9 percent from a year earlier for their first drop since the start of 2017, when the government cracked down on cheap tour packages.

Tourism experts blamed a July boat disaster off the coast of Phuket that killed 47 Chinese in Thailand’s worst tourist-related disaster in years, underscoring concerns over the kingdom’s lax attitude to safety.

Chinese tourist arrivals continued to fall in August, plunging 11.77 percent from a year earlier, tourism ministry data showed.

Industry experts had hoped that Golden Week, which runs from Oct. 1 to Oct. 7 this year and is one of China’s most popular holidays, would bring back its tourists, but that appears not to be the case.

The government said it had cut by 11.5 percent its forecast for the number of Chinese arrivals for the six months from July to 5.1 million.
10/2/2018 12:44:59 PM
<![CDATA[Tourism Min. to cooperate with Indonesian gov't to boost tourism]]>
The statement reported that Tourism Minister Rania al-Mashat will meet the requirements of Indonesian companies in November.

In the same context, the tourism minister met with the Indonesian Ambassador in Cairo Helmy Fawzy to discuss cooperation between the two sides in the tourism field during the coming period.

During the meeting, the minister pointed out that Egypt should benefit from Indonesia’s successful experience particularly after the tsunami crisis which hit Indonesia in 2004.

Mashat will hold several meetings with the ambassadors of various countries in Cairo in the forthcoming period to promote tourism in Egypt, the statement reported.

For his side, Fawzy affirmed Indonesia’s keenness to cooperate with Egypt in the field of tourism and to increase tourist traffic between the two countries.
9/30/2018 5:05:17 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt sheds light on role models to enhance tourism]]>
The ministry aims to present successful Egyptian stories and talents in all fields including music, art, science and sports to convey the true image of Egypt to the world.

The Ministry of Tourism's promoting campaign is called “P2P – People to People”. The campaign will also promote for the Great Egyptian Museum’s inauguration “GEM 2020”, Minister of Tourism Rania el-Mashat stated.

The minister added that the campaign’s goal is to let the world know the Egyptian people and their potentials in all fields.

The ministry’s promoting campaign is based on branding by destination method, where every touristic destination has its own promoting plan. The ministry also works on its 2019 entertaining agenda which will include international events and festivals.
9/27/2018 11:19:11 AM
<![CDATA[Min. of Tourism launches e-Visa service providing visa online ]]>
The single or multiple e-Visa for Egypt can be obtained through filling an online application without the need to visit the embassy, allowing its holder to visit Egypt for a maximum duration of 30 days and is valid for a period of 3 months.

“To apply for a visa, the applicant will need to complete the online application of Egypt's visa so that he/she may receive the approved e-Visa via email,” according to e-Visa website.

Promoting tourism to Egypt, a digital TV channel, named Experience Egypt, has been launched by the Ministry of Tourism on Instagram’s view-platform IGTV.

Experience Egypt on Instagram: "An unbeatable journey underwater in #Egypt's Red Sea with South African Olympic Swimmer Calvyn Justus."

72 Likes, 6 Comments - Experience Egypt (@experienceegypt) on Instagram: "An unbeatable journey underwater in #Egypt's Red Sea with South African Olympic Swimmer Calvyn..."

According to a statement issued by the ministry, the channel will feature a host of documentaries on Egypt’s must-visit tourist attractions and cherished cultural heritage to be viewed by millions around the world.

“The Ministry of Tourism is currently looking into launching more promotional campaigns across the most influential and focused platforms to spread its scope across wider populace,” the statement added.

Egypt has been the FIFA’s official regional supporter of the 2018 FIFA World Cup RussiaTM, as per an agreement signed earlier between the Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation and the FIFA.

Signing the contract aimed at promoting Egypt as a global investment destination that is capable of attracting more tourists and investments from all over the world.

Egypt’s tourism revenues increased by 170 percent in the first seven months of 2017, reaching $3.5 billion, a government official previously told Reuters. In that period, tourists visiting Egypt increased by 54 percent, year-on-year, to reach 4.3 million.

The total revenues achieved in 2016 amounted to $2.7 billion.
9/26/2018 12:51:08 PM
<![CDATA[Luxor to receive delegation of 500 Belgian tourism companies]]>
The delegation will attend the annual conference of Belgian tourism companies in Luxor, in a step to restore and refresh tourism in Upper Egypt's Luxor and Aswan.

In an interview with Egypt Today, Agami said that the delegation will consist of 185 Belgians, adding that they will enjoy a river cruise.

Agami said that the meeting will expectedly have a positive influence on Belgian tourism to Egypt.

Earlier in September, Luxor received the first charter direct flight from the Heathrow Airport, carrying 120 Britons, according to Major-General Hesham Issa, the director of Luxor International Airport.

In August, Turkish airlines announced that it will start sending flights to Luxor directly. The first flights will start in October 2019, according to Agami.

Luxor and Aswan are probably the two most popular and important touristic destinations in Egypt. However, to arrive in Luxor, tourists first have to land in Cairo’s International Airport and then take another internal flight to Luxor. Egypt needed a faster, direct route to Luxor so that tourists are encouraged to come.

Agami stressed that these direct routes will solve the problems tourists face when planning their visits which will, in turn, improve tourism in Egypt. Not only because of this but also because Turkish Airlines is considered cheap compared to other airlines, this will be even more encouraging for tourists who are suffering financially but are still looking for a good holiday. ]]>
9/25/2018 10:32:27 AM
<![CDATA[What you can do in a one day trip to Ain Sokhna ]]>
The beaches and the crystal clear water are the major reasons Ain Sokhna is famous for practicing water sports such as kite surfing, fishing, and scuba diving.

Rent a yacht for a day and go fishing, swimming and diving in the clear waters. Enjoy your time with your friends and family away from the hassle of the capital city.

Belagio compound in Ain Sokhna possesses a kite surfing center. The have a sandy lagoon with shallow water and they’ll help you kite surf in a suitable weather.

History tours are also available in Ain Sokhna; a visit to the Egypt Shore Excursions can take you back to the time of the Pharaohs.

The best reason for visiting Ain Sokhna is that it doesn’t only offer water sports but also land and sky activities. Experience wind surfing, underwater photography, as well as camping and desert safaris.

9/24/2018 12:41:23 PM
<![CDATA[Light festival dazzles visitors in Portuguese holiday town]]>
The event, which attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors to Cascais every year, aims to “celebrate colors and forms in all their nuances, senses and aspects”, according to the organizers.

It also hopes to highlight the historical heritage of Cascais, a former fishing village that became a first-class travel destination by the end of the 19th century.

This year’s installations included an interactive skate ramp that flashed with different colored lights and shapes as skateboarders rode over it.

“There are so many different things so your mind is just kind of watching it,” said Terry Reel, an American tourist visiting Portugal. “It’s just so delightful.]]>
9/23/2018 11:23:12 AM
<![CDATA[American rapper Flo Rida enjoys Giza Pyramids]]>
The Tourism Promotion Authority’s official Twitter account “ExperienceEgypt” said that 39-year old Tramar Lacel Dillard, professionally known as Flo Rida, visited the Giza Plateau as well as the Sphinx and the Great Pyramids.

Gorgeous American singer Alicia Keys also arrived in Egypt last week for summer vacation with her husband, music producer Swizz Beatz, and their two children Gensis Ali Dean and Egypt Daoud Dean, named after the ancient land.

Commenting on one of the photos taken during their trip to an ancient temple, Alicia said, “There’s so much to see. There’s so much to know... So much to uncover... So many ways to grow.”

Tourism Minister Rania al-Mashat warmly welcomed Alicia and her family to Egypt. “It’s a pleasure welcoming the Grammy award-winning musician and iconic singer Alicia Keys in Egypt! We hope you and your family enjoy your visit and experience with us,” Mashat wrote on Twitter.

9/19/2018 2:48:42 PM
<![CDATA[6 tips for better travel experience]]>
Luggage carts

Do not pay for luggage cart services. Instead, you can ask and look for the place where workers usually place those carts. Some workers know that passengers cannot find those carts easily, so they offer help but definitely not for free.



Egyptians usually bring overweighed bags or even oversized handbags. So, you may need to carefully check your airline’s rules and regulations concerning the allowed weight and luggage.

Baggage check-in

Do not check-in your bags very early before the time of your flight, or you will have to wait very long to get them after your arrival at your destination. You should try to check-in your luggage as late as you can to be the first to get your luggage. But of course don’t be too late as you definitely do not want to miss your flight.


Usual airport security regulations prohibit passengers to carry liquids before boarding on the plane, so make sure that you empty your water bottle and put it in your handbag before going through the final security check phase to avoid buying a new expensive one from the airport. Afterwards, you can ask anyone to fill it from the first class lounge.

The Customs

If you usually get gifts for your relatives and friends when you come back home, make sure that you have carefully removed the clothing price tag for clothes or have sealed off new electric devices. Then, you can re-put those parts when you return home, or otherwise you will pay customs to pass these new products.

An Ivanka Trump-branded blouse is seen for sale at off-price retailer Winners in Toronto, Ontario, Canada February 3, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Helgren. '

Transportation from the airport

After arriving in the destination country, look for limousine services provided by tourism companies under governmental supervision and have background information about their pricings, and then you can compare those prices with local taxi services and UBER/Careem services, then you can choose the best and safest alternative.

Reuters. Taxis block a main road in Budapest's city centre

In conclusion, you might need to double check the rules and regulations of the airport you are heading to and the airline you are flying with to avoid unnecessary troubles.

9/18/2018 2:44:56 PM
<![CDATA[A scam on the roof of the world]]>
Hundreds of thousands of visitors flock to Nepal each year, drawn by the Himalayas. The scam that I uncovered affects them all: huge numbers of trekkers are being pressured into expensive helicopter rescues that they don’t need so that a coterie of middlemen can cash in on the insurance payout. Some are even being made deliberately ill for the scammers’ profit.

When I first arrived in Kathmandu in November 2016 to head up the Nepal bureau, I made it my business to get to know as many people as possible linked to the lucrative Everest industry, which nets the impoverished country millions of dollars a year. The spring climbing season, when hundreds of mountaineers gather at the foot of Everest with their sights set on reaching its 8,848 metre summit, is our busiest time in the bureau. Each year records are broken as men and women push themselves to the limits of human endurance. Many fail. Some pay the ultimate price, losing their lives on the flanks of the world’s highest peak.

As a journalist, Everest had me hooked. It has all the ingredients of an amazing story: big personalities, big money, and an even bigger mountain.

But as a ‘civilian’ (and an avid trekker myself), the Everest circus horrifies me. In many ways it represents the worst of humankind: greed, corruption, and man’s desire to control and conquer Mother Nature.

The helicopter rescue scam, which primarily targets trekkers hiking to Everest’s base camp, but also has links to climbers trying to reach its summit, is probably the most brazen example of fraud and corruption linked to the industry. And for me, it has come to typify Nepal’s mercenary attitude towards its greatest attraction, Everest.

It’s like the goose that laid the golden egg. We all know how that story ends.

A strangely lucrative helicopter business

Not long after I arrived in Nepal I started hearing rumours of middlemen profiting from the insurance payouts linked to unnecessary helicopter rescues of tourists. But it was two stats that initially spurred my investigation: first, that 20 new Airbus B2 and B3 choppers had been delivered to Nepal in five years. And second, that private helicopters in Nepal wrack up more flying hours per year than anywhere else in the world. Those two figures suggested to me that Nepal’s helicopter business was disproportionately lucrative compared to the size of the market.

I started digging.

Many of the people I first spoke to tried to tell me that the fraud was an old problem. It had been brought under control years ago. No story here. That type of reaction was something I frequently came up against during my investigation as people tried to dismiss my questions, telling me that I didn’t understand Nepal.

But being brushed off like that is a red flag to most journalists. I soon realized that the scam had evolved, becoming harder to prove – and even more lucrative – in the process.

A helicopter comes in to land at Mong La village near Namche Bazar, April 17, 2018.

Rewind four years. There were a handful of helicopter operators and their brokers charging insurers exorbitant and inconsistent rates for chopper rescues. I saw the invoices: a rescue from near Everest billed at $10,000 and then a few days later a similar rescue billed at $12,000. Another might come in at a bargain $6,000. The true cost of the flight was closer to $4,000 but the insurance companies were coughing up and the difference was being spread between the helicopter company, trekking guide and the broker.

At that point, a few forward-thinking brokers waded into the market. They realised that insurers were catching on to the scam because of the inconsistent billing. So they did two things -- they negotiated a unified price grid with some helicopter companies at the start of the main trekking seasons (spring and autumn) so prices were fixed. And they built relationships with international insurance companies to allay any other concerns they may have.

As a result, prices came down, so the insurers were happy. So were these shrewd brokers who had priced in a per flight cut for themselves.

Trekkers and porters walk along a path in the Everest region, April 17, 2018.
(AFP / Prakash Mathema)

And that’s where the new scam took off. Instead of charging crazy rates for a few flights, these brokers pushed guides to have as many people as possible rescued, often with multiple tourists crammed into one chopper (each trekker’s insurance company would be billed for the full flight). In return, they would get a cut.

Most trekking guides make Rs2,500 per day ($22) during the two short trekking seasons, but can make up to $500 in kickbacks from a single rescue. The broker with a charter company and the trekking agency managers in Kathmandu pocket even more in commission from the hospital.

Nepalese porters walk up a path high above the north-eastern town of Namche Bazar, April 18, 2015. (AFP / Roberto Schmidt)

Soaring number of rescues

The number of rescues happening in Nepal’s Himalayas have soared.

Precise numbers are hard to come by. There is no central dispatch unit for helicopter flights and the ten private helicopters companies were unwilling or unable to give me the details of how many rescue flights they carry out each year. A few of them told me that if their competitors knew how many rescues they were doing, they would be targeted and undercut.

So, I turned to TripAdvisor.

I spent hours scouring reviews of Nepal-based trekking companies for references to helicopter rescues and messaging the review writers. It was through these conversations that I began to get a true sense of the scale of the problem: groups of tourists where more than half of them had failed to complete their trek and had instead been evacuated in a chopper.

A helicopter delivers goods to Everest base camp, April 24, 2018.

Helicopter highway

While there were a few angry reviews by people who felt that they had been pressured into a rescue and suspected a scam, the vast majority of people were full of praise for their guide who organised a chopper to swoop in and save them from a bout of the squits at Everest’s base camp.

I found this naivety quite difficult to get my head around. Who honestly believes that it’s necessary to be rescued by a helicopter for a common cold? Or thinks that getting on a helicopter is safer than walking to a lower altitude? Walking down is the standard medical advice if you start experiencing first symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness, like headaches, shortness of breath, loss of appetite, nausea. The symptoms disappear as if by magic the lower you get.

I have since managed to get my hands on more data and estimate that eight percent of tourists trekking in the Everest region this spring were rescued by helicopter – that’s up to 17 flights per day. Everest’s Khumbu Valley has become a helicopter highway.

Trekkers walk along a suspension bridge near Labja Dorhan on their way to Namche Bazar, April 17, 2015.

The reason this scam works so well is that most altitude-related symptoms will disappear when the patient reaches Kathmandu, which lies at just 1,400 metres above sea level. In most cases, doctors can’t prove if a patient had potentially life-threatening altitude sickness before they got on that helicopter. They say there is little they can do to police the unnecessary rescues, as it’s their duty to give the benefit of the doubt to the patient. Though some hospitals and doctors are also in on the scam.

This leaves it up to the guides (few of whom even have first aid training) to make a decision about who needs a helicopter evacuation.

Patients wait to see a doctor at the Everest ER tent clinic at Everest Base Camp, April 24, 2018.

I saw this play out right in front of me.

After months of interviews in Kathmandu, I laced up my hiking boots and headed to the Everest region. Me and AFP’s Nepal photographer Prakash Mathema were aiming for Everest base camp – an eight-day trek from Lukla, a small town with an even smaller airstrip that serves as the gateway to Mount Everest.

A few days in, we arrived in the small village of Mongla at lunchtime. Within moments of ordering tea, we heard a helicopter was on its way to rescue a trekker. I went to find her.

Nepali porter Milan Rai, 14, rests as he makes his way up a rocky path high above the north-eastern town of Namche Bazar, April 18, 2015.

Sunita, a student nurse from London, was tired. She was feeling nauseous. Climbing the steep slope to Mongla had just been too much, she said. She wanted to go home.

Why not walk back or hire a pony for the return journey, I asked.

No, she wanted a helicopter and her guide had assured her she could get one through her travel insurance.

As we continued to talk, I could see her guide becoming visibly agitated by my questions. He interrupted on a few occasions, taking her outside to talk away from me. She came back more convinced that a helicopter was needed.

Then she said something that set off the alarm bells: she admitted that she had only brought travel insurance the previous day.

Some insurers do let you buy coverage mid trip, but most – including hers, I later confirmed – have a 72-hour grace period, during which time you cannot use it unless you need assistance linked to an accident.

But her guide continued to assure her that his company had confirmed that a helicopter rescue would be covered by her insurance.

About an hour later, a helicopter turned up and Sunita disappeared back to Kathmandu.

Trekkers walk along a path at the Everest region, some 140 km northeast of Kathmandu, on April 17, 2018.

We communicated by email after that. The last email I received from Sunita, about three weeks after the rescue, said she still believed her insurance company was going to pay. She then stopped replying.

I don’t know if Sunita lied to her insurer and told them that she had been involved in an accident, which would mean she committed insurance fraud. Or if her insurer refused to pay and she got landed with a large bill for a helicopter rescue she probably didn’t need. Her guide denied that he got a cut – but he was wearing a cap with the logo of a trekking company that I later connected to another fraudulent rescue.

Sunita had paid $950 for a 10-day trek to the Gokyo Valley, she told me. (The Gokyo Valley neighbours Everest and from its high reaches you get the best views of the world’s highest peak.) That amount is below the cost price for the trek, I confirmed with multiple industry sources. And 10 days does not allow enough time for acclimatization days, which are essential to get used to the thin air at altitude and avoid being hit by Acute Mountain Sickness.

Mount Ama Dablam (6812 metres) as seen from the Pangboche village in the Everest region, April 27, 2018. (AFP / Prakash Mathema)

Beware of cheap treks

Trekking agencies selling cheap treks, often with no acclimatization days, are at the heart of this scam. They attract customers with low prices, knowing they will make a profit if just one of the group gets rescued. They increase the chances of a tourist needing a rescue if they push them to high altitudes without the proper acclimatization. Meanwhile, some guides told me they were given quotas: get at least a third of the group choppered out. To make the quota, some would slip baking soda – a laxative – into trekkers’ food to give them diarrhoea.

I decided to pose as a tourist to see how easy it was to buy a trek for below cost price and without acclimatization days. I donned my scruffiest jeans, flip flops and grabbed the elephant-patterned cloth bag I’d picked up the last time I was in Sri Lanka, and headed for Kathmandu’s tourist district, Thamel.

A busy street in Kathmandu's Thamel tourist district, September, 2018. (AFP / Prakash Mathema)

As I negotiated Thamel’s narrow potholed streets for once I didn’t bristle when approached by hawkers trying to sell me tourist tat. Thamel is a maze of alleys crammed with cupboard-sized trekking agencies with faded maps and photos of the famous Himalayan peak peeling off the walls.

I walked into a few at random. Each time I gave them the same story: me and 5 friends wanted to go to Everest base camp. After getting the price for a standard 12-day trek (the highest price I was quoted was $1,050 and the lowest $650), I asked if we could do it in 10 days so me and my fictional friends could also squeeze in some extra sightseeing during our Nepal sojourn. Only one out of the five companies I spoke to refused my request and warned me that it was unsafe to climb to Everest base camp’s 5,364 metres without acclimatizing properly.

I asked some of the trekking agencies what would happen if me or my friends got ill while trekking. They all assured me that a helicopter could be there to save us within moments.

“After you get back to Kathmandu, we get on the phone together to your insurance company and you tell them ‘I needed a rescue, I didn’t want to die’,” one told me.

“This is my volunteer service to tourists,” he added.

Mount Everest is seen beneath some prayer flags, April, 2018.

Nepal’s tourism industry is vital to the country’s economy. In terms of cash and the numbers employed, it is probably second only to Nepal’s export of men to the Gulf’s construction sites (remittances from foreign labour account for over a third of GDP). But between poverty and a lack of opportunity, poor regulation and a weak government, unchecked growth and the lure of quick cash, it is easy to see how -- and even why – mountain tourism in Nepal has become such a dirty business.

Veterans of Nepal’s trekking and climbing industry often blame the scams and unscrupulous business practices on outsiders who have muscled in on the mountain tourism. They say its businessmen from other parts of Nepal, not the natives of Nepal’s high Himalayas who are responsible. In some ways it is driven by jealousy that those born in the Himalayan foothills have been lucky to benefit from an industry that has grown up around them. The Khumbu region, which is home to Everest and the Sherpa ethnic group who have become synonymous with mountain guiding, is wealthier than other parts of Nepal thanks to tourism.

While Sherpa continue to guide people to Everest’s summit, few are employed in the less lucrative trekking business. Many trekking guides don’t even come from the mountains, but Nepal’s lowlands where more than half the country’s people live.

Kathmandu's busy Thamel commercial tourist area, September, 2018.

An expected part of doing business

The Everest industry – both climbing and trekking – has become a victim of an aggressive race to the bottom on pricing, with cost -- not the quality of service -- defining the market. The price of a trek to Everest base camp has stayed roughly the same for the last 20 years, while the cost of an expedition to the summit has halved. With razor thin profit margins, fraudulent helicopter rescues represent low hanging fruit in terms of potential cash. Many also blame the 2015 earthquake, which devastated swathes of the country, for scaring away tourists, forcing travel agencies to compete for a smaller pool of potential customers.

The commission chain that underpins the scam is an accepted part of doing business in Nepal, an attitude that will be difficult to change. Salaries are low and kickbacks are expected to boost earnings: a taxi driver dropping off a tourist at a hotel will usually receive a small payment. A doctor can boost her income considerably on the small commission she gets from the private lab where blood tests are sent. The ambulance driver will also be paid by the hospital where his drops a patient.

A Nepalese porter carries a load in the Kumbh region of northeastern Nepal, April, 2015.

On top of that, the tourism industry is built on a web of close connections, the same names cropping up as board members and shareholders of trekking agencies, helicopter companies and hospitals. I found one particularly well-connected man who owns a helicopter company and a charter company. He is also a founding member of a second helicopter company and a hospital, as well as being the managing director of two trekking companies and the executive chairman of an airline.

These same people also sit on the board of the civil aviation authority or head up the Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN), which is somehow meant to be both an industry regulator and a lobby group. This conflict of interest is costing Nepal the opportunity to build a sustainable tourism industry.

Climbers make their way to the summit of Mount Everest, May 16, 2018.

A similar attitude pervades the government. The Tourism Ministry launched its own probe into the scam in early June, just weeks before I published my article after more than six months of work. It wrapped up in six weeks with threats of action against 15 companies. However, the government appears more concerned by the untaxed dollars linked to the huge insurance payouts than actually holding anyone to account for the massive fraud. In the final investigation report, there is no mention of the commission payments that are fuelling the scam.

I sat down recently with a senior government figure closely connected to the probe. He started by blaming the tourists. “They demand the rescues,” he told me. That is the same argument used by the trekking companies I’ve linked to the fraud. He then told me that some new guidelines and a code of conduct for the trekking agencies were going to stamp out the scam.

As I left, I passed members of TAAN who were there for a meeting with the same government official. I wondered if they were there as lobbyists or regulator.

Agence France-Presse reporter Ammu Kannampilly (2R), and Nepalese guide Pasang Sherpa (R) stand on a ridge over a valley leading north into the Khumbu region as they try to get a clear view of Mt. Everest on April 18, 2015. (AFP / Roberto Schmidt)
9/18/2018 2:16:55 PM
<![CDATA[France empties streets for pedestrians on car-free day ]]>
The streets were fully cleared from running vehicles from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. GMT, except for emergency vehicles, customized cars of the disabled, tour buses, and taxis.

The activity’s main objective is to “make public spaces less polluted and more comfortable and quiet,” according to Paris municipality’s official website.

A Day Without Cars, means a day WITH cleaner air, less noise, more cyclists, pedestrians, fun and smiles; the street is ours,” tweeted Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of the capital city, on her official Twitter account.

Moreover, “the center of the capital will be dedicated to pedestrians, soft traffic and public transport one Sunday per month,” the municipality stated through its official website, adding that the decision will be applied on the first, second, third and fourth districts.

In addition, there is a noticeable reduction in car movements throughout Paris reaching 6 percent from 2017 to 2018, and air pollution rates were also decreased by a “similar percentage”, according to the Presidency of the Capital’s Municipality.

People walk on the car-free Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris, France, May 8, 2016. — Reuters pic
9/17/2018 3:21:25 PM
<![CDATA[Argentina’s currency crisis a boon for foreign tourists]]>
Brazilian Pedro Perreira de Azevedo has been rubbing his hands in delight after his family holiday, with his wife and three children, turned out cheaper than expected.

“We’d planned a budget of 7,000 reais (around $1,700; Dh6,131) but in the end we’ve spent between 3,000-3,500,” said Perreira de Azevedo, while his family took pictures outside the Argentine presidential palace.

When they arrived from Belo Horizonte in the east of Brazil on September 5, the peso had just lost 20 per cent of its value in the wake of President Mauricio Macri announcing Argentina would ask the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to advance a $35 billion loan to help prop up an economy in crisis.

With the peso having lost half its value against the dollar since the start of 2018, the Brazilian real looks strong in comparison despite its own difficulties — it has itself dropped from around 3.3 to 4.1 since January 1.

“We were able to buy whatever we wanted and visit all the tourist sites in Buenos Aires,” added Perreira de Azevedo.

“At Boca Juniors’ stadium we even had a VIP visit!” added one of his daughters excitedly.

Not far from the iconic Bombonera stadium in the rugged La Boca neighbourhood, Lori Berho, an American living in Chile and on holiday with her brother, said she felt lucky to have been able to benefit from such a favourable exchange rate.

“Last night we were able to enjoy a complete restaurant meal for two for $60 when normally it would have cost $100,” she said.

The struggling peso has left tourist guides a touch out of date.

“When you read the tourist guides they say things cost more in Argentina then elsewhere in Latin America, but over the last 10 days we’ve spent less than we expected,” said a young French tourist, Pauline Gauthier, meandering though the historic streets of San Telmo with her partner.

Of course, for Argentines, known as great voyagers, the situation is the exact opposite.
Romanina Valenzisi, a 34-year-old lawyer, booked flights for a two-week holiday to Spain and Italy six months ago.

Now, she must pay for her hotels in Europe, but their prices have gone through the roof.
In January, 18 pesos could be exchanged for one dollar, but that figure is now around 38.

“I have to pay for the hotels now and everything costs double, which is coming out of my budget,” she said.

“I already know that I’ll spend less money and buy less [while on holiday].”

Travel agents have been hard hit too as holidays have crept out of reach for many people.

“Sales of foreign travel have dropped 25-30 per cent over the last few weeks,” said Vincent Chevalier, a Frenchman who has run a travel agency in Buenos Aires for the last 28 years.

“The crisis is also starting to affect internal tourism.”

Even the centre of Buenos Aires has been hit, as hotelier Gonzalo Sastre has found out.
“When the peso had a ‘normal’ level, we had a good stream of locals during the week, basically people who came for work,” he said.

“Now, companies are sending fewer employees.”

Even so, his hotel is booked out for the next two weeks, thanks to Brazilians.
“In this region there’s a very opportunistic tourism based around the drop in currency,” added Chevalier.

Argentina’s problems may improve the spending power of its visitors, but it’s proving a problem for neighbouring countries used to welcoming large numbers of Argentines, in particular Uruguay and Chile.

Uruguay is so worried that the numbers will drop off that it has reintroduced a value-added tax (VAT) exemption for tourists arriving from the far shore of the River Plate in a hope to keep the flow of Argentines flooding into the country during the January-February summer holidays.
9/16/2018 3:32:41 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt named Africa's most visited tourist destination by Chinese]]>
In its report on Friday, the network said that Egypt followed by Mauritius, Kenya, South Africa and Tunisia as the most popular tourist destinations visited by Chinese holidaymakers in Africa.

Read also

5 tips to spend a week in El-Gouna for LE 5,000

CAIRO - 12 September 2018: El-Gouna is located 22 km north of Hurghada International Airport and 470 km away from Cairo. It is famous for being the perfect spot for various water sports. There are six districts in El-Gouna: Marina Town, Mediterranean District, Nubian Quarter, Hilltop District and the Italian Quarter.

9/14/2018 2:06:10 PM
<![CDATA[Major US tourist sites prepare for Hurricane Florence]]>
The full force of Florence is threatening the city's colonial structures, cobblestone streets and dozens of bohemian bars and cafes, which delight the region's five million annual visitors. A direct hit on Charleston could shock the area's $4.2 billion tourism industry, which employs more than 47,000 people.

This 200-mile-long (320 km) stretch of barrier islands is lined with pristine beaches that draw a wild and picturesque line between the vast Atlantic and the North Carolina mainland.

Brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright made history's first successful motorized airplane flights here, in December 1903 between the wind-swept dunes of Kitty Hawk. A museum on the site has been undergoing renovations for two years and was due to re-open September 28.

It was on one of the islands, Roanoke, that explorers attempted in the late 16th century to found the first permanent English settlement in North America. One of the settlers who sailed back to Europe found no one on his return to Roanoke, and only the letters "Croatoan," the name of an Indian tribe, engraved on a tree. For centuries the fate of the "Lost Colony" has remained shrouded in mystery.

Large expanses of fine sand are flanked by miles of grand hotels, restaurants, and boardwalks in South Carolina's Myrtle Beach and Virginia Beach, further north in Virginia. The popular destinations are particularly vulnerable to the full force of stormy seas. Millions of tourists visit each year, lured by mild weather until late in the summer season.

Fort Sumter, near Charleston, was site of an artillery battle between Union and Confederate forces that launched the American Civil War, on April 12, 1861. The fortress, including its cannons, is today among the major attractions of the region.

Further north in Virginia, the beautifully preserved colonial city of Williamsburg, and nearby historical sites of Jamestown and Yorktown, are not under evacuation orders but could suffer flooding as they are near waterways.

Washington is a prime tourist zone, with more than 20 million visitors last year. Between the US Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial, the National Mall is home to world-class museums, celebrated monuments and the White House, all of which could face flooding in the event Hurricane Florence brings her wrath northward. The mayor of the city, which is famously built on a swamp, declared a state of emergency Tuesday to mobilize resources in preparation for the storm.

Across the Potomac River in Alexandria, Virginia, authorities began distributing sandbags on Monday to fight flooding in sections of the historic downtown already besieged by weeks of heavy rain.
9/13/2018 10:36:31 AM
<![CDATA[EgyptAir starts operating new flights to Hong Kong next week]]>
In a statement on Wednesday, Adel said that his company is always seeking to open up new markets in the world's major countries, underscoring that the Far Eastern destinations are viewed as promising markets in the aviation and air transport fields.

For his part, Chairman of EgyptAir Airlines Sherif Ezzat said that the company will operate two weekly flights on board its Airbus 300-330 aircraft to Hong Kong on Mondays and Fridays.

Ezzat added that the flights will pass through Bangkok.]]>
9/12/2018 2:52:07 PM
<![CDATA[5 tips to spend a week in El-Gouna for LE 5,000 ]]>
There are six districts in El-Gouna: Marina Town, Mediterranean District, Nubian Quarter, Hilltop District and the Italian Quarter. There are also three major central areas in El-Gouna where there are houses, shops, bars, restaurants and nightclubs, namely Down Town area, Tamar Hanah area, and Marina Abu Tig area, which are being developed to accommodate large yachts.

El-Gouna is known to be one of the most expensive cities in Egypt but here are some tips that might change your mind:

1. Don’t travel by your car

Don’t spend your money on fuel if you are traveling from Cairo to El-Gouna; you can travel through any of the transportation companies. El-Gouna is a place where you can walk from one place to another very easily and if you can’t walk, the city offers rickshaws which are considered the official transportation means there. You can get a rickshaw using Careem or Uber applications while in El-Gouna and it costs LE10 (0.65 $) for the trip that is less than 2 kilometers.

2. Don’t stay at a five-star hotel

Three-star hotels in El-Gouna are like five-star hotels at any other place. All El-Gouna hotels include restaurants, private pools, lakes or beaches, good rooms, friendly staff and luxurious facilities. The average rate per person is only LE 500/ night (28 $).

3. Don’t book your hotel because it has a private beach

The most popular beach in El-Gouna is called Moods with an entrance fee of LE 150/ person (8.7 $). The beach is considered to be one of the best places for diving and snorkeling. But, if you don’t want to visit it, most of the hotels that don’t have private beaches offer a boat to take you to another hotel which has a beach for free.

4. Don’t book your meals with your hotel reservation.

If you want to treat yourself to a delicious dinner, the marina gives you a wide variety of five-star restaurants. You can feast upon a meal of fresh seafood, Italian homemade dishes, burgers and of course the traditional oriental food. El-Gouna offers a wide selection of restaurants and you can choose according to your preference and budget.

5. Don’t search for night life only

El-Gouna is famous for its wild night life, but it may cost you a little bit more than usual. So, instead, you should enjoy the Aquarium located in El-Gouna's downtown for only LE 20 for Egyptians. The Aquarium contains a huge variety of different sea creatures including rare species of fish and reptiles.

Also, you can enjoy safari rides in the desert or on the beach for low prices, where you can take a camel ride for 15 minutes for LE 30 (2$) or rent a beach buggy t for 2 hours for LE 100 (6$).

9/12/2018 12:32:51 PM
<![CDATA[In pics: Qalyubia Governorate returns to tourism map]]>
Director of the Nile Walkway Project Talaat Sultan told Egypt Today that the project was established upon the directives of President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi and clarified that the president wants every citizen to enjoy their right to the Nile free of charge.

Sultan pointed out that the walkway will be opened for citizens free of charge and kiosks will be established to provide them with services, adding that the project is set to be completed within eight months.



He also said that the government will set a plan to develop Al-Qanater in cooperation with the ministers of antiquities and investment along with the establishment of an international museum worth LE 2 billion.

The governor of Qalyubia will meet with a Chinese delegation headed by the chairman of the Chinese Businessmen Association Wednesday to promote investment opportunities in Al-Qanater, an official in Qalyubia Governorate revealed.

On September 6, Qalyubia Governor Alaa Abdel Halim checked the River Nile walkway in Benha city worth LE 19 million.
a ]]>
9/11/2018 3:00:56 PM
<![CDATA[Opening the way for yacht tourism in Egypt]]>
In January, Major General Hesham Abo Sena confirmed that all developments needed to be made in the Red Sea Ports Authority is being dealt with quickly and effectively by the leadership. Abo Sena added that they have already begun developing the Sharm el-Sheikh yacht port and the port of the Royal Yacht in Suez.

Abo Sena added that the authorities also signed an agreement to establish and develop the container and cargo terminal at Safaga Port and transfer it to a major port in the Red Sea at a cost of $400 million on an area of 600 thousand square meters and the establishment of a station at Nuweiba port at a cost of $350 million to link the Arab Mashreq with the Arab Maghreb and Africa.

Moreover, Egypt’s Minister of Tourism announced that Egypt and Cyprus have reached an agreement on cruise tourism in March 2018 and that they have agreed to launch a joint campaign to promote tourism; they will have a program for a yacht tourism.

There are top recommended cruises places in Egypt like Luxor and Aswan, Hurghada red sea and el gouna.

The number of tourists in Egypt has dropped 4.5 percent from 2015, according to the Central Agency for Mobilization and Statistics (CAMPAS), however, in 2018, Egypt has started to regain its status as one of the top touristic destinations. To do this, Egypt is tailoring its touristic services to attract tourists from all over the world, including European tourists who were previously the reason for Egypt being on top of the touristic destination list.

In fact, the return of tourists to Egypt has been felt by other touristic destinations like Spain, who have seen the influx of British tourists drop by 5.6 percent since July 2017, according to The Independent.
9/10/2018 3:33:04 PM
<![CDATA[Tourism Promotion Authority recommends golfing, hot stone massages in Gouna]]>
“Get a ride and go golfing in El Gouna; it is one of the activities you can enjoy during the day,” Tourism Promotion Authority tweeted.

The Tourism Promotion Authority provided other recommendations such as hot stone massages, which helps induce relaxation, and is also a key service provided in resorts in El Gouna.

El Gouna is located 22 kilometers north of Hurghada International Airport; it is characterized for being a site for deep diving and various water sports.

There are also three major central areas in El Gouna with houses, shops, shopping areas, bars, restaurants and nightclubs, namely the Town, the Tamar Hanana Square and Marina Abu Tig, which are being developed to accommodate large yachts.
9/9/2018 10:40:02 AM
<![CDATA[Zimbabwe’s tourism booming after Mugabe exit]]>
Mugabe was removed from power in November last year after the military stepped in.

Mugabe’s fall has been a blessing to Zimbabwe with more tourists now visiting.

Zimbabwe Tourism Authority CEO Karikoga Kaseke revealed the tourism boom at the Sanganai World Tourism Expo in Bulawayo.

Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga said the tourism expo is giving his government a platform to re-engage with the world after decades of isolation.

“It is, therefore, my wish that the expo will facilitate the much-needed interactive networking sessions for local tourism operators, hotels and lodges. Thereby instilling confidence in Zimbabwe as a tourism destination of choice.”

More than 600 exhibitors and buyers are part at the Sanganai World Tourism Expo, which has become one of Africa’s prime travel and tourism showcases.

South Africa has the most exhibitors and buyers, with a total of 25 taking part.

“We as the tourism board, we are obviously here to promote South Africa and we are hoping that the delegation we have brought we will able to do business and convince the Zimbabwe trade that they should actually send tourists to South Africa,” said South Africa Tourism’s Bontle Madiba.

9/9/2018 10:24:01 AM
<![CDATA[Egypt is the fastest growing tourist destination: UNWTO]]>
The annual report showed that Egypt welcomed about 8.5 million tourists during 2017 with an increase in the number of tourists up to 55.1 percent compared with the same period of the previous year.

Luxor and Giza were on the top of Egypt’s most famous and well-known cities for tourists’ choice, according to the report.

France, however, was the highest voted country for tourists in 2017.

In August, a government official told Reuters that Egypt’s tourism revenues jumped 77 percent in the first half of 2018 to amount to $4.8 billion compared with the same period last year.

After the 2011 revolution, Egypt’s economy and tourism witnessed a sharp fall that affected the whole country; however, it started to recover during the past period according to economic and governmental statics. A comprehensive economic reform program was launched by the government that included floating the Egyptian pound.
Tourism sector, same as other economic critical sectors to the country, witnessed a gradual improvement.

According to the anonymous source cited by Reuters, the visitors’ numbers during the first half of 2018 jumped 41 percent from a year before to about 5 million. A total of 14.7 million people visited Egypt in 2010 before the uprising.

“Indicators suggest the sector will earn about $9 billion by the end of this year,” the official said, adding there were expectations of greater traffic from Western Europe, Italy, Germany and Ukraine towards the end of the year.

On Aug. 15, official statistics issued by the Red Sea governorate showed that the number of tourists who visited the cities of the Red Sea in July reached 505,710 tourists, an increase of more than 130,000 tourists compared to June.

This number included 125,141 tourists from Germany, 106,731 from Egypt, 36,000 from the Czech Republic, 24,000 from Poland, 24,000 from Britain, 17,000 from Ukraine, 16,500 from the Netherlands, 13,000 from Austria, 12,800 from Belgium, 12,000 from Slovakia, 11,000 from Belarus, 10,700 from Italy, 8,700 from France, and 8,000 from Switzerland.

Hotel occupancy rates in the Red Sea also increased in July to 74 percent up from 63 percent in June. It came as follows: 73.72 percent in Hurghada, 77.98 percent in Safaga, 60.56 percent in El Qoseir, and 73.63 percent in Marsa Alam.

British Thomas Cook, a tourism and aviation company, said that British tourism to Egypt has been seeing a massive boost thanks to the renewed faith in the country’s political security and stability since the beginning of this year.

Minister of Tourism Rania al-Mashat said earlier that the number of tourists visiting Egypt jumped by 30 percent during the first quarter of 2018 compared to last year. ]]>
9/7/2018 11:19:38 AM
<![CDATA[Arab youth delegations visit West Bank of Luxor]]>
The Nile Ship for Youths is organized by the Youths and Sports Ministry in cooperation with the Arab League.

The youth delegations visited the three-floor Hatshepsut Museum and the Valley of the Kings that includes 63 tombs.

Seventy percent of Hatshepsut Museum was restored by the Dutch mission.

The Arab youths admired the ancient Egyptian civilization.

Ismail Soliman of Djibouti told MENA that he was happy to visit Egypt and see priceless monuments of Luxor that represent the ancient and unique Egyptian civilization.

He said he will invite his fellows in Djibouti to visit Egypt.]]>
9/6/2018 2:22:13 PM
<![CDATA[Azerbaijani flag carrier airlines to resume flights with Egypt November]]>
In a press conference last July, Egyptian ambassador to Azerbaijan Adel Ibrahim affirmed that Egypt has become totally safe and ready to receive Azerbaijani tourists who are looking forward to visiting Egyptian tourist attractions.

Despite an agreement that took place last November between Governor of South Sinai Khaled Fouda and the Deputy CEO of Azerbaijan Air Lines Jamil Manizad to resume direct flights from Baku to Sharm al-Sheikh beginning March 2018 after a year of suspension, the decision has not yet come into effect.

Azerbaijan flights to Sharm El Sheikh to be resumed in March 2018

CAIRO – 16 November 2017: Governor of South Sinai Khaled Fouda agreed with Deputy CEO of Azerbaijan Air Lines Jamil Manizad to resume direct flights from Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan to Sharm El-Sheikh beginning March 2018 after a year of suspension.

Last July, the Egyptian ambassador revealed the reason of the delay, saying that the airlines are worried that direct flights can cause big financial losses. Ibrahim added that the absence of direct flights led the trade turnover between the two states to weaken.

Trade turnover between the two countries amounted to $8.05 million in 2017, according to Azerbaijani official reports.

Egyptian Air Cairo, which is owned by EgyptAir, the flag carrier airline of Egypt, decided earlier to suspend flights from Sharm al-Sheikh to Baku due to insufficient number of passengers, Azerbaijan-based Trend News Agency reported.

Additional reporting by Amr Mohamed Kandil ]]>
9/6/2018 11:19:38 AM
<![CDATA[Luxor receives 1st direct charter flight from Heathrow Airport]]>
Issa manifested the British tourists are planning to visit sites in the West and East banks, in addition to the landmarks in the city of Luxor. "Dozens of tourism experts and leading figures of tourist companies in Luxor welcomed the British tourists at the airport," said Issa.

"EgyptAir flight no. (761) flied from Luxor Airport to the Heathrow Airport in London with 130 Britons on broad," added Issa.

He stressed many direct and charter flights were resumed from and to foreign cities, with hundreds of tourists on board to visit Luxor.

In August, a newly-discovered sphinx was found during the development of Al-Kabbash Road project. General Director of Luxor Antiquities Mohamed Abdel Aziz remarked that the ministry is currently working on lifting the statue, as it cannot be extracted directly from its place due to the nature of the environment it is in.

Moreover, Abdel Aziz added that Minister of Antiquities Khaled al-Anani urged tourists to visit Al-Kabbash road to see the statue.

In the same context, Bassam al-Shamma, an Egyptologist, remarked that the Sphinx’s discovery was expected as several sphinx statues were found across Luxor such as the sphinx statues for King Aymanhotb III and Thutmose IV.

Al-Kabbash Road project, which will be finished by the end of 2018, was resumed in 2017 with a budget of LE 230 million ($12.7 million) in cooperation with Luxor governorate, the head of the projects’ sector at the Ministry of Antiquities, Waheed Aboul Ela, told Egypt Today Friday, quoting Minister Anani.

Aboul Ela said the road will be paved to allow easy access for visitors. The project also includes the development of the floors, the completion of excavation and repairing the collection of Al-Kabbash, and ram-headed sphinxes as well as re-installing them.

Anani announced that an engineering committee visited Luxor on May 27 to discuss all the project’s obstacles and to prepare a detailed study for the current situation as well as a comprehensive financial feasibility study for the project.

Al-Kabbash Road is the road that connects Luxor Temple to Karnak Temple. The project to excavate and restore Al-Kabbash Road began in 2005 and about LE 600 million have been spent on the project. The project was halted after the January 25 Revolution.
9/5/2018 10:24:13 AM
<![CDATA[Hurghada: Pearl of the Red Sea]]>
Weather in Hurghada is scorching hot and humid during the summer months; from June until late September. I always made sure I carried a bottle of water when I walked out in the sun to avoid dehydration. The weather becomes pleasant and cool in the evenings, and becomes even more pleasant from October until winter starts in December.

Winter is fun in Hurghada and most water sport activities keep going in most beach resorts unless safety precautions have to be applied in case of windy conditions which lead to dangerously high waves; this is a rare condition though.

Hurghada attracts tourists from all over the world; Asia, Africa, Russia, Europe and the Americas. Locals and Arabs are also attracted to the exotic, calm beach resorts available in the coastal city of Hurghada.

Snorkeling, diving and parasailing are offered in almost every beach resort in Hurghada. The Red Sea is generally renowned for its beautiful coral reef, colorful fish and sea creatures which are pleasant to get a close look at. I wasn’t interested in that as much as I was interested in laying on the beach all day enjoying my music and food. I will surely come back with my friends or family to Hurghada to explore the beauty of the Red Sea.

The beauty of the Red Sea’s coral reef and the rare, colorful sea creatures that reside in it is the main reason tourists are attracted to spend their vacation there. Another reason for visiting Hurghada is that it allows families to spend a nice family vacation in a calm, slow-paced city.

As a solo traveler, I can easily enjoy a 2-3 day vacation in Hurghada, depending on what I have in mind. As previously mentioned, the city is ideal for relaxation, water sports and beach bums who want to lay on the beach all day enjoying the clear blue sea and the warm, white sand. This is what I adore!

Districts of Hurghada

El Dahar: This is the city’s old town. It is filled with local coffee shops in which I treated myself to a hot cup of tea and hookah for a price that doesn’t exceed LE 10. The district is rather shabby, but the main roads are flooded with shops that offer all kinds of goods.
Local restaurants offer everything from seafood to Koshary (a local meal made from rice, lentils, and macaroni). Clothes shops in the old town offer locally made clothing that tourists find affordable. Unfortunately, I did not find the appropriate size, so I had to pass the chance.

Deep in the area, resides the “Souk” (Market) offering fruits, vegetables, clothes, souvenirs, girl accessories and plenty more. In such a place I recommend negotiating prices with the trader as prices are not fixed. I had a hard time beating the vendor in the price negotiating hassle, but I ended up with some good stuff!

El Dahar Souq - YouTube.com

Sekala: This is the modern district of Hurghada even though it is the most ancient of them all. It is also the shopping/tourist district as numerous small malls are available offering almost everything. Tourists and locals alike tend to enjoy shopping and a nice walk there. I did not spend much time there to be honest, because the place tends to get crowded as the sun sets and the temperature drops.

In Arabic, the word “Sekala” means boat marina. Numerous branded super markets and fast food chains are available in the modernized district. I was rather excited when I spotted Macdonald’s there!

The most popular shopping places in Sekala are Sultan Centre Shop, Evolution Egypt, Akhenaton Egypt Gallery, Downtown bazaar and Senzo mall. I checked out most of them, and the shopping variety was splendid!

Senzo Mall is the most popular and most spacious mall in the district. The place offers everything to families and teenagers. A play area is designed for children inside the mall which tends to get noisy as the families arrive.

Village road is another touristic path located south of Sekala. It is home to top notch 5+ star hotels that offer all kinds of services to tourists. This place is considered upscale and not really for locals.

Tourists can freely and safely walk at night, enjoying the weather and shops that surround the street from both sides. I loved walking there late at night as the city quiets down.

Touristic pathway - aligatorek arwikipedia.com
Touristic Pathway, Hurghada - ar.wikipedia.com

The marina/harbor is close to the area where private yachts and boats hibernate on the water, which makes beautiful scenery ideal for taking pictures.
Sahl Hashish Road is an upscale area also branching South of Village Road. The road is also home for upscale hotels and resorts. I had no energy left to walk up there, but I had a glimpse from afar. Private properties are also located on Sahl Hashish Road. This area is considered for the well off.

North of Sekala, many hotels run a shuttle to the Marina, where many shops, bars and diners are available. Sekala is also home to most bars of Hurghada.

A tourist seeking to eat traditional Egyptian food must visit El-Dahar. It is safe to go in groups or even as a solo backpacker. I do not recommend a foreign woman to go to El-Dahar alone. I felt safe walking there even at night, but being a young, strong local man gives me an advantage.

Personally, I stayed in Marriott Beach Resort Hurghada for three days. The hotel was magnificent; the interior and exterior design, the services, the pool, the lobby and the staff were all amazing.

Most locals in Hurghada view tourists as heavy bags of money, but genuine people are also present everywhere. I did not notice any begging going on anywhere in the city; this is probably because of the efforts exerted by the local police.

Hurghada can be considered as a diverse city, because many locals from Upper Egypt head to Hurghada to find a job and therefore a tourist will meet many locals working there that are not actually the original residents of the city.

My experience in Marriott Beach Resort was pleasant and I surely recommend it. The room was perfect, and hygiene was well taken care of.

Marriott Standard Room, Hurghada - Marriott Official Website

Marriott Hurghada - Marriott Official Website

Last but not least, I do recommend Hurghada to families, honeymooners and solo travelers. Night life is present in Hurghada everywhere, but it is not the ideal city for night owls who seek a wild night life vacation. Hurghada is a rather slow-paced “chilling” type of city, and that is what I liked most about it.

I was glad to meet and socialize with people from several countries, which deepened my general knowledge and networking skills.

Beauty of Hurghada - Marriott official
Beauty of Hurghada - Marriott Official Website

9/4/2018 1:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Spanish tourist numbers fall in July for first time in nearly a decade]]>
Tourism accounts for around 11 percent of Spain’s economic output and the number of foreign visitors rose to 82 million last year, making Spain the world’s second most visited country after France. The sector is the biggest employer in Spain.

Visitor numbers fell by 4.9 percent in July, Monday’s data showed, the first fall for that key summer month since 2009.

In the first seven months, numbers rose by 0.3 percent, the lowest growth rate in eight years and compared to double-digit growth in 2016 and 2017.

Turkey, Tunisia and Egypt have experienced a resurgence in tourism, marking a revival of demand for these destinations which had been shunned by holiday-makers following militant attacks and an attempted military coup in Turkey in 2016.

This season they have been competing for German and British tourists with packages priced up to 73 percent cheaper than the popular Spanish resort islands of Ibiza, Mallorca and Menorca, according to one study.

Spanish hotels have cut prices in an attempt to lure back visitors, hoteliers and tourist officers have told Reuters.

In Tunisia, tourism jumped by 40 percent in the first half of 2018, its government said, driven by a strong return of European tourists three years after they were targeted in attacks. Egyptian numbers surged by a similar percentage.

In Turkey, tourism grew by nearly a third in the same period after slumping in 2016 following a series of bomb attacks and the abortive coup.

Spanish hotel operators have attempted to upgrade their offerings in response to the spike in visitor numbers of recent years, targeting high-spending tourists rather than those seeking cheap sun-and-sand packages.

Official data on Monday showed that, although the total spend of international tourists in July had fallen 0.9 percent from one year ago, the average spend was up 9.5 percent.
9/3/2018 4:20:22 PM
<![CDATA[In pics: ‘Call Horse Carts’ application to apply in Luxor next November ]]>
He added that horse carts are the popular means of transportation in Luxor, which tourists love to experience during their visit to Luxor.


He also said that the government would discuss some solutions in cooperation with tourism companies to oblige owners of horse carts to comply with the rules of application.

The application will apply on 340 horse carts in Luxor governorate, and they will also stop at specific places. The ministry will provide diapers for the horses for free, Sherif said.

Sherif said that anyone who violates the system will hand over his/her cart to the
government, in addition to the horses that will be delivered to Brock Horse Hospital.

9/2/2018 12:25:05 PM
<![CDATA[How Egypt’s top 5 governorates got their names ]]>
1 – Cairo governorate:

Cairo is the capital of Egypt. Historians were divided into two groups in identifying the origin of the name, Cairo. Some historians believed that Cairo is derived from planet Mars, as this planet appeared in coincidence with Jawhar al-Siquilli’s orders to build a new capital city for the Fatimid caliphate in Egypt.

The Citadel of Saladin, Cairo, Egypt, April 17, 201- CC via Pixabay

The second group said Al-Qahirah (Cairo) means conqueror or vanquisher. At the beginning, Siquilli named it Al-Mansouria; however, after four years from establishing it, Fatimid caliph Al-Mu’izz Li Din Allah arrived to Al-Mansouria and changed the name to Al-Qahirah, and he derived the name from his intention to conquer his competitor, the Abbasid caliph.

Cairo attractions:

1- The Cairo Tower.
2- The Egyptian Museum.
3- The Hanging Church.
4- The Cairo Opera House.
5- Saladin Citadel.

2 - Alexandria governorate:

Alexandria is a port city located on the Mediterranean Sea in northern Egypt and it is the second largest city after Cairo. Alexandria derived its name from Alexander the Great who established it in 331 BC.

Bibliotheca Alexandrina at night, Alexandria, Egypt, September 17, 2010 – CC via Wikimedia commons

Alexandria governorate was established on the small port town of Rhakotis by Alexander and it had been the capital of Egypt for nearly a thousand years, until 641 AD when Muslims established El-Fustat to be the new capital.

Alexandria attractions:

1- Bibliotheca Alexandrina.
2- The Montazah Garden.
3- Alexandria National Museum.
4- The Qaitbey Fortress.
5- Catacombs of Kom El-Shuqqafa.

3- Damietta governorate:

Damietta governorate is located in the extreme northeast of Egypt in the delta region; it has five administrative districts. Damietta was called Tamiates during Greek and Roman era, while it was named Tamiata during the Coptic period.

Amr Ibn al-Aas Mosque, Damietta, August 10, 2014 – CC via Wikimedia Commons

There were various theories about Damietta’s name origin. Some scholars said the word Damietta was originally pronounced “Da Mat Ptah Ten” which means the city of the god Ptah.

However, others believed that the name of Damietta originated from the ancient Egyptian word “Damt” which means ability. Scientists referred to Damietta’s ability to unite salty water of the Mediterranean Sea and fresh water of the Nile in one place.

Damietta landmarks:

1- Amr Ibn al-As Mosque.
2- Al-Radwaniya Mosque.
3- Souk AL-Hesba.
4- The Old Bridge.
5- Al-Manniy Mosque.

4- Al-Fayoum governorate:

Al Fayoum is located 92 Kilometers southwest of Cairo and it is divided into six administrative centers. It is famous for its fertility and the abundance of plant and animal life.

The name of Al-Fayoum changed several times. In ancient Egypt, it was called “Shedet” means reclamation land, and then was called “Ta –She “meaning the land of the lake.

Lake Qaron, Al-Fayoum, March 8, 2013 – CC via Wikimedia Commons

It was also named “Baym” which means lake or sea, due to its location near Lake Moeris. Additionally, it was Called "MR Wr" which means the great sea, as water covered all the lands of Fayoum during the flood season.

During Greek and Roman eras, it was called Crocodopolis because of the existence of the huge number of crocodiles in this area. It is worth mentioning that Egyptians worshiped god Sobek – ancient god of crocodiles. Eventually, it was called Al-Fayoum after the Arab conquest of Egypt.

Al-Fayoum attractions:

1- Wadi Al-Rayan.
2- Lake Qaron.
3- Water Wheels.
4- The pyramid of Hawara.
5- The Hanging Mosque.

5- Luxor governorate:

Luxor is located in the south of Upper Egypt and it is often known as the world’s greatest open air museum, as it is considered one of the greatest temple centers all over the world.

Temple of Deir Al-Bahari, Luxor, January 18, 2009 – CC Via Wikimedia Commons

Luxor has had several names through the ages. In ancient Egypt, it was named Waser. Luxor was then named as the home of Amun- ancient Egyptian god of the sun and air.
The Greeks called it “Thebes” and the Greek poet Homer named it the city of the hundred gates due to its large doors and buildings. Luxor’s current name is derived from the Arabic word "Al-Qosour" which means the palaces.

Luxor Attractions:

1- Temple of Karnak
2- Valley of the Kings and the Queens
3- Mummification Museum
4- Temple of Deir Al-Bahari
5- Colossi of Memnon

9/2/2018 11:55:05 AM
<![CDATA[Alicia Keys, family delighted over visit to Egypt]]>CAIRO - 31 August 2018: Gorgeous American singer Alicia Keys arrived in Egypt last week on summer vacation with her husband, music producer Swizz Beatz, and their two children Gensis Ali Dean and Egypt Daoud Dean, named after the ancient land.

The family has enjoyed exploring the vibes of ancient Egypt, starting from ridding camels to spending their nights traveling through the Nile River. They have also soaked in the Egyptian culture through dressing the traditional clothes of the Nubian people and learning a bit of Arabic.

As Swizz expressed love to his queen Alicia after eight years of marriage in front of the Great pyramids of Giza, he delivered a powerful massage to all men to support their partners and not be jelous of their success.

“Attention all MEN‼ You shouldn’t be jealous or upset if you have a Queen that’s successful , Smarter or better than you! What you should do is thank the most high or step your game up!” Swizz posted on Instagram.

For her part, Alicia said, “We have been Nesu and Nesa (Kings and Queens) for thousands of years! Greatness is in our DNA! Genius runs through our veins! This pic is exactly how I feel! Keep Shinin’ powerful YOU!!”

No caption capable of capturing the vibe 😋😋😍😍 @therealswizzz

A post shared by Alicia Keys (@aliciakeys) on

Moreover, the couple have enjoyed their time on a Nile cruise while Alicia danced while showing some belly dance movements.

Commenting on one of the photos taken during their trip to some ancient temple, Alicia said, “There’s so much to see. There’s so much to know... So much to uncover... So many ways to grow”

Tourism Minister Rania Al-Mashat warmly welcomed Alicia and her family to Egypt.

8/31/2018 8:44:15 PM
<![CDATA[The incredible marathon of New Zealand Tawaki penguins]]>
The breathtaking distance was recorded by researchers, who for the first time managed to track the birds.

Penguins, universally adored and the stars of cartoons, are actually not well studied.

One third of all penguin species live in New Zealand, where they are part of the landscape, mostly in the wilder south. Nevertheless most penguin species are considered vulnerable or endangered.

Until now it was unclear where one penguin species -- the Fiordland crested penguin (Eudyptes pachyrhynchus) -- migrated each year in search of food.

Zoologists assumed that they stayed near the coast. To find out, researchers with the Tawaki Project -- which uses the bird’s local name -- attached satellite tracking tags to 20 penguins and followed their migration daily.

"My first reaction was there’s something wrong with the data," said Thomas Mattern, a research fellow in Department of Zoology, University of Otago, New Zealand and the project director.

"Then I was just puzzled, I was completely flabbergasted -- where are they going, when will they stop?"

The penguins swam halfway to Antarctica, in areas where the warm northern waters collide with the cold waters of the south. Then they swam back New Zealand.

Round trip, a female traveled 6,801 kilometers (4,226 miles) in 67 days. A male swam 5,597 kilometers (3,478 miles) in 77 days.

The complete data relates to only five animals, because the tags seem to have detached from the 15 others being tracked during their trip.

This new information confirms that penguins are among the most extraordinary vertebrate swimmers on the planet.

A Fiordland penguins - as pictured here by researcher Thomas Mattern - will swim with its pack from its home in New Zealand halfway to Antarctica and back each December. Photo: AFP

According to Mattern, the Russians had even studied the hydrodynamics of penguin feathers to mimic it for their submarines.

The penguin study was published Wednesday in the scientific journal PLOS One.

Researchers had a tough time finding funding for their project. Each tag costs between $1,500 and $2,000. And according to Mattern, research like this "has completely fallen off of fashion."

"If you seek academic funding, it has to be these days a topic that is en vogue, be it ancient DNA or microbiology," Mattern said.

"Field studies that conduct baseline research are often considered to be too descriptive and boring."

Instead, non-governmental organizations and the public helped fund the research.

Why focus on penguin migration in the first place?

"Penguins are seabirds, they spend up to 80 percent of their life out in the ocean, and we have not the faintest idea of what they do there," Mattern said.

While the birds are suspected to be in decline, "in order to do something about that, you have to know what is affecting the species."

The warming of the oceans, tourism and fishing probably affects the penguins, but effects on their lives still need to be studied scientifically.

"Penguins are in trouble around the globe, and mostly it’s because there’s problems in changes in the ocean," said P. Dee Boersma, a biologist at the University of Washington, Seattle, and an expert in South American penguins.

Boersma, who did not participate in the project, noted that the warming climate has not been good for penguins.

"The other big problem is the competition with fisheries," Boersma said.

A Humboldt penguin (Spheniscus humboldti), native to the coasts of Chile and Peru, at a zoo in Bremerhaven, Photo: AFP

African penguins used to number in the millions, now they’re down to about 30,000, she said. Why? "Because they don’t have any food to eat, because humans are taking almost all of the sardines," he said.

The unresolved mystery is why the Tawaki penguins swim so far, especially when the costal waters of New Zealand in December are swarming with fish and other food.

Scientists believe that this could be an instinct inherited from an ancestral species of penguins that lived further south, before populating New Zealand.

To answer this question further research is needed -- if possible with international funding.

"The penguins do not belong to New Zealanders or Australians, it is the whole of humanity who is responsible for it," Mattern said.
8/30/2018 1:59:25 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt's tourism revenue jumps 77 pct in first half: government official]]>
Egyptian tourism has been gradually recovering from a 2011 downturn triggered by the uprising that ousted president Hosni Mubarak, helped by a currency float in late 2016 that halved the pound's value and made the country a relatively cheap bet for foreign visitors.

The tourism sector is a pillar of the country's economy and a key earner of foreign currency.

The official, who declined the be named, said visitor numbers during the first half of 2018 jumped 41 percent from a year before to about 5 million. A total of 14.7 million people visited Egypt in 2010 before the uprising.

"Indicators suggest the sector will earn about $9 billion by the end of this year," the official said, adding there were expectations of greater traffic from western Europe, Italy, Germany and Ukraine towards the end of the year.

That figure would mark a jump from last year's $7.6 billion.]]>
8/29/2018 4:56:34 PM
<![CDATA[After flood, tourism in India's Kerala left mud-bound]]>
These inland lagoons running parallel to the coast are one of the biggest tourist draws in India’s most southwesterly state, but the stain of death and devastation wrought by Kerala’s worst flood in a century will take longer than a season to wash away.

The quaint towns and villages scattered between the lush forests and paddy fields bordering the backwaters are now communities in despair.

Houses in low-lying areas are still submerged, roads are waterlogged and the sewage from drains have washed into channels that are too slow-moving to effectively flush out the effluent.

Sudarsanan T.K., a houseboat owner in the town of Alappuzha, had been looking forward to the peak tourist season, but as his home disappeared under 2.5 meters (eight foot) of water his family now have to live aboard the boat he would otherwise be renting to tourists from Europe, China, Malaysia and India.

“I’ve nothing left, but this houseboat. I don’t know how I can repay my bank loan in this condition. The bank may take back my boat. I will have nothing at all then,” Sudarsanan, a 64-year-old father of two, told Reuters.

Some 1,500 houseboats are tied up at Alappuzha, going nowhere, with many of the owners still paying off loans taken to buy the boats.

A man sits at the entrance of an empty houseboat in a tributary of the Pamba river following floods in Alappuzha district in the southern state of Kerala, India, August 24, 2018. REUTERS/Sivaram V

Sudarsanan owes about $8,600 on the loan taken eight years ago to buy the boat, and he could have earned up to $7,000 by December if the deluge hadn’t washed away his hopes.

Hundreds of people perished in the flood and more than one million of Kerala’s 35 million people were forced to abandon their homes and take shelter in relief camps.

Blessed with natural beauty, fertile land and bountiful seas, Kerala has been dubbed “God’s own country” by its people, but the Marxists running the state government reckon it will need $3.57 billion to rebuild over the next two years.

“Kerala’s GDP growth may fall by 2 percent,” state Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac told Reuters, forecasting growth of 6 percent for the financial year ending next March.

Crops have been lost, the construction industry was dead for a month, and tourism, which contributes 10 percent of the state’s economy but accounts for about 25 percent of jobs creation, has been badly hit.


For discerning tourists looking for a more laidback Indian experience, Kerala has it all - long sandy beaches, lazy waterways, charming, historic towns like Kochi and the cool, forested hills of the Western Ghats.

FILE PHOTO: A man walks inside the flooded Cochin international airport after the opening of Idamalayar, Cheruthoni and Mullaperiyar dam shutters following heavy rain, on the outskirts of Kochi, India, August 15, 2018. REUTERS/Sivaram V/File Photo

Kerala doesn’t draw numbers like the northern tourist circuit, the so-called “Golden Triangle” running from New Delhi to the Taj Mahal in Agra, and Jaipur’s palaces in the desert state of Rajasthan, but it has carved out a sizable niche.

Last year, one million foreigners visited Kerala, along with 15 million domestic tourists, but state government and industry officials reckon the flood will result in losses for the tourism sector of $357 million.

The floods struck just as Kerala was gearing up for Onam, the harvest festival which is one of the highlights of the state’s cultural calendar.

Festivities, including the spectacular Vallam Kali races involving traditional war canoes, some manned by more than 100 paddlers, were postponed.

“Kerala has lost out on one of the best seasons, as the calamity struck during the 10-day run up to Onam,” said Ranjini Nambiar, who heads a travel consultancy.

Thousands of volunteers have joined a clean-up campaign mounted by the state, and Shilendran M., an executive with the CGH Earth luxury hotel chain, expected some kind of order to be restored within the next few weeks.

“The state administration is working on a war footing,” said Shilendran, whose group has more than a dozen properties in Kerala. “We are limping back to normal.”

Hardly anywhere in the state escaped the calamity.

Ernakulam district, the biggest industrial and tourism contributor to Kerala’s economy and home to the historic city of Kochi, suffered major damage, and its busy international airport was shut for nearly two weeks.

Munnar, a hill resort overlooking the tea and cardamom plantations high in the Ghats was cut off, as bridges were washed away and landslides blocked roads.

Once every dozen years a bright purplish-blue bell-shaped flower called the Neelakurinji, blossoms on the slopes around Munnar - and this was one of those years.

The state tourism had marketed 2018 as the Kurunji year, but people in Kerala are more likely to remember the mud.

8/29/2018 11:02:43 AM
<![CDATA[Saint Catherine to host world peace forum in Sept.]]>
Gomaa made the announcement following a meeting with South Sinai Governor Khaled Fouda.

They agreed to organize the gathering to promote tourism in general and religious tourism in particular, said Gomaa.

The annual forum is a religious message of peace to the whole world, he added.

The minister reiterated that terrorism has no relation with all religions.]]>
8/26/2018 2:12:34 PM
<![CDATA[Vietnam president hails Egypt's ancient civilization]]>
Quang, who was accompanied by Luxor Governor Mohamed Badr and Security chief Tarek Allam, hailed the greatness of the Egyptian Pharaonic civilization.

He awarded antiquities officials a portrait of Lotus, which is common in the Egyptian ancient civilization and Vietnam

The Luxor trip is part of the Vietnamese leader's four day visit to Egypt.

The Karnak Sound and Light Show highlights the dramatic history of ancient Thebes. The show narrates the achievements of some great Pharaohs, with poetic descriptions of the ancient treasures. As visitors walk through the complex of temples, pharaohs arise to tell the story of their interesting lives, as haunting music mysteriously flows through this ancient city. ]]>
8/26/2018 11:05:43 AM
<![CDATA[Vietnamese president arrives in Luxor]]>
The one-day visit comes upon invitation by President Abdel Fattah El Sisi.

Quang will pay a visit to temples and Pharaonic tombs in the East and West Banks besides attending one of the sound and light shows.

The Vietnamese president is scheduled to meet Luxor Governor Mohamed Badr and lawmakers in preparation for inking a tourist cooperation protocol between Vietnam and the Upper Egyptian governorate.

In the airport, Quang was welcomed by Badr besides other Egyptian officials and a delegation of the Vietnamese Embassy in Egypt as well as senior security leaders in the governorate.]]>
8/25/2018 7:22:11 PM
<![CDATA[Have you been to the underwater museum in Dahab yet? ]]>
These statues, made of environmentally-friendly materials to preserve and protect coral reefs, were placed by a group of professional divers, the I-Drive Tribe, according to Egypt Independent.

Although the main aim of the project was to save coral reefs as per Egypt Independent, it has also attracted huge numbers of tourists to diving in Dahab and taking a look at both the statues and the corals.

In an interview with CBC, Abdul-Rahman Al Mekkawi, a prominent diver in Dahab and one of the underwater museum founders, explained that he has plans, with his colleagues, to create an underwater museum, “Egyptian Pharaohs Underwater”, that could be used for tourism and for environmental purposes and which would preserve the coral reefs too.

As Dahab is already a famous touristic destination, coral reefs and an underwater museum would generally help boost tourism ever more.

Earlier this month, Hagar Essam, a student in applied arts, decided to photograph the underwater museum as a way to show support for the idea and for her graduation project on tourism.

Hagar explained that she wanted her graduation project to be original because she likes adventure, and the presence of statues underwater surprised her. When she asked, Hagar came to learn that these statues are here for environmental purposes and tourism.

Despite not many knowing, the statues have been underwater for approximately five years and are preserving aquatic life.

8/25/2018 2:38:26 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt welcomes 257 tourists over past 24 days: sources]]>
The sources added, as cited in media outlets, that a total of 257 tourists landed in Cairo before heading to Egypt’s most notable tourist destinations such as Luxor and Red sea cities of Hurgada and Sharm el-Sheikh.

In another context, the Red Sea Port Authority is preparing the Maritime Nuweiba port to receive pilgrims returning from Saudi Arabia through Nuweiba-Aqaba route and facilitate the measures of their arrival.

Operation rooms were formed to follow up on the arrival of pilgrims and facilitate the measures of their arrival, and an official of the Ministry of Tourism will be at the port to solve any problems that pilgrims might face.

The total number of pilgrims that will start returning home on Sunday is 36,000 pilgrims; 12,000 through land and 16,000 through airlift.

The number of pilgrims from inside and outside Saudi Arabia in 2018 has reached 2.3 million; the number of pilgrims coming from outside Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj was reported to be 1.76 million.

At the same time, the number of Egyptian pilgrims who passed away in Saudi Arabia during the annual Hajj pilgrimage reached 33, spokesman for the Health Ministry Khaled Megahed said on Wednesday.

Deaths from heat exhaustion, fatigue and natural causes are a common occurrence among pilgrims on Hajj in Saudi Arabia, which takes place this year from Aug. 19 to 24.

During a press conference in Mina, Saudi Arabia, Marwan added that the Egyptian authorities are coordinating with Saudi officials to issue death certificates for the deceased Egyptians, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Omar Marwan, who heads this year's Egypt's Hajj mission to the holy lands in Saudi Arabia, said on Tuesday.

Marwan praised the role played by the medical team accompanying the Egyptian Hajj mission, pointing out that it provided excellent medical service to all pilgrims, in terms of examination, providing medicine, and following up on some cases in their rooms.
8/24/2018 3:08:50 PM
<![CDATA[Dragons and steamed buns at Taiwan's temple-like church]]>
Taiwan embraces freedom of religion and has one of the highest densities of temples in the world, with close to 70 percent of the population believers in Taoism, Buddhism, and Chinese folk traditions.

About six percent of Taiwan's 23.57 million population are Christian, with 300,000 of those Catholic.

Believers holding candles and flowers during a Catholic mass in the Holy Spirit Church in Yanshui, about an hour's drive from the southern city of Tainan.- AFP/Sam YEH

There are more than 1,000 churches across the island but the Holy Spirit Church is particularly unique.

Located on a quiet road in the rural town of Yanshui, about an hour's drive from southern Tainan city, it started life as a simple wooden structure, built by a German missionary more than six decades ago.

However, in 1986 it was reconstructed by Chinese pastor Li Shaofeng who had a very different vision, melding features of a typical Chinese temple into the design, including lanterns, red pillars, and painted dragons motifs.

"The pastor thought of building a more Chinese-style church to adapt to the local environment," said Joseph Chung, the church's current pastor.

"He built this church hoping to attract more followers," said Chung, 67.

- 'Blessed place' -

Several other churches in Taiwan incorporate some temple-like characteristics, but none to the same extent.

Murals cover almost all of the interior walls of the Holy Spirit Church, depicting teachings from the Bible, but with a twist -- most of the figures look Asian and wear Chinese-style clothing.

Even the bread in the church's mural of "The Last Supper" -- the famous Leonardo da Vinci painting of Jesus and his apostles -- is replaced with baozi, Chinese steamed buns.

Priest Claudio Pegoraro swinging an incense holder during a Catholic mass in the Holy Spirit Church in Yanshui, about an hour's drive from the southern city of Tainan. .- AFP/Sam YEH

At the back of the main hall, next to the confessional, is a shrine with candles and a Chinese incense bowl to commemorate the church's late pastors.

Burning incense is a common Chinese tribute to deities or ancestors.

Chung says the number of regular followers attending services has dropped in recent years as Yanshui residents move to bigger cities.

But masses are still held daily, with special events drawing believers from all over southern Taiwan.

The music for the services is performed by Catholic nuns from the attached Monastery of St Clare, which was started in 1990.

Churchgoer Cecilia Huang has been a regular visitor to the Holy Spirit Church for 20 years and says she particularly likes praying with the nuns.

Huang says she appreciates the church's design aesthetic and says it does not change the nature of her religion.

"The essence is the same," said Huang, 66.

"It's only the appearance that looks like it's integrated into Taiwan's environment, bringing blessings to this place."
8/24/2018 12:12:09 PM
<![CDATA[Scientists confirm ice exists at Moon's poles]]>
Signs of ice on the Moon have been reported by scientists for years, but previous observations could have been explained by other phenomena, such as unusually reflective lunar soil, the study authors said Tuesday.

"This is the first time scientists have definitive evidence for the presence of water ice on the surface," lead author Shuai Li of the Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology told AFP.

The ice mainly lies in the frigid shadows of craters at the lunar poles, and was detected using instruments that flew on the Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft, launched in 2008 by the Indian Space Research Organization.

Using data from NASA's Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3) instrument, researchers identified three chemical signatures "that definitively prove there is water ice at the surface of the Moon," said a NASA statement.

The polar regions where the ice lies are "super cold," Li said, noting that the warmest temperatures never reach above minus 250 degrees Fahrenheit (-157 Celsius.

It is unclear exactly how much ice exists on the surface, since the instruments could only detect ice within a few millimeters of the Moon's surface, he said.

But NASA said if there is enough of the ice, "water would possibly be accessible as a resource for future expeditions to explore and even stay on the Moon."

The US space agency is aiming to return humans to the Moon in the coming years for the first time since the storied Apollo missions of the 1960s and 1970s.

Li said the best way to find out more about the Moon's ice and how to tap into it as a resource would be to send a robotic rover to explore the lunar poles.

The full study was published in Monday's edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.]]>
8/23/2018 12:30:00 AM
<![CDATA[Venezuelans flood into Ecuador, defying passport rules]]>
This year 423,000 Venezuelans have entered Ecuador through the Rumichaca border near the southwestern Colombian town of Ipiales. Alarmed, Ecuador last Saturday put in place rules requiring Venezuelans to show passports, rather than just national identity cards. Peru will do the same this Saturday.

Venezuelan migrants walk along the Ecuadorean highway to Peru before new rules requiring they hold a valid passport kick in, at Tulcan, Ecuador August 21, 2018. REUTERS/Andres Rojas

Hundreds of migrants who had begun traveling days ago by bus and on foot through Colombia from Venezuela before the policy change crossed the Rumichaca checkpoint on Tuesday. More than a dozen Ecuadorean police watched them, but did nothing to stop them.

"We only want Ecuador to support us to keep moving forward to Peru where we can work," said Yorian Alcides Gamez, as fellow migrants sang the national anthem.

They plan to walk and hitchhike 840 kilometers (522 miles) in freezing conditions to the crossing at Huaquilla in Peru.

"We're walking to Peru, we're on our way. You wouldn't believe the number of people," 23-year-old tourism student Antony Vinales said.

Like Gamez and Vinales, hundreds of migrants had planned to cross legally with their Venezuelan national ID card to find work in Ecuador, Peru or Chile.

Sleeping in tents and on streets, tension is mounting as conditions worsen, migrants complain of the cold and the little money they have for food is running out. Arguments have started to break out as they vent anger at Ecuador. "We're really very disappointed, we feel alone, desperate, we never thought that the government of Ecuador would do that to us, when in my country they were so well-received in their time of need," said Deisy Santana, a 48-year-old construction engineer. "Some people have been traveling by foot 30 days and their feet are destroyed."

Ecuador's foreign and interior ministries did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Venezuela's economy has been in steep decline and there are periodic waves of protests against the leftist government of President Nicolas Maduro. Maduro argues that he is the victim of a Washington-led "economic war" designed to sabotage his administration through sanctions and price-gouging.

The chaos has forced many to flood across the borders in search of work, food and basic healthcare. Latin American governments initially welcomed them, mindful of Venezuela's role in taking in those fleeing dictatorships and conflict in the past.

But the ballooning exodus this year has stretched social services, created more competition for low-skilled jobs and stoked fears of increased crime. In Brazil, angry residents of a border town ran riot and drove out migrants on Saturday after a restaurant owner was stabbed and beaten.

Venezuelan migrants walk along the Ecuadorean highway to Peru before new rules requiring they hold a valid passport kick in, at Tulcan, Ecuador August 21, 2018. REUTERS/Andres Rojas
8/22/2018 11:33:54 AM
<![CDATA[Parks receive Egyptians to celebrate Eid El-Adha ]]>
Usually in national holidays, people in Egypt go to public parks, like Fostat Park and Giza Zoo, and museums to celebrate Eid.

Mohammed Rashad, director general of Giza Zoo, said that the number of visitors has reached 6,000 visitors so far, expecting the number to reach 20,000 visitors during the first day.

Children celebrating Eid El-Adha in Giza Zoo - Karim Abdel Aziz

Sayed Khalifa, head of the Agriculture Guidance Sector at the Ministry of Agriculture, said that the Orman Park will be open for citizens during Eid El-Adha.

Decoration at Orman Park April 7, 2018 - Egypt Today/Mariam Mosleh

Khalifa added that they coordinated with the Ministry of Health to deploy a number of ambulances near the park in order to deal with emergency cases.
Also, the Ministry of Interior deployed police patrols outside the garden.

Different species of flowers at Orman Park April 7, 2018 – Egypt Today/ Mariam Mosleh

The Orman Park includes about 600 different types of plants, from palm trees, orchids, and daisies to roses, and cacti. All garden requirements as well as brides’ bouquets can be found at the park.

Giza governorate also opened the Giza Panorama Park on Fayoum Road free of charge for citizens during Eid.

Governor of Giza Mohamed Kamal el-Daly said that gardens and green spaces in the streets, squares and beside the Nile Corniche are ready to receive the visitors.

Fostat Park, which is located in Misr Al-Qadimah area in Cairo, witnessed a high turnout of people on the first day of Eid El-Adha and was visited mostly by children, who played with bicycles and enjoyed games in the park.

Children riding bikes in Fostat Park during Eid El-Adha - Hassan Mohamed

Some youth could also be seen playing football in the park in celebration of the holiday, amid tight security measures and ambulances.

Children in Fostat Park during Eid El-Adha - Hassan Mohamed

Weather in the cities along the Mediterranean coast of Alexandria and Marsa Matrouh is fine through the Eid vacation, according to Egypt’s metrological authority.

Generally, the climate during this Eid allows citizens to go out and enjoy the parks, river Nile picnics, as well as the beaches overlooking the Red Sea and the Mediterranean.

Alexandria is famous for its various touristic attractions such as Citadel of Qaitbay and Al-Morsy Abul Abbas Mosque. The city is also famous for its marina where people enjoy sea cruises on yachts and boats.

FILE - Boats in Alexandria

Prices of these cruises are affordable for everyone, so families and friends can spend a good time for little money.
Finally, citizens are advised not to be exposed directly to the sun and to stay away from poorly ventilated places.

Egyptians flock to public parks for Eid

CAIRO - 1 September 2017: During national holidays, including Eid Al-Adha, people in Egypt go to public parks, like Fostat Park and Giza Zoo, as well as museums to celebrate Eid in their hometowns.

Eid El-Adha, also called the feast of sacrifice, is an annual Islamic holiday celebrated worldwide.

Additional reporting Mariam Mosleh
8/21/2018 3:04:55 PM
<![CDATA[EgyptAir increases domestic flights to 200 in Eid ]]>
Official statistics issued by the Red Sea governorate showed that the number of tourists who visited the cities of the Red Sea in July reached 505,710 tourists, marking an increase of more than 130,000 tourists compared to June.

This number includes 125,141 tourists from Germany, 106,731 from Egypt, 36,000 from the Czech Republic, 24,000 from Poland, 24,000 from Britain, 17,000 from Ukraine, 16,500 from the Netherlands, 13,000 from Austria, 12,800 from Belgium, 12,000 from Slovakia, 11,000 from Belarus, 10,700 from Italy, 8,700 from France, and 8,000 from Switzerland.

EgyptAir previously operated 17 flights to carry a total of 3,675 Egyptian Muslims to Saudi Arabia's Mecca to perform pilgrimage rituals (Hajj).

Nine flights flew from Cairo and Sharm El- Sheikh to Jeddah, while eight others left for Medina, stated the state-owned news agency MENA.

A total of 325 flights carrying 62,000 pilgrims flew to Saudi Arabia, including pilgrims from Mali and Palestine for the 2018 Hajj season.

EgyptAir began operating flights of pilgrims as of August 1, when pilgrims from both North and South Sinai arrived Jeddah International Airport. However, the first flight to Medina took off August 2, carrying pilgrims from Giza and Port Said governorates, according to Chairman of the national carrier company Sherif Ezzat.

The hajj, a five-day ritual which retraces the journey of Prophet Mohammad that took place 14 centuries ago, is a religious duty that should be carried out once in a lifetime for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it.

It is the world's largest annual Muslim gathering, with over 2.3 million people attending this year. The faithful come from nearly every country in the world, speaking dozens of languages and sometimes practicing Islam in different ways based on local customs or traditions.
8/20/2018 2:56:10 PM
<![CDATA[In Pics: Dronka Monastery; historical eyewitness of the Holy Family journey]]>
Church clergy and Copts celebrate at Dronka Monastery in Assiut, Egypt, in September 2017 – Egypt Today/Hazem Abdel Samar

Reverend Luka who served as the monastery secretary for years told Egypt Today that the Virgin’s cave goes back to the time of the Pharaohs, who carved it to hide from the flood 4,500 years ago and when the Holy Family arrived, they lived in the cave. Back then, Assiut, where the Holy family took the boat to return to Palestine, was the capital.

Egyptian Coptic Christians lighting candles before a Virgin Mary icon at Dronka Monastery in Assiut, Egypt, in September 2017 – Egypt Today/Hazem Abdel Samar

“The Holy Family’s time in Dronka was a time of extraordinary phenomena and miracles,” said Reverend Luka, adding: “When the Holy Family left, the first church, the Cave Church, was built here in the 1st century AD. It was not like today's churches, but one in the spiritual sense – where prayers are held and supplications are raised.”
The reverend told Egypt Today that the monastery welcomes a million visitors annually during the Virgin’s fast mid-August.

The reverend said, “When monasticism emerged in the 4th century in Egypt, this place became a monastery. Many monasteries were built, but Dronka Monastery survived, unlike them. They were, however, chronicled in Coptic history.” He further explained that the Dronka Monastery used to be called the "Monastery of Writing Monks" as monks were active in copying books.

Assiut officials said that the government provided sufficient services for the Coptic holy sites in Assiut and that they have recently added new extensions to the place as well as direction signs on the main desert roads to reach the monasteries.

The Holy Family in Egypt - Wikimedia commons/Edwin Long
8/19/2018 5:02:50 PM
<![CDATA[Turkish airlines will send direct flights to Luxor in 2019 ]]>
Ajami explained that flights will come from Europe and all over the world via Turkey, as transit, to Luxor directly. The counterparts agreed to start with four flights and gradually increase them to eight by January 2020.

“We went on a number of tours in Luxor with the representative of the Turkish Airlines in Hurghada and someone from Istanbul also came over to Luxor where we held a series of meetings to study the tourism industry in Luxor and Aswan,” he told Egypt Today.

Ajami added that after two years, they concluded an agreement to start these direct flights in October 2019. This is similar to what is happening in Hurghada as the Turkish Airlines also operates direct flights to Hurghada.

The tourism industry in Egypt has been in a state of limbo for years; however, when the industry begins to improve, this improvement will be reflected in all other sectors and industries in Egypt. In turn, this will encourage tourism companies, travel agencies and airlines to seek new contracts and new agreements that would inevitably revitalize the tourism industry in Egypt as a whole.

Simply flying from one place to another is not as easy as it sounds anymore as it is a problem that most tourists face due to increasing prices and oftentimes, lack of direct flights to a particular destination. These obstacles most certainly cause tourists to cross some countries off their list while planning vacations.

Luxor and Aswan are probably the two most popular and important touristic destinations in Egypt. However, to arrive in Luxor, tourists first have to land in Cairo’s International Airport and then take another internal flight to Luxor. With the gem that is Luxor, Egypt needed a faster, direct route so that tourists are encouraged to come.

Ajami stressed that these direct routes will solve the problems tourists face when planning their visits that will in turn, improve the tourism industry in Egypt. Not only because of this but also because Turkish Airlines is considered cheap compared to other airlines, this would be even more encouraging for tourists who are suffering financially but are still looking for a good holiday

This agreement is expected to benefit Luxor and Aswan enormously and it will hopefully attract many tourism companies and travel agencies to work with the Turkish Airlines, he added.

Considering the delay in implementing these resolutions, Ajami confirmed that the airlines is setting its own schedule before the year starts and so this would inevitably take a long time to agree on the logistical matters internally.

Back in 2015, many airlines, including Turkish Airlines, suspended their flights to Sharm El-Sheikh due to the bombing of a Russian Jet that took off from Egypt killing all people on board. Interestingly, Turkey was the first of all the airline companies that resumed its route to Egypt almost a year after the supposed terrorist attack, according to a statement the embassy had previously said.

Additional reporting done by Amal Raslan ]]>
8/18/2018 3:22:12 PM
<![CDATA[7 things to do in Egypt during Eid El-Adha ]]>
Between bazaars, North Coast events and adventurous trips in Dahab, we’ve got you covered.

Chill O'posite Festival 2018 in Dahab

If you can manage to get out of crowded Cairo and haven’t yet visited Dahab, then get moving because you definitely don’t want to miss this music festival that will be held from Aug. 22 to 25.


Not only will you get to hear music made by international guests and MENA artists, you’ll also get to visit a variety of places such as the Sheikh Ali Resort Pool, Totta Downtown Dahab and Wadi Al Twailat.

You can check details regarding accommodation and packages via https://www.chillopositefestival.com/tickets

North Beach Event by Emaar Misr at Marassi
From a live performance by Mahmoud El Esseily to glitter face painting, Marassi is going all out this Friday with a carnival from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m.


So instead of just sunbathing by the beach, why not do it with glitter on your face, music in your ears and an acrobatics show for entertainment!

‘The Egyptian Jazz Projekt’ at Salt Beach & Restobar

For all you jazz fans looking to kick-start Eid with some nostalgia, head straight to the Salt Beach & Restobar on Aug. 17 at 11:30 p.m. and enjoy the night ahead of you with great music and a definite better weather forecast than Cairo.


‘Run to Eid’ by Active Go

Instead of spending Eid shopping or relaxing by the beach, put those running shoes on and go for a family run.


This 5-kilometer run that will take place in Maadi on Aug. 17 needs you to be an early riser because the meeting point is in front of Family Cinema at 7 a.m. For those of you who want to participate but aren’t used to doing sports regularly, there will be a fitness exercise before the run to get everyone started.

Pre-Eid Bazaar at Tivoli Dome

Feel more like shopping, redecorating your house and perhaps introducing your jewelry box to a new pair of earrings?


Tivoli Dome in Heliopolis will be holding a pre-Eid bazaar hosted by Egy Bazaar, alongside a festival and performance, with loads of jewelry to choose from on display, starting Aug. 16 to Aug. 17.

147th Rove in Dahab

This Eid trip, organized by Rove Egypt, is all about getting adventurous! From the Aug. 21-25, you’ll be snorkeling, enjoying Bedouin night, strolling at the Friday market and stargazing at the campfire.


Eid El Adha in Marsa Alam

Already been to Dahab and looking for a different adventure this time? Eid El Adha in Marsa Alam, hosted by Desert Adventures Egypt, is from Aug. 21-25.


From snorkeling to boat trips, this adventure will help give your mind a break from the city life in Cairo.
8/16/2018 1:25:11 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt's Red Sea boasts thousands of tourists in July]]>
Official statistics issued by the Red Sea governorate showed that the number of tourists who visited the cities of the Red Sea in July reached 505,710 tourists, an increase of more than 130,000 tourists compared to June.

This number includes 125,141 tourists from Germany, 106,731 from Egypt, 36,000 from the Czech Republic, 24,000 from Poland, 24,000 from Britain, 17,000 from Ukraine, 16,500 from the Netherlands, 13,000 from Austria, 12,800 from Belgium, 12,000 from Slovakia, 11,000 from Belarus, 10,700 from Italy, 8,700 from France, and 8,000 from Switzerland.

Hotel occupancy in the Red Sea also increased in July to 74 percent up from 63 percent in June. It came as follows: 73.72 percent in Hurghada, 77.98 percent in Safaga, 60.56 percent in El Qoseir, and 73.63 percent in Marsa Alam.

British Thomas Cook, a tourism and aviation company, said that British tourism to Egypt has been seeing a massive boost thanks to the renewed faith in the country’s political security and stability since the beginning of this year.

Minister of Tourism Rania al-Mashat said earlier that the number of tourists visiting Egypt jumped by 30 percent during the first quarter of 2018 compared to last year. Tourism revenues also achieved an 83.3 percent surge in the first quarter of 2018.
8/15/2018 11:35:58 AM
<![CDATA[In pics: Darb Sinai: the longest walking path in Egypt]]>
Darb Sinai starts from Aqaba Gulf to the heights of St. Catherine, giving travelers the chance to see the best natural scenery in Egypt. It is considered a top tourist attraction with its heights and sandy dunes.


Amidst this charming nature, it takes two weeks of walking through the mountains to discover the Bedouin life and its details which begin with breakfast and end up with sleeping under the moonlight. For those who are interested in medicinal and aromatic plants, there are 472 plant species to explore in St. Catherine.

Darb Sinai was one of the most important topics discussed by Minister of Tourism Rania el-Mashat with Amr Samra, the first Egyptian to climb Mount Everest.

Samra suggested some ideas to boost tourism in Darb Sinai, explaining that Darb Sinai is the first long walk in Egypt.


Mashat welcomed the ideas presented by Samra, noting that the ministry is ready to cooperate with him to implement these ideas in the future.

Samra added that the Wanderlust magazine described Darb Sinai as the best natural path in the world.

8/14/2018 4:39:03 PM
<![CDATA[Cyclists take on "land of a thousand hills" in Tour du Rwanda]]>
That earned the 20-year-old $2,000 in prize money and made him the youngest winner of the contest that the tiny central African nation hopes will make a mark on the global professional cycling map.

Near neighbours Ethiopia and Kenya have produced scores of long-distance runners who regularly dominate the world’s top athletics contests. Rwanda wants its Tour and band of riders to make its name in another endurance sport.

Local competitors have now won the Tour du Rwanda five years running, beating a growing roster of international challengers.

This time, cyclists from a dozen other countries including France, South Africa and the United States rode through the “land of a thousand hills”, cheered on through villages, towns and farms by large crowds. Sixty riders finished according to the race results.

“You get a lot of spectators in every part of the race, so that makes it really special,” said Spanish rider David Lozano from Team Novo Nordisk after winning stage seven on Saturday.

The government says it plans to push the sport further by sponsoring the eight-stage Tour, now in its 10th year, and by exempting imported professional bicycles from taxes. One target is to get its riders into the Tour de France, the pinnacle of competitive cycling.

Organisers says next year’s Rwandan Tour will be upgraded by professional cycling’s governing body (UCI) to the 2.1 road race category, enabling it to host even more international competitors.

“Rwanda (will) host big teams, world teams, those who are in big races in Europe. It means that in the presence of those teams, Rwanda will be on the map of cycling,” said Aimable Bayingana, President of the Rwanda Cycling Federation.

“It’s very important because it attracts many people to visit our country,” said Thompson Mushimiyimana, one of the fans who watched the tour pass through the Northern Province of Musanze over the weekend.

Tourism is the biggest foreign exchange earner in the country, which is trying to lay to rest memories of a 1994 genocide in which 800,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutus were slaughtered by ethnic Hutu extremists.
8/13/2018 5:32:34 PM
<![CDATA[ Tourists enjoy kiteboarding in Hurghada]]>
Ahmed El-Sayegh, an owner of a kitesurfing center, said that tourists coming from all over the world especially Europeans, are passionate about this sport. He asserted that nearly half of tourists who visit these places in Hurghada come to play this sport.

Ashraf Emam, a kitesurfing trainer, said that kitesurfing competitions require competitors to show skills and perform a number of professional acts using their boards in a given period of time.

A number of referees observe and evaluate the competitor’s performance. Another form of these competitions requires competitors to surf between two gates; the one to reach the finish line first wins.

While kitesurfing competitions are held in different parts in the world including France, Spain and the Canary Islands, Egypt organized a kitesurfing competition with the participation of 50 Egyptian and foreigner players in March 2016.

In 2017, the Red Sea governorate’s Marsa Alam hosted another kitesurfing competition with 85 participants, with the aim of refreshing tourism.

Tourism in Egypt

Eight years ago, more than 14.7 million tourists arrived in Egypt, while Paris attracted only 8.2 visitors in the same year of 2010.

In 2015, the tourism industry witnessed another hit when a Russian plane was shot in the Sinai Peninsula in a terrorist attack claimed to be carried out by ISIS elements. As a result, tourism flow fell to its lowest number to reach only 4.8 million.

Three years later, Russian flights to Egypt resumed and the country restored its peace and order. Indications reveal that Egypt will welcome more than 8.3 million visitors in the current year.

Additional reporting by Nawal Sayed
8/12/2018 11:27:29 AM
<![CDATA[In pics: Arish beaches: low-cost refuge from hot weather]]>
Mahmoud Abel Rahman, a resident of Al-Arish, told Egypt Today that the beach is the only place one can go to escape the hot weather; his children also enjoy going to the beach and swimming. He is keen to breathe fresh air free of dust on the beach every day, as advised by his mother.


Salim Sabeh, director of Tourism Department, North Sinai Governorate, said that the people of Al-Arish city this year have been flocking to the beach heavily, adding that the most important characteristic of Al-Arish beaches is the corniche, which extends along the beach.

“At present, many people are suffering from the lack of ability and cannot afford to rent chairs or umbrellas as well as exploit the owners of private beaches. So, they resort to the beaches of Al-Arish because of their appropriate prices through the service projects provided by the government to people; these service projects include open beaches for people at affordable prices,” Ismail said.

Sameha Farag, a housewife, also pointed out that from time to time she goes to the beach in the afternoon out of the stress of life and difficult conditions in the area of their residence in the neighborhood of Safa, south of Arish.

“There are no public parks for our children so the beach is our only entertainment place in North Sinai,” she added.

Al-Arish, the capital of North Sinai, is characterized by the spread of five-star hotels overlooking the sea coast directly and the cafeterias are spread along the sea coast to welcome the holidaymakers.

8/11/2018 3:03:47 PM
<![CDATA[TUI likely to plump for larger variant of 737 MAX plane]]>
TUI stuck to its guidance for underlying earnings to rise at least 10 percent at constant currency this year, but its chief executive warned not to expect results to come in higher than that, sending its shares down 9 percent.

“I would be a little bit cautious this year...We have good visibility of at least 10 percent but to caution that there will not be a massive outperformance on top of 10 percent,” TUI Chief Executive Fritz Joussen told reporters after the company reported third-quarter results.

Last year, TUI exceeded its guidance for growth in core earnings (EBITA) of at least 10 percent when the figure came in at 12 percent.

But the warmer than average weather across its main customer base in northern Europe made outperformance “a little bit less likely” said the CEO. Hot weather means fewer people fly south to the Mediterranean in search of summer sun.

“Tourism companies don’t usually like it when it’s hot, and it is hot. People want to go on holiday when it rains,” Joussen said.

Thomas Cook last week said profit would come in at the lower end of expectations after the summer heatwave kept holidaymakers from booking last-minute trips overseas.

TUI's stock was down 9.4 percent to 1434 pence at 0820 GMT, making the company the top faller on Britain's bluechip index .FTSE.

“Various moving parts including soft UK/France trading and a one-off airline disruption impact in the third quarter indicate some small downside risk to company consensus constant currency earnings of around 11 percent,” Barclays analysts said.

For the third quarter, TUI reported underlying earnings before interest, tax and amortisation down 7.4 percent at 205.1 million euros ($238.1 million). The company tends to make the bulk of its profit in its final quarter when many northern Europeans go on holiday.

TUI, whose customers come from Britain, Germany and Scandinavia, could face disruption next year if Britain leaves the European Union without a deal. The company said it was prepared should that happen.

“If you don’t know, you prepare for the worst case scenario. That is our duty as a company,” Joussen said.

“Are we ready if it happens? Yes.”

Asked for examples of what those preparations entail, Joussen declined to go into detail.

“The list is long...you’re talking about people customers, everything is involved,” he said.]]>
8/9/2018 2:58:29 PM
<![CDATA[311 African pilgrims arrive to Cairo Airport to travel for Hajj]]>
Public relations teams of EgyptAir were dedicated to end the flight measures for African pilgrims and provide them with services, according to a source at the airport.

In the same context, 352 Palestinians have arrived to Cairo Airport’s seasonal hall to travel to Saudi Arabia and perform Hajj.

Cairo International Airport will operate on Wednesday 24 flights to transfer 5400 pilgrims to Saudi Arabia, of which 13 flights will be operated to Jeddah until August 12 for the travel of 3,321 Palestinian pilgrims.

Additionally, EgyptAir operated 17 flights on Saturday to carry 3,675 Egyptian Muslims to Saudi Arabia's Mecca for performing the pilgrimage ritual (Hajj) which is due to start in the third week of August.

Nine flights were scheduled to fly from Cairo and SharmEl-Sheikh to Jeddah, while eight others were set to leave for Medina, stated MENA news agency on Saturday.

It is scheduled that a total of 325 flights will carry 62,000 pilgrims to Saudi Arabia, including pilgrims from Mali and Palestine for the 2018 Hajj season.

EgyptAir began operating flights of pilgrims from South and North Sinai to Jeddah as of Wednesday. The first flight to Medina took off Thursday, carrying pilgrims from Giza and Port Said, according to the chairman of EgyptAir.

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi ordered opening the Rafah Border Crossing in order to ease the travelling procedures for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip seeking to travel to Mecca for Hajj.

The president ordered opening the gates on Saturday, August 4 until Tuesday, August 7.

Three thousand Palestinians were able to pass through the border in Rafah and reach Cairo International Airport to travel to Saudi Arabia and perform the upcoming Hajj Pilgrimage in Mecca and Medina.

This step was taken by the Egyptian side in order to support residents of the Gaza strip.
The hajj, a five-day ritual which retraces the journey of Prophet Mohammad that took place 14 centuries ago, is a religious duty that should be carried out once in a lifetime for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it.

It is the world's largest annual Muslim gathering, with over 2.3 million people attending this year. The faithful come from nearly every country in the world, speaking dozens of languages and sometimes practicing Islam in different ways based on local customs or traditions.

Millions of Muslims from around the world travel to Mecca every year. Saudi authorities said more than 2 million Muslims participated in 2017’s hajj season.

Additional report by Rehab Ismail
8/8/2018 11:40:11 AM
<![CDATA[Pics: Egyptian in Red Sea resort town charms snakes to sleep]]>
Refaie, who has been charming snakes for the past five years, says the reptiles have become closer to him than some of his human friends.

“The world of snakes is vast, the trainer must learn the secrets of hunting and capturing snakes ... if he is not knowledgeable he could be exposed to deadly venom at any moment,” he said.

Amier El Refaie dances and sways with a cobra during his show at the Red Sea resort of Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt July 13, 2018. Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Refaie holds each snake by the tail and gently swings it back, forth and sideways to soft Indian music. Then he looks directly into its eyes before touching its head with his forehead and laying it on the ground.

The 29-year-old has more than 13 snakes and hopes that snake charming could become a growth industry in Egypt, where tourism is slowly picking up after years of downturn caused by political turmoil and attacks by Islamist militants.

Beaches and dive sites around Sharm el-Sheikh once attracted around one fourth of the tourists who visited Egypt before a 2011 uprising scared visitors away.

Amr El Refaie makes a cobra fall asleep during his show in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt July 13, 2018. Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

The tourism industry, one of the country’s main sources of foreign currency, has gradually recovered in recent months, with revenues up about $1 billion in the first three months of 2018, a boon for thousands of workers like Refaie whose wages depend on the flow of visitors.

An Egyptian man looks on, while a cobra of AmierEl Refaie (R) is around his neck during a show in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt July 13, 2018. Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

“I hope Egypt can host international shows, where I will not be the only one doing this beautiful work ... It can attract more tourism still as I’ve seen in the last period how much visitors to Sharm El Sheikh love this show,” Refaie said.

8/7/2018 3:25:24 PM
<![CDATA[Morocco’s ancient Roman city of Volubilis rises again]]>
After decades of decay, however, custodians of the now closely guarded ancient city have turned the page and are bringing back the tourists.

The site, nestled among olive groves near the city of Meknes, boasts a new museum and visitor center and has been attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors.

They stroll along the main artery lined with porticoes and the remnants of vast mansions, whose mosaic floors testify to a prosperous past.

A triumphal arch, a classic symbol of Roman architecture, sits at the top of what once was the main compound.

Known in Arabic as "Oualili," the city was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997.

The ancient city has "known several civilizations, from the Mauritanian era to the Romans through the Islamic period," according to Mohamed Alilou, topographer and assistant conservator of the site.

After decades of looting and decay, custodians of the now closely guarded ancient city are turning the page and attracting back tourists. Fadel Senna/AFP

Volubilis was founded in the third century BC by a Moorish community, before being annexed by the Roman Empire in 42 AD.

At its peak, it would have counted up to 15,000 inhabitants.

Threatened by civil wars across the empire, the Romans evacuated the city in 285. It didn't regain its splendor until the arrival of Arab conquerors in the seventh century.

In the eighth century when the Idrisid dynasty erected the city of Fez as its new capital, Volubilis fell once more into disuse.

Bacchus gone missing

At the end of the 17th century, Sultan Moulay Ismail sent thousands of slaves to plunder Volubilis's marble columns for the construction of his palace in Meknes.

"On the track leading from Volubilis to Meknes, we found capitals [of columns] abandoned by slaves, who fled when they learnt that Moulay Ismail was dead," said Alilou, who has been watching over the site for more than 30 years.

Excavations at Volubilis began in 1915, along with research programs and restoration work.

But renewed interest in the site brought with it looting, especially during the period of French colonial rule from 1912 to 1956.

One particularly striking case in 1982 made headlines when a marble statue of Bacchus—the Roman god of wine—disappeared.

In a desperate bid to find the relic, King Hassan II dispatched gendarmes who "interrogated, abused and beat" peasants who "didn't know Bacchus from Adam and Eve," according to Moroccan press reports.

The effort was in vain and the statue was never found.

"The people here are still traumatized," said a resident of nearby Moulay Driss Zerhoun.

Moroccan media frequently warn that the country's heritage—archeological finds, mosaics and ancient coins—is being looted.

But in Volubilis, Alilou says that looting is a thing of the past.

Today "the site is fenced off and well guarded," he said. "We have a team of 14 guards who work day and night, cameras are everywhere."

Mustafa Atki, another Volubilis conservator, said the whole issue of looting was "sometimes exaggerated."

Since the opening of its museum in 2013, the ancient city has attracted several hundred thousand visitors a year.

"In 2017, for the first time we past the 300,000 mark," said Atki.

Alilou said the ancient city covering 42 acres (17 hectares) has yet to reveal all of its secrets.

"A third of the site, especially the western quarter built in the Islamic era, has not been excavated," he said.

8/6/2018 1:21:35 PM
<![CDATA[Aswan to be converted into international tourist hub soon]]>
Hegazy stated that the executive departments in the governorate are aiming to develop the city in an effort to solidify the beautiful city’s previous leading status among the numerous touristic hotspots around the world.

The governor expressed his previous statements during the convention held on Saturday with the governorate’s officials, where he urged officials working on the project to intensify their efforts in order to develop the city according to international touristic standards.

Aswan is just north of the Aswan Dams lying on the east bank of the Nile. The city is known for its hot desert climate that can reach up to 40 degrees Celsius during the summer. The climate drops and becomes moderate and beautiful during spring and winter. Many tourists from Europe, USA, Canada and Asia love to visit Aswan during the winter because of its magnificent moderate climate, escaping the freezing climates of their own homes.

The ancient city of Aswan is the portrayal of the strong Nubian culture that influences numerous areas south of Egypt.

Tourists in Aswan usually enjoy a Felucca ride on the Nile while they gather together and enjoy the beautiful natural scenery that surrounds.

Day tours are very common in Aswan. Philae Temple and Obelisk is a common day tour destination. The prices are usually affordable for most visitors and a beautiful day can be enjoyed with friends or family for a reasonable price.

Families, friends and solo travelers can enjoy a classy lunch while the boat cruises the Nile in Aswan in a very enjoyable and memorable experience.

Elephantine Island is one of Aswan’s major hotspots. Colorful mud-brick houses surround the area giving it a unique vibe. Aswan Museum lies in the southern end of the island.

Nubian Village Elephantine Island cc via en.wikipedia.org
Nubian Villa in Elephantine Island - cc via en.wikipedia.org

Ruins of Abu is Aswan’s most ancient settlement. It consists of the Old kingdom Temple of Khnum and the Temple of Satet.

Moreover, Aswan’s “Nilometer” lies near the ruins. It was used by ancient Egyptians to measure the Nile’s water level at a certain point during the year to further estimate the height of the annual flood and hence predict the result of their harvest beforehand.

The north part of the Island is also a must visit, especially the villages Koti and Siou. The houses in both villages are painted in colorful and very vibrant colors. Farmers in both villages attend to their farms until this day, which has been their family’s main source of income for generations.

The exotic property that was once owned by Lord Kitchener; Aswan Botanical Gardens can still be visited. Lord Kitchener transformed the place into a floral garden of exotic plants mixed from Asia and Africa.

Aswan Botanical Garden cc via en.wikipedia.org
Aswan Botanical Garden - cc via: en.wikipedia.org

In addition to that, The Nubian Museum in Aswan is one of Egypt’s most significant monuments for history enthusiasts to visit. The museum portrays the ancient and modern Nubian culture.

Just outside of Aswan, 12 kilometers to be precise, lies Philae Temple, also known as Temple of Isis which is one of Egypt’s most beautiful monuments. The temple has a unique architecture and illustrates exquisite artistry. Even though not within the city’s boundaries, a visit to the temple is considered by most visitors for its beautiful design and the history it offers.

Moreover, Aswan’s Notherern Quarry hosts the notorious unfinished Obelisk. The stone is estimated to be a 41-meter-long and weighs 1,168 tons if completed. The reason for abandoning the stone is unclear until today, while many believe the stone was abandoned because of a huge crack in its body.

Aswan’s High Dam was one of Egypt’s most controversial projects in the country’s modern history that caused political havoc at the time of its completion during the early seventies. The works in building the dam begun in 1960 and took 11 years to be completed. The dam was President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s project and greatest achievement which was funded and supported by the Soviet Union during the 60’s.

Furthermore, the Monastery of St. Simon is also a great destination to visit in Aswan. It lies on the golden sand dunes of the Nile’s West Bank. The monastery is one of Egypt’s largest Coptic monasteries and was found in the 7th century.

In addition, Tombs of the Nobles is a beautiful series of rock tombs located at the West Bank’s cliffs. During the old and middle kingdoms in ancient Egypt, Elephantine Island’s governors, priests and other elites were buried there.

Last but not least, Kalabsha Temple, Aga Khan Mausoleum, Old Cataract Hotel and the Western Quarry (Gebal Simaan) are all unique places residing in the ancient and beautiful city of Aswan South of Egypt.

The government’s efforts to convert Aswan into a modern, exquisite and international touristic city is a step deeply anticipated by the Egyptians, especially those residing in south Egypt to improve and convert the region into a touristic destination which meets international touristic standards, hence providing the locals with new job opportunities and refresh the city’s economy.

8/5/2018 5:28:59 PM
<![CDATA[EgyptAir operates 17 flights to carry 3.6K pilgrims to Jeddah, Medina]]>
Nine flights are scheduled to fly from Cairo and Sharm el Sheikh to Jeddah, while eight others will leave for Medina, stated the state-owned news agency MENA on Saturday.

It is scheduled that a total of 325 flights will carry 62,000 pilgrims to Saudi Arabia, including pilgrims from Mali and Palestine for the 2018 Hajj season.

EgyptAir began operating flights the pilgrims as of Wednesday, when pilgrims from both North and South Sinai arrived Jeddah International Airport. However, the first flight to Medina took off Thursday, carrying pilgrims from Giza and Port Said governorates, according to chairman of the national carrier company Sherif Ezzat.

The hajj, a five-day ritual which retraces the journey of Prophet Mohammad that took place 14 centuries ago, is a religious duty that should be carried out once in a lifetime for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it.

It is the world's largest annual Muslim gathering, with over 2.3 million people attending this year. The faithful come from nearly every country in the world, speaking dozens of languages and sometimes practicing Islam in different ways based on local customs or traditions. ]]>
8/4/2018 12:07:22 PM
<![CDATA[New airport to be established in Egypt’s New Administrative Capital]]>
He announced in Thursday statements to media outlets that he agreed with President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi on establishing this new airport which is expected to be larger and wider than Cairo International Airport, with all the needed facilities attached to guarantee passengers’ comfort.

Currently, experts are working on choosing the most suitable place within the capital for establishing the new airport. Masry affirmed that this new airport will aim to link most of Egypt’s governorates and achieve a wide average of passenger traffic.

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi has laid the first stone of the New Administrative Capital in East Cairo in October 2017. With an area of 170,000 feddans , the new capital will include 20 residential areas expected to accommodate 6.5 million people and a road network 650 km in length. The capital was planned to include an international airport and an electric train to link it with the 10th of Ramadan and El-Salam cities.

It will feature 1,250 mosques and churches, a 5,000-seat conference center, nearly 2,000 schools and colleges, over 600 medical facilities, and a park that is projected to be the world’s largest.

The New Administrative Capital is located in the area between the Cairo-Suez and Cairo-Ain Sokhna roads, east of the regional ring road. This is roughly 60km from the cities of Suez and Ain Sokhna.

The new capital is planned to be a sustainable city, housing the ministries, parliament, Egyptian Media Production City, presidential palaces, and embassies.

Twenty-five public and private construction companies have been mandated to carry out the infrastructure projects and build the residential neighborhoods of the new capital, while the army is only responsible for managing the project.

The company provided about 170,000 jobs in the construction operations and the coming phases of the project will require more workers, stressing that the state treasury does not bear the burden of financing any phase of the project.

Housing prices in Cairo will decline significantly in the coming years because of the rise of supply in the market after completing the construction of the planned 350,000 housing units in the capital.

The New Administrative Capital Company is 51% owned by the armed forces and 49% by the New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA). The paid-up capital of the company amounts to EGP 20bn, including contributions from the armed forces and NUCA, and the authorized capital is EGP 204bn.

8/3/2018 12:23:45 PM
<![CDATA[Eiffel Tower shut in dispute over 'monstrous' queues]]>
Access to the monument, which welcomed more than six million visitors last year, was blocked from 2 p.m. GMT, according to a sign at the base of the tower.

Staff had already been set to strike on Thursday.

The site's management said staff took action after talks with unions fell apart earlier Wednesday afternoon. The site was not evacuated, and tourists already inside were allowed to finish their visit.

Staff are angry over a decision last month to start setting aside half of the Eiffel Tower's daily tickets for people who buy them online in advance and choose a scheduled time for their visit.

Previously just 20 percent of tickets to go up the 324-meter "Iron Lady" could be booked ahead of time.

The tower's management has also started reserving specific elevators for each type of ticket holder, a move that "creates lines that are at times monstruous and often lopsided," the CGT union said.

During off-peak times for pre-booked tickets, such as the early afternoon, the reserved elevator might be half empty -- despite lines of up to three hours at the elevator for walk-ins.

And high demand at the pre-booked elevator can cause backups that force people to wait long beyond their scheduled visit.

"Employees' patience has run out," the CGT's Denis Vavassori said on Monday, adding that many visitors were unhappy with the long waits.

Staff want all the elevators to be available to all visitors, no matter what kind of ticket they have bought.

SETE, the company which runs the site, says it sells 10,000 online tickets for the tower every day and that "the waiting time is very short".

"For visitors who come without tickets, the waiting time at the checkouts at the foot of the Eiffel Tower is exactly the same as last year, while the number of visitors has increased," it insisted.

The tower has been hit by repeated strikes by its 300-strong staff in recent years over issues ranging from pick-pocketing to maintenance work.
8/2/2018 11:28:23 AM
<![CDATA[EgyptAir to operate flights to carry 50K pilgrims ]]>
Chairman of the national carrier company Sherif Ezzat said that the company is scheduled to fly pilgrims from both North and South Sinai to Jeddan International Airport on Wednesday, while the first flight to Medina will take off Thursday carrying pilgrims from Giza and Port Said governorates.

The hajj, a five-day ritual which retraces the journey of Prophet Mohammad that took place 14 centuries ago, is a religious duty that should be carried out once in a lifetime for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it.

It is the world's largest annual Muslim gathering, with over 2.3 million people attending this year. The faithful come from nearly every country in the world, speaking dozens of languages and sometimes practicing Islam in different ways based on local customs or traditions.
8/1/2018 11:09:10 AM
<![CDATA[Chile to restrict tourists and non-locals on Easter Island]]>
Despite its isolated location some 3,500 kilometers from the coast of Chile, the island is a popular tourist destination, not least due to its remarkable collection of around 900 tall human figures with distinctive features and standing up to 10 meters tall.

However, it is those very tourists, alongside mainland migrants, who have become a threat to the island's well-being. Chile, which annexed the territory in 1888, has decided to act.

In 2007, Easter Island was designated a special territory while back in March, congress voted to limit the number of tourists and foreign or mainland residents allowed on the island, and the time they're allowed to stay.

As of Wednesday, new rules will come into effect that reduce the time tourists – Chileans not part of the Rapa Nui people and foreigners – can stay on the island from 90 to 30 days.

"Foreigners are already taking over the island," Mayor Pedro Edmunds told AFP.

At the last census in 2017, there were 7,750 people living on Easter Island, almost double the population of a few decades ago, before the island was hit by a tourism boom and the real estate development that accompanied it.

Edmunds says that number is 3,000 "too many."

"They're damaging the local idiosyncrasy, the thousand-year culture is changing and not for the good," he added, saying that "customs from the continent" were infiltrating the island and "that's not positive."

Crime and domestic violence figures are also rising.

It's not just obnoxious people from the mainland causing problems, though – the increase in tourism is harming the environment.

All basic services are straining under the pressure, not least waste management, Ana Maria Gutierrez, the local government's environmental adviser told AFP.

A decade ago the island generated 1.4 tons of waste per year per inhabitant, but that figure has almost doubled to 2.5 tons today, with a population that recycles very little.

"Environmentally the island is very fragile," Gutierrez said.

The new laws, however, impose stricter rules on those who wish to live on the island, amongst them a requirement to be related to someone from the Rapa Nui people: either a parent, partner or child.

Others who will be allowed to stay are public servants, employees of organizations that provide services to the government, and those who develop an independent economic activity alongside their families.

On arrival, tourists must present their hotel reservation or an invitation from a resident.

The rules will also establish a yet-to-be-decided maximum capacity.

But Edmunds isn't happy, as he feels the rules don't go far enough to protect the island's culture, heritage and singularity.

"I don't agree with these rules, it's not enough because it doesn't reflect all the aspirations of the island," he said, admitting that like "many other Rapa Nui" he favors a "total" ban on the arrival of new residents.

However, he said the legislation was at least "a good start."

Rapa Nui are a Polynesian people closely related to those on Tahiti, whereas the majority of Chileans have European ancestry, with a minority of indigenous peoples.
7/30/2018 6:07:43 PM
<![CDATA[Armenia's newest tourist site has amazing back story]]>
Their one-storey house in the village of Arinj outside the capital Yerevan may not look like much but today it brings in visitors from all over the globe after a 23-year labour of love by Tosya's late husband, Levon Arakelyan.

They come to see a twisting network of subterranean caves and tunnels known as "Levon's divine underground."

In the cold and quiet, Tosya leads tourists through corridors that connect seven chambers adorned with Romanesque columns and ornaments like those on the facades of medieval Armenian churches.

"Once he started digging, it was impossible to stop him," she said of the project that began in 1995. "I wrangled with him a lot, but he became obsessed with his plan."

A builder by training, Levon would toil for 18 hours a day -- only pausing to take a quick nap and then rush back to the cave, confident that he was being guided "by heaven".

"He never drew up plans and used to tell us that he sees in his dreams what to do next," his widow told AFP.

Over more than two decades he hammered out the 280-square-metre (3,000 square-foot) space, 21 metres deep into strata of volcanic rocks -- only using hand tools.

"My primary childhood recollection is the loud knock of my father's hammer heard at night from the cave," said his 44-year-old daughter Araksya.

At the start he had to break through a surface layer of black basalt, but at the depth of a few metres Levon reached much softer tufa stone and the work progressed.

He pulled out 600 truckloads of rocks and earth, using only hand-held buckets.

Levon died in 2008 at the age of 67 from a heart attack after destroying the last wall that separated two tunnels.

- 'Amazing place' -

A decade on from the project's completion, Tosya also runs a small museum commemorating her husband's work in the village of some 6,000 people.

The underground complex has several analogues in the world.

An eccentric man named William Henry "Burro" Schmidt spent more than three decades digging a half-a-mile tunnel to transport gold through a granite mountain in California, beginning his work in the early 1900s during the state's gold rush.

In Ethiopia a man named Aba Defar began carving churches on a mountainside after claiming divine inspiration from years of dreams.

Today the Armenian cave features prominently in travel brochures, regularly drawing busloads of visitors.

Milad, a 29-year-old Iranian tourist, called the maze an "amazing place".

He said it made him realise just "how boundless the spiritual and physical capabilities of a person can be".
7/29/2018 4:47:15 PM
<![CDATA[Spain moves to defend rights of tourism's "21st-century slaves"]]>
Cleaners, whose plight has become emblematic of the inequalities enduring in Spain even after the economy rebounded from a deep recession, will now be the first to benefit from changes to labour laws by the two month-old government of Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez.

For Maria del Mar Jimenez, one of the women known as "Kellys", from the Spanish "las que limpian" ("the women who clean"), change cannot come fast enough.

"I live it first-hand. We are 21st century slaves," said the 56 year-old who cleans in a five-star Madrid hotel, describing the constant muscle pain she feels after three decades of work.

As Spain flourished to become the world's second most visited country, and income per hotel room jumped 9.5 percent last year, Jimenez says she and her colleagues ended up having to clean more than 24 rooms a day.

"When the 35 year-olds are my age, what state will their backs be in? They will have arthritis and breathing problems that ruin their lives," she said.

As many Spaniards prepared to pack for their summer holidays, the government pledged on Friday to invest 30 million euros ($35 million) to hire 833 new labour inspectors to uncover abuses of contracts and failures to pay employees.

Prime Minister Sanchez says he is righting the perceived wrongs in labour reforms introduced by his vanquished conservative predecessor Mariano Rajoy, as part of a broad social agenda aimed at appealing to disillusioned left-wing voters.

Austerity-minded Rajoy was criticised by unions for weakening workers' rights with the 2012 labour law, adopted during the darkest period of an economic crisis that left deep scars on the euro zone's fourth-largest economy.

"Our aim is to reinstate workers' rights that were lost during the crisis," Labour Minister Magdalena Valerio told a news conference. "The government is going to push for dignified and decent employment."

But Sanchez's administration has not said it plans to repeal the 2012 law, and, even with the planned changes, hoteliers will still be able to outsource the hiring of cleaners, a factor which unions say contributes to their precarious position.

Jimenez said it was too soon to celebrate.

"We are hopeful, because the minister said she was going to do something, and hope is all we Kellys have left." ($1 = 0.8581 euros).]]>
7/28/2018 1:50:37 PM
<![CDATA[Direct Charter flights between Madrid, Aswan re-launched on Friday]]>
Eman Ishak, owner of a tourism company based in Aswan, said that the group includes 150 Spanish tourists arriving from Madrid. They are expected to enjoy the beautiful scenery along the Nile, and to visit the sights and landmarks of Aswan, which is the traditional southern frontier of Egypt.

In pics: et reviews Nubian Museum in Aswan

CAIRO - 1 April 2018: The Nubian Museum is one of the most famous museums in Aswan City, Upper Egypt; it houses a number of museums and archaeological temples which attract tourists from around the world.

Egyptian and Spanish companies held negotiations to organize weekly charter flights between Madrid, Luxor and Aswan starting from July 2018.

The negotiations took place on the sideline of the Vitor International Tourism Fair, which was held in Madrid and participated by Spanish speaking countries from all over the world, according to Ali Ghoneim, manager of an Egyptian travel agency that participated in the fair.

Spanish travel agencies are interested in organizing tours to Egypt, in particular Luxor and Aswan. Also, an increasing number of Spanish tourists visited Egypt over the last few years, which has positively affected the Egyptian tourism industry, according to Mohamed Hassanein, president of Glaxia.

He added that there are around 23,400 tourists visiting Egypt in 2016 and 36,000 tourists in 2017, which highlights the rapid influx of Spanish visitors in Egypt.

It is expected that there will be a great promotional campaign organized by the Egyptian authority to attract Spanish tourists to Egypt.

Weekly charter flights from Madrid to Luxor, Aswan

Cairo - 20 January 2018: According to local news reports, Egyptian and Spanish companies held negotiations to organize weekly charter flights between Madrid, Luxor and Aswan starting from July 2018.

Aswan is located in southern Egypt; it is a great place to explore that country’s unique ancient history. Many places deserve visiting in the city, like the Tombs of the Nobles, Elephantine Island, the Botanical Garden, Abu Simbel Temples, Philae Temple and the Nubian Museum, according to Memphis Tours.

In pics: et reviews; Beauty of Nubian culture

CAIRO - 5 April 2018: From the first step into the Nubian Village, one feels comfortable and cheerful; the houses are decorated with beautiful, simple colors that are comfortable for the eyes. The Nubian civilization is undoubtedly an ancient civilization.

et reviews Philae Temple: The Legend of the Nile River

CAIRO - 3 April 2018: Philae Temple is one of the most beautiful places you can visit in Aswan, from the moment you set foot on the boat that will take you to Agilika Island, on which the temple is built. The temple is a true testament to the grandiosity and genius of the Pharaohs.

Tourists in Aswan - Egypt/ File Photo

Mohamed Fawzy (2)
Tourists in Aswan - Egypt/ Mohamed Fawzy

Mohamed Fawzy (20)
Aswan / Mohamed Fawzy
7/27/2018 2:12:26 PM
<![CDATA[Top 5 famous stories of Egypt’s sculptures within Cairo thoroughfares]]>
Here is a list of historical statues that you can see in Cairo governorate:

1 - Ibrahim Pasha:

Ibrahim pasha
The statue of Ibrahim Pasha on his horse at the Opera Square in CAIRO, Egypt on August 29, 2013 - CC via Wikimedia

The statue of Ibrahim pasha is located in the opera square. In 1872, khedive Ismail entrusted Charles Coedier -French sculptor- to build a statue for his father Ibrahim Pasha. Charels Coedier also painted two plates, describing the battles between Egypt and Turkey. However, Turkey intervened and refused to show these plates, as they represented their defeat against Egypt, hence, Coedier traveled to France with the two paintings.

In 1948, at the 100th death anniversary of Ibrahim pasha, the Egyptian authority tried to restore these paintings but failed. Therefore, the two Egyptian sculptors Ahmed Othman and Mansour Farg created two identical paintings and placed them on both sides of the statue.

In 1841, Ibrahim’s son Khedive Ismail took power after the wife of Soliman Pasha al-Faransawi poisoned Ibrahim Pasha.

In 1789, Ibrahim pasha was born in Greece. When Mohamed Ali took over the rule of Egypt, he summoned Ibrahim from Istanbul. During the period 1816-1819 Ibrahim succeeded in suppressing Wahhabi rebels.

In 1925, the statue of Ibrahim Pasha had been moved from El-Attaba square to Opera Square after July 23 revolution. The Opera Square was built during Khedive Ismail's era and its name was changed several times; it was known as Teatro Square, Opera Square, and then Ibrahim Pasha Square.

2- Talaat Harb statue:

Talaat Harb statue-CC via Wikimedia

Talaat Harb Square was initially named Soliman Pasha Square- a French commander in the Egyptian army during Mohamed Ali era. In 1954, Egypt’s President Gamal Abdel Nasser gave it the name Talaat Harb Square and transferred the statue of Soliman Pasha to the Military Museum.

In 1867, Mohamed Talaat Mohamed Harb was born in El-Gamalia, Cairo governorate. In early 1900s, Harb became a pioneer in the economy field; he played a huge role in reforming the Egyptian economy, detaching it from any colonial investments.

Talaat Harb established Banque Misr in 1920 with the concept of investing in national savings and directing them towards economic and social development. Therefore, he established Banque Misr, which became the first bank to be wholly owned by Egyptians.
The statue of Talaat Harb was sculptured by Fathy Mahmoud who was born in 1918 and graduated from the Faculty of Applied Arts, Cairo University.

3- Saad Zaaghloul statue:

Saad Pasha Zaghloul statue, Alexandria, December 13, 2006 –CC via Wikimedia

The statue of Saad Zaghloul is located on Qasr El-Nile Bridge. In 1860, Zaghloul was born in Kafr el-Sheikh; he was considered one of the leaders of the 1919 revolution.

In 1924, Saad Zaghloul became prime minster after the Wafd Party won 90 percent of the Parliament seats. He was arrested several times for fomenting protests against the British occupation and he was exiled to Malta in March 1919.

In 1928, the Egyptian government entrusted sculptor Mahmoud Mokhtar to sculpt a statue for Saad Zaghloul in front of Cairo’s Opera House.

4- Lazoghly Statue:

Lazoghly Statue – CC via Wikimedia

Lazoghy statue lies at the intersection of Magles El- Ommah Street, Dawawin Street and khairat Street. In 1872, Egyptian authorities, during Mohamed Ali era, decided to erect statues of the most famous Egyptian dignitaries to commemorate their efforts, and one of these dignitaries was Lazoghly Pasha.

His real name is Mohamed Laz while the word Oghly means son. Some stories said that Lazoghly was the mastermind behind the famous massacre against Mamluks in the Citadel of Mohamed Ali.

Because lazoghy wasn’t interested in glorifying his name and achievements, the French sculptor Jack Mar couldn’t find any picture of him. Therefore, the sculptor asked one of Lazoghli’s friends to find a person who looked exactly like him; they found a man who was working in transporting water “Saqqa” to sculpture Lazoghy Pasha Statue.

In late 1800s, Lazoghly pasha came to Egypt and occupied several state positions during Mohamed Ali’s era such as the minister of finance, minster of defense and finally as prime minster for around 15 years.

5 - Mostafa Kamel statue:

Mostafa Kamel statue, January 11, 2013 – CC via Wikimedia

The statue of Mostafa Kamel is located in Cairo's downtown. His statue was erected after his death in Europe -before the Second World War¬- by Leopold Savine, a French visual artist.

In August 1874, Mostafa Kamel was born in Cairo. Kamel was a prominent Egyptian figure, as he fought for Egypt's independence against the British occupation. Kamel was the son of an Egyptian army officer, and he studied law in Cairo University and in the University of Toulouse in France.

Even though he lived only 34 years, he left great marks in Egypt’s history. In 1900, Kamel founded Al-Liwa newspaper . He also revived the national liberation movement which had been suspended after the failure of the Urabi revolution, and British invasion of Egypt in 1882.

Kamel’s name is associated with the famous Dunshuay incident in 1906, when four Egyptian peasants were hanged by the British. He led a strong campaign worldwide against the atrocities of the British occupying forces. This campaign prompted many international figures to support the Egyptians' right to independence and also earned Kamel the love of all Egyptians.

One of his famous quotes was: “Had I not been an Egyptian, I would have wished to be Egyptian.”

In December 1907, Khedive Abbas II helped him to establish the National Party to counter the Ummah Party which was supported by the British, but Kamel died after a few months of the establishment of the National Party. His funeral was the occasion for a massive demonstration of popular grief.

7/25/2018 1:46:34 PM
<![CDATA[Stable Egypt ready to welcome more tourists: Forbes]]>
Freelance traveler Allison Diliengro wrote in the Forbes about her experience during her latest trip to Egypt. She paid a visit to "the cradle of Civilization", as she described the country, in April to spend the spring, amid fears that her expectations were "too high."

Allison extolled the capital city of Cairo and its "passionate residents", and narrated the story of the popular January 25, 2011 Revolution that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak, the matter which affected tourism. "Today, the country is stable and ready to welcome travelers back," Allison noted.

Eight years ago, more than 14.7 million tourists arrived in Egypt, while Paris attracted only 8.2 visitors in the same year of 2010.

In 2015, the tourism industry witnessed another hit when a Russian plane was shot in the Sinai Peninsula in a terrorist attack claimed to be carried out by ISIS elements. As a result, the tourism flow fell to its lowest number to reach only 4.8 million.

Three years later, the Russian flights to Egypt resumed and the country restored its peace and order. Indications reveal that Egypt will welcome more than 8.3 million visitors in the current year.

Alison sang the praises of affordable hotels and accommodation costs in Egypt. "Five-star hotel rooms cost as little as $200 per night," she added.

She also paid a snap visit to the Upper city of Aswan where she went to the Elephantine Island with her husband and enjoyed her "favorite view in Egypt."

Egypt has been trying to tighten its finances and draw back investors and tourists who bring a huge amount of foreign currency to the country's treasury which has been tied to a three-year $12 billion IMF loan programme since late 2016.

The data showed that tourism revenues rose to $2.27 billion in the first quarter of 2018, from $1.256 billion in the same quarter a year ago, Reuters reported in April. Expatriate remittances increased to $6.46 billion from $5.78 billion.

Rania al-Mashat, minister of tourism, said that the number of tourists visiting Egypt has jumped by 30 percent during Q1 of 2018, compared to 2017. The Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) reported that the country has received at least 730,000 tourists in February 2018, achieving a 35 percent increase, compared to the same month of the previous year.

Meanwhile, a report recently released by STR global said that Egypt’s hotel occupancy rate for Q1 of the 2018-2019 fiscal year was at its highest since 2010. The report stated that the increase in occupancy rates hiked by 21.2 percent to reach 60.1 percent in Q1, with an increase in the average daily rate bringing in LE 1,292.

Tourists’ flow to Egypt has resumed and Egypt has restored its leading position again as the best tourism destination in the region, according to the French pioneering travel magazine TourMaG on Thursday.

Few days ago, a 20-year-old French magazine revealed the percentage of French tourists visiting Egypt in 2018 alone has increased to 146 percent. “Tourists no longer prefer going to Tunisia or Turkey only; Egypt is back in the competition again after years of instability,” the magazine added.

TourMaG revealed that “600,000 French tourists visited the land of the Pharaohs in 2010. But six years later, only 70,000 paid touristic visits to Egypt in 2016.”

“This increase in tourists’ numbers visiting Egypt is an outcome of the restoration of security, order and safety of travelers,” TourMaG explained.

One year ago, exactly on July 15, 2017, French Ambassador to Egypt Stephane Roumtier said in a press conference in Alexandria that “Egypt will witness an increase in the number of French tourists received in 2017.” ]]>
7/24/2018 4:47:03 PM
<![CDATA[Environment ministry launches campaign to clean Magawish Island in Red Sea]]>
The campaign is launched in coordination with Hurghada Environmental Protection and Conservation Association (HEPCA). Nearly 120 persons will participate in it. 

In statements on Tuesday, Environment Minister Yasmine Fouad said Magawish Island is one of Egypt's marine protectorates. In the coming days, cliff-nesting seabirds, especially gulls, will lay their eggs on the island, she noted. The gulls lay two or three speckled eggs in nests composed of vegetation. 

The campaign is part of Egypt's initiative "Red Sea Islands free from plastic", she said. It also falls within preparations for the 14th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD/COP 14), set for Sharm El Sheikh on November 17-29, the minister added. ]]>
7/24/2018 1:35:18 PM
<![CDATA[Tourists returning to majestic Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe ]]>
The number of foreign visitors to Victoria Falls, the southern African country's flagship destination, jumped nearly 50% in the first quarter of this year compared with the same period in 2017, the tourism minister says.

Countrywide, arrivals rose by 15% to 554 417, according to treasury statistics.

Political and economic turmoil under longtime autocratic ruler Robert Mugabe had wrecked the sector, but authorities and tourism operators now believe the industry has a new lease of life.

Mugabe was ousted in November after a 37-year repressive rule during which tourists shunned the country, fearful of police demanding bribes, crumbling infrastructure and scarce fuel.

Cash was also in short supply from 2009, when hyperinflation forced Zimbabwe to abandon its own currency in favour of the US dollar.

We were in a closed period for a long time," admitted Tourism Minister Priscah Mupfumira, speaking ahead of key elections on July 30. "We closed ourselves in, doors were locked."

Since Emmerson Mnangagwa took over as president from Mugabe in a de facto coup last year, "we are poised for growth", the minister told AFP.

"There are good vibes from the industry and from the international world - everybody is so positive," she said.

With Zimbabwe's economy still in tatters, an influx of tourists is expected to help bring in desperately needed revenue, with the sector already contributing around 10% to GDP.

"It's a key pillar to our economy and a low-hanging fruit - we just have to get our act together," Mupfumira said.

But visiting Zimbabwe is generally more expensive compared with neighbouring countries.

Good feeling

"It is not a cheap holiday," said Ilan Wiesenbacher, a restaurateur in Victoria Falls, where the Zambezi River plunges over a gorge and raises a mist that can be seen more than 20km away.

"We have seen a steady rise in numbers," said Wiesenbacher, manager at the Three Monkeys restaurant. "There is a general good feeling around Zimbabwe and tourism."

Even in the traditional low season from January to March, craft beer brewer Jake Le Breton had more glasses to fill at his River Brewing Company bar in Victoria Falls.

"We have just come out of a quiet season... (but) it was a busy time with a higher number of tourists than we have seen in previous years," said Le Breton, adding that local hotels have been fully booked.

"The general sense in this country, especially from a tourist, is one of anticipation, one of excitement."

Lloyd Machaka, who operates Chikopokopo Flights helicopter tours over the Victoria Falls, has also seen more visitors from Malawi and the southern African region.

"Hopefully we will have more investors coming in to build more hotels, bigger hotels. We want more airlines coming here," said Machaka, standing by one of his helicopters.

'I feel very safe'

Kenya Airways and Ethiopian Airlines now fly direct to Victoria Falls's smart new airport.

"I feel very safe, the people are welcoming. Getting the visa was really easy," said Canadian tourist Katelyn Pretzlaff.

French tourist Patrice Lehmann, who was visiting the Victoria Falls for the third time, said: "It's one of the most impressive things I have seen in my life."

Zimbabwe has also removed the notorious police roadblocks that had become a constant annoyance for motorists. Typically, drivers reluctantly paid bribes to evade long questioning over minor alleged offences.

"The issue of roadblocks - it was a disaster, a real problem," the minister admitted.

Authorities have launched an aggressive drive to "reassure the world that Zimbabwe is open for business, Zimbabwe is a safe, peaceful tourist destination," Mupfumira said.

Alongside "Vic Falls", the country's highlights include Lake Kariba, the vast game-filled national parks of Hwange and Mana Pools and the Eastern Highlands mountains.

Mnangagwa, a former ally of Mugabe, has vowed to hold a clean election next week as proof of the country's fresh start, but many critics say the same Zanu-PF party chiefs still call the shots.

Mnangagwa is the favourite to win, but any dispute or violence over a close result could spell a return to instability.
7/23/2018 4:38:19 PM
<![CDATA[In pics: 1st BelugaXL aircraft successfully completes its flight test]]>
The plane took off from France's Toulouse-Blagnac Airport and circled back.

The statement reported that the BelugaXL will fly for 600 hours to complete its flight test for more than ten months, before entering into actual service in 2019; pointing out that the BelugaXL aircraft carrier program was launched in November 2014.

“I am personally pleased with the strong response that our aircraft has received. We at Airbus have positive impressions of the future of our aircraft and we are always ready with the best solution. Airbus plans to build five such aircrafts by 2023,” Eric Schulz, chief of sales, marketing and contracts for Airbus said.

Airbus showed its products during its participation at the Farnese Aviation 2018, showing the strong performance of its commercial aircrafts which have achieved many successes, the statement reported.]]>
7/22/2018 2:19:03 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt seeks to declare Sharm El-Sheikh an environmentally friendly city]]>
This comes during the minister’s participation with her counterpart, South Africa's Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) minister Edna Molewa, in the side sessions of the Biodiversity and Sustainable Development Conventions at the United Nations (UN) Headquarters in New York.

During the session, the minister asserted that the African Environment Ministers support Egypt’s efforts to organize a conference on biological diversity at Sharm El-Sheikh next November as an international event representing the African continent.

“In coordination with the United Nations and Egypt, the ministry is working on recycling waste, using environmentally friendly technologies for renewable energies, and reusing water in Sharm El-Sheikh,” Foad added.

On the political side, the Ministry of Environment affirmed Egypt’s efforts to push sustainable development through a special initiative combining climate change with biodiversity and desertification, the statement reported.

A tourist walks past empty sunbeds on a beach in Egypt – AFP

With regards to tourism at Sharm El-Sheikh, on April 21, 2018, Andrea Vento Viaggi, the representative of one of the biggest Italian tourism companies, affirmed that Italian tourists will return to Sinai in Sharm El-Sheikh in flocks during the summer.

Italian tourists ranked second before 2010 for the highest amount of tourists from one country visiting Sharm El-Sheikh, and it is expected that Italy will once again be on top during the next period, as there is continuous coordination with the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and the governor of South Sinai, Viaggi said.

Italian tourism companies promote the sea-side Egyptian destination to attract more tourists, Andrea mentioned. The city of Sharm El-Sheikh is a prime destination for Italian tourists, in terms of elite hotel services, places of entertainment, weather, and prices.

Tourists pictured returning from the beach in the Egyptian resort of Sharm El-Sheikh on November 7, 2015 – AFP Photo/Mohamed El-Shahed

Additional Report with Rehab Ismail
7/21/2018 4:06:25 PM
<![CDATA[Giza zoo to welcome baby giraffe ‘Sawsan’ within days]]>
Mohamed Ragaey, the head of the Central Zoological Department at the Zoo, said that a plan has been put to immunize the mother giraffe against viruses and bacteria to protect the baby during delivery, according to local news outlets.

The zoo are feeding the mother giraffe with nutritious meals of fruits, carrots, and leafy greens. The mother giraffe will be provided with special veterinary care throughout the day.

The Giza Zoo is the biggest animal park in the Middle East, and it was opened for the public in 1891 during the rule of Khedive Tawfiq. Many kinds of rare and endangered animals and birds live in the park and have successfully bred there.

The Zoological Museum, the first and largest of its kind in the Middle East, is located inside the zoo. It displays mummified animals from all over the region and Africa.

The Zoological Museum inside the Giza Zoo – Best Places Egypt Facebook page

In January, the Giza Zoo received for the first time two Red Kangaroos coming from Slovakia.

Red Kangaroo with Joey in Linton Zoo – CC via Flickr/Mrs Airwolfhound

7/20/2018 12:09:19 PM
<![CDATA[From 'futuwwa' to an old man, what batons stand for in Qena]]>
Sabri Sayed, a 42-year-old batons salesman in Qena, said that he came to El Wekala area at a young age to sell his products to by-passers. He added that everyone needs batons; some people need them for support while walking, while others use them as a sign of prestige.

It is originally a weapon used for protection; its purposes developed with time. Batons are also used in carnivals and in Tahtib competitions (fighting art) during the Sidi Abdel-Rahim al-Qanai and Sidi Abu al-Hajjaj carnivals in Luxor, where two people compete using their batons. One competitor's baton shatters at the end, making the other contender a winner.

3Sabri Sayed selling batons in Qus, Qena - Egypt Today/Wael Mohammed

He pointed out that batons and sticks have many types and uses. There is the thin stick which is used by carriage riders or donkey and camel riders and it serves as a tool for guiding the camel or the donkey.

There is also the truncheon which is thicker and larger; helping elder people walk is among its many uses, while the young ones use it for defense purposes.

Sabri Sayed selling batons in Qus, Qena - Egypt Today/Wael Mohammed

Sayed noted that most Qus residents carry the truncheon or the stick around with them.
The salesman concluded by saying that the prices of the batons and the sticks differ according to their types.

The sticks used by carriage and camel riders are the least expensive since they are small in size; their price doesn’t exceed LE 50. The batons used by elderly people cost about LE 70, while the ones used in Tahtib competitions costs between LE 100 - LE 150 as they come in various aesthetic designs.

7/18/2018 2:01:02 PM
<![CDATA[573 expats to participate in ‘Your Vacation at Your Home Country’ initiative]]>
Meanwhile, the ministry will hold a meeting on Tuesday with young people who participated in the World Youth Forum in Sharm El-Sheikh to prepare for the initiative, discuss all the problems facing Egyptians abroad and to listen to their suggested solutions.

The initiative will be launched on Saturday, July 28, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Cairo at the headquarters of the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics; an opening session followed by a number of workshops and a closing session will be held, all tackling expatriates' inquiries in the attendance of officials of various ministries.

Minister of Immigration Nabila Makram previously said that the initiative aims to promote the connection between Egyptians abroad and their homeland and attract their investments to participate in the development process.

The Ministry of Immigration has launched several initiatives in the last period to better communicate with Egyptian expats; such as the Roots Revival initiative, which came within the framework of a cooperation protocol signed by Egypt, Cyprus and Greece in December 2017.

7/17/2018 3:42:49 PM
<![CDATA[After 1st Huge success locally & Internationally Glam Getways returns to Gouna]]>
According to Glam Getaways, the event was lunched for the first time last year on November 5 in Cairo, Luxor and Aswan, and achieved all of its goals including promoting tourism through practicing Zumba.

According to its official website; GLAM Getaways is an exceptional multi-day international event in Egypt, which is open for all Zumba fans around the world. Glam Getaways, an initiative by Egyptian Zumba instructor Sally Salama, invites all Zumba® fans around the world to enjoy energetic workouts on the banks of the Nile with 15 international instructors, alongside Egyptian trainers.

The website added that GLAM is the first international event featuring Zumba Fitness Master Classes in Egypt aiming to help promote local tourism. It is also considered to be the first of its kind in the Middle East.


The event will be hosted for six days in Gouna, and only for two days in Cairo. Registration for the exceptional event was announced to be online through the following link: https://glamgetaways.me/registration/






7/16/2018 10:36:23 PM
<![CDATA[EgyptAir operates new route to Hong Kong mid September]]>
Chairman of EgyptAir Holding Company Captain Ahmed Adel said the national carrier aims to open new markets in one of the important international cities, noting that the Far East market is a promising one for aviation movement.

The new route between Cairo and Hong Kong will launch as a twice-weekly service on Mondays and Fridays with a stop over in Bangkok, he added.

He also said Egyptair will fly its Airbus A330-300 aircraft on the route, which it configures with two classes.

EgyptAir also offers up to 25 discount to its customers on the first flight to Hong Kong on all classes. Tickets are currently available till the date of the flight.

7/16/2018 2:14:59 PM
<![CDATA[Hilton Luxor Resort & Spa Appoints New General Manager ]]>
Florian Gruhl has 16 years of experience in the hospitality industry having started his career as a Trainee at Hilton Bonn in Germany in 2002. Gruhl ascended from Food & Beverage Supervisor to Food & Beverage Manager in both Europe and the Middle East before becoming Operations Manager at Hilton Salalah Resort in the Sultanate of Oman in 2012. In June 2014, he was appointed Director of Operations at Hilton Kuwait Resort, before his appointment as General Manager of Hilton Luxor Resort & Spa in May 2018.

“At Hilton, we’re passionate about delivering exceptional guest experiences. We are a business of people serving people and our Team Members extend their passion for hospitality to our guests every day,” said Mohab Ghali, vice president of operations, Egypt and North Africa, Hilton. “We are pleased to welcome a stellar leader to the Hilton Luxor Resort & Spa team. Florian’s great level of commitment, dedication and accountability will ensure our guests continue to enjoy the superior quality of service that Hilton Luxor Resort & Spa is known for around the world.”

Hilton Luxor Resort & Spa is located in the village of Karnak on the east bank of the lush River Nile. Expect glorious views over the river and the historic city of Luxor. The stylish resort is the ideal base for exploring the region’s historical attractions. Among the eight restaurants and bars at the resort, guests can enjoy two infinity pools, a library and fitness room. Inspired by Egypt's ancient culture and tranquil beauty, The Spa provides a haven from everyday stress, caring for guests, from head to toe, with signature, holistic treatments and modern facilities.
7/15/2018 3:58:00 PM
<![CDATA[First space tourist flights could begin in 2019]]>
Virgin Galactic, founded by British billionaire Richard Branson, and Blue Origin, by Amazon creator Jeff Bezos, are racing to be the first to finish their tests — with both companies using radically different technology.

Moments of weightlessness

Neither Virgin nor Blue Origin's passengers will find themselves orbiting the Earth: instead, their weightless experience will last just minutes. It's an offering far different from the first space tourists, who paid tens of millions of dollars to travel to the International Space Station (ISS) in the 2000s.

Having paid for a much cheaper ticket — costing $2,50,000 with Virgin, as yet unknown with Blue Origin — the new round of space tourists will be propelled dozens of miles into the atmosphere, before coming back down to Earth. By comparison, the ISS is in orbit 250 miles (400 kilometers) from our planet.

The goal is to approach or pass through the imaginary line marking where space begins — either the Karman line, at 100 kilometers or 62 miles, or the 50-mile boundary recognized by the US Air Force.

At this altitude, the sky looks dark and the curvature of the earth can be seen clearly.

Virgin Galactic

With Virgin Galactic, six passengers and two pilots are boarded onto SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity, which resembles a private jet.

The VSS Unity will be attached to a carrier spacecraft — the WhiteKnightTwo — from which it will then detach at around 49,000 feet (15,000 meters.) Once released, the spaceship will fire up its rocket, and head for the sky.

Then, the passengers will float in zero-gravity for several minutes, before coming back to Earth.

The descent is slowed down by a "feathering" system that sees the spacecraft's tail pivot, as if arching, before returning to normal and gliding to land at Virgin's "spaceport" in the New Mexico desert.

In total, the mission lasts between 90 minutes and two hours. During a May 29 test in California's Mojave desert, the spaceship reached an altitude of 21 miles, heading for space.

In October 2014, the Virgin spaceship broke down in flight due to a piloting error, killing one of two pilots on board. The tests later resumed with a new craft.

The company has now also reached a deal to open a second "spaceport" at Italy's Tarente-Grottaglie airport, in the south of the country.

Branson in May told BBC Radio 4 that he hoped to himself be one of the first passengers in the next 12 months. About 650 people make up the rest of the waiting list, Virgin told AFP.

Blue Origin

Blue Origin, meanwhile, has developed a system closer to the traditional rocket: the New Shepard.

On this journey, six passengers take their place in a "capsule" fixed to the top of a 60-foot-long rocket. After launching, it detaches and continues its trajectory several miles toward the sky. During an 29 April test, the capsule made it 66 miles.

After a few minutes of weightlessness, during which passengers can take in the view through large windows, the capsule gradually falls back to earth with three large parachutes and retrorockets used to slow the spacecraft.

From take-off to landing, the flight took 10 minutes during the latest test.

Until now, tests have only been carried out using dummies at Blue Origin's West Texas site.

Company officials were recently quoted as saying the first tests with Blue Origin astronauts would take place "at the end of this year," with tickets for the public expected to go on sale in 2019.

But in comments to AFP on Friday, the company struck a more cautious note."We have not set ticket pricing and have had no serious discussions inside of Blue on the topic," the firm said.

"We have a flight test schedule and schedules of those types always have uncertainties and contingencies. Anyone predicting dates is guessing."

What's next?

SpaceX and Boeing are developing their own capsules to transport NASA astronauts, most likely in 2020, after delays — a significant investment that the companies will likely make up for by offering private passenger flights.

"If you're looking to go to space, you'll have quadruple the menu of options that you ever had before," Phil Larson, assistant dean at the University of Colorado, Boulder's College of Engineering and Applied Science, told AFP.

Longer term, the Russian firm that manufactures Soyuz rockets is studying the possibility of taking tourists back to the ISS. And a US start-up called Orion Span announced earlier this year it hopes to place a luxury space hotel into orbit within a few years — but the project is still in its early stages.
7/15/2018 11:17:47 AM
<![CDATA[132,000 tourists used Egyptian ports in 2017 ]]>
The report added that Egyptian ports have seen the entrance of 66,987 tourists to Egypt, while 65,417 came out during 2017. Some 47,900 tourists entered through Red sea ports, while 45,834 left.

FILE - Port Said (East)
Port of Port Said - Photo courtesy of Port Said Authority

The ports following Suez Canal economic zones allowed the entrance of 6,843 tourists and the exit of 6,843.

The port of Alexandria allowed 12,740 tourists to access Egypt, and 12,740 to exist.

Alexandria port – Photo courtesy of Alexandria port Authority
Picture: Port of Alexandria - Photo courtesy of Alexandria Port Authority

Egypt is a maritime country that has a remarkable geographical location on the junction of three continents and has coasts up to 2,000 kilometers long on the Mediterranean and the Red Sea which allow its connection with the foreign world since ancient ages, according to the Maritime Transport Section’s official website.

The Sector’s strategy is the effective contribution in the Egyptian national economy and Egyptian foreign trade through creating efficient cadres capable of influencing the decision makers in the field of maritime transport on the international level.

The Maritime Authorities in Egypt include Red Sea Ports Authorities, Alexandria Port Authority, Port Said Port Authorities, Damietta Port Authorities and the Egyptian Authority for Maritime Safety.

Tourists’ flows to Egypt has resumed and Egypt has restored its leading position again as the best tourism destination in the region, according to the French pioneering travel magazine TourMaG on Thursday.

The 20-year-old magazine revealed that the percentage of French tourists visiting Egypt in 2018 alone has increased to 146 percent. “Tourists no longer prefer going to Tunisia or Turkey only, Egypt is back in the competition again after years of instability,” the magazine added.

195 million tourists likely to visit Arab region by 2030 - official

CAIRO - 21 June 2018: Head of the Arab Tourism Organization Bandar bin Fahd al Fuhaid expected on Thursday that 195 million tourists will visit the Arab region by 2030, threefold the current number. In a statement, Fuhaid underlined the importance of developing the tourism industry in Arab countries as it plays a vital role in promoting Arab economies.

Egypt’s current account deficit for the third quarter of the 2017-18 fiscal year narrowed to $1.93 billion from $3.1 billion a year earlier as tourism revenues improved, data from the central bank and Reuters’ calculations showed in June 2018.

Egypt current account deficit narrows as tourism rises

CAIRO - 28 June 2018: Egypt's current account deficit for the third quarter of the 2017-18 fiscal year narrowed to $1.93 billion from $3.1 billion a year earlier as tourism revenues improved, data from the central bank and Reuters calculations showed on Thursday.

7/14/2018 11:51:53 AM
<![CDATA[Seven black rhinos die in Kenya in botched relocation - media]]>
The rhinos, who are part of a critically endangered species, died in "unclear circumstances" at the Tsavo East National Park, the newspaper reported.

They were among 14 rhinos the state-run wildlife service (KWS) began moving last month from the capital Nairobi to Tsavo East.

Kenya had a rhino population of 1,258 in 2017 of which 745 are black rhinos, 510 are southern white rhinos and three were northern white rhinos, having grown from less than 400 rhinos in the 1980s. The white rhino is a near threatened species.

In May, three black rhinos were killed in Kenya's Meru National Park.

Poaching has risen in recent years across sub-Saharan Africa where armed criminal gangs have killed elephants for tusks and rhinos for horns. Often the animal parts are shipped to Asia for use in ornaments and medicines.

A KWS spokesman was not immediately available for comment. World Wildlife Fund-Kenya said in a statement it was "extremely concerned" by the reports. ]]>
7/13/2018 3:07:43 PM
<![CDATA[French tourism to Egypt in 2018 spikes 146%: magazine]]>
The 20-year-old magazine revealed that percentage of French tourists visited Egypt in 2018 alone has increased to 146 percent. “Tourists no longer prefer going to Tunisia or Turkey only, Egypt is back in the competition again after years of instability,” the magazine added.

TourMaG revealed that “600,000 French tourists visited the land of the Pharaohs in 2010. But six years later, only 70,000 paid touristic visits to Egypt in 2016.”

“This increase in tourists’ numbers visiting Egypt is an outcome of the restoration of security, order and safety of travelers,” TourMaG explained.

One year ago, exactly on July 15, 2017, French Ambassador to Egypt Stephane Roumtier said in a press conference in Alexandria that “Egypt will witness an increase in the number of French tourists received in 2017.”

He praised Egypt’s increased security procedures to protect tourists at archeological sites, as witnessed during his visit to the Pyramids last July. Roumtier explained that the French government is going to cooperate with its Egyptian counterpart to organize awareness campaigns aimed at attracting tourists from all over the world.

Economically, Roumtier asserted that 50,000 French companies are currently investing in Egypt. He called for increasing investments in Egypt, citing successful ventures like the development of the third line of Cairo’s metro system and the establishment of Carrefour markets (French multinational retailor).

Routier added that President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi is interested in establishing a French industrial area in Egypt.

The trade volume between Egypt and France reached €2 billion ($2.29 billion), while the volume of investment reached €4 billion ($4.58 billion), according to Roumtier.

He further praised the measures carried out by the Egyptian government to improve the economy under a program of reforms, after securing the three-year $12 billion (LE 215.24 billion) deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
7/13/2018 12:19:49 PM
<![CDATA[Baptiste Yoga: a journey into the power of letting go]]>
While the physical postures expand your physical power and help you explore the magnificent capabilities of your body, meditation allows you to be present and awakened; to explore the possibilities of the now, to cherish whatever you are putting your heart at in the present regardless the outcomes, to accept the present moment as it is and as it is not; knowing that it is the most sacred pillar of your journey into power. Life happens now.

The process of being brutally honest with one's self, admitting what loops one is keeping him/herself in, what patterns one is repeating and what is holding a person back from being his/her true authentic self and living up to his/ her true abilities is inquiry or Niyama. Inquiry is the question "What must I give up to be me?" It might be pride, resentment, disappointment or anything that is not bravely addressed and that is putting barriers in the way of becoming the free unburdened self.

Together, these practices are like a mountain with no top; they accompany the person along his/her journey into the power to give up their own resistance to development and growth, granting one priceless moment of disclosure and self-actualization. The Baptiste Yoga practices transform yoga from a kind of workout to a lifestyle and take you from doing yoga to being yoga, on and off your matt. But, how does one become yoga? Yoga in Sanskrit means union or connection; we become truly united and connected with ourselves and others.

Who is Baron Baptiste?
Baron Baptiste is a U.S. teacher and a student who believes that learning is a circle and a cycle where people exchange roles constantly; teachers are originally students of their own life experiences, they become teachers only when they humbly share their experiences with their students, who in turn become teachers by sharing their own experiences and displaying their own perspective of life issues. This approach has made Baptiste and his students highly impactful teachers.

"Share yourself in ways that impact others" – Baron Baptiste

Despite being able to reshape the yoga scene as well as whole communities, Baptiste and his students do not claim possessing a special brand of wisdom and are so far from being guru-like, which is surprisingly empowering. It is just us, humans, being true and generous in our practices, and lifting ourselves, other people and communities up. It is just the sincere version of us that makes miracles.

"Your work in the world is meant to be about representing the power and spirit that is within you" – Baron Baptiste

The Africa Yoga Project (AYP)
Based in Nairobi, Kenya, the AYP is supported by the Baptiste Power Yoga Institute along with other prestigious partners; the Baptiste Power Yoga Institute sponsors students, encourages volunteer participation and provides the project with financial and training support, according to the AYP official website.

Egyptians at a class by the Africa Yoga Project - Photo provided to Egypt Today

Not only does the AYP help people of different ages and backgrounds discover distant glowing spots in their souls and abilities through yoga, the project also helps increase employability in Kenya, where more than 70 percent of citizens are below 30 and face an unemployment rate of 40 percent, as well as in 13 other African countries. Working from the conviction that yoga is service, the AYP provides free community yoga classes to some 6,000 people in 80 locations, including schools, orphanages, prisons and special needs centers.

One dedicated teacher at a time

In 2007, senior Baptiste yoga teacher Paige Ellenson, co-founder and executive director of AYP, accepted the invitation of Kenyan acrobats, whom she had previously met while on a safari in Kenya, to come back to Kenya to teach them more about yoga.

Ellenson accepted going back to train people she was not supposed to see in the first place as she was not supposed to get off the Jeep during that safari. She also accepted staying in the informal settlements of Nairobi where most people lived on less than $1 a day simply because it was her true calling. That is how the AYP started.

During the training, Ellenson met the “Ghetto Girls”; five teenage girls who lived in a small room of iron sheets and who gladly traveled over two hours every day to attend the yoga class as it made them feel clean, strong and happy. One of the famous Ghetto Girls, Catherine Njeri, would later be director of teachers in the AYP and a source of motivation to many girls including myself.

Egyptians at a class by the Africa Yoga Project - Photo provided to Egypt Today

She also met a boy who excelled in acrobatics but had to support his family of five after his father died in a car accident, and got involved in drug dealing and picking pockets.
The boy, Walter Mugbe, encountered grave challenges in the life that looked nothing like the one he aspired for; he witnessed a couple of his friends getting killed by a mob when he was only a teen. When asked about the incident, Mugbe said "I knew I was going to be the next person to die."

Mugbe described getting into yoga poses for the first time, "I felt so free and safe at that moment; I felt light, like something was weighing me down and all of a sudden I felt free. It was a brand new experience for me." Finding yoga, Mugbe found something to hold on to; he kept taking yoga classes until he was offered the teacher training scholarship. Now Mugbe is part of a team of 200 teachers at the AYP, spreading the light yoga once shed on their souls.

PHOTO-2018-07-04-15-57-09 Egyptians at a class by the Africa Yoga Project - Photo provided to Egypt Today

I am a proud student of Catherine Njeri and Walter Mugbe. Them coming to Egypt was a golden opportunity for me and other local Yoga teachers. I learned that Yoga has no religion or ethnicity. Those teachers come from strong beliefs, solid commitment, hard work and real-life experience; they pursue their passion and seek to unlock the doors behind which the passion of their students lies hidden with ultimate perseverance and sincerity.

It is because of teachers like them that a lot of people have found their voices, and their true callings. To Baron, Paige, Catherine, Walter and all the teachers who make unveiling the essence of their students the higher mission, I send love and light.

Egyptian Yoga instructor Riham Magdy with Catherine Njeri and Walter Mugbe from the Africa Yoga Project

Here is the promise Catherine and Walter made on the first day of the Baptiste Yoga Immersion Training, "Expand Your Powers"; the promise that kept us going through days that were most intense and eye opening, "You will discover for yourself what is holding you back from being your true and authentic self. You will embody the practices and techniques of Baptiste Yoga on and off your matt as a contribution to yourself and others. You will leave the program with the ability to teach a 90 minute Baptiste Power Vinyasa yoga class." They kept their promise, every bit of it.

7/12/2018 12:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[Initiative launched to promote date palm cultivation in North Sinai ]]>
Along the west cost of Al-Arish city and Bir El-Abd village, clusters of date palm dangling from the branches of palm trees can be frequently seen. North Sinai is considered Egypt’s top home-grown date palm markets.

Cultivation of date palm and processing it into commercial products has been a traditional profession inherited through generations; thus the call for new advanced methods was recently initiated by ministries of social solidarity and investment and international cooperation to upgrade the traditional industry.


Both ministries launched an initiative to develop date products industry in North Sinai. The project focuses on empowering young people and training them to use and invest in natural resources in their villages.

Sobeih el-Shafei, supervisor of the project, said in press remarks on Wednesday that the project offers training programs for villagers in North Sinai on the advanced methods of date palm cultivation, harvest, processing into commercial products and packing.

He added that the role of the project is to train women and young people to increase their income by taking up the popular craft; the project also helps them find local outlets for their products.

Women at afflicted Bir Al-Abd revive Bedouin-style woolen crafts

CAIRO - 8 February 2018: In spite of the difficult circumstances faced by the women living in Sinai, their quest for a positive change and a tangible impact on their societies is always clear cut.

Noura Ghonmi, a trainee, said she was trained to replace kernel of dates with peanuts and chickpeas, and to store them in suitable containers.

Meanwhile, another trainee, Amira Salman, added that she and 15 of her girl neighbors are regularly attending the new training, which is considered one of a kind.

“We are offered an opportunity to learn new ways of the production practices of the date palm present everywhere around us,” Salman added.

Egypt’s exports of dates rose by 32 percent in the first quarter of 2017, compared to the same period last year, amounting to 17,300 tons against 14,200 tons in 2016, Ministry of Industry and Trade stated.

7/11/2018 1:20:47 PM
<![CDATA[Digital TV channel launched to promote tourism in Egypt ]]>
The channel, considered to be the first of its kind in the Middle East, will be broadcasted through the official page of the Egyptian General Authority for Tourism Promotion.

Experience Egypt on Instagram: "An unbeatable journey underwater in #Egypt's Red Sea with South African Olympic Swimmer Calvyn Justus."

72 Likes, 6 Comments - Experience Egypt (@experienceegypt) on Instagram: "An unbeatable journey underwater in #Egypt's Red Sea with South African Olympic Swimmer Calvyn..."

According to a statement issued by the ministry on Tuesday, the channel will feature a host of documentaries on Egypt’s must-visit tourist attractions and cherished cultural heritage to be viewed by millions around the world.

“The Ministry of Tourism is currently looking into launching more promotional campaigns across the most influential and focused platforms to spread its scope across wider populace,” the statement added.

Egypt has been the FIFA’s official regional supporter of the 2018 FIFA World Cup RussiaTM, as per an agreement signed earlier between the Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation and the FIFA.

Signing the contract aims at promoting Egypt as a global investment destination that is capable of attracting more tourists and investments from all over the world.

In 2017, Egypt’s tourism revenues increased by 170 percent in the first seven months of 2017, reaching $3.5 billion, a government official told Reuters last month. In that period, tourists visiting Egypt increased by 54 percent year-on-year to reach 4.3 million.

The total revenues achieved in 2016 amounted to $2.7 billion.

Egypt’s tourism sector is one of the country’s main foreign currency earners, and it has been struggling after the political and economic turmoil following the January 25 Revolution in 2011. More than 14.7 million tourists visited Egypt in 2010, dropping to 9.8 million in 2011.

How Egyptian tourism bodes in 2017

CAIRO - 23 October 2017: The tourism sector has been receiving many positive views recently, though it is still performing well below potential and the peak figures of 2010, when 14 million tourists visited the country. Egypt's tourism revenues increased by 170 percent in the first seven months of 2017, reaching $3.5 billion, a government official told Reuters last month.

7/10/2018 5:05:21 PM
<![CDATA[Ethiopian Airlines to resume flights to Eritrea's Asmara next week]]>
Fana television reported the news on its Twitter feed.

The restoration of diplomatic ties and trade links was agreed on Monday after a historic day in Asmara of talks between the leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea.

The nations went to war in 1998 and cut ties then, but last month Ethiopia's new reformist prime minister offered an olive branch to Eritrea, kicking off a rapid rapprochement that has stunned the region and delighted many citizens in both states.]]>
7/9/2018 3:39:25 PM
<![CDATA[Paris’ iconic Hotel Lutetia reopens after 200 million-euro makeover]]>
The new-look hotel in the chic Saint-Germain-des-Pres neighborhood has retained its imposing art deco facade, lined with elegant wrought iron balconies overhung with carved stone grapevines. But the 200-million-euro ($235-million) makeover has allowed the hotel to spruce up its original frescos and stucco work, decking out the 184 rooms and suites in understated luxury.

A bartender prepares a drink at the bar of the newly-refurbished Lutetia Hotel in Paris.(AFP)

Hotel manager Jean-Luc Cousty said the goal was to create a contemporary hotel by enhancing everything that was historic. “The Lutetia has not lost its soul, and one of the big triumphs of architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte is that natural light has been brought in throughout,” he said.

The first guests are due to walk through its corridors — lined with dark eucalyptus wood — from Thursday. There is a softly lit 17-meter swimming pool, while the rooms feature discreet art-deco chandeliers and a lot of white marble: the baths were carved out of a 1.9 tonne block. While the brasserie will not reopen until autumn, guests can sip a cocktail in the Josephine bar, whose frescos, previously forgotten under layers of wallpaper and paint, have been restored after 17,000 hours of painstaking work.

Former refugee camp

Opened in 1910, the Lutetia owes its existence to its neighbour Bon Marche, one of the first department stores in the world. Marguerite Boucicaut, its owner, had the hotel built to provide accommodation for her wealthy customers travelling up to Paris from the provinces for shopping trips. Situated in the centre of the Left Bank, the heart of the French intellectual scene, it quickly became a hub of philosophical and artistic debate.

During the Nazi occupation of Paris, the hotel was requisitioned by German forces and used to host and entertain troops. Upon the liberation, wartime leader General Charles de Gaulle — who himself had honeymooned at the Lutetia — ordered the hotel to take in thousands of refugees. Post-war, it swiftly regained its reputation as a place to see and be seen, with artists like Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse haunting its hallways.

Valets stand at the main entrance of the newly-refurbished Lutetia Hotel in Paris. (AFP)

James Joyce famously wrote part of Ulysees there — with the help of editing suggestions from Ernest Hemingway — and the dancer Josephine Baker was also a regular. Currently a four-star hotel, the Lutetia has applied for a fifth — the next step before getting the “palace” label, which is currently held by 10 top Parisian hotels including the Bristol and Peninsula. “The Lutetia offers something different, it wouldn’t do any harm to the other palaces because its clientele is different,” said Christian Mantei, head of national tourism development agency Atout France.

A swimming-pool at the spa of the newly-refurbished Lutetia Hotel. (AFP)

Cousty said the Lutetia attracted hardly any of the ultra-rich Middle Eastern and Russian customers who prefer to stay in the ‘Golden Triangle’, an area near the Champs-Elysees boulevard on the other side of the river. While still out of reach for all but the wealthiest, he said the Lutetia was aiming for “more accessible” pricing than those rivals on the Right Bank, with an average price of 800 euros.

The ceiling of the entrance of the Lutetia Hotel. (AFP)

Bought in 2010 by Israeli group Alrov, the Lutetia is seeking to double its turnover — which stood at 30 million euros before the renovation works — within three or four years of reopening. At least the timing is good: after two years during which Paris was scarred by terror attacks, tourists returned to the French capital in record numbers in 2017, with 33.8 million hotel rooms booked.

7/8/2018 11:38:12 AM
<![CDATA[In pics: Why Pope Francis chose Bari to host prayer for Mideast peace?]]>
According to the President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Pope Francis chose Bari for this ecumenical prayer because it is described as a "window to the East," where relics of St. Nicholas, venerated by both Catholics and Orthodox, are preserved.

Bari is the largest and most important city of Apulia, Italy; known as one of the exit doors in Italy from which travelers leave on ferries to neighboring countries. The city’s authorities have been trying to raise their tourist status and awareness of the ancient town; the town has retained the ancient medieval plan and contains many historic buildings and sites.

There are many places to enjoy visiting in the city of Bari such as:

Church of St. Nicholas

One of the most famous landmarks of the old city is the Church of St. Nicholas, which has a wide religious significance throughout Europe and the Christian world, as well as the Church, is an important destination for all Christian pilgrims, whether Roman Catholics or Orthodox Christians from Eastern Europe. The church was built between 1087 and 1197. The establishment of the church is associated with the parishes of St. Nicholas that were stolen from the original shrine of the saint in Mira.

One of the most famous landmarks of the old city ( Bari), Italy is the Church of St. Nicholas- screen shot from You tube channel

Bari Cathedral

The Cathedral of Bari is the seat of the Archbishop of Bari-Bitonto in Apulia; it is dedicated to Saint Sabinus. The cathedral, which was built on the ruins of the Imperial Byzantine between the late 12th and late 13th centuries, is older the Church of St. Nicholas but it is less famous than it.

The Cathedral of Bari is the seat of the Archbishop of Bari-Bitonto in Apulia; it is dedicated to Saint Sabinus. - Screen shot from you tube channel

Castello Normanno-Svevo

The Castello Svevo is a castle in the city of Bari built around 1132 by the Norman king Roger II; currently, it is used as an exhibition. It was destroyed in 1156 by King William I of Sicily and rebuilt and fortified in 1233 by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II.

The Castello Svevo is a castle in the city of Bari built around 1132 by the Norman king Roger II - Screen shot from you tube channel

Teatro Petruzzelli

Teatro Petruzzelli is the largest theater in the city of Bari and the fourth largest theater in Italy; the building has an amazing history. It was completed in the early 19th century, and its first production was Hogeonuts in 1903. Many international celebrities have been inside it, including Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, and Lisa Minelli. The theater was completely destroyed by fire in 1991 and rebuilt in 2008.

Teatro Petruzzelli is the largest theater in the city of Bari and the fourth largest theater in Italy - Screen shot from You tube channel

Stadio San Nicola

San Nicola Stadium is a multi-use stadium designed by Renzo Piano in Bari, and is currently used mostly for football matches; the stadium is build in the shape of a flower in 1990 for the 1990 FIFA World Cup; it also hosted the 1991 European Cup Final. The stadium holds 58,248 people.

San Nicola Stadium is a multi-use stadium designed by Renzo Piano in Bari - Screen shot from you tube channel

Old city

The old city of Bari is characterized by its narrow streets and is home to many churches and shrines hidden between its walls, as well as the old model houses. It is easy to get lost within but because of the small area, the exit can be easily found.

The old city of Bari is characterized by its narrow streets and is home to many churches - Screen shot from You tube channel
7/7/2018 5:45:27 PM
<![CDATA[Igor the Eagle: Moscow zoo honors Russia's star goalkeeper]]>
This particular Igor Akinfeev is a steppe eagle, which in the wild ranges from eastern Europe to Mongolia.

World Cup mania has overtaken the host country after the surprise success of the national side which has reached the last eight despite being the lowest ranked team in the tournament.

“We are proud of the achievements of our football team,” said Svetlana Akulova, the zoo’s general director. “Their victory over Spain has stirred the whole country and united the hearts of millions.”

Wild, late-night partying broke out in Moscow after Sunday’s 4-3 penalty shootout win, in which Akinfeev saved two penalties. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov compared the festivities with celebrations at the end of World War Two.

“Moscow zoo could not remain on the sidelines of such a magnificent event. Therefore we have decided to name our steppe eagle which hatched over a month ago in honor of Igor Akinfeev,” Akulova said.

Russia plays Croatia in the quarter final on Saturday in Sochi.]]>
7/6/2018 4:19:40 PM
<![CDATA[Pope Tawadros II marks Holy Family Journey at Virgin Mary Church]]>
The national anthem was played and documentaries featuring the Holy Family Journey in Egypt were displayed.

The event was attended by the ministers of antiquities, tourism, and culture and a raft of officials, statesmen as well as ambassadors.

In his speech, Pope Tawadros II said the Holy Family settled at the location where the Virgin Mary Monastery and church were later built by the Nile, before they continued their journey in Upper Egypt passing by Assiut and Minya.

Pope Tawadros II stressed that Egypt is beautiful for its people and monuments, praising the concert and the documentary film presented by the church.

"This is a purely Egyptian celebration, which shows the richness of the country’s history, nature and culture," he said, expressing his happiness at raising awareness among Egyptians about the journey of the Holy Family.

Minister of Tourism, Rania al-Mashaat, delivered a speech on behalf of PM Moustafa Madbouli who currently participate in the the 33rd ordinary session of African Union summit in Mauritania. Al-Mashaat pointed out that this celebration confirms that Egypt is the land of peace and it will always open its arms to all visitors just as it hosted the Holy Family in the past.

Al-Mashaat thanked all the associations and civil society organizations that support such celebrations which affirm the unity of the Egyptian people.

The Tourism Ministry has devised a program to encourage tourists to visit the country to see a unique artistic rendition of the religious story and to trace the journey’s trail that covers many Egyptian cities that Virgin Mary, Jesus and Joseph had visited while fleeing King Herod’s persecution in Palestine.

On October 4, Pope Francis of Rome organized a special event for a high-level Egyptian delegation led by Tourism Minister Yahya Rashid to promote a


in the footsteps of the Holy Family Journey in Egypt.

The Flight into Egypt, as mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew, is a biblical event that marks when an angel appeared to St. Joseph in a dream to advise him into fleeing to Egypt with Mary and infant Jesus; the event itself holds a unique iconic representation.

The Holy Family came from Palestine to Egypt via the Arish road and arrived in Old Egypt, and then they moved to Upper Egypt. They hid there for a while and then returned to the north, passing through the Natroun Valley, and then continued their way back through Sinai to Palestine.

Egypt has received two groups of pilgrims from Italy during June who came to visit the path of the Holy Family Journey in Egypt, according to Egyptian Ambassador to Rome, Hisham Badr.

The tours took place under the auspices of the Egyptian Embassy in Rome, in cooperation with the Ministry of Tourism. The delegations visited three monasteries in Wadi El Natrun and some of the oldest Coptic Churches such as the Hanging Church, Abu Serga Church and Vigin Mary Church in Maadi; the trip also included visiting the Giza pyramids and the Egyptian Museum.

Earlier in June, Minister of Culture Inas Abdel Dayem inaugurated the permanent Egyptian exhibition in the Pope’s palace in Viterbo, the first residence for the Catholic Church’s popes 200 years before being moved to the Vatican headquarter. This exhibition was set to include ancient Egyptian and Coptic artifacts.





7/2/2018 2:58:01 AM
<![CDATA[Japan Christian sites added to UNESCO World Heritage list]]>
The 12 sites include 10 villages, Hara Castle and Oura Cathedral, a Catholic church in Nagasaki that is dedicated to 26 Christians who were executed for their beliefs over four centuries ago.

The decision was announced in the Bahraini capital Manama. In a press statement UNESCO said that the 12 sites "bear unique testimony to a cultural tradition nurtured by hidden Christians in the Nagasaki region who secretly transmitted their faith".

Christianity in Japan dates back to 1549, when European Jesuit missionary Francis Xavier arrived in the country with two companions and the religion began spreading in western Japan.

As more missionaries arrived and the faith spread, Japanese military leaders became increasingly suspicious of its growing influence and a crackdown against Christians began from 1589.

The Christians commemorated at Oura -- 20 Japanese and six foreigners -- were executed in Nagasaki in 1597 as the persecution intensified.

For Japanese converts, hiding their religion became a matter of life and death for the next 250 years, with Christianity banned and Japan closed to the outside world.

As they practised their faith but tried to blend in, the Christians created a blended religion that incorporated elements of Buddhism.

It wasn't until 1865 that these "hidden Christians" or Kakure Kirishtan became known outside of their communities.

A group of nervous peasants approached a French priest at Oura Cathedral and one woman whispered "our hearts are the same as yours", prompting the discovery of what turned out to be tens of thousands of Japanese Christians who had kept their faith a secret.

Gothic-style Oura, which was built in 1864 by French priests and was known by locals as the "French temple," is the oldest Christian-related building in Japan.

It was designated a national treasure by the government in 1933, but was partly damaged by the atomic bomb dropped by the US on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945, three days after the bombing of Hiroshima.

The other sites added to the list include Sakitsu village in Amakusa, in southwestern Kumamoto, where Christians practiced their faith in secret in the Edo period.

The martyrdom of hidden Catholics and Jesuit missionaries in Japan in the 17th century was the subject of the 2016 Hollywood film "Silence", directed by Martin Scorsese.]]>
7/1/2018 2:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[Saudi Arabia, Oman sites added to UNESCO World Heritage List]]>
Authorities in Riyadh, as well as Muscat, have put tourism high on their economic agendas as Gulf states look to diversify their oil-dependent economies.

Saudi Arabia's lush Al-Ahsa oasis is dotted with yet-to-be-excavated archeological sites, and carries traces of human occupation dating back to Neolithic times.

Al-Ahsa "was a commercial centre for the Hajar territory of Bahrain," reads the Saudi submission to UNESCO.

"Archaeological evidence shows that it exchanged products from southern Arabia and Persia as well as throughout the Arabian Peninsula."

Riyadh's tourism drive, backed by reformist young Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has not shied from highlighting pre-Islamic heritage in the conservative Muslim kingdom.

Oman's Qalhat also dates back to pre-Islamic times.

The port city on Oman's Indian Ocean coast was once a key hub for trade in goods including Arabian horses to Chinese porcelain, according to the Omani submission.

The case of Qalhat also demonstrates the power women could hold in Arabian society at the time.

"In the 13th century ... the governor Ayaz split his presence between Hormuz and Qalhat, which in his absence was ruled by his wife Maryam," the submission reads.

"She, Bibi Maryam, is said to have built the Great Friday Mosque and a mausoleum for her late husband. She continued ruling after her husband's death until at least 1319."

The World Heritage designation is a prestigious one for the Gulf states, looking to make their mark as culturally rich, safe tourist destinations.

The UNESCO gathering in neighbouring Bahrain however comes at a sensitive time for the world body as it scrambles for funding following Washington's withdrawal last year.

US President Donald Trump's administration pulled out of UNESCO citing its continuing "anti-Israel bias", six years after the organisation allowed the Palestinians to join.

Israel's ambassador to UNESCO said Tuesday he was urging his government to reconsider its decision to quit the body, saying it had halted its "anti-Israeli resolutions" over the past year.]]>
6/30/2018 11:11:51 AM
<![CDATA[Marsa Alam attracts tourists from all over the world]]>
German, Polish and Czech citizens in Marsa Alam - Egypt Today/Emad Arafa

Marsa Alam witnessed different proportions of tourists, where the rate of international tourism was still higher than that of domestic tourism. The city attracted a large number of tourists from several countries; German tourists came in the first place, followed by the Polish and Czech citizens.

Tourists diving in Marsa Alam with sea creatures - Egypt Today/Emad Arafa.

Abul Haggag el-Ammari, an international tourism expert, believes that the city of Marsa Alam always attracts tourists who love nature and seek tranquility.

German, Polish and Czech citizens in Marsa Alam - Egypt Today/Emad Arafa.

He added in remarks to Egypt Today that the city is currently hosting a large number of tourists from five different countries.

"There is a large number of tourists in Marsa Alam who do not spend their holidays in hotels, but prefer to spend it on a yacht to enjoy diving, swimming and watching sea creatures," he continued.

Marsa Alam, Red Sea Governorate - Egypt Today/Emad Arafa

He called on the owners and managers of hotels and resorts to agree on a fixed price for hotel rooms. He explained that a number of hotels reduced their prices which led to problems with tourism companies regarding the sale of touristic nights.

Ammari explained that a tourist comes to Marsa Alam to enjoy his holiday in the magical city, stressing that the tourist who loves the beaches of Marsa Alam will reach it no matter what the prices are.

Marsa Alam, Red Sea Governorate - Egypt Today/Emad Arafa

Ahmed Ghalab, director general of the Red Sea Protected Areas, said that Red Sea beaches differ from any other beaches in the world, "thanks to the high mountains in Marsa Alam, the floods which send its water to the sea and form several bays and ponds, and the soil that is washed away by the torrential waters of the sea, feeding rare marine animals."

"Marsa Alam possesses unique charm as it comprises Wadi El Gamal National Park and its beaches are considered to be among the best beaches in the world. Marsa Alam's tourists come from different cultural backgrounds; they all love knowledge and discovery," Ghalab added.

Hurghada Beach – Reuters

He stressed that Wadi El-Gamal National Park is the only protected area to be entered by a fee. He confirmed that during the days of Eid it was visited by 2,100 Egyptians.

Ghalab explained that the beaches of Marsa Alam contain a Gulf called Marsa Mubarak, which is one of the richest and most beautiful gulfs on the Red Sea coast. It is characterized by biodiversity and is a perfect place for tourists who wish to dive with sea turtles.

Green sea turtle near Marsa Alam.

Ghalab added to Egypt Today that the Gulf of Marsa Mubarak has been housing rare animal species for hundreds of years. The director general of the Red Sea Protected Areas noted that the coral reefs of Marsa Mubarak are diverse. The Gulf's bottom consists of sandy soil covered by a wide layer of sea grass, nourishing Dugong, a medium sized marine mammal. There are also small sandy hills in the Gulf, which have grown because of desert drifting to shore.

Director of Sales and Marketing in one of the hotels in Marsa Alam, Karam Badra, declared that a few days ago a Saudi tourist delegation visited the city to spend the Eid holiday. Badra added that more than 40 families arrived in Marsa Alam and admired its beauty, stressing that the city attracts tourists from different nationalities, including nationalities that have not visited Egypt before.

6/29/2018 12:54:17 PM
<![CDATA[Kenya relocates endangered black rhinos to more secure habitat]]>
Eight rhinos from a national park in the capital Nairobi and six from a wildlife reserve in the Rift Valley will be moved to Tsavo East National Park rhino sanctuary in the southeast near the coast, Tourism Minister Najib Balala said on Tuesday as the move started.

Poaching has risen in recent years across sub-Saharan Africa where well-armed criminal gangs have killed elephants for tusks and rhinos for horns. Often the animal parts are shipped to Asia for use in ornaments and medicines.

“We are working on improving our surveillance using technology because also humans can be a factor in poaching and also in negligence,” Balala said.

“So we are not concentrating on increasing the numbers, we are concentrating on using technology to manage wildlife, both inside and outside the national parks.”

Kenya had a rhino population of 1,258 in 2017 of which 745 are black rhinos, 510 southern white rhinos and three were northern white rhinos, according to KWS, having grown from less than 400 rhinos in the 1980s.

The black rhino is a critically endangered species while the white rhino is near threatened. Last month, three black rhinos were killed in Kenya’s Meru National Park.

Balala said authorities have reduced the number of black rhinos at Nairobi National Park from the current 101 as its capacity cannot hold many rhinos. The government will maintain 70 at Nakuru national park in the Rift Valley.

“That’s why we have created a new sanctuary in Tsavo,” he said. “Tsavo national park is huge. It’s almost 19,000 square kilometres. That sanctuary is big so we will slowly be relocating more rhinos in that area,” he said.]]>
6/28/2018 10:26:22 AM
<![CDATA[‘Youth Love Egypt’ raises awareness on Fayoum reserves]]>
This awareness campaign comes after Youth Love Egypt Foundation signed a protocol of cooperation with the Egyptian-Italian cooperation project and the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency to document, photograph, monitor and raise awareness within Fayoum reserves. The protocol lasts for one year and started September 25, 2017.

Youth Love Egypt devoted their efforts by providing their members for four days every week, between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., to work and volunteer within the protected areas to teach visitors about how to preserve them, as well as about their history and all information visitors might be looking for. Between these hours, to raise awareness and spread positive habits, the foundation met visitors on the buses and talked to them about the importance of preserving the reserve and how they can safely enjoy their time there, warning them of the dangers that could arise from jumping into the waterfalls and of the very real possibility of drowning.

WhatsApp Image 2018-06-27 at 6.23.20 PM (1)
The role of Youth Loves Egypt is providing its awareness and education with regard to environmental issues, and nature reserves in particular. - Press Photo

After 1 p.m. and until the end of the day, the team would then conduct awareness campaign within the reserve.

Furthermore, the team also spread awareness about how they can keep the reserve clean and minimize their footprint on the location. They also provided garbage baskets in appropriate locations to prevent the spread of garbage and environmental violations, which negatively affects the reserve, in addition to raising the efficiency of health facilities and toilets.

They also advised those riding small boats to ensure that they keep to safety regulations, including keeping to the advised number of passengers in the boat.

The team also directed motorists and street sellers to comply with the places allocated to them.

WhatsApp Image 2018-06-27 at 6.23.19 PM (2)
The awareness campaign meeting visitors on buses. - Press Photo

The Foundation advised through a recommendation brief submitted to the Ministry of Environment and the Egyptian-Italian cooperation project of the need to have a boat with a rescue team with the necessary equipment to ensure the safety of visitors, and to identify places for visitors to stand and prevent their presence in dangerous areas.

The efforts of the organization really paid off, whereby they saw real results and change in front of their eyes. For example, the efforts of the organization led the so-called ‘color war’, which was typically carried out in the reserve as a recreational activity and directly harms the environment and the natural reserve, to stop.

The Youth Foundation in Egypt thanked the EEAA, the Natural Reserves Sector, the Fayoum Reserves Administration and the Egyptian-Italian cooperation project for their continued cooperation of the Protocol's success.

WhatsApp Image 2018-06-27 at 6.23.18 PM (1)
The awareness campaign was carried out in Wadi El-Rayyan and Qaroun Lake in Fayoum. - Press Photo

This comes as part of the role of civil society organizations in the government's involvement in awareness-raising and development in all different sectors.

The role of Youth Loves Egypt is providing its awareness and education with regard to environmental issues, and nature reserves in particular.

“According to the protocol, the ministry is concerned with the provision of environmental researchers and transfers within the reserve,” said Ahmed Fathi, president of Youth Love Egypt, which is concerned with designing and printing awareness-raising brochures on conservation literature.

Youth Love Egypt are interested in devoting their efforts by providing their members for four days every week to work and volunteer within the protected areas to teach visitors about how to preserve them, as well as about their history and all information visitors might be looking for.

WhatsApp Image 2018-06-27 at 6.23.20 PM
The campaign has been going on for nine months. - Press Photo
6/27/2018 7:35:28 PM
<![CDATA[1st group of Italian pilgrims end their journey in Egypt]]>
“This is the first Italian group of pilgrims to visit Egypt,” Badr said.

He further affirmed that the tour takes place under the auspices of the Egyptian Embassy in Rome, in cooperation with the Ministry of Tourism. The delegation visited three monasteries in Wadi El Natrun and some of the oldest Coptic Churches such as the Hanging Church, Abu Serga Church and Vigin Mary Church in Maadi; the trip also included visiting the Giza pyramids and the Egyptian Museum.

Badr pointed out that head of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church Pope, Tawadros II, expressed his happiness with the efforts of the political leadership and the Ministry of Tourism to adopt the Holy Family’s journey program, which has enhanced Italian tourism to the country.

Italian news agency, Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata (ANSA) and Italian newspaper, Il Messaggero both covered this visit which reflected Egypt’s cultural diversity and civilization.

Badr announced that the embassy has launched a series of cooperation initiatives with the ministries of tourism, culture and antiquities so as to promote the trail of the Holy family program in Italy.

Earlier in June, Minister of Culture Inas Abdel Dayem inaugurated the permanent Egyptian exhibition in the Pope’s palace in Viterbo, the first residence for the Catholic Church’s popes 200 years before being moved to the Vatican headquarter. This exhibition was set to include ancient Egyptian and Coptic artifacts.

6/27/2018 6:54:22 PM
<![CDATA[10 Places to Go in North Coast]]>
Also, this summer destination is featured by its charming white sand beaches, and pure water. Moreover, it is considered one of the best destinations for those who would like to relax in front of the sea and looking for a peace of mind away from the hustling and bustling city. Most of expats and Arabs prefer to stay at hotels in North Coast as they are fancy, spacious, and include all the amenities that anyone could ask for while local citizens prefer to look for rental properties in elegant resorts and touristic villages.

North Coast includes a variety of villages that differ in location, properties, and facilities which in fact enable people to enjoy life according to their own lifestyle. This beautiful summer destination includes all the facilities and amenities anyone could ask for ranging from private beaches, golf-courses, swimming pools to supermarkets, commercial shops, restaurants, and cafes. Generally,

apartments for rent

are considered the most popular property type in North Coast due to their diversified spaces and prices.

Thus, it suits tenants’ different needs and desires. In the following paragraphs, we will showcase the best resorts in North Coast in terms of location, prices, facilities and amenities according to


- Egypt’s number 1 online real-estate portal.

Where to go in North Coast?

Most Elegant and Sophisticated Resorts in North Coast:


Chalet Garden In Amwaj North Coast – File photo

Location: located in KM 136, Alex Matrouh Desert Rd, Sidi Abdel Rahman. It is a convenient location, lying between Marina and Hacienda. It is also 135 km from Alexandria and 155 km from Marsa Matrouh airport which in fact makes it close to all hotspots and trendy destinations in North Coast.

Price for rentals: ranges from 1500 - 2000 EGP.

Facilities: 5 star hotels, sports area, clubhouse, kids club, swimming pools, splash activity pool, supermarkets, Breeze Beach House, recreational area, supermarkets, pharmacy, security, facility management, mosque, interactive fountain, aqua kids, ladies beach & pool, retail and commercial in addition to restaurants and cafes.


Marassi - File photo

Location: located in KM 125, North Coast, Sidi Abdel Rahman.

Price for rentals: ranges from 1000 – 1200 EGP.

Facilities and amenities: it is set to become the first upscale international destination in North Coast. It includes swimming pools, 5-star hotel, clubs, healthcare complex, retail shops, beauty salon, golf course, beach clubhouse, restaurants, and cafes.

Hacienda Bay

Hacienda Bay - File photo

Location: located in KM 200, North Coast, Sidi Abdel Rahman.

Price for rentals: ranges from 1500 – 2000 EGP.

Facilities: golf course, private swimming pools, roofed parking, parks, recreational facilities, clubhouses, top-class beauty salons, and commercial shops.

La Vista

La Vista - photo via Youtube

Location: located in KM 170 of the Alexandria-Matrouh Road and could be easily reachable through the New Fouka Road.

Price for rentals: ranges from 2.500 – 3000 EGP.

Facilities: beach pools, clubhouse, women’s pool, cascading falls, sea-side open-air gyms, supermarket, sports facilities, restaurants and cafes in addition to entertainment and commercial venues on the beach.


Telal, North Coast – File photo

Location: KM 129 of the Alexandria-Matrouh Road.

Price for rentals: ranges from 2500 – 3000 EGP.

Facilities: swimming pools, equipped medical center, retail shops, restaurants, and cafes.


Marina, North Coast – File photo

Location: from KM 94 – KM 111 of the Alexandria Matrouh Road, El-Alamein.

Price for rent: ranges from 1.500 – 2000 EGP.

Facilities: private beaches, Aqua Park, entertainment city, swimming pools, hotel, yacht club, commercial center, gym, the billiard hall in addition to restaurants and cafes.

Porto Marina

Location: it is one of the most important hotels in Marina.

Price for rent: starts from 900 EGP.

Golf Porto Marina

Golf Porto Marina, North Coast - File photo

Location: KM 110 of the Alexandria Matrouh Road, in from of Marina 7.

Price for rent: ranges from 1.000 – 1.200 EGP.

Facilities: what features this resort is that it contains the first 18-hole golf course in North Coast in addition to lush landscaping, Marina, swimming pools, wreck diving, watersports, go-kart, gym, health club, horse riding. It also includes basketball, volleyball, and tennis courts.


Marseilia, North Coast - File photo

Location: KM 69 of the Alexandria-Matrouh Road.

Price for rent: 900 EGP.

Facilities: 5 swimming pools, 2 aqua parks, kids’ area, hotel, supermarket, medical center, commercial mall, and security.


Location: KM 70 of the Alexandria-Matrouh Road.

Price for rent: 800 EGP.

Facilities:8 swimming pools, mosque, cafeterias, cinema, and in an integrated commercial market.

Finally, North Coast will remain the top leisure destination in Egypt as many residential and investment projects are developed every now and then which in fact influenced the real-estate market there. It is a destination where your satisfaction, happiness, and entertainment are guaranteed.

6/26/2018 12:51:58 AM
<![CDATA[German delegation concludes security review at Hurghada Airport ]]>
The delegation wraps up its inspection on Sunday, after checking the airport’s departure and arrival terminals as well as flight safety procedures, officials at the Cairo International Airport told Egypt Today on Sunday.

The German experts' team affirmed that Egypt is applying maximum safety standards to secure travelers and baggage.

Furthermore, Hurghada Airport Authority welcomed any security committees from aviation and transport ministries to follow the security procedures, according to a source at the airport.

In September 2017, German company FTI increased its flights to Egypt to 144 instead of 70 flights, according to Chief Executive Officer of Meeting Point firm, Roula Jouny.

The number of flights to Sharm El-Sheikh, Hurghada and Marsa Alam are witnessing a notable increase, reaching 10 flights, 102 flights and 26 flights per week, respectively, in the coming season.

The Egyptian stability, on both the political and security levels, led to an increasing flow of tourism from Germany, Switzerland, France, and Austria.

The international travel agency Thomas Cook announced that the number of English tourists booking to visit all cities of Egypt increased; except for Sharm El-Sheikh, due to the ban imposed by the British government after the crash of the Russian plane in October 2015.

Egyptian tourism faced a couple of setbacks over the past period; one of which was the Russian airplane incident in October 2015. Since then, Egypt has recovered gracefully and is back on the right track. ]]>
6/25/2018 12:22:53 PM
<![CDATA[China's Hainan says will partly lift 'Great Firewall' to lure foreign tourists]]>
The island province known as China’s Hawaii because of its balmy climate and resort-lined coastline, will create a special “gathering zone” for foreign tourists where they can access such sites. Hainan’s provincial government detailed the plan on its website on Thursday.

The move would mark a rare departure from China’s long-held stance on the internet, where many foreign websites are banned in the name of maintaining social stability, a restriction dubbed by netizens as the “Great Firewall”.

The plan though quickly faced some criticism on Chinese social media.

“Are we establishing the ‘one country, two system’ policy in Mainland China now?” said Wu Ran, a user on China’s microblogging site Weibo.

Another Weibo user, who uses the handle “late night cat” said: “This is an entirely blatant, contemptible, imprudent, low behavior of reverse racism. This is garbage!”


China said in April it aimed to make Hainan an international free trade zone by 2020, an announcement that precipitated a short-lived property boom on the island.

Under the plan revealed on Thursday, Hainan said it aims to increase visitor numbers by 25 percent annually to at least 2 million by 2020 and will promote tourism through advertising on foreign broadcasters such as BBC and CNN.

It said it would boost subsidies to increase the number of international direct flight routes to and from Hainan to 100 by 2020 and would abolish restrictions on foreign investment in air, rail and waterway transport.

The island will also ensure credit and debit cards issued by foreign card companies Visa and MasterCard are accepted at major tourist sites, hotels and shops by 2019, it said.

The latest Hainan government plan did not mention gambling or casinos. Media reports had said that China was considering allowing sports betting or a lottery on Hainan in a move that could open the door to physical casinos.]]>
6/24/2018 3:28:24 PM
<![CDATA[Nadia Abdo welcomes Vatican delegation]]>
The delegation came as part of the program of the Holy Family trip, which is implemented by the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism in cooperation with the Vatican.

Abdo assured the intensification of the executive bodies in the governorate to welcome the tourist delegation in Wadi El Natrun. She also announced the pumping of more than LE 20 million from the resources of the governorate to raise the efficiency of the facilities in Wadi El Natrun, according to the preparations made by the governorate in cooperation with all the concerned authorities to develop the archeological area of Wadi El Natrun, such as providing them with vital facilities and various services.

Governor Nadia Abdo welcomes Vatican delegation - Egypt TodayNasser Gouda - Press Photo

Over the past several decades the relationship between Egypt and the Vatican has experienced numerous transformations. On May 10, 1973, the late Pope Shenouda III signed a historic Christological declaration alongside Pope Paul VI in the Vatican, after years of accumulated discord.

Then in the new millennium, Pope John Paul II visited Egypt in an unprecedented pilgrimage. The Pope praised Egypt as a cradle of learning, religion and unity as he embarked on a journey to retrace epic passages from the Bible.

In 2017, Pope Tawadros II, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark, received the Minister of Tourism Yahya Rashid along with a delegation of Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi (ORP), which is responsible for pilgrimages to the Vatican. The delegation was chaired by the head of ORP, Monsignor Remo Chiavarini.

Pope Tawadros underscored the support and efforts exerted by the Ministry of Tourism to revive the Holy Family's journey which was blessed by the Vatican and Pope Francis.
Pope Tawadros stressed the good relations between the Catholic Church in the Vatican and the Egyptian Coptic Church.

Nadia Abdo welcomes Vatican delegation - Egypt TodayNasser Gouda and Gamal Abu Al Fadl
6/23/2018 1:06:37 PM
<![CDATA[Tourists from Greece, Cyprus, Italy set to visit Alexandria ]]>
In a press release issued on Friday, Al-Manstrali called for dedicating special beaches for tourists in Alexandria to meet their needs and privacy, which will give an opportunity for activating beach tourism along with traditional and cultural tourism.

He stressed that hotel rooms will be doubled in the upcoming period and the Alexandria Borg El Arab Airport will be expanded to be able to take in 4 million passengers by 2022.
In this regard, he praised the efforts exerted by Alexandria’s Governor Mohamed Sultan and Ahmed Hijazi, head of the Central Administration of Tourism and Resorts, to maintain Alexandria’s beaches and improve its infrastructure in preparation for the summer vacation.

He added that although Eid al-Fitr’s holiday has ended, the current occupancy rate of hotels exceeded 90 percent at the beginning of the holiday.

Alexandria is popular for its beaches, sea and weather, but it is also considered by many to be a spectacular destination for cultural and religious tourism.

1 – Abu al-Abbas al-Mursi Mosque:
One of the oldest mosques in Alexandria. It is popular for its unique domes and Islamic architecture, attracting tourists from all over the world.

This mosque was the center of many religious events, like the mawlid (birth celebration) of Abu al-Abbas al-Mursi, during which guests, especially Sufi Muslims, came to participate in “Dhikr” (remembrance) circles. Abu al-Abbas al-Mursi Mosque, the center of formal religious events, is under the purview of the Ministry of Religious Endowments and operates under the presence of government officials.

2- Citadel of Qaitbay in Alexandria
Built in western Alexandria during the 14th century to defend the city from the advancing Ottoman Empire, the largest stone of the citadel forms the doorway of its entrance and is decorated with red granite.

Over time, the Citadel of Qaitbay served many military functions. Today, it houses a naval museum that makes the citadel worth visiting.

The citadel is surrounded by a peninsula that is always crowded with locals and tourists enjoying the sea view, restaurants and shops on the pier.

Bibliotheca Alexandrina

Bibliotheca Alexandrina is one of the oldest libraries in the world. It was built 23 centuries ago, and it contained more than 700,000 volumes and manuscripts until they were burnt.

Currently, it contains more than 8 million books, six specialized libraries, three museums, seven research centers and six halls for cultural and artistic events.]]>
6/22/2018 6:10:43 PM
<![CDATA[Greeks recall their childhood memories in Egypt]]>
A lot of Greeks and Cypriots lived in Egypt for decades; however, for several political, economic and social reasons, they left the country and headed back to their homes by the end of the 1970s. The impact that Greeks left in Cairo and Alexandria, in particular, is still noticeable through the buildings, architecture, famous stores, music, cinema, literature and unforgettable memories.

Egypt Today interviewed two of the Greeks who managed to stay in Egypt during the past decade and chose not to travel back to their homes even after the end of all European wars.

Khawaja Philip - et

Khawaja Philip (as called by Egyptian friends) said that he was among the first Europeans who got the Egyptian nationality shortly after arriving in the country. “I remember everything about this period. During the war, Greece was going through an economic crisis that forced many of the nationals to flee the country searching for better opportunities. About 400,000 Greeks left the country then, including me and my father,” Philip recounted.

“I’m proud that I’ve lived my whole life in this country and I will never leave it until I die. When everyone left during former President Gamal Abdel Nasser's era, I refused to leave, and I never will. My whole life, friends and family are here,” Philip added.

Roxana is another Greek who refused to leave Egypt when everyone else did. “I was named after Alexander the Great’s wife. When I grew older I loved it even more, because it reminds me of Alexandria’s history; my beloved city, and where I lived my whole life,” She said.

Roxana - et

Like Philip, Roxana was born along with her sister in Alexandria, Egypt, after her mother’s arrival. “Now we go to Greece as tourists, we spend a couple of weeks and come back to Egypt,” She said.

Roxana described Egyptians as “Kind and different”, adding that she and her family have real good ties and relations with everyone, and that she doesn’t feel like a stranger or a foreigner in the country. “I even cook Egyptian food more and better than any other kind,” Roxana added.

Last May, Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos inaugurated the Roots Revival Week in Alexandria city, with the participation of both the Greek and Cypriot communities in Egypt.

It was considered to be the first initiative of its kind, which aims to recall the memories and heritage of Egypt, Greece and Cyprus. According to Egypt’s Minister of Immigration Nabila Makram, this program aimed to salute everyone who once lived in Egypt and left a positive impact and human heritage that still lasts until now. “Everyone was always welcomed to come and live in Egypt and they still are,” Makram said in statements to media outlets.

Greeks, Cypriots revive roots in Egypt

CAIRO - 30 April 2018: Egypt, Greece and have historical relations that have been documented in music, cinema and literature for several decades. For a whole week, starting Monday, under the title "Roots Revival Week", the three countries are going to recall their memories through several events.

The communities’ members visited several historical and important places around Egypt, including Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Ras Al Tin Marine Base, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, the Greek Cemeteries, Alexandria National Museum, Cavafy Museum, the Monastery of St. Sava and the Arab Academy for Science and Technology in Alexandria. They also headed to Cairo and Giza to visit the Pyramids, and to Sharm El-Sheikh to visit the monastery of St. Catherine.

Sisi, Greek, Cypriot counterparts launch Revival of Hellenism in Egypt initiative

CAIRO - 30 April 2018: President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi and his Greek and Cypriot counterparts, Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Nicos Anastasiades respectively, have inaugurated the Week of Revival of Hellenism in Egypt during a celebration in Alexandria on Monday. The celebration is presented by both of the Greek and Cypriot communities in Egypt, along with several officials and celebrities.

6/22/2018 12:54:49 PM
<![CDATA[195 million tourists likely to visit Arab region by 2030 - official]]>
In a statement, Fuhaid underlined the importance of developing the tourism industry in Arab countries as it plays a vital role in promoting Arab economies.

He expected tourism influx this summer to increase by 10 to 15 percent compared to the last season.

Meanwhile, Fuhaid said the organization will take part in the 22nd meeting of the executive office of the Arab Ministerial Tourism Council to take place at the headquarters of the Arab league in Cairo on June 24-25.

The executive office includes Jordan, Tunisia, Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco, Iraq, Libya in addition to the Arab Tourism Organization, the World Tourism Organization, the Arab union of tourism writers and the Arab Civil Aviation Commission. ]]>
6/21/2018 4:06:08 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt organizes first skydiving event at Giza Plateau on Saturday]]>
President of the sport parachuting federation, Abd El Moein Hassan said that "Jump Like A Pharaoh – Vol.1" skydiving event will be held during the period June 23-25, at the foot of Khafre's Pyramid.

The parachuting federation was established in 1988, and is currently seeking to promote its sport in Egypt and upgrade the skills of people practicing it, Hassan said.

The federation is also carrying out its national role in promoting the Egyptian tourism, Hassan added.

Against a perfect backdrop provided by the Giza Plateau, the federation is sending a message of peace from Egypt to the world through organizing this festival, in which more than 60 skydivers from 19 countries worldwide are taking part to assert that Egypt will be always safe and welcoming.

He thanked all competent bodies that offered unprecedented support to the federation to host this event.

Skydivers participating in the festival will fly for "15 K " feet over the Giza Plateau, which houses the Great Pyramid, the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and the only one that is still in existence.

The Giza Plateau, located in the Western Desert on the outskirts of Cairo, is a complex of ancient monuments which includes the three pyramid complexes known as the "Great Pyramids", the massive sculpture of the Great Sphinx, several cemeteries, a workers' village and an industrial complex all dating back to the Pharaonic era. ]]>
6/21/2018 1:51:39 PM
<![CDATA[North Korean airline plans new route to China's Xian]]>
An Air Koryo representative told AFP "there is a plan" for flights to the central Chinese city, a major tourist destination famous for its ancient Terracotta Warriors.

But the staffer said he "did not know" whether the route would begin in July, as reported by the Xian Evening News daily, which cited Shaanxi Province's official tourism board.

With the launch of the new route, Xian is set to become the fifth Chinese city with a direct flight to Pyongyang after Beijing, Shenyang, Shanghai and Chengdu, according to the newspaper.

"The opening of this route will make it more convenient and efficient to travel from Xian to Pyongyang and furthermore satisfy the enthusiasm of Xian citizens travelling to Pyongyang," the daily said.

"The market reacted strongly when Xian successfully opened a charter flight from Xian to Pyongyang around 2010."

The report came a day after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un concluded a two-day visit to Beijing, the country's sole major ally, the week after his historic summit with US President Donald Trump in Singapore.

North Korea has been hit by a raft of UN sanctions over its nuclear and missile tests, but the US has offered relief from the punitive measures if its gives up its arsenal.

China is by far the biggest source of tourists for the North, with direct flights and a long land border connecting the neighbours, and tens of thousands believed to visit every year.

China's state-owned carrier Air China resumed flights to the North Korean capital in June after a suspension of over six months.]]>
6/21/2018 12:39:44 PM
<![CDATA[Video: A village where people 'love' to sit on crocodiles]]>
People in Bazoule, around 30 kilometres from the capital Ouagadougou, share their pond with more than 100 of the razor toothed creatures.

“We got used to the crocodiles when we were young, swimming in the water with them and all that,” said Pierre Kabore, just a few metres away from a crocodile feasting on chicken provided by the village.

“Now we can always approach them and sit on them and if you have the courage, you can lie on them too. There’s no problem, they are sacred crocodiles. They don’t do anything to anyone.”

According to local legend, the startling relationship with the predators dates back to at least the 15th century.

The village was in the grip of an agonising drought until the crocodiles led women to a hidden pond where the population could slake their thirst.

“The villagers organised a party to celebrate and thank the reptiles,” Kabore said.

A celebration known as Koom Lakre is still held every year during which villagers make sacrifices and ask the animals to grant their wishes of health, prosperity and a good harvest.

Far from being considered a threat, the crocodiles are deemed to have a mystical connection with Bazoule.

“Crocodiles are represented as the soul of our ancestors and if one of them dies, they are buried and even given a funeral as if they were human,” said Kabore.

“When a misfortune is about to happen in the village, they cry out. Elders are charged with interpreting the cries, and then make wishes to ward off bad luck.”

The unusual contact between man and croc has drawn disbelieving tourists to the village to see for themselves.

On their arrival, travellers can buy a chicken which is hung on a stick by a guide and used to entice the crocodiles out of the pond so that visitors can pose with the creatures.

“It was nice to watch from a distance but sitting on one was a bit freaky,” said Thomas Baspin, a young Frenchman who came to visit his grandparents in Burkina Faso.

“I’m glad I did it but I’m also glad it’s over!” he quipped.

Tourism has become a big money-spinner for the impoverished villagers, but a three-year-old extremist insurgency in Burkina Faso is taking its toll.

Ouagadougou has come under attack three times, most recently in March, when extremists attacked the military headquarters and French embassy.

“We could have more than 10,000 visitors per year but at the moment, there’s no more than 4,000 or 5,000,” said Raphael Kabore, one of the guides.

Global warming is also believed to be having an impact. Rainfall levels are down each year, and the famous pond that is the crocodiles’ home is shrinking. When it disappears, will the reptiles once more guide their human friends to a new watery home?
6/20/2018 4:30:32 PM
<![CDATA[Me, myself, and the search for answers in Egypt's Dahab]]>
Questions like “Am I leading life or is life leading me?”spin over and over in my mind as similar days go by, like a handful of dust in an oblivion’s hand.

With this question in mind, and in a modest attempt to protest time’s autocracy, I travelled to Dahab, in South Sinai with the sole purpose of finding a getaway far from the hustle and chaos of everyday Cairo. My friend Yasmeen and I took the bus after midnight from Abdel Monem Ryad square as we braced ourselves for a long road trip - due to security checks on the way. Yes, the trip was long, but I kind of enjoyed the road listening to Um Kolthoum’s “Hazehi Leilaty” (This is My Night) and since I couldn’t recall the last time I’ve seen the sunrise, the morning’s breeze was refreshing as sunrays gained strength bit by bit turning our quiet ambiance into gold.

“This is promising!” I said smiling to Yasmeen.

After a 12-hour trip, we finally arrived. Being greeted by the bluest sea you could set eyes on dissipated all sense of exhaustion; we even embarked on our program immediately, and instead of sleeping, we took a stride in the gangway or “Elmamsha”, where we enjoyed a peaceful walk by the sea, and a soothing sunset.

Nature of Dahab Beaches
A beach in Dabab - Photo provided by Rabab Fathy

This is my night, the one that stood between a forgone past and a future that has not begun; this is the dream of my life.

Love has become you; wishes are you.

So with passion, pour into my glass.

For soon love will change its home and our nest, his birds shall forsake.

And a place which was once home will see us as we see it now: a wasteland

A cafe in Dahab - Photo provided by Rabab Fathy

Listening to Um Kolthoum on my mobile, we continued walking between restaurants and colorful wooden two-storey cafes which are designed to resonate the past while directly overlooking the sea: people could’ve just taken a swim jumping from there.

Cafes overlooking the sea
Cafes overlooking the sea - Photo provided by Rabab Fathy

The first night there quickly passed.

The next morning, Shaaban - the driver assigned by the tourism company that booked our trip - was waiting for us.

Yameen Elshabeeny, Shabaan the driver and Rabab Fathy
Yameen Elshabeeny, Shabaan the driver and Rabab Fathy - Photo provided by Rabab Fathy

“Fahlawi”, or “shrewd” was my first impression about him the day before, he is a know- it-all kind of guy. To save time, effort and probably petrol, he combined two other clients with us in the car yesterday; they were staying in a nearby hotel. And today, probably to save time, effort and petrol again, he gathered the four of us once again – later we would thank him for this – and drove us the Blue Hole diving site.

The Blue Hole

Dahab is very famous for this place despite being notorious for many divers losing their lives trying to discover its secrets. On the site, there is an honorable wall that carries the names of the late divers.

Since Yasmeen is not much of a swimmer and since it was my first time in the Red Sea, I preferred trying snorkeling over diving. It was also my first time to snorkel so it was a bit of a struggle at the beginning, I could not breathe, I almost felt like drowning at one point but I was far too determined to give up. Firmly I put on the mask and snorkel again and dipped my head in the water.

A whole new world opened in front of my eyes, I felt like I was in a three dimension colorful underwater garden, full of bright and yet again colorful reefs and sea creatures which were going on with their lives undisturbed by the few curious swimmers. A school of blue fish welcomed me by swimming right next to my face, I immediately raised my head laughing out of fear of them touching me and then sunk again.

I started breathing through the snorkel, and I was forced to organize my breathing. Listening to my deep breath; in and out, in and out, , peace and serenity found their ways to my heart. And then, all of a sudden, I heard nothing. It was absolute silence. I let go. I let go of all control over my body, arms and legs stretched, I let the water stir me in the direction it preferred. If someone was watching me from above, they probably would have thought I was dead.

“Hello there dear” I heard a faint voice within me saying before it disappeared again.

In the deep silence of the blue, I have found traces of my old self, the one I’m looking for but can’t seem to find. I think I’ve lost it – I presume like many of you – along the way, with every goodbye, heartbreak, betrayal and loss ..

I got out of water with a deep sense of gratitude.

A while later, the four of us – Yasmeen, myself and the two clients - were taken by boat to Abo Galum and then by a car to the Blue Lagoon Beach. Both are must see attractions in Dahab for snorkeling and swimming.

Twailat Mountain

Our day had come to an end, but our night was still young. We decided to experience a cultural Bedouin night in Twailat
The sky was filled with so many stars that I couldn’t help but keep looking upward. A guy with a telescope named Ahmed explained to us the movement of the stars, the difference between planets and stars, and how Jupiter for example doesn’t twinkle unlike stars. He pointed to different constellations in the sky, opening yet a whole new world in front of my eyes.

Shabaan had a little time before he went to the next client, so he started chatting with us about his life. Bedouin songs played while he talked about “elrezq” or breadwinning and how he believes what goes around comes around, and how he, the uneducated, made sure his siblings got a good education in the belief that helping them will eventually bring onto him God’s blessings, even though he is not as pious as he wants to be.

“So he is a fahlawy but “ibn bald” (a gentleman) with a good heart,” I thought to myself trying to remember the last time I was engaged in a conversation like that. That was me many moons ago, a good listener.

Yet again I found another trail to my old self. There under the stars.

Before leaving, I took a walk up the mountain to stargaze – yes you read it right, I’m one of those dreamy people – and I played “Hazehi Leilaty” once again:

Life shall seek us for amusement and then of us would make fun.

Another night went by, and on the next morning, Shabaan was waiting for us in front of our hotel. Guess what! In order to save time, effort and petrol , he gathered us once again with two clients, who turned out to be two nice gentlemen in their mid twenties. Ahmed Nagi and Mohamed Shabaan came all the way from Cairo to get away from the hectic daily life. Just like us.

The two are friends since kindergarten, a fact they were very proud of and a fact that warmed both Yasmeen’s heart and mine. It always feels nice to meet people who are able to take care of one another and share the same passion about making a relationship work. Masha’allah!

Wadi Gnai

Off we went to the three pools, another great place for snorkeling, but instead Yasmeen and I decided to take a beach buggy ride to Wadi Gnai, a little oasis in Dahab. It was my first time riding a beach buggy, and I confess I was a bit afraid especially after losing control at the beginning.

Riding Beach Buggy
Rabab and Yasmeen on beach buggies in Dahab - Photo provided by Rabab Fathy

But a 9-year-old boy named Talal rode with me, and there was something about him. Despite being really young, he was kind, a kindness extenuated by his youthful ignorance. Young as he is, he took care of me, old as I am: he wanted to make sure I had a good time.

Rabab Fathy with Talal
Rabab Fathy with Talal - Photo provided by Rabab Fathy

We sang together as we drove next to huge overlapped yellow, green and brown mountains:

Life shall seek us for amusement and then of us would make fun, so come let me love you a little bit more now.

Then Yasmeen fell from her vehicle.

For a moment, my heart skipped a beat, but thank God, she was able to move her body quickly and got out with minor injuries. It was a good laugh afterwards.

“Sou’ ‘ala mahlak, terouh l’ahlak.” “Drive slowly to return to your family,” Talal said after continuing our ride. Indeed, the fast pace of life makes us forget where we ultimately want to go, safe and sound.

“I’m touched.” I heard a steady voice within me say. It was the voice of my old self again, as it was gaining the confidence to pop up amidst the stillness.

We reached our destination in Wadi Gnai. The place felt like a dream. It was desert, mountains and green palm trees. We were told that each of these trees belong to the forefathers of the Bedouin tribes that still live there and carry their names, reflecting pride in their roots and long family line.

Serene nature of Wadi Gnai
Serene nature of Wadi Gnai - Photo provided by Rabab Fathy

“The world forgetting, by the world forgot.” The words of Alexander Pope orbited in my head as I stood there mesmerized by the beauty of my calm surrounding.

Wadi Gnai
Wadi Gnai in Dahab - Photo provided by Rabab Fathy

We went back to the three pools where we were united with Nagy and Shabaan who spent their day in the sea. We chatted about our lives and what we do. Despite the age difference, us in our early thirties, them mid twenties, we reached out.

Three Pools
A beach in Dahab - Photo provided by Rabab Fathy

And I guess we did so partly because Dahab is a very good destination for the like-minded. People whom you don’t need to explain things to, you sort of get along with even if you’re strangers who happen to be out of all the places on earth in the same exact place and time. And so we did.

Our journey was coming to an end. We bid Nagy and Shabaan farewell as they left one day ahead, promising to keep in touch to capitalize on the coincidental path crossing.

Like the habit of good times, our trip ended soon, too soon to find an answer for my question, and although I can’t promise you would either, I did find something far more important: I’ve met myself, the self life has managed to distance me from, and I’ve found the path that I shall follow.
6/19/2018 12:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[8 charter flights take fans, celebrities to Russia for 2nd game]]>
Egypt, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Uruguay are competing within Group A. Egypt played its first game against Uruguay on Friday; the national team will face Russia on June 19 and Saudi Arabia on June 25.

An airlift between Egypt and Russia has been launched since the beginning of the 2018 World Cup. About 3,000 Egyptian fans are estimated to be traveling to Russia to support the national team. Nineteen charter flights have been operated until now alongside the basic scheduled flights.

Several flights specialized for celebrities departed during the past couple of days to Russia. Another celebrities and media figures' flight departed on Monday morning with Fifi Abdu, Hassan al-Radad, Samir al-Iskandarani and Sherif Mounir onboard.

Flights between the two countries (Egypt – Russia) were halted in 2015 after a Russian passenger jet crashed in Sinai, killing all 224 people onboard. Flights were resumed last April.

Egypt’s national team managed to reach the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia for the first time since 1990 after beating Congo 2-1 at Borg El Arab Stadium on October 8; this however raised Egyptians' hopes to achieve good results, especially in the presence of Mohamed Salah.

6/18/2018 2:21:23 PM
<![CDATA[Pics: Amid challenges, Arish residents celebrate Eid al-Fitr at sea]]>
People from different districts of Arish have gathered on beaches to enjoy the park games’ equipment – press photo

Celebrating Eid al-Fitr holiday, which is an important Islamic feast that follows the holy fasting month of Ramadan, people from different districts of Arish have gathered on beaches to enjoy the park games’ equipment.

People from different districts of Arish have gathered on beaches to enjoy the park games’ equipment – press photo

Using the beach to place the entertaining equipment was a smart choice. Although there are apparently some few parks in Arish which can be played in, yet, some of them are expensive. Samir Hassan, one of the beach’s visitors said that some of the equipment can be used for LE 5 ($0.23) only per 10 minutes.

People from different districts of Arish have gathered on beaches to enjoy the park games’ equipment – press photo

“Imagine that in Arish city there are no public parks,” Yassin Rashid, a visitor said, adding that there is a park in the city center with expensive entry tickets.

People from different districts of Arish have gathered on beaches to enjoy the park games’ equipment – press photo

Sami Abdel Rahman, another visitor said that the beach of Al-Arish is a magnificent tourist and entertaining site, adding that the residents of the city still like the beach and a large number of people visit it.

People from different districts of Arish have gathered on beaches to enjoy the park games’ equipment – press photo
People from different districts of Arish have gathered on beaches to enjoy the park games’ equipment – press photo

During Ramadan, around 120 children participated in an “iftar” gathering held in the presence of police and army men.

The celebration held by the Tree Foundation for Development and Art, was attended by around 120 children and 30 relatives. Iftar is the meal Muslims eat in Ramadan to break their fast.

Head of the Tree Foundation, Mohamed al-Temsah, said that a delegation from the North Sinai Security Directorate distributed food cartons to the children's families, in a celebration dubbed “Sahaba” (the cloud). Sahaba is an initiative that targets orphans and children of Sheikh Zuweid, and Rafah cities, who moved to live in Arish city.

The Tree Foundation held “iftar” gathering for around 120 children in Arish city – press photo

During the celebration, children were surprised by a number of military men distributing gifts and taking pictures with them.

“My message to the world and to all our enemies inside and outside [the country] that we live here in Arish in safety,” said Sheikh Gamal Hamid, head of the Central Administration of Al-Azhar Institutes in North Sinai.

“Egypt and Arish are safe thanks to our sons of the Armed Forces,” Hamid stated, adding that “people walk safely in the streets [of Arish].”

In one of the deadliest terrorist attacks, 311 Muslim worshippers were killed in November 2017 by militants' gunfire during Friday prayers inside Al-Rawdah mosque in Arish.

Egyptian security forces at the Ministry of Interior killed on Monday 15 terrorists in an exchange of fire after locating their hiding place by Arish's ring road, according to the security forces report.

The elements were in contact with some terrorist leaders abroad who support them financially to carry out terrorist acts aimed to destroy the state, especially after the success of Egyptian efforts to combat terrorism, the statement read.

On February 9, Egypt’s military launched its comprehensive operation, Sinai 2018, against jihadists, who have launched attacks on the security and military forces for years.

Additional reporting by Walaa Ali
6/17/2018 7:34:51 PM
<![CDATA[2nd Italian tourist delegation arrives in Cairo for Holy Family’s Journey]]>
The Patriarch of the Coptic Catholic Church Ibrahim Ishaq will receive the delegation on Sunday evening at the Faculty of Catholic Theology in Maadi district, Southern Cairo, the Church announced in a statement.

This delegation’s visit comes in light of the pilot program for dramatic reenactment of the journey made by the Holy Family in Egypt. The delegation will visit a number of Churches and Monasteries, besides being taken on a tour in the faculty of Theology and Humanities in Maadi. The second delegation’s visit was in February.

The Holy Family came from Palestine to Egypt via the Arish road and arrived in Old Egypt, and then they moved to Upper Egypt. They hid there for a while and then returned to the north, passing through the Natroun Valley, and then continued their way back through Sinai to Palestine.

Pope Francis visited Egypt in April 2017, carried out mass and acknowledged the Holy Family’s journey in Egypt as an official Christian pilgrimage. This announcement puts the Holy Family tour on equal footing to Fatima in Portugal, suggesting that thousands of Christian tourists would visit Egypt.]]>
6/17/2018 6:41:02 PM
<![CDATA[EgyptAir to operate 11 World Cup charter flights to Russia]]>
Ten flights are set to carry 1,700 people on Monday, while one will fly on Sunday with 150 on board, said the flag carrier on Sunday.

This is in addition to regular flights to Moscow on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, it noted.

EgyptAir started on Thursday a plan of charter flights to carry Egyptians seeking to boost the Pharaohs, who are competing in Group A with Russia, Saudi Arabia and Uruguay.

Egypt's team was defeated 0-1 in the opener against Uruguay on Friday. It will face Russia on Tuesday.]]>
6/17/2018 11:40:37 AM
<![CDATA[Casino designed by Zaha Hadid opens in Macau]]>
Rows of exposed elevators glide up and down the imposing lobby inside the $1.1-billion "Morpheus" resort, a 42-storey addition to Macau's glitzy skyline named after the Greek god of dreams and developed by Melco International.

Iraqi-British Hadid, who died in 2016, was the first woman to win the prestigious Pritzker Prize for architecture. Her major works in China included the Guangzhou Opera House and a mega mall in Beijing.

For her first Macau project, finished posthumously, two tower blocks were merged using curvaceous bridges to create "voids" and allow as much light in as possible, Viviana Muscettola of Zaha Hadid Architects told AFP.

Describing the design as a "jump into the unknown", Muscettola said the exterior ribbons of steel hold up the building and free up space inside by minimising the need for vertical columns.

Melco's chairman Lawrence Ho told AFP he had "wanted to find the most iconic architect that can do something just insane" before the project started in 2013.

Semi-autonomous Macau is the only place in China where gambling is legal, bringing in revenue that easily dwarves Las Vegas.

The resort's opening comes as the enclave is undergoing something of a renaissance, with gaming revenues bouncing back after being hard hit by a corruption crackdown launched by China's President Xi Jinping in 2012.

- Luxury-seeking crowds -

While the big spenders have returned to the territory -- high-rollers were Macau's biggest drivers of revenue growth in 2017, according to Bloomberg News -- analysts say the mass market is also behind growth seen so far this month.

Extravagant duplex villas with their own in-room gym and massage quarters are located on the top floors of Morpheus for VIPs, along with a gaming area exclusively for these residents.

There is also a rooftop pool, while two restaurants by Alain Ducasse, one of the chefs awarded the most Michelin stars, are part of efforts to court luxury-seeking crowds.

Revenues slid after Xi declared his war on graft with many mainland big spenders staying away from Macau, which had gained a reputation as a centre for laundering illicit money out of China.

In response to the crackdown casino giants launched a slew of new mega-resorts, offering everything from theme parks to luxury spas as they looked to attract more mass-market gamblers to compensate for the fall in high-rollers.

But Macau's monetary authorities this month issued a warning to financial institutions against the illegal use of UnionPay cards as China continues to crack down on capital outflows.

Ho's father Stanley, 96, who made his riches by transforming Macau from a sleepy Portuguese outpost into the world's biggest casino hub, officially stepped down from his flagship casino empire SJM earlier this week.]]>
6/16/2018 4:24:19 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt launches World Cup tourism campaign ]]>
Earlier this week, Egypt was selected as the first African Regional Supporter of FIFA World Cup 2018. The contract signed with the Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation’s “Egypt – Experience and Invest” campaign aims at promoting Egypt as a global investment destination and attracting tourists from around the world, by speaking to millions of World Cup followers.

Egypt’s Minister of Tourism Rania al-Mashat had affirmed that “Egypt - Experience and Invest” would use the opportunity of the World Cup qualification to showcase, in a modern way, the rich and rewarding diversity of tourism experiences that Egypt offers.

The ministry’s international tourism campaign aims to promote the beauty of Egypt to millions of soccer fans through the World Cup events.


The campaign will also showcase the wide spectrum of investment opportunities in the country. “Being an Official Regional Supporter of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ gives us the outreach in Africa to highlight and communicate the premium positioning and enormous investment diversity and potential Egypt has to offer,” Minister of Investment and International Cooperation Sahar Nasr said Tuesday.

Despite missing the ‘Egyptian King’ Mohamed Salah, the Pharaohs played a strong first game on Friday. Uruguay, however, ended the game with a 90th-minute winner to see off Egypt 1-0 in the tournament opener.

The Pharaohs have to win their upcoming games against Russia and Saudi Arabia to secure a seat in the 16th round.

f7bedb09-8190-4b72-bf78-f91790848616 ]]>
6/15/2018 5:59:54 PM
<![CDATA[Gardens, public parks receive thousands celebrating Eidul Fitr]]>
The Giza Zoo has put a plan to accommodate hundreds of visitors during Eid al-Fitr, and avoid problems of crowds by increasing the number of ticket booking outlets.

The zoo has also provided two large screens to watch the Egypt, Uruguay match as part of the World Cup hosted in Russia on Friday.

The garden that hosts various numbers of animals will also present new shows by two lions, Kangaroos and monkeys.

Ambulances have been deployed to places of gatherings and parks.

In Beheira, security and health bodies carried out intensive campaigns on parks, clubs and tourist destinations to monitor food offered to people, while hospitals were put on high alert to be able to receive any cases.

In Damietta and Qalyubia, gardens and public parks were opened for citizens for free.

In Aswan, the occupancy rate at large number of hotels reached more than 60 percent.

Additional reporting by MENA ]]>
6/15/2018 12:58:00 PM
<![CDATA[Perfect Eid hanging-out spots at nominal prices]]>
All Egyptians, Muslims and Coptic alike, enjoy Eid al Fitr vacation in numerous places outdoors, with family and friends. However, a lot of people are confused and cannot make up their minds as to where they should spend the Eid vacation, especially when one wants to enjoy their time on a tight budget.

All the way from Alexandria to Aswan, Egypt Today looks at possible spots to spend eid.

Bahary District Alexandria

Entrance is free for Anfoushi Beach located in the Bahary District Alexandria.

Family and friends could enjoy the sea while having snacks all day on the white sand.

Water sports could be enjoyed too as long as you bring your equipment with you.

Citadel of Qaitbay is a few steps away from the Anfoushi beach; the ticket is as low as LE 20.

Morsy Abo El Abbas Mosque is also located in this ancient area. This mosque is considered historical and illustrates a certain era in Egyptian history.

A tiny harbor is also located in the area, where individuals could easily rent tiny boats to enjoy a simple cruise near the shore of the beach. Larger boats could also be rented in other bigger harbors near the citadel. Prices are very low and should not exceed the equivalent of $2.

Many souvenirs can be found in the area are mainly made of “dried fish” or other sea creatures that may seem uncommon for many. In the same area there is an aquarium that displays really strange and beautiful marine creatures that are mummified. The entrance price for the Aquarium is LE 10.

Montaza District (Park) Alexandria

For LE 25 only, one could enjoy 370 acres of vast green fields.

The fields are surrounded by a masterpiece of a castle that was once occupied by the ruling Alawi Family that represented a certain era in Egyptian history.

In the Montaza park, individuals could enjoy seeing the different series of castles that surround the place while enjoying the greenery and the scent of the colorful flowers.
Families can also bring all the food and beverages they want and enjoy a day out in the sun in the midst of rare flowers and greenery.

Al Qalyubiyah

Al Qalyubiyah is famous for having numerous public parks and gardens for individuals and families to enjoy, especially during Eid al Fitr due to the fact that many families tend to go out in this area to enjoy the beautiful natural scenes and take pictures for memories.

The two most visitied parks by Egyptians during Eid al Fitr are: “Al Kanater Al Khairiya,” where they usually enjoy 300-year-old trees spread over an area of 500 Acres; and, “Al Reyah Al Tawfeeke” (River in) that offers exotic natural beauty and a waterfall where one can take pictures.

There, families can enjoy boat rides and enjoy a day out with minimal expenses.
Another crowd favorite is in Al Qalyubiah’s Banha: Sicily Garden, which offers exotic and natural scenery along the Nile River.


Princess Feryal’s Garden is a spot of natural beauty where families and locals can enjoy and spend a great day outdoors in the city of Aswan.

King Farouk’s castle in Aswan is also a place for tourists and locals alike to enjoy the view of the sun as it sets on the river Nile. In different areas in the castle, vast gardens with beautiful flowers could be seen surrounding the place. With an intriguing design that offers an architectural masterpiece, King Farouk’s castle is considered by locals as one of the perfect spots to spend Eid.

Marsa Matrouh

Home to famous beaches that have become all too well-known through classic Egyptian movies, Matrouh is part of all of us, really. Growing up with a TV blasting to Farid Shawky’s laugh or Soad Hosni’s cheekiness, Matrouh embodies all that we grew up watching: love, calmness, beauty and building that take you back some 50 years. This is not to say that the city is outdated, just that its buildings have retained their old beauty.

Locals and visitors alike tend to enjoy the beaches in Marsa Matrouh as it offers a beautiful blue sea with white sands. The beaches there are very clean and the air is not as polluted as the other major cities in Egypt.

During Eid, there are also numerous events that are organized by local youth organizations. Perhaps one of the most interesting part of these events are the mobile flights called “Zarda,” in the local Bedouin dialect, in which the youths share the expenses of foods and drinks during their adventures in the area. Bedouin food is cooked and numerous outdoor activities are enjoyed.


Two famous gardens are found in the city of Sohag, both of which offer a great place for families and friends to enjoy Eid al Fitr: “Gazeerat al Zohoor” Garden (Island of Flowers Garden) and Qraman Garden.

A short walk away from Sohag’s museum, the Island of Flowers Garden is in the middle of the River Nile.
6/15/2018 10:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Egypt to invite 30 World Cup fans to visit country for free]]>
Mashat said that 30 football fans will be granted a seven-day journey to Egypt free of charge, within the framework of the "golden ticket" contest organized by the Tourism Ministry.

The promotional campaign will start on Friday that marks Egypt's opener match against Uruguay in the World Cup, Mashat announced.

The Ministry of Tourism has revealed its plan to promote for tourism in Egypt on the sidelines of the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia, in a ceremony organized by the ministry.

WhatsApp Image 2018-06-13 at 11.33.34 PM
Minister of Tourism Rania al-Mashat, Ahmed Youssef, chairman of the Board of Directors of the Egyptian Authority for Tourism Development attend a ceremony organized to reveal the ministry's plan to promote for tourism in Egypt on the sidelines of the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia - Egypt Today/Mohamed Al-Hossary

Ahmed Youssef, chairman of the Board of Directors of the Egyptian Authority for Tourism Development, said that the ministry aims to reach 2 billion viewers worldwide.

Youssef said that the campaign's mission is to encourage those who wish to visit the country, and therefore attract more tourists based on the visitors' assessment of their experience in Egypt.

WhatsApp Image 2018-06-13 at 11.33.46 PM
Ahmed Youssef, chairman of the Board of Directors of the Egyptian Authority for Tourism Development attends a ceremony organized to reveal the ministry's plan to promote for tourism in Egypt on the sidelines of the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia - Egypt Today/Mohamed Al-Hossary

Social media is important to reflect the civilization of the country and we already use 17 languages to communicate with the whole world through advertisements and promotional plans, Youssef said.

The ministry will create ads using the language of the country participating in each match to be broadcasted on the most viewed channels, Youssef said, affirming that Egypt was granted the right to air ads during the World Cup's 64 matches.

WhatsApp Image 2018-06-13 at 11.33.32 PM
Minister of Tourism Rania al-Mashat attends a ceremony organized to reveal the ministry's plan to promote for tourism in Egypt on the sidelines of the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia - Egypt Today/Mohamed Al-Hossary

Egypt's contract with FIFA

Egypt - Experience and Invest company has become the first African official sponsorof the FIFA World Cup 2018, FIFA announced in a statement on Tuesday.

According to a statement issued by the Ministry of Tourism on Wednesday, the company, which is affiliated with the Egyptian government, signed a contract with the FIFA to become an official regional supporter of the world cup to promote the country as a global investment destination, and to attract more tourists from around the world to visit the country.

nasr mashat
According to a statement issued by the Ministry of Tourism on Wednesday, the company, which is affiliated with the Egyptian government, signed a contract with the FIFA to become an official regional supporter of the world cup - press photo

The deal gives advertising space to the government's Egypt - Experience & Invest campaign, FIFA added.

“Being an official regional supporter of the 2018 FIFA World Cup gives us an outreach in Africa to highlight and communicate the premium positioning and enormous investment diversity and potential Egypt has to offer,” Sahar Nasr, Egypt’s minister of investment and international cooperation said commenting on the signing.

Egypt’s Minister of Tourism Mashat also affirmed that Egypt - Experience and Invest is willing to use the opportunity of the Egyptian qualification to the World Cup to showcase in a modern way the rich and rewarding diversity of tourism experiences that Egypt offers.

Egypt wants to broadcast World Cup matches

Egypt has said it will "oblige" FIFA to allow it to broadcast 22 matches of the 2018 World Cup which begins in Russia on Thursday, challenging the control of global soccer's governing body over broadcasting rights.

Egypt's Competition Authority (ECA) said FIFA, being the sole organization able to grant broadcasting rights for the World Cup, was in violation of Egyptian freedom of competition laws, the official gazette said on Tuesday.

Egypt's national soccer team is participating in the World Cup for the first time since 1990, and the country is pinning its hopes on Liverpool forward star Mohamed Salah.

Tourism in Egypt

Tourism in Egypt has been picking up recently, with Tourism Minister Mashat saying that the tourism sector is on the way to regain its boom, referring to the increase of reservations in Egypt during the next season.

Tourist nights increased 96.5 percent year-on-year in January 2018, reaching 8.5 million, compared to 4.3 million in January 2017, a report from the state statistics agency CAPMAS said.

The report also showed that the number of departing tourists in January 2018 stood at 771,000, compared to 566,000 in January 2017, increasing by 36.2 percent.

Tourism is one of Egypt’s main foreign currency earners, but it has suffered several blows since the January 25 Revolution of 2011.

Egypt has outranked both the US, UK and the entire African continent when it comes to safety, according to the recently published Gallup Global Law and Order's annual report.

The US and the UK ranked in the 21st and 35th places, respectively, while Egypt ranked as the16th out of 135 countries.

Additional reporting by Reuters ]]>
6/14/2018 3:00:46 PM
<![CDATA[U.S. counterspy warns World Cup travellers' devices could be hacked]]>
In a statement to Reuters on Tuesday, William Evanina, an FBI agent and the director of the U.S. National Counterintelligence and Security Center, warned World Cup travellers that even if they think they are insignificant, hackers could still target them.

“If you’re planning on taking a mobile phone, laptop, PDA, or other electronic device with you - make no mistake - any data on those devices (especially your personally identifiable information) may be accessed by the Russian government or cyber criminals,” he said.

“Corporate and government officials are most at risk, but don’t assume you’re too insignificant to be targeted,” Evanina added. “If you can do without the device, don’t take it. If you must take one, take a different device from your usual one and remove the battery when not in use.”

Evanina’s warning comes as U.S. intelligence, law enforcement and congressional officials are still investigating Russian hacking in the 2016 presidential election and whether anyone with President Donald Trump’s campaign was aware of or aided it. Trump has repeatedly denied there was any collusion and Russia has said it did not meddle in the U.S. election.

Another U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said British security agencies have issued similar warnings to the British public and the England football team, which is competing for the World Cup.

In a statement, Britain’s National Cyber Security Center said it was “providing expert cyber security advice to the (UK) Football Association ahead of their departure to Russia for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.”

The NCSC, a branch of the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), Britain’s electronic eavesdropping agency, also issued a warning to the public.

Private cyber security expert Patrick Wardle said the official warnings constituted “really good advice. When I travel to Russia, I bring ‘burner’ devices, so if they get hacked, it doesn’t really matter.”

A burner device is typically bought for temporary use, then thrown away.

U.S. agencies have issued similar warnings before other major international sporting events, including the recent Winter Olympics in Seoul.]]>
6/13/2018 10:36:46 AM
<![CDATA[Tourism promotion starts from World Cup: study]]>
Ahmed confirmed in the study that the tourism sector must make use of the Egyptian national football team's participation in the World Cup to promote all forms of tourism, not the least of which is sports tourism.

Egyptian national team official jet – Press photo

The researcher also said that sports tourism can generate a lot of revenues to the country, which is why travel and tourism agencies have been intensifying their advertising resources to benefit from this great sporting event.

According to the study conducted by the researcher, it is necessary to benefit from the idea of Egyptians traveling to Russia during the World Cup by distributing propaganda brochures and souvenirs to foreigners in Russia.

Also, Egyptians must show an urban appearance that reflects the original Egyptian heritage, such as wearing the Pharaonic garb to attract people’s attention, the study added.

On the other hand, it is possible to make use of the Egyptian national team in promoting Egyptian tourism by having the plane and buses of the Egyptian team themed with pictures of the pyramids, the Sphinx and Pharaonic temples as means of propaganda.

The Egyptian national football team upon arrival to Russia for World Cup 2018 on June 10, 2018 - Press photo/FIFA official Facebook page

The Saudi Arabian team did the same by using a falcon image on their jersey, and the Cameroonian team had a lion's face on theirs.

The study also called for the need to communicate with many international sports celebrities to analyze the sports of the World Cup such as the jewel of Brazil Pele, the Argentine legend Maradona and the French star Zinedine Zidane to involve them in advertising campaigns for Egyptian tourism in Russia.

The study also pointed to establishing a number of events in popular Russian hotels and museums to showcase Ancient Egypt civilization.

The head of the hotel department of the Russian Ministry of Sports and Tourism announced that Russia will see an inflow of more than 21 million tourists in 2018, including one million football fans, so it will be a great opportunity for Egypt to promote tourism to its touristic destinations.

The World Cup will witness a crowd of about 10 million fans and nearly 2 billion viewers around the world.

It is worth mentioning that the World Cup will be attended by 32 national teams, including the Egyptian football team, which will participate for the third time in its history after a 28-year-absence.

The World Cup’s matches will be held in 12 sports stadiums in 11 Russian cities (Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kaliningrad, Kazan, Nyingj Novgorod, Samara, Volgograd, Saransk, Rostov, Sochi and Ekaterinburg).
6/13/2018 10:35:05 AM
<![CDATA[Egypt to set tourist program to recreate Holy Family journey]]>CAIRO – 12 June 2018: The Coptic Orthodox Church will receive from June 17 to June 21 the second Italian tourist delegation that will participate in the pilot program for dramatic reenactment of the journey made by the Holy Family in Egypt.

Nader Girgis, member of the Holy Family Marketing Committee, said the delegation includes 50 tourists, headed by the Bishop of the Italian city of Viterbo, who will visit the five places included in the Holy Family journey's program.

The Tourism Ministry has devised the program to encourage tourists to visit the country to see a unique artistic rendition of the religious story and to trace the journey’s trail that covers many Egyptian cities that Virgin Mary, Jesus and Joseph had visited while fleeing King Herod’s persecution in Palestine.

On Oct. 4, Pope Francis organized a special greeting in Rome for a high-level Egyptian delegation led by Tourism Minister Yahya Rashid to promote a pilgrimage in the footsteps of the Holy Family’s Flight into Egypt.

The pope’s blessing comes as a mandatory step in the process of initiating the Roman Catholic pilgrimage program to Egypt, which is set to launch next year.

The Flight into Egypt, as mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew, is a biblical event that marks when an angel appeared to St. Joseph in a dream to advise him into fleeing to Egypt with Mary and infant Jesus; the event itself holds a unique iconic representation.

Catholic pilgrimage to Egypt to initiate after Pope's blessing
6/12/2018 8:46:15 PM
<![CDATA[Berlin, the city of culture, history and leisure]]>
What makes the city beautiful is that it has something for everyone. History enthusiasts are going to feel in heaven in Berlin because the city is filled with numerous museums and monuments.

After Germany’s defeat in the Second World War, the Germans were strong willed and re-built their nation; in no time, Germany became one of the biggest industrial countries in the whole world, taking great pride in manufacturing two of the best cars in the history of automotive; Mercedes Benz and Porsche.

If you want to see amazing museums that illustrate the different historical stages of the country and its people, visit Berlin.

Among the numerous Museums located in Berlin my favorite three are:

Käthe Kollwitz (Museum)

Kollwitz is one of the greatest female German artists that illustrated the agony, pain, and suffering of the Germans during specific eras.

The statues and artistic works of the museum seem so real that even decades after Kollwitz' death, her artistic works still stand.

Neues Museum

This is the best museum I visited in Berlin. It is eye catching, posh and classic, with stunning internal designs. The museum contains a lot of historical pieces and artifacts from different civilizations.

As an Egyptian, I felt proud and happy to watch the visitors' admiration of the Egyptian monuments in the museum. The museum dedicated a special corner to ancient Egypt's artifacts, focusing on Queen Nefertari's amazing collection.

Museum Island

The wonderful combination of the museum's artistic work along with the natural beauty of the greenery and the Spree River that surrounds it makes the museum a must see.

I should not forget to mention the beauty of the parks located in different spots of Berlin.
Thiel Park and Schiller Park are two must-visit parks; the relaxing scenery and fresh air they offer provide visitors with an incomparable sense of freedom.

Moreover, the amazing German city has a specialized shopping district located west of Berlin for shopping enthusiasts, in an area named bezirk Charlottenburg, where Kurfurstendamm Street is located.

Kurfurstendamm is packed with both shopping malls and historical monuments.
My favorite department stores in the shopping district are kaDeWe and Cloppenburg; they offer great collections of clothes and souvenirs with affordable prices.

We have some good news for foodies, too! You can find a wide variety of cuisines in Berlin; Turkish, Arab, Indian, Lebanese, and Chinese, among others.

My favorite place to eat was a small bistro in “Hackershe” market area, where numerous cafes and restaurants offering a selection of traditional and ethnic foods for reasonable prices can be found.

Just wondering around the city you will surely bump into small cafes and bistros all the time. This is what makes Berlin amazing, you can just wander around and still find a place to chill!

Berlin also has numerous rivers flowing across the city, each offering a different set of activities for tourists and locals to enjoy alike.

Some of the famous rivers in Berlin are the Spree River, as well as Havel and Dahme rivers.

Want to know more about Berlin and its beauty and secrets and night life? Stay tuned to the long version of Egypt Today Magazine!

6/11/2018 10:46:14 AM
<![CDATA[PICS: Tourism keeps Vietnam's ancient water puppets afloat]]>
Backstage behind a thin bamboo screen, around 20 puppeteers slosh around waist-deep in rubber overalls wielding the marionettes with long rods.

"The puppets are pretty heavy... and the water also creates resistance," said puppeteer Nguyen Thu Hoai, who swapped her galoshes for flip-flops between sold-out shows.

Some of the puppets weigh as much as 10 kilograms (22 pounds) and the largest ones, like the one-metre-tall (three-foot) fairy, require four people to manipulate - AFP

"But our years of training and experience helps us control them," added Hoai, who like many of her colleagues graduated from Hanoi's College of Theatre and Cinema.

Some of the puppets weigh as much as 10 kilogrammes (22 pounds) and the largest ones, like the one-metre-tall (three-foot) fairy, require four people to manipulate.

The shows at Hanoi's Thang Long theatre have become a staple on the well-trodden tourist circuit and draw thousands every week, including many first-time viewers.

The shows traditionally featured age-old fables and mythical lore, like the famous Hanoi parable about a Vietnamese king's treasured sword that was used to fight off Chinese invaders - AFP

"I've never seen a puppet show that way with the water," American tourist Caroline Thomoff told AFP after a show.

"I could really see people fishing, dancing and all the different performances that happened."

Vietnam is the birthplace of the centuries-old art form that emerged in the northern rice paddies as entertainment for farmers.

Vietnamese puppeteers controlling water puppets from behind a bamboo screen in a pool during a performance in Hanoi - AFP

The earliest record of the performances is on a 12th century stele that still stands at a pagoda in northern Ha Nam province, but historians say water puppetry likely originated even earlier.

The shows traditionally featured age-old fables and mythical lore, like the famous Hanoi parable about a Vietnamese king's treasured sword that was used to fight off Chinese invaders.

- Overseas appeal -

The tropes haven't changed much, and neither have the hand-carved wooden figures of animals, boats, farmers or fish painted in brilliant golds, reds and greens, according to Chu Luong, the director of Thang Long theatre.

"When our children and later generations see performances they will be just like the original versions," he told AFP.

Despite its ancient roots -- or perhaps because of them -- the shows draw little attention from local Vietnamese viewers, especially millennials.

More than half of Vietnam's 93 million people are under 30 and often prefer their entertainment in digital form.

The shows at Hanoi's Thang Long theatre have become a staple on the well-trodden tourist circuit and draw thousands every week - AFP

"There are new types of entertainment now, electronic devices and the internet, so apart from festivals we can't perform all the time because (local) people don't watch a lot," said Pham Dinh Viem, a third-generation puppet carver from a craft village in Thai Binh province.

Like other puppet craftsmen in the village, Viem doesn't earn enough to support his family making the marionettes so he picks up work on the side as a manual labourer.

But he perseveres, hopeful the next generation might pick up a passion he says runs in his blood.

The earliest record of the performances is on a 12th century stele that still stands at a pagoda in northern Ha Nam province, but historians say water puppetry likely originated even earlier - AFP

Yet as interest wanes at home, there are signs water puppetry may be gaining traction abroad.

Canadian Director Robert Lepage returned to Toronto this year with an adaptation of Stravinsky's opera "The Nightingale", in which the orchestra pit was transformed into a pool of water for singers-come-puppeteers commanding marionettes.

For puppetmaker Viem, such innovative approaches may be the secret to reviving the centuries-old tradition among locals.

"If the script and the performance don't change, it's impossible to serve the audience in the long-term," he said.

6/10/2018 11:18:29 AM
<![CDATA[Antiquities Ministry to reveal logo of GEM Sunday]]>
A number of ambassadors and representatives of foreign countries in Cairo will attend the conference, which will be held under the auspices of the Tourism Ministry.

The new logo of the GEM will also be revealed during the conference.

In press statements on Friday, General Supervisor of the GEM Tarek Tawfiq said that the Egyptian and foreign companies, which will be responsible for the preliminary management and operation of the GEM's services should be experienced and efficient in this field, as the services, which these companies will provide, include the operation of a group of shops and restaurants.

Tawfiq underlined that the Antiquities Ministry will be responsible for the management of archaeological artifacts, laboratories, restoration centers, archaeological stores and exhibition halls.]]>
6/9/2018 9:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Ministry of Environment takes precautionary measures against jellyfish ]]>
The preparations taken by the ministry regarding the issue include the registration of beaches, as the General Directorate of the Northern Protected Areas in the Ministry of Environment’s Nature Protection Department has decided to identify the number of beaches that may be exposed to jellyfish during the 2018 season.

The ministry clarified that teams have been established to monitor and collect data from different beaches, along with teams of rapid intervention in the natural reserves of the northern region.

The task force work includes establishing a sub-operation room parallel to the main operation room in the ministry to receive reports and complaints from different beaches, as well as the number of jellyfish spotted daily and record it, along with measurements of temperature, wind speed and direction, sea state and wave height.

The ministry pointed out that it will measure the quality of water and that it will take samples of the jellyfish for genetic analysis in the National Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries (NIOF) in Alexandria and the central laboratories in the Red Sea regional branch.

The procedures of the ministry also include coordination with concerned authorities and ministries on measures and precautions to be followed in case of the jellyfish phenomenon becomes a widespread one.

In 2017, the shores of the North Coast and the Mediterranean cities of Alexandria and Port Said saw a surge in jellyfish numbers.
6/7/2018 12:43:02 PM
<![CDATA[Benzema posts photos of Egypt’s flag during his vacation in Hurghada]]>
benzema during his vaction in hurghada

Benzema expressed his admiration of Hurghada and Marsa Alam by sharing every moment of his vacation on his social media accounts, showing the beaches, resorts, landmarks and tourism sites in Hurghada and Marsa Alam; he also stressed that he will return soon with his family.

benzema 4

Benzema posted Egypt’s flag above his photos on all social media accounts which is set to play an important role in revitalizing Egypt’s tourism during the upcoming summer season; he also encouraged his friends and fans to visit Hurghada to enjoy the stunning nature.

benzema 3

Hurghada and Marsa Alam, located on the Red Sea, have a moderate weather throughout the year, making them an ideal place for sea sports such as diving, snorkeling, sailing, windsurfing and deep-sea fishing; the two cities are among the main tourist attraction spots.

benzema 2

Benzema wasn’t included in France’s final squad participating in the Russian World Cup Scheduled for June 14.

benzema 1

The French came to Egypt crowned with the most valuable clubs tournament in the world, the UEFA Champions League, where he scored the first goal for his team in the match that ended by a 3-1 victory for Real Madrid.


The 30-year old striker won’t be representing his country in this year’s World Cup which will be hosted by Russia.

6/6/2018 3:58:18 PM
<![CDATA[Airbnb suspends substantial number of Japan listings ahead of new rental law]]>
The law, which will comes into force on June 15, requires owners to obtain a government registration number and meet various regulations that some have decried as overly strict.

"This weekend we reached out to those hosts who have not yet obtained their notification number to let them know that they will need this to accept any new bookings," Airbnb spokesman for Asia-Pacific Jake Wilczynski told AFP.

"We have informed those hosts that we are in the process of turning off future listing capabilities."

He declined to confirm the exact number of listings affected, but local media reports and sources put the figure at about 80 per cent of the rentals available on the site across Japan.

Wilczynski said many Airbnb hosts had already obtained their registration, and others were "going through or finalising" the process.

"We are on course to register tens of thousands of new listings in Japan in the months ahead," he added.

Airbnb and other peer-to-peer rental sites have publicly welcomed the new law, saying it removes uncertainty in a sector that has long existed.

But some hosts say it imposes onerous rental requirements, which they see as intended to favour the hotel industry.

The law limits stays to 180 days a year, and allows local governments to impose additional restrictions, with the tourist magnet of Kyoto only permitting rentals in residential areas between mid-January and mid-March, the low season for tourists.

They also criticise the registration process as excessively complicated and bureaucratic.

"The registration process is a headache," said Ben, a Tokyo Airbnb host who has rented to dozens of visitors.

"I studied the requirements and collected the required documents when it started in mid-March. To my view, the key point is not about the speed of the process, but the hurdles are too high," he told AFP, giving only his first name.

"I'm very discouraged and thinking of giving up."

A Japanese tourism official told AFP earlier this year that the law was "urgently needed to ensure public health and prevent trouble with local residents".

The changes come as Japan works to boost already record numbers of tourists and as it anticipates an influx of visitors for next year's Rugby World Cup and the 2020 Olympics.

6/6/2018 1:23:40 PM
<![CDATA[Violence shuts Africa’s iconic Virunga gorilla park till 2019]]>
“It is clear that the Virunga region is deeply affected by insecurity and that this will be the case for a certain time,” park director Emmanuel de Merode said in a statement.

“So that Virunga can be visited in safety, much more robust measures are needed than in the past,” the Belgian added.

“That will require very significant investment and that makes it impossible to reopen to tourism this year.”

The park closed provisionally on May 11 until June 4 after the shooting dead of a ranger and the kidnapping of two British tourists in an attack by a local militia.

The Britons and their driver were freed two days after the attack.

Then on May 21 two soldiers and a civilian were murdered by armed men who attacked a convoy driving through the park.

On April 9, five rangers and a driver were killed.

In the last 20 years at least 176 rangers have been killed in Virunga. De Merode survived an attack in 2014.

“We have called on a respected international security service to carry out an audit of our security measures,” the park statement said.

Numerous militia and armed gangs roam North Kivu province near the Rwanda and Uganda borders fighting for control of territorial and natural resources.

Established in 1925 close by Lake Kivu and the Nyiragongo volcano, Virunga is home to about a quarter of the world’s population of critically endangered mountain gorillas, as well as to eastern lowland gorillas, chimpanzees, okapis, lions, elephants and hippos.]]>
6/5/2018 1:45:03 PM
<![CDATA[Sphinx, Capital airports to go international in weeks: minister]]>
After the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) reviews and accepts the applications of the two airports, they will be able to provide air navigation services in the region and will appear to all pilots flying across the world, the minister said.

The ICAO recognition will also allow for schedules to be set for air companies that have already applied to organize flights at the new venues.

Sphinx Airport, west of Cairo, will be inaugurated during summer 2018. The Capital Airport, east of Cairo, will be inaugurated “afterwards”, Fathy said April 17 during the Aviation African event in Cairo.

The two airports are meant to reduce pressure on Cairo International Airport; each accommodates more than 300 passengers per hour.

The Capital Airport, also known as Katameya Airport, will serve the new capital and the surrounding new urban communities, and is close to the cities of Suez, Ismailia and Port Said.

Meanwhile, Sphinx Airport will serve the cities of Sheikh Zayed and 6th of October, and is close to Alexandria, Fayoum and Beni Suef governorates. It is also significantly close to the Grand Egyptian Museum and the Giza Pyramids.
6/4/2018 4:06:22 PM
<![CDATA[Two states’ officials in talks to increase flights between Taba, Berlin]]>
The talks sought to address ending the German government’s precautionary measure concerning compelling German aviation companies to fly their planes at an altitude of over 26,000 feet in the sky of Egypt’s South Sinai, sources told Al-Watan newspaper.

The ministries of aviation and tourism in addition to the ambassadors of the two countries are leading the talks, according to the source. Egypt would also urge the German government to ease the tax burden imposed on the German tourism travelling to Egypt.

A German tourist travelling to Egypt would pay a travel tax that is about four times what they would pay while travelling to some other countries.

Minister of Tourism, Rania al-Mashat said in March that the value of tax imposed on German tourists differ according to the country they wish to visit, and is determined on geographical bases. A German tourist travelling to Egypt would pay up to €27 ($31.7) as a travel tax, according to Mashat. However, a tourist would pay only €7 ($8.2) if travelling to Turkey for example.

Sources also revealed that the talks aim to refresh tourism between the two countries, and increase the flights between the two countries, especially between the Red Sea cities of Sharm El-Sheikh, and Hurghada and German cities.

In January 2017, Egyptian Foreign Ministry said that the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure announced, for the first time since the Russian plane crash that took place in Sinai, freeing aviation companies from the obligation of flying their planes over 26,000 feet.

However, Mashat’s calling on the German government to end the precautionary concerning the 26,000 feet altitude, reveals that the German government’s January decision has not been put into effect.

In October 2015, the Airbus A321, operated by Metrojet, crashed over the Sinai Peninsula, which was carrying Russian tourists returning from the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh to St. Petersburg, killing all 224 on board. The crash was claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group.

Russia, along with some other countries, had decided to suspend direct flights to Cairo and Sharm El-Sheikh for an indefinite period.

Egypt has struggled since then to refresh tourism and convince countries to allow their citizens to visit the tourist attractions in the country. In April 2018, Egypt and Russia have resumed flights after more than two years of suspension.
6/4/2018 3:51:25 PM
<![CDATA[Waning Gibbous Moon approaches Mars above Arab skies]]>
Jeddah Astronomy Society reported that Mars will be visible as a red point of light, adding that through the use of a telescope, it is easy to see Mars’ disc and the main surface features of the Moon.

The Moon and Mars will not be visible within the same frame through a telescope, but can be viewed jointly through binoculars.

Jeddah Astronomy Society further added that Mars is now brighter than it was during the past few years. By the end of July, the red planet would be near our planet and would become brighter than it has been since 2003; therefore, this year would be very ideal for observing the planet.

Preferred places for star gazing in Egypt include the Katameya and Helwan observatories in Cairo, the Whales Valley in Fayoum, Siwa Oasis, and Sinai due to the lack of pollution and light in said areas.
6/3/2018 4:13:16 PM
<![CDATA[The Greeks who lived and died in Egypt's Alexandria]]>
Tomb of Joseph Audiche in the Greek Cemetery in Alexandria - Egypt TodayHanaa Abul Ezz

“The Greeks are very peaceful as long as you do not approach them. Long back, there was a company that came to the place to guard it, and they seized some antiques which belonged to the place. Later, they had been affected by a deadly disease that forced them to confess their actions,” said Naeem, the cemetery’s guard.

The Greek Cemetery in Alexandria - Egypt TodayHanaa Abul Ezz

The tombs of the Greek community in Alexandria were founded on a large piece of land in El Shatby area, which was given by Muhammad Ali Pasha. The first, second and third marble tombs are decorated with statues and sculptures.

The Greek Cemetery in Alexandria - Egypt TodayHanaa Abul Ezz

George Averof was buried in the first tomb, which is empty, as his remains were transferred to a cemetery in Athens, Greece. He acquired a lot of money in Egypt and then spent it on charity in Greece and Egypt. In Greece, he established a college of engineering and other charitable institutions for the people of Athens. In Egypt, he built a school on 1,160 acres.

The Greek Cemetery in Alexandria - Egypt TodayHanaa Abul Ezz

There is also the family cemetery of the famous Greek poet Konstantinos Petrou Kavafis, one of the greatest poets of modern Greece, a non-typical Greek-Egyptian who expressed the common convergence of two worlds – ancient Greece and the ancient Middle East – in his poetry.

The Greek Cemetery in Alexandria - Egypt TodayHanaa Abul Ezz

Next to him is the tomb of George Antoniadis, who donated his home and his garden of rare flowers and plants to the Alexandria governorate, along with the tomb of Kutiska, founder of the Greek Hospital, which is now known as Gamal Abdel Nasser Hospital.

Greek Cemetery in Alexandria - Egypt TodayHanaa Abul Ezz

When you walk a little, you'll find the tomb of Alexandria's most famous wooden merchant's daughter, Zorvadakki, whose tombstone shows an angel putting his finger in front of his mouth as a sign for her visitors to stay silent during their visit to her tomb.

Greek Cemetery in Alexandria - Egypt TodayHanaa Abul Ezz

The cemetery also includes the tombs of the most prominent individuals of the Greek Society of Alexandria, such as Dr. Anastasi, Salvagon, Zerfozaki, Kazoli, Rali, Ridoknakki and Kaszali, among others. There are also tombs containing about 100 belongings of Greek air force soldiers who died in the Middle East during World War II.

Greek Cemetery in Alexandria - Egypt TodayHanaa Abul Ezz

A three-year plan was prepared to repair the damage of the Greek community's three tombs in Alexandria. The Electronics Department and the Science Applications Laboratory at the Faculty of Archeology of the Technological Education Institute in Lamia, Greece, in cooperation with the Greek Society in Alexandria, studied and maintained the marble tombs of the Greek Society in Alexandria.

Greek Cemetery in Alexandria - Egypt TodayHanaa Abul Ezz

During the summer vacation, when Greek students come to visit their families, they visit the Greek tombs to clean the area and restore the statues.

Claudine - Jenny Travassaro in the Greek Cemetery - Egypt TodayHanaa Abul Ezz
6/3/2018 11:50:37 AM
<![CDATA[Intensive attention paid to Holy Family's journey history, minister]]>
A scientific panel has been formed in cooperation with concerned bodies to document the historical trip, Anani told a ceremony held to mark the anniversary of the journey.

The event, held at the Coptic Museum in Cairo, was attended by Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark.

Pope Tawadros II attended the celebration that was organized by the National Egyptian Heritage Revival Association (NEHRA).

The national anthem was played and documentaries featuring the Holy Family's journey were displayed.

The event was attended by the ministers of antiquities, tourism, planning, immigration, culture and local development in addition to a raft of officials, statesmen and ambassadors.]]>
6/2/2018 12:09:52 PM
<![CDATA[Qantas and Air NZ sign alliance as downunder tourism booms]]>
The agreement covers 115 domestic routes in both countries, but not the trans-Tasman route where the respective flag carriers compete. It comes as domestic revenues fuelled by fare hikes are driving profits, dividends and stock prices skyward.

The deal “leverages the strengths we each have in our home markets,” Qantas Chief Executive Alan Joyce said in a statement. Air New Zealand boss Christopher Luxon added that the two airlines “will continue to compete across all markets”.

Both carriers have been cruising as international tourist numbers touch all-time highs and further stimulate domestic travel by catching internal flights - markets where the pair are entrenched - in both countries.

Qantas soared to a record profit in February, while Air New Zealand said it was headed for its second-highest annual profit ever.

The tie up also marks a shift in airline alliances as both Qantas and Air New Zealand have dropped or redrawn deals with Gulf carriers in recent months.

Qantas last year said it would drop flights to Emirates’ Dubai hub and re-establish its popular Singapore stopover for European flights, while Air New Zealand has ended at 7-year alliance with Virgin Australia Holdings.

It will likely cost Virgin domestic customers in Australia, since passengers flying in with Air New Zealand would now be more likely to stick with its new codeshare partner, Sondal Bensan, an analyst at Qantas’ biggest shareholder, BT Investment Management, wrote in an email.

“Good for Qantas, bad for Virgin,” he added.

Virgin was not immediately available for comment.

Air New Zealand shares were 4.5 percent higher at noon in New Zealand and Qantas shares were almost 1 percent higher in Australia, as both markets fell on Friday. Virgin shares were unchanged. ]]>
6/1/2018 11:14:37 AM
<![CDATA[American singer Usher enjoys beauty of Siwa]]>
The American musician established his name to be one of the famous celebraties in music industry, mastering both singing and songwriting with a career spanning over 24 years.


, one of Mother Nature’s masterpieces, located about 560 km from Cairo and stretching over 25m below sea level. It includes many palm trees that were meticulously grown between mud-brick homes and also has a number of crystal clear springs, lakes and rivers as a way for villagers to escape from the harsh heat of the sun.

The lake is four meters in depth, but you cannot drown in it due to the heavy capacity of this water, as there is a large amount of natural salt mixed in it.

5/31/2018 9:18:00 PM
<![CDATA[Rare blue whale spotted in Egypt's Taba]]>

In an interview with Egypt Today, Hisham Gabr, head of the Chamber of Diving and Water Sports said that the blue whale was spotted in Egypt’s city of Taba on Wednesday, but no one could capture photos for it. Taba is on the border near Eilat.

Overview shot of the city of Taba – Wikimedia Commons/Mohammed Moussa

Gabr affirmed that the blue whale does not pose any danger to tourists and divers.

Egyptian Ministry of Environment said in a statement published on Thursday that it is monitoring the movement of the giant creature, adding that the blue whale might have lost his way while travelling to the north seeking cold water areas.

blue 2
A blue whale spotted in the gulf of Eilat, May 29, 2018 – courtesy of Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority

The ministry said its marine environment experts will study the reasons behind the presence of the blue whale in the red sea, and analyze the results of such phenomenon.

Environment Minister Khaled Fahmy ordered observation teams in the protectorates of the Red Sea and South Sinai to monitor the creature and capture photos for it.

A 20-meter blue whale of a species that is almost extinct appeared in the gulf of the red sea city of Eilat, far from its usual home in the southern hemisphere and Northern Atlantic, Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority said Tuesday.

The giant marine mammal appeared only 300 meters away from the shore, Ynet news reported. The welcomed guest was not spotted on Wednesday in Eilat, according to media reports, and is believed to have headed south to Egypt.

Blue whales are the largest creatures on the planet. A blue whale almost exists alone or with only one other partner, and may leave its habitat and travel for long distances for reasons including searching for food and reasons related to climate change.

blue 3
A blue whale spotted in the gulf of Eilat, May 29, 2018 – courtesy of Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority

Blue whales are vulnerable creatures that do not jeopardize human beings. However, Egyptian Ministry of Environment has urged citizens, in case they spot the creature somewhere, to stay apart and not to swim close to it.

The blue whale is not familiar with the red sea. Blue whales are up to 30 meters long and weigh up to over170 kilograms. They were hunted almost to extinction in the 20th century. In 1996, the blue whales were placed under protection.

Whaling has decreased the number of Antarctic blue whales, the largest blue whale subspecies, from 390,000 to a low of about 360 in 1973, according to a study by Trevor A. Branch, Koji Matsuoka, and Tomio Miyashita published in 2006.

According to National Geographic in 2016, scientists think the number of blue whales worldwide is between 10,000 and 20,000. However, the estimated numbers are uncertain.]]>
5/31/2018 3:00:24 PM
<![CDATA[Environment Ministry to hold ‘Iftar’ gathering in Wadi Degla June 1]]>
The ministry announced in a statement on their Facebook page that it will hold a celebration at 4 p.m., in cooperation with Sahara Survival School, for the fifth year in a row in Ramadan in Wadi Degla protectorate, south east of Maadi district, Cairo.

The Ministry of Environment holds an iftar gathering in Ramadan – Press photo/Environment Ministry

The celebration will incorporate a fair for sports activities and photography, in addition to seminars about required skills to live in the desert. A fair for Bedouin handmade products will also be held, according to the statement.

Additional reporting by Jehad Al-Sayed

The Ministry of Environment holds an iftar gathering in Ramadan – Press photo/Environment Ministry

The celebration comes on the sidelines of the International Day for Biological Diversity and World Environment Day (WED) celebrations, the statement read. Head of the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency Shehab Abdel Wahab and a number of researchers in the ministry will attend the celebration.

Nations celebrate the World Environment Day on June 5 every year. The theme of this year’s WED is “Beat Plastic Pollution”, which is one of the biggest environmental challenges. According to statistics of the WED, 13 million tons of plastic leak into the oceans, and threaten marine life.

In line with the global move to reduce the consumption of plastic bags, Egyptian Minister of Environment Khaled Fahmy extended the activities of his ministry’s new national initiative called “Enough Plastic Bags”.

Earlier in May, Fahmy participated in the initiative by distributing 4,500 non-woven bags as alternatives to traditional non-recycled plastic bags. About 4,500 eco-friendly biodegradable plastic bags – bags that decompose through living organisms – have been circulated since the launch of the initiative.

The Ministry of Environment launched the EU-funded initiative on June 5, 2017, targeting Egypt’s strong dependency on plastic bags and aiming to reduce their use due to the negative effects they have on the environment and the economy.

The head of the Environmental Affairs Agency declared that Egyptians use about 12 billion plastic bags each year. The use of non-biodegradable plastic bags causes severe problems to the Nile River and the seas; hence, it negatively affects environmental tourism and diving.
5/31/2018 12:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[Singapore Airlines to launch world’s longest commercial flight]]>
The 8,277 nautical mile (15,329km) flight from Singapore to Newark, New Jersey with 161 business class and premium economy seats will eclipse the 7,843 nautical mile Qatar Airways flight from Doha to Auckland as the world’s longest, according to airline data provider OAG.

Airlines including Singapore Airlines, Australia’s Qantas Airways and US-based United Continental Holdings are adding ultra-long haul flights that can capture an airfare premium of around 20 per cent versus flights involving one or more stops.

The Singapore-Newark flight marks the return of a popular route for Singapore Airlines. The carrier had flown the marathon flights until 2013, when high fuel prices made the use of four-engine Airbus SE A340-500 jets uneconomic. It has since flown to New York’s JFK Airport via Frankfurt.

Singapore Airlines is Airbus’ first and to date only customer for the A350-900ULR, an ultra-long range version of the fuel-efficient twin-engine A350 jet.

Qantas has said it is considering the purchase of the A350-900ULR or Boeing Co’s 777X to allow it to fly non-stop from Sydney to London from 2022, an even longer 9,200 nautical mile journey.

Singapore Airlines said on Wednesday that it also plans to introduce non-stop flights from Singapore to Los Angeles with the A350-900ULR at a later date.

The airline expects to receive its first A350-900ULR in September, with all seven on order due by the end of the year.
5/30/2018 11:17:13 AM
<![CDATA[Egyptian Tourism Authority launches campaign in GCC countries]]>
Egyptian Minister of Tourism Rania El Mashat stressed upon the importance of the Arab and GCC market, which represents a huge sector of the touristic market in Egypt, as these regions export hundreds of thousands of tourists to Egypt every year.

Arab tourism to Egypt represents 30 percent of annual touristic income.

The minister further explained that Egypt always welcomes its fellow Arab tourists to visit anytime, adding that most Arab visitors feel at home while they are in Egypt.

She said that Egypt has always been an important destination for Arab visitors because of its close proximity and similarities in the general norms and traditions shared by most Arab nations.

Mashat stressed upon the importance of launching such a promotional program regarding Egypt in the Arab world, especially during the month of Ramadan, as most Arab families gather together during Iftar (meal when Muslims break their fast), to watch the different Ramadan shows broadcasted on TV.

Ahmed Yusuf, head of the Egyptian Tourism Authority, stated that the promotional campaign depends greatly on the short promotional film “This is Egypt”.

The short film achieved numerous global awards, as it is is broadcasted on four TV channels in different countries in the GCC during peak watching hours – before, during and after the special Ramadan shows.

The channels chosen for the promotional campaign are MBC 1, Rotana Khalijeya, Sama Dubai and Dubai TV.

Yusuf further stated that huge promotional signs and banners promoting Egypt are placed outdoors in open areas in the UAE and KSA.

Yusuf also stated that special social media promotional campaigns have been launched to target social media users on different platforms and on smartphones in the KSA, UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain and Jordan.
5/29/2018 12:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[Princess Khadija Palace in Helwan to become museum of religion]]>
The handover was made by Cairo Governor Atef Abdel Hamid, in the presence of Antiquities Minister Khaled Anany - on behalf of Prime Minister Sherif Ismail - Social Solidarity Minister Ghada Waly and other officials and the ambassadors of Austria, Switzerland and Germany.

"The prime minister attaches great importance to the museum that embodies the path of Egypt's religious history as well as depth of religious tolerance among faiths in Egypt," said Antiquities Minister Anany said.

"The palace will be a beacon of reviving Egypt's heritage,

"Bibliotheca Alexandria seeks reviving the history of the Helwan district," he added, pointing out to the unique status of the museum that displays faiths throughout history."

Cairo governor, for his part, said that the renovation of the place has been finalized at a cost of EGP 28 million.

A few months ago, Cairo governorate signed a protocol with Bibliotheca Alexandria to determine the cultural fate of the architectural gem through coordination with authorities concerned to do so.

Princess Khadija is the daughter of Khedive Tewfik, who was the sixth ruler from the Muhammad Ali Dynasty and reigned over Egypt from 1879 to 1892.

The palace was built in 1895 in Helwan, but was given away by Princess Khadija to the Ministry of Health and Population to later become a hospital.

The 500-square meter palace has a western pavilion built on 300 square meters, besides a northern one built on 200 square meters.

It houses 50 halls, sized 25-100 square meters, along with the main hall that accommodates 120 persons.]]>
5/28/2018 9:03:00 AM
<![CDATA[Waha of Siwa, a historic isolated village ]]>CAIRO – 26 May 2018: Qarat Umm El Sagheir, Al Waha, in Siwa Oasis is located about 270 km away in the northeast of Siwa. The village is isolated deep in the desert and is situated about 300 km southeast of Marsa Matruh.

There is no public transport but the village residents receive some assistance from the governor of Matruh and some other parties, along with the annual gifts from the presidency which are received by the Matruh’s governor to deliver to the people of Al Waha.

The gifts include food commodities and financial assistance to everyone in Al Waha.

The population of the Al Waha is estimated at 700 inhabitants. They are of Berber (Amazigh) origin and they speak the Amazigh language alongside the Arabic language. They have no work or activities other than planting palm trees, olive trees and some crops which satisfy their local consumption.

Al Waha residents live in one floored houses built with a mixture of salt and mud. Their houses are located close to the ancient houses which were inhabited by the ancestors of the residents.

The houses in Al Waha - Egypt TodayHassan Moshali.jpg

Men are engaged in the cultivation of palm trees and olive trees, using groundwater that is forced from the ground in a boiling state. The water is poured into a large basin to be stored until it cools down and then used for drinking and watering palm trees, olive trees and crops.

Al Waha depends on the aid delivered from the governorate and other parties. The people of Qarat Umm El Sagheir preserve their instinct and pride in their isolation and the state authorities seek to connect them with the rest of the country and provide them with services.

The last two decades witnessed the provision of some necessary services in the place, through the establishment of a school, a generator to illuminate the village, solar cells, and the provision of televisions so that people can follow up and monitor what happens in Egypt.

Lately, the governorate provided an ambulance in the village to transfer urgent conditions. In the past few years, Matruh provided a car to transport the villagers weekly to Siwa Oasis and return them on the second day. There are no means of communication between the village and the outside world, except for a telephone at the headquarters of the local unit used for emergencies.

The people of Umm El Sagheir get their needs from the surrounding environment and trade with each other by exchanging goods and services. They usually don't need to use money, only in limited cases or to get their needs from outside the Waha by travelling to Siwa or Marsa Matruh.

The school, which was established in the recent years, has contributed in educating the Qarat Umm El Sagheir children, as well as most of the adults. One of the residents received a high level of education after starting at an older age. He now works as a teacher in Qarat Umm El Sagheir School along with other teachers from outside Al Waha who stay at a guest house specialized for them.

Students in Qarat Umm El Sagheir School - Egypt TodayHassan Moshali.jpg

Major General Alaa Abu Zeid, governor of Matruh, confirmed that the people of Qarat Umm El Sagheir refuse to move to any other place that is associated with urbanization and services. He pointed out that previous governors offered the people to move to Siwa Oasis or any other place they choose but they refused.

When traveling to Al Waha, it is preferable to travel with at least two cars in case any technical or mechanical failure takes place because there are no services or telecommunication on the road. ]]>
5/27/2018 3:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Costa Rica's 'Little Jamaica' coast struggles to ride out climate storm]]>
Low boulders now sit in place to help shelter Cocles, with its reggae bar and cafes serving rice and beans, where tourists cycle past fruit stalls selling lychees and soursop and signs warn of sloths crossing the beach road.

But as rising seas threaten parts of the tropical eastern coast, dubbed “Little Jamaica”, many worry that the visitors who generate numerous jobs in the area - known for its palm-fringed beaches and exotic wildlife - could go elsewhere.

“This year was the craziest I’ve ever seen... we lost everything - there was no sand, there was nothing, the water was hitting right here, all those trees fell down,” said Downer, pointing to the nearby road amid a torrential downpour.

“I saw the water come under my car, whoosh - it didn’t take it, but... I’ve never seen that before. I think everything is changing, it’s a little warning,” he said, his family sheltering from the rain under their beach shack surrounded by surfboards.

Global warming could cause sea levels around the world to rise between 70 cm and 1.2 meters (28-47 inches) in the next two centuries, ramping up pressure on the roughly half of the world’s population who live near the coast, said a German-led team of researchers in a study published in February.

Scientists say parts of Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast have lost at least 20 meters (66 ft) of beach in the past 15 years, as creeping sea levels and changing wave patterns cause coastal erosion, often exacerbated by coral reef degradation.

They warn that higher seas and increasingly unpredictable conditions could start to damage infrastructure and take a heavy economic and social toll.

In addition to the creeping effects of climate change, extreme events like hurricanes are likely to worsen the impact on many coastal communities, said Borja Reguero, a researcher at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Trees are being replanted on parts of Costa Rica’s coast to halt erosion and protect livelihoods.

But more extreme conditions demand hefty spending on infrastructure such as wave breaks and sea walls to delay mass relocations, some experts say.

“In 100 years, all of the villages in Costa Rica’s Caribbean and Pacific coasts will inevitably be flooded,” said Omar Lizano Rodriguez, a University of Costa Rica oceanographer.

“There’s not the resources or political will to solve the problem. Costa Rica deals with emergencies but not prevention.”

Tourism is a mainstay on the tropical coast, some 200 km (125 miles) east of San Jose, where many are descended from the Jamaicans who originally came to work on a jungle railway, and English mixes with Spanish and Patois.

In Cahuita, where the coastal national park draws tourists looking for sloths snoozing in the treetops and howler monkeys leaping through the forest, the sea has already consumed slabs of beach and is starting to menace the sleepy town.

On the wooden veranda of Spencer Seaside Lodging where she works, Araceli Huertas explained storm waves are now much higher than in previous years and sometimes crash over the reinforced sea wall in front, soaking the hotel’s rooms.

“The tourists are frightened it’s a tidal wave or a tsunami or something, as they don’t see this very often,” said Huertas, who has lived in the beach town for 15 years. “Now the sea is calm but when the sea looks very high, they want to leave.”

Wild conditions are causing trouble for fishermen who cannot go out in rough seas and are landing smaller catches, said Jose Ash, as two men dragged a boat out of reach of the high tide.

“People who live from the ocean can’t go anywhere - it’s too dangerous,” said the fisherman and tour guide, whose own boat was moored offshore.

“What I hear is they’re going to build a dock right here for the fishermen, they’re going to put some big stones and jacks out there by the big breakers, but that’s just like blah, blah, blah for the past 10 years.”

Cahuita’s national park regularly has to redraw its coastal paths but an elevated wooden walkway built after parts of the access road were washed away now allows it to stay open even when the sea washes ashore, helping keep local guides in work.

As rising waters push back the park’s shorelines and reduce its trees, the animals that tempt visitors to the area are also coming under pressure, said park guard Mirna Cortes Obando.

“All the coastline inside the park has been affected - for example, we’ve lost nearly 50 meters of beach over the last 10 years,” said Cortes, on the veranda of the park’s headquarters, which was surrounded by water during recent storms.

“We’re losing much of the trees here, the almonds, the sea grapes, the coconuts that the animals use for food.”

Together with the non-profit Talamanca-Caribbean Biological Corridor Association, the park is now planting more trees along the coast to limit erosion, while a team monitors the coral reef that helps protect parts of the shore.

Some of the young trees such as coconut palms have been wiped out by storms, but they should eventually create a barrier to protect against rising waters, said Julio Barquero Elizondo, marine biologist at the association.

Educational programs are also crucial to better prepare for climate change, said Barquero in Hone Creek village, where hundreds of saplings grow in the non-profit’s plant nursery.

“We have to have alternatives and not just think about the beach and the sea - the guides should also know about forest tourism and indigenous communities, to have a broader offering so that climate change won’t be so damaging,” he said.

Back in Cahuita’s national park, wildlife guide Richard Hills-Wilson pointed to the tangle of sun-bleached trunks that was once a broad stretch of sand he played on as child.

He is bracing for the next storms, as he marks 33 years of working in the area next month.

“The beach is going to go,” he said. “If there’s no beach, then nobody comes.”]]>
5/26/2018 1:29:32 PM
<![CDATA[Turkey's Muslim-friendly holidays find a modest place in the sun]]>
Dozens of hotels and resorts on Turkey’s shores, featuring separate pools and beaches for men and women to meet religious strictures on modesty, are attracting families from Turkey, the Middle East and Muslim communities in the West.

While still only accounting for a small fraction of tourists, the market for “halal”, or Islamic-compliant, holidays has shrugged off the turmoil and looks set for more growth.

“In the last couple of years there was a boycott of Turkey as a tourism destination but we have seen halal-friendly tourism booming throughout this period,” said Ufuk Secgin of halalbooking.com, which promotes international Islamic holidays.

“Halal conscious travelers are more resilient. They are not easily scared by headlines,” Secgin said, speaking over loud pop music at a men-only pool and water slides in Elvin Deluxe resort.

The total number of tourist arrivals in Turkey dropped by a quarter to a 10-year low in 2016, hit by a failed coup, a wave of bomb attacks and a dispute with Moscow which kept millions of Russians away. It bounced back last year and the government expects 40 million visitors this year.

Secgin’s company brought 12,000 tourists in 2015, almost doubling that number in each of the next two years despite turbulence in Turkey. This year it expects 70,000 to come to visit country whose president, Tayyip Erdogan, is a pious Muslim who has brought religion back into mainstream public life.

Only 60 or so hotels and resorts offer halal-friendly breaks, out of many thousands of hotels across Turkey, but a report in November said Turkey has jumped four places to the third most popular destination for Islamic holidays, behind the United Arab Emirates and Malaysia.

In a sign of the popularity of the halal hotels, they were all fully booked in Turkey last year for the Eid al-Fitr holiday which marks the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, unlike traditional hotels, according to the State of Global Islamic Economy Report prepared by Thomson Reuters and Dinar Standard.

“Noting the consumer demand at the country’s 60 halal hotels, Turkish hoteliers have started to diversify away from conventional tourism by focusing on this emerging segment.”


In Alanya, a Mediterranean resort known for it wide sandy beaches, halal hotels offer a Muslim prayer rug in every room, pools and beaches separately designated for men and women, and mixed areas of families. Food at the buffet meals is all halal, and alcohol is not served.

At the Wome Deluxe hotel, women-only pools with female security guards and spa staff are shielded from outside view by large panels. Guests can only enter after handing in phones and cameras.

“A couple of years ago, 80-90 percent of our guests were from Turkey. Currently more than 60 percent of our guests are foreign Muslims,” said general manager Yusuf Gerceker.

Many of those foreign guests are Muslims from European countries, who say that the rise of right-wing and anti-immigrant sentiment has made them want to take holidays elsewhere. Moves by municipal authorities in France to ban the body-covering burkini swimwear also made them uncomfortable.

“There are prohibited activities for Muslim women in France, we can’t go to beaches or swimming pools,” Rihab Hassaine said, relaxing beside the covered women-only pool with her friends.

“It is not possible to find this kind of holiday with a Muslim concept over there,” Hassaine, from France, said sipping her soda in a bikini at a women’s only pool in southern tourist destination of Alanya.

Yavuz Tanriverdi, born and raised in Germany, playing with his children on a mixed beach in Alanya said he came to Turkey because he wanted to fit in.

“My wife wears a burqa covered bikini, for the people here it’s completely normal, in Germany it wouldn’t be that way,” the 36-year-old father said.

“Everyone looks at you as if you don’t belong.”
5/24/2018 11:35:43 AM
<![CDATA[Thai bay made famous by film 'The Beach' to close for four months]]>
The bay, on Phi Phi Leh island in the Andaman Sea, was the main location of the 2000 film starring Leonardo Di Caprio, which revealed to viewers the stunning beauty of Thailand’s turquoise seas and white-powder beaches, spurring many to visit.

Up to 5,000 visitors go to the beach every day, says Thailand’s tourism agency, traveling by speedboat and ferries to Maya Bay, which is sheltered by 100-meter high cliffs.

General view of Maya bay seen in Andaman sea at Krabi province, Thailand May 23, 2018. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

The closure from June 1 is a bid to salvage the area’s coral reefs, which have been damaged by warmer temperatures and growing numbers of tourists.

“This is one way to try to preserve our natural heritage, which is a vital part of our important tourism industry,” said Kanokkittika Kritwutikon, director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s office in Phuket.

No boats will be allowed to moor in the bay, said a tour operator, Maya Bay Tours.

“We have been advised that Maya Bay will close from 1 June to 30 September 2018 to allow some recovery time for the bay,” it said on its website. “No boats will be allowed to moor in Maya Bay, but we will run past the bay.”

Tourism receipts make up about 12 percent of Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy, but there has been increasing concern about Thailand’s ability to manage its rapidly growing number of visitors and the environmental impact of mass tourism.

This year the country banned smoking and littering at 24 beachside locations over environmental concerns.

Thailand is among the world’s biggest contributors of ocean waste, posing a serious threat to wildlife, the magazine Science said in a report in 2015.

Some in the tourism industry said Maya Bay’s closure would have little impact, however.

“There are other places to visit which are equally interesting,” said Geng, 35, a hotel receptionist on Phi Phi Island, who gave only one name.

“June to September is not high season. I can take tourists to other beaches, like Monkey Beach and Bamboo Island.”

5/23/2018 11:55:48 AM
<![CDATA[Mexican truckers travel in fear as highway robberies bleed economy]]>
Back then, El Flaco, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, was beaten, blindfolded and taken to a house near Mexico City where his captors threatened to kill him. Three days later he managed to escape and flee.

Today he travels with a machete and a satellite tracking device in his cab that can pinpoint him in emergencies.

Truckers covering Mexico’s vast territory often move in convoys to reduce the risk of robberies, which in 2017 almost doubled to nearly 3,000. Some drive with armed escorts traveling alongside them. Others remove the logos from their trucks.

Companies like brewer Grupo Modelo, a unit of AB InBev, and the Mexican subsidiary of South Korea’s LG Electronics have stepped up efforts to protect their drivers, deploying sophisticated geo-location technology and increasing communication with authorities.

The problem is part of a wider Latin American scourge of highway robbery that acts as a further drag on a region long held back by sub-par infrastructure.

“Roads are getting more and more dangerous, you try not to stop,” the 50-year-old El Flaco said, as he drove in the central state of Puebla, the epicenter of highway freight theft.

“Since I was kidnapped, I’ve gotten into the habit of looking in the mirror, checking car number plates, looking at who’s gone past me,” he added. “I look at everything.”

On the most dangerous roads, like those connecting Mexico City with major ports on the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific, it is almost certain that one in every two truckers will be held up, a study by U.S.-based security firm Sensitech showed.

While no official data on losses exist, insurers paid out almost $100 million in 2016 to crime-hit cargo operators, up 4.5 percent on 2015, Mexican insurance association AMIS says.

The true sum is likely far higher: only one in three loads is insured due to the cost, according to industry estimates.

More than 80 percent of goods are transported by road and rail in Mexico, and the thefts are hurting competitiveness at a time the country is seeking to diversify trade and tap new sources of business.

Fuels, food and beverages, building materials, chemicals, electronic goods, auto parts and clothing are all top targets, Sensitech said.

Upon taking office in December 2012, President Enrique Pena Nieto promised to get a grip on gang violence and lawlessness. But after some initial progress, the situation deteriorated and murders hit their highest level on record last year.

Highway robberies of trucks fell through 2014. But they almost doubled in 2015 to 985, hit 1,587 in 2016 and reached 2,944 last year.

The government has responded by stepping up police patrols in affected areas and lengthening prison sentences for freight robbery to 15 years.

But robberies are still rising and most are not even reported due to the arduous bureaucratic process involved, Sensitech says.

“It’s hurting productivity and competitiveness,” said Leonardo Gomez, who heads a transportation national industry body.

Some drivers are armoring cabs in trucks made by companies like U.S. firm Kenworth, an expensive move that still only covers a tiny fraction of the almost 11 million trucks crisscrossing Latin America’s second-largest economy.

Last year, 53 trucks were armored against high-caliber weapons, up 40 percent from 2016, according to the Mexican Association of Automotive Armorers.

Attacks are not confined to roads. Some 1,752 robberies were recorded on railways last year, official data show.

Criminals have also become more sophisticated.

They are turning to high-caliber weapons and employ devices to block Global Positioning Systems (GPS) to prevent trucks communicating their whereabouts, experts say.

Previously, companies that suffered robberies were generally able to recover their vehicles. Not any more.

“It’s not just the goods they want, it’s the trucks too,” said Carlos Jimenez of Mexican insurance association AMIS.]]>
5/22/2018 2:49:14 PM
<![CDATA[Maznoq app helps find the nearest restroom]]>
Wherever you are; if you need to find a restroom, this app will definitely help you reach the nearest restroom location.

Visit the website www.maznoq.com and enter your email address to get the application as soon as it’s out.

Maznoq app

On Maznoq Facebook page, users wrote positive feedback regarding the app. “This is going to be the best app in the world,” Hassan Mamdouh, a Facebook user commented.
“This application will help a lot of people, including me,” Ali Alaa said.

Another user noted, “Even though people are making fun of this app, it will be very successful.”

5/21/2018 10:50:01 AM
<![CDATA['Crystal cloud' installation draws crowds to Vietnam rice terrace]]>
Local farmers mingled with curious tourists to capture photos of the netting decorated with Swarovski crystals and draped over towering bamboo and steel poles on the top of the terraced hill in Yen Bai province.

Some were in awe of the unexpected display in the far-flung rice field.

"This is very unique, I've never seen any outdoor exhibit like this," said tourist Vu Chi Bao. "When the sun shines and reflects on the crystals... it looks wonderful."

Farmer Lu Thi Ly was amazed at the growing crowds coming to the site.

"We can't believe this many people know about these rice terraces now, these crystals have made them more popular," he said.

But not all were dazzled.

The 'crystal cloud' installation features 58,000 shimmering beads - AFP

Several people took to social media to complain about the flashy installation, saying it tarnished the area's natural landscape.

"I don't know what is beautiful about it, the original nature is already a masterpiece. It's just going to ruin it," Facebook user Luu Bich posted.

Vietnam is racing to develop its tourism sector in a bid to boost its economy and catch up with more popular Asian destinations like Thailand and Malaysia.

But it has also come under fire for forging ahead with controversial tourism projects.

A cable car to the country's highest mountain in northern Sapa sparked outrage from some locals when it opened in 2016, and a similar project proposed in a remote cave in central Vietnam has drawn scorn in recent months.

Organisers said they hope to tick up tourist visits to Yen Bai and "open dialogue to create arts in public spaces", according to the event's official Facebook page.

Organisers said they hope to tick up tourist visits to Yen Bai and 'open dialogue to create arts in public spaces - AFP

Some 500,000 tourists visited the northern province last year, compared to 6.9 million to better-known Halong Bay and 2.5 million people to Sapa, according to official statistics.

The figures include domestic tourism, which is fast-growing in Vietnam as officials try to draw visitors to sites like Yen Bai on the road less traveled.

The crystal cloud display is open until the beginning of harvest season in October.
5/20/2018 10:49:51 AM
<![CDATA[TripAdvisor readers choose Hurghada among world's Top 25 Destinations]]>
Hurghada city at the governorate of Red Sea came at the 21st grade of the list, where TripAdvisor recommended its readers to visit the Egyptian resort for several reaons.

The Red Sea resort of Hurghada - Flickr

“Stunning coral reefs and turquoise waters perfect for windsurfing have made Hurghada, on Egypt's Red Sea Coast, a busy resort town. Within easy reach of the stunning Giftun Islands and the Eastern Arabian Desert,” TripAdvisor wrote on its official website.

“Hurghada has seen enormous amounts of development in the past decade, it does seem overrun with tourists at times. But it’s a relatively easy beach escape for Europeans, and some of the world's best diving and snorkeling sites are just offshore. Walk or catch a cab to explore the old quarter, El Dahar” it added.

Hurghada hotels in the southern part of the city February 5, 2011 – Wikimedia/Marc Ryckaert

The Egyptian resort was followed by New Delhi in India, Cusco in Peru, Rio de Janeiro in Brazil and Sydney in Australia, while the French capital of Paris topped the list as the most attractive city in the world for tourists, followed by London, Rome, Bali island in Indonesia and Crete island in Greece.

TripAdvisor is the world's largest travel site; it enables travelers to unleash the full potential of every trip, with over 630 million reviews and opinions covering the world's largest selection of travel listings worldwide, covering approximately 7.5 million accommodations, airlines, experiences, and restaurants, the list is based on the voting of holidaymakers and tourists of the most appealing cities in the world.

Aquarium introduces native sea animals in Safaga – Wikimedia.com
5/19/2018 4:14:59 PM
<![CDATA[Going back in time on Portugal’s ‘presidential train’]]>
Now, after a one-million-euro ($1.2 million) restoration, the luxury, electric blue “presidential train” is taking passengers again — though only on 25 days a year, when it leaves its home at the National Railway Museum to criss-cross the picturesque Douro valley for a 500-euro gourmet trip.

This new lease of life was brought about by Goncalo Castel-Branco, a 37-year-old businessman who saw the six-carriage train in the museum and fell “in love”.

“I was determined to do something with it,” he tells AFP.

“My daughter suggested turning it into a restaurant. I found that idea brilliant.”

So he had the train restored in 2010 and launched “The Presidential,” a culinary travel experience that takes passengers on a nine-hour journey which includes a gourmet menu and winery visit.

Every spring and throughout the grape harvesting season, it departs from the northern city of Porto to weave through the Douro, taking in the famous vineyards of the region.]]>
5/19/2018 10:59:45 AM
<![CDATA[People are pillaging the world’s protected areas: study]]>
One third of the world’s protected areas are under “intense human pressure,” warned the report.

Furthermore, some 2.3 million square miles (six million square kilometers) of protected land — equivalent to two-thirds the size of China — are unlikely to conserve endangered biodiversity.

“Only 10 percent of lands were completely free of human activity, but most of these regions are in remote areas of high-latitude nations, such as Russia and Canada,” it said.

The problem is most acute in Asia, Europe and Africa, study co-author James Watson, director of the science and research initiative at the Wildlife Conservation Society, told AFP.

“Most nations are doing the first step, and gazetting protected areas but not doing the harder, and more important, second step of funding the management of those protected areas and ensuring they were secured against large-scale human interference,” he said.

Protected areas are seen as a critical solution to the biodiversity crisis facing the planet, by allowing safe havens for birds, mammals, and marine life to thrive.

The amount of lands set aside globally as protected areas has doubled since 1992.

“We know that when they are well managed, well financed and well placed, they work,” Watson said.

– Six-lane highway? –

But researchers found disturbing examples of large-scale human infrastructure being built inside nature preserves.

For example, railways run through Tsavo East and Tsavo West national parks in Kenya, home to the endangered eastern black rhinoceros and lion populations famous for their strange lack of manes, Watson said.

“Plans to add a six-lane highway alongside the railway are well underway,” he said.

Barrow Island National Park in Western Australia — home to endangered mammal species such as the spectacled hare-wallaby, burrowing bettong, golden bandicoot and black-flanked rock-wallaby — also house major oil and gas extraction activities.

In the Indonesian island of Sumatra, more than 100,000 people have illegally settled in Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park — home to the critically endangered Sumatran tiger, orangutan and rhinoceros — and converted around 15 percent of the park area for coffee plantations.

US national parks like Yosemite and Yellowstone also suffer due to “the increasingly sophisticated tourism infrastructure being built inside their borders,” he said.

“We found major road infrastructure such as highways, industrial agriculture, and even entire cities occurring inside the boundaries of places supposed to be set aside for nature conservation,” said co-author Kendall Jones, a researcher at Queensland University in Australia.

“More than 90 percent of protected areas, such as national parks and nature reserves, showed some signs of damaging human activities.”

Researchers said solutions include making sure governments set aside the funds to manage preserves strictly for biodiversity.

Some of the success stories in this realm include Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary in Cambodia, Madidi National Park in Bolivia, and Yasuni Biosphere Reserve in Ecuador, Watson said.]]>
5/18/2018 11:05:34 AM
<![CDATA[Bye bye 'beer bike'? Amsterdam determined to tame tourism]]>
The leading Green-Left and other parties negotiating a new municipal government after March elections vowed to return “Balance to the City”, in a document of that name seen by Reuters.

“The positive sides of tourism such as employment and city revenues are being more and more overshadowed by the negative consequences” including trash and noise pollution, the document said.

Changes the document outlines include curtailing “amusement transportation” such as multi-person “beer bikes”; cracking down on alcohol use in boats on the canals; further restricting AirBnB and other home rentals; and a large tax hike.

FILE PHOTO: Tourists pose for photos outside the Rijksmuseum in central Amsterdam, Netherlands, December 1, 2017. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

The plans announced on Wednesday also include creating an inventory of all commercial beds in the city to try to cap various sectors such as those on cruise ships and in hotels.

“I’m very happy that the city is now finally taking action, because residents have been asking for it for a very long time,” said Bert Nap of neighborhood organization d’Oude Binnenstad, in the historic center.

“What I’m worried about is that this package of measures is so drastic that there will be a lot of lawsuits and political resistance, which will cost a lot of time.”

He said the city was suffering from too many visitors in general, which had the effect of changing the character of the center into one big tourist attraction. He also said some unruly, drunken tourists were making the city center an unattractive place for local residents.

With a population of around 800,000, the city expects 18 million tourists in 2018, an increase of 20 percent from 2016 levels, many drawn by an edgy atmosphere generated by readily available soft drugs and the “red light” sex zone.

FILE PHOTO: Dam Square is pictured in this aerial shot of Amsterdam, Netherlands, June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Cris Toala Olivares/File Photo

Anti-tourist and anti-expatriate sentiment have been steadily on the rise in Amsterdam, as both are blamed in part for helping drive housing prices increasingly out of the reach of ordinary Dutch people.

The average apartment in Amsterdam cost 407,000 euros ($475,000) in 2017, an increase of around 12 percent from 2016 levels, according to national real estate association NVM.

The change of emphasis has already started from national government over the past years, to try to dissuade visitors from the more earthy pastimes the city is famous for.

Advertising campaigns have focused on the city’s canals, the Anne Frank House and the museums packed with the greatest works of Van Gogh and Rembrandt.

Legislators have helped the re-branding, shutting a third of the city’s brothels in 2008 and starting a program in 2011 to close marijuana cafes located near schools.

“Amsterdam is a city to live and work in - it’s only a tourist destination in the second place,” the municipal document said.

5/17/2018 11:14:29 AM
<![CDATA[Thomas Cook on track with Turkey, Greece, Egypt holidays popular]]>
Analysts are on average expecting Thomas Cook to post operating profit of 352 million pounds for the 12 month period to Sept. 31, which would represent a 7 percent rise on last year’s result.

Thomas Cook said that in Britain, the smaller part of its business in revenue terms compared to its bigger divisions in the Nordics and Germany, France and Belgium, margins were under pressure due to adverse currency moves and hotel cost inflation.

It was mitigating this pressure by shifting holidays from Spain to destinations like Greece and Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean.

For its first-half, which includes its weaker winter season when fewer Europeans take holidays, Thomas Cook on Thursday posted an underlying loss from operations of 169 million pounds, a 5 percent improvement on last year.

That was buoyed by strong demand for holidays to Egypt and long-haul destinations, improving its first-half performance.

Thomas Cook also said on Thursday that it would scrap its Club 18-30 holiday brand.]]>
5/17/2018 10:25:20 AM
<![CDATA[Stories behind 9 of Egypt’s colloquial proverbs ]]>
Arabic idiomatic expressions reflect the wisdom and beauty of the Arabic language, and they depict a general truth that has been realized over generations of experience, representing a sensible view of the entire world.

Many Egyptians use idioms without knowing the wonderful stories behind them. While some Egyptian proverbs are based on actual stories, others have been made up to express a certain idea in specific situations.

1 - Zucchini

In Arabic: hiya kussa

English equivalent: on the clout list

1 (1)
Zucchini, September 3, 2014 - Wikimedia/MikeMozart

Egyptians use this proverb for referring to corruption, favoritism and nepotism, and especially when a rule does not apply to all people.

The story of this proverb dates back to the Mamluk era. All the gates of the Cairo were closed at night, and everyone was prevented from entering. Therefore, all people had to wait out until the morning to enter, except zucchini merchants because their vegetable goes bad quickly.

This exception angered the other traders because the law did not ensure equality between them. One night, the guards allowed zucchini merchant to cross the gate, so one of the angry merchants yelled “it is zucchini,” explaining to those helplessly watching some traders crossing and others not that the fortunate ones carry zucchini.

Hence, Egyptians inherited the idiom of “zucchini” and repeat it when they see any corruption or illegal acts.

2 – Entering a bathroom is not like leaving it

In Arabic: Dukhul el hamam mesh zay khurugu

English equivalent: to be in deep water

Emergency exit WC sign, March 31, 2007 - Wikimedia/Hendrike

During the Ottoman era in Egypt, a man decided to open a new Turkish bathhouse. To attract many customers; he wrote on a placard that entering the bath was free.

Therefore, a large number of people rushed in blindly, but when the customers finished and decided to leave, the owner completely refused to return the customers’ clothes until they paid a fee for using the bath.

The customers argued that the placard stated they could enter for free. He then replied: “entering the bath is not like leaving it.” From this moment onwards, the bathroom owner’s response became an Egyptian idiom; Egyptians use this idiom when someone gets involved in a dilemma and is unable to get out of it as easily.

3 – We buried it together

In Arabic: Dafnino sawa

English equivalent: you can’t have your cake and eat it, too or read the riot act

Two donkeys - CC via Pixabay/JACLOU-DL

Once upon a time, two merchants had a donkey and they overloaded it with work, so they named it “Abo El Sabr” (the father of patience) due to its endurance. One day, their donkey died and they cried a lot. Then, they decided to appreciate the donkey’s efforts and buried it appropriately. The two merchants sat next to the donkey’s grave every day and cried until people noticed their grief.

People asked them about the reason for their sadness. They responded, “Abo El Sabr died; he was a symbol goodness, bliss, helpfulness and mercy," so people thought that they spoke about a holy person or Sheikh.

Overnight, the two merchants built a mausoleum over the donkey’s grave, and people began collecting offerings, gifts and presents for “Sheikh Abo El Sabr.”

A few years later, one of these merchants took the entire amount of gifts collected without splitting them in half; the other merchant threatened to complain to Sheikh Abo El Sabr. His partner laughed and said: “who is Abo El Sabr? We buried him together, remember?” Nowadays, people use the proverb when someone tries to trick and deceive his accomplice.

4 – Those who feared shame, died

In Arabic: Elli ekhtashu mato

English equivalent: No morals

A house burns-Wikimedia/Kpahor

Egyptians repeat this saying to complain about people who have no shame.

People during the Ottoman era used firewood, timber, wood and sawdust to heat the bathroom floor and water. One day, a fire erupted in one of the women’s bathrooms.

The majority of women rushed to flee from the fire without wearing their clothes, whereas others who were shy preferred death over escaping while naked.

When the owner of the bathroom asked if anyone had died, the doorman told him: “those who feared shame, died.”

5 – The co-wife is sour, even if she is a jar

In Arabic: El-durra murra hatta law kanet garra

English equivalent: A jealous woman will set a whole house on fire

An illustration of two women fighting in the street – CC via Wikimedia Commons

This is one of the most popular idioms in the Middle East, especially when a husband gets married for a second time.

Once upon a time, there was a woman who asked her husband to marry another to be able to have children, as she was infertile. However, her husband refused because he knew that jealousy and fights might erupt between the two wives.

The husband agreed due to his wife’s insistence, but he told her that he would marry a foreign woman to minimize problems that might occur. After a while, he returned to his house with a human-sized pottery jar and dressed it in women’s clothes. He then put the jar in his bedroom and told his first wife he would introduce her to his new wife after he returned from his work.

The husband went to work and when he came back, his first wife told him she was humiliated and insulted by his second wife. Therefore, he beat the jar of pottery until it broke and his wife recognized the truth. She then told him: “the co-wife is sour, even if she is a jar.”

6 - He, who does not know, says lentil

In Arabic: Ele maye’rafsh ye’oul ads

English equivalent: Can’t see the forest for the trees

Red lentils spilling out of a jar - Creative Commons via Wikimedia Commons

People use this proverb when they attempt to explain the truth of an idea to others who do not believe it and see it from a different perspective.

There was once a thief who stole money from a legume merchant. Running away, the thief stumbled into a sack of lentils, causing the lentils to scatter everywhere.

Hence, people thought that the thief had stolen some lentils due to hunger, so they blamed the legume merchant for his “cruelty” and they let the thief escape. The merchant said: “he, who does not know, says lentil.”

7 – A monkey is a deer in its mother’s eyes

In Arabic: El-erd fe ein ommo ghazal

English equivalent: A face only a mother could love

A monkey embraces its mother – CC via Wikimedia Commons

Egyptians say this idiom to criticize people with clearly biased opinions; for example, when people mock someone who admires the beauty or work of someone who actually does not deserve the praise.

The story of this idiom was written by the Greek storyteller, Aesop; he wrote a lot of stories and fairy tales for children in order to teach them moral lessons.

One of Aesop's stories told the tale of the king of the forest who commanded a competition to choose the most beautiful animal in the jungle and to give a prize for the winner. The contest comprised a lion with its cub, a peacock with its young, a cat with its kitten, a zebra with its foal and a deer with its fawn.

However, at the end of the competition, all the attendees were surprised when they saw a monkey with her infant participating in the contest. The attendees tried to convince the monkey to withdraw from the competition, but the monkey completely refused and tried to convince the others that her young is beautiful. The king laughed and said: “a monkey is a deer in its mother’s eyes.”

8 – He, who has a vial on his head, touches it

In Arabic: Ely 3ala rasu bat7a ye7ases 3aliha

English equivalent: Red handed

A person holds a feather – CC via Pixabay/MariaGodfrida

This idiom is usually used when people are talking in general about a topic, and then someone becomes annoyed and goes on to defend himself.

Long ago, a man lived alone in a small village and raised chickens, but he observed that the number of his chickens was decreasing, so he went to a sheikh at the mosque and complained to him.

The next day, the sheikh decided to gather the villagers to give them a sermon about honesty. During his speech, he referred to the man’s chickens that had been stolen. The sheikh ended his sermon by saying: “I discovered the thief, as he forgot to remove the feather from his head.” A man automatically hurried to clean his head, revealing he was the thief. In time, Egyptians replaced the “feather” with a “vial,” which in turn has been given a different meaning to be a “head injury.” The usage of the idiom remained the same.

9 – Came back with Hunain’s shoes

In Arabic: A’ad be khufain Hunain

English equivalent: to come to grief

People say this idiom when they fail to do or achieve something.

An illustration of a pair of leather clogs – CC via Wikimedia Commons

Once upon a time, there was a renowned shoemaker in Al Hirah, Iraq, named Hunain, and people came to him from all over the world due to his skill and experience in making high-quality shoes.

One day, a traveler riding a camel stopped in front of Hunain’s shop. The traveler admired Hunain's shoes and started asking him about the price. After much bargaining, they never reached an agreement, and the traveler began talking down to Hunain.

Hunain got annoyed by the traveler’s behavior, especially that Hunain's customers left because they saw him preoccupied with the traveler, so Hunain did not sell anything.

Hunain decided to get back at this traveler by stealing his camel and everything loaded on it. He went on a side road and threw one shoe on the road and a few meters away he put the other shoe.

During the traveler way, he saw a shoe but he did not care because the other shoe was missing. After a short distance, the traveler found the second show. Therefore, the traveler left his camel and went to collect the shoes from the road, which allowed Hunain to steal the camel. When the traveler returned to his home, his relative asked him about his camel and all the things he purchased during his travel. The traveler said: “I returned with Hunain’s shoes.”
5/16/2018 11:03:50 AM
<![CDATA[Serbian village hopes its vampire will rival Dracula as tourist draw]]>
As yet, an unmarked grave that could be that of Petar Blagojevic, a peasant who died in 1725, is not quite the spectacle of Bran Castle, which has become known as the home of Dracula and attracts visitors from around the world.

But that is not stopping the villagers of Kisiljevo, around 100 km (60 miles) east of Belgrade, from dreaming big.

“We have one thing no other village in the world has. We have the Kisiljevo vampire,” notary and folklorist Mirko Bogicic said, speaking of his hopes for eventually building a vampire themed village, with period costumes and homes.

Bogicic said Blagojevic came back from the dead to torment his family and neighbors, lurking near houses to demand food or shoes and attacking and strangling his victims.

In a region where superstitions and similar stories are abundant, Bogicic says the difference in Kisiljevo is that the story was documented at the time by a representative of the then Habsburg monarchy, Frombald.

According to a story published a Vienese newspaper of the time, terrified villagers demanded an investigation which led to the opening of Blagojevic’s grave.

“They found the body intact, with his beard and nails visibly grown ... they quickly prepared a hawthorne stake and he was stabbed with it ...,” Bogicic said, holding a photocopy of the newspaper.

“The he (Frombald) ... noted that those wounds, and mouth and ears all bled fresh, red blood.”

Nearly three centuries later, Kisiljevo, the nearby lakeside resort Srebrno Jezero and the small riverside town of Veliko Gradiste are looking to cash in.

They hope the legend will attract tourists from the Danube cruises, some of which already stop in Veliko Gradiste.
5/15/2018 11:22:12 AM
<![CDATA[Locations of Holy Family's visit to Egypt to be renovated in 6 months]]>
This stage will consist of five individual sites amongst 25 total, in the areas of Masr Al Qadima, Al Maadi and Wady El Natron. The journey’s path is said to be 3500 KM in distance.

Ismail assigned the attendees of the meeting to create a group of representatives for the different entities that will be assigned to supervise all the works related to the project throughout its revival stages and alongside the path of the journey, especially during the period of trial and error, the preparation of the tent that is supposed to be prepared to welcome the visitors and to complete paper work related to the Ministry of Antiques.

The committee decided that all works should be done simultaneously in all the necessary spots along the sacred journey’s path. The meeting was attended by the ministers of antiques, tourism, local development in addition to the governors of Cairo and Al Beheira.

During the meeting, the Ministry of Tourism reviewed a report of the completed works, confirming the preparation to welcome visitors during the upcoming period. Part of the renovation works consists of preparing the surrounding areas of the five sites of the journey’s path to be able to support the works that is made in the specified sites. In the specific locations and surrounding areas the pavements have been fixed for visitors to walk freely and reorganizing of the traffic in the surrounding areas is also put in mind.

Signs with names and description of each site will be prepared to guide the public and shabby areas are being regarded for renovation works to support the touristic site and create an atmosphere in which the tourists can enjoy their time, yet find it easy to access any services they may need, such as toilets or restaurants, cafes and malls. This area should be prepared with universal touristic standards, to be able to get as much benefit from it as possible.

The aim of the renovation work is to encourage Religious tourism in Egypt, taking advantage of the amazing and unique monuments Egypt posseses and to create an educational, touristic experience for the visitors where they can enjoy sightseeing while being educated about the story behind it and its related matters.

The Holy Family came to Egypt, traveling for about three-and-a-half years across the country. What we have done is—and this project is not recent, we started it about two or three years ago— we picked eight locations in four cities and we readied them from the infrastructure perspective to receive the customers, clients and tourists,” Hesham el-Demery, chairman of the Egyptian Tourism Promotion Board, told Egypt Today in April. 

To promote the tour, in collaboration with Egyptian authorities, Pope Francis visited Egypt later in April of 2017, carried out mass and acknowledged the Holy Family’s journey in Egypt as an official Christian pilgrimage. This announcement puts the Holy Family tour on equal footing to Fatima in Portugal, suggesting that thousands of Christian tourists would visit Egypt.

Ismail declared to reporters last April 2017, that the Tourism Ministry has devised a program to encourage tourists to visit the country to watch a unique artistic rendition of the religious story and to trace the journey’s trail that covers many Egyptian cities after Virgin Mary, Jesus and Joseph had fled King Herod’s persecution in Palestine.]]>
5/14/2018 10:23:40 AM
<![CDATA[Tourists visit ancient temple in Sohag during Nile cruise]]>
Ayman Abdel Monaem, Sohag governor, pointed out that Abydos and such Nile cruises would help put Sohag on the map of international tourism.

Head of Al Belina City Hall in Sohag, Amer Awad, said that Abydos welcomed the 55 tourists traveling on a Nile cruise. Upon their arrival, the tourists received bouquets and expressed their happiness for being in Abydos and exploring King Seti l temple.

Abydos is one of the oldest cities of ancient Egypt and it’s located about 11km west of the Nile River in Al Belina, Sohag.

It is considered to be one of the magnificent archeological sites in Egypt; the sacred city was the place of many ancient temples and it is believed that Osiris was buried there.

Façade, Temple of Seti I, Abydos, Egypt - CC via Wikimedia CommonsRoland Unger
Façade, Temple of Seti I, Abydos, Egypt - CC via Wikimedia CommonsRoland Unger.jpg

King Seti l was one of the least known pharaohs in ancient Egypt. His stunning temple is among the famous ancient attractions still standing in Egypt.

Today, Abydos is known for the memorial temple of King Seti l. The temple consists of inscriptions from the 19th Dynasty, known in the modern world as the Abydos King List.
In 2017, Egypt was included in the Telegraph’s list of “20 incredible holidays in the river” as one of the most amazing open air museums in the world, especially the Nile cruise from Cairo to Luxor and Aswan.

According to National Geographic’s list of the best 21 cruises in the world, two Egyptian Nile cruises made it to the top six and they are Nour El Nil's luxurious cruise ships Malouka (16-passenger capacity) and Meroë (20-passenger capacity).

National Geographic promised that the experience will make the tourist feel like a modern day pharaoh.
5/13/2018 2:35:07 PM
<![CDATA[In Iraq's crumbling Basra, a yearning for a glorious past]]>
Once dubbed the “Venice of the Middle East” for its network of canals, the 1,400-year-old city was a magnet for regional tourism until the early 1980s.

Today the cherished canal of Mohamed’s youth is a reeking, refuse-filled cesspool, forcing passersby to hold their noses.

It is a showcase for the widespread breakdown of public services in a country plagued by turmoil, corruption and decay since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

“Basra was once a wonderful place,” said Mohamed, 52, who runs a grocery shop established by his father in 1966 in a street full of traditional dwellings that are falling apart.

“But we’ve had wars and neglect,” he said, pointing to the illegible scrawl on a wooden post from the 1960s - the last time Iraqi authorities put up street signs in the city of 2.5 million people, Iraq’s second largest, just upstream from the Gulf.

Basrawis interviewed at random said they would not vote in Saturday’s parliamentary election or, even if they do, had lost faith that officials would restore their city to its old glory.

A shopping mall, some five-star hotels and elegant restaurants have sprung up in Basra since 2003 thanks to steady oil money, port facilities and an international airport.

Iraq, OPEC’s second-largest producer, extracts most of its oil from southern fields and exports it through terminals in and around Basra - the engine of an expanding private sector with a middle class largely in work, unlike much of the rest of Iraq.

But since 2003, state authorities have not restored a single house in Basra’s historic Old City, made up of Ottoman edifices famous for wood carvings on balconies, windows and ceilings.

State interest in preserving the Old City faded as Iraq went through a ruinous series of wars - with nearby Iran in 1980-88, and U.S.-led coalition forces that ended Saddam’s occupation of Kuwait in 1991 and then his rule in 2003. A U.N. embargo in place until 2003 helped lay waste to the oil-driven economy.

Only five historic residences were partially repaired in the 1990s and much of the remaining residential stock is at risk of collapse, according to Azhar Hashim, who runs Basra’s historic heritage department.

Her office has carried out studies recommending restorations of scores of Old City residence. “But nothing has happened,” Hashim said with a shrug.

State officials blame a public funding crisis wrought by years of low oil prices. But Basra residents blame profound neglect and corruption in public services over the past decades, worsening under the Saddam-era sanctions.

“It’s mismanagement, corruption and theft (of public funds),” said Walid Mustafa, a retired soldier who grew up in an Ottoman house whose roof has collapsed.

Basra is one of the few cities in the Middle East without an effective water treatment system. It boasted an advanced sanitary infrastructure in the 1960s but it broke down decades ago, turning Basra’s waterways into cesspools whose stench is compounded by a notoriously hot desert climate.

Even major roads are potholed while civic pride projects such as a “sports city” to host competitions were aborted.

Ali al-Ghasseb, chairman of the Basra Investment Commission, acknowledged mistakes after 2003 in repairing infrastructure.

But he said Basra province and the central government were now working to improve the sewage system thanks to a Japanese loan while a new hospital was being built with help of Kuwait.

The World Bank is also helping Iraq reduce severe air pollution arising from the gas flares of nearby oil fields.

Located at Iraq’s marshy southern tip where the Euphrates and Tigris rivers merge near the Gulf, Basra was for centuries a melting pot of Arabs, Persians, Turks, Indians and Greeks who all left their cultural imprint.

Much of Iraq suffered destruction in the string of wars since the 1980s. But Basra was especially hard hit as a city on the front line of the war with Iran, only a few dozen km (miles) across the Shatt al-Arab delta to the east.

More devastation occurred in the course of two uprisings by southern Iraq’s majority Shi’ite Muslims against the Sunni Saddam that were brutally crushed.

More recently, a drought has almost dried up canals while Basra is also often engulfed in smog blamed on oil production.

Tired of the state failing to restore historic buildings, local artists are trying to revive a once-vibrant cultural life.

At a refurbished Ottoman palace, art exhibitions and concerts are held as painters, poets and musicians have come back after many years of keeping a low profile to avoid Saddam’s agents or, after his overthrow, Islamist militants.

“We now have an event almost every day. Security has improved,” said Abdelhak al-Mothafer, head of the state cultural centre in the palace.

But with few inclined to make their way through broken, garbage-strewn streets to the palace, painter Sabri Al-Malek sat alone there one recent day waiting for buyers to show up.

“I have sold only three of 21 paintings,” he said. “We don’t have any tourists anymore like in the 1970s when Basra had its heyday.”

5/12/2018 10:31:11 AM
<![CDATA[Despite hurricanes and Trump, Cuba retains charm for foreign tourism firms]]>
According to sources with knowledge of industry figures, tourist arrivals in the first three months of the year fell to roughly 1.4 million compared with 1.5 million in the same period of 2017.

Of that figure, 177,000 people arrived by sea and spent relatively little money onshore, an increase of 38,000 from the previous year, as foreign cruise lines stepped up their visits.

The downward trend continued in April, the sources said, the tail end of the November-to-May high season in Cuba.

Yet hospitality companies including Spain's Melia Hotels International and Iberostar Hotels & Resorts, Singapore’s Banyan Tree Holdings Ltd. and Apollo Global Management LLC’s Diamond Resorts International Inc. have all announced new projects.

Representatives of the companies often complain about the impossibility of owning their properties outright and the local bureaucracy, but acknowledge they make a profit.

"Cuba was, is and will be a key tourism area so it is just a matter of timing," said Eric Peyre, who represents Louvre Hotels SAS, a French subsidiary of China’s state-owned Jin Jiang International Hotels Development Co, one of the world’s largest.

Peyre, who has worked in the Cuban tourism industry for 25 years, said the company just took over one hotel but plans to have 10 within a few years.

"Every hospitality company will come to Cuba one day or another and we have decided to enter now," he said.

Over the last two years more than a dozen cruise lines have also arrived, including U.S. leaders Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., Carnival Corporation and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., which have steadily increased their Cuba stake.

"United States cruise lines continue to add sailings and increase the size of vessels on the routes," said John Kavulich, president of the New York based U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, who follows the sector. He said the main restraint on growth was port capacity in Cuba.

The dip in tourism revenue this year is painful for Cuba's Communist-run government, which is struggling with declining export revenues and dwindling support from crisis-hit ally Venezuela.

The Trump administration has made it more difficult for people to travel to Cuba, banned Americans from patronizing military-owned establishments and issued a travel warning that it may be unsafe to visit Cuba.


Havana was particularly hard hit as the number of American tourists dramatically declined, leaving once overflowing hotels and restaurants with plenty of room to spare.

The U.S. trade embargo restricts Americans to cultural, religious and educational tourism or family visits, thus making Havana, and not beach resorts, a top draw for U.S. visitors.

U.S. visitors, not including those of Cuban origin, fell to 98,000 in the first three months of the year versus 160,000 a year earlier. Of those, 25,000 came on cruise ships, twice the number during the same period in 2017, the sources said.

Nevertheless, there are five new five-star hotels under construction in Havana, three of which broke ground recently.

The hotels are all owned by the military-run Gaviota hospitality corporation and will be managed by foreign firms. The Trump administration has forbidden U.S. citizens from patronizing Gaviota.

Other hotels in the Cuban capital are undergoing renovations. Most are owned by non-military tourism companies, such as the famous sea-front Hotel Habana Riviera built by U.S. mobster Meyer Lansky on the eve of the 1958 Communist revolution.

"Everybody is planning long term. That is why the Cuban government is building in Havana and all foreign companies are asking how to be part of this development," Peyre said.

Foreign businessmen and local experts say 2017, with a booming 26 percent growth in arrivals before Hurricane Irma hit in September, was a fluke and so this year’s downturn is not the end of the world. Despite the hurricane's impact, arrivals for last year as a whole rose 16 percent.

"We are very pleased that we can show the world that for us Cuba is indeed the next big frontier market and a great place to invest," said Sebastiaan Berger, CEO of Ceiba Investments, a Guernsey-incorporated company with close to 20 years experience in Cuba and a $175 million portfolio.

Ceiba announced this month a $150 million project to upgrade four joint-venture hotels and build a fifth with Cuban partner Cubanacan and Melia Hotels International. The Melia Habana Hotel will add 168 rooms.

Berger, like Peyre, was unperturbed by the Trump administration.

"We are a company dedicated to investments in Cuba and have been investing in real estate under Presidents Bush Sr., Bush Jr., Bill Clinton, Barrack Obama and now Trump," he said.]]>
5/11/2018 6:06:46 PM
<![CDATA[Ladder specialized for Airbus 380 reaches Egypt]]>
Engineer Mohammed Saeed Mahrous, chairman of the company, announced that Cairo International Airport had always been ready with the facilities necessary for such aircrafts to land safely on the runway, but the ladder for the specified airbus was missing, which disabled such aircrafts to land in Cairo International Airport.

Mahrous mentioned in his statements that the ladder costs €824,000 and that the company was able to receive it with all its parts. Cairo International Airport is now ready to welcome any Airbus 380 aircraft to land in its runways, according to Mahrous.

Among the first aviation companies that owned Airbus 380 aircrafts are Emirates, Singaporean and Itihad airlines, which are considered the pioneers of the aviation industry globally.

Airbus 380 is a huge aircraft and is a double decker. It was first manufactured by Airbus company in 2004. There are around 538 of that specific aircraft operating globally. These aircrafts are designed for long-haul flights and can welcome more than 600 passengers on board; Airbus 380 is a powerful aircraft and is machined to fly long, endless hours without stopping.

Airbus 380 is more advanced than any other commercial type of aircrafts manufactured to date. It uses environmentally friendly components, is designed to operate in “low noise mode” and is the lowest among all other aircrafts in terms of emissions. Different parts of the aircraft are manufactured in different countries in Europe such as Spain and England and then sent to France to be assembled by Airbus Company.
5/10/2018 5:41:26 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt wins membership in ACAC's Executive Council]]>
The Arab Civil Aviation Commission is an Arabic Organization specialized in Aviation and follows the Arab University Council.

The aim of the organization is to create an atmosphere of cooperation and coordination among the Arab countries in the field of civil aviation. Plans for advancement of the industry in the near future are also put in mind.

The total number of members in the commission is 21 Arab countries. The management hierarchy consists of a General Assembly, Executive council, General Administration and five different committees, each represented by an expert from each country.

The Arab Civil Aviation Commission focuses on creating a better atmosphere for civil aviation in the Arab world, while providing all the necessities to rise up with the industry, and to keep up a high standard in all the services related to the Arab Aviation. The Commission aims to unify the goals of all its members and focuses on improving the industry as a whole.
5/10/2018 4:52:40 PM
<![CDATA[New 2 weekly flights between Bergamo, Alexandria launched]]>
According to Italian magazine, Easyviaggio, the two-weekly flights by Air Arabia Egypt will be from Orio al Serio International Airport in Bergamo city to Alexandria. The flights are scheduled to be on Sundays and Fridays all year.

On May 5, official source at Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism said to media outlets that Egypt is seeing a 100 percent rise in bookings by Italian holidaymakers during the summer season, compared to the same period last year, according to Italian tour operators .

He added that the months of January and February of this year saw a 75 percent increase year-on-year in the number of Italian tourists visiting Egypt.

The Italian daily newspaper, La Stampa, said in a report on Friday, May 4, that Italian tourism to Egypt doubled during the first months of 2018, with Italian tourists increasing by a whopping 94 percent.

The newspaper added that the number of Italian tourists who visited Egypt in January 2018 stood at 15,707, compared to 12,471 in January 2017, increasing by 25.9 percent.
In February, the number increased by 76.2 percent year-on-year, standing at 19,241.

Tourism in Egypt has been picking up recently, with Egypt’s tourism revenues jumping 211.8 percent year-on-year to $5.3 billion in the first nine months of 2017, compared to $1.7 billion the year before.

5/9/2018 4:23:02 PM
<![CDATA[Two new churches inaugurated in Minya]]>
In statements on Wednesday, Spokesman for the Coptic Orthodox Church Polis Halim said that the churches are named "the flight to Egypt church" and "the cave church".

The Holy Family's seeking refuge in Egypt is considered to be an event of utmost significance in Egypt's long history and during their journey in Egypt, the Holy Family rested in a cave which is now located inside Gabal al Tayr's ancient church.

maher eskandar (62)
Jebel el-Teir Church in Minya in October 2017 - Maher Eskandar

Gabal Al Tayr (Mountain of the Birds in Arabic) is located on the East bank of the Nile and given its historical significance it is now a popular tourist destination that attracts more than two million visitors every year.

5/9/2018 1:38:48 PM
<![CDATA[Thai capital colorful in the eyes of former flight attendant]]>
The city is very vibrant and offers one of the best night lives in the entire world. Thai people are extremely genuine and friendly. As long as a foreigner respects the laws and norms of the Thai society, everything should go well. Thai people are very proud, as they are the only country in Asia that has never been colonized by a Western force. Thailand was always advanced, even in ancient times, compared to its neighboring countries, especially when it comes to medicine and agriculture. Thai people were able to stand against all attempts of colonization and efforts to change their identity by outsiders.

In Bangkok, the streets are usually very crowded, especially during the rush hours. The streets are generally well–constructed, but some areas can get a bit dirty and unorganized. The weather is usually humid and hot, as Thailand is a tropical country. Visitors coming from the west specifically should always keep themselves hydrated, as the humidity and heat could affect them significantly since they are not used to that weather. Arabs from the Gulf region love to visit Thailand; the weather does not bother them, as they are used to similar weather conditions back home. Some Arabs own properties there and know the country inside out.

Food Stalls are very common in Thailand offering tasty and

Many locals in Thailand use the scooter as a means of transportation, as it is more convenient for them and requires less gas. Both females and males are extremely friendly in Thailand, and they will always greet a foreigner with a smile and the word “Sawatika”, which means “Hello” in Thai. Both palms are held together towards the face as the person bows down slightly in a prayer-like manner. The higher the palms are held the more respect is given to the person.

Thai people are generally poor, and tourism is the country’s main income, besides agriculture and fishing. There are plenty of exotic places to visit in the city, such as the floating market that offers tourists a unique experience, shopping for groceries as they float around the river with a tiny fishing boat. There are five different floating markets in Bangkok, each offering different merchandize! Talin Chan and Damnoen Saduak are two examples of such floating markets in Bangkok.

Buddism is the primary religion in Thailand - Portal Detailandia.com

Bangkok is famous for its street food and stalls that offer amazing, tasty dishes for a very inexpensive price. It is said that even though it is “street food”, Thais have a tendency for keeping a high standard in terms of hygiene, as it is part of their culture and religion. Thai people are mostly genuine and would love to help tourists or socialize with them. Most of them do not speak English well, but both sides somehow manage to understand one another and keep the conversation flowing.

Buddhism is the country’s dominant religion. Thai people take their religion very seriously and they do not allow any disrespect to any of the Buddha figures and temples found all over the city. Photography of such statues or imitating them while taking a picture could get you landed in a Thai prison for years!

The beauty of Bangkok - groupon.com

The temples in Bangkok are so colorful and beautiful. At night, when the lights are turned on and decorations are more obvious, the temples’ beauty stands out more.

Thailand consists of many beautiful islands, each offering tourists and locals an indescribable experience in the midst of some of the world’s most beautiful natural scenes. Pi Pi and Phuket are the most commonly visited islands in Thailand.

5/8/2018 3:28:26 PM
<![CDATA[Replica Panmunjom village draws tourists after Korea summit]]>
With a low cement block between them marking the "border", they shake hands as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korea's President Moon Jae-in did when they met at Panmunjom on April 27.

Many visitors joined hands and hopped over the mock Military Demarcation Line to the "North" and back, re-enacting the scene that was broadcast live.

"My children urged me to come here after they saw the the famous scene on TV at school class," Park Sook-hyun, a 44-year-old housewife, told AFP.

Chung O-Chul, 46, said he came from the southern city of Changwon to see the replica and "celebrate reconciliation" between the two Koreas.

"But I was overwhelmed by this huge crowd", he said.

Panmunjom, known as the Joint Security Area, is inside the Demilitarized Zone, a 250 kilometre (155-mile)-long swath of land that divides the Korean peninsula.

Despite its name, the DMZ is among the most heavily fortified areas on the planet and the Joint Security Area is the only place where soldiers from the North and South stand face-to-face.

The replica was built for the 2000 blockbuster "JSA: Joint Security Area", a mystery thriller by renowned director Park Chan-wook.

The village has UN blue-coloured huts, Panmungak, a drab cement building on the North side, and the Freedom House pavilion on the South side.

But despite the realism there is a complete lack of the tension visitors feel when they set foot on what former US president Bill Clinton once described as the "scariest place on Earth".

"It is almost like the real Panmunjom but what lacks here is the tense atmosphere" said Park, adding she had a chance to visit Panmunjom 20 years earlier.

The facility and two other outdoor movie sets belong to the Korean Film Council's Namyangju Studios in the eastern suburbs of Seoul.

"The two other movie sets used to be more popular than Panmunjom replica but following the summit, most visitors want to see Panmunjom set first," a studio official said.

And there are only a few weeks left to visit "Panmunjom" as the sets will be torn down after the end of May ahead of the studio's relocation to the southern city of Busan next year. ]]>
5/7/2018 11:06:22 AM
<![CDATA[Cuban artists plan to stage alternative Havana biennial]]>
Organizer Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara said he came up with the idea of the “00Biennial” when the government postponed the official one by a year to 2019, saying it had to prioritize funds on rebuilding after Hurricane Irma.

His project is controversial in a country where the state dominates all aspects of society, including culture, which it has promoted heavily since Cuba’s leftist 1959 revolution. Many Cuban artists told Otero Alcantara they fear their careers could be affected if they participate, he said.

Still, more than 100 artists, including several foreign ones, have agreed to participate and will display their work in the independent studios that have flourished in Havana in recent years, said Otero Alcantara.

That so many Cuban artists are backing the 00Biennial reflects both the eagerness of those already working outside institutions for an alternative platform and the increasing independence of others.

The growth in tourism, the private sector and internet access has made it easier for them to gain visibility and make money.

“I would like... to break with the myth built over 60 years that to do something independent, separate from the state, is the devil, or counterrevolution,” said Otero Alcantara.

Cuba’s National Union of Writers and Artists issued a statement on Thursday saying the 00Biennial aimed to “create a climate propitious to promoting the interests of the enemies of the nation” using “funds of the mercenary counter-revolution.

“We will not allow the name and significance of the Biennale of Havana to be tarnished,” it said.

Cuba’s longtime foe, the United States, has in the past provided funds to promote its alternative arts scene like rap as part of efforts to foster democracy on the island.

Otero Alcantara said he aimed for the 00Biennial to be inclusive and non-political.

But Jorge Fernandez, head of Cuba’s Museum of Fine Arts and director of the last official biennial, said that was either naive or disingenuous.

“Unfortunately, everything that is done in Cuba is politicized,” he said, standing in front of a vibrant work by Cuban surrealist Wifredo Lam inside the museum. “Even if they are not trying to, it can be done from abroad.”

The most famous participant is set to be Cuban performance artist Tania Bruguera, who works in both Havana and New York and won the Tate Modern’s coveted commission for the Turbine Hall this year.

She has had several run-ins with Cuban authorities over works testing the boundaries of freedom of expression, although she still has pieces exhibited on the island. In 2015, she set up an “Institute of Artivism” in her Havana home, holding workshops to “foster civic literacy and policy change.”

Foreign artists said they had not been aware of the controversy surrounding the 00Biennial when they applied to participate.

“I just thought - this is a way to show my work,” said Diego Gil Moreno de Mora, who plans to hang rows of skinned pig heads representing the people society chooses as scapegoats.

Given the 00Biennial’s meager funds, raised mainly through crowdfunding, according to organizers, participants were told they would have to finance their own flights and accommodations, and should present a work they could easily create on site.

One reason for this, they later learned, was that their work risked being confiscated by customs officials at the airport.

Colombian artist Natalia Lopez arrived early to create thousands of cubes of dirt in Havana’s parks for an installation in which visitors would walk on them, turning them once more into part of the earth.

The underlying concept was the importance of the earth as a whole rather than divided into territories, she said.

Some artists operating outside Cuban state institutions, like Osvaldo Navarro, part of the rap group La Alianza, said there was a need for alternative platforms.

He chose to leave the state-run Cuban Rap Agency a few years ago to be more free with his lyrics, but struggled to reach his public due to the state monopoly on the media and spaces.

“I hope they understand what we want to do,” said Navarro, after filming a video for a rap song about the 00Biennial on a Havana rooftop, “which is to showcase artists who don’t have a space elsewhere but who do good, pro-social art.”]]>
5/5/2018 11:52:43 AM
<![CDATA[Hundreds of residents flee Hawaii volcano eruption]]>
Drone footage of the volcanic eruption on Hawaii's Big Island showed orange magma gushing up from cracks in the ground in a wooded area.

Authorities ordered a mandatory evacuation of Lanipuna Gardens and the Leilani Estates neighborhood, home to about 1,700 people and 770 structures.

No injuries have been reported.

Governor David Ige said residents were being housed in community centers until the danger from Kilauea, one of the world's most active volcanos, has passed.

Ige signed an emergency proclamation releasing disaster funds to Big Island.

"Hawaii Fire Department reports extremely high levels of dangerous Sulfur Dioxide gas detected in the evacuation area," the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency said.

It said there had been "active volcanic fountaining" in the Leilani Estates area, located several miles from the summit of the Kilauea volcano.

Aerial footage showed orange lava bubbling up from a fissure around 500 feet (150 meters) long and spouting into the air like a fountain.

The eruption began around 4:45 pm local time Thursday 0245 GMT Friday) and stopped at around 6:30 pm local time, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS).

The USGS warned, however, that "the opening phases of fissure eruptions are dynamic and uncertain.

"Additional erupting fissures and new lava outbreaks may occur," it said.

- 'Fire curtain' -

The eruption came after hundreds of small earthquakes in recent days that followed the collapse of a crater floor on the Puu Oo volcanic cone.

A 5.0-magnitude earthquake on Thursday morning south of the cone triggered rockfalls and potential additional collapse of the crater, USGS said.

It sent a short-lived but massive pink plume of ash wafting into the air.

Big Island resident Janice Wei, who moved to Hawaii from California -- known for its high earthquake risk -- said the eruption was almost a "relief."

"We've been waiting for big movement from the crater, after so many small earthquakes," she told AFP.

"Hawaiians and local people have lived here forever," she said. "You know what's going on; we have warning systems."

"Everybody should be prepared."

The broader district potentially impacted by the threat is home to some 10,000 people.

Using his drone, area resident Jeremiah Osuna captured video footage of the lava flow, which he described as a "fire curtain" that left him feeling "shock and awe."

"It was like if you put a bunch of rocks into a dryer and turned it on -- a lot of earth and pressure and fire just moving around," Osuna told AFP.

Governor Ige activated the state's National Guard troops, and told residents to pay heed to official warnings.

In his emergency declaration, the governor noted the current flow was similar to a 1960 eruption in the Kapoho area that "caused significant damage."

- FEMA mobilizing -

Geologist Janet Babb of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory told AFP that scientists had been following an "intrusion of magma" down the rift zone since Monday afternoon in anticipation of a possible eruption.

Though the cracks from which lava was emitting had gone dormant, she emphasized that "the overall concern and the overall event has not ended."

US Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii said the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was mobilizing resources, as well as monitoring for forest fires, power outages and water supply issues.

Hawaii Island, or the Big Island, is the largest of the eight main islands that comprise the Pacific US state, an archipelago that includes hundreds of smaller volcanic islands.]]>
5/5/2018 4:20:00 AM
<![CDATA[The Land of Bengal: Perspective of an ex cabin crew]]>
Dhaka generally has two major seasons throughout the year; summer and monsoon season. Summer time extends from March until May, and the weather is scorching hot.

In May, the monsoon season starts and the rain falls viciously for days and days continuously with no mercy. This could go on for two to three months non-stop, and the city becomes drowned.

The streets of Dhaka are extremely dirty and unorganized. It is severely crowded, with an obvious traffic problem. Cars, scooters, tuk tuks, horse-carts and people are all crushed together sharing the terrible streets of the city. Rubbish is everywhere.

Yet Dhaka is famous for a few things. Many Western businessmen travel there for the very special handicrafts made in Bangladesh. Filigree, embroidery and shell carving are just a few things people from Bangladesh excel in. Merchants interested in such items travel to Dhaka to make deals and sell such items back home in their native countries.

Handicraft training workshop in Bangladeshi village women in 2015- CC via Wikimedia
Handicraft training workshop in Bangladeshi village women in 2015- CC via Wikimedia

Dhaka is also considered as a meat haven for meat enthusiasts. The cattle there is raised with special care to produce some of the world’s best meat and dairy products.

Scenes in and around Dhaka, Bangladesh- CC via Wikimedia
Scenes in and around Dhaka, Bangladesh- CC via Wikimedia

Pharmacies there are notorious for selling benzodiazepines and sleeping medications, that strictly require a doctor’s prescription, cheaply for tourists, without the need to show any prescriptions.

Several branded clothes brands are being manufactured in Dhaka, Bangladesh, because of cost-cutting by major companies. Cost cutting can be achieved by hiring cheap labor. This means that, most branded clothes customers buy from malls worldwide are generally often hand woven in Dhaka, and other cities and villages in Bangladesh, unfortunately, often by children. It is said that the common salary for a worker in Dhaka is equivalent to $1 a day.

A large percentage of the country’s labor comes from children, which is illegal practice. There are many markets where such branded clothing is sold extremely cheap near the university district.

Dhaka is also very famous for its confectionaries. Anybody with a sweet tooth would love to try some of Dhaka’s desserts and chocolates.

Bengali Jullab Dessert- CC via Flickr - ikon
Bengali Jullab Dessert- CC via Flickr - ikon

Even though Dhaka was once part of India, it gained independence on March 26, 1971. It is a unique country with a very friendly society. Most people in the city are poor, and would leap to serve a foreigner for a small reward in return. It is not recommended for ladies, especially foreigners, to go out alone, especially after 6 p.m. when the sun sets, as the streets become more hectic at night.

5/4/2018 11:10:36 AM
<![CDATA[Jewish pilgrims gather in Tunisia for Lag B’Omer festival]]>
Hundreds of pilgrims had on Wednesday morning already reached the Ghriba synagogue on the island of Djerba in southern Tunisia, an AFP photographer said, with thousands more expected to follow.

French Jewish women write their wishes on eggs that will be placed in a cave under the Ghriba synagogue in Tunisia's Mediterranean resort island of Djerba on the first day of the annual Jewish pilgrimage to the synagogue on May 2, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / FETHI BELAID)

Alongside a heavy police and military presence, Tunisian worshipers were joined by those from Israel and European countries to celebrate the annual Lag B’Omer festival.

“We’ve come to Djerba at least 20 times, for holidays and for the Ghriba festivities week as well,” said French pilgrim Ketty Acco.

“We’re always very happy that tourism is growing again because before, there used to be 7,000 or 8,000 people and now we’re happy because tourists are coming back,” she added.

Jewish pilgrims take part in the annual pilgrimage at the Ghriba synagogue in the Tunisian resort island of Djerba on May 2, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / FETHI BELAID)

Prime Minister Youssef Chahed was also expected to visit the synagogue, where dried fruit and boukha — alcohol made from local fruits — were blessed at the start of the two-day celebration.

The number of Jews in Tunisia has fallen significantly from around 100,000 before the country gained independence from France in 1956, to a current estimate of around 1,500.

This year organizers expected between 5,000 and 6,000 pilgrims to visit the synagogue, around twice as many as 2017.

A French Jew holds eggs bearing writing expressing her wishes that will be placed in a cave under the Ghriba synagogue in Tunisia's Mediterranean resort island of Djerba on the first day of the annual Jewish pilgrimage to the synagogue on May 2, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / FETHI BELAID)

Between 150 and 200 Israelis are due to take part in the festivities, according to co-organiser Victor Trabelsi, whose father Perez is head of the Ghriba synagogue.

The community is still recovering from a suicide bombing at the synagogue in 2002 that killed 21 people. Before the attack some 8,000 pilgrims used to travel to Djerba for the annual celebration.

A Tunisian Jewish woman is seen in the Ghriba synagogue in the Tunisian resort island of Djerba on May 1, 2018 on the eve of the annual Jewish pilgrimage to the synagogue. (AFP PHOTO / FETHI BELAID)

Although the security situation in Tunisia has improved over the past two years, authorities continue to be wary and urge vigilance.

The state of emergency imposed after a series of attacks on tourists and security forces in 2015 remains in place, having been extended in March for a another seven months.

Jewish pilgrims take part in the annual pilgrimage at the Ghriba synagogue in the Tunisian resort island of Djerba on May 2, 2018. (AFP/Fethi Belaid)

The presidency has said it wants to guarantee security during municipal elections on Sunday, the holy Muslim month of Ramadan and the tourist season.
5/3/2018 11:39:12 AM
<![CDATA[Amazon river dolphins in steep decline: study]]>
Once considered abundant in the Amazon basin, the boto (Inia geoffrensis) and the tucuxi (Sotalia fluviatilis) are now halving in population every 10 years, said the report in the journal PLOS ONE.

Experts say the freshwater dolphins are increasingly being killed for use as bait, a practice that endangers their survival, particularly since the females bear a single calf on average every four to five years.

"Until recent decades, the boto was sheltered from harm to some extent by legends and superstitions," but the relatively new hunt for them grew with the use of flesh and blubber as bait for catfish which have become widely available commercially, the study said.

Researcher Vera da Silva from Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazonia and colleagues based their findings on 22 years of surveys in the Mamiraua Reserve in Brazil -- an area described as a core part of their range -- where dolphins have been tracked by boat monthly from 1994 to 2017.

"At current rates, boto populations are halving every 10 years, and tucuxi populations are halving every nine years," said the report, which is the first to quantify current population trends in Amazon freshwater dolphins.

"The results are profoundly concerning, and show rates of decline among the most severe of any measured in a cetacean population since the early years of modern whaling."

The International Union for Conservation of Nature currently lists these freshwater dolphins as "data deficient," meaning not enough is known about their numbers in the wild to assess the degree of threat to the population.

But the PLOS ONE study argued that if the IUCN Red List considered the latest findings, both species would be classified as critically endangered.

River dolphins are already legally protected in the Amazon basin, but the laws need greater enforcement, researchers said.

Another type of river dolphin found in South Asia (Platanista gangetica) is considered endangered by the IUCN.

In China, the Yangtze River dolphin or baiji (Lipotes vexillifer), was declared functionally extinct in 2006 due to human activities like overfishing, dam building, pollution and boat traffic.]]>
5/3/2018 12:40:00 AM
<![CDATA[New flights from Bristol to Hurghada]]>
“It’s great to welcome this new flight from Bristol Airport to meet the British tourist demand – now reaching the same levels as 2015, with over 40 U.K. flights a week,” British Ambassador John Casson said in a press release.

Casson added, “Egypt is once again a dream destination for hundreds of thousands of British tourists. That’s good news for Egypt’s economy – with British tourists’ nights up 90 percent last year and spending double.”

The ambassador mentioned that British holidaymakers left the cold and rainy skies of Bristol on Tuesday morning for the sunny skies and 26°C water in Hurghada.

Thomas Cook released its annual report last week indicating that bookings for holidays in Egypt this summer increased 89 percent compared to 2017. The number of visitors is close to where they were for Thomas Cook in 2015.

“We’re very pleased to expand our Bristol program so that more customers can enjoy some summer sun in our most popular short and mid-haul holiday destinations,” Christoph Debus, chief airlines officer at Thomas Cook, added in the press release.

“We are delighted to introduce flights to Hurghada – we have increased the number of seats on sale to Egypt by 14 percent across the U.K. this year, flying to both Hurghada and Marsa Alam.”

Thomas Cook’s first commercial tour was in 1845 to Liverpool. In 1869, he transferred his business to Egypt, hiring two steamers and holding a party for tourists by the Nile River in the same year the Suez Canal opened.
5/2/2018 12:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[Luxor Airport reopens after weather conditions improve]]>
The Ministry of Civil Aviation further confirmed that the airport has received two flights affiliated with EgyptAir coming from Cairo Airport after being suspended for several hours at the airport because of bad weather and low visibility.
5/1/2018 4:38:07 PM
<![CDATA[Ukrainian tourists to Egypt will increase to 1M: Ukraine FM]]>
Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zaid indicated that Klimkin’s visit is important because it’s the first visit between the two countries at this political level since 2010.

Shoukry thanked the Ukrainian ministry of foreign affairs for amending the travelling instructions to Egypt on April 18, 2018. Shoukry is hoping that this move will increase the rate of Ukrainian tourists visiting Egypt. The number of Ukrainian tourists in Egypt reached about 800,000 in 2017.

“The number of Ukrainian tourists in Egypt was about 800,000 in 2017; this year they will increase to one million tourists,” Klimkin said.

Shoukry welcomed back the direct flights between Cairo and Kiev, Ukraine, clarifying that this step will positively affect tourism and business relations.

5/1/2018 1:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Egypt seeks to break World Record for largest flag flown by paramotor ]]>
This event is considered the first air sports festival in Egypt and around 60 skydivers and paramotor pilots from 16 countries including Egypt, the U.S., the UK, Germany, Canada, Brazil, France, Spain, Holland, Oman, Bahrain, Mexico, Norway, Poland, Cyprus and Croatia recently took part in a high-flying competition over Egypt’s Great Pyramids to break a world record for the largest flag flown by a paramotor.

The festival also meant to promote Egypt's tourism, which has suffered over the past few years due to political and security concerns.

The last largest flag flown while skydiving was about 2,607 square meters and was achieved by a German team called Cypres Demo. The event was held in Germany on June 26, 2017. ]]>
4/30/2018 10:21:24 AM
<![CDATA[Tourism boom to test Uzbekistan's thaw after years of self-enforced isolation]]>
But the photogenic 30-year-old pair are frontline members of a newly-formed, user-friendly Tourist Police deployed in the famed Silk Road city of Samarkand and other hotspots as a visitor boom sweeps the Central Asian country.

The force, established in January, is viewed as part of a broader opening initiated by Uzbekistan's authoritarian government following a long period of self-enforced isolation.

More than 2.5 million tourists visited Uzbekistan last year (2017), a 24 per cent increase on the previous year, according to the UzDaily news site.

"In the pas, I worked as a teacher and then as a wedding stylist. I even won a national prize as a stylist," recalls Ms Zukhra Rakhmatova, one half of a sister act proficient in English, Russian, Farsi, Turkish and Japanese.

"But our grandfather served in the force and our uncle too," Ms Rakhmatova told Agence France-Presse. "It was always our dream to serve."

Samarkand - a former power centre positioned at the epicentre of millennia-old trade routes linking China and Europe - hosts symbols of authoritarian continuity as well as tentative reform.

A short walk from the ceramic and marble dazzle of the three madrasahs towering over the city's old square is the statue of Islam Karimov, who ruled the country from before independence in 1991 until his death in 2016.

Laid to rest in a grand mausoleum in Samarkand's historic centre, Karimov is criticised by rights groups as the architect of one of the world's most repressive and closed-off police states.

Far from being disavowed, his monument is now yet another photo opportunity for visitors and wedding parties in the city, where he was born in 1938 and remains widely revered.

"Everyone makes mistakes but Islam Karimov is a hero. He worked day and night to protect the Uzbek people," said a 22-year-old bridesmaid posing for pictures by the monument.

The young woman, who did not give her name but said she had travelled to Samarkand from the capital Tashkent, refused to say what "mistakes" she thought Karimov had made.

Whether out of political pragmatism or genuine deference to a man he served for 13 years as prime minister, Karimov's successor, 60-year-old Shavkat Mirziyoyev has also continued to honour his mentor in public.

In the aftermath of the former leader's death, new strongman Mirziyoyev likened him to a "father", even as he toned down some of the totalitarian excesses that defined Karimov's 27-year rule.

Foreign tourism, which grew by around a quarter during Mirziyoyev's first year in office emerged as a key battleground in a power struggle that pitted the new reform-touting president against regime hardliners.

In February for instance, Mirziyoyev ordered the introduction of a 30-day visa-free regime for citizens of seven countries - Israel, Indonesia, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Turkey and Japan - and relaxation of registration rules for citizens of 39 others.

In cities like Samarkand, the changes were cheered by a population that endured long stretches of economic stagnation under Karimov.

"(We need to) open up of course," said chef Malika Shakhimardonova at a mutton-grilling teahouse in the shadows of the Bibi-Khanym Mosque, completed on the orders of medieval conqueror Tamerlane in the 15th century.

"Let the tourists arrive to us like brothers and sisters," said Shakhimardonova, whose kitchen is expanding.

Many saw significance in the fact that Mirziyoyev's relaxation of visa restrictions came days after Rustam Inoyatov, 73, who led the notorious national security service for over two decades, was dismissed.

Inoyatov was widely reported to have blocked a previous effort by Mirziyoyev to revamp tourism and to have insisted on retaining long-standing security measures, including a blanket ban on photography in the capital's metro.

Such bans, which occasionally saw visitors detained by police, were "rudiments of the Soviet Union" now consigned to the past, said the country's new 44-year-old tourism chief Aziz Abdukhakimov.

"We want tourists to take as many photos as possible. Put them on Instagram. It is the best advert for the country," he told AFP.

The Rakhmatova sisters, who scoot around Samarkand on two-wheeled, motorised Segways and are trained to administer first-aid, certainly seem far removed from the grimmer elements of a former communist police state.

But Ms Fatima Rakhmatova jokes that their dual presence on the tourism beat might sometimes give visitors a different impression.

"Some tourists will see one of us close to one attraction then move on to another and find the other sister standing there," she explained.

"They smile but sometimes give us a strange look. Probably because we are identical they think the police is following them around," she laughed.
4/29/2018 10:57:49 AM
<![CDATA[In pics: Government allocates LE 70M for developing nature reserves]]>
The government started to develop the Wadi Degla, Petrified Forests and Wadi El Rayan reserves. Ahmed Salama, head of the Ministry of Environment’s protection sector, said that the second phase of developing the reserves will begin after completing the engineering designs with a budget of about LE 70 million.

Salama added that the second phase will include an interactive geological museum and opening a visitors’ lounge on the eastern part by establishing a side road from Ain Sokhna in coordination with the Armed Forces. This comes in conjunction with the development of the following Sinai reserves: Abu Gallum, Nabq, Saint Katherine, Ras Muhammed and Taba.

Wadi Degla - Egypt - CC via Wikimedia Commons/Wael Fouda

The head of the protection sector noted that the developments have contributed in changing the form of the reserves, especially after providing services to visitors, either through signs or geological and botanical information. He pointed out that Cairo’s reserves have been visited by about 60,000 visitors each year.

In the beginning, the ministry worked on removing encroachments in the reserves of Wadi Degla, Wadi El Rayan, Nabq and Al Asyooti. These reserves had been damaged by individuals. To avoid more damage, security companies have been assigned to protect the reserves 24 hours a day.

Water falls in El-Rayan village, Fayoum protectorate - CC via Wikimedia Commons/Rowayda Abdelgwad

On the other hand, Salama revealed that the ministry is conducting an inventory of 14 districts and studying their nature to determine the validity of being declared natural reserves. He mentioned that the plan of these areas dates back 21 years ago to 1997, which means that it is possible there might be changes in some of the reserves.

Salama clarified in special remarks to Youm7 that the areas are el-Maghara, Ras Al Hikma, Wadi Qena and Wadi Gerafi, among others. He added that the areas are being reviewed to declare what works are needed to provide protection for the natural resources and to maintain ecological balance.]]>
4/28/2018 4:31:20 PM
<![CDATA[China Fosun dials up tourism push with $1.74B Atlantis Sanya luxury resort]]>
The conglomerate’s 11 billion yuan ($1.74 billion) investment in China’s southernmost province is in line with the central government’s desire to further boost tourism in Hainan, already popular among Chinese holidaymakers.

Fosun, co-founded by Chinese billionaire Guo Guangchang, has been one of the country’s most acquisitive overseas dealmakers.

But like peers including Dalian Wanda Group and HNA Group, Fosun - China’s largest privately held conglomerate - has faced increased scrutiny by Beijing for debt-fuelled, big-ticket foreign deals and is now pursuing a development path more closely aligned with Beijing’s priorities.

Tourism is viewed as key to China’s shift towards a more consumption-driven model of economic growth from an investment and export-led one. Beijing aims to raise the country’s tourism market revenue to 7 trillion yuan by 2020, from 5.3 trillion yuan last year.

Hainan, one of China’s top holiday destinations, has sought to internationalise its tourism sector since 2010 after winning approval from the central government to develop international tourism. But only 1.1 million out of 67 million visitors came from abroad in 2017.

Located on Haitang Bay, one of the major bays in Sanya and known for its 22-kilometre strip of white, sandy beaches, Atlantis Sanya was inspired by Dubai’s Atlantis, The Palm. The integrated resort offers hotel suites with views of underwater marine life, as well as a water park and a shopping mall.

The resort, owned by Fosun and managed by Kerzner International [KZL.UL], occupies an area of 540,000 square metres - equal to 66 soccer pitches - and has 1,314 guest rooms.

“Atlantis Sanya is not only a forerunner of the supply-side reform of the tourism industry, but is also becoming a new landmark of Hainan tourism,” Xu Zhenling, vice mayor of Sanya said at a news conference on Saturday ahead of the resort’s grand opening scheduled for the evening.

She said the resort will also raise Hainan’s profile overseas, as the island province - China’s largest economic development zone - seeks to further open up its economy and focus on developing modern tourism, services and high-technology industries.

Plans to build China’s first Atlantis resort in Hainan, the third in the world, were first unveiled in 2013.

The resort adds to a broad portfolio owned by Fosun Tourism and Culture Group, a key profit growth driver for the conglomerate, which also owns the French Club Med holiday company and a stake in Canadian theatrical production company Cirque du Soleil.]]>
4/28/2018 2:33:21 PM
<![CDATA[The truce village of Panmunjom]]>
Panmunjom, about 55 km (34 miles) north of Seoul, is considered one of the last vestiges of the Cold War. It is located in the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ), the 4-km (2.5 mile) wide buffer that runs along the heavily armed military border.

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The truce village of Panmunjom

The truce village of Panmunjom

The border was framed by a truce signed at Panmunjom that suspended the 1950-53 Korea War, which pitted U.S.-led U.N. forces and South Korea against North Korean and Chinese troops.

The truce village of Panmunjom has been used as the venue for the return of remains of U.S. soldiers killed during the Korean War. Nearly 8,000 U.S. personnel are listed as missing from the war, the remains of more than half of which are thought to be buried in the North.

South Korea also returned to the north via Panmunjom the remains of North Korean soldiers or civilians who had drowned and whose bodies had drifted into the south during floods in North Korea. Sometimes the North Koreans drifted alive into the south and were returned home if they wanted repatriation.

It used to be almost every Wednesday that photographers from international news agencies based in South Korea visited the truce village of Panmunjom to cover events there. Now we only go to the border village around once a month.

Usually closed circuit television cameras from both Koreas monitor the area. However soldiers from the North and South face off, sometimes very closely, when there are tourists, visiting state leaders or media representatives at the truce village. Military talks and Red Cross talks have been held there. Thousands of tourists a year visit the village to see the Cold War’s last frontier.

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The truce village of Panmunjom

It takes only 45 minutes to drive from central Seoul to the truce village. Activists from anti-North Korean civic groups sometimes gather to send balloons carrying anti-Pyongyang leaflets toward North Korea from just south of the restricted border area, only a few miles away from Panmunjom.

Pictures of soldiers from both Koreas standing guard at Panmunjom are used frequently by media clients, especially when there are stories on tension between the two Koreas. North Korea is believed to have produced about 50 kg (110 lb) of plutonium, which experts say would be enough for six to eight nuclear weapons. It has conducted nuclear tests twice. South Korea, while a major user of nuclear power, does not have a nuclear arms program. Its U.S. ally has promised protection under its “nuclear umbrella”.

North Korea has 1.19 million troops in active service, and more than 7.7 million reservists among a population of 23.4 million, making it one of the world’s most militarized countries. South Korea, with a population of 48.7 million, has 650,000 troops on active duty and about 4.5 million reserve forces.

South Korean aid to the North was stopped after conservative President Lee Myung-bak took power in 2008, demanding Pyongyang first give up its nuclear ambitions. It was the start of tense relations between the two rivals after a decade of exchanges and steps toward peace. Pyongyang’s nuclear arms program is believed by activists to be the starving communist country’s last desperate attempt to shelter its regime from the outside world.

South Koreans must seek permission from their government to enter the North as the two Koreas are still technically at war, with the Korean War ending in an armistice rather than a peace treaty. However there is one place people can cross the border without special permissions or visas. This is a blue building called the Military Armistice Commission (MAC) Conference Room, where visitors can briefly step into North Korean territory and see the South from the North.]]>
4/27/2018 12:25:06 PM
<![CDATA[Nepal preps for busy year as hundreds cleared to climb Everest]]>
Tourism authorities have granted 346 mountaineers permission to scale Everest this spring climbing season, with many already at base camp acclimatising before embarking for the summit.

Every spring, Mount Everest claims lives: last year, seven climbers died on the mountain

That figure falls just shy of the record 373 permits granted last year.

Most Everest hopefuls are escorted by a Nepali guide, meaning about 700 climbers will tread the same path to the top in the coming weeks when the weather is most favourable.

A boom in climbers has made mountaineering a lucrative business since Sir Edmund Hillary and sherpa Tenzing Norgay made the first ascent in 1953.

But the rapid growth in the climbing industry has accompanied complaints of overcrowding on the mountain and fears that inexperienced mountaineers could run into trouble.

"There is an optimum number of people who can expect to undertake a safe summit expedition... I do wonder if we've exceeded that," Ben Clark, a manager for expedition operator Asian Trekking, told AFP at base camp.

Another 180 climbers are preparing to summit Everest from its north side in Tibet, according to the China Tibet Mountaineering Association.

Among those is Nepali climber Lhakpa Sherpa, who will attempt to break her own record of eight summits of the mountain -- more than any woman in the world.

"I keep going to encourage other Nepali women to climb," the 44-year-old said before she left Kathmandu for the expedition last week.

Another 15 Nepali women are making the ascent from the south side -- a record number, official records show.

Climbing in Nepal is a male-dominated business but the divide is slowing breaking down in the Himalayan nation.

"We are climbing to show that we are strong and capable of taking this challenge up," said Rosha Basnet, who is part of a team of five Nepali women making the expedition to Everest.

An ever-growing number of Indian climbers are drawn to Nepal by its proximity to home and cultural ties. Indians outnumbered all other climbers on Everest's south in 2017 bar Americans.

Spring is the busiest time of year on the mountain as the winds and temperatures are more forgiving than at other times.

But every spring, Everest claims lives: last year, seven climbers died on the mountain.

The permits do not come cheap. Foreigners must pay $11,000 for the privilege of summiting, before their expedition costs.

They are a much-needed source of revenue for cash-strapped Nepal, which raked in more than $4 million in Everest permits fees alone in 2017.]]>
4/27/2018 11:38:22 AM
<![CDATA[Brazil's Anitta: careful strategy behind singer's rags-to-riches tale]]>
It's been a fast but long ride from the rough Rio de Janeiro neighborhood of Honorio Gurgel -- where Anitta, 25, grew up -- to the palm-lined condo she now calls home.

But as Brazil's biggest pop star explained to AFP, it's not so much a fairy tale as a story of social media savvy and hard-headed business strategies.

"An artist has to know who she is and to be consistent in building her career," she said in an interview at her lavish house in Rio's upmarket western area of Barra da Tijuca.

Born Larissa Machado, she began singing in church with her family and at 17 she was discovered by a producer who saw her in a YouTube video.

Five years later, Anitta found fame in Brazil with "Meiga e Abusada" ("Sweet and Sassy") and "Show das Poderosas" ("Show of the Powerful"), but her skills at navigating the online markets have been the key, helping catapult her to rapidly growing international stardom.

She has 28 million followers on Instagram and her 2015 song "Bang" has been watched 343 million times on YouTube.

"Vai Malandra" ("Go Naughty"), which features Anitta twerking to the sultry rhythm of baile funk-style rap, set social networks on fire and became the first Brazilian song to enter Spotify's Top 20 Global.

The video is set in a Rio favela and celebrates the often violence-plagued neighborhoods' vibrant and sexy street culture, complete with women using electrical tape to create perfect tan lines and sculpted men with peroxide-blond hair and gold chains.

The fact that she didn't airbrush out the cellulite on her now famously quivering backside only fueled the social media frenzy -- and boosted her credentials as a singer who preaches female empowerment.

- World conquest -

Brazil is Latin America's biggest country but Anitta says it's not big enough for her.

"I thought I would get to where I wanted to in Brazil when I was about 30, but by 22, I was already doing great," she told a conference Harvard hosted for Brazilian business leaders, where she was a surprise guest this April.

"I like challenges, so I studied the international market."

Singing in English and Spanish overcomes the hurdle of having Portuguese as her native language. Although Brazil has a huge market, the rest of the continent speaks Spanish -- and that's before you start looking further afield.

While English is "the universal language," she is also focusing on Spanish-language songs to reach the rest of the Latino world, recording alongside Colombian artists Maluma and J Balvin.

She spent two years visiting clubs in Spain, the United States and Mexico to get a feel for the market and her potential fans, seeing herself as Brazil's answer to the border-hopping Latin sensations Ricky Martin and Alejandro Sanz.

"I just went ahead and tried to seize the moment," she said.

The strategy works, taking her from the 2016 Rio Olympics opening ceremony to an appearance last year on NBC's "Tonight Show." This summer, she'll be pushing the Anitta brand with shows at Rock in Rio Lisboa in Portugal, and in Paris and London.

Billboard magazine named her number 10 on a list of the most influential artists of social networks last December, while this February, Vogue magazine places her among the world's most influential people.

- Diva moments -

With its jacuzzi, palm trees and large swimming pool, Anitta's three-floor house is the cliche pop star's abode. But despite that and her large retinue of assistants, she says she keeps herself grounded.

"I may have my diva moments but I don't want to get to where I'm considered untouchable," she said.

In person, Anitta barely resembles the pouting, swaggering star of "Vai Malandra." She is diminutive, neatly dressed in black pants and a yellow sweater, and her hair falls in golden curls, rather than the dark braids of the video.

That chameleon-like adaptability, helped by several rounds of plastic surgery, is a big part of her rise.

Her mantra, she says, "is to do things differently. I research the market but only so that I can do something other than follow the trends. I look for things that haven't been explored yet."

And she clearly doesn't lack self-belief.

"All my dreams that I had, I've fulfilled," she said. "I wanted to show people that it's possible to do everything that they say is impossible."]]>
4/27/2018 4:50:00 AM
<![CDATA[W.Africa gorillas more numerous than thought, but still endangered]]>
Prior estimates were based on nest counts taken from isolated areas across the great apes' habitat range, said the report in the journal Science Advances.

The new count uses mathematical modeling to project likely ape numbers in areas where their nests haven't been directly surveyed by people.

The estimates are based on other factors known to influence ape numbers, such as proximity to roads and people, and recent outbreaks of Ebola virus which can be deadly.

Spanning 59 sites in five countries surveyed over 11 years, it is the most comprehensive and accurate dataset ever compiled on these apes, said one of the lead authors, Fiona Maisels, conservation scientist for the Wildlife Conservation Society.

The results show that western lowland gorillas in western equatorial Africa number nearly 362,000, up from prior estimates of 150,000-250,000 individuals.

And chimpanzees in the area are expected to number almost 129,000, up from earlier counts of 70,000 to 117,000.

- Still in danger -

But despite the larger numbers, researchers still found a speedy drop in the population in recent years, which means the apes are still in danger of going extinct.

Some 19.4 percent of the gorilla population was lost between 2005 and 2013, said the report.

At this rate, the gorilla population is expected to plunge 80 percent in just three generations.

Maisels said researchers are "pleased" to have a more accurate number, but cautioned that it does not change the gorillas' status as critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.

Nor does it change the characterization of chimpanzees as endangered.

"What we are worried about is the gorillas are going down to a tune of 2.7 percent per year," Maisels said.

"The other kind of worrying thing is that the majority of gorillas and chimps do not live in protected areas," she said.

As many as 80 percent of the great apes live outside protected areas, according to the study.

About 60 percent of all known gorillas and 43 percent of chimpanzees live in the Democratic Republic of Congo, while Gabon is home to 27 percent of the gorilla population and 34 percent of chimpanzees.

High densities of both apes also live in southern Cameroon.

Even though killing gorillas is illegal worldwide, hunting remains the top threat to survival, followed by disease and habitat loss.

More anti-poaching efforts are needed, both inside and outside protected areas, said the report.

Better land planning could help preserve the apes' high-quality habitat.

"Given that gorillas are more numerous and chimpanzees are more ecologically resilient than expected, and that large areas of ecologically functional great ape habitat remain, we are hopeful that robust conservation policies, well-managed parks, and responsible industrial practices can stop their declines and provide for secure and thriving populations," the study concluded.]]>
4/26/2018 1:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[US, British families experience life in Fowa, Kafr el-Sheikh]]>
An American family visited Fowa for a short holiday, where they received a warm welcoming and experienced great hospitality from the local people.

The tourists are celebrating Mohamed Salah for winning the Best Player in England Award - Egypt TodayMohamed Suleiman
The tourists pose for a picture – Mohamed Suleiman

The family spent three days in the city. They were welcomed by Abdul Mohsen al Ouden, head of Fowa’s city hall, who met them in one of the city’s family parks.

The tour began after a three-hour break at the guest house. They shopped at the local souq (market) that is rich with colors, agricultural products and ancient mosques. They ate breakfast at a local restaurant and ordered “foul” (fava beans) and falafel. Afterwards, they walked around the magical streets of Fowa.

The family walking around the local souq in Fowa - Egypt TodayMohamed Suleiman
The family walking around the local market in Fowa – Mohamed Suleiman

Ayman Abu Naja Salah, head of the Fowa Heritage and Tourism Foundation, said that the family attended workshops for handmade kilims, textile tapestries and carpets. They spoke with the owners of the workshops and learned how to make carpets and kilims. The family of four participated in making a piece of tapestry and a carpet, which they kept as a souvenir. The two children spent five hours following the steps of one of the workers. They kept the work they made as a souvenir to remind them of the trip.

Later on, the family headed to the Nile River and fished with the local fishermen. They then communicated with the people of Fowa in a friendly and welcoming atmosphere.

The delegation are having the local breakfast falafel and beans - Egypt TodayMohamed Suleiman
The tourists are having the local breakfast falafel and beans – Mohamed Suleiman

On their last day, the family went to spend a full day in the rural areas, joining the farmers while working. The kids rode donkeys with excitement, and then the four explored the streets of Fowa on a horse carriage. They visited metal workshops and worked with a worker named Ahmed al Haddad.

The boy carries tea cups while walking in between the grass - Egypt TodayMohamed Suleiman
A boy carries tea cups while walking in between the grass – Mohamed Suleiman

When their trip ended, 10-year-old Andrew said, “I am happy that I visited Fowa, and the best thing I liked was making and designing kilims and carpets.” He also added, “I enjoyed the greeneries and riding the donkeys, as those things we don’t find in America.”

The American child palying with the ducks - Egypt TodayMohamed Suleiman
An American child playing with the ducks – Mohamed Suleiman

Another tourism delegation consisting of two American and three English tourists also visited the city of Fowa. They visited the rural areas, ate Egyptian breakfast, went on Nile cruises, and joined the fishermen and peasants in their profession. They also roamed the markets and streets of Fowa, spending their time by the greeneries, eating vegetables and drinking tea while singing various English songs.

The American and English tourists participate in baking - Egypt TodayMohamed Suleiman
The American and British tourists participate in baking – Mohamed Suleiman

The Youm7 staff and tourists celebrated together when Mohammed Salah won the Player of the Year award and they sang the famous “Mo Salah” song. They hope that Salah doesn't leave Liverpool FC, assuring that their love for Egypt increased due to loving Mohammed Salah.

One of the children joins one of the metal workers - Egypt TodayMohamed Suleiman
One of the children joins one of the metal workers – Mohamed Suleiman

Timothy Mark, one of the English tourists, said that if anyone knew the value of the Egyptian countryside, no one would think about travelling abroad. He used to visit Egypt occasionally, but he had only been to Cairo, Sharm el-Sheikh and Alexandria; he never knew of Fowa. When he visited the city, he confirmed that now whenever he comes to Egypt, he’ll go to spend his holiday in Fowa.

The family walking in Fowa streets - Egypt TodayMohamed Suleiman (2)
The family walking in Fowa streets – Mohamed Suleiman

He added that he got tired of the crowded and noisy places, preferring to stay in a quiet and calm place.

The delegation visited the farm lands, played a number of musical pieces, and sang American and English songs, and even some French and Portuguese songs. They drank tea in the afternoon, went to the banks of the Nile River to take pictures and then went to the guest house to rest. Afterwards, they played some street games with the children.

The children are over excited while riding the donkey - Egypt TodayMohamed Suleiman
Children are excited riding the donkey – Mohamed Suleiman

Abu Naja assured that Fowa has become an important tourism attraction for American and British tourists. He declared that the city received almost 40 tourists of different nationalities in three months.

Abu Naja added that what makes the tourist delegation special is the children accompanied by their families. This gives a positive impression and will have a positive impact on tourism. Those children will talk about their experience in Fowa to their friends and relatives. This will lead to an increase in the demand of tourism, and the children might encourage their family and friends to visit.
4/26/2018 12:40:00 AM
<![CDATA[Pics: Military museums open for free on Sinai Liberation day ]]>
This comes as part of the Armed Forces’ effort to raise and spread awareness, patriotism and military culture amid youth, to acquaint them with the glories, championships and sacrifices of Egyptians.

Here is the list of military museums that you could visit:

1 - Museum of Alamein Military

The Al-Alamein War Museum is located on the Alexandria-Marsa Matrouh road. It comprises five halls which narrate the story of the Second World War in North Africa, and each of them is dedicated to one of the four countries which are involved in the war: Egypt, Germany, Italy and Great Britain.

Museum of Alamein Military
Museum of Alamein Military, May13, 2011 – Wikimedia/Heather Cowper

The fifth hall is called the Mixed Hall because it displays the entire collections of memorabilia, guns, uniforms, photos and maps. It also has a part which tells the history of each country and why they were involved in the war.

Additionally, the Alamein’s guardian has huge army tanks, artillery, vehicles and various large and heavy equipments and weapons used by different forces in the battlefield of Al- Alamein.

2 - Port Said War Museum

It was established on an area of approximately 7000 meters squared which is located at July 23 Street, El Arab, Port Fouad, at Port Said governorate. It was inaugurated in 1964 after Egypt’s victory against the tripartite aggression of France, Britain, and Israel on the city of Port Said in December 1956, as a witness to the intrepid people of Port Said in defense of their homeland.

Port Said War Museum
Aircraft of MIG 16 within Port Said War Museum, November 2017 – Wikimedia/Ahmed.m.hanfy

The Port Said Museum hosts a large collection of military tools, equipments, Israeli tanks, guns and some parts of military aircrafts. There is an open exhibition area which contains various collections of weapons seized in the wars of 1956 and 1973 and it also includes some archaeological weapons from the Mohamed Ali era.

Furthermore, it has four halls. The first hall displays the historical overview of the city of Port Said and valuable information about Port Said in ancient and Islamic era. The second one includes various artworks that tells the story of the Suez Canal and the plate announcing the presidential decree of nationalizing the Suez Canal as well as the pivotal role of the canal in the history of Egypt’s politics, military and economy.

The third hall tells the victory of the people of Port Said on Dec. 23, 1956 against three great countries; France, Britain and Israel. It also includes some portraits of Egyptian heroes who resisted the aggression and various weapons from the tripartite aggression
The fourth hall contains different equipment from the war of October 1973, and pictures of Egyptian troops while crossing the Suez Canal with the intention of pushing the Israelis out of the Sinai Peninsula.

3 – October 6 Panorama Museum

It is situated on Salah Salem Road in Nasr City, and was opened on Oct. 5, 1989 by ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Hosni Mubarak. It has an open exhibition area which includes two platforms: one of them is used to display some Egyptian Armed Forces’ weapons used during the October War in 1973, and the other platform displays some equipment seized from war.

The 6th October panorama museum, October - Wikimedia/Daniel Mayer

The main building of the museum has halls, the first hall depicts the works and efforts of the Egyptian Armed Forces since 1967 until 1973, whilst the other hall includes a theater which shows a documentary film called “The Road to Victory” which explains how Egyptians crossed Bar Lev Line. The third hall displays and explains the role and the effort exerted by the main three branches of the Armed Forces during the October 1973 war and also has a historical library.

4 – Egyptian National Military Museum

The museum was established in 1936 at the old building of the Egyptian Ministry of Defense in Al Falaki Street at Cairo governorate then it was relocated to a temporary location in the Garden City district of Cairo.

Egyptian national military museum
Soviet-Built Egyptian MiG-21F displayed in the Egyptian National Military Museum in Cairo Citadel, March 2009, - Wikimedia/LeCaire

In 1948, the national military museum transferred into Cairo Castle in accordance with the instructions of Colonel Abdul Rahman Zaky and it opened in November 1949 while it was rehabilitated and developed by the cooperation between Egypt and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in 1990. It was officially reopened by former President Mohamed Hosni Mubarak in 1993.

The military museum is one of the largest military museums in the world and it is a specialized museum which contains various sections that recorded the history of the Egyptian military and the development of Egypt’s weapons and equipments.

Additionally, it presents documentary films about the role and the bravery of the Egyptian soldiers throughout Egypt’s history. The National Military Museum’s courtyard has a statue of one of Egypt’s historic military heroes, Ibrahim Pasha, who was the son of Mohamed Ali Pasha.
4/25/2018 4:17:35 PM
<![CDATA[Australia boy, 12, runs away to Bali using family credit card]]>
The boy ran away from his Sydney home after a row with his mother, flying first to the Western Australian city of Perth on budget airline Jetstar and then on to Bali, according to commercial broadcaster Channel Nine.

"He just doesn't like the word 'no', and that's what I got, a kid in Indonesia," his mother, Emma, told Channel Nine in a programme that aired late Monday.

"It's too easy, it's way too easy. There's a problem in our system," she said, calling for tighter controls on air travel by young people.

The family had previously visited Bali on holiday and Emma said her son had already tried to book flights there on his own but had been knocked back by airlines because he did not have a letter from her.

"We screamed, we begged for help (from Australian authorities) for weeks on end," Emma added.

"When the first attempt to Indonesia took place, we were told his passport was going to be flagged."

The boy, who "wanted to go on an adventure", said he was told by airline staff this time that he did not need permission from his parents to board the flights.

He spent four days in Bali, where he said he checked into a hotel, hired a scooter and drank beer before a friend alerted his mother to a geotagged video of himself playing in a swimming pool.

The holiday cost his parents Aus$8,000 (US$6,100), according to Channel Nine.

The Australian Federal Police said they were first notified that the boy might try to leave the country on March 8, before being told he might be in Bali on March 17.

The boy was found by Indonesian police the following day.

His parents then flew to Bali to take him home.

The federal police said an alert to prevent international travel had not been placed on the boy, and it did not have the power to cancel or request the cancellation of a passport if there were no suspicions of crimes committed.

"The AFP will work with partner agencies to review the circumstances of this matter and current operating procedures, to ensure this type of incident does not occur again," an AFP spokeswoman said in a statement.

Jetstar told Channel Nine the airline had since changed its procedures to prevent children over 12 from travelling without parental permission.

In general, Australian airlines do not allow children younger than five to travel alone.

Children between five and 11 must be booked on an unaccompanied minor ticket while those from 12-15 are required to have a permission slip from their parent or guardian.]]>
4/25/2018 1:22:45 PM