<![CDATA[rss-Travel]]> All Rights Reserved for The Cairo post <![CDATA[Travel]]>]]> 100 29 <![CDATA[Egyptian Youth decorate Cairo’s Opera metro station walls]]>
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“As the metro gathers Egyptians from different walks of life, we have chosen this metro station, aiming to spread happiness among all people,” said Yara Ali, member of “Mobdeoon.”

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“The Metro welcomed our initiative and cooperated with us by buying all the utensils we needed to pursue our artwork,” added Ali.

“We have intentions to continue coloring the rest of the metro stations.” Moreover, Transportation Minister Hisham Arafat, integrating the metro station on Tuesday, encouraged us to continue spreading their art, saying, “Don’t stop by just coloring Opera station.”

The team worked tirelessly for three weeks from 9 am to 7 pm, However, the result was worth it. The beautiful wall features Egypt’s most famous artists such as Umm Kolthoum and Mohamed Abdel Wahab.

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Our initiative “Let’s color it” was launched two years ago, Ali said, “we started by painting walls in Masr el-Gedida.”

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2/23/2018 12:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[How technology can revive endangered Nubian language ]]>CAIRO – 22 February 2018: When an indigenous language dies, it takes a culture, an irreplaceable heritage and a part of the history of a nation with it to the grave.


On the occasion of the International Mother Tongue Language Day, which falls every year on February 21, and in light of the categorizing of the Nubian language in Egypt as one of the endangered indigenous language in Africa, according to the Google-powered Endangered Languages project, Egypt Today spoke to Momen Talosh, the co-founder of the Nubi App which is considered a complete repository of the Nubian language and its related history.


“The App has been now downloaded 13,000 times and its content is being regularly updated. It includes different and simple sentences that are used for dealing with daily situations,” Talosh told Egypt Today on Monday.


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Introductory page of the Nubi App - Official Twitter account

Launched back in February 2017, the Nubian App also contains a complete touristic guide of the most popular Nubian-styled cafes and restaurants; along with other easy lessons provided in the both dialects of the Nubian language - the Kinzi and the Visicci - through animated characters which bear original Nubian names.


Besides, the App also serves as a marketing platform for the Nubian vendors and homemade products manufacturers and makers.


“Our slogan is ‘We bring Al-Nuba to your fingertips’,” the 28-year-old programmer said, adding that he is currently collaborating with the Washington-based Nuba initiative to push for including the Nubian language in the globally-acknowledged languages in the Google Translate service and the keyboard options.


Nubian heritage and language are a fundamental part of Egypt’s history and cultural diversity. On the banks of the Nile, the indigenous Nubian created a well-established civilization that endured for hundreds of years, Talosh added.

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Screenshots from the app - Google Play store

The extinction of the language as Talosh put it is because of the compulsory displacement of Nubians around the time of the construction of the High Dam in Aswan back in 1922. The subsequent relocation of the ancestral Nubians in the big cities like Cairo and Alexandria caused the gradual erasure of the indigenous language.


“[Our] first generation ancestors spoke and understood the Nubians well, while the second one rarely spoke the language but understood it well, and the third one (grand children), to which [I] belong, neither speak nor understand the language, which gives us an alarming inkling that the language is on its way to extinction,” Talosh concluded.

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2/22/2018 9:56:21 PM
<![CDATA[Sun illuminates face of Ramses II in Aswan for 20 minutes]]>
For most of the year, the inner sanctum of the main temple at Abu Simbel is shrouded in darkness.

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Sun on Thursday illuminated the face of Ramses II sanctuary in the Abu Simple temple in south Aswan for 20 minutes in a rare phenomenon that takes place twice a year - Muhammad Fawzy/Egypt Today

The phenomenon started at 6:25 am and continued for nearly 20 minutes.

Led by Ministers Rania el Mashat of Tourism and Khaled el Anni of Antiquities, over 3,000 tourists and Egyptians gathered at Abu Simbel temple to watch the alignment of the sun on King Ramses II's face.

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Sun on Thursday illuminated the face of Ramses II sanctuary in the Abu Simple temple in south Aswan for 20 minutes in a rare phenomenon that takes place twice a year - Muhammad Fawzy/Egypt Today

On February 22, a day celebrating the king's birthday and again on October 22, a day celebrating his coronation, sunlight illuminates 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).

Capture
Sun on Thursday illuminated the face of Ramses II sanctuary in the Abu Simple temple in south Aswan for 20 minutes in a rare phenomenon that takes place twice a year - Muhammad Fawzy/Egypt Today



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2/22/2018 11:30:45 AM
<![CDATA[Taiwan looks south for Muslim tourist dollars]]>
Mainland tourist numbers have slid dramatically as China relations deteriorate, with speculation authorities there are turning off the taps to pressure Taiwan’s Beijing-sceptic government.

Taiwan is now looking to boost relations with 16 south and southeast Asian countries, as well as Australia and New Zealand – what it calls its “southbound policy” – and is seeking more visitors from the region.

Hero labrador sniffs out survivor in Taiwan quake wreckage

That has meant a growing number of tourists from Muslim-majority countries, such as Malaysia and Indonesia. Taiwan welcomed 30 percent more visitors from southeast Asia in 2017.

Taoism is the prevalent religion in Taiwan, with Muslims making up less than two percent of the population, but tourists who spoke to AFP said they were surprised how welcome they felt.

“I really like the natural scenery in Taiwan and the people are very nice,” said Ashma Bunlapho, 40, a Muslim tourist from Thailand on a five-day trip with her husband.

She found halal restaurants using Google Maps, including a shop selling beef noodle – a Taiwanese favourite – and felt free to pray where she chose, taking her mat with her to famous nature spots including Sun Moon Lake in central Taiwan.

Malaysian tourist Dean Idris said halal eats were easily accessible as he visited Taipei with his two young children, taking in the zoo, a night market, and a historic district close to the city’s best-known temple.

“I learned that Taiwan, Taipei especially, is actually Muslim-friendly,” he told AFP outside a mosque in the capital, where he had gone to pray.

Thailand, South Korea and Japan are among Asian nations that have been tapping into the Muslim travel market, which has been fuelled by growth in cheap flights and a booming middle class in countries such as Indonesia.

Fried Chicken Master, a small shop not far from Taipei’s Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall – one of its most famous landmarks – has adapted to the trend, selling a halal version of the snack, which is also a Taiwanese favourite.

“We hope to be able to serve tourists, exchange students, or Muslims living in Taiwan. As Taiwanese we are proud of our food,” said Louis Tsai, a spokesperson for Super Qin Group, which owns the shop.

A trip to one of Taiwan’s hot springs resorts tops most tourists’ to-do lists and Gaia Hotel in mountainous Beitou, best-known for its natural pools, provides guest rooms with prayer direction signs and prayer schedules.

Minibars there are alcohol-free and cakes do not include pork-based gelatin. To obtain its halal certification, the hotel kitchen created a separate cooking and dining area.

“Since the number of Chinese tourists has decreased, and southeast Asia is quite a sizable market with many Muslims, this is an area we have to actively pursue,” Jack Chang, Gaia’s operations manager, told AFP.

On a recent visit to Istanbul, Taipei mayor Ko Wen-je met with Turkish lawmakers who want to fund the building of a third mosque in Taipei, according to the city government.

Taiwan is also trialling visa waivers for Thailand, Brunei and the Philippines. It eased visa rules last June for six southbound countries, including Indonesia, India, and Cambodia.

But some doubt whether the growth in Muslim tourism is enough to offset the lost income from the mainland.

Chinese visitor numbers dropped by a fifth last year, dropping since Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen came to power in May 2016.

Beijing still sees self-ruling democratic Taiwan as part of its territory and relations have become increasingly tense as Tsai refuses to acknowledge it is part of “one China”.

New quake shakes Taiwan’s Hualien

Salahuding Ma, secretary general of the Chinese Muslim Association, the largest halal certification body in Taiwan, says it is hard for the new wave of tourists to compete with their Chinese counterparts.

“The Chinese have wealth and spend lavishly,” he told AFP.
“If you are talking about southeast Asia, which countries can even compare?” he asked.

Ma says Taiwan would have greater success if it overcame the language barrier by encouraging students from “target countries” to work in the island’s tourism sector.

For Thai visitor Bunlapho, her lack of Chinese and limited English proved an obstacle when trying to find transportation to Taroko National Park on Taiwan’s east coast, famous for its deep gorges and sweeping cliff faces.

“I couldn’t figure out how to get there,” she lamented.
“Next time. I’ll come back.”
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2/21/2018 12:53:58 PM
<![CDATA[EgyptAir making arrangements for resumption of Cairo-Moscow flights]]>
In a released statement, he added that bookings for the flights will open once these arrangements are completed in line with an agreement between the Egyptian Civil Aviation Ministry and the Russian Ministry of Transport.

Under the agreement operation will start with three flights per week on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, added the statement.

On January 4, Russian President Vladimir Putin decreed to resume flights from Moscow to Cairo after a 26-month suspension, Sputnik news agency reported.

Russia suspended flights with Egypt following a plane crash over Sinai in late 2015. The Islamic State terrorist group (IS) subsequently declared responsibility for blowing up the airliner. ]]>
2/20/2018 12:33:12 PM
<![CDATA[How do Egyptian nature reserves fund themselves? ]]>
The draft law stipulates that the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency (EEAA) will establish the bases and rules of nature protectorates visits. They shall determine the costs of getting approvals to visit the protectorates and practice activities there. It asserts the importance of compliance with all laws and decisions regulating the entry of prohibited and prohibited areas.

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Wadi Degla – Mohammed Said - Wikimedia commons

The EEAA is funded mainly from state’s budgets, grants, subsidies, grants and loans, in addition to half of the fees from visits and the money return of issuing licenses. The rest of money shall be deposited in favor of the Environment Protection Fund. The financial resources shall include the return of economic and training projects and the proceeds of the investments and activities of the Authority and against the works or services rendered to third parties and the equivalent of 50 percent of the proceeds from fines as well as damage to natural reserves.

Nonetheless, the tickets to enter nature protectorates are considered one of fund sources of protectorates, yet the prices of these tickets are still cheap. To visit Wadi el-Gamal and Wadi Al-Hitan protectorate, you have to buy a ticket by five pounds only if you are Egyptian citizen and forty pounds if you are foreigner. For camping, you will pay ten pounds if you are Egyptian citizen and eighty pounds if you are foreigner.

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Wadi al-Weshwashy – Official Facebook page of Best Places Egypt

Wadi Degla Protectorate is less expensive than Wadi el-Gamal and Wadi Al-Hitan. Wadi Degla is open every day until 6 pm. Entrance costs just three pounds for Egyptians and five for foreigners. If you are Egyptian riding a car, you will pay five pounds. Camping in Wadi Degla will cost you ten pounds.
Egypt currently has a total of 28 natural protectorates found across the country covering an area of around 150,000 square kilometers or approximately 15 percent of Egypt's land area.

Egypt's 28 protectorates in chronological order of their establishment by prime ministerial decree:

1. Ras Mohammed Natural Park, Tiran and Sanafir Islands
2. Zaranik Protectorate
3. Ahrash Protectorate
4. El-Omayid Protectorate
5. 'Elba National Park
6. Saluga and Ghazal Protectorate
7. St. Catherine Protectorate
8. Ashtum el-Gamil, Lake Manzala and Tenis Island Protectorate
9. Lake Qaroun Protectorate
10. Wadi el-Rayan Protectorate
11. Wadi 'Alaqi Protectorate
12. Wadi el-Assiuti Protectorate
13. El-Hassana Dome
14. Petrified Forest (Gabal el-Khashab)
15. Sannur Cave Protectorate
16. Nabq Protectorate
17. Abu Galum Protectorate
18. Taba Protectorate
19. Lake Bourollus Protectorate
20. Nile Islands
21. Wadi Degla Protectorate
22. Siwa Oasis Protectorate
23. White Desert
24. Wadi el-Gamal and Hamata
25. Red Sea Northern Islands
26. El-Gelf el-Kebir
27. El-Dababya
28. Gulf of Salloum Protectorate
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2/19/2018 11:21:30 AM
<![CDATA[New dinosaur fossils may be found soon in Red Sea city ]]>
Salama affirmed his perspective, saying that the same form of phosphate was found in El-Wahat el-Bahariya (Western Desert of Egypt), before discovering the dinosaur fossils which date back to about 95 million years ago.

Dinosaur remains are usually found in the areas of marine and river sediments, Salama said, adding that these types of sediments were found at the Dakhla Oasis in central Egypt and El-Wahat el-Bahariya before discovering the dinosaur fossils there.

Salama asserted the possibility of finding the remnants of dinosaurs, stressing that so far the mystery of dinosaur extinction has not yet been solved.

In the last few days, a research team at the Mansoura University Vertebrate Paleontology center (MUVP) uncovered a new extremely rare dinosaur species, attracting the world’s attention to Egypt’s fossil record.

In cooperation with Ohio University, the Leakey Foundation, the National Geographic Society, and the National Science Foundation, the research team has conducted intensive studies on the fossil to discover its species.

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Main Caption: The all-Egyptian field team from the Mansoura University Vertebrate Paleontology initiative that found and collected the new titanosaurian dinosaur Mansourasaurus shahinae with the plaster ‘jackets’ containing the fossil skeleton at the disc

They found out that the species, named Mansourasaurus shahinae, belongs to a dinosaur group called the Titanosaurs that mostly lived in southern Europe and eastern Asia. It dates back to between 100 and 66 million years ago during the late cretaceous era in Egypt, according to a study published on January 29, 2018, in the renowned scientific journal “Nature”.

The team was comprised of the head of the center Hesham Sallam, founder of MUVP and associate professor at the department of Geology of Mansoura University, Sanaa el-Sayed, demonstrator at the Faculty of Science of Mansoura University and a trainee at the center, Mai el-Amir, MA student at Mansoura University, Iman el-Dawoudi, demonstrator at Mansoura University and Sara Saber, demonstrator at Assiut University and Farahat Ibrahim, MA student at Mansoura University.

During the cretaceous era, Egypt’s Western Desert was one of the most fertile areas in the region and attracted many organisms including dinosaurs.

After doing extensive studies, the team discovered a link between Mansourasaurus and a European dinosaur, indicating the possibility of the presence of a bridge that linked Africa and Europe millions of years ago.

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Skeletal reconstruction of the new titanosaurian dinosaur Mansourasaurus found in Egypt. Bones shown in color are those that are preserved in the original fossil; other bones are based on those of closely related dinosaurs - Carnegie Museum of Natural History / Andrew McAfee

This is one of the reasons as to why this discovery is particularly significant; a land bridge between Europe and Africa is plausible because scientists believe that there was no land link from northern Asia and Europe to the southern bloc which modern day Africa was a part of.

“[It] offer[s] the most robust support to date of non-marine vertebrate dispersal between Africa and Europe,” according to an article published on January 29 by the Nature Ecology and Evolution website.




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2/18/2018 4:34:35 PM
<![CDATA[Gone with the wind: Storms deepen Florida's beach sand crunch]]>
Replacing sand swept away by waves and wind is critical work to protect seaside homes and businesses as well as the tourism dollars brought by northerners seeking refuge from the cold in the Sunshine State.

Getting enough of it, for the right price and in time for the peak tourist season, has become much harder after a violent storm year that brought Irma, the most powerful hurricane to hit the state in over a decade, and saddled Florida with more than US$50 billion (S$65.5 billion) in damage.

Costs of so-called beach renourishments are a fraction of the total, measured in hundreds of millions of dollars, but the effort is crucial for Florida's US$67 billion tourism industry. And while sand needs are surging, there is not enough to go around.

"It's like the slow progression of tooth decay versus a fight where someone knocks out your teeth all at once," Flagler County Administrator Craig Coffey said, referring to sand lost during Irma and Hurricane Matthew, which buffeted Florida's coast in October 2016.

With the longest coastline of any mainland US state, more money and time is spent fixing up Florida's shores - widening and building dunes - than in any other state.

But after seven decades of rebuilding its beaches, the state is now struggling with sand shortages, rising costs and tight public funds even during calmer years. The quick succession of powerful storms makes the challenges even more daunting.

By one estimate, based on a sample of beaches, Irma knocked out four times the amount of sand Matthew displaced, US Army Corps of Engineers spokesman John Campbell said. Matthew was already considered one of the worst storms in recent memory.

As weather patterns change and coastal development increases, more states have rolled out programs to counter beach erosion over the past five years.

Other nations, including Mexico, Britain and Australia, also regularly fix up their shores. High demand for sand in the construction industry further strains global supply.

As needs and costs rise in Florida, communities are increasingly competing both for sand and funding, with some retaining "sand lobbyists" to represent them in state and federal legislatures.

Flagler County tried for more than a decade to get the federal sand funds used for popular beaches like Miami before turning to local tax dollars, private money and emergency aid to rebuild dunes and protect neighbourhoods flooded in Matthew, Irma and several nor'easters since. The estimated US$26 million project began late last month.

SOARING PRICES AND TURTLES

That back-to-back strike of storms has pushed counties to reach for sand sources all at once, driving up prices.

South of Flagler, Brevard County wanted to expand a contract it awarded after Matthew to also cover post-Irma needs at the original price, but the contractor rejected the deal.

New bids came in 11 per cent to 39 per cent higher and the county settled for the lowest offer, said County Commissioner John Tobia, who wants some of the local tax money spent on sand to be used repairing the county's damaged roads instead.

Brevard, home to Kennedy Space Center, also has to worry about sea turtles.

Federally protected sea turtles nest along Florida's east coast and the laws prohibit any work during the nesting period from May through October.

Environmental rules also prescribe what type of sand can be used, since its colour affects the temperature - the darker, the faster it warms - and that in turn can change the gender of the turtles before hatching.

As useable offshore sand sources get depleted and tapping into new sites involves lengthy permitting, more local governments are trucking sand from mines - instead of dredging it from the seabed and piping it onshore - even though it can cost five times more per cubic yard.

"With the shrinking sand supply, it leads to conflict," said Dave Bullock, who retired last month as town manager for Florida's western barrier island of Longboat Key, which used up the rest of its offshore reserves after Matthew.

In a recent example of that clash, two neighbouring beach communities, Siesta Key and Lido Key are facing off in a lawsuit over which can claim 1.8 million tonnes of sand from a common boating channel.

Environmental advocates argue that beach erosion is primarily a natural phenomenon and efforts to reverse it create a vicious-circle by encouraging building along the shore.

That in turn puts more people and public resources at risk and calls for greater efforts and money to protect them.

The long-term, lasting solution would be to roll back coastal development, environmental activists argue.

Still, needs are likely to grow, says Derek Brockbank, executive director at the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association, which lobbies for coastal governments and businesses.

Climate change and coastal development have created an urgent need to protect the upland, Brockbank said, calling for US$5 billion to be set aside over the next decade in any upcoming federal infrastructure bill.
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2/18/2018 1:55:17 PM
<![CDATA[In Pics: False killer dolphins spotted in Hurgada]]>CAIRO –17 February 2018: A group of 10 false killer dolphins have been recently spotted swimming around the Red Sea waters of Hurgada.

According to Ahmed Ghalab, general manager of the Red Sea Protectorates, the above-mentioned dolphins closely resemble killer whales and usually reach around five meters in length.

Amid a sweeping atmosphere of joy and exhilaration in Hurgada, Ghalab added that the last time the false killer dolphins appeared was in 2012, adding that their first-ever emergence in the Red Sea waters dates back to 1985.

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FILE: Three false killer dolphins swimming around the Red Sea waters in Hurgada

He further added that a marine patrol led by environmental researcher Abdullah Abed was able to track the movement of 10 large types of false killer dolphins in the Sheraton area of Hurgada three days ago, describing the event as “a rare occurrence.”

A motorboat carrying tourists that was passing by the site of the dolphins kept blowing its horns in celebration of the emergence of the false killers.

Ghalab added that the false killer dolphins joined the list of marine organisms that have been observed lately in the Red Sea during the past years, including the whale shark, whale humpback and the sunfish.

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FILE: False killer dolphins spotted


For his part, Ashraf Abadi, director of the Red Sea Diving Center, said that the emergence of these dolphins demonstrates the success of the governorate to protect the marine environment in the Red Sea and the officials’ adherence to the international conventions for the protection of marine organisms that ensure that they are not harmed or hooked by fishermen and divers and are nurtured to stay in the Red Sea.


Earlier in February, the Red Sea reserves sector stranded a huge marine vessel ashore to prevent the decomposition of the waters.

In 2015, a German tourist was killed after a shark ripped into her leg in a popular resort in the Red Sea city of Sharm El-Sheikh.



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2/17/2018 3:11:53 PM
<![CDATA[25 hot air balloons launched with 513 tourists in Luxor]]>
Luxor’s hot air balloons flew in the early morning over Luxor governorate, which is named the Capital of the World’s First Country. The balloons were controlled by well-trained Egyptian pilots with around 513 Egyptian and foreign tourists on board. They enjoyed a great aerial view over pharaonic sites in Luxor in the warm weather.

Luxor is considered to be the second city worldwide that offers hot air balloon trips besides a city in the United States. These flights are one of the most popular adventures in Luxor, where millions of tourists come from all over the world.

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Sunrise ride over ancient places in Luxor – Five Photos.com

Luxor’s hot air balloons take off at sunrise to fly over the wonders and splendors of the ancient historical sites of ancient Thebes, the temple complexes of Karnak and Luxor, the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens.


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2/16/2018 6:22:45 PM
<![CDATA[Top 6 superstitions you may encounter in Egypt]]>
Whether an occurrence of bad luck is mere coincidence or fate, myths of misfortune are a part of our cultural history. Ancient Egyptian culture held many beliefs related to superstitions that affected their daily lives.

1 - Drink until last drop

This is considered one of the most important Egyptian beliefs, even if there was no clear evidence about their speculation. If you enter an Egyptian house, you must finish your beverage until the last drop, particularly if this house has a single girl – the belief is the bad luck would chase this girl and she would never get married.

Tea during sunset in Aswan July 11, 2008 - CC via Flick/ S J Pinkney
Tea during sunset in Aswan July 11, 2008 - CC via Flick, S J Pinkney

2 - Leaving scissors open brings bad luck

There are Egyptian myths about leaving scissors open, or opening and closing them again without cutting anything; these actions would change happiness into inevitable sadness. The myth depended on scissors’ function – to cut and separate things – hence the relationships would tear and disperse until you close the scissors again.


Open scissors - CC via Pixabay
Open scissors - CC via Pixabay

3 - Black animals

The majority of Egyptian people are afraid of black animals, especially from black cats and crows. They consider black cats as evil creatures because devils live and exist in cats’ bodies.

A crow - CC via Pixabay
A crow - CC via Pixabay

Crows have a complicated relationship with people, as they considered an omen of bad luck. If crows are heard or seen, sickness or death are nearby due to the superstition that says God sent crows to teach Cain how to bury Abel’s body. Therefore, some interpretation made this bird a source and sign of pessimism because they linked crows to unfortunate events that occur to humans.

4 - Footwear can’t be turned upside down

Ancient Egyptian superstition warned that leaving shoes and flip-flops upside down would bring inauspicious events to you, as they considered this as a way of insulting God. However, another explanation for the superstition is that some people are said to have used inverted shoes in black magic and addressing devils.

Upside down footwear - CC via Flick, Mikecogh
Upside-down footwear - CC via Flick/ Mikecogh

5 - Eye twitching

According to belief, if one's right eye twitches, the person would receive happy news, as the right side symbolizes peace and angels. On the other hand, if the left eye twitches, the person would receive unpleasant news, as the thought goes that evils exist in any left side.

Mr. Crabby's eye twitching - Youtube still image
Mr. Crabby's eye twitching - Youtube still image

6 - Don’t cut your nails at night

Egyptians believe that it’s inauspicious act to cut your nails at night, leading to the loss of precious belongings or loved ones.

Clipping nails - CC via Public Domain Pictures
Clipping nails - CC via Public Domain Pictures

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2/16/2018 12:00:00 PM
<![CDATA[8 reasons why you should visit Luxor, Aswan in winter]]>As you set out for Ithaka
hope the voyage is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
May there be many a summer morning when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you come into harbors seen for the first time;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to gather stores of knowledge from their scholars.

With these words Greek poet Constantine Peter Cavafy (1863-1933) encouraged his readers to venture on new experiences and go on journeys to see the wonders of the world, such as the “knowledge” once housed in Egyptian cities. Although this poem was written long ago, its message still rings true, especially for cities like Luxor and Aswan.

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Rabab Fathy at Karnak Temple in Luxor, December 2017 – Egypt Today

Luxor and Aswan are two cities in Upper Egypt known to be home of intact ancient Egyptian temples that date back almost 4,000 years ago. Luxor alone has one third of the world’s ancient monuments, and many Egyptians like to call Aswan the “Egyptian Paradise.”

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Bes, an Ancient Egyptian deity worshiped to protect households, women in labor and also music and dance, depicted on a column at Philae Temple in Nubia in December 2017 – Rabab Fathy

I’ll repeat Cavafy’s words and encourage all of you to go visit Luxor and Aswan this winter for these 5 reasons:

The Weather

What really makes these two cities special is their weather during winter. You can escape the cold, whether it’s in Cairo or another metropolis around the world, to enjoy the warm Egyptian winter sun. If you like, you can take a cruise from Luxor to Aswan where you can enjoy the calm and peaceful atmosphere while sailing through the Nile. On both sides of the river’s banks, you can feast your eyes on a combination of sand and green lands and enjoy mesmerizing golden sunsets and sunrises.

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Riding camels with a friend in West Suhail Island, Nubia, December 2017 – Egypt Today

Go before it’s too crowded

A recent article in the Independent listed Egypt amongst the fastest-growing holiday destinations of 2017, citing numbers from the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNTWO). The article said tourism numbers increased 51 percent in Egypt last year. This means that Egypt is most likely to witness an increase in the influx of tourists, especially after the signing of a protocol with Russia that ensures resumption of flights from Moscow to Cairo.

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Rabab Fathy at Hatshepsut Temple in Luxor, December 2017 – Egypt Today

World Wonders/History

Whether you are a history lover or not, you will find yourself in complete awe standing in front ancient temples whose secrets are still unknown. You will find yourself listening to the whispers of kings and queens narrating untold stories through the intact drawings that have survived thousands of years.

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A wall at Kom Ombo Temple in Aswan, December 2017 – Rabab Fathy

The Luxor and Karnak temples in Luxor are a must-see attractions, and Aswan also has many temples, such as Kom Ombo, Philae and Abu Simbel, which is almost 300 kilometers away from the city, but there are regular trips to it from Aswan.

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Rabab Fathy at Philae Temple in Nubia, December 2017 – Egypt Today

Flying Ballons

Don’t worry, if you are not that much into history, you can enjoy a morning ride in a flying balloon. Not only will you watch a sunrise, but you will watch it over the biggest open museum in the world.

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A hot air balloon flying near Ramesseum temple on the west bank of Luxor - Reuters

Aswan’s Nubian nature

Egypt is a country of diversity, and even though it is widely considered a Middle Eastern country, it still has an African element to it, which you can trace in Aswan’s Nubia. Not only will you enjoy the beautiful nature of the place, but you’ll meet a unique group of people, who were able to maintain their traditions and culture, having their own traditional dress and even their own language.

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Rabab Fathy at a port in Aswan, December 2017 – Egypt Today

When there, you can visit Barbara beach, which has the clearest water you can find in the Nile, and you can even take a swim in it.

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The bank of the River Nile in Nubia, December 2017 – Rabab Fathy

Charter direct flights

A number of countries signed agreements with Egypt to fly direct charter flights to Luxor and Aswan. In 2015, direct flights between Aswan and three Chinese cities started, and in July 2018, there will be weekly charter flights between Madrid and the two cities.

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Rabab Fathy at Hatshepsut Temple in Luxor, December 2017 – Egypt Today

Family Friendly

Not a lot of destinations are suitable for old people or family unions, but Luxor and Aswan don’t require physical activity. The helpful, friendly people in Aswan are easy to deal with and provide a perfectly safe city for everyone, as well as convenient access to all corners of the place.

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Rabab Fathy with friends at Memnon Colossi in Luxor, December 2017 – Egypt Today

Affordable

One of the most important elements when deciding to go on a trip is how affordable it is. What is really good about Luxor and Aswan is that they are affordable and you can enjoy them even if you are traveling on a budget. If you like cruises, a lot of companies organize these trips from Luxor and Aswan. Cruises start from LE 1700 to LE 3500 ($95 to $198) for Egyptians, depending on the cruise ship you choose, but all of them provide the same tour program.

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Riding a camel in West Suhail Island, Nubia, December 2017 – Egypt Today

I would recommend the cruise ship, as it’s really calming to sail through the Nile and wake up to it. My trip was not during the high season and it cost LE 3000 per person, including a LE 600 sleeper train ticket, all inclusive except for tips, which usually fluctuate from LE 10-20.

As for foreigners, the trip costs around $400.
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2/15/2018 5:14:05 PM
<![CDATA[5 romantic places to spend Valentine’s Day weekend ]]>
Alexandria
Many Egyptians are fond of Alexandria, and many love it especially in the winter, despite the cold and the rain. In fact, they find it romantic because of the cold and the rain. Luckily, Alexandria is only about 226 kilometers from Cairo, and it is generally a close city to residents of the entire Delta.

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Stanley Bridge in Alexandria in August 2009 – CC via Wikimedia Commons/slashme

Siwa
Admittedly, Siwa Oasis is a long way from Cairo and most Egyptian cities, being only 50 kilometers east of the Libyan border. However, the relaxation, clear air, and sunny weather are worth the travel. Enjoy a stunning sunset at Fitnas Island to relieve any stress.

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Sunset at Fitnas Island in Siwa in October 2016 – CC via Wikimedia Commons/Mohamad Kassem

Nuweiba
Overlooking the Gulf of Aqaba, the town is calm, warm, and is perfect for honeymooners and Valentine’s Day alike. You can seek luxurious hotels and simple hut camps for romantic days and nights.

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A beach in Nuweiba in September 2014 – CC via Wikimedia Commons/Ahmedherz

Nubia
The Nile River in Nubia is not like the one in Cairo. It is bluer, clearer and just way more beautiful. To spend a couple of days next to the Nile in Heesa or Sehel islands and renting a boat before sunset would make a great weekend for couples.

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Heesa Island in Nubia in February 2016 – CC via Wikimedia Commons/Al imenawar
]]>
2/14/2018 4:41:08 PM
<![CDATA[After Cairo omitted his name from a street, who is Selim I?]]>
The story began when Mohamed Sabry al-Daly, professor of contemporary history at Helwan University, submitted an official request to Cairo governorate to change the name of Sultan Selim I Street in Zaytoun district of eastern Cairo.

Egypt is a country with a multicultural society that has respected and received people from all countries throughout the world. Therefore, many Egyptian streets are named after foreign characters.

With the 500th anniversary of Sultan Selim’s invasion of Cairo and the end of the Mamluk era in the country, the Egyptian government has recently recognized that Sultan Selim I was not a patriotic symbol, but rather an invader who came to control Egypt and capitalize its resources.

The street was named after Selim I in the second half of the 19th century, under the reign of Mohamed Ali.

Sultan Selim I was born on October 10, 1470, in Amasya, Turkey. He was the youngest son of Sultan Bayezid II.

He provoked a dispute between Sultan Bayezid and his brother, Ahmed. By 1512, he declared himself sultan when he orchestrated a coup against his father and killed his brothers and nephews in order to eliminate his rivals for the throne.

The Turkish people named him “Selim the Resolute” because of his courage in the battlefield. However, other people named him “Selim the Grim” due to his face always being sullen.

The era of Sultan Selim I was distinguished from previous eras, as his conquest turned to the east instead of Western Europe. His state expanded to comprise Sham (Levant), Iraq, Hijaz (western Arabia) and Egypt. He is highly respected in modern Turkey.

Sultan Selim I reached Egypt after he invaded Syria, and he dispatched a reconciliation offer to then-ruler Tuman Bey with one condition: that Tuman Bey should recognize his authority. Tuman Bey refused.

On January 23, 1517, Sultan Selim killed Tuman Bey and hanged his body for three days on Bab Zuweila, a gate that still exists at the walls of Old Cairo, until feral birds decimated his body.

He fought and committed injustices against the Egyptian people, destroyed the Mamluk Sultanate, with Cairo as its capital, that had included Hijaz, Sham and Yemen, breaking it into small states affiliated to the Ottoman Empire, and he disbanded the Egyptian army, which was able to consolidate its power 250 years later.

Recently, some have suggested replacing Sultan Selim’s name with Ali Bey Al Kabir, who is considered the first Mamluk commander to face the Ottoman Empire, reestablish the Egyptian army and give independence to Egypt from the Ottomans for a few years.
]]>
2/13/2018 10:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Morocco tops 11-million mark in record tourism year]]>
Visitor arrivals numbered some 11.4 million, a 10-percent increase over 2016, with tourists from "emerging markets" such as China and Brazil joining those from France, Spain and Germany.

Revenues from the sector jumped to 69.7 billion dirhams ($7.55 billion, 6.16 billion euros) in 2017, up from 64.2 billion dirhams the previous year.

Fez, Tangiers and Marrakesh, along with Ouarzazate on the edge of the Sahara desert, recorded the strongest growth in tourist numbers, the ministry said.

After several years of stagnation, the tourism industry has turned around, partly thanks to new budget air links with Europe and increased flights by national carrier Royal Air Maroc.

Tourism is Morocco's second largest employer after agriculture, and it ranks alongside exports and remittances from Moroccans working abroad as one of its top foreign currency earners.
]]>
2/12/2018 5:25:23 PM
<![CDATA[Russian media delegation finishes making documentary on Egypt-Russia relations]]>
The Russian delegation also includes photographer Philipp Dubrovskiy and sound engineer Vladislav Mirzoyants.

In statements on Monday, Director of the Foreigners Press Office, affiliated to the State Information Service (SIS) in Aswan Ahmad Ali said the Russian delegation has depicted in the film the most important tourist and archaeological destinations in Egypt on the occasion of resuming air flights between the two countries.

The Russian delegation took shots of the River Nile, the farms and fields on its banks as well as Abu Simbel and Philae temples and the High Dam, he added.

They also made a tour of Aswan tourist marketplace and spoke to merchants and shop owners who have warmly interacted to the Russian delegation's visit, Ali said, noting that the Russian delegation also met with an Egyptian worker who had participated in the High Dam construction project in the 1960's and listened to his memories and how the workers enjoyed a high morale to finish Egypt's mega national project.

The Egyptian media official noted that TV reports of the Russian delegation will be screened on Russia's most popular program Vesti Nedeli next week.

The Russian director, for his part, said the documentary will help attract more Russian tourists to Egypt as the TV program is followed by millions of Russians.]]>
2/12/2018 4:51:04 PM
<![CDATA[et's list of famous, perfectly safe airlines ]]>
Here we review some of the most famous airlines around the world which enjoy perfectly clean safety records.

Hawaiian Airlines

a

Hawaiian Airlines have been flying since 1929 and have never been hit by a fatal crash, making them - if the statistics are correct - the longest airline in the business; in terms of not losing a passenger.

Hawaiian Airlines has begun to fly light aircraft on sightseeing trips over the island of Oahu, and today serves a number of destinations in the Pacific Ocean, including New Zealand, Australia, Asia and the West Coast of the United States.

Although the company suffered from bankruptcy in 1993 and 2003, it did not compromise the safety of citizens.

Southwest Airlines

a

These lines have been flying since 1971 and during its 50-year extended operation, not one accident has been known, although it has more than 700 aircrafts on its fleet and it serves about 100 destinations.

easyJet Flight

a

The UK's easyJet, which entered the airspace in 1995, has not been subjected to any accidents, and in fact its history is so free of accidents that it is difficult to find any serious case on its flights.

Ryanair

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During its 33 years of operation, which began in 1985, Ryan Airlines was not involved in a fatal accident; the only case in which it came close to a dangerous accident was in 2008, when a plane was forced to land in Rome after being attacked by many birds' strikes to the nose, wings and engines.

Virgin Atlantic Airlines

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According to the airline rating site, Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia are among the top 20 safest airlines in the world, according to AirlineRatings.com.

British Airways

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It has been flying since 1974 and since 1985; British Airways has never been hit by a fatal crash. The most likely event in 2008 was when the first pilot, John Caward, landed in the Hall of Fame without any power from the engine.

According to AirlinesRating, BA is among the world’s top 20 safest airlines.

Emirates

a

Emirates Airline has been flying since 1985 and is headquartered in Dubai. It was founded in 1985 and currently operates more than 3,600 aircrafts a week with no fatal crash in its history.

Etihad

a

Etihad Airways has been flying since 2003, with a clean safety record, as the only incident is a rather strange case, where a French Airways flight at Toulouse Airport in France speeded up to 35 miles per hour and then colliding with a concrete wall, injuring nine people on board; four of them were seriously injured.

Qantas

a

Qantas has been flying since 1921 and it is the third oldest airline in the world, Qantas was cited in 1988's film Rain Man as an airline to have never had an aircraft crash.
]]>
2/12/2018 10:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Swiss Trail App documents Swiss landmarks dated back to 180 years ]]>
The Embassy of Switzerland in Cairo launched a mobile application, titled “Swiss Trail” that unfolds all of the Swiss-inspired landmarks, along with the Swiss-led hotels and resorts in Cairo to boost tourism to Egypt through information technology.

During a ceremony, Garnier said that the application aims to inform people, whether Swiss or not, about Swiss heritage in Cairo, adding that preparing for the application started during the tenure of the former Swiss Ambassador to Egypt Marcus Leitner.

Garnier added that Swiss people have lived in Egypt since the Roman era, and some of them are fascinated with Egyptian history and culture, adding that between 1500 and 1700 Swiss citizens live in Egypt and around 11 Swiss landmarks can be found in Egypt, which promotes the relations between Egypt and Switzerland.

He further remarked that it is great to witness the landmarks left by Swiss architecture and artists in Egypt through the app, stressing that the app follows the creative ideas that formed the historic and cultural ties between Egypt and Switzerland.

The GPS-based application is considered as a guide to Swiss landmarks in Egypt, helping its users to reach these places and to learn detailed information about them, including their historical background so people can actively learn more about the Swiss culture.

“We launch this application to spread knowledge about the strong ties among people,” he said.
He stressed that the application aims to highlight Egyptian-Swiss relations, and the application will be developed to include the Swiss landmarks outside Cairo.

In this regard, Chief Executive Officer of Orkotech Omar Shafik, who designed the application, expressed his pleasure toward the application that will promote Egyptian-Swiss relations, adding that some of the documentation in the application 180 years-old and highlights the social, technological and cultural cooperation between Switzerland and Egypt.

Amongst the Swiss-themed venues were the Windsor Hotel and infamous Cafe Groppi in Downtown Cairo, which is believed to have been founded by a Swiss chef and chocolate maker Giacomo Groppi in 1909. ]]>
2/12/2018 12:18:21 AM
<![CDATA[Duterte threatens to shut tourist island of Boracay down ]]>
The fiery leader gave his brutal assessment of the country's top tourist draw as he told hotels, restaurants and other businesses on the tiny central island to clean up or he would ban tourism there.

"I will close Boracay. Boracay is a cesspool," Duterte told a business forum in his southern home city of Davao late Friday, according to an official transcript released by the presidential palace Saturday.

"You go into the water, it's smelly. Smell of what? Shit. Because it all comes out in Boracay," he said.

Red-faced tourism department officials affirmed Duterte's assessment on Saturday, saying it reflected worsening sewage conditions on an island known globally for its pristine white sands and crystal clear waters.

"It's a shame that Boracay, which has repeatedly been recognised by prestigious travel magazines as the world's most beautiful island, may yet end up a paradise lost if water contamination continues," Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo said in a statement.

Department spokesman Ricky Alegre said a number of establishments drained their sewage directly into the sea.

"There are certain areas there (where)... some establishments have illegally tapped their sewage line into the water line," Alegre told AFP.

Of the 150 Boracay business establishments recently inspected by the government, only 25 were connected to the sewage line, he said.

Many establishments were also building too close to the beach and were even crowding into the roads of the 1,000-hectare island, Alegre added.

Boracay attracts more than two million tourists a year and brings in 56 billion pesos (US$1.12 billion) in annual revenues, the department and industry sources said.

Duterte warned the situation was a looming environmental "disaster" and a "tragedy" that could soon drive visitors away from the island, located about 190 kilometres south of Manila.

He said he had ordered Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to clean up Boracay or else.

"I'll give you six months. Clean the goddamn thing," he said he had told Cimatu.
]]>
2/11/2018 11:50:39 AM
<![CDATA[Six off the beaten track spots to visit in Egypt in 2018]]>
Gebel Elba

Hit Gebel Elba national park, located in the far southeast of Egypt, between December and March and you will see green mountains that resemble those in Indonesia. The area is inhabited by the Beja people; the Besharin, the Ababda and the Rashaida tribes. Besides Arabic, they speak their own Beja, also known as Bedawiya, an Afroasiatic language that has no written form.

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A view of the route to Gebel Elba national park in 2015 -

Mos'ad Sultan



The park is home to rare wildlife, such as gazelles, Egyptian vultures, Nubian wild asses, Barbary sheep, foxes, many reptiles, as well as incredible plant diversity. On its Red Sea coast, stunning coral reefs flourish and magnificent sea creatures dwell, including several types of turtles. It is said that a tiger was killed in the area in 2014, and it is believed to be the last remaining of its species therein.

Visitors are advised to go with organized trip groups who can the negotiate tricky permits from Border Guards and the Military Intelligence required to visit the area. Amaken, Geo Travel and The Hiking Club can help you plan the unforgettable journey.

Wadi el-Weshwashy

Nuweiba’s hidden gem is only a few kilometers away from Ras Shitan camp. A natural rainwater pool that is full year round, yet even deeper during the winter, lies between high red granite mountains, with marvelous magma dike formations all around. A car ride off road will take you to Wadi el-Weshwashi (the valley of whispers), but it feels much better when you hike in and out.

IMG_6175
A man jumps from a cliff into a rainwater pool in Wadi el-Weshwashi, Nuweiba in a 2014 trip organized by

The Hiking Club

-

Beshoy Fayez



A shallow pool takes you to a deeper stretch of water, and after an easy climb between two walls of granite you’ll find yourself in an open-air pool surrounded by high red mountains. Low-height cliff jumping will give you the adrenalin rush you may be looking for, but there is also a rope ladder.

Wadi el-Natrun and Religion Complex

As of this coming May, Egypt will be included as an official Roman Catholic Church Pilgrimage destination, with eight locations believed to have hosted the Holy Family’s flight into the country.

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Ancient wooden doors at el-Surian Monastery in Wadi el-Natrun in October 2017 – Ahmed Hindy

The Religion Complex in Cairo and its famous Virgin Mary Church is among those locations, but Wadi el-Natrun on the outskirts of the Egyptian capital is receiving due attention from the government to host thousands of tourists. It is in Wadi el-Natrun where monasticism was first founded worldwide, back in the fourth century. It hosts four beautiful friaries; the fourth-century monasteries of Saint Pishoy, Paromeos, and Saint Macarius and the sixth-century Surian Monastery.

Bab el-Dunya Mountain

The route to Bab el-Dunya Mountain and the view from the top is one of the best in South Sinai. In clear weather, the Gulf of Suez is visible on the horizon, and the peaks of other mountains are recognizable. Oganize your trip through a travel agent who can arrange for qualified guides to accompany you, especially since weather here can be harsh.

IMG_6474
A view from Bab el-Dunya Mountain in a trip organized by the Hiking Club in January 2015 –

Mohamed Mohssen



Hiking in St. Catherine is tolerable in the summer because the city lies at an elevation of 1,5000 meters. However, it is best to hike Bab el-Dunya between September and May. The hiking difficulty level is moderate, and the 35km route—which includes beautiful springs and ancient mulberry trees— takes about 17 hours to hike. Usually, hikers camp for two nights until they reach the summit of Bab el-Dunya, around 2,170 meters above sea level.

Siwa

Siwa has it all. High, smooth sand dunes that make spectacular sand boarding experiences, the Amun Oracle where Alexander the Great was declared a son of Amun and where a spring and fall equinox alignments and double window alignments are witnessed yearly, healing salt lakes, year-long warm sulfuric springs, plenty of sea shell fossils, as well as dates and olives, and more dates and olives.

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A safari trip organized by

Escape

in Siwa in April 2017 -

Yehya Zakaria



There are also the ruins of Shaly, a fortress built of salt, mud-bricks and palm logs, and friendly, generous locals who speak Amazigh besides Arabic. Abu Shrouf, Cleopatra and Beir 1 springs are highly recommended for warm and lukewarm dips, while breathtaking sunsets can be appreciated at Fitnas Island.

El-Gouna

After a successful first edition of El-Gouna Film Festival in September 2017, El-Gouna Red Sea resort is expected to be fully booked around the same time this year.

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El-Gouna resort in Hurghada, Egypt in September 2017 -

Hussein Tallal



The self-sufficient town is only a short ride from Hurghada International Airport, and has beautiful nature, beaches and yachts, as well as many watersports going on. The resort also boasts several man-made islands that make for great view from nearly all hotels.

This article has been amended to note that a tiger, believed to be the last of its kind in Gebel Elba, was killed in 2014, and that the rare Nubian wild asses and Egyptian vultures exist there.
]]>
2/11/2018 12:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[Women at afflicted Bir Al-Abd revive Bedouin-style woolen crafts]]>
In the village of Bir Al-Abd, where around 315 of its people were killed in the deadly terrorist attack that targeted at Al Rawdah Mosque in early December, women are reviving traditional crafts that are at risk of dying out.

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FILE: Bdouin women grouped together for woolen knitting training


Sitting together over the edge of the dunes, a group of Bedouin women are spotted sewing, embroidering and weaving wools to craft handmade kilim woolen products.

Fatima el-Sayed, a Bedouin mother who is learning about the kilim tradition, said that she is happy that she got to do work other than the daily household chores, adding that her craft work offers her the opportunity to further develop herself.

Thanks to a nongovernmental organization operating in Sinai, more Bedouin women living in the remote city of Bir Al Abd are being provided with opportunities to earn money and raise their income through such things as being taught traditional wool-weaving techniques. Most of them lack traditional education and living standards are decreasing following the loss of the main breadwinners in the Rawdah mosque terrorist attack.


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FILE: One of the trainees sewing wool thread

Zienab al-Abady, a member of the NGO, said that there is an increasing demand for such handmade, traditional products at the international fairs that women can take advantage of to earn a better living.

Abady added that the training takes from 6-8 hours daily, six days a week and includes teaching the trainees new weaving techniques.



]]>
2/10/2018 11:40:28 AM
<![CDATA[UNITALSI visits Holy Family's journey stops through Egypt]]>
The delegation includes fourteen representatives of various religious and political parties. The delegation is accompanied by a number of Italian news agencies, such as ANSA and Rai News 24.

Egyptian Tourist Organization Director Emad Fathy asserted the importance of this visit, as UNITALSI is responsible for organizing Catholic pilgrimages to many destinations, such as the Virgin of the Lord in France, as well as sending pilgrims to Bethlehem in Palestine and Santa Fatima in Portugal.

On Tuesday, the delegation visited the ancient churches of Egypt, including the Hanging Church, Saints Sergius and Bacchus Church, the Coptic Museum and the Church of the Virgin Mary in Maadi.

Preziosa Terrinoni, head of UNITALSI, expressed her great pleasure in visiting Egypt and the warm welcome they received, asserting that the visited places were ready to receive tourists and pilgrims. She added that these places are well-equipped to receive tourists with special needs, who represent a large segment of the tourists.

She said that UNITALSI has already included the path of the Holy Family in Egypt as part of its Christian pilgrimage programs organized for 2018 and confirmed that it will prepare for the start of flights to Egypt this year.

Reviving the path of the Holy Family’s journey will lure a large number of Christian tourists worldwide to visit Egypt.

]]>
2/9/2018 12:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[Rio's bloco carnival parties attract crowds, but little funding]]>
That's the odd situation facing Rio de Janeiro's informal carnival street parties called “blocos”, which take over the Brazilian city every year at this time and have grown far beyond their humble roots.

Although much less known abroad than the colourful, organised parades at the Sambodromo, the “blocos” are an equally important part of the carnival that turns Rio into the world's biggest party before the start of the Catholic period of Lent.

A total of 473 “blocos” will have danced their way through Rio de Janeiro's streets over January and February, some of them performing twice, so that the total number of parties is expected to hit 600.

Bands playing mainly samba music, costumes and drinking are the main constants.

But otherwise each “bloco” has its own identity, ranging from one for dogs in fancy dress to the mammoth Cordao da Bola Preta, which attracts more than a million revellers, scheduled for February 10.

To watch the extravaganza at the Sambodromo, you need to pay anything between 10 and 500 reais (US$3-US$155).

Want to go to a “bloco”? Just show up.

However, the fact that “blocos” don't charge for entry means these laid-back events are increasingly struggling to pay the simplest bills.



FRIENDS' GET-TOGETHER

Despite being annual fixtures — and, some would argue, the real soul of carnival season — “most 'blocos' began with no more than a group of friends”, said Tiago Rodrigues.

He's from a “bloco” called Orquestra Voadora, or Flying Orchestra, which launched in 2009 and now draws crowds of more than 100,000 to its parade.

“We were just 15 amateur musicians who played in various parades and we decided to create our own band,” Rodrigues said. “We've had crazy growth.”

Success, though, means ever higher costs, especially for sound systems and the extra security needed to deal with large crowds.

Organisers raise money mostly by taking their bands around the country for fee-paying concerts outside of carnival season. They also look for private sponsors, a goal that has become harder at a time of economic slump in Brazil.

“Everyone is a volunteer here. We share the tasks,” said Rodrigues, who estimates the costs at around 70,000 reais (US$21,700).

“Last year was the first time we didn't have to pay from our own pockets.”

Another popular “bloco”, Quizomba, which was started in 2001 by five friends, holds paying classes for drumming, with about 2,000 students so far, said director Andre Schmidt.

“People have no idea how the carnival is financed. We're the ones who take the party into the streets, but this year we won't have any sponsors,” said the founder of Multibloco, Thais Bezerra.

At the Terreirada Cearense “bloco”, Igor Conde said they had borrowed 13,000 reais (US$4,036) to cover last year's budget shortfall.



TOURISM BOOST

Carnival brings a splurge of spending on hotels, restaurants and other tourism staples in Rio. City hall says it expects about 3.5 billion reais (US$1.1 billion) this year, up from three billion in 2017.

According to tourism officials at Riotur, 6.5 million people take part in the festivities, including 1.5 million tourists.

The city spends around 16 million reais (US$4.9 million) on increased security and sanitation. However, it cannot legally subsidise the “blocos”.

While this year, it did manage to get two million reais ($620,900) from a private sponsor that has to be spread among all the “blocos”.

Riotur director Rodrigo Paiva says, “We have no way of giving the 473 'blocos' what they need.”

The giant Cordao da Bola Preta, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary, says it gets logistical but not financial aid from city hall.

“We hold events that fund our headquarters and employees but not for the carnival,” said Pedro Ernesto, the event's president. “Without sponsorship, we have our hands tied.”
]]>
2/8/2018 4:00:26 PM
<![CDATA[Along fortified Korean border, Olympics bring more tourists]]>
The demilitarised zone (DMZ) offers visitors coming to South Korea for the Winter Olympics a surreal mix of doomsday military installations and tourist attractions, where gift shops and tour buses mix with razor wire, land mines and massive “rock drops” rigged with explosives to block roads for invading North Korean armies.

Tourists can gawk at bullet holes that still mark the site where a North Korean soldier dramatically defected across the border at the Joint Security Area (JSA) in Panmunjom in November, under fire from his former comrades.

But the United Nations Command (UNC) officers who help oversee operations here and elsewhere along the 250km DMZ say they are cautiously hopeful the recent flurry of talks and Olympics-related exchanges between the two Koreas will make their jobs less stressful.

South Korea wants to use the Olympics - which officially begin on Friday - to re-engage with North Korea and open the way for talks to resolve one of the world’s most dangerous crises.

“The North Koreans certainly seem to be on their best behaviour,” Royal Canadian Navy Commander Robert Watt, chief of staff for the United Nations Command Military Armistice Commission, told Reuters as he stood just steps from the border yesterday.

According to the UN command, in 2017 more than 105,000 tourists visited the JSA from South Korea, while nearly 30,000 visited from North Korea, which has expanded its tourist offerings in recent years.

South Korean tour operators say tours of the JSA and DMZ are up to 20 to 30 per cent above average for this icy time of year, a spike they attribute to the surge of Olympic visitors and the thaw in tensions.

“Usually in February not many visitors come to South Korea because it is the off-season,” said Kim Sun-hee, director of Joongang Express Tour.

Olympic officials have been expecting more than 80,000 foreign tourists and 75,000 athletes, reporters and other Olympic officials to visit South Korea for the Games.

Besides driving more tourists to the border, the Olympics detente seems to have lowered tensions on the border, at least temporarily.

Instead of responding to the usual North Korean provocations, Watt said UNC units have been helping process arriving members of North Korea’s Olympic delegation and taking numerous media and international VIPs on tours.

One of the largest peacetime crossings of the border was made on Wednesday, with a group of 280 North Koreans entering the South, including a 229-member cheer squad, taekwondo performers, journalists and the sports minister.

Hope for talks

South Korea and the US-led UNC force are technically still at war with North Korea after the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended with a truce, not a peace treaty.

Tensions on the border were already high following a series of bellicose exchanges last year between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un before the North Korean soldier defected in late November.

Oh Chong-song was shot multiple time as he scrambled to the south side of the JSA compound. Several shots hit buildings in the South, and a North Korean guard briefly ran across the border as he pursued the defector.

That incident led to the North Koreans replacing the entire detachment of soldiers assigned to the JSA, increasing security measures in the area. North Korean soldiers now only rarely stand close to the official border, Watt said.

Another North Korean soldier defected across the border in December, forcing South Korean border guards to fire warning shots along the DMZ at an apparent North Korean search party.

Since the inter-Korean talks, South Korean and international troops report fewer cross-border incidents by the North Koreans, he said, raising hopes that tensions could ease.

The UNC troops at the border are quick to note they are not a peacekeeping force, and often go out of their way to tell of North Korean provocations.

But Watt said his troops try to also remind visitors that while tense, the current situation is better than the horrors of the Korean War.

“The worst days of the armistice are better than the best days of war,” he said.
]]>
2/8/2018 3:57:05 PM
<![CDATA[Galapagos fights temptation of lucrative mass tourism ]]>
Why not? Who wouldn’t want to go to a white sand beach and soak up some sun alongside a lounging iguana, or surf in waters with those lumbering tortoises swimming beside you and a rainbow of tropical fish below?

But in order to protect the flora, fauna and ecosystems of this Pacific archipelago that inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, Ecuador is in the odd position of having to turn away perhaps millions of would-be tourists each year.

Keeping a tight lid on tourism is the way the South American country has preserved this volcanic string of 19 large islands, dozens of islets and rocky outcroppings.

Authorities wage this fight as world tourism grows and grows — it was up 7 per cent last year — and they must resist the temptation to let in hordes of visitors, their pockets bulging with dollars.

“The Galapagos are the crown jewel, and as such, we have to protect them,” Tourism Minister Enrique Ponce de Leon told AFP. “We must be drastic in caring for the environment.”

Welcome, sort of

With a network of small hotels and ferries running between the islands, the Galapagos — about 1,000km off the coast — is an eco-tourism destination that is among the most select spots in all of the Pacific.

Flights from Quito or Guayaquil cost about US$400 (RM1,600) round-trip, and a one-week stay ranges from US$2,000-7,000 per person.

The flow of tourists has risen to 245,000 per year and authorities say that’s pretty much the limit: the maximum the islands can withstand without harming their various ecosystems.

“The environmental, social and biological features of this place — which is like no other — forces us to set a limit, to manage tourism in terms of supply, rather than demand,” said Walter Bustos, director of the Galapagos National Park.

Restrictions galore

Preyed on in the past by pirates and whaling ships, the Galapagos these days confront illegal fishing, the effects of climate change and the arrival of intrusive species such as dogs, cats and rats brought over from the mainland.

The national park was created in 1959 to protect 97 per cent of the islands’ land surface, and in 1978 Unesco classified the archipelago as a World Heritage Site.

A marine reserve spanning 138,000 square kilometres was also established.

And a 38,000-square-kilometre marine sanctuary in which all fishing is banned was set up between two of the islands, one called Darwin and the other Wolf. Those waters are home to the highest concentration of sharks on Earth.

The islands depend on imports from the mainland and have limited sources of water, so authorities make sure the human population does not grow. These days, only 26,000 people live on the four islands that are in fact inhabited.

By law, Ecuadorans from the mainland are treated as foreigners on the Galapagos. And to obtain permanent residency, such people have to have been married to a local for at least a decade.

For years, the authorities have been limiting construction and promoting the use of renewable energy sources and electric cars. Plastic bags are banned.

On the island of Baltra, which is the main port of entry, the airport runs exclusively on solar and wind power.

“The challenge is to manage tourism in a sustainable way, one that preserves the ecosystems and generates profits. We must not view tourists as the devil,” said Juan Carlos Garcia, conservation director of the World Wildlife Fund in Ecuador.

Open skies

But of course, limiting tourism here is of no help to the broader Ecuadoran economy, which operates with dollars as the official currency.

And these have been lean years for hard currency in oil-producing Ecuador because of low global crude prices and accumulation of lots of debt. Tourism and mining have emerged as lifesavers.

Last year, visitors to this fabulously diverse country boasting volcanos and thick Amazon jungle shot up 14 per cent compared to 2016, totalling 1.6 million. But that is small compared to other countries in Latin America.

President Lenin Moreno’s idea is for tourism is to prop up the economy, even more than oil.

For that reason, he decreed an open-skies policy a few months ago to free up air traffic and bring more tourists to Quito and Guayaquil.

And many of these travellers will want to go to the Galapagos. The state-owned airline TAM has announced more flights to the islands.

Will the island authorities be able to withstand this pressure?

“We need to stress quality, and have those who come now stay longer — have them tour the rest of the country, offering them package deals,” says the tourism minister.
]]>
2/8/2018 3:52:25 PM
<![CDATA[Australia tourism industry under climate change threat, study warns]]>
The report by environmental advocacy group the Climate Council said the government needed to do more to reduce carbon emissions harming Australia’s beaches, national parks and the Great Barrier Reef.

Tourism is the nation’s second-largest export industry, valued at A$40 billion (RM122.6 billion) and employing more than 580,000 people, it said.

But popular visitor destinations were at risk, with major cities in coastal areas expected to face more frequent flooding in coming years, while Australia’s “Red Centre” region could experience more than 100 days annually above 35°C by 2030, it found.

“Tourists travel across the globe to see Australia’s remarkable natural wonders. But these icons are in the climate firing line as extreme weather events worsen and sea levels continue to rise,” ecologist and report co-author Lesley Hughes said.

“Some of our country’s most popular natural destinations, including our beaches, could become ‘no-go zones’ during peak holiday periods and seasons, with the potential for extreme temperatures to reach up to 50 degrees in Sydney and Melbourne.”

A separate report last year from Deloitte Access Economics valued the Great Barrier Reef as an asset worth A$56 billion, which included its tourism revenues and its indirect value for people who have not yet visited but know it exists.

The World Heritage-listed site, which attracts millions of tourists each year, is reeling from significant bouts of coral bleaching due to warming sea temperatures linked to climate change.

“Without credible climate policy that cuts Australia’s rising carbon pollution levels, the impacts of climate change will only intensify and accelerate across the country over the coming decades,” Climate Council chief executive Martin Rice said.

Environmental advocates today urged Canberra to move away from coal-fired power generation.

With its heavy use of coal-fired power and relatively small population, Australia is considered one of the world’s worst per capita greenhouse gas polluters.

“The extra heat from global warming will further reduce the tourist season and make some enterprises unviable,” said Liz Hanna, from the School of Environment at the Australian National University.

“Protecting the tourism industry protects jobs and protects Australia’s economic wellbeing.”

Canberra insists it is taking strong action to address the global threat of climate change, having set an ambitious target to reduce emissions to 26 to 28 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030.

Australia sweltered through its third-hottest year on record in 2017, with seven of its 10 warmest years experienced since 2005.
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2/8/2018 3:47:29 PM
<![CDATA[S. Korea says can discuss resuming tourism to North when conditions met]]>
“We see Mt Kumgang tours as a project which holds an importance for inter-Korean relations,” the ministry said in a written statement to Reuters.

South Korean tours to the Mt Kumgang resort were closed after a South Korean tourist was shot by a North Korean guard there in 2008.

The ministry also said now was not the time to discuss reopening the Kaesong Industrial Park, a joint factory complex closed by South Korea in 2016 in protest over North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

Kaesong will be discussed ”when the North Korean nuclear issue has to some extent entered a phase of a resolution”, the ministry said.

A delegation of North Korean officials including the younger sister of leader Kim Jong Un and the North’s nominal head of state, Kim Yong Nam, will visit South Korea for the opening of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics that begin formally on Friday.
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2/8/2018 3:43:59 PM
<![CDATA[10,000-yr-old rock art site in Saudi ready for visitors]]>
Paintings of animals and humans in different shapes and sizes are carved into the rocks of al-Manjoor and Rata Mountains in the historical Shuwaymis site.

The complex was included in the UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites in 2015 as one of the world's largest open museums.

The inscriptions date back to almost 10,000 years, according to UNESCO.

One of the paintings features a caravan of camels carved into al-Manjoor Mountain and is almost 2,500 years old.

Other inscriptions on the mountains belong to the ancient al-Thamuddi writing.

The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage is upgrading transport and accomodation facilities to attract visitors, part of the country's wider efforts to boost tourism.

Saudi Arabia recently announced plans to issue tourist visas to foreigners, as the country seeks to diversify its economy.

At present, foreigners travelling to Saudi Arabia are largely restricted to resident workers and their dependants, business travellers, and Muslim pilgrims who are given special visas to travel to holy sites.
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2/8/2018 3:32:08 PM
<![CDATA[Nas Daily: World famous vlogger encourages foreigners to visit Aswan, Nubia]]>
Yassin, who goes by the name Nas Daily on social media, shared a video on his Facebook page on Wednesday in which he expressed his admiration of the culture of Aswan reflected in temples that have existed for thousands of years, encouraging people to “come visit Aswan.”

The comments on the video came from Egyptians who admired the beauty of Aswan and other foreigners who expressed their wishes to pay a visit to Aswan to enjoy the weather there.



A commenter said, “I sailed from Luxor to Aswan twice in my life, both in February, amazing weather, the temples I visited rendered me speechless, the banks of the Nile as we sail are so beautiful, and when u enter Aswan u get greeted by the all the boats. A must-do before u die.”

1 aswan
A screenshot of the Nas Daily video on Facebook, 7 February 2018

Yassin has previously shared a video on Monday of an Egyptian village inhabited by one of the oldest civilizations of the world: the Nubians.

He said that Nubians live in unique houses by the Nile, wear unique clothes and speak a language no one else speaks worldwide. Yassin was impressed by the Nubian community, where you can trust others with your shop and entire livelihood.

Most foreigners replied, showing admiration of the hospitality, culture and the amazing life of the Nubians. “It would be unfair for the world Nubians scattered all over the world to die without visiting their cradle land,” a user said.

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A screenshot of the Nas Daily video on Facebook, 7 February 2018

Earlier, Yassin noticed the affordable prices in Egypt, saying that he was able to feed 600 dogs with the same money he would spend on a single date in Los Angeles. He said, “Yesterday, we fed 600 dogs …one ton of food… for the price of one date in Los Angeles. The point is clear: Egypt is cheap!”


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2/8/2018 1:01:41 AM
<![CDATA[Snow shuts Eiffel Tower as winter blast hits France]]>
The Meteo France weather service put the greater Paris region on alert for snow and black ice on roads, among 27 departments it expected to be on alert across the country until midday today.

The weather caused major gridlock across the city, with more than 700 kilometres (430 miles) of traffic jams recorded at 7:30pm local time (1830 GMT) yesterday, local information service Sytadin said.

Paris bus services were cancelled last evening, according to the RATP transport authority, and school transport would not run today in several areas.

Meteo France says the snowfall will intensify overnight today, with temperatures expected to fall as low as minus 10 degrees Celsius (14 degrees Fahrenheit), leaving five to 10 centimetres (two to four inches) in most areas on alert.

Snow had already dusted Paris on Monday before quickly melting away.

“This will be the first blast of winter, late but the real thing, with cold air from Scandinavia colliding with a perturbation coming up from the south,” said forecaster Sebastien Leas.

Rail operator SNCF had to slow down trains on several of its high-speed TGV lines, with service disrupted across much of northern France.

Thousands of emergency accommodation spaces will be opened to shelter homeless people, the country’s territorial cohesion ministry said.

In the Paris region, traffic was banned for vehicles weighing over 7.5 tonnes, which were told to bypass the area by police, who also advised locals limit road trips.

Last night in the southern Paris suburb of Essonne, many truck drivers forced to stop on the road were preparing to spend the night.

“We have been stuck since 4:30pm. We are cold, we have no food or toilet. I do not know when I will be able to leave,” one truck driver, Mehdi Benomar, told AFP.

The cold snap marks a sharp contrast from the weeks of mild and rainy weather across northern France in recent weeks, prompting flooding in several areas and pushing the Seine River to more than four metres above its normal levels as it flows through the capital.
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2/7/2018 5:27:19 PM
<![CDATA[Uzbekistan takes a broader view on tourist photographs]]>
Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev has made boosting the tourism sector a priority as his country seeks to emerge from a long period of economic stagnation under late ruler Islam Karimov, who died of a reported stroke in 2016.

But tourists have long been forbidden from capturing on camera the Uzbek capital Tashkent’s elaborate metro stations and some government buildings.

Late on Tuesday state media published a presidential decree saying tourists would now be able to take photos of and film public places “without any sort of restrictions” as long as there is no specific legal act to prevent them from doing so.

It was not stated in the February 3 decree whether or not tourists would now be able to take photos of the metro stations.

Two travel agencies told AFP they had not yet received a list of spots that could not be photographed.

The decree also said tourists would be permitted to use drones to take photos and video, which was previously not allowed in the capital Tashkent.

Mirziyoyev, who served as prime minister for 13 years before taking over, has made moves to distance himself from Karimov’s authoritarian excesses while also honouring his memory.

The new decree also allows for some foreign nationals to obtain a 72-hour transit visa on arrival in Tashkent airport, providing they can show proof of onward travel.

It was not immediately clear which passport holders this rule would apply to.

Uzbekistan is expected to grant citizens of Israel, Indonesia, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Turkey and Japan visa-free entry into the country starting from Saturday.

In December 2016, the government moved to lift visa restrictions for a longer list of countries but the order was unexpectedly deferred until 2021 weeks later.

Analysts attributed the nixing of the law to the intervention of the country’s powerful national security chief, Rustam Inoyatov, whose dismissal after 23 years in power last month was widely seen as paving the way for further reforms.
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2/7/2018 5:21:06 PM
<![CDATA[Swiss Embassy launches App to promote Swiss-inspired landmarks in Egypt]]>
According to the Embassy’s press release on Tuesday, the GPS-based application also provides a sea of the information about each landmark, including its historical background so people can actively learn more about the Swiss culture.

Amongst the Swiss-themed venues mentioned in the statement were The Windsor Hotel and infamous Cafe Groppi in Downtown Cairo, which is believed to have been founded by a Swiss chef and chocolate maker Giacomo Groppi back in 1909.

“It is extraordinary to see how Swiss entrepreneurs, artists and architects have left their legacies across the Egyptian capital. Swiss Trail follows the innovative and pioneering spirit that has created fascinating historical and cultural ties between Egypt and Switzerland. We have launched this phone application to make the knowledge of these strong links accessible to everyone,” stated Paul Garnier, the Ambassador of Switzerland to Egypt.

“The popular Downtown Cairo area in particular is home to many Swiss-influenced sites. A stroll through the neighborhood with the app shows that there is a more prevalent Swiss touch to the area than most people know,” he added.



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2/7/2018 12:24:09 PM
<![CDATA[Maldives seek to project calm but tourists told to stay away]]>
India and China advised their holidaymakers against visiting the tropical archipelago after a state of emergency was declared by the regime of embattled President Abdulla Yameen.

Tourism is a key earner for the Maldives but a dramatic confrontation between Yameen and the security forces against the Supreme Court has further eroded its reputation as an idyllic atoll nation.

Government spokesman Ibrahim Hussain Shihab said no curfew had been declared and the safety of tourists in the upmarket holiday paradise was assured.

The government would “facilitate calm at a time of national difficulty”, he added.

But China — the number-one source of tourists for the Maldives — has urged its citizens against visiting the Indian Ocean nation.

The warning from China’s foreign ministry comes ahead of the “Spring Festival” — the peak period for Chinese tourists to visit the Maldives.

“Given the security situation there, we advise the Chinese tourists who are now in the Maldives to closely follow the security situation and enhance self-protection,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular briefing.

“In the meanwhile, Chinese citizens are advised to avoid going to the Maldives until the situation on the ground is stabilised.”

India and France and other European nations also advised its citizens against non-essential travel.

The United States advised caution, warning of further protests in coming days across the capital Male “in response to emerging political developments”.

“You should avoid areas of demonstrations and exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations,” the US embassy in Colombo said in its updated travel advice on Tuesday.

In the latest escalation of the crisis, police clashed with opposition supporters outside the Supreme Court as troops stormed the building to arrest the chief justice and another judge at dawn Tuesday.

Hours earlier, they had arrested the country’s former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom after accusing him of orchestrating attempts to topple his estranged half brother Yameen.

President Yameen has refused to comply with a court order to release political prisoners, despite growing international pressure and concern.

Political turbulence under Yameen — who was elected in a controversial run-off in 2013 — has dented the Maldives’ image as an island paradise, but most tourists are insulated from the turmoil in Male.

The airport is a short boat journey from the capital and many visitors are whisked away to resorts on remote, serene islands spread 800 kilometres across the equator.

Nearly 1.4 million foreigners visiting the Maldives last year, up from 1.28 million the previous year.

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2/6/2018 2:39:32 PM
<![CDATA[Venice's Burano Island, the original El Max of Alexandria]]>
The second boat stop was Burano Island, originally a fishermen’s island. Burano is an amazing colorful place, full of brightly colored houses, shops and cafes. It also has an inner water canal with fishing boats. As soon as you step foot on the island, you feel you have entered a cheerful painting!

Seafood lovers will find Burano especially amazing, as it has got a lot of restaurants that cook seafood the Italian way — the fish is caught fresh by the island’s fishermen. There are also some shops which sell Murano glass souvenirs, like rings and other accessories, but at low prices, unlike Murano Island! Burano is also famous for lace fabrics; if you are into lace products, get ready to find a wide variety on Burano Island. My advice: don’t miss that colorful experience of Burano at all costs! It really refreshes one’s soul to spend some time in such a cheerful place!

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People in restaurants, cafes and shops of Burano Island May 5, 2016 – Flickr / Nicolas Vollmer

Back to our boat and the third stop was Torcello Island. This is a very serene place that also has a water canal with trees on either side and a wonderful old brick bridge crossing it, called the Devil’s Bridge or “Ponte Del Diavolo” in Italian. Photos from that bridge or “Ponte” are fantastic! I climbed it, sat on its flat middle part with legs hanging from the edge, to take a photo with my own reflection in the water below!

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Torcello Island water canal with trees on its both sides, and the old Devil’s Bridge or “Ponte Del Diavolo” crossing the canal May 3, 2010 - Wikimedia Commons/Marie Gabriel

There are some elegant restaurants on Torcello Island with delightful gardens, but unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to try them as I was there on a pre-organized trip by a travel agency. That’s why I’d recommend this trip using the Vaporetto (public transportation water bus of Venice) and on your own, so you control your own time on each island.

Torcello also has a historical cathedral complex, consisting mainly of the Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta and Santa Fosca Church. The latter is considered a symbol of simple beauty with its plain brick walls and simple metal stringed cross. At the other side of Torcello, there is a wide lake surrounded by trees, which completes the delicate, serene ambience of Torcello. Once you finish strolling in Torcello, just head back to your boat or Vaporetto to take you on a refreshing marine trip back to Venice.

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Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta on the left and Santa Fosca Church on

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Santa Fosca Church from inside, April, 2009 - Wikimedia Commons/Velvet

Back to Venice, it was time to buy some gifts and souvenirs. Venice is famous for masks. While strolling through Venice’s six neighborhoods, you’ll see the amazing masks being sold in almost all gift shops there. Some masks fully cover the face, while others just cover the eyes; some have feathers, and some represent famous characters, like Pinocchio. Those masks could be a unique souvenir from the unique city. They vary in price range. The ones I bought covered only the eyes, not the full face, and had no feathers. I got them from a souvenir shop at the entrance of San Marco Square from Cannaregio neighborhood; each mask cost me €5, and those were the cheapest masks I found. Some masks exceeded €50.

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Traditional Venetian mask January 22, 2016 – Pixabay/annca

Venice or any other part of Italy, the pizza and pasta are the staple foods and not to be missed out on. A lot of carbs I know, but they are always pretty cheap. The good part is that Italians have a wide variety of pizzas and pastas, each with different flavors. In Venice, they usually serve thin pizza with the bottom of the dough slightly blackened. When I first ordered pizza in a restaurant and found burns on its bottom, I wanted to replace it with another one. The waiter told me there was no problem to get me another pizza, but it would also be slightly burned like the one I already had, as the ovens used in Venice usually make the pizza like that.

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Traditional Venetian pizza June, 2015 – Mai Abdallah

After two complete days in this unique city, it was time to leave; however, there was still one more exotic experience to try: the water taxi. We learned from the beginning that crossing the numerous bridges or “pontes” of Venice with baggage is not the best option, so we called a water taxi.

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Traditional Venetian water taxi July 12, 2010 – Flickr/Riva degli Schiavoni & Rio della Pieta
It was a small motor boat with leather-covered chairs in a closed cabin and a smaller open area. There are other water taxis there that don’t have that closed cabin, similar to the Nile Taxi we have in Cairo, slowing you to fully enjoy being surrounded by water! The taxi reached us through a small canal right in front of our B&B. We loaded our baggage and went on that exquisite last marine trip in Venice.

Part 1:

Enjoy Venice but check café prices, don't walk with baggage



Part 2:

How to enjoy Venice like an Egyptian



Mai Abdallah's Faebook

page


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2/6/2018 12:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[Thailand expects 300,000 tourists from China during Lunar New Year]]>
During the same holidays in 2017, the number of visitors from China was hit by a Thai government crackdown on budget tourism and the mourning period for the country’s late king.

Tourism accounts for about 12 percent of gross domestic product in Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy, making it one of the most important drivers of growth. The biggest number of foreign visitors come from China.

Chinese tourists during the Lunar New Year period, which this year begins on Feb. 15 and lasts until Feb. 21, will “generate about 8 billion baht ($253.9 million) in revenue”, Santi Chudintra, a deputy governor at the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) told reporters on Monday.

In 2017, about 255,000 Chinese tourists visited during the Lunar New Year.

Thailand’s Tourism Ministry said last month it expected this year’s tourist arrivals to hit a record 37.55 million, with 2.1 trillion baht spending.

Chinese tourists, who accounted for nearly one-third of last year’s record 35 million arrivals, are expected to rise this year to around 10 million from 9.8 million.

Thailand has become increasingly popular with Chinese tourists in recent years. The country is also home to one of the world’s largest ethnic Chinese communities.

In late 2016, Thailand launched a crackdown against “zero-dollar” package tours - an arrangement where tourists pay for everything upfront and in theory spend nothing while in the country. The tourism ministry said the campaign, which ended in 2017, was a success.
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2/5/2018 2:20:38 PM
<![CDATA[China invites Egypt to Participate in China international lmport Expo]]>
Head of the Egyptian Tourism Federation Nora Ali revealed that the China International Federation invited Egypt to participate in the expo to promote the Egyptian tourism sector. The expo will be held in Shanghai, China in November 2018.

All travel agencies participating in the exhibition will have to contact the exports marketing department of the Ministry of Trade and Industry. The exhibition’s management team will offer a 70 percent discount starting from February 7, 2018 for all companies and agencies participating in the exhibition.

This step successfully reflects the strong relationships between both China and Egypt. During the International Cooperation Forum held in Beijing in May 2017, China declared the establishment of the International lmport Expo for 2018 and welcomed Egypt, among many other countries, to participate.

It is expected that Chinese imports will increase to $2 trillion in the next five years as a result of trade exchange with neighboring countries, which will effectively raise investment income in these countries to around $150 million.
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2/5/2018 12:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[Melania factor helps to boost Slovenian tourism]]>
The country had its fourth successive year of record tourism numbers in 2017.

Melania Trump was born in the town of Sevnica in southeastern Slovenia before becoming a fashion model and moving to the United States.

Most foreign tourists came from Italy, Germany and Austria with the number of German tourists up by 26 percent year-on-year.

The number of tourists from the United States jumped by 24 percent in November, the latest data available.
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2/4/2018 2:48:21 PM
<![CDATA[Winter tourism on the rise in Egypt]]>
In Luxor, tourist visits have notably increased during December and January 2018. Around 97,000 foreign tourists and 36,000 Arab and Egyptian tourists arrived in the city this winter, according to the manager of the Karnak Temple.

1- Luxor City at Night - Wikimedia
Luxor City at Night

He added that, since December 2017, around 63,000 foreign tourists, including Chinese, American and French nationals, and 33,000 Arab and Egyptian tourists visited the Karnak Temple.

2- Abu Simple Temple - pixa bay
Abu Simple Temple


Aswan also seems to be witnessing an influx of visitors, as the tourism industry experienced an 80% increase in hotel and cruise bookings in comparison to previous years, according to Abd El Nasser Saber, former head of tour guides in Aswan.

He revealed that a lot of Austrian travel agencies organized many tours on the Nile River and to the pharaonic temples.

Hurghada is experiencing a wave of tourism between January and March, especially from the Ukraine, Germany and Britain, according to the head of tour guides in Hurghada.

He explained that around 120,000 German tourists visited Hurghada, which is a 50% increase in comparison to last year.

Also, the one-day-visit from Hurghada to Luxor and vise versa plays a vital role in improving the tourism sector.

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2/4/2018 2:05:07 PM
<![CDATA[Two British directors shoot episodes about Luxor ]]>
The authority added that both directors are specialized in tourism, as they report about tourism and travel all over the world through TV programs.

According to the authority, they invited the directors to come to Egypt as part of a campaign to resume British tourism in Egypt and transmit a good image about Egypt all over the world, considering Luxor as the center for this mission.

Both directors proudly moved between temples and museums housed in Luxor, dazzled by the inscriptions carved on the walls and expressing their happiness to be introduced to the splendors of ancient Egyptians.

It seems that the visit was well organized, as it came aligned with the renovation processes on Karnak Temple, Kebbash Pharaonic Road in Luxor and the Valley of the Kings and Queens, providing the directors with all the needed information about new projects in Luxor.
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2/4/2018 11:31:44 AM
<![CDATA[94% increase in Italian tourism in Egypt for 2018 ]]>
An Italian news paper, La Stampa has declared that the Italian tourism market for Egypt will increase by up to 94% as the Egyptian airline, Air Cairo announced the launching of the first regular commercial flight path between Napoli, southern Italy and Cairo, Egypt.

Air Cairo tested this flight for the first time in October 2017 before adding another flight in December 2017 which connects Milan, Italy to Marsa Alam, Egypt, according to La Stampa.

The Cairo to Napoli regular flight is the third flight connecting Italy and Egypt operated by Air Cairo and was first tested with 170 Italian tourists on board.

La Stampa revealed that Egypt is once again becoming an important tourist destination for the Italian market. In late 2017 Italian tourist numbers increased to around 255,000; 65.500 of which visited Sharm el-Sheikh and 86,300 visited Marsa Alam.

Cairo Air, which connects Egyptian and Italian cities, uses around 8 Airbus planes, specifically the 320 Boeing 800-737. They are expected to increase the regu;arity of flights with 18 planes o the docket for in 2020.

The Egyptian company links Egypt with around 14 European countries including Germany, Poland, France and now Italy. ]]>
2/3/2018 1:51:15 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt’s surprise in summer 2018: Sphinx International Airport]]>
Egypt’s Sphinx International Airport is expected to receive flights of around 300 passengers per hour starting this summer.

The Sphinx International Airport will be the perfect starting point for any tourists who want to visit Giza Pyramids, the Sphinx and the Grand Egyptian Museum as they are all is located in the west of Cairo on the Cairo – Alexandria desert road.

Flights will begin to land at Sphinx International Airport in Giza in the summer of 2018, confirmed Sherif Fathy, Civil Aviation minister to the local press.

The construction of the Sphinx International Airport is being carried out by the Egyptian Consultancy Company and is costing around LE 300 million. The airport will reduce the pressure on Cairo International Airport which is located on the eastern outskirts of the capital.

The new airport has been dubbed as the “300 passengers airport” due to its accommodation capacity per hour.

In previous press statements, Fathy said that the airport has “strategic goals,” with a plan for expanding into cargo services in the future.]]>
2/2/2018 6:38:52 PM
<![CDATA[Hundreds of tourists stranded in New Zealand as storm batters much of the country]]>
New Zealand authorities said the adverse weather has damaged a major road around Haast, 426 km (265 miles) northwest of Dunedin, leaving hundreds of tourists stranded in the town.

Slideshow (9 Images)
“There are at least 600 tourists in Haast and we are undertaking a welfare assessment of their needs,” Westland District Council said in an emailed statement.

Authorities said work on repairing the damage was underway but were unable to say when the tourists would be able to see the small costal town.

New Zealand’s weather forecaster Metservice said on Friday the storm was moving southeast, providing some relief to the country’s west coast, which has been hardest hit by the heavy rain and strong winds.]]>
2/2/2018 2:23:28 PM
<![CDATA[How I backpack, camp, hike and trek with my toddler]]>
Because I am a person who is hugely drawn to physical activity, being a new mother who spends her days nursing, changing diapers and rocking her baby to sleep was a big transformation for me. However, being who I was, I tried to bounce back as soon as I could. I was introduced to the life of backpack traveling, camping and trekking by a friend of mine, and since then it has become my new addiction. Doing this with a baby required very careful planning, willingness to step out of my comfort zone and a lot of courage.

My first backpack traveling and camping trip was in September 2016, when my toddler, Nour, was 20 months old. Although I was very anxious at the beginning and the trip was difficult, it turned out to be a life-changing experience that taught me countless and priceless lessons.


In Siwa Oasis with 20-month old Nour in September 2016
Descending a mountain in Ras Shitan in September 2016

The first challenge started months before the trip when I was trying to hunt for a good-quality rucksack that was also reasonable in price, which, turns out, is a very challenging quest in the present state of our economy. During that step, and throughout the entire experience, I was aided and guided by a friend who is an experienced backpack traveler and mountain climber. I finally settled on a sturdy rucksack that was not very light in weight, but was the best option available.

The second challenge was packing: how to pack everything I would need in the trip without killing myself with extra weight. In addition to learning a lot about the science of backpacking and how to engineer your bag optimally so that everything becomes accessible, well-seated and comfortable to carry.

On the summit of a mountain in South Sinai in November 2016
Nour and I in a hike to Abu Galum nature reserve between Sharm el-Sheikh and Taba in July 2016

My first backpacking and camping trip was laborious for many reasons. First, my daughter still wore diapers at the time, so I had to carry about 20 diapers in addition to clothes, food, water, tools and the sleeping system (mine consisted of a sleeping pad and a cover), and I had to interrupt the group whenever she needed to change, plus having to carry the wet diapers all the hike and back, sometimes for more than 24 hours, until I could throw them in the trash.

The third challenge was that she was still dependent on breastfeeding at the time, so I had to stop the group and interrupt the hiking for nursing as well. She had to be carried most of the time, and because most baby carriers sold in the Egyptian markets support babies to the maximum of 12 months of age, I had to devise a baby carrier that consisted of a 5.5-meter-long piece of cloth that I would wrap around my body and then seat her in, and when I was not carrying her, I would carry the cloth itself in the bag, which was very heavy and space consuming.

Nour helping me by carrying my sleeping pad in June 2017
Nour helping me by carrying my sleeping pad in June 2017
At the beginning, it was very tiring to carry her for kilometers at a stretch along with the rucksack on my back, and especially difficult when trekking and scrambling to mountain tops, but I gradually gained not just the muscle strength and stamina necessary for it, but also the boldness that makes it less likely to get trapped in panic attacks.

Speaking about panic attacks, I remember that on that first trip we ascended a 160-meter-high mountain, which might sound like a short distance, but trekking and scrambling for 160 meters up a rough terrain is no easy task at all.

On the way up, exactly in the middle, we took a short break. Before the break, I had been going steadily up without thinking, but when we sat down and my mind started to think, or rather overthink, I had a panic attack and asked myself questions about the safety of what I was doing.

Luckily, I was assisted by the leader of the group, who is an experienced trekker and mountain climber, and I calmed down and resumed the trek. The answer to my question was yes, there is definitely a percentage of risk – a small one – in what I was doing, but so does everything that is worth experiencing. Besides, doing something difficult and physically demanding with your child and knowing that mistakes and failures are not an option multiplies your performance tenfold.

Nour enjoying the Red Sea on her own in June 2017
Nour enjoying the Red Sea on her own in June 2017

The main difference between staying at a hotel or any other form of accommodation and camping in the desert or by the seaside is that in the second case you get to enjoy nature in a very intimate way that is not possibly accessible otherwise. Camping on mountain summits gives you an indescribably beautiful view of the stars and the sea if it is nearby. The wind on the summits is strong and vigorous, and coupled with the fresh and clean air, it makes you feel extraordinarily alive, as if someone suddenly removed a thick cloak of dust and rust off your lungs and your brain.

The silence, the serenity and the peace of the desert are intoxicating. Camping on the beach and listening to the waves crashing against the rocks all night while gazing at millions of stars and occasionally catching the glimpse of a shooting star or two is exhilarating. And what a nice surprise it is to bump into a fox or an owl in their own environments, a territory where humans can only be timid visitors.

Nour in Wadi el-Weshwashi in June 2017
Nour in Wadi el-Weshwashi in June 2017


What camping and trekking did to me and to my daughter is remarkable in every way.

The intimate connection with nature is not only de-stressing and detoxifying, it also heals whatever damage is done to the connection between me and my daughter because of leaving her for 10 hours in the care of her grandmother when I go to work.

Traveling and hiking trips seldom leave time for technology; I do not get the chance to check my Facebook or WhatsApp often, and even when I do get that chance, I do not really find myself too keen on spending time on my phone.

Nour and I In Wadi el-Weshwashi in June 2017
Nour and I on the way to Wadi el-Weshwashi in June 2017


Backpacking taught me a lot about minimalism. We tend to use much more stuff than we actually need, and backpack traveling taught me to conserve, recycle, choose multi-purpose items and to create new purposes for what is commonly thought to be single-purpose items. I had to pack food, water, clothes, diapers, a sleeping pad, a cover and tools, all without exceeding the weight limit after which the bag becomes a burden up to the point of making it impossible to hike and resulting in ruining the whole trip.

On the other hand, camping made me reformulate my definitions of luxury. A week of camping means that we bathe and wash our clothes in the sea, and that we feed on raw and dry food, such as dried fruits and nuts, almost exclusively for quite an uncomfortable stretch of time, and it becomes ever more uncomfortable with a toddler who is not always willing to be convinced to eat this or that.

heb
Swimming with Nour in Wadi el-Weshwashi, Nuweiba in June 2017

However, this initial discomfort yielded miraculous results, for Nour now eats camping food with pleasure and without complaining, as if she realized that this is what it takes to enjoy the awesomeness of the sea and the mountain. Eating raw food for a week or a few days, along with intense physical activity, is a very good detoxifying strategy, and we go back to Cairo with a quite a calm digestive system.

Surprisingly, the de-stressing environment makes us eat far less than we do in Cairo, even with the intense physical activity of trekking and with being constantly on the move. Sleeping in the open resets our biological clocks, so no matter how much of a night owl I turn to be in Cairo because of staying up late to finish this task or that, I go back to Sinai and I wake up at day-break and sleep a couple of hours after sunset.

Nour and I in a hike to Abu Galum nature reserve between Sharm el-Sheikh and Taba in July 2016
Nour in the early morning before breaking camp in Dahab in July 2017

Hiking for several kilometers and trekking through and up rough terrains pushes the body and the mind to its limits; add to this the heat and the incessant demands of a toddler, and you get a situation where you have no option but to learn patience and resilience.

As for Nour, she has grown tremendous boldness and courage because of her times in the mountains and the desert. She can now trek on her own most of the time; she climbs rocks on her own whenever she can and I only assist her when the rocks are too big for her or when she is too tired to walk.

heba
On the summit of the Camel Humps Mountain in Ras Shitan, Nuweiba in November 2016
She swims with a swimming ring on her own, which I consider a huge improvement because she used to fear the water and clutch at me until we are out of it. On our last trip to Sinai, she was the only toddler her age who was swimming on her own in the middle of the 130-meter-deep Blue Hole in Dahab. She was laughing in extreme joy, and such moments are what make all the challenges of our trips worthwhile.
]]>
2/2/2018 12:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[In the Galapagos, an idyllic hammerhead shark nursery]]>
But until November, biologists had no idea the sharks had their own hideaway that could hold some of the final secrets of this remote archipelago 1,000 kilometres off South America’s Pacific coast.

“It was quite by chance that we found this natural nursery for baby hammerheads, a species that is under a high level of threat,” said Eduardo Espinoza, the biologist in charge of monitoring ecosystems in the Galapagos Marine Reserve.

“It is a unique area, of great interest to conservationists,” he told AFP.

Still stunned by the find, Espinoza and his team returned by boat to the spot in northeastern Santa Cruz, one of the main islands in the archipelago, to collect data and attach tracking devices to the young sharks.

The picturesque journey took the scientists past sea turtles and white beaches where black marine iguanas sun themselves while enormous pelicans soared overhead, before their small boat wound its way down a narrow channel between the mangroves to a shallow, rocky pool.

Clearly visible in the water, dozens of small, silver-skinned sharks, one eye on either extremity of their T-shaped heads, glided gently among other species of fish, looking for the crustaceans they feed on during their early years.

“The females arrive to give birth and then leave. The young have all the food they need here and the reefs afford protection from large predators,” said Espinoza as he cast a wide net into the water.

After one or two years, when they grow and need more food, they make their way to the open ocean and can travel for thousands of kilometres, growing as long as three metres and living for up to 50 years.

The park rangers have for years been monitoring and tagging hundreds of sharks, one of the landmark species of the 138,000-square-kilometre marine reserve, the second-largest oceanic park in the world, which has been named a Natural Heritage Site.

But the discovery of these small sharks has been a particularly sensitive issue, as overfishing and the illegal capture of sharks have placed them on the list of endangered species, two levels below extinction, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Their slow physical development and low reproduction rates have only exacerbated the threat.

That makes the operation to attach tracking devices all the more delicate.

“Shark, there to the right!” shouted one of the team members.

At this point, everything moved at a frantic speed.

The captain moved the boat closer to the net. One of the assistants grabbed the shark, half a metre long, and held it on a table so that Espinoza and the others could measure and weigh it, determine its sex and insert a tracking chip in its back so its habits and migration routes could be logged.

Putting the young shark back in the water, they moved its head and tail to revive it, until it swam off on its own.

“They cannot spend more than two minutes out of water because they need a constant flow to avoid dying. It’s like a pit stop in Formula 1 racing,” said the biologist.

To save the hammerheads, the government of Ecuador, to which the islands belong, added an extra layer of protection in 2016 – a 38,000-square-kilometre sanctuary zone between Darwin and Wolf islands, where all fishing is banned.

The area is the mostly densely populated zone for shark populations in the world.

Jose Marin, a biologist at the Charles Darwin Foundation, an international scientific research non-government organisation, said Ecuador was making “titanic efforts” in the field of conservation of sharks, whose fins are a highly prized delicacy in Asian cuisine.

“These studies, sometimes using satellite tracking, alert us to where these sharks are being caught when they leave the marine reserve, and allow us to notify other countries so they can help us protect them,” he said.

In August, a Chinese-flagged ship was intercepted in the Galapagos marine reserve with 300 tonnes of fish, including some hammerheads.

The Ecuadorean courts, which hand down stiff sentences for environmental crimes, sentenced the captain and his officers to three years in jail, and fined the owners of the ship $6 million.
]]>
2/1/2018 3:52:41 PM
<![CDATA[Nepal losing out to China as Everest operators cross mountain]]>
Veteran climbing outfits, fed up with what they regard as a lax attitude to safety on Nepal's southern flank of the 8,848 metre (29,029-foot) peak, are starting to shift operations to Everest's north side in Tibet.

"The south side is way too overcrowded with inexperienced people," Phil Crampton, a seasoned Everest hand who announced in January his company Altitude Junkies would shift to China, the third such outfit to abandon Nepal in recent years.

The exodus could dent a long-standing source of revenue for the cash-strapped Himalayan nation -- Kathmandu raked in more than $4 million in Everest permits fees alone in 2017.

A growing chorus of foreign-led Everest operators in Nepal are demanding greater scrutiny of low-cost outfits that have mushroomed in recent years, offering cheap expeditions up the fabled summit.

These budget players are luring hordes of amateur climbers chasing the thrill of Everest but also risking death and injury, climbing experts say, warning that some expedition leaders are ill-equipped to tackle the peak.

Seven of the 10 climbers who died on Everest's south in the last two years were summiting with budget operators, according to information from the Himalayan Database.

"What has happened over the last few years on the south side is absolutely intolerable," said Lukas Furtenbach, whose company Furtenbach Adventures relocated to China last year citing safety concerns.

Those pushing for change want to see permit numbers curbed and greater oversight of guides and operators.

Nepal introduced new laws in late December barring solo climbers, blind mountaineers and double amputees from scaling Everest, restrictions it said would make the peak safer.

But many mountaineers say the rules miss the mark.

"Nepal needs mountaineering rules and regulations. But for the operators, not for the climbers," said Furtenbach.

Nepal has been criticised as reluctant to introduce much-needed regulations because it fears harming an industry that spins money for the impoverished nation.

- Climate change threat -

Meanwhile, China is sending a message that Everest's north is open for business, investing in climbing infrastructure vital for a safe ascent to the summit.

It is building a mountaineering training centre in Lhasa and plans to allow helicopter rescues on Everest's north from 2019, according to Chinese state media. Currently helicopter rescues are only possible in Nepal.

It also fixes ropes to Everest's summit at the beginning of each climbing season, an industry standard on most major peaks around the world -- but missing on the southern face in Nepal.

"China is addressing the issues in a way that Nepal has just struggled to... There is no system in place to actually enforce the rules," said Adrian Ballinger, who was the first operator to move exclusively to Everest's north in 2015.

Until a decade ago, a roughly even number of climbers attempted the summit from the northern and southern sides of Everest.

But China's reputation took a hit when authorities closed the Tibetan side of Everest without warning in 2008, fearing protests ahead of the Beijing Olympics.

Many companies abandoned the north saying the political situation in Tibet was too unpredictable.

But that is changing due to what many in the industry see as a deteriorating situation in Nepal.

Ballinger expects more companies to move north in the coming years, especially as the Khumbu Icefall presents an increasingly avoidable danger on the south.

The icefall -- a treacherous, ever-shifting expanse of glacial ice that all climbers must cross to reach Everest's summit from Nepal -- is becoming more unstable as temperatures warm due to climate change, and has claimed 23 lives in the last five years.

Nepal's tourism department, which oversees the mountaineering industry, defended its position on Everest safety.

"We cannot respond to every comment people make. Every year we have more people coming to climb Everest," said department head Dinesh Bhattarai.

For now Nepal remains the most popular choice -- just 155 foreign mountaineers attempted to summit Everest from Tibet last year.

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.

Many Chinese adventurers also prefer Nepal as laws back home require they summit an 8,000 metre peak before trying Everest from Tibet.
]]>
2/1/2018 3:46:28 PM
<![CDATA[Indonesia foreign tourist arrivals fall 5.77 pct in Dec]]>
That compared to a 0.81 percent drop in November, the first decline in foreign tourist arrivals since December 2015.

“Foreign tourist arrivals to Bali are not fully recovered yet,” said Suhariyanto, the statistics bureau chief.

“This is because of Mount Agung’s eruption and haven’t recovered yet.”

Indonesia first raised the status on Mount Agung volcano in resort island Bali in September and the volcano erupted in late November.

The total number of foreign visitors to Indonesia, including those passing through its borders from neighboring countries and foreign workers with permits for less than a year, was 1.15 million, up 3.03 percent.
]]>
2/1/2018 3:42:48 PM
<![CDATA[UAE claims world's longest zipline]]>
The 2.8 kilometer (1.74 miles) zipline, spanning the equivalent of 28 soccer fields, was certified this week by the Guinness World Records, the local tourism authority said.

But this world record is not in the glitzy regional financial and tourist hub of Dubai, or the oil-rich capital Abu Dhabi. It is in relatively less developed Ras Al Khaimah, located in the country’s north along the Oman border.

Most visitors to the UAE spend their time in Dubai, home to one of the world’s largest shopping centers, and an indoor ski slope. Ras Al Khaimah hopes the zipline, starting 1,680 meters above sea level on top of the Jebel Jais mountain, will be a drawcard for tourists.

The zipline can handle as many as 100,000 people a year, and though there are no age restrictions, riders must be at least 1.22 meters tall and no heavier than 150 kilograms.

The UAE’s latest record will be added to a mantle of achievements that includes the world’s tallest building, and artificial palm-shaped islands.

]]>
2/1/2018 3:39:08 PM
<![CDATA[Thailand bans smoking, littering at popular tourist beaches]]>
The Southeast Asian country has been a tourist magnet for decades, from its backpacker heyday in the early 1990s to its current popularity with tourists from mainland China. It expects to welcome a record 37.55 million tourists in 2018.

Environmental rights groups have urged successive governments to protect Thailand’s palm-fringed beaches, which are frequently voted among the world’s most beautiful, from unregulated development and littering, among other things.

A law that came into force on Thursday is aimed at tackling this problem, said Bannaruk Sermthong, a director at the Office of Marine and Coastal Resources Management.

“Starting today, smoking and cigarette-butt littering are prohibited on beach areas,” Bannaruk told Reuters.

“Anyone who wants to smoke must do so in designated smoking areas, not on the beaches.”

The law protects 24 beaches in 15 provinces located along the Andaman coast and the Gulf of Thailand.

Anyone who violates the law will be taken to a criminal court and could face up to one year in jail, or a fine of up to 100,000 baht ($3,190), or both.

Thailand has 357 beaches nationwide.

($1 = 31.34 baht)
]]>
2/1/2018 3:34:19 PM
<![CDATA[37 sculptors visit Luxor for Sculpture Symposium]]>
The sculptors will also visit Cairo on February 13 to learn more about Egyptian cultures and traditions, as well as visiting the Giza Pyramids and Sphinx.

Egypt’s International Sculpture Symposium 2018 is the world’s largest symposium organized by Egyptian fine artist Mohamed Hemida with the participation of 29 fine artists from 22 foreign countries, including France, Germany, Italy, Iraq, Spain and Japan, and 8 artists from Egypt.

1-walk_way_in_Hurghada_at_night
Walkway in Hurghada on July 25, 2008 – CC via Wikimedia Commons

This event comes as a part of the celebration of Red Sea National Day, which was hosted by the Egyptian International Sculpture Symposium under the patronage of Major General Ahmed Abdallah, governor of the Red Sea governorate, and businessman Kamel Abu Ali, chairman of the Red Sea Tourism Investment Association.

Red Sea Governor Ahmed Abdallah declared that he will award a prize for three artistic works exhibited at the symposium; every artist will label his name on the sculptured work and the best three will be awarded the prize.

]]>
1/31/2018 6:45:25 PM
<![CDATA[Al Fayoum governor visits Meidum Pyramid with 200 students ]]>
1- Fayoum governor with school short trip - Five Photos
Al Fayoum governor with school students in Al Fayoum – FivePhotos.com

The day trip came as a part of a governorate-wide initiative targeting school students from a primary level and up to change attitudes towards Al-Fayoum city.
Habeb participated in cultural, entertainment and sport activities with the students during their visit in addition to posing for photo opportunities. He also acted as their guide and showed them the great history of their city, according to a press release from the governorate.

2- School students with Al- Fayoum governorate at Meidum Pyramids
School students with Al Fayoum governor at Meidum Pyramid, Al Fayoum – Wikimedia.com
This short visit also made for a fantastic day out for the children as they will doubtless look forward to visiting again with their family and friends, the trip may have also cultivated an interest for the history of their area amongst some.
The Meidum Pyramid is the oldest pyramid in history located 30 kilometers northeast of Madinat Al Fayoum, what remains are the ruins of the first true Pyramid attempted by ancient Egyptians which began as an eight stepped structure.
The pyramid dates back to between 2637-2613 BC as Pharaoh Huni commissioned the pyramid around 4,700 years ago, however, it was his son Sneferu who was responsible for the actual building.
3- Collapsed Pyramid of Senfru - Wikimedia
Meidum Pyramid in Al Fayoum, October 2, 2005 - Wikimedia

From the Meidum Pyramid, the entire oasis is visible, which is also considered as the oldest oasis town in the world housing rare monuments attributed to pharaonic dynasties.
]]>
1/31/2018 3:10:00 PM
<![CDATA[Beirut guide gives walking tours of city’s history, his own ]]>
Chatah put the walking tours on hold in late 2013 after the assassination of his father Mohamad Chatah, a former minister and diplomat. He was worried he would not be able to give an impartial view of the city, he said.

“My father is buried in what is probably the most climactic part of the tour,” he said, referring to Martyrs’ Square, a pockmarked statue in the epicentre, where many Lebanese have rallied in times of political crisis since World War I.

“It is not easy to look at your father’s burial site and just ignore the emotions.”

But reviving the tour has had a surprising effect.

“I have not had a better therapy session,” said Chatah, who first launched the tours in 2009.

Now for four hours every other Sunday, people follow Chatah as he explains some of the most complicated aspects of Lebanon’s capital.

He explains that the local currency is pegged to the US dollar and about how since the civil war political power is shared between Lebanon’s 18 different religious sects. He also explains why so many abandoned heritage buildings have been seemingly left to disintegrate.

Standing outside what was once the Holiday Inn hotel, Chatah recounts how the building that once exemplified Beirut’s 70s glamor became an icon of the 1975-1990 civil war only a few weeks after it opened. It became the military headquarters of whichever militant faction was winning the war in Beirut over the next 15 years.

For him, the building — with its grey exterior, huge gaping holes and revolving balcony — is the best reflection of how the Lebanese have yet to make peace.

“We don’t reflect properly and I think that is our problem. Maybe that is part of our story too, that we are constantly avoiding the deeper issues, and hence a country that still cannot stand properly on its own two feet,” he said.

The tour allows visitors to discover parts of the city that have either ceased to exist or cordoned off by security because of close proximity to government buildings or politicians’ residences. This includes what used to be the old Jewish neighbourhood, once home to a small community that is now all but gone save for a restored synagogue.

“I thought I knew the area but I was surprised to find out about ... a neighbourhood that I never knew existed,” Sarah Harakeh, 24, a teacher said.

Chatah said he had been planning to resume the walks for just a couple of months, but now there are tours scheduled for the rest of the year.

“That is the persuasion of this city, you keep coming back, and even when you know it is not good for you,” he said.

]]>
1/31/2018 2:22:55 PM
<![CDATA[Low-cost, long-haul flights from India to boost leisure travel: report]]>
The analysis by aviation consultant CAPA India and online travel agent Expedia Inc (EXPE.O) comes as large budget airlines IndiGo and SpiceJet Ltd (SPJT.BO) draw up plans to fly as far as Europe and the United States.

The carriers have so far focused on shorter-range destinations such as Sri Lanka and Thailand.

Only 0.3 percent of Indians currently travel abroad for a holiday every year, a fraction of the estimated 100 million who could potentially afford to do so, CAPA’s analysis of household income shows. Most Indians travel for education, business or to visit friends and relatives.

Tourism spending by Indians could rise to as much as $40 billion by 2027 from about $16.4 billion in 2016, CAPA said, ranking it sixth in the world ahead of Canada, South Korea and Australia.

“If there is any market where low-cost, long-haul can work it is India,” CAPA India CEO Kapil Kaul said at an aviation conference in Mumbai on Tuesday, citing its geographic location and a large order pipeline for new long-range narrowbody jets.

SpiceJet Chairman Ajay Singh said on Tuesday low-cost long haul flights will be introduced as early as this winter.

IndiGo is exploring long-haul operations and seeking rights to routes, parent InterGlobe Aviation Ltd (INGL.NS) told analysts last week.

The low-cost flights would compete against full-service Indian carriers Air India and Jet Airways (JET.NS) as well as global rivals such as Emirates [EMIRA.UL] and Lufthansa (LHAG.DE).

Low-cost carriers, launched in the early 2000s, already dominate domestic air travel with a two-thirds market share.

The share of budget airlines in the international market rose to about 23 percent in the fiscal year 2016/17 from 14.5 percent five years earlier, CAPA estimates.

That is expected to rise as Indian airlines have placed orders for nearly 800 re-engined aircraft, such as Airbus (AIR.PA) A320neos and Boeing Co (BA.N) 737 MAX narrowbodies.

The jets, with longer ranges than predecessors, will enable low-cost carriers to launch non-stop routes to Asian destinations such as Phuket, Manila, Hong Kong, and Hanoi that are otherwise unviable today.

By 2025, Indian budget carriers will operate close to 40 wide-bodied aircraft, which could deliver an additional 2 million annual outbound leisure travelers to places such as New York and Sydney, CAPA said.

Low-cost carriers AirAsia India and Vistara, a full-service joint venture between Singapore Airlines (SIAL.SI) and India’s Tata Group, are expected to launch their first international flights later this year.
]]>
1/31/2018 2:19:11 PM
<![CDATA[New wave of Iranian globetrotters hits the road]]>
The exploits of young Iranian travellers, hitchhiking and backpacking their way around the globe, have become immensely popular on Instagram and Telegram, the most widely used apps in Iran, with some gathering more than 200,000 followers.

Iran has long had a globetrotting elite thanks to the large diaspora that fled to the United States and Europe after the 1979 revolution, but now it is the turn of the emerging middle class to stretch their wings, overcoming cultural barriers and parental worries in the process.

Sara Louee, 31, grew up thinking that holidays were a family trip to the northern coasts of Iran.

But two years ago, she met a group of foreigners through the website couchsurfing.com and joined them as they hitchhiked to the ancient city of Yazd.

She was unprepared: "I had absolutely no equipment. I was wearing flimsy girly shoes and had borrowed a backpack from a friend," she told AFP.

But her mind was opened to a world of possibility and she was soon saving for a 40-day trip around Europe, even if it meant battling with her conservative-minded parents.

"My family didn't accept it easily or overnight. I went through a lot of pain. But I gradually proved I could do it with shorter trips and gained their trust," said Louee, who now blogs regularly about her travels.

"These days, if I stay home at the weekend, my dad comes over and asks if something is wrong," she added, laughing.

- 'Strangers in your room?!' -

Other young Iranians, particularly women, say they had been taught that travelling alone was dangerous.

"When I told people I stayed in a hostel in Europe, Iranians would be shocked and say 'You mean there were strangers in your room?! Didn't they do anything to you?'" said Mahzad Elyassi, another travel blogger.

She only heard about hitchhiking for the first time in 2015 but has since travelled to all 32 of Iran's provinces and 20 countries.

"We've proven that Iran is really safe for such trips. It's become a trend.

"One woman said she used my Instagram page to convince her husband, saying: 'If she can do it alone, so can we.'"

Last year, Iran recorded 9.2 million departures, a 38.5-percent increase on the previous year and almost double the numbers a decade ago.

The trend has been helped by President Hassan Rouhani, who came to power in 2013 promising to improve Iran's relations with the world.

Iranians are not welcome everywhere: the United States this year banned them from entry unless they have close family, and European countries have strict and laborious procedures for tourists designed to weed out poor people.

But much of the rest of the world is welcoming Iran's tourist boom, with 38 countries now waiving visas for Iranians.

They include Georgia, Russia, Turkey and Malaysia, and talks are reportedly under way with India.

- Tech support -

That has helped encourage travel among those outside of the rich elite by putting the focus on cheaper countries.

"Maybe Iranians don't have enough dollars or euros to travel to Europe but they can explore places like southeast Asia," said Elyassi.

Technology has also been crucial.

"When I started, Google Maps didn't exist. People couldn't just easily travel and share their experiences," said Reza Pakravan, 43, one of Iran´s best-known travellers after he broke the world record for crossing the Sahara on a bike.

Alireza Zafari, 38, has spent two years on the "Herculean task" of documenting the whole of Iran for travellers, a project he expects will take another eight years to complete.

He hopes to encourage more Iranians and foreigners to visit Iran's beauty spots rather than the default option of popping across the border to Turkey, still the top choice for Iranians with 2.1 million visits last year thanks to cheap package tours and the availability of booze.

"The reason behind the travel wave is that people have become aware of the world, and technology gives them easy access to the information they need," Zafari told AFP.
]]>
1/31/2018 2:15:38 PM
<![CDATA[16 hot air balloon flights take off in Luxor]]>
The flights resumed after a two-day halt due to bad weather and low visibility.]]>
1/31/2018 1:26:21 PM
<![CDATA[Al-Rehla radio program supports tourism industry]]>
Rana’s radio program highlights beautiful and unique tourist sites in Egypt, such as islands or pyramids other than those in Giza. Also, Rana talks eloquently about her own travel experiences, for example her trip to the resort towns Dahab and Taba in Sinai or the discovery of the oldest monastery in Zaafrana.

Furthermore, Rana hosts tourism specialists in her program to talk about various travel destinations in Egypt and to provide recommendations for special hotels and the various means of transportation available to tourists and visitors.

Rana, known for “Al Bashmozeia”, has presented various radio programs, such as art news “Al Fan News” on West El Balad online radio.

Rana Hashem presents Al-Rehla at 6:30 p.m. every Sunday.]]>
1/31/2018 11:54:21 AM
<![CDATA[ Nostos initiative to return Greek tourists to Egypt]]>
Minister Nabila Makram will travel to Greece on February 16, 2018 to confirm the arrival of Greeks and Cypriots to Egypt. She also added that they had visited the Suez Canal before, as they consider Egypt their second homeland that had been built by the participation of their ancestors, according to Makram’s reports to local press.

1-_Alexandria_in_Winter_-_Wikimedia
1- Alexandria in the winter - CC via Wikimedia Commons


The Nostos initiative comes as a part of the diaspora program signed between Egypt, Cyprus and Greece, which aims to gather Cypriots and Greeks or their descendants in Alexandria for a return trip to the place where they or their ancestors once lived.

Signing this program is considered by many to be a historic moment for the three countries, since it was the first time that cooperation on diaspora was achieved and also the first time that the three countries decided on a common strategy and joint actions.

“There has already been strong interest from Greeks and Cypriots who wish to participate in the project,” said Makram.

The protocol of cooperation between the three countries for the diaspora program was signed in December 2017 at the presidential palace in Nicosia, Cyprus and hosted by Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs and Overseas Affairs Fotis Fotiou.

The diaspora program and its subsidiary Nostos initiative will be one of the most useful tools in developing diaspora tourism in Egypt and adequately boosting the struggling tourism sector in Egypt.
]]>
1/31/2018 12:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[et Guide: Best places to witness 'Super Blue Blood Moon']]>
“The January 31 full moon is special for three reasons: it’s the third in a series of 'supermoons', when the moon is closer to earth in its orbit ̶̶̶– known as perigee – and about 14 percent brighter than usual. It’s also the second full moon of the month, commonly known as a 'blue moon'. The super blue moon will pass through earth’s shadow to give viewers in the right location a total lunar eclipse. While the moon is in the earth’s shadow, it will take on a reddish tint, known as a 'blood moon',” according to NASA.

Lunar Eclipse
Areas of the world that will see the Jan. 31, 2018, total lunar eclipse. The eclipse will be visible Jan. 31 in the morning before sunrise for North America, Alaska and Hawaii. Observers in the Middle East, Asia, eastern Russia, Australia and New Zealand will see it during moonrise the evening of Jan. 31. – Photo courtesy of NASA


Siwa Oasis

Located in between the Qattara Depression and the Egyptian Sand Sea in the Western Desert, the oasis is about 80 km in length and 20 km wide, with a population of 33,000 people. It has its very own culture and tradition separate from the rest of Egypt, making it the perfect place to witness the spectacle.

Siwa Oasis
Picture taken from Shaly Island in Siwa, Egypt. Siwa Oasis can be seen in the background. Via CC/ Heksamarre


White Desert, Farafra Oasis

At the Farafra Oasis you will find the White Desert, which received its name due to snow-white rocks and sand. It is widely recognized as one of the most popular camping sites in Egypt.

White Desert, Farafra Oasis
The White Desert - between Farafra and Bahariya oasis - western Egypt. own photo - feb 10, 2005 Via CC BY-SA 2.5


Whales Valley, Fayoum

The Whales Valley is located within the Wadi Rayan protectorate, which covers an area of 1,759 km in Fayoum, only a short two-hour drive away from Cairo. The valley was named after the 10 whales that were in the region approximately 40 million years ago. UNESCO classified the valley as the best World Heritage site for skeletons of whales.

Whales Valley, Fayoum
Whale Valley is located within the Wadi Rayan protectorate Via CC/Ahmedherz


Wadi Degla protectorate

Stretching over 30 km in distance and 50 km in height, the Wadi Degla protectorate has been compared to the American Grand Canyon. The protectorate also serves as a home to many animals, such as deers, mountain rabbits, foxes, bats and many more.

Wadi Degla protectorate
Wadi Degla Protectorate Via CC/ Mohammed Said Mohammed


Helwan Observatory

The observatory in Helwan is one of the oldest in the Middle East, having opened in 1903. It is located at the National Research Institute of Astronomy and Geophysics.

Helwan Observatory
Photo courtesy of the official Observatory Facebook account


Kattamya Observatory

The Kattamya Observatory is located on Astronomical Observatory Road. Their mission is to raise awareness about astronomical events and have a year-round astrology calendar. The director of the observatory, Dr. Ahmed Essam, offers lectures on the history of the observatory and the stars.



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1/30/2018 9:29:41 PM
<![CDATA[Erupting volcano sparks Philippine tourism boom]]>
Albay province has built its image around the picture-perfect, cone-shaped Mayon volcano whose periodic activity offers both boundless opportunity as well as enduring misery.

Since Mayon began shooting out lava two weeks ago, restaurants and hotels just outside a nine-kilometre (5.6-mile) “danger zone” — some complete with volcano branding — have enjoyed an off-season tourism bonanza.

“We are thankful because we have many guests but it also makes me guilty because so many people are affected,” Purita Araojo, front desk officer at Vista Al Mayon Pensionne, told AFP.

Nearly 90,000 people living around the volcano have fled to overcrowded relief camps where authorities have warned of a worsening sanitation crisis.

The largely farming region is still bracing for a potentially explosive eruption, though experts are convinced everyone is now out of reach of the 2,460-metre (8,070-foot) Mayon’s threat.

With its 52nd eruption in about 400 years, Mayon is the most active of 22 volcanoes in the Philippines, a country which is itself part of the Pacific “Ring of Fire” of islands formed by volcanic activity.

– ‘Beautiful lady’ –

But its rumblings are also a spark of inspiration for tourism-oriented businesses, which have fashioned spicy menus while prominently displaying volcano photos and logos.

A bestseller at a local restaurant is the “Mayon Hot Lava” — Mayon-shaped ice cream scoops topped with bits of chili and spicy syrup.

High-end hotels provide live TV streaming of Mayon’s eruption, while out-of-town journalists and tourists are also corralled into “volcano-view” rooms with windows looking out onto the slowly unfolding disaster.

Albay saw a 10-percent growth in tourist arrivals this month from a year earlier, the local tourism office said, as travel agencies and tour guide services cashed in on what is normally a slow period after Christmas.

The forlorn top of the old church belfry of Cagsawa town — jutting out of the grass more than two centuries after Mayon buried 1,200 of its residents alive in a catastrophic 1814 eruption — is the most popular draw.

Family and friends pose for wacky shots beside it, many making it appear as if they are leaning on the smouldering volcano in the background, or cupping its red-hot crater.

At times however low-lying rain clouds spoil the photography, forcing tourist guides to turn to story-telling.

“We tell them the epic where the cloud is believed to be the suitor of Mount Mayon, which we call the beautiful lady,” park aide Hohanna Loterina told AFP.

“When the cloud covers her, he does not want to show her to others and it’s an expression of love.”

But beyond the hospitality industry, the volcano has brought misery to the poor, many of them farmers on its lower slopes.

Volcanic ash has destroyed many crops, pushing up vegetable prices and causing roadside eatery proprietor Janet Octavo to miss out on the boom.

“I wish that the eruption stops,” she told AFP.

Elderly chili farmer Marcal Morato stood barefoot on blackened soil where wilted stems were all that remained.

“It’s such a shame because I can no longer use this. I would have to buy new seeds,” the 72-year-old told AFP.

Venice Mar lost 30,000 pesos ($580) worth of bitter gourd but was philosophical, saying disasters yield both winners and losers.

“We get frustrated but we just take it as it is. We are used to it because business is like a gamble,” he added.
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1/30/2018 2:04:42 PM
<![CDATA[China Eastern, Xiamen Airlines cancel Taiwan flights amid routes row]]>
The airlines said in separate statements they had no choice but to cancel the trips after what they said was a refusal by Taiwanese authorities to approve the flights.

This month, China opened several new air routes, including a northbound route up the Taiwan Strait that divides China from the island. Taiwan says it was done without its agreement, contravening what the democratic government in Taipei has said was a 2015 deal to first discuss such flight paths.

In response, self-governed Taiwan has withheld approval of routine applications from China Eastern and Xiamen Airlines, majority owned by China Southern Airlines, to add Lunar New Year flights because the airlines had used the disputed air routes.

Taiwan has expressed concern the new routes are too close to existing routes that link it to airports on two groups of Taiwan-controlled islands lying close to China, and are a threat to flight safety. China says there is no safety threat.

China considers Taiwan a wayward province, and relations have cooled since Tsai Ing-wen of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party took office as Taiwan’s president in 2016.

“We express our strong dissatisfaction and condemnation of the Taiwan authorities, who disregard public opinion and cling obstinately to their course,” China Eastern said.

The airline apologised to customers and said it was providing free refunds and rebooking for anyone booked on the now-cancelled flights.

Xiamen Airlines urged “relevant Taiwan authorities to proceed from the standpoint of the well-being of people on both sides of the Strait, comply with popular wishes, meet the urgent needs of the people, and not artificially obstruct the return home of Taiwan compatriots.”

At a press conference today, Taiwan’s transportation minister, Ho Chen Tan, said that the government did not force the airlines to cancel their flights.

“We never said that we wouldn’t approve of the added flights by China Eastern or Xiamen Airlines. All along we said we hope that the situation can meet the needs of travellers and that we can all discuss an appropriate arrangement for the added flights,” Ho said.

“At this time, they said themselves they don’t want to apply. It’s not at all that we said we didn’t agree for them to apply,” Ho added.

With air fares rising before the Lunar New Year, Taiwan’s transportation ministry said it would try its best to help Taiwanese return home over the holiday.
]]>
1/30/2018 1:59:59 PM
<![CDATA[Colorful makeover puts Mumbai slum on tourist map]]>
During a recent journey on a Mumbai metro train, Dedeepya Reddy was struck by the grim appearance of a slum in Asalpha in the city’s eastern suburbs as she stared out from her air-conditioned carriage.

Reddy, a Harvard University-educated co-founder of a creative agency, was keen to brighten the lives of slum residents, while also changing the perception of slums being dirty and dangerous, and decided on a simple makeover.

Armed with dozens of cans of colourful paint, Reddy and a team of about 700 volunteers painted the walls and alleyways of the hilltop slum over two weekends last month.

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A hilltop slum on the outskirts of Mumbai has been given a colourful makeover - Reuters

Residents, at first sceptical, also got involved and helped paint quirky murals, the 31-year-old said.

“When you look at slums, you think they are shabby and dirty, and that also becomes a reflection of the people who live there,” Reddy told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“We used bright colours to change how slums and their residents are viewed. It also gives residents a sense of pride and dignity about their homes.”

Up to 37 million households, or about a quarter of India’s urban population, live in informal housing including slums because of an acute shortage of affordable housing, according to social consultancy FSG.

3 Children walk past a mural in a hilltop slum in Mumbai - Reuters

In space-starved Mumbai, which has some of the priciest real estate in the world, the shortage is even more critical, with hundreds of migrants from rural areas cramming into the city every day to seek better prospects.

Reddy’s Chal Rang De (Let’s Colour It) charity has seven other slums, similarly situated on hillocks, on its wishlist, she said.

Locals and tourists have thronged Asalpha in recent weeks, posting pictures on Instagram which have drawn comparisons to Italy’s Amalfi Coast.

Their interactions with residents are a welcome change, Reddy said.

For resident Aparna Chaudhuri, who has lived in Asalpha for about a dozen years, the paint job was welcome.

“Earlier, our house looked dull. Now it looks good,” said Chaudhuri, who picked pink for her home.

“Everyone is also keeping the neighbourhood clean now.”

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1/30/2018 1:49:37 PM
<![CDATA[Cuba tourism slides in wake of Hurricane Irma, Trump]]>
Although the number of visitors rose nearly 20 percent in 2017, it fell 10 percent on the year in December, and is down 7-8 percent this month, Jose Manuel Bisbe York, the president of Cuban state travel agency conglomerate Viajes Cuba, said.

Arrivals from the United States, which had surged in the wake of the U.S.-Cuban detente in 2014, took the worst hit, dropping 30 percent last December, he told Reuters.

“Since Hurricane Irma, we’ve seen arrivals shrink,” Bisbe York said on the sidelines of the event organized by U.S. travel agency insightCuba to dispel tourist misperceptions about Cuba.

Irma hit in September, just as the tourism sector was taking reservations for its high season from November to March.

Images of destruction put many would-be visitors off although Cuba had fixed its tourism installations within two months, said Bisbe York. Arrivals of Canadians, the largest group of tourists to Cuba, were down 4-5 percent.

“But we see this as a temporary thing and what we are seeing is that arrivals are recovering from month to month,” said Bisbe York, adding that Cuba would go ahead with its plans to launch more than 15 hotels island-wide this year.

“The first trimester will be the most difficult, because logically the change in the public perception takes time.”

Occupancy rates at the hotels in Cuba managed by Spain’s Meliá Hotels International S.A. were down around 20 percent on the year in December and January, said Francisco Camps, Melia’s Cuba deputy general manager.

“From February though, we are already reaching figures similar to those we had in previous years,” he said.

Republican President Donald Trump’s more hostile stance towards Cuba than his Democratic predecessor Barack Obama looks set to have a more lasting impact than Irma.

The number of U.S. visitors had surged since the Obama administration created greater exemptions to a ban on tourism to the Caribbean’s largest island and restored regular commercial flights and cruises.

Arrivals reached a record 619,523 last year, up from 91,254 in 2014.

But the Trump administration in September issued a warning on travel there due to a spate of alleged health attacks on U.S. diplomats in Havana. In November, tighter travel regulations also went into effect.

The double whammy seriously depressed U.S. visits, American tour operators and a cruise line said at Monday’s event, although in reality the restrictions remain looser than before the detente and travel easier.

Cuba is also still one of the safest destinations worldwide, they said.

“While the regulations he changed very little the perception in the U.S. was that you no longer could travel to Cuba legally,” said insightCuba’s Tom Popper, noting his agency’s reservations were down 50 percent this year.

“Part of hosting this event was to communicate that it is 100 percent legal to travel to Cuba.”
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1/30/2018 1:43:34 PM
<![CDATA[Chile boosts protected parkland with US philanthropist's donations]]>
The order signed by President Michelle Bachelet will boost the amount of parks in Chile by more than a third.

"Chile needs to take this decisive step to protect and preserve our biodiversity, our unique landscapes, the habitat associated with endangered national species," including trees, indigenous deer and the Andean fox, Bachelet told reporters in the southern town of Cochrane.

The signing was attended by the widow of Douglas Tompkins, the US millionaire founder of North Face who died in a kayak accident in Chile in December 2015.

Tompkins and his wife Kristine McDivitt Tompkins had dedicated decades to preserving Chile's wilderness and buying vast tracts of land to create parks and reserves.

The increased national parks will include 400,000 hectares (nearly one million acres) of land the Tompkins had handed over to the government.

In all, 4.5 million hectares are being added to Chile's protected zones, with the ancillary aim of them also boosting tourism to the unspoilt reaches of South America.

Some 10 million tourists have already visited Patagonia's wilderness over the past four years, according to official statistics.

The decree was one of the last big flourishes of Bachelet before she leaves office in March, handing over power to Sebastian Pinera, a conservative billionaire who won a December runoff election.

Under Chile's constitution, a president cannot try for immediate re-election.
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1/30/2018 1:22:04 PM
<![CDATA[Kebbash Road is Luxor’s upcoming surprise to the world ]]>
The renovation of the Pharaonic Kebbash Road is considered a monumental moment for Luxor, as the project will bring the great road to life again. Its new design is set to change Luxor’s position on the touristic map, as it will become the longest gangway and open museum in the world, according to Minister of Antiquities Khaled el-Enany’s statement to local press.

1- Some of Statues along Kebbash road
Some statues along Kebbash Road March, 2013 – Pixabay.com


It is expected that the new makeover of Kebbash Road will attract tourists the world over and play a vital role in pushing the Egyptian tourism sector forward, according to Luxor Governor Mohamed Badr.

Kebbash Road will be reopened by the second half of 2018 after its renovation, after having been halted for six years the project will soon be finished. The project is expected to cost around $340 million, el-Enany told local press.

In Ancient Egypt, Kebbash Road connected the Karnak Temple Complex with the Luxor Temple. During the time of the Pharaohs, the road was one of the most important, as it hosted ceremonies and festivals. The road was opened to the public in March 2013 by the Minister of Tourism.

Although Kebbash Road is 2.7 kilometers long, a walk through it is enjoyable as there are around 1,200 statues lining one side of the road, each resembling the Sphinx (where the head is that of a ram and the body is that of a lion) and sculpted from sandstone.

This meaningful decoration is dedicated to Amun, as the head of the statues are in the form of the god’s while the rest of the statue — the body of a lion — is a means of protecting the temples from looters.
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1/30/2018 12:00:00 PM
<![CDATA[How to enjoy Venice like an Egyptian ]]>
Venice consists of six neighborhoods; San Marco, Dorsoduro, Castello, San Polo, San Groce and Cannaregio. At first, I thought the Vaporetto (water bus of Venice) was the only means to go to those six neighborhoods, so I went to “Rialto” station, which was the closest to my B&B to take a Vaporetto to Cannaregio.

Roberto

I was not sure of the Vaporetto line number that goes there, so I asked an Italian man working at Rialto station. The man was in his fifties and did not speak English well, but he managed to understand I was asking about “Cannaregio.” He took me inside the station and showed me a sign where all lines and destinations were listed and, to make sure I got it right, he pointed to the line number to Cannaregio. I nodded, and then I went again to the water side of the station to wait for the correct Vaporetto.

Whenever a Vaporetto came, the man rushed to me, waving his hands in a “no” sign, trying to tell me that was not the correct Vaporetto. He repeated that for 3 successive Vaporettos to make sure I do not take the wrong one. I was really touched by his kindness that I left the waiting area, went to him again and told him “molto grazie;” I believe that meant “thank you so much” in Italian! I also asked him about his name and his answer was “Roberto.” I asked “photo?” and he replied “si,” so I took a nice photo with my new friend in Italy; Roberto!

New Photo
A vaporetto station. The vaporetto comes from the waterside to take people on July 2, 2017 - CC via Wikimedia Commons/Mariordo

Stroll through Venice’s old authentic streets full of gift shops, restaurants, bakeries, cafes, small cozy hotels and inns (sometimes they call it “locanda” in Italian) and beautiful old houses with flowers hanging on windows. Almost each square in Venice had a very old church, as this was the tradition in Europe long ago, as well as a fountain of potable water that people can fill their bottles from and drink.

Capture
Strolling Venice streets among cafes, shops and lofty architecture was enjoyable in June 2015 - Mai Abdallah

4 Old houses of Venice, with flowers hanged on windows, adding beauty to the authentic old scene there on March 13, 2017 - CC via Pxhere

There are 118 islands in the Venetian Lagoon of the Adriatic Sea, close to Venice. I visited three charming little islands called Murano, Burano and Torcello. We made the three of them on one organized trip that we booked online before we went to Venice.
When we reached Venice, we learnt that the Vaporetto also goes to those three islands, where it can be taken from the Vaporetto station close to San Marco Square.

After going on an organized trip, I recommend the Vaporetto! This is because in the organized trip we were given a certain duration to stay on each island. Sometimes that duration was not enough to fully explore the island, but if you go by Vaporetto, it gives you the freedom to decide the time you pass on each of the islands, as it passes periodically. So if you like a specific island so much and you want to pass a longer time there, you can simply skip some Vaporettos and finally take one after you are done with that island.

A must visit to Murano's glass factory

It took us about 30 minutes in a beautiful marine trip from the Grand Canal start point, close to San Marco Square, to reach the first island, Murano.

Murano Island is mainly about the marvelous glass industry; it hosts the main factory of the precious Murano glass, which manufactures extraordinarily stunning decorative glass products, with marvelous creative shapes, eye dazzling colors, top quality clear glass, but also extremely expensive prices.

Do not miss the experience of Murano’s glass factory, even if you do not want to buy any glass products. The experience itself is unique, and the displayed products are masterpieces of fine art that cannot be seen anywhere else. Unfortunately, they do not allow photos inside the glass products display areas. They only allow photography and video shooting in their live workshop, which displays the basic steps of glass manufacturing.

5Murano glass products are among the most expensive worldwide and the factory in Murano Island exports to all parts of the world, June 14, 2017 – Pixabay/rmac8oppo

I loved a glass vase there that was in the shape of a deer and was yellowish orange in color. I asked about its price and to my great surprise, it cost €18,000! Hearing such a price, I believed it was time to leave Murano. We went back to our boat to complete the marine trip.

To be continued...

Part 1:

Enjoy Venice but check café prices, don't walk with baggage



Part 3:

Venice's Burano Island, the original El Max of Alexandria



Mai Abdallah's Faebook

page



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1/29/2018 12:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[Nas Daily: World famous vlogger encourages Americans to visit Egypt]]>
Yassin, who goes by the name Nas Daily on social media, shared a video on his Facebook page on Sunday in which he said “Yesterday, we fed 600 dogs …one ton of food… for the price of one date in Los Angeles. The point is clear: Egypt is cheap!”



“Keep in mind: if you're a local, Egypt is probably not cheap for you, and my intention is not to make Egypt look like everyone is happy with the currency devaluation. The intention of this video is to get more people to visit Egypt now,” he added.

The video, which got thousands of shares and likes, displayed shots of products in Egypt and its prices to prove that prices are affordable and cheap in Egypt. It has shown that the tourist can spend a night in a five star luxury hotel for less than $200, buy an entire Macdonald’s meal for $2 only, even buy an Egyptian dish, koshari for half a dollar, and a tourist price souvenir at $0.20. At last Yassin showed that he was able to feed 600 dogs in Egypt with only 100 dollars.

The comments on the video came from Egyptians who argue that the prices in Egypt are not that cheap for Egyptians as a single dollar equals 18 Egyptian Pounds and foreigners who were amazed by Egypt and encourage others to pay a visit to this “amazing” country.

“Egypt is cheap from your point of view as a dollar owner but remember 1$=18 EGP which means that it's not cheap for Egyptians at all, but of course all of you are welcomed to our beautiful country,” an Egyptian women commented on Yassin’s video.

However most of the replies from foreigners’ came with encouragement to visit Egypt. “Egypt is the best country I have ever visited. The most friendly and hospitable people I have ever had the pleasure to meet. If you have not gone to Egypt yet, definitely go!!” Drake White said.

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A screenshot of the comments section on Nas Daily’s video, 28 January 2018

Another commenter expressed her impatience to pay a visit to Egypt in order to see the Great Pyramids.

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A screenshot of the comments section on Nas Daily’s video, 28 January 2018


“Egypt is amaaazing! It's more than temples and pyramids, nice beaches, colorful culture, exciting night life and its Cairo Museum is not to be missed. I remember eating that 50 cents street food. It's light and yummy, but I don't remember what it's called. Thanks for sharing this, Nas! Brings back beautiful memory”, one women replied on the video.

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A screenshot of the comments section on Nas Daily’s video, 28 January 2018


“If you watching this from the United States, Come visit Egypt. Trust me, it’s worth it,” Yassin concluded.

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1/28/2018 2:39:12 PM
<![CDATA[Heavy snow in central, southern China causes travel havoc]]>
The three railway stations in Wuhan, Hubei’s provincial capital, canceled more than a hundred train journeys.

By about noon (0400 GMT), 95 flights had been canceled at the Wuhan Tianhe International Airport, stranding some 1,200 passengers.

The airport at Nanning, capital of south China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, also canceled many flights.

In Changzhou city in southern Jiangsu province, the second half of the Under-23 Asian Cup final was interrupted for an hour on Saturday afternoon as snow covered the pitch.

Vietnam, long seen as an underdog, had defeated Australia, Iraq and Qatar to face Uzbekistan in the final, cheered on by Vietnamese at home and at the Changzhou Olympic Sports Centre.

The National Meteorological Centre renewed an orange alert on Saturday for snowstorms in central and eastern China. The orange alert is the second-highest in a four-tier weather warning system.

Heavy snow or sleet was expected in parts of Henan, Hubei, Guizhou and Hunan provinces and regions along the Yangtze River and Huaihe River.

Blizzards will strike parts of Anhui, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Hubei and Hunan provinces.

On Friday, a unit of China’s State Oceanic Administration issued a blue alert for sea ice in a key port area in the north of the country, potentially disrupting commodities shipments.]]>
1/28/2018 12:51:42 PM
<![CDATA[ Egypt participates in FESPO trade fair 2018 in Switzerland ]]>
Egypt’s Ambassador to Switzerland Hesham Seif El Dein participated in the international trade fair for tourism, which is held in Zurich city in Switzerland from January 25 to 28, 2018.


He declared that the Berlin based Egyptian tourism office has a booth in this international fair in Switzerland to promote tourism in Egypt.


This year, around 600 members from 60 countries including leading Swiss travel agencies participate in FESPO.

Seif El Dein pointed out the importance of the fair and the role it plays in enhancing foreign relationships and supporting the tourism sector of all FESPO participants. He also added that the fair is very popular amongst Swiss citizens.

Furthermore, Seif El Dein said that the number of Swiss tourists in Egypt increased from 46,000 in 2016 to 75,000 in 2017. Tourism experts expect the number of Swiss tourists to increase to 120,000 in 2018 who will book around 1.2 million nights at Egypt’s best hotels and resorts.

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1/27/2018 5:58:31 PM
<![CDATA[Air Cairo operates first regular flight between Napoli-Sharm El Sheikh]]>
Air Cairo, Egypt-based airline, will launch the first regular flight between Napoli, Italy and Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. This flight path comes as a result of efforts made by the Ministry of Civil Aviation to support tourism sector in Egypt.

The first flight from Napoli is expected to arrive at Sharm El Sheikh on Friday night carrying around 170 Italian tourists, according to a statement from Air Cairo.

The Egyptian airline has been testing the flights between Sharm El Sheikh and Napoli since October 29, 2017, tonight’s flight marks the first official one between the two cities. In December 2017, the company began conducting flights between Milan and Marsa Alam as well.

The Napoli-Sharm El Sheikh flight is the third regular flight path operated by Air Cairo; it is part of a well organized plan to reinvigorate Italian-Egyptian tourism.

The company is planning to add more flight paths from various Italian cities to Egypt’s most popular resorts soon.

1-_Night_Life_at_Sharm_EL_Sheikh_City
Night life in Sharm el-Sheikh City – Wikimedia
Making a regular aviation route to Sharm El Sheikh will encourage more tourists to come and enjoy the natural landscapes of Sinai Peninsula, the crystal blue water of the Red Sea and the High Mountains in the midday sun, according to Air Cairo statement.

Sharm El Sheikh was chosen as ‘the finest city in the world for peace and beauty,’ according to the United Nations Educational, Science and cultural organization. ]]>
1/26/2018 8:49:28 PM
<![CDATA[In pics: Egypt marks huge participation at NYT Travel Show]]>
A delegation of Egypt’s Tourism Authority, headed by Hesham el-Demery, presented at the Travel Show that kicked off early on Friday with the participation of Travel Point of America Inc.; the show will last until January 28, 2018.

WhatsApp Image 2018-01-26 at 16.55.03
Egypt marks significant participation at the New York Times Travel Show Jan. 26, 2018 - Press photo

If you are a travel addict then New York Times Travel Show is a great opportunity to get a taste of other cultures, along with their special offers and packages as the whole world becomes ‘literally’ right at your feet.

During the show, Egypt offered range of travel package offers to several cities including Aswan, Luxor, Alexandria, Cairo, Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada.

WhatsApp Image 2018-01-26 at 16.55.03 (1)
Egypt marks significant participation at the New York Times Travel Show Jan. 26, 2018 - Press photo


However, this is not the first time Egypt has participated in international tourism and travel exhibitions.

The Egyptian Tourist Office in Berlin, Germany, which is affiliated with Authority of Tourism Promotion, announced last December that they have a full agenda of participating in tourism exhibitions during January and February 2018.

The announced exhibitions were expected to be held in Stuttgart and Munich in Germany, along with Bern in Switzerland. The fees of participating at each one of these exhibitions amount to $500, according to a notification sent by the Tourism Promotion Authority to the Egyptian Tourism Companies Chamber on Thursday.

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Egypt marks significant participation at the New York Times Travel Show Jan. 26, 2018 - Press photo

The notification stated that the exhibitions are the CMT expedition in Stuttgart from January 13 - 21, the Munich expedition, which will be held from February 21 - 25, and the FESPO expedition scheduled to be held at Bern, Switzerland. Several tourism promotion authorities from many countries are expected to participate in these three exhibitions.

Last November, Hesham el-Demery, chairman of the Tourism Promotion Authority traveled to Warsaw, Poland, to open the Egyptian department of the TTW exhibition that was held from November 23 - 25. Other several similar exhibitions have been announced during the last year in different countries.

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Egypt marks significant participation at the New York Times Travel Show Jan. 26, 2018 - Press photo


Founded in 2003, The New York Times Travel Show is the USA’s largest consumer travel trade show, showcasing 150 countries represented by over 500 exhibitors. It focuses on travel destinations, special offers, packages and more, including family entertainment, cruise liners and tours. Last year’s edition featured a record number of over 30,000 participants, which was the highest attendance in the event’s history.

Amongst the events featured at the travel show are a series of Cultural Stages representing a wide array of countries, including but not limited to Puerto Rico, Rome, Ireland, Spain, Alaska, Indonesia, Japan and many more. Book signings from various authors will also be available, featuring the likes of Rosie Schaap's “Drinking With Men”, Patricia Schultz's “1,000 Places to See Before You Die” and JJ Johnson’s “Between Harlem and Heaven”.


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Egypt marks significant participation at the New York Times Travel Show Jan. 26, 2018 - Press photo


WhatsApp Image 2018-01-26 at 16.51.20
Egypt marks significant participation at the New York Times Travel Show Jan. 26, 2018 - Press photo


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Egypt marks significant participation at the New York Times Travel Show Jan. 26, 2018 - Press photo


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1/26/2018 6:04:10 PM
<![CDATA[60 Cruises come back to sail from Kom Ombo port on a daily basis. ]]>
The port town Kom Ombo, also known as the “City of Gold”, is located 40 kilometers north of Aswan on the banks of the Nile River; it is well-known for its Kom Ombo temple.
Tourists who opt for Nile river cruises visit Kom Ombo due to its unique temple and its proximity to Aswan. Even its name has a deep meaning which sums up two languages, Arabic and the ancient Egyptian language as Kom in Arabic means small hill and Ombo in ancient Egyptian means gold, So Kom Ombo is the hill of gold.

Last week saw about 60 cruise liners passing between the governorates of Luxor and Aswan on a daily basis, according to Adel Talha, head of the Kom Ombo center.
The Kom Ombo temple is the most important attraction in the town, dates back to the Greco – Roman era, it also has an unusual double building constructed in the Ptolemaic period. Its layout is perfectly symmetrical along the main axis with twin entrances and two connected hypostyle halls with reliefs of two gods on either side of columns.

1- KOm Ombo Temple - Wikimedia
View of Kom Ombo temple

The Edfu temple, near Kom Ombo, is located at 60 kilometers north to Aswan, it is the most beautiful and well preserved temple in Egypt dating back to the Ptolemaic period. This temple is situated in the city of Edfu, which was a flourishing city in ancient times.
2- Edfu City - Wikimedia
View of Edfu City
The Kom Ombo Nile cruise gives all visitors the chance to explore the Nile’s most attractive sites including the splendors of ancient Egyptian times and observe the rural life along the Nile between the historical sites.

3- City of Edfu
Look at City of Edfu
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1/26/2018 5:06:21 PM
<![CDATA[Tallest man on earth arrives in Cairo to boost tourism]]>
IMG-20180126-WA0009_resized_20180126_102910532 (1)
tallest man in the world visiting Egypt


On Thursday, the smallest woman on earth, Indian Jyoti Amge had arrived in Egypt to support Egyptian tourism.

Both of them will hold a press conference to share their inspirational stories and how they have dealt with challenges in their lives.

In 2008, Indian actress Amge, 24, was declared the world’s smallest living woman with 64 centimeters. In 2014, Kosen, 35, is a Turkish farmer who received the Guinness World Record for tallest living male with 251 centimeters in 2014.

Kosen’s growth and massive height is caused by a condition known as "pituitary gigantism", which is the result of an over-production of growth hormone.

The Ministry of Tourism and the Tourism Promotion Authority are currently organizing events to attract Egyptians who wish to break records or apply for a Guinness World Records titles as an attempt to boost tourism in Egypt which is mentioned in 86 Guinness World Records.

IMG-20180126-WA0009_resized_20180126_102910532
Photo of tallest man in the world Visiting Egypt

Guinness adjudicator Omar Talal told press that the Middle East is pioneering in business growth including entertainment and innovative enterprises. He added that the applications submitted to Guinness from the region in the last three years jumped by 68 percent.

On October 2017, the Egyptian Tourist Authority engaged in partnership with CNN to launch a campaign for promoting tourism. The campaign is meant to spread awareness about different kinds of tourism in Egypt.

A CNN team will visit Egypt soon to produce an ad for promoting touristic sites in Egypt. Also, the ad will be wired on CNN channel and its affiliated sites until the end of the year.

Tourism Minister Yehia Rashed said that the partnership is a good step toward accomplishing an international tourism promotion strategy, reported MENA.

In September 2017, the Egypt tourism authority had unveiled a new campaign titled “This is Egypt” (#thisisegypt), to launch a major regional campaign to drive growth in the tourism sector.

This campaign won the best tourism promotional video in the Middle East at the general assembly of the world tourism organization in China, beating 63 other contestants.

A lot of celebrities already visited Egypt to revive its tourism sector, such as Hollywood star Forest Whitaker, Argentinean football legend Lionel Messi and American actor Will Smith



IMG-20180126-WA0009_resized_20180126_102910532
Photo of tallest man in the world Visiting Egypt
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1/26/2018 3:24:09 PM
<![CDATA[Square in Luxor opens door for more tourists ]]>
1- Pigeons around Youssef El Hagag square
Pigeons around Youssef El Hagag square – Five Photos.com


In Luxor, there is a place that blends historical icons and nature’s beauty, housing thousands of pigeons eating seeds and drinking waters in an adorable scene attracts eyes and capture souls which is Youssef Abu El- Haggag Square.

Youssef Abu El- Haggag Square is Considered by many to be one of historical sites in Luxor, it took its name from Youssef Abu El-Haggag Mosque, the oldest building in the city dating back to last eight centuries, also it encompasses some monuments from Luxor Temple, which play a vital role in inviting many tourists who are already in Luxor.

2- Tourists visiting AL Aqsory square
Tourists visiting AL Aqsory square – Five Photos .com

It is named for Youssef Abu El-Haggag who is one of Egyptian Sufis was sitting there to write books, poets in monotheistic theology (Knowledge of Tawheed) as many of Egyptians used to visit him to take lessons, he was was born in Baghdad, died in Luxor at age 90 years and buried under this mosque .

What make this place unique is presence of thousands of Pigeons in the area around Youssef Abu El-Haggag square which gathering together to fly over mosque’s sky then return back to eat and drink giving the place natural touch to be one of the most important factors in attracting tourists to the square.

This why natives are caring more about taking care of this handsome creature by feeding them to come back again to the same place. According to one of Square natives, Mohamed Abdel Razek to one of local press.

3- Pigeons gathering along Youssef Al Hagag Square in Luxor
Pigeons gathering along Youssef Al Hagag Square in Luxor.- Five Photos.com
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1/25/2018 6:25:29 PM
<![CDATA[Opening GEM's 1st stage 'important start to tourism': Minister]]>
In statements on Thursday on the sidelines of a ceremony to mark the second transfer of Ramses II statue, the minister said the process of transferring the statue came after 11 years from its relocation from Ramses square in downtown Cairo to the museum.

The museum is a huge project worthy of the ancient Egyptian civilization and will help attract more tourists.

The statue of Ramses II is a 3,200-year-old figure of Ramses II, depicting him standing, that was discovered in 1820 by Giovanni Battista Caviglia at the Great Temple of Ptah near Memphis, Egypt.]]>
1/25/2018 4:08:08 PM
<![CDATA[American, Delta Air to revive deal to fly stranded passengers]]>
“It’s a tool that will give our employees more options to reacommodate customers whose Delta flights are canceled during weather and other uncommon scenarios,” Delta spokesman Morgan Durrant said.

American Airlines spokesman Matt Miller said the carrier was happy to put the deal in place after Delta reached out several months ago to discuss the return of such an agreement between the two parties.

Neither Delta nor American detailed the financial specifics of the agreement.

Prior to its dissolution in September 2015, the two largest U.S. airlines by passenger traffic had a far more comprehensive interline agreement, which among other things allowed for booked travel to include segments operated individually by both Delta and American on the same ticket.
Interline agreements are a common industry practice, though Delta and American have declined to call their pact an interline deal.

The deal went into effect on Wednesday.]]>
1/25/2018 1:52:15 PM
<![CDATA[World's shortest woman arrives in Cairo to promote tourism]]>
The World's tallest, Sultan Kosen from Turkey, will also visit Cairo on Friday to join Amge in her tour of the tourist attractions in the country.

The tour is sponsored by the Egyptian Tourism Promotion Authority.

Amge has participated in a number of movies and programs in India.

In December 2011, she was officially declared the world's shortest woman by Guinness World Records with a height of 62.8 centimeters.]]>
1/25/2018 11:22:44 AM
<![CDATA[Russia names and shames hotels jacking up prices for World Cup]]>
Russia will host the World Cup from June 14 to July 15 in 12 venues spread across 11 cities including Moscow, St Petersburg, Kazan and Sochi, and is expecting a large influx of visitors.

The Agora hotel in Kaliningrad, the Russian exclave that will host four group stage matches, including England’s match against Belgium on June 28, should normally charge no more than 2,400 roubles ($42.49) per night, the agency said.

But during the World Cup, prices on online travel agent Booking.com have been listed as 129,200 roubles ($2,287.17) - a more than 5,000 percent increase on regular prices.

“Maybe there was an error in the system. The management is sorting it out,” Svetlana Ovchinnikova, the administrator of the Agora hotel, told Reuters. “As the administrator, I can tell you... we have not received that kind of money.”

Some of the establishments on the list include members of large hotel chains, including Hampton by Hilton and Kempinski.

The agency found that the price for a standard room on the website of the Hampton by Hilton Volgograd Profsoyuznaya was up nine percent.

“This information does not correspond to reality,” the general manager of the Hampton by Hilton Volgograd Profsoyuznaya, Ineza Malikova, told Reuters.

The room prices at Kempinsky Grand Hotel Gelendzhik, in the Black Sea resort city of the same name, were up four percent on the hotel’s website for the period covering the tournament. Prices for rooms at the hotel on Booking.com were 30 percent higher than usual, the agency said.

“The hotel has immediately taken measures to identify and eliminate the reasons (for this situation),” the Kempinsky Grand Hotel Gelendzhik said in a statement sent to Reuters.

“It has been established that as a result of technical malfunctions in the online systems on which the hotel was presented, the prices did not correspond to the norm.”]]>
1/24/2018 4:35:50 PM
<![CDATA[American backpacker invites world to visit Egypt ]]>
Taylor is a 20-year-old explorer who decided in 2014 to follow her passion for traveling the world ‘s glamorous and faraway places to document the beauty of such locations. From natural landscapes to monumental sites, Taylor thinks they are all worth visiting.

Her blog “Travellight” presents all kinds of places worth visiting, from natural landscapes to monumental sites. She uses simple and effective tools to communicate this message by capturing photos and short videos on all of her social media platforms.

Egypt is one of her most favorite able destinations. In October 2017, she traveled to Egypt after spending around six months in China, and documented her visit to the North African country with around 13 videos and many photos amassing millions of views.

Taylor volunteered to communicate a message of peace and safety to the world, especially to women who are planning to visit Egypt, by visiting touristic spots such as Dahab, Aswan and the Giza Pyramids on her own.


Jordan’s trip to Egypt included the following interesting places:

Giza Pyramids

Taylor immersed herself in the greatness of the Giza Pyramids and the Sphinx; the architecture and art that reflect the Pharaonic civilization.

She rode horses around Giza Pyramids area, and she said it was one of the most enjoyable activities she did there.

Mohamed Ali Mosque

The second place she was keen on visiting was the Mohamed Ali Mosque, where she heard stories about the history of this monumental building dating back to Muhamed Ali Pasha, who commissioned his soldiers to build it inside the Cairo Citadel.




Aswan and Nubia

Taylor decided to have a different experiment in Aswan and Nubia, as she decided to visit residential buildings and explore the locals’ lives and traditions.
3- Jordan Taylor in Nubia
Jordan Taylor in Nubia – Photo courtesy of Taylor’s official Facebook page

Luxor

Luxor’s hot air balloon trip was the most memorable activity forTaylor in Luxor, as she got a stunning aerial view over ancient sites in the city. She also interviewed with the balloons’ pilots.

She said “this is the best place in Egypt” after visiting Karnak Temple in Luxor.

This visit was supposed to last for one month, but after she experienced the great Egyptian hospitality, she decided to extended her visit in Egypt for another month.

Alexandria

Her videos in Alexandria reflect the magic of the city, including Qaitbay Citadel and Bibliotheca Alexandrina.



Dahab

Her camera captured breathtaking views of Dahab, such as mountains, crystal blue water, coral reefs and beautiful beaches. She described Dahab as “Heaven on Earth.”

2- jordan Taylor in Dahab
Jordan Taylor in Dahab – photo courtesy of Taylor's official Facebook page

Siwa Oasis

In Siwa Oasis, Taylor recorded many videos about the endless beauty, clearness of its water springs and lakes, and the simplicity of life in Siwa.

1- jordan Taylor in Siwa
Jordan Taylor in Siwa

After her trip was over and her soul was filled with beautiful memories of the country, she said Egypt is the one of the best countries for backpackers to visit.

All the videos, photos and posts shared by the American traveler Jordan Taylor received around one million views and 1,000 shares.

]]>
1/24/2018 1:23:33 PM
<![CDATA[Alpine Skiing: South Africa aims to become winter wonderland for skiers]]>
The winter months in the country’s interior provide enough snow on the slopes of the Ben Macdhui mountain in South Africa’s Eastern Cape, near the Lesotho border, for international quality competition that is attracting a growing number of Olympic hopefuls.

“In 2017 we had over 80 international skiers from 18 different nations compete in races alongside our local entrants,” president of Snow Sports South Africa, Peter Pilz, told Reuters.

”We have become a popular alternative to New Zealand and South America, where skiers from Europe have traditionally traveled in the European summer.

“South Africa offers a cost-effective option that is on a similar time-zone to Europe, so skiers don’t lose days with travel, and the snow during July and August especially is fantastic.”

The International Ski Federation had a series of events at South Africa’s only Alpine Ski Resort, Tiffindell, last year that allowed competitors to secure points for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Included in the field was Vanessa Vanakorn, known more popularly as British-born violinist Vanessa-Mae, who had hoped to compete at the Games for Thailand but last week ended her bid after a shoulder injury.

“There were also other skiers from Britain, France, Italy, Germany, Austria, Belgium and many other nations. It was a fantastic competition,” Pilz said.

It was also a chance for South Africans to compete without the expense of travel to Europe, including Sive Speelman, who is hoping to become the country’s first black Alpine Skier to go to the Olympics this year.

“For both international and local skiers it is a great opportunity to get points before the European season even starts,” Pilz says.

“Our skiers can gain so much by competing with these international racers and you can see the standard is getting better and better.”

But away from the professional snow sports scene, Pilz says skiing and snowboarding in particular have an important role to play in the tourism industry and as a boost to job creation in a country where the unemployment rate is rising and currently stands at 27.7 percent.

“Can you imagine tourists from all over the world having the opportunity for high-quality skiing in Africa, then head for a safari at one of the national parks and after that surf in the sea in Cape Town or Durban,” Pilz says.

“Snow sports can play a bigger role in the tourism economy and we are starting to do that. That is probably where the biggest benefit of having quality skiing in South Africa will be felt in the long-term. People think we don’t have snow here, but we do.”]]>
1/23/2018 8:54:50 PM
<![CDATA[SSP comparable sales rise as more people visit Britain]]>
The poll of 12 economists put growth at 4.2 percent for the 2017/18 fiscal year and 4.5 percent for the following year. Growth was seen rising 4.6 percent in the 2019/20 fiscal year.

“Economic growth prospects have improved as reform efforts bear fruit. The main drivers include strong growth in real exports as competitiveness improves, and continued investment in Egypt,” said Nadene Johnson, an economist at NKC African Economics.

Egypt’s planning minister said earlier this month she expected the economy to grow by up to 5.3-5.5 percent this year. She put growth at 6 percent for the following fiscal year.

The latest Reuters consensus for urban consumer inflation was 25.4 percent for the current fiscal year, up from a previous forecast of 23.3 percent. Economists polled expected the rate to drop to 15.8 percent in the 2018/19 fiscal year and 12.6 percent the year after.

Egypt’s annual inflation rates dropped in December to their lowest levels since the country floated its pound currency in November 2016, after which prices shot up.

Annual urban consumer price inflation eased to 21.9 percent in December from 26 percent in November and core inflation, which strips out volatile items such as food, fell to 19.86 percent in December from 25.54 percent the previous month.

Egypt’s central bank has raised key interest rates by 700 basis points since the flotation of the pound to battle soaring inflation. Economists see it cutting rates as soon as next month.

“We think that the MPC (monetary policy committee) will embark on an easing cycle when it next meets in mid-February,” said Jason Tuvey, Middle East economist at London-based Capital Economics.

“We expect inflation to fall close to single digits by the end of this year, which should pave the way for interest rates to be cut further to 13.75 percent,” Tuvey said. He expected rates to fall by 100 basis points in February.

Since the flotation, Egypt has removed limits on foreign currency transfers, lifted hard currency restrictions for importers, cut subsidies for domestic fuel and raised value-added tax.

The reforms have helped Egypt attract foreign investors after years of political turmoil.

Foreign holdings of Treasury bills hit a record high in December, foreign inflows into the stock market last year were the highest since 2010 and direct investment by foreign firms and private equity funds is on the rise again.

(For other stories from the Reuters global long-term economic outlook polls package see)

Writing by Arwa Gaballa Polling by Sarmista Sen Editing by Jeremy Gaunt]]>
1/23/2018 2:22:06 PM
<![CDATA[Giza Zoo hosts Kangaroos for the first time ever]]>
1) Kangaroos are the largest specie the Marsupials infraclass consisting of animals with a pouch.
2) There are around 90 Kangaroo breeds mostly living in Australia.
3) It lives in groups in open grass areas.
4) Many species are nocturnal and crepuscular.
5) The Red Kangaroos’ hopping speed is about 20-25 kilometers per hour.
6) Kangaroos can use their hind legs to disembowel their attackers after catching them with their forepaws.
7) Kangaroos can jump up to 30 feet high.
8) They can swim and dig holes in the ground in search for water.

Egyptians love to visit the beautiful zoo especially during holidays; the zoo is the biggest animal park in the Middle East. Here are eight facts about Giza Zoo:

1- It stretches over 85 acres.

2- It was open for the public in 1891 during the rule of Khedive Tawfiq.

3- Many kinds of rare and endangered animals and birds live in the park and have successfully bred there.

4- 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.

5- A board of secretaries has been set up last year to develop the old zoo.

6- Their plan includes the exploitation of unused spaces and expanding animals’ habitats.
7- It is expected to better simulate the natural habitat of the animals on the verge of extinction.

8- A veterinarian committee will be formed to look after the animals.

9- The zoo aims to stimulate the reproduction of rare animals and birds.
]]>
1/23/2018 12:48:51 PM
<![CDATA[Enjoy Venice but check café prices, don't walk with baggage]]>
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A narrow alley in Venice in June 2015 - Photo courtesy of Mai Abdallah

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A water taxi in a narrow canal, undated photo - Creative Commons via Flickr/Riva degli Schiavoni & Rio della Pieta)
As soon as we got out of Venice’s Marco Polo Airport, my friend and I took a taxi at the exit of the airport to the last point cars can reach. We then changed to public transportation; a water bus or “Vaporetto” as they call it in Venice which operates on the main water canal of Venice, the “Grand Canal”. The Vaporetto stops at several stations along the Grand Canal, covering different parts of Venice. It brought us to the closest station to our B&B, which was located in a small street on a very narrow canal which is not accessible with the Vaporetto due to its size.

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The main water canal in Venice and the Vaporetto on the left,
undated photo - Creative Commons via Pxhere

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The public water bus "Vaporetto," undated photo - Creative Commons via Pixabay/Lenalindell
To reach Venice’s charming, small, inner canals you can take either a water taxi or the famous “Gondola”, a narrow long boat made out of wood, operated by a gondolier who is wearing a stripped T-shirt and a black hat. The Gondola and the water taxi will take you from the wide “Grand Canal” to the narrowest canals in Venice, so you can enjoy the uniqueness of the city and watch its buildings and streets from within the boats, while enjoying your cruise.

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A Gondola in the Grand Canal, undated photo - Creative Commons via Wikimedia Commons/Peter K. Burian
We took our baggage and decided to walk to our B&B instead of taking a water taxi or a Gondola. I believe it was not a good decision at all. We pulled our baggage through Venice’s ancient cobbled streets and across a lot of little bridges. It was the hardest part of the trip since each little bridge or “Ponti” as they call it in Venice, consisted of stair steps upward then a flat part then stair steps downward. For each “Ponti”, we had to pull our baggage up the stairs of the Ponti and then down the stairs again to cross the canals. It was not easy. A water taxi could have saved us from this workout. We finally reached our B&B, checked in our room and immediately started exploring the city.

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A narrow Canal and a Ponti in Venice, undated photo - Creative Commons via Pixabay
The main square in Venice is Saint Mark Square (Piazza San Marco in Italian). It is the biggest square in the city, located at the starting point and the widest part of the Grand Canal. It hosts the very famous and beautiful Saint Mark’s Cathedral (Basilica di San Marco) with its lovely architecture and sculptured details on its outer facades. On the inside, the basilica is a lovely piece of Italian art; rich in paintings on the inner ceiling and inner sides of domes, mosaics on walls and marble on the floor. The Basilica is a mix between medieval parts that survived until now and contemporary parts which replaced the damaged medieval parts.

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Basilica Di San Marco, undated photo - Creative Commons via Wikimedia Commons, by Ricardo Andre Frantz)
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Another view of San Marco Square, undated photo - Creative Commons via Pixabay/Anabana)
After enjoying that impressive piece of art, we returned to San Marco Square. In the square you will find the beautiful Doge’s Palace, various classy cafes and restaurants where bands play live music while people enjoy their meals or drinks. Keep in mind that those cafes and restaurants of San Marco Square are really expensive compared to the cafes and restaurants in the small side roads and small squares of Venice. For example, a cup of cappuccino costs €3 in a small café close to our B&B, but you will pay €14 in a café at San Marco Square! After checking the prices, we left at once without ordering anything.

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San Marco Square, the main and biggest square in Venice, undated photo - Creative Commons via Wikimedia Commons/Janmad
To be continued...

Part 2:

How to enjoy Venice like an Egyptian



Part 3:

Venice's Burano Island, the original El Max of Alexandria



Mai Abdallah's Facebook

page

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1/22/2018 5:06:52 PM
<![CDATA[Volcano rains ash on Philippines as experts warn of eruption]]>
Mayon volcano's new activity prompted state volcanologists to raise the alert level one notch higher than the initial warning scientists issued last week, meaning a hazardous eruption is possible within days.

Fine ash and sand fell on Legazpi, a city of about 200,000 people, and nearby areas after the midday explosion of Mount Mayon, forcing motorists to turn on their windshield wipers and headlamps, an AFP video stringer said.

Live local television footage and photographs showed the ash column rising several kilometers (miles) above the volcano, blotting out the sun in a largely agricultural region some 330 kilometers (205 miles) southeast of Manila.

"I had to stop because my helmet had filled up with ash," local housewife Girlie Panesa, 39, told AFP as she parked her motorcycle by the roadside in nearby Ligao town.

She asked for water from bystanders to wash the cement-grey ash off her helmet visor and said she plans to drive home despite the hazardous conditions because her teenage daughter was alone in their house.

"We expect the explosions to continue," Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology director Renato Solidum told a news conference in Manila.

"There is a possibility of a dangerous eruption, the start of which we are already witnessing," Solidum added.

He advised local officials to evacuate more areas around the crater, expanding the danger zone from six kilometers to eight kilometers.

More than 40,000 people had fled in the past week, the civil defense office in Manila said Monday.

Mayon, a near-perfect cone, rises 2,460 meters (8,070 feet) above Legazpi and is considered the most volatile of the country's 22 active volcanoes.

The Philippines is part of the Pacific "Ring of Fire" of islands that were formed by volcanic activity.

The most powerful explosion in recent years was the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo, about 100 kilometers northwest of Manila, which killed more than 800 people.
]]>
1/22/2018 3:54:51 PM
<![CDATA[S. Korea's Chinese tourist slump endures despite pledges]]>
Seoul and Washington installed the powerful THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) system in the South last year to guard against threats from nuclear-armed North Korea.

Beijing saw it as a threat to its own security and reacted furiously, imposing a string of measures on South Korean businesses and banning group tours to the South, in moves seen as economic retaliation.

The ban on tour groups hit the South Korean travel and retail industries hard, with Chinese visitors renowned for shopping trips to their neighbour.

Some of Beijing's restrictions on tours appeared to have been lifted after the two countries issued identically-worded statements in October on their mutual desire to improve relations.

But the number of Chinese visitors to the South continued to tumble in December, Korea Tourism Organisation statistics showed Monday.

A total of 332,474 Chinese travellers came to South Korea last month, down 37.9 percent from the previous year, it said.

It was only a marginal improvement on the 42.1 percent fall seen in November and 49.3 percent in October.

For 2017 as whole, South Korea had 4.2 million Chinese visitors -- down 48.3 percent on the previous year.

But non-Chinese arrivals were unchanged at 9.2 million.

China is the South's top trading partner and the diplomatic row took a major toll on many South Korean firms -- most notably retail giant Lotte Group, which provided the land to host THAAD.

Angry boycott campaigns and regulatory crackdowns by Chinese authorities decimated its business in the world's second-largest economy, and it was forced to put its supermarket unit in China up for sale.

President Moon Jae-In visited Beijing for a summit with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in December.]]>
1/22/2018 3:27:59 PM
<![CDATA[No end to eyesores at Taj Mahal as repair work drags on]]>
Building restoration at India’s most popular tourist attraction is now into its fourth year, with work yet to even begin on its imposing dome.

“It’s disappointing not to get a perfect frame of this immaculate structure,” Mahuwakar, a history student, told AFP on her first visit to the Taj, as nearby cleaners armed with colourful plastic buckets and large mops desperately tried to scrub some lustre back into the stained stone.

Other restoration teams scale the facade, blocking views to the ornate Islamic carvings engraved on its walls. The interruption to the serenity of visiting one of the seven modern wonders of the world.

“The repair has been going on for so long. Of course, old monuments need to be conserved, but we must find solutions that are quick and effective,” Mahuwakar said, casting a dejected look at the scaffolding around.

Pollution and old age are taking their toll on the 17th century mausoleum, nestled on the south bank of the Yamuna river in Agra, but critics warn that even the options authorities are using to try to fix, may be exacerbating the problem.

Mudpacks have been applied in stages to draw out stains but critics say the process is as damaging as bleaching the fine stone.

Authorities reject this, but admit they are concerned about how to proceed with handling the fragile central dome.

There are fears this inevitable work risks damaging the unmistakable feature of the Taj and will put off tourists.

‘Taj Mahal is dying’

Experts warn that iron scaffolding risks leaving irrevocable scars on the fine marble. But bamboo frames are inadequate for such heights, leaving few options for those charged with executing the daunting task.

“We have to clean the dome, but the challenge is how to erect the scaffolding,” Bhuvan Vikrama, the government archaeologist overseeing restoration efforts, told AFP.

“The structure is almost 400 years old, so we can’t put any extra load on it. In righting the wrong, we should not wrong the right.”

It remains unclear when work will begin or for how long the central dome will be encased in scaffolding.

Fodor’s Travel, a publisher of tourism guidebooks, has advised readers to avoid the Taj until at least 2019 lest visitors be disappointed.

The number of local tourists is also being capped to 40,000 a day in a bid to reduce wear and tear on the monument to love, which was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, who died giving birth in 1631.Currently daily visitor numbers average 10,000-15,000 but can be much higher at weekends, going up to around 70,000. According to government figures, nearly 6.5 million people — mainly from India — visited the historic complex in 2016.

Anyone wanting to see the main crypt, which houses marble graves inlaid with semi-precious stones, will also have to pay for a pricier ticket.

But critics warn that restoration is only half the solution, pointing to the industrial factories across the river that near continuously belch out noxious fumes, leaving the air thick with smog.

This toxic haze from this and from dung and garbage burning in and around Agra is responsible for discolouring the Taj, experts say.

Efforts to curb these pollutants, including banning motor vehicles within 500m of the building, have failed to clear up the air.

M C Mehta, a lawyer, said his battles in court to shift polluting industries — including a huge crematorium — had fallen on deaf ears.

“No one wants to take hard decisions,” Mehta told AFP.

“The Taj used to be surrounded by lush greenery, but now there is nothing. Taj is in the last stage of cancer. It is dying, it is gasping for breath.”

]]>
1/22/2018 3:24:20 PM
<![CDATA[Europe to lure Chinese tourists]]>
A total of 12.4 million Chinese tourists, mostly in guided tour groups, came to Europe in 2017, according to the European Travel Commission (ETC). And the Chinese Tourism Academy (CTA) is expecting the number to reach 20.8 million by 2022.

"A few years ago, the Chinese came to Europe solely to do some shopping. Now, they're increasingly keen to get know the culture and the countryside," CTA President Dai Bin told AFP, speaking in Venice at the launch of the year of tourism between the EU and China.

"They want to have personal experiences and visit areas where they don't see other Chinese people," said Eduardo Santander, ETC's executive director, adding that Chinese visitors to Europe "like the cuisine, the music, the blue skies."

China is the world's biggest market for foreign tourism. With 129 million Chinese holidaymakers travelling abroad, they account for one-fifth of the total number of tourists globally. And they spend more than double the amount that US tourists spend - $261 billion in 2016 compared with $123 billion.

Chinese language television stations and good Wi-Fi in hotel rooms are becoming a requirement while payment methods favored by the Chinese, such as UnionPay, the only credit card issuer in China, and WeChat payment functions or Alipay are a must.

CTA chief Dai said Europe should reduce the red tape for its Chinese visitors. "We hope Europe will make is easier for Chinese people to get a visa," he said.

"In a number of eastern European countries, for example, it's easy. But it's very difficult in others. And when Chinese tourists visit Europe, they want to visit several countries, not just one," Dai said.

In return, China would become "more flexible when granting visas, allowing Europeans to stay in Beijing or Shanghai for 144 hours - or six days - without a visa," he promised.

According to ETC data, France is seen as the No.1 destination in Europe for Chinese tourists, with 61 percent of visitors hoping to go there, followed by Germany with 37 percent and Italy with 28 percent.

But that picture has started to change in recent years, and travel to eastern Europe is booming, not least because of the easier allocation of visas and the increased availability of cheap flights. The string of terrorist attacks in France and Germany in recent years is also a factor.

In 2016, the number of Chinese tourists visiting Serbia, for example, rose by 173 percent, and numbers were up by nearly 90 percent in Montenegro.
Popular for their perceived deep pockets, Chinese visitors haven't always enjoyed a reputation for knowledge of local customs. But that's an image that China is itself keen to remedy, with "some tourist agencies offering lessons to customers before they go to Europe," said CTA chief Dai.]]>
1/21/2018 7:30:05 PM
<![CDATA[Smart hotels, virtual reality: Madrid fair previews tourism future]]>In a prototype of the hotel of the future on display at Madrid's Fitur tourism fair, receptionists have disappeared and customers are checked-in via a mirror equipped with facial recognition.

Once the client is identified, the room adapts itself automatically to all demands made at reservation: temperature, lighting, Picasso or Van Gogh in the digital frames hanging on the walls.

"Technology will allow us to know what the client needs before he even knows he wants it," says Alvaro Carrillo de Albornoz, head of Spain's Hotel Technology Institute, which promotes innovation in the sector.

Tracking guests

Some hotels already offer such experiences at a more basic level. But the room prototype put on show by French technology consultancy Altran, aimed at luxury hotels, has incorporated cutting-edge speech recognition technology, allowing for instance a guest to order a pizza in 40 languages.

"Even the lock is intelligent -- it opens and closes via the WhatsApp application on the client's phone," says Carlos Mendez, head of innovation at Altran.

The mattress is equipped with sensors and records the movements of those sleeping, which could prompt hotel staff to offer them a coffee when they wake up.

Generally speaking, hotels are hoping to use artificial intelligence (AI) to get better knowledge of their clients via personal data provided on reservation or "beacon" technology used once the client is in the hotel or resort.

Restricted in some countries, the latter involves placing a beacon in the hotel that will detect customers' smartphones, meaning they will know how much time they spend in their rooms, for instance, or at what time they go to the pool.

AI algorithms

Fed with this data, AI algorithms will get to work, determining what the clients' habits are to lure them back again by offering a tailor-made experience, or sell them additional products.

If the algorithm "knows that when you come to the hotel with your wife, you don't eat at the restaurant but order room service, it will propose a special room menu with a bottle of champagne," says Carrillo. "But if you come with your entire family, it will propose a reduction on kids' menus."

For Rodrigo Martinez, head of consultancy Hotel Servicers, these technological tools could also help improve hotels' productivity.

"All purchases can be made automatic," he says. "For instance, if a huge amount of Brits are coming, the system will know that it has to order more bacon."

Virtual reality

Manufacturers of virtual reality (VR) headsets are also jumping onto the bandwagon. At various Fitur stands, visitors are able to immerse themselves in the streets of Marrakech or amble along a portion of the Santiago de Compostela pilgrims' trail.

"We're in a completely pioneering phase," says Marcial Correal, head of the Spanish association for virtual travel agencies, who is promoting this tool to tourism professionals as the brochure of the future, without too much success so far.

"Professionals say 'how amazing' but they don't buy it. It's not in their marketing budget priorities."

Headsets themselves are not too pricey, between €50 and €600 ($60 and $730), says Cesar Urbina of virtual reality agency Iralta.

"Then there's content production, a little more than a normal video -- from €2,000 up to €150,000."

Hotel chain Palladium, however, has decided to give it a go. Its salespeople no longer have paper brochures on them to present their hotels to travel agents, they carry virtual reality headsets. Using these, the agents can virtually visit rooms, pools or restaurants at every one of their hotels.

Ivan Corzo, head of marketing for Europe at the group, says this gives travel agents a better idea of what the hotels are really like. They "tell us it helps them sell," he says.

"It's much more difficult to cheat with VR headsets," adds Urbina.

Morocco's tourism office is also using VR.

"Tourism is linked to experiences, sensitivity," says Siham Fettouhi, head of e-marketing at the office. "Virtual reality can't replace the taste of local cuisine or the smell of the ocean. But it makes you want to explore more."]]>
1/21/2018 7:19:42 PM
<![CDATA[New York vows to reopen Statue of Liberty as shutdown enters Day 2]]>
The site was among many federal monuments and parks that closed at midnight Friday after lawmakers in Congress failed to agree on a spending plan to keep the government running, triggering the first shutdown in four years.

In the hours leading up to the shutdown, the Trump administration was working on ways to keep hundreds of parks open without staff in an effort to avoid public anger, though it was unclear which ones would close.

"Not all parks are fully open but we are all working hard to make as many areas as accessible to the public as possible," U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said on Twitter on Saturday.

In Washington, the Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo will remain open through Monday, using prior-year funds. In a tweet, the Smithsonian said it would update its status beyond Monday "as soon as we know."

But in Philadelphia, visitors were turned away at the Liberty Bell, while tourists in New York on Saturday expressed disappointment that they were unable to take the ferry to the island that houses the Statue of Liberty.

During the last shutdown in 2013, a number of governors used state funds to keep certain parks open, including the Statue of Liberty, which at that time cost $61,600 per day to reopen.

Speaking to reporters on Saturday, Cuomo called it a "gross injustice" to close down the statue, a symbol of American freedoms. The Democratic governor said he would use state money to pay for operations, both because it is an emblem of New York and the United States and because the cost is justified from a tourism standpoint.

"We're going to be talking to the federal government as soon as somebody answers the phone," he said.

In Arizona, Republican Governor Doug Ducey vowed last week to keep the Grand Canyon operating using state funds in the event of a shutdown.

But in South Dakota, home of Mount Rushmore, Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard on Friday said he would not take any action to keep the monument open during a shutdown.

]]>
1/21/2018 7:10:51 PM
<![CDATA[17 hot air balloons launched with 420 tourists in Luxor]]>
Luxor’s hot air balloons flew in the early morning over the western side of Luxor governorate, which is named the Capital of the World’s First Country. The balloons were controlled by well-trained Egyptian pilots with around 420 Egyptian and foreign tourists on board. They enjoyed a great aerial view over pharaonic sites in Luxor in the warm weather, according to Luxor Governor Mohamed Badr.

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Sunrise ride over ancient places in Luxor – Five Photos.com
Luxor is considered to be the second city worldwide that offers hot air balloon trips besides a city in the United States. These flights are considered to be one of the most popular adventures in Luxor, where millions of tourists come from all over the world.

Luxor’s hot air balloons lift off at sunrise to fly over the wonders and splendors of the ancient historical sites of ancient Thebes, the temple complexes of Karnak and Luxor, the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens.]]>
1/20/2018 9:30:00 PM
<![CDATA[Weekly charter flights from Madrid to Luxor, Aswan]]>
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 to organize 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 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.]]>
1/20/2018 7:59:20 PM
<![CDATA[Kawah Putih – Indonesia’s volcanic lake, top tourist spot ]]>
Located in Ciwidey, 50km south of the city of Bandung, the volcanic lake of Kawah Putih is situated 2,340 meters above the sea and so close to the tea plants. It is believed to have been formed after the Patuha volcano had cooled off many decades ago.

The Indonesian government has long taken measures to develop the volcanic lake that welcomes 300,000 tourists per year.

As a highly acidic lake, Kawah Putih changes colors – from milky turquoise to whitish green or brown – based on the air temperature, the degree of sulfuric acidity and the temperature of the solution.

Once known as a mystical area, Kawah Putih is surrounded by trees, white sand and sometimes lingering fogs. It definitely offers a memorable and one-of-a-kind experience.

Additional reporting by Hany Muhammed


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A sign located near the Water Crater lake - Courtsy of Hany Muhammed



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Kawah Putih Ciwidey Bandung, Indeonsia - Courtesy of Hany Muhammed
]]>
1/20/2018 6:40:30 PM
<![CDATA[Tallest man, smallest woman on earth to visit Cairo]]>
The purpose of the visit is to campaign for tourism in Egypt in addition to holding a press conference for both guests to share their inspirational stories, and how they have dealt with challenges in their lives.

Jyoti_amge_(2)
Smallest woman on earth Jyoti Amge - CC via Wikimedia Commons/Ashesh Shah

Indian actress Amge, 24, was declared the world’s smallest living woman at 64 centimeters in 2008. Kosen, 35, is a Turkish farmer who received the Guinness World Record for tallest living male at 251 centimeters in 2014.

Kosen
Tallest man on earth Sultan Kosen - CC via Wikimedia Commons/Helgi Halldorsson


The Ministry of Tourism and the Tourism Promotion Authority are currently organizing events to attract Egyptians who wish to break records or apply for a Guinness World Records titles as an attempt to boost tourism in Egypt which is mentioned in 86 Guinness World Records.

Guinness adjudicator Omar Talal told press that the Middle East is pioneering in business growth including entertainment and innovative enterprises. He added that the applications submitted to Guinness from the region in the last three years jumped by 68 percent.




]]>
1/20/2018 4:12:19 PM
<![CDATA[Spain, Egypt competing for British tourism]]>
Spanish travel agents have taken measures to try and prevent millions of British tourists from visiting Egypt in summer 2018.

Spain’s anxiety is due to Egypt’s great number of tourist attractions, including resorts, historical places and monumental sites, as well as the low cost of all flights and tours for Egypt.

The Sun added that Spain is no longer able to rely on tourists choosing Spain over Egypt as they were when the country was less stable, as tours to Egypt are beginning to resume.

In 2017, Spain recorded around 82 million tourists visiting the country, which means an 8.9 percent increase in comparison to 2016, making it one of the most sought after destinations for British tourists after France.

If the British choose Egypt over Spain, Spain will lose around 18 million tourists.
]]>
1/20/2018 12:08:19 PM
<![CDATA[Tourists saved by boat from bushfire as heatwave strikes Australia]]>
Firefighters in the state of New South Wales issued an emergency warning to visitors in the Royal National Park as the blaze threatened the main access road to a popular tourist spot called Wedding Cake Rock where people posted pictures of the billowing smoke to social media.

"Beaches may offer safety," the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) said in a FaceBook post as aircraft water-bombers attempted to slow the fire and emergency warnings were sent to the mobile phones of all people in the area.

"Firefighters, police, surf lifesavers and National Parks personnel are working with people at beaches in the Royal National Park to help manage their relocation as it's safe to do so - including by boat and road escort," The RFS wrote on FaceBook.

The park was crowded with visitors and had closed shortly before noon because the carparks were full to capacity, local media outlet news.com reported.

A number of bushfires sparked across the state of New South Wales on Saturday, with temperatures soaring above 39C in some areas as a heatwave advanced across the eastern states where the Bureau of Meteorology issued fire weather warnings.

On Friday, the heat struck the south-eastern state of Victoria, causing discomfort at the Australian Open tennis tournament.]]>
1/20/2018 11:42:15 AM
<![CDATA[Egypt tourism promotional campaign to begin February]]>
This campaign will be organized by the Egyptian authority from the second half of February 2018 to April 2018, which will play an important role in attracting Spanish tourism to Egypt and maintaining Egyptian tourism in the Spanish market through the following steps.

Egyptian Authority for Tourism Development’s agreement with Egypt’s Orthodox Church:

Hesham El Demiry, head of the Egyptian Authority for Tourism Development, has agreed with representatives of Egypt’s Orthodox Church in the presence of Giza Governor General Khaled Fouda to discuss the best promotional campaign for marketing the Holy Family’s path in Egypt after it had been a part of the Vatican’s pilgrim program.

Meetings with tour organizers:

The upcoming promotional plan includes holding meetings with Spanish travel agents and tour organizers to showcase all the security procedures taken and the well-organized preparations for receiving tourists from all over the world.

Also in this step, the Egyptian Authority for Tourism Development will team up with travel agents in Spain to maintain Egypt’s presence in the Spanish market and attract Spanish tourism to Egypt.

Promoting Egypt’s touristic places:

This step of the upcoming campaign includes promoting the most attractive places and resorts in Egypt, especially New Alamin City, the New Administrative Capital and historical places in Old Cairo.

The head of the Egyptian Authority for Tourism Development confirmed that it is necessary to promote all sides of tourism in Egypt, including religious tourism, therapeutic tourism and cultural tourism, which all attract Spanish tourists to Egypt.

He asked the Spanish authorities to edit and reorganize all travel instructions dedicated to their tourists by including Egypt’s historical and monumental places in the travel and tourism programs, as the instant guideline is considered to be a great problem stalling Egypt’s tourism movement.
]]>
1/19/2018 10:44:51 PM
<![CDATA[EgyptAir participates in Utrecht Tourism Fair in Netherlands]]>
EgyptAir declared that the Utrecht fair for travel and Tourism is one of Europe’s most important specialized fairs which is held annually in Utrecht city, the Netherlands and hosts a large number of public figures and travel specialists.

The company’s participation came as a part of their marketing plan that aims to establish Egypt as a prominent tourist destination for the Dutch market.

The fair’s content was minded towards international organization and it facilitated discussion about innovative ways of attracting Dutch tourists to their country.

According to EgyptAir, Egypt’s ambassador Moumen Abd al-Ghafar in the Netherlands visited the Egyptian booth at the fair and praised the airline’s vital role in supporting Egypt’s tourism through both promotional campaigns and special offers.

EgyptAir runs seven flights weekly from Cairo to Amsterdam which started around a year ago; the Netherlands is one of Egypt’s targets in its push for increased tourism to the land of the Pharaohs.]]>
1/19/2018 3:04:46 PM
<![CDATA[Zayed Marathon wraps up activities in Luxor]]>LUXOR, Egypt- 19 January 2018: The fourth edition of Zayed Charity Marathon in Luxor was wrapped up on Friday.

The race aims to support Shefaa Al Orman hospital in Luxor, for the free treatment of cancer patients and promote Egyptian tourism at the Arab and international levels.

The race started earlier in the day in front of Karnak Temple with a distance of 12 kilometers.

Luxor Governor Mohamed Badr and Juma Mubarak al Junaibi, the UAE Ambassador to Egypt and its permanent representative to the Arab League honored the top 10 winners.

As well, the first 500 winners along with the disabled who participated in the race were honored.

Sports and Youth Minister Khaled Abdel Aziz expressed happiness over the fourth edition of the charity race, stressing that the historic relations binding Egypt and the UAE support boosting bilateral cooperation in all fields.

He thanked all ministries and bodies which contributed to holding the event at such distinguished level.

A raft of officials, public figures and celebrities attended the inauguration of the Marathon.]]>
1/19/2018 1:42:02 PM
<![CDATA[Taiwan stymies new China flights amid route row, official says]]>
Taiwan had not yet approved the applications to add flights during the approaching Lunar New Year holiday because in recent weeks the airlines had used four disputed air routes close to the island, said the official, who asked not to be identified.

This month China opened several disputed air routes, including a northbound M503 route in the Taiwan Strait, without informing Taiwan, contravening what the democratic government in Taipei said was a 2015 deal to first discuss such flight paths.

Taiwan has expressed concern the new routes are too close to existing routes that link it to airports on two groups of Taiwan-controlled islands lying close to China, and are a threat to flight safety.

China has denied safety could be affected, saying it had no need of Taiwan's approval for new routes.

China Eastern Airlines had applied to add 106 flights while Xiamen Airlines, majority-owned by China Southern Airlines , had applied for 70, the official said.

The applications were "still under review", he added.

More than 10,000 customers have made bookings for the yet-to-be approved flights, Xiamen Airlines said in an emailed statement that strongly urged Taiwan authorities to comply with popular demand.

"While the economic losses caused by these actions to the airlines are small, it will cause much inconvenience to people who want to travel," it said.

China Eastern Airlines declined to comment.

China's policy-making Taiwan Affairs Office and the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) did not immediately respond to requests from Reuters for comment.

The M503 route has yet to be confirmed by both sides, meaning that potential safety concerns remain, Ho Shu-ping, the deputy director general of Taiwan's Civil Aeronautics Administration said on Friday, according to Taiwan media.

Taiwan had asked airlines not to use the route for the time being, but some airlines were still doing so, she added.

The administration has not received a response from China about its concerns, Ho said, adding, "On aviation safety there can be no compromise."

The Chinese aviation regulator has previously said the new routes, meant to disperse airspace congestion, would only be used by civilian flights.

China considers Taiwan a wayward province, and snapped official communications after the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party won power in 2016.

It suspects Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen wants to push for formal independence, though she has said she wants to maintain the status quo and is committed to ensuring peace.]]>
1/19/2018 11:33:38 AM
<![CDATA[How Japanese tourists in Luxor can enjoy Cairo before going home]]>
“The number of Japanese tourists who visited Egypt during the first half of 2017 amassed 18,000, constituting a 127-percent increase from 2016's ratings. The number is expected to rise to 50,000 during 2017,” said Head of the Egyptian Tourism Authority Hesham el-Demeiry after the first direct Japanese flight landed in Luxor on October 22, 2017.

Although Japanese tourists are enjoying the authenticity and glory of Luxor and Aswan, there is much to miss by not paying a visit to Cairo, Egypt’s capital. The massive city is full of beautiful locations, wonderful monuments, informative and interesting museums, and authentic restaurants.

Realizing how easy and affordable it is to visit Cairo while in Egypt would probably convince a tourist to take at least a quick tour in the capital, which hosts the oldest of the Seven Wonders, the Great Pyramid. There is just too much to miss in Cairo, which is considered an open museum exhibiting multiple civilizations, especially if a tourist is not planning another visit to the ancient country. All a tourist needs is a super short flight from Luxor or Aswan to Cairo.

In Giza governorate, there is the Pharaonic Village where time travel will take you to everyday life of ancient Egyptians. The tour includes a boat ride, a replica of the golden tomb of Tutankhamen and a typical ancient Egyptian village.

The Egyptian Museum is less than a 30-minute ride away from Giza. It exhibits Egypt’s most extensive collection of ancient antiquities. The museum, a striking red-domed building between the Nile Hotel and Tahrir Square, Downtown Cairo, is an adventure through time right from the garden, where the huge, recently discovered colossus’ of King Psamtik I now lies, to the entrance where two enormous, beautifully sculptured statues of the influential Queen Tiye and her strong husband King Amenhotep III. The scene surely takes visitors’ breath away once they step in the museum.



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The colossus of an Egyptian Pharaoh removed from the mud in Matariya, a slum on the outskirts of Cairo, in March 2017 - Khaled Desouki /AFP/Getty Images

With some120,000 items presented in 107 halls and spanning 5,000 years of Egyptian history, visitors can find the glittering treasures of Tutankhamun, jewelry, eating bowls and even toys with which ancient Egyptians played. In this spot there is also the hall that contains mummies that have survived thousands of years.

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Visitors walk around Pharaonic artifacts inside the Egyptian Museum, with the statues of King Amenhotep III and Queen Tiye at a prominent position, in Cairo, Egypt Nov. 8, 2017 - Reuters

Just around the corner, Culina restaurant of the Nile Ritz Carlton offers a buffet-styled kitchen that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner in an array of carefully selected international and local dishes.

Culina’s garden overlooks the Egyptian museum and presents live jazz and entertainment for children entertainment.

Located 12 kilometers from Downtown, Khan El-Khalili is a large, old Arab bazaar market that attests to Islamic and Arab art that came to Egypt 14 centuries ago. The place hosts many beautiful old mosques and buildings that show elaborate Islamic architecture.

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Stalls at Khan El Khalili, Cairo, Egypt, Egypt Best Places Facebook Page, 10 March 2017
Khan El-Khalili can lure visitors into shopping or exploring for hours amid the hustle and bustle of trade and the scent of spices. Meanwhile, a traditional cup of Egyptian tea at the famous Al-Fishawi café, one of Cairo’s oldest cafés, and perhaps shisha will end the night in a genuinely Egyptian atmosphere.

]]>
1/18/2018 2:59:34 PM
<![CDATA[Sehel Island: Best Nile view in Egypt ]]>
Sehel Island is located four kilometers south of Aswan up the Nile. The island used to be the first natural defense against Nile floods; it was described as the Sacred Island as it was a place of refuge for many pilgrims travelling along the river.

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Inscriptions on a rock on Sehel Island, Aswan, November 2, 2006 - Wikimedia

The prosperity of this island was due to its connection with the goddess Anubis, who was worshipped during the 12th Dynasty under the reign of Amenemhet II; she was considered to be a personification of the Nile and the waters of inundation.

The island is home to a great number of carved inscriptions that have been attributed to Ancient Egyptian travelers, soldiers, and traders who left carvings that tell about their appeals for help or prayers of gratitude during their travels.

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The Famine-stela on the Sehel Island, Aswan, February 1, 2006 – Wikimedia / Marc
On the summit of the hill stands the most well-known of rock inscriptions; carved into a large granite boulder and telling the story of the Third Dynasty; it is quite a sight to behold. The island was a main extraction point for Aswan granite that was used to build the Giza Pyramids.

Sehel Island is worthy of a day out, it is calm, relaxing and cultural. Sit and watch the Nile flow by while you drink tea or draw henna.]]>
1/17/2018 12:00:00 PM
<![CDATA[Thomas Cook partners with fintech firm for pay-per-day travel insurance]]>
Revolut, the digital bank start-up, said it could pinpoint customers’ location through its app technology and automatically turn on the coverage when required, starting at less than 1 pound ($1.38) a day.

“We wanted to create a type of insurance that uses technology to help our customers and only cover you on the days you actually needed to be covered,” Revolut CEO Nikolay Storonsky said in a statement.

Revolut was founded in July 2015 and has grown quickly, with 1.2 million users globally and around 600,000 in Britain. It allows customers to exchange currencies at rates used by banks and pay by card in different countries without international fees. In December, it also launched cryptocurrency trading.

Thomas Cook Money, the new financial arm of Thomas Cook, will partner Revolut to underwrite the insurance policies. ]]>
1/17/2018 11:34:20 AM
<![CDATA[Thailand plans for even more tourists as numbers top 35 million]]>
Tourist receipts account for about 12 percent of Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy, making it one of the most important drivers of growth as Thailand has lagged regional peers since the army took power in 2014.

International tourist arrivals rose 8.8 percent in 2017 to a record 35.38 million, equivalent to more than half the Thai population, said government tourism and sports official Pongpanu Svetarundra.

The biggest factor was growth of 12 percent in the numbers of Chinese visitors, who are ever more evident at beaches, shopping malls and temples.

Tourist revenue had also risen nearly 12 percent to more than 1.8 trillion baht ($56 billion), the ministry said.

“The trend is moving to the higher-end market, for both Chinese and European tourists. The spending per tourist is increasing,” Pongpanu told a news conference.

In 2018, Thailand expects 37.55 million visitors to spend 2.1 trillion baht.

Although the baht is near a 3-1/2-year high against the dollar and up more than 12 percent since the start of 2017, inflation is less than one percent.

The currency strength was having little impact, said Ittirit Kinglek, the president of the Tourism Council of Thailand, adding, “The overall trend looks positive.”

Among the biggest beneficiaries of the tourism boom is majority state-owned airports operator Airports of Thailand, which recently said it planned to upgrade its 2018 earnings outlook.

Shares of AOT have risen 78 percent since the start of 2017, with its market capitalisation reaching 1 trillion baht ($31 billion), making it the largest airport operator in the world by market capitalization.

It trades at a valuation of 49 times earnings, compared to a price-to-earnings ratio of 22 times for the second largest airport operator, Spain’s Aena SME SA.

Faced with stiff competition and higher fuel prices, however, Thai airlines have fallen short of a rise of 16 percent in the benchmark index.

Hotels and shopping malls are among other winners.

Central Plaza Hotel Pcl, whose shares have risen 40 percent since the start of 2017, forecasts 2018 revenue growth of 7 percent to 8 percent.

Mall operator Central Pattana Pcl aims for profit growth of 20 percent this year. Its shares have risen 53 percent since the start of 2017. [nL3N1NU2J2]

Thailand’s tour and leisure index rose 30 percent since 2017 and was trading at 37 times earnings.

There is still plenty of room for growth, said Douglas Martell, chief executive of ONYX Hospitality Group, the hotel arm of Italthai Group, which also owns a construction company, Italian-Thai Development Pcl.

“There is also potential for the industry to transition towards higher room pricing,” he told Reuters.

($1=31.91 baht)]]>
1/17/2018 11:06:07 AM
<![CDATA[Thailand welcomed a record 35.38 million tourists in 2017]]>
Thailand’s December tourist arrivals were seen at 3.5 million, the ministry said in a press release, up 15.1 percent from a year earlier.

The ministry attributed growth in 2017 to increase numbers of tourists from China and East Asia.]]>
1/16/2018 3:43:42 PM
<![CDATA[First Moscow-Cairo flight on Feb 3: ٌRussian Travel Agency ]]>
The Russian travel agency received its Cairo based office in Terminal 2 of the Cairo International airport and will be ready for work after the banner with the company’s Logo and schedule has been added, according to Cairo international airport officials
Egypt Air now has to organize three Cairo – Moscow direct flights to be launched every Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday weekly according to the Secure protocol signed between the two countries.

It is expected that there will be further negotiations concerning resuming direct flights from Russia to Egypt’s resort towns of Hurghada and Sharm El-Sheikh city in April 2018.
Russia president, Vladimir Putin confirmed the protocol signed between Egypt’s minister of Civil Aviation and Russia’s Minister of Transportation that included resuming flights between two countries.
]]>
1/16/2018 12:23:25 PM
<![CDATA[Two days off for Khan El-Khalili to celebrate Imam Hussein’s birth ]]>
The General Administration of Tourism and Antiquities notified the Egyptian Travel Agencies Association (ETAA) to close Khan El-Khalili, meaning any tourists planning to visit will not be able to during the given time.

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Vintage Photo of Khan El-Khalili- July 25, 2013 – Wikimedia / Sosimoth

The ETAA notified all travel agencies to reorganize all tours scheduled to visit the market during the celebrations, according to the General administration of tourism and antiquities.

Khan El-Khalili’s location means it has to be closed during the celebrations; it is situated next to Hussein square, the garden in front of Hussein Mosque and the market’s operation would therefore impede on the celebrations.

Built in the 14th century, Khan El-Khalili is a loud, crowded and colorful bazaar full of all kinds of Egyptian goods. It dates back to Emir Dajaharks Al-Khalili, he built the large market complex on the site of the Za’afran Tomb, which had been the burial place of the Fatimid rulers of Egypt. The market is in the original Mamluk style, which features great archways and vaulted ceilings.]]>
1/16/2018 12:19:05 PM
<![CDATA[Hurghada to host International Media Forum for Tourism Support]]>
General Coordinator Mohamed Sayed Hamed said several Arab countries will participate in the forum: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Lebanon and Bahrain.

He added that the International Media Forum for Tourism Support aims to convey a message of peace in both Egypt and the Middle East.
Hurghada is the best place to hold the forum in Egypt as it is one of the country’s most beautiful resort towns, stretching over 40 kilometers along the Red Sea coast and is known for its scuba diving and natural landscapes.

The tourism sector has historically played a central role in the Egyptian economy; however, the industry was severely damaged by the 2011 Revolution. For this reason, the Egyptian authorities are working to revitalize tourism in the country, and they have developed products and activities that could attract more tourists and offer visitors reasons to stay longer and spend more money.
]]>
1/15/2018 12:34:55 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt takes part in Spanish tourism fair]]>
King Philip VI of Spain and the Minister of Tourism Álvaro Nadal will attend the fair. For this year, India will be the partner country.

Many Arab countries will take part including Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Jordan, Qatar, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia, Syria and Algeria.

Fitur is a global organization for tourism professionals and conducts the leading trade fair for markets across the world.

In 2017, Fitur beat the participation record with 9,893 exhibiting companies from 165 countries and regions, and 135,858 trade participants.

Many campaigns have been launched in the recent months to promote the Egyptian tourism sector as Egypt participated in the FIT International Tourism Fair of Latin America which took place in the Argentinean capital, Buenos Aires, from October 28-31, 2017, to promote Egyptian tourism in the Latin American market.

Furthermore, a three-week campaign promoting Egyptian tourism in the Italian market started May 29, 2017.

Egypt has been suffering from a severe decline in tourists' numbers since 2011 Revolution that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak. The crash of Russian jet in Sharm El Sheikh in 2015 had also a negative effect on the country's tourism activities.

Recently, the country’s “This is Egypt” promotional campaign has won Best Tourism Promotional Video in the Middle East at the General Assembly of the World Tourism Organization (WTO) in China in September 2017, beating 63 other contestants.]]>
1/14/2018 6:08:26 PM
<![CDATA[Sharm El-Sheikh, Hurghada remain out of Russian flight path]]>
The Agency declared that Russian tours to Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada are available only through Cairo International Airport, adding that all organizers of tourism tours are able to plan unlimited flights to any Egyptian resort towns if the flights pass through Cairo International Airport first.

Russian tourists are able to smoothly go from one resort to another inside Egypt by road, according to a statement by President Putin.

Egypt and Russia agreed on launching around six scheduled flights from Cairo to Moscow within one week, Novosti, Russia’s news agency, reported.

Novosti also said that three of these flights will be organized by Aeroflot, while the other three flights will be operated by EgyptAir.

All Moscow-Cairo flights starting from February 1, 2018 are scheduled to take off from the Russian international airports Domodedovo and Sheremetyevo. The official websites of the airports confirm that flight MS-730 and MS-729 will take off on Tuesday and Thursday from Domodedovo and on Sunday from Sheremetyevo airport.

According to EgyptAir, the price of flight tickets is still unknown, but the company sent its own flight schedule to Russia’s authorities and it is expected that Cairo-Moscow flights will start in the first week of February 2018.
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Down town of Sharm El –Sheikh city April 16, 2013 – CC via Wikimedia

EgyptAir’s schedule includes three flights from Cairo to Moscow on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays every week, according to EgyptAir officials.

EgyptAir officials stated that they are waiting for Russia’s approval of their flight schedule.


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Desert near Hurghada city January 28, 2013 - CC via Wikimedia / Ibrahim El-Mezayen
]]>
1/14/2018 11:54:55 AM
<![CDATA[Improvement in tourism sees Egypt's retired tour guides return]]>
The head of the tour guide syndicate in Aswan, Seif El-Din, declared that the percentage of tour guides who left this profession due to the depression in Egypt’s tourism sector after the 25 January Revolution reached 50 percent. However, this season saw a return of around 10 percent of tour guides to the sector.

He added that tourism in Aswan increased by 20 percent in comparison to last year.

El- Din also responded to allegations that tour guides take advantage of tourists by overcharging them, explaining that tour guides are committed to specific standards set by the Ministry of Tourism and tourism companies. Moreover, commission rates are universally recognized and does not exceed 15 percent.

Also, El-Din revealed that although a lot of bazaar owners accused tour guides of dealing with them to earn a commission from visiting tourists, Egyptian tour guides are innocent of all these accusations.

He added that guides abide by the rules and norms because any complaints against hired tour guides or negative impressions by tourists would gravely affect the industry. In cases where an accusation is proven, the management retires the tour guide instantly.

]]>
1/14/2018 11:29:17 AM
<![CDATA[New flight route between Alexandria, Milan next May]]>
There will be two direct trips every week, on Fridays and Sundays at different times, the statement added.

“The opening of the new line from our operation center in Alexandria confirms the growing demand for travel to Egypt,” stated the chief executive officer of Air Arabia Egypt Airline, Adel el-Aly.

Air Arabia Egypt is known as the first and biggest low-cost carrier in the Middle East and North Africa and it won the quality achieving award in 2017.

This award of appreciation was given to the Air Arabia Egypt Airline due to its impressive growth rates, and commitment to humanitarian affairs, such as the “Cloud of Goodness” initiative, which helped to cure 70,000 patients.

The Air Arabia Egypt Airline was able to improve the living conditions of poorer citizens by constructing schools and health clinics in Sudan, Yemen, India, Bangladesh, Turkey, Sri Lanka and Egypt. Almost 30,000 patients are treated in these clinics annually.]]>
1/13/2018 7:44:30 PM
<![CDATA[China urges hotels to review websites as "country" crackdown grows]]>
The move expands the Chinese government's efforts of recent days to police how foreign businesses refer to parts of China, or territories claimed by Beijing, including Taiwan and Hong Kong - even if only in pull-down menus on websites.

On Thursday the government suspended Marriott International Inc’s Chinese website for a week to punish the world’s biggest hotel chain for listing Tibet, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau as separate countries in a customer questionnaire.

No activities that challenge China's "legal red lines" would be permitted, the state news agency Xinhua quoted a China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) official as saying.

It said the administration had ordered immediate and thorough checks of websites and apps by accommodation companies to ensure they comply with the law.

The civil aviation authority on Friday demanded an apology from Delta Air Lines for listing Taiwan and Tibet as countries on its website, while another government agency took aim at Inditex-owned fashion brand Zara and medical device maker Medtronic Plc for similar issues.

Marriott, Delta, Zara and Medtronic have all apologised.

The Civil Aviation Authority of China (CAAC) ordered all foreign airlines operating routes to China on Friday to check their websites and apps.

The crackdown was accompanied by an outcry online in China over the perceived slights, and efforts to unearth other infractions.

On Saturday, the Shanghai-based newspaper The Paper reported that it had found 24 other foreign airlines with websites listing Taiwan, Hong Kong or Macau as countries. Most were in pull-down menus in registration or comments sections, it said.

The mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party, the People's Daily newspaper, said in an editorial "the essence of the problem is the 'political arrogance' of foreign companies unafraid to hurt the feelings of people from other countries".]]>
1/13/2018 1:09:29 PM
<![CDATA[Winners of Egyptian International Marathon in Luxor]]>
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500 runners from 27 different countries take part, Friday, January 12, 2018 – ET

500 runners from 27 different countries took part in the 25th edition of the Egyptian International Marathon on Friday. The starting line was at the 3,500-year-old Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut and the race finisheed at the Kings and Queens Valleys in Luxor.

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The race starts at the 3,500-year-old Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut, Friday, January 12, 2018 – ET

The participants were divided into three groups to run the 12 kilometers Ramses Run, the 22 kilometers Luxor Run, or 42 kilometers full marathon. The runners passed by the Dynasty XVIII-era Colossi of Memnon statues, Al-Sayeda Zainab Mosque, Qarana Hospital and the area of the Pharaonic Valleys, and then returned to the starting line at Hatshepsut Temple, stated the Head of the Egyptian International Marathon, Jasser Riyadh.

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This year’s race is the 25th annual International Egyptian Marathon, Friday, January 12, 2018 – ET

Three Jordanian runners, Mohamed Salama, Hamza Abdel-Modahana, and Abdel Hafiz Al-Aweidha, came in first place in the 12 kilometers run for men. Canadian McCarthy Rebecca won the first rank in the marathon for women, while Egyptian Fatima Saad and Hager Khaled obtained the second and third rank.

Also, Jordan won the first, second and third place in the 22 kilometers marathon for men. In the women’s run, American Caroline Guzman came in first place, Japan's Ochita Nahaku in second place, and Jaya Silva from France in third place.

Jordanian Mohamed Fayed al-Nawasra won the first rank of the 42 kilometers full marathon, while Egyptian Mohamed Suleiman and Austria’s Roger Alexander won the second and the third place. Lebanese Jena Al-Oseir won the first rank of the full marathon for women.

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Marathon map – photo courtesy of Egyptian Marathon official website

The event was organized by the Ministry of Tourism in cooperation with the Ministry of Interior and the Luxor governor.

The Egyptian marathon has been held annually since 1994 as a way to boost tourism in Luxor, which was named the World Capital of Tourism in 2016.

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The participants are divided into three groups to run the 12 kilometers Ramses Run, the 22 kilometers Luxor Run, or 42 kilometers full marathon, Friday, January 12, 2018 – ET

The Temple of Hatshepsut was chosen to be the starting point for the marathon as it was inspired by the drawings on the temple, which depict the pharaonic Queen leading the military in running exercises, added Riyadh.


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1/12/2018 6:35:29 PM
<![CDATA[Blue skies in China's capital spark joy, scepticism]]>
This winter, save a few grey days, the sky has been a brilliant blue, suggesting the city may finally be making progress against air pollution -- an issue so dire in previous years that some periods were dubbed an "airpocalypse".

"It feels like life has returned to the city," Zou, a former property investor, told AFP.

Last year Beijing enjoyed the best air quality on recent record, with a steady increase in "good air" days since pollution control measures were implemented in 2013, according to the capital's environmental protection bureau.

In the last quarter of 2017 alone, the density of dangerous particulate PM2.5 dropped by 53.8 percent year-on-year.

The average level of PM2.5 particles -- which penetrate deep into the lungs -- in the city last year was 58 micrograms per cubic metre. The World Health Organization recommends a maximum average exposure of 25 micrograms per cubic metre in a 24-hour period.

Analysts said this improvement was sparked by favourable weather conditions and more aggressive enforcement of environmental rules.
Questions remain, however, on whether the government's measures are sustainable. Authorities warned that heavy smog would slam the city and surrounding areas this weekend.

From his home, Zou has an almost 360-degree view of the Central Business District -- an urban landscape that he used to regard as "murky, static even".

He has created a massive composite of nearly 2,000 photographs showing the Beijing Television tower enveloped in differing shades of grey and blue.

"Now that the air is good, I'm discovering that ours is a city of colour, full of emotion and rhythm," the 50-year-old said.

- 'I was a polluter' -

On a recent clear, below-zero day, 65-year-old Tian Yuan and five other retirees were immersed in a lively card game at a Beijing public park.

"Give us more clean air! This is just the beginning," Tian, who used to sell coal for a living, said between rounds.

"I was a polluter before I retired," he said. "Now that whole company is gone."
Even French President Emmanuel Macron marvelled at the sky during his state visit this week, saying: "I have never seen Beijing like this."

In recent years, authorities have ordered polluting factories to leave Beijing and its surroundings, and designated "no-coal zones" where more than three million homes have abruptly switched to gas or electric heating.

Smaller businesses in the wider region are also being investigated for illegal smog-worsening practices.

Enforcement of environmental regulations was previously applied primarily to larger, state-owned enterprises, said Greenpeace East Asia climate and energy campaigner Huang Wei.

"Now the focus is on these local -- and often more difficult to manage -- corporations as well," she said.

Prominent environmentalist Ma Jun said growing public awareness and pressure has played a key role in improving air quality.

Ma, who penned a major book on China's pollution crisis, developed an online platform displaying official data on companies' environmental violations, which people increasingly use to call out irresponsible corporations.

- Long road ahead -

As China nears the end of its five-year plan for combatting smog, experts and activists called for a new strategy for long-term success.

A Greenpeace analysis released Thursday found that while PM2.5 levels in Beijing, Tianjin and 26 surrounding cities declined 33.1 percent year-on-year in the last three months of 2017, for the full year it fell just 4.5 percent around the country -- the lowest rate of decline since 2013.

Strong northerly winds this winter would have improved the air quality regardless of human intervention, Huang said, though government measures have no doubt bolstered blue skies.

Xu Yuan, an air pollution policy expert at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said the recent air quality marks a "turning point".

"We hope that people won't be satisfied yet," Xu said, adding that he believes pollution will "rebound", although the long-term outlook is positive.

As for Zou, the photographer hopes to soon pass on his daily duties to other observers who will upload sky photos onto an app he is developing.

He began his project in 2013, tired of the choking smog that prevented him from leaving the house and sent his child to hospital several times, and has left his job to work on environmental issues full-time.

"I just have one dream," he said, "that our country's skies can always look like this."

]]>
1/12/2018 1:25:03 PM
<![CDATA[Russian media outlet promotes tourism to Egypt]]>
One of the photos depicts the ceremonial bed of King Tutankhamun, which has been moved to the new location from Tahrir Egyptian Museum downtown Cairo in October 2017. In April 2015, a total of 200 artifacts of Pharaoh Tutankhamen’s treasures were transferred to the GEM where they will be on display in a separate hall dedicated to the young pharaoh.

Another photo shows restoration work on two small sphinxes at the GEM. During the past few years, the GEM received thousands of artifacts from several museums and archaeological sites ahead of its inauguration scheduled for 2018.


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Workshop restoration of the Great Egyptian Museum in Giza, Tuesday, January 9, 2018 – RIA News/ Ksenia Nikolskaya

GEM, situated on 120 acres of land, is located 2 km southwest of the Giza Pyramids and was scheduled to be inaugurated in August 2015, but due to funding issues the inauguration postponed to 2018.

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Visitors in the Cairo Egyptian Museum, Tuesday, January 9, 2018 – RIA News/ Ksenia Nikolskaya

The construction of the three-phase project, which includes the construction of the museum’s main building, landscape parks, the surrounding site infrastructure and the implementation of the master plan, began in March 2012, and two phases have been completed so far.

On January 4, Russian President Vladimir Putin has decreed to resume flights from Moscow to Cairo, Egypt, after 26 months of Russian air suspension, Sputnik news agency reported on Thursday.

Dmitri Khavanski, the director of public relations for Skyscanner in Russia, stated that the Russian people received Putin’s decree positively, pointing out that the company has recorded a growth estimated at 75 percent of ticket searches to Egypt.

Starting from the beginning of February, Russians will be able to fly directly to Cairo, but travelers from Russia interested in holidays on the Red Sea coast of Hurghada and Sharm El-Sheikh will have to take a connecting flight within Egypt, Khavanski added.

On December 15, 2017, an Egyptian-Russian cooperation protocol on maintaining civil aviation security was signed after a meeting between Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathi and Russian Transport Minister Maksim Sokolov in Moscow, Egypt’s Aviation Ministry said in an official statement.

The protocol intends to resume flights between Cairo and Moscow for the first time since 2015, starting in February 2018, the statement added.

The Russian minister manifested that the Russian air flights to Cairo will resume first, before flights to Sharm El-Sheikh or Hurghada. Russian tourists can easily pay visits to Sharm El-Sheikh and other resorts for only LE 6,000 ($335.46) after arriving in Cairo.

On October 31, 2015, Metrojet flight no. 9268 crashed shortly after taking off from Sharm El-Sheikh on a charter flight to St. Petersburg, Russia. There were no survivors among the 224 passengers and crew aboard the Airbus A321. ISIS claimed responsibility for the terrorist act.


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1/11/2018 8:47:54 PM
<![CDATA[EgyptAir operates charter flights between Cairo, New Valley]]>
The protocol was signed by Chairman of EgyptAir Express Helmi Rezq and New Valley Governor Mohamed el Zamalout, according to an EgyptAir statement.

The flights will be operated on Sundays as of January 16, Rezq said. This will be the schedule for the first three months and then the number of flights could be increased later on, he said.

The move serves the government's plans to boost investment and development opportunities in all Egyptian governorates by operating internal flights on more domestic routes, said Chairman and CEO of EgyptAir Safwat Musallam.]]>
1/11/2018 2:56:15 PM
<![CDATA[Farafra Oasis and its hidden gems]]>
Due to its small size and isolated location in southern Egypt, Farafra is only populated by 20,000 people. Most of its inhabitants originate from the Nile Valley and came to the Farafra Oasis to work as farmers, and they are famous for practicing their old traditions and customs.

Farafra’s secrets hide inside Egypt’s Western Desert, which is around 170 kilometers away from Bahaerya Oasis and 627 kilometers away from Cairo, 370 kilometers southwest of Marsa Matrouh and the Mediterranean Sea.


Water Wells

There are around 100 water wells spread all over the land of Farafra, which are used in aggregation of the cultivated land of the oasis.

Some of the wells are popular tourist sites, such as Bir Sitta, Bir Sab’a and Bir Ithnian, due to their warm water and low percentage of sulfur, which is very favorable for swimming and relaxation.


White Desert

It occupies a surface area of around 3,000 kilometers with 20-meter-high rock formations that can be seen from far away.

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Whiet Desert in Al Farafra Oasis

Its western section holds ancient sites, such as Wadi Al-Ubayid, or the White Valley, which is the most visited place in Farafra Oasis.

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Mushroom rock formations at the White Desert near Farafra, Egypt January , 2007 – Wikimedia / Daniel Csörföly


Black Desert and Crystal Mountain

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Crystal Mountain rock formation in the White Desert in Al Farafra Oasis Oct 2,2005/- Wikimedia Daniel Csörföly


The Black Desert consists of mountains formed primarily of numerous volcanoes and small black stones. The most important landmark is Crystal Mountain, which is an important part of the beautiful landscape of the oasis.

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Crystal rock with a rock hole, between Farafra and Bahriya depressions Feb.10,2005/ Wikimedia
]]>
1/11/2018 9:30:00 AM
<![CDATA[Temples of the South I]]>
Egypt Today will present facts about several temples in the south of Egypt that were constructed during the time of King Ramses II. Also, these temples were relocated during the UNESCO mission to protect them from Nile water during the High Dam construction.

In his book “Abu Simbel: Maabed El Shams El Moshreka” (Abu Simbel: The Temples of the Rising Sun), prominent archaeologist and author Zahi Hawas sheds light on different temples of the south.

Temple of Beit El-Wali (The Temple of the Holy Man)

Located near Kalabsha Temple, Beit El-Wali is a rock-cut ancient Egyptian temple, constructed by Ramses II.

Also, it is considered as the oldest temple built by King Ramses II in this region. In addition, it was also dedicated to the deities of Amun-Re, Re-Horakhti, Khnum and Anuket.

Later on, the temple was used by a Christian hermit.

In the 1960s, the temple was relocated to protect it from the impacts by the High Dam construction.

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Temple of Beit El-Wali – Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia
Temple of Wadi El-Sebua (The Temple Valley of Lions)

Located 150 kilometers south of Aswan, the temple of Wadi El-Sebua is considered the second biggest temple in the south.

It was dedicated to the deities of Amun-Re, Re-Horakhti and King Ramses II.

It was relocated between 1961 and 1965 to a new location, four kilometers away from the old one.

The new location was named “Wadi El-Sebua” (Valley of Lions) due to the large number of small sphinxes on both sides of the temple, which is named “Kebash Road.”

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Temple of Wadi El Sebua – Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia
Temple of Derr

Located 208 kilometers south of Aswan, the temple was constructed by Ramses II during his 30th year of reign. It was dedicated to the gods Ptah and Amun. Its walls carry different inscriptions and scenes of King Ramses’ military campaigns in Nubia.

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Temple of Derr – Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia
Temple of Gerf Hussein

It is the smallest temple constructed by King Ramses II, and it is located in Gerf Hussein area.

Constructed during the 35th year of Ramses II’s reign, it followed the same architectural style of Wadi El-Sebua.

Dedicated to the gods Ptah, Ptah Tatenen, Hathor and Ramses II, the temple witnessed a number of changes and the King Ramses statue was moved to Nubia Temple.

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Temple of Gerf Hussein – Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia
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1/10/2018 8:17:47 PM
<![CDATA[Tourists airlifted from snowbound Swiss ski resort]]>
An estimated 13,000 people were stuck in Zermatt after snow closed mountain lifts, ski runs, walking paths and train services to the village.

With the onset of the wintery weather, avalanche danger in the rugged region of Wallis that includes Zermatt near the Italian border is now rated as “very great”, the highest level, according to the Swiss Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research.

In the town of Visp, about 30 km (20 miles) down the valley from Zermatt, 20 people were evacuated from their homes after a mud- and snowslide sent debris into a portion of the village, Swiss broadcaster SRG reported on Tuesday. Nobody was injured.

However, the tourist office said there was no reason for concern in Zermatt. Town officials say the airlift service was just arranged for those wishing to leave.

“Power has returned, there’s still the chance that it could go out ... but at this time things look good,” a tourist office spokeswoman said. “The atmosphere in the village is relaxed and comfortable.”

Helicopters flew for about two hours on Tuesday afternoon, she said.

Guests seeking to leave the car-free village at the foot of the Matterhorn were flown to Taesch, about 5 km (3 miles) away.

From there, Zermatt had enlisted buses in place of rail service to take people further down the valley following the opening of the road. Helicopters were also used to transport people seeking to reach Zermatt, officials said.

Swiss mountain communities have been in the spotlight for geological risks since August, when the side of a mountain collapsed in the southern canton of Grisons, killing eight hikers. Their bodies have not been found.]]>
1/10/2018 1:26:04 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt, Russia schedule six flights a week: EHCAAN source]]>
The schedule of the six flights is currently under study, according to the source. The flights are to be chartered by Russia’s Aeroflot and Egypt’s EgyptAir, as revealed by the source, with three flights per airline.

Flights between Cairo and Moscow are expected to begin in the first week of February, the source added.

On January 4, Russian President Vladimir Putin decreed to resume flights from Moscow to Cairo after a 26-month suspension, Sputnik news agency reported.

Russia suspended flights with Egypt following a plane crash over Sinai in late 2015. The Islamic State (IS) subsequently declared responsibility for blowing up the airliner.
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1/10/2018 10:53:58 AM
<![CDATA[Egypt’s plan for Russian tourism ]]>
Hesham El Demiry, head of the Egyptian Authority for Tourism Development, confirmed that the authority has the opportunity to innovatively rebuild the Russian market through different ways, represented in offering new products with high quality away from low-cost product strategy.

He added that the Russian market organization instantly focuses on some of the tourism challenges like organizing tourism delegations and publishing descriptive, interesting articles on all social media platforms.

Demiry stated that the 2018 World Cup will be a great chance to promote tourism in Egypt, as the marketing plan will continue during 2018 through many promotional campaigns organized by public relations department JWT.

According to the Egyptian Authority for Tourism Development, the intended plan will start as soon as possible with public relations campaigns and inviting a number of well-known public figures.

Russian travel agencies are ready to organize tours in the upcoming year as a result of resuming direct flights between Cairo and Moscow with participation of the entire tourism sector, according to an Egyptian tourism consultant in Moscow.

The Egyptian Authority for Tourism Development received around 400 public figures from artists, sports icons and bloggers in 2016, and more than 2,000 in 2017, in addition to organizing journalistic tours for all of Egypt’s touristic spots. On the other hand, it also organized Egyptian delegations to many countries, including Germany, India, Japan and Czech Republic, in order to rebuild a great image about Egypt in world’s eye.

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1/10/2018 1:10:57 AM
<![CDATA[Discover what is inside Cairo Coptic Museum ]]>1-_Closer_Look_at_Cairo_Coptic_Museum
Closer Look at Cairo Coptic Museum

The Coptic Museum, founded in 1908, story-tells Christian history in Egypt through its elaborate woodcarving galleries and many other treasures, including some 1,200 pieces on display, illustrating history from the Ptolemaic period.

The old, original wing of the museum is a fine piece of architecture, consisting of a series of large rooms, with ancient decorated wooden ceilings and beautiful mashrabiyas. Its walls are overlaid with fine slabs of marble, arches and tiles.
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Part of a Woven Piece inside Coptic museum

Visiting the Coptic Museum will broaden your view and enlighten you about the Coptic period in Egypt. The entrance of the museum holds 2nd to 5th century funerary stelae from Kom Abu Billou. The stelae illustrate how the Pharaonic art influenced the Coptic art, as they feature crosses shaped like the Pharaonic ankh, key of life, as well as Christian crosses.

Its entrance also includes sculptures dating back to the 4th and 5th centuries. These sculptures further mark the influence of Pharaonic and Graeco-Roman arts, where Christian symbolism was influenced by Graeco-Roman mythology, as well as older Pharaonic subjects.

A few steps into the museum, you see a wonderful work, dating back to the 7th and 8th centuries, of three mice begging a cat to leave them in peace. This mesmerizing piece of art leaves viewers in a state of trance, where they start to imagine a life full of talking mice and cats. The work depicts animals behaving like humans, an Egyptian artistic style that dates back to 1500 BC.

Up the stairs are two large rooms with exquisite 4th to 7th century Coptic textiles and Nag' Hamady manuscripts. The large rooms also hold the oldest book of Psalms in the world, with two original wooden covers.

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Two Pieces of wooven inside coptic museum

In 1908, Marcus Samika Pasha founded the Coptic Museum on behalf of the Coptic Church to be the first exhibition of Coptic art. He located it in a unique position in old Coptic Cairo, within the walls of the great Fortress of Babylon and surrounded by Cairo's oldest churches. The place is perfect for the museum and its artifacts.

The largest collection of Coptic Christian artifacts, with some 16,000 pieces, belongs to Cairo Coptic Museum. It is an eye-opener for many, as it documents the important and significant journey of Coptic Christians in Egypt.
The museum gives all visitors a look into the essential role that Copts have traditionally played in the Egyptian society, as well as their importance in the development of Christianity and Christian Monasticism.]]>
1/8/2018 2:42:25 PM
<![CDATA[Russian tourists return to Egypt amidst special rates]]>
Executive Manager of Tour Organizers Group in Russia, Maya Lomides, declared that Russian tours to Egypt will start after Christmas Eve in 2018 for only $621 per person provided that tourists travel by bus within the country. This price includes flight tickets and full board accommodation at a 3-star hotel.

Concerning transportation between Egypt’s touristic spots, it will take from five to seven hours by bus. If the tourist prefers to move by plane, there will be extra fees of around $35, bringing the total cost to around $656, as per the tourism program of their choice.

Russian President Vladmir Putin has signed a decree allowing the resumption of direct flights between Cairo and Moscow after a 2-year suspension period.

The resumption of flights between the two countries is expected to enhance the Egyptian-Russian relations considerably, an expert of Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy & International Relations, Farhad Ibrahimov, stated on Saturday.

“Egypt has always cared for Russian tourists and will, of course, exert its best efforts to reach the maximum level of security,” Ibrahimov told Egypt Today, pointing out that Cairo is following a new security policy to avoid any other plane accidents.

He said that the decree allowing the resumption of flights indicates that Egypt satisfies all demands made by Russian experts regarding ensuring security at domestic airports. "Russia’s largest national carrier, Aeroflot, has begun to restore its representation in Cairo," Ibrahimov added.

"Aeroflot will be the first commercial Russian flight to land in Egypt since 2015, with a flight scheduled for the beginning of February 2018," Russian Transportation Minister, Maxim Sokolov, stated.
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1/8/2018 12:16:58 PM
<![CDATA[Cairo Christmas joy: National parks entry for free]]>
The Governor’s decision comes as part of the efforts by the Public Transportation Authority to provide additional buses serving citizens during Christmas festivities.

The General Authority for Cleanliness and Beautification of Cairo has intensified its campaigns at national parks, as well as raising the efficiency and effectiveness of its services to meet the requirements of citizens.

The Cathedral of Christ Nativity at the New Administrative Capital, 45 kilometers East of Cairo, held the Christmas Mass on January 7 for the first time. Egyptian Copts attended the ceremony in celebration of Christmas day, led by Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria and Patriarch of Saint Mark’s Diocese.

The ceremony was attended by President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, Minister of Defense, Sedki Sobhi, Senior Government officials and Foreign Ambassadors.

The Egyptian Coptic Christian community celebrates Christmas on January 7.]]>
1/7/2018 11:43:47 PM
<![CDATA[Roman Catholic pilgrims to visit Holy Family Stops in Egypt ]]>
The visits will be organized by the Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi institution in cooperation with the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism, Avveniro added.

Egypt is listed on two tourism programs selected by the Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi institution due to its historical and touristic importance. The first program includes visiting historical places in Cairo and Aswan, while the second is dedicated to tracing the Holy Family’s stops through Egypt.

Yahya Rashed, minister of tourism, has received a positive report from the Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi institution delegation after their visit to the Holy Family’s resting places in Egypt.

Rashed expressed his optimism regarding the international and Italian media coverage for the Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi delegation’s visit to Egypt. He also explained that this coverage contributes to marketing and promoting Egypt as a tourist destination.
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1/7/2018 1:52:49 PM
<![CDATA[Hot air balloons in Luxor’s sky ]]>
The hot air balloons took off from Luxor’s west bank on Saturday morning. A number of well-trained and professional pilots were in charge.

According to Luxor’s governor, Mohamed Badr, the balloons returned back in the presence of several government officials to check on the tourists’ safety.

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Hot air balloons near Luxor, Egypt February 3, 2010 – Wikimedia.com Wouter Hagens


The governor declared that the tourists who were on board the hot air balloons cheerfully returned back at sunset and safely landed on the west bank of Luxor after taking the whole tour over the city.

Saturday’s hot air balloon tour reflects the professionalism of Egyptian pilots flying manually inside a wooden box in the sky. Also, it shows that the tourists love to take in the panoramic view over Luxor, according to Governor Badr.

The hot air balloon trips over the ancient wonders of Luxor are a great opportunity for tourists all over the world to come and discover the historical sights of the famous city.

The ancient city of Luxor, which lies on the bank of the Nile River in the south of Egypt, is considered to be the second city worldwide that offers hot air balloon adventures besides the United States.

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A lot of Hot Balloons flying over Luxor -February 3, 2010 – Wikimedia.com Wouter Hagens
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1/7/2018 12:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[South Korean tourism in Egypt ]]>
The manager of Misr travel agency, Rashad El-Refai, met with Li Changchuk, the manager of Korean travel agency Four Travel, to sign a deal to attract South Korean tourists to Egypt. The Egyptian travel agency plans to organize various touristic tours to popular sites in Egypt, according to Misr Travel agency.

Rashad El-Refai said that the signed deal will have a positive impact on the Egyptian tourism industry and an influx of tourists from South Korea to Egypt is expected.

There are also around 81 South Korean tourists who are welcomed by the Misr travel agency at Cairo International Airport and accommodated at one of the Al- Haram hotel.

Rashad El-Refai declared that the agency is carrying out different types of tours to many places, like Hurghada, Sharm El-Sheikh, Alexandria, Luxor and Aswan.

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CAIRO – 6 January 2018: A deal between Egyptian and South Korean travel agencies will attract many South Koreans to Egypt.
]]>
1/7/2018 12:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Egypt’s western desert: magic lies within ]]>
The desert covers an area of 262,800 square miles (680,650 square kilometers), about two-thirds of the land area of Egypt; it lies west of the Nile, extending up to the Libyan border, and borders with Sudan to the south.

When I visited the Sinai Desert in Eastern Egypt last year, I began to understand why people are so mesmerized by this place. I could not take my eyes off of the mountains; their towering presence was warm and comforting. My thoughts rested on the vast expanse of sand around me, only moving with the breeze. I had fallen in love with the Sinai Desert.

However, after two days of camping under the starlight, my tour guide informed me that the real deserts lie in the west.


The magic of the Western Desert
The western desert is believed to possess a spiritual energy, from which mystics have drawn upon in their search for enlightenment. Moreover, Siwa's salt lakes are known for having natural medicinal properties, they contain an unusually high salt concentration, which Bedouin people have used to nurse their wounds over the centuries.


The desert oases
In the Western Desert you can find the oases of Bahariya, Farafra, Dakhla, Kharga, and the famous Siwa.

These four Oases form a cluster, known as the “Oasis Circle”, encloses most of the attractions the desert has to offer. For instance, both the White Desert and al-Ababa valley are a part of al-Farafra Oasis.

Al-Ababa valley is one of the most eye-catchy places in Farafra. Its sculpture-like rock formations were formed by erosion over the past million years. Due to its geological structure the area has over 100 natural springs, most of which are used for irrigation and land cultivation but some (because of their warm temperature and slight sulfur percentage) have become idyllic spots for swimming and relaxation.

As for the White Desert (al-Sahara al-Beida), it is known as one of the most beautiful natural reserves in Egypt, where one can find rare sculptures, plants, animals, caves, ancient tombs and houses dating back to the Roman era. Most of the sculptures in the White Desert are made of soft lime stone.

The spectacular Black Desert (al-Sahara al-Suda) is located near the Bahariya Oasis. It was announced officially by the Egyptian authorities as a natural reserve in 2010. It is considered as one of the most desirable destinations for desert-camping adventurers.

Most of the land in the black desert is covered with dolerite, basalt and quartz stones; these stones give it its namesake color.

The highest mountain in the Black Desert is called the British mountain (Jabal al-Englizi). When the British came to Egypt, they used this mountain for monitoring the surrounding desert as it was the highest point in the region.

As for Siwa, it has its own reputation as destination for healing and relaxing. Many places can be visited within the Siwa Oases, including the mountain camp hot spring, Ghaliet Ecolodge pool, Fatnas Island, Bir Wahed hot spring and the Temple of Amun.


The Great Sand Sea
The Great Sand Sea is located in the area between Siwa Oases and Gilf Kebir. It is a continuous mass of sand dunes which sit atop layers of limestone and a large amount of the groundwater. It extends for about 650 kilometers vertically and 300 kilometers from east to west, and covers about 10 percent of the total area of western desert. Despite the water underneath, there is not a single surface level water source for 150 square miles, which is extreme even for the Sahara

At the southern end of the sand sea lies the silica glass field which is home to amazing yellow-green glass pebbles and is the only instance of this natural phenomenon ever found. The glass, smoothed by time, is theorized to have been formed by a meteor crashing in the desert and causing the sand to fuse due to the intense heat.


Gilf Kebir
Gilf Kibir is a huge plateau in the southwest corner of Egypt bordering with Libya and Sudan. In recent years it has become famous as a tourist site. The area is rich with vast sand valleys, sand dunes, and caves that date back to prehistoric eras.

The rocks and geological formations in the Gilf Kibir National Park are concrete evidence of an ancient history that dates back to hundreds of millions of years ago. Researchers believe that this area demonstrates the ecological history, not only of the region, but of the whole planet itself.]]>
1/6/2018 3:23:06 PM
<![CDATA[India plans to boost tourism, travel in annual budget: sources]]>
The move could add to a domestic tourism boom in the world’s second most populous nation, where low inflation and rising incomes are changing lifestyles and consumption patterns of an estimated 250 million middle-class Indians. With scores of destinations introduced on airline routes last year, air travel is also surging.

India’s tourism sector grew over 10 percent in the six months ending September, compared to near 8 percent in the year-ago period. According to an industry report, tourism employs 40 million people in India and could add 10 million jobs in a decade.

“We’ll announce measures in the budget to promote investment in the tourism sector,” a top finance ministry official told Reuters, adding that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley favors lowering a 28 percent tax on hotel tariffs, and offering incentives to attract private investments.

If the moves come about, companies expected to benefit include airlines like IndiGo, owned by InterGlobe Aviation (INGL.NS), and Jet Airways (JET.NS) and hotel operators such as Indian Hotels (IHTL.NS), that owns the Taj Mahal chain and EIH Ltd (EIHO.NS) that operates the Oberoi hotels in India.

Tour operators including Cox & Kings (COKI.NS) and Thomas Cook (THOM.NS) are also likely to gain.

In India tourists, on average, pay 30 percent tax on hotel rooms and travel compared with less than 10 percent in Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia, said Pronab Sarkar, president of the Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO).

Another government official said the budget was likely to “significantly” raise allocations for tourism infrastructure and raise income tax exemptions on investments in new hotels.

A third official, who is aware of the finance ministry’s pre-budget consultations with industry groups, said Jaitley was expected to lower income tax on corporate profit, offer tax incentives on hotel construction, allocate more funds for new tourist trains and building roads to tourist destinations.

The government will offer incentives to more regional airlines this year to cover new, under-served airports, the official added.

All three officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, declined to provide numbers or share further details.

CHEAPER FLIGHTS

India needs about 200,000 new hotel rooms, Tourism Minister K.J. Alphons told parliament this week.

“We have reached a plateau point and need more resources to create new infrastructure and develop tourist packages,” Alphons later told Reuters, adding there was huge potential in developing areas that were not the usual tourist destinations.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said developing tourism, particularly in India’s remote north-eastern states, is one of his top priorities.

Hotel occupancy levels in India are at their highest levels since 2008, even though many hotel chains have raised prices.

The need for rooms has been spotted by foreign investors with Japan’s SoftBank Group (9984.T) backing start-ups like OYO Rooms, which has emerged as the largest aggregator of budget accommodation across the country with hotels in over 200 destinations.

One major driver of the domestic tourism boom has been the launch in 2017 of five regional budget airlines on over 100 routes, which are given incentives by the government to offer cut-price flights to uncovered and remote areas, encouraging thousands of families to explore flying for the first time.

Domestic airlines carried 10.6 million passengers in the first eleven months of 2017, up 17 percent from the year-ago period - encouraging some established players like Spicejet (SPJT.BO), Jet Airways and Vistara, a joint venture between the Tata Group and Singapore Airlines (SIAL.SI), to start flights to new locations.

ONLINE PLAYERS

Tour operators said double-digit hikes in urban wages, coupled with an over 25 percent rise in the benchmark Sensex index .BSESN last year, have contributed to the domestic tourism boom.

At the same time over 9 million foreigners visited India in the first 11 months of 2017, up 15.6 percent from a year ago.

Domestic tourists, who account for 88 percent of the sector, are increasingly using online portals for hotel and travel bookings.

Travel portal MakeMyTrip (MMYT.O) reported a 186 percent jump in hotel bookings during the September quarter and its holiday package segment that includes hotel and flight bookings, saw a 71 percent increase in revenues over the same period.

Online operators say tourism could emerge as the new engine of growth after the IT sector but that it needs government support.

“The government must lower the tax burden, ease rules and build infrastructure if it wants to ensure 15-20 percent annual growth in tourism in coming years,” said Sarkar of IATO.]]>
1/6/2018 1:29:20 PM
<![CDATA[Greek Deputy FM asserts Egypt’s safety, visit pyramids]]>
The remarks were made on the sidelines of his visit to the pyramids of Egypt, which was a part of a program to promote Egypt’s tourism landmarks.

He also took a photo in front of Tutankhamen’s mask, saying that he is “very happy” to see this mask which reflects a lot of Egyptian civilization and called all countries to visit Egypt.

Quick stated that the Greek Minister of Tourism will pay a visit to Egypt to sign a cooperation agreement with Egypt and Cyprus.

Quick is accompanied by Minister of Immigration Nabila Makram in his tour. He has a plan to meet with a number of Egyptian officials to discuss boosting Greek tourism in Egypt.

Earlier, Egypt, Cyprus and Greece signed cooperation agreements in the tourism field, in the presence of Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, his Cypriot counterpart Nicos Anastasiades and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

This came on the sideline of the fifth summit of the tripartite meetings between all three leaders within the framework of the tripartite cooperation mechanisms which were launched in Cairo in November 2017.
]]>
1/5/2018 9:04:25 PM
<![CDATA[Milano resumes regular flights to Egypt at end of January]]>
“The flights resumptions give indications that Egypt will see a flourish in [the] tourism industry during the upcoming season,” Fouda added. It will start by one flight per week through the Egyptian Aviation company, Air Cairo, for the first time after a two-year hiatus.

Fouda asserted that Sharm El-Sheikh International Airport, and the city, are ready to receive flights from all over the world throughout the year.

Earlier, Commercial Director of Air Cairo, Essam Azab, stated that the current season will witness an increase in the number of Italian tourists, mentioning that Marsa Alam is the preferred destination for Italian tourists followed by Sharm El-Sheikh.


He revealed that the company's plan in the summer of 2018 depends on the expansion of the market and flights from central Italy.

Azab believes that there will be more than four flights per week.
]]>
1/5/2018 4:56:03 PM
<![CDATA[India plans to boost tourism, travel in annual budget]]>
The move could add to a domestic tourism boom in the world’s second most populous nation, where low inflation and rising incomes are changing lifestyles and consumption patterns of an estimated 250 million middle-class Indians. With scores of destinations introduced on airline routes last year, air travel is also surging.

India’s tourism sector grew over 10 percent in the six months ending September, compared to near 8 percent in the year-ago period. According to an industry report, tourism employs 40 million people in India and could add 10 million jobs in a decade.

“We’ll announce measures in the budget to promote investment in the tourism sector,” a top finance ministry official told Reuters, adding that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley favors lowering a 28 percent tax on hotel tariffs, and offering incentives to attract private investments.

If the moves come about, companies expected to benefit include airlines like IndiGo, owned by InterGlobe Aviation (INGL.NS), and Jet Airways (JET.NS) and hotel operators such as Indian Hotels (IHTL.NS), that owns the Taj Mahal chain and EIH Ltd (EIHO.NS) that operates the Oberoi hotels in India.

Tour operators including Cox & Kings (COKI.NS) and Thomas Cook (THOM.NS) are also likely to gain.

In India tourists, on average, pay 30 percent tax on hotel rooms and travel compared with less than 10 percent in Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia, said Pronab Sarkar, president of the Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO).

Another government official said the budget was likely to “significantly” raise allocations for tourism infrastructure and raise income tax exemptions on investments in new hotels.

A third official, who is aware of the finance ministry’s pre-budget consultations with industry groups, said Jaitley was expected to lower income tax on corporate profit, offer tax incentives on hotel construction, allocate more funds for new tourist trains and building roads to tourist destinations.

The government will offer incentives to more regional airlines this year to cover new, under-served airports, the official added.

All three officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, declined to provide numbers or share further details.

CHEAPER FLIGHTS
India needs about 200,000 new hotel rooms, Tourism Minister K.J. Alphons told parliament this week.

“We have reached a plateau point and need more resources to create new infrastructure and develop tourist packages,” Alphons later told Reuters, adding there was huge potential in developing areas that were not the usual tourist destinations.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said developing tourism, particularly in India’s remote north-eastern states, is one of his top priorities.

Hotel occupancy levels in India are at their highest levels since 2008, even though many hotel chains have raised prices.

The need for rooms has been spotted by foreign investors with Japan’s SoftBank Group (9984.T) backing start-ups like OYO Rooms, which has emerged as the largest aggregator of budget accommodation across the country with hotels in over 200 destinations.

One major driver of the domestic tourism boom has been the launch in 2017 of five regional budget airlines on over 100 routes, which are given incentives by the government to offer cut-price flights to uncovered and remote areas, encouraging thousands of families to explore flying for the first time.

Domestic airlines carried 10.6 million passengers in the first eleven months of 2017, up 17 percent from the year-ago period - encouraging some established players like Spicejet (SPJT.BO), Jet Airways and Vistara, a joint venture between the Tata Group and Singapore Airlines (SIAL.SI), to start flights to new locations.

ONLINE PLAYERS
Tour operators said double-digit hikes in urban wages, coupled with an over 25 percent rise in the benchmark Sensex index .BSESN last year, have contributed to the domestic tourism boom.

At the same time over 9 million foreigners visited India in the first 11 months of 2017, up 15.6 percent from a year ago.

Domestic tourists, who account for 88 percent of the sector, are increasingly using online portals for hotel and travel bookings.

Travel portal MakeMyTrip (MMYT.O) reported a 186 percent jump in hotel bookings during the September quarter and its holiday package segment that includes hotel and flight bookings, saw a 71 percent increase in revenues over the same period.

Online operators say tourism could emerge as the new engine of growth after the IT sector but that it needs government support.

“The government must lower the tax burden, ease rules and build infrastructure if it wants to ensure 15-20 percent annual growth in tourism in coming years,” said Sarkar of IATO.
]]>
1/5/2018 1:03:00 PM
<![CDATA[Japan on Olympic drive to get rid of 'squat' toilets for tourists]]>
The high-tech country is famous for its toilet technology that can bewilder foreign visitors, with features ranging from seat warming to bidet functions -- with variable pressure.

But to the surprise of some and the dismay of many caught short, several toilets in public places are traditional "squatting" facilities.

About 40 percent of toilets at 4,000 locations in popular tourist spots are "squatters", according to the Japan Tourism Agency.

The government is offering to shoulder one third of the costs to install sit-on types, complete with the bidet function expected of a Japanese toilet, officials said.

A survey by major toilet maker TOTO has found more than eight out of 10 foreign tourists prefer sit-on types, said Akihiko Yamakoshi, an official at the government's Japan Tourism Agency.

"As we aim to receive 40 million foreign visitors (a year), we want them to enjoy touring Japan with as little stress as possible," he told AFP.

Some foreign tourists simply do not know how to use old Japanese-style toilets while others complain they are unsanitary, he said.

The number of foreign visitors to Japan has been hitting records in recent years. More than 26 million foreign tourists visited Japan in the 11 months of 2017, already exceeding the annual record of 24 million set in 2016.

The government aims to boost the number to 40 million by 2020 when Tokyo hosts the Summer Games.

The toilet conversion is mainly designed for foreign tourists but it could also help elderly Japanese who may have difficulty in squatting down, said Yamakoshi.]]>
1/5/2018 12:16:12 PM
<![CDATA[2018 to witness start of Catholic pilgrimage to Egypt: OPR Head]]>
Head of ORP, Remo Chiavarini, told Italian-SIR radio which is affiliated to the Vatican that the foundation will include Egypt – starting 2018 - in the international program.

“Egypt will have two different programs, the first will be a historical one from Aswan to Cairo governorates, and the second will target the places where Virgin Mary and Jesus passed,” Chiavarini stated.

According to Italian media outlets, Egypt’s pilgrimage program will be supervised by the Vatican as both Egyptian and Italian official entities are highly invested in it. Egypt’s Tourism Minister Yehia Rashed expressed his optimism regarding Italian coverage for the ORP visit to Egypt, and the good image that was highlighted by them to the country.

Several Italian newspapers affirmed that the New Year will witness the implementation of the Egyptian pilgrimage program which will help enhance dialogue between cultures and religions.

Last December, the ORP delegation headed by Chiavarini, visited Egypt and met with several religious officials including Egypt’s Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed al-Tayyeb, and Pope Tawadros II.

They also visited several places including the Pyramids, Sphinx and the Egyptian Museum.

Pope Tawadros and Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayyeb 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.

Egypt’s top religious leaders, Tawadros and Tayyeb, also stressed the good relations between the Catholic Church in the Vatican and the Egyptian Coptic Church.

Earlier in December 2017, Tourism Minister Yehia Rashed paid a three-day visit to Vatican City, during which he met with Roman Catholic Pope Francis, who blessed the Holy Family’s journey in Egypt as an official Christian pilgrimage.

After Pope Francis’s decision to bless the Holy Family’s journey in Egypt, they agreed to organize the first official Christian pilgrimage in May 2018.]]>
1/4/2018 3:40:43 PM
<![CDATA[A Look at Pharaoh's island, South Sinai]]>
The island is known as the Coral Island as it is a small granite atoll surrounded by coral reefs which offers great diving sites such as the Picasso Reef; an underwater mountain that leads down 24 meters to huge table corals. At a depth of 12 meters, divers find themselves surrounded by a wide variety of colorful fish, including the famous Picasso Trigger fish.

1-_View_of_Salah_El_Din_Citadele_-_Taba
View of Salah El-Din Citadel Oct.8,2009- Wikimedia


The Pharaoh's island also features Salah El-Din Citadel, which was built by crusaders and later conquered and reconstructed by Salah El-Din, according to the Egyptian Tourism Authority.

Back in history, the island witnessed a battle in 1170, when the citadel was captured by Salah El-Din, who largely expanded the fortress. After that period, the Mamluks and Ottomans made some further improvements to the fortress.


2-_Salah_El_Dein_citadele_at_Pharao_s_island_-
Salah El-Din Citadel at Pharaoh island Nov.12,2012 – Wikimedia / Diaa Meeky


The citadel’s history goes back to the time of Baldwin I, the King of Jerusalem in 1116 A.D., who mainly built this fortress in the center of a huge trade route between the Far East and Europe. Due to its location on high ground, the island is easily defended as it is positioned in the narrowest point in the Gulf of Aqaba.

During crusaders time, this fortress was used to collect taxes from Arab merchants, to attack Arab ships, and to protect pilgrims travelling between Jerusalem and the St. Catherine's Monastery.

The citadel encompasses many small rooms including sleeping quarters for troops, bath houses and kitchens with huge ovens; there are also towers for pigeons, which were used to relay messages.

Salah El-Din Citadel offers a stunning view over four of the most important countries: Egypt, Occupied Palestine, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, surrounded by clear, blue and tranquil water.

]]>
1/4/2018 12:58:49 PM
<![CDATA[Mongolia delays launch of $500-million airport until 2019]]>
To reduce its dependence on commodities such as coal and copper, Mongolia has ambitions to become an air freight hub for northern Asia and wants to develop tourism.

But the new airport is unlikely to open this year as originally scheduled, Roads and Transportation Minister Jadamba Bat-Erdene said, as Mongolia negotiates a management contract with Japanese investors.

“The airport was expected to be operational this year, but plans are for it to be operational within the next year, due to management issues,” he said on the ministry’s official website.

“It is planned to set up a joint management team headed by Japan,” he said in the statement, without elaborating.

The new airport is intended to replace the Chinggis Khan (Genghis Khan) International Airport, and take the name of the country’s 13th-century ruler, regarded as a national symbol.

Mongolia will be able to receive 3 million passengers a year by 2024 at the new airport, about 50 km (31 miles) from Ulaanbaatar, the capital. Its predecessor, a one-way runway built near a mountain range, is prone to disruptions and flight cancellations.

Japan’s Mitsubishi Corp. and Chiyoda are leading construction, with Samsung C&T acting as a subcontractor.

The Chinese Export-Import Bank is providing $140 million to finance a 32.2-km (20-mile) road to the airport. Now under construction, the road is set to be completed by October.

The International Monetary Fund encouraged Mongolia to diversify away from mining as part of a $5.5-billion bailout agreed last year to stabilize its crisis-hit economy.

Coal was the biggest driver of growth in 2017, but exports were hit by transport bottlenecks at the border with China, Mongolia’s biggest customer.

Although the airport could generate non-mining growth, its success could depend on Mongolia allowing more airlines into the market and ending favorable treatment for the state carrier, analysts have said.]]>
1/4/2018 11:59:14 AM
<![CDATA[EgyptAir operates three flights weekly to Moscow]]>
All EgyptAir flights will depart every Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. In addition, there will be around 20 flights reserved by travel agencies for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Officials of EgyptAir stated that they are working to complete all needed regulations for resuming flights to Russia. Also, the company will send the manager of its Russia-based office to Moscow again in order to practically operate Cairo-Moscow flights.

The Russian Aeroflot airline company has received its Cairo-based office at terminal 2 of Cairo International Airport after many preparations for resuming flights starting from February 2018.

Flights between the two countries were halted in 2015 after a Russian passenger jet crashed in Sinai, killing all 224 people onboard.

Shortly after the crash, the Islamic State’s Sinai branch claimed responsibility for the incident, which occurred in the vicinity of the Sinai insurgency led by IS affiliates following the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi.

Past December, Russian Transport Minister Maksim Sokolov announced that Cairo International Airport has met the requirements of the Russian aviation security, which paves the way for the resumption of Russian flights to Egypt. ]]>
1/3/2018 7:01:37 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt’s unforgettable heaven: Gebel Elba National Park]]>
1-_Elba_National_Park
Elba Protected area May14, 2017– Wikimedia/Ahmed Ehab

The park – Egypt’s largest and richest protected area – stretches over 50 square kilometers north of Shalateen, all the way south to the Egypt-Sudanese border. Also, it lies 250 kilometers south of Marsa Alam.

Elba park is considered a biodiversity laden land which encompasses a myriad of ecosystems ranging from marches, coastal plains, mangroves and coral reefs to mountain high lands, sand dunes and valleys including around 458 plant species of acacias, moringas and dragon trees, 86 different corals, 104 fish species, 60 resident birds comprising eagles and falcons, and 26 mammals including gazelles, Barbary sheep and ibexes.
2-_Closer_look_at_Elba_National_Park
Closer Look at Elba National Park – May 14, 2017 - Wikimedia/Ahmed Ehab

But what makes this area unique is its weather which is relatively moist because of its closeness to the sea and favorable position in the face of humid winds, affecting the surface temperature of the rocks and any exposed surfaces causing them to be cool overnight. The area also witnesses unusually high rainfall of 400 millimeters each year on average, which is caused by a combination of prevailing north east rain bearing winds over a wide range of the mountain, forcing moist clouds upwards and causing them to cool, condensate and eventually rain.

The park’s high precipitation levels, combined with the cooler temperatures of the higher altitudes, sustain a surprising variety of wildlife – from 40 species of birds and 30 species of reptiles to 23 species of mammals that have been recorded in the park.

The most highlighted landscape in this region is Mount Elba, which is Egypt’s second highest mountain, at 1,435 meters high, whose summit is a “mist oasis” that contributes in the forming of dew, mist and clouds.

3-Gebel_ELBA_-_28_January
View of Gebel Elba – January 28, 2007 – Wikimedia/Usamaghazali

Back in history, ancient Egyptians extracted oil from the seeds planted in the park’s soil and used them in perfumes, cooking and skin lotions. Nowadays, Bedouin men work, often in pairs, to harvest the seeds from the trees to then sell them in Cairo’s markets.

Although Elba National Park was established by Egypt in 1985, getting permission to visit it is difficult, as you need a police officer to accompany your expedition due to its close proximity to the Sudanese border and also due to concerns over the impact of tourism on the delicate environment.]]>
1/3/2018 2:41:46 PM
<![CDATA[India limits visitors to save Taj Mahal]]>
Millions of mostly Indian tourists visit the Taj Mahal every year and their numbers are increasing steadily as domestic travel becomes easier.

Experts say the vast crowds increase wear and tear on the white marble tomb, which already must undergo regular cleaning to stop it turning yellow from polluted air, and could put pressure on its foundations.

In future only 40,000 local tourists will be allowed to enter the historic complex per day, authorities said Wednesday.

"We have to ensure the safety of the monument and visitors as well. Crowd management was emerging as a big challenge for us," an official with the Archeological Survey of India which controls the monument, told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The restrictions will not apply to foreigners, who pay 1,000 rupees ($16) to enter.

Indian visitors normally pay just 40 rupees, but will be able to buy the more expensive ticket if they want to get around the limit.

The Taj Mahal was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as a tomb for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, who died giving birth in 1631.

Anyone wanting to see the main crypt, which houses the couple's spectacular marble graves inlaid with semi-precious stones, will also have to pay for the pricier ticket.

The graves also date back to the 17th century but do not actually contain the bodies of the royal couple, who are buried under a separate lower chamber.

The decision to restrict visitors comes after five visitors were injured in the crush on the last day of the year, which often attracts large crowds.

Daily visitor numbers to the Taj Mahal average 10,000-15,000 but can be much higher at weekends, going up to around 70,000.

Nearly 6.5 million visited the monument in 2016, according to government figures.

The Taj Mahal has attracted world leaders and royalty including former US President Bill Clinton.

Diana, the late British princess, was famously photographed alone on a marble seat there in 1992.

But the mausoleum faces an array of threats, including the yellowing effects of smog.

In 2016 green stains on its rear wall were blamed on excrement from insects.

Authorities have in the past covered the iconic monument's facade with "mud packs" made of Fuller's earth, which draws out the impurities, to restore its whiteness.]]>
1/3/2018 1:05:15 PM
<![CDATA[Climb Jebel El Deir in South Sinai]]>
El Deir Mountain (Jebel El Deir) is one of South Sinai’s most fascinating mountains located above Saint Catherine’s Monastery, and its summit is reached by impressive hiking trails with beautiful scenery.

1-_S._Catherine_from_Jebel_Deir
Saint Catherine from Jebel El Deir – Egyptian Tourism authority official website

On the way to Jebel El Deir’s summit, it is recommended to pay a visit to the ancient monastery and the old Byzantine dams, and visitors can admire some of South Sinai’s oldest monasteries, including St. Galaktion and St. Episteme, on the way down.

Jebel El Deir is a part of a high mountain region located around the town of St. Catherine, which is described as a mass of rugged crags, big rounded pinnacles and little trodden peaks scattered with Byzantine ruins. The hiking trails are challenging and require a good physical condition. The best route going up is a ravine on the west side.

2-_Tress_surrounded_Jebel_El_Deir_-
Tress surrounded Jebel El Deir Sept.12, 2013 –Wikimedia.com/ Mohamed Mossa

There are many olive plants and medium-sized palm trees that cover the mountain, while on the higher side of Jebel El Deir is a 2,000-meter stairway that descends directly to the great Saint Catherine Monastery.

Although the area is very dry, there are several clear water wells situated near the trails, providing people and animals living in the desert with the essential source of life.

3-_Visitors_Hiking_Jebel_El_Deir
Visitors Hiking Jebel El Deir, April 21,2014 – Wikimedia.com /Mohamed Mossa

There are local Bedouins living in the area and some of them work as tour guides organizing transportation with cars or camels.

Climbing Jebel El Deir is not an easy trek, but it is worth the effort, as you can climb it from the monastery in Nosra Settlement, where you can continue to Mount Sinai or finish the trek at the monastery.




]]>
1/3/2018 10:30:49 AM
<![CDATA[Indonesia's November foreign tourist arrivals fall 0.81 percent]]>
That compared to a 2.7 percent increase in October. November’s drop was the first decline in foreign tourist arrivals since December 2015.

The total number of foreign visitors in Indonesia, including those passing through its borders from neighboring countries and foreign workers with permits for less than one year, was 1.06 million, up 5.86 percent.]]>
1/2/2018 2:46:33 PM
<![CDATA[IT failure at Frankfurt airport could disrupt flights]]>
A Fraport spokesman said that only a few flights were affected so far but did not provide an exact number. It was unclear how long it would take to fix the problem, he said, adding that Fraport’s IT specialists had ruled out a cyber attack.

Frankfurt airport is Europe’s fourth-largest, handling more than 60 million passengers in 2016. It has an average of almost 1,300 take-offs and landings per day.]]>
1/2/2018 12:28:37 PM
<![CDATA[2017 was 'safest year' on record for commercial passenger flights]]>
Dutch aviation consulting firm To70 and the Aviation Safety Network both reported Monday there were no commercial passenger jet fatalities in 2017. "2017 was the safest year for aviation ever," said Adrian Young of To70.

To70 estimated that the fatal accident rate for large commercial passenger flights is 0.06 per million flights, or one fatal accident for every 16 million flights.

The Aviation Safety Network also reported there were no commercial passenger jet deaths in 2017, but 10 fatal airliner accidents resulting in 44 fatalities onboard and 35 persons on the ground, including cargo planes and commercial passenger turbo prop aircraft.

That figure includes 12 people killed on Dec. 31 when a Nature Air Cessna 208B Grand Caravan aircraft crashed minutes after takeoff into a mountainous area off the beach town of Punta Islita, Costa Rica.

In comparison, there were 16 accidents and 303 deaths in 2016 among airliners.

The deadliest incident last year occurred in January when a Turkish cargo jet smashed into a village in Kyrgyzstan as it tried to land at a nearby airport in dense fog, killing 35 on the ground and all four onboard.

The Aviation Safety Network said 2017 was "the safest year ever, both by the number of fatal accidents as well as in terms of fatalities."

Over the last two decades aviation deaths around the world have been steadily falling. As recently as 2005, there were 1,015 deaths aboard commercial passenger flights worldwide, the Aviation Safety Network said.

The United States last recorded a fatal airline passenger jet crash in February 2009, when Colgan Air Flight 3407 crashed short of the runway in Clarence Center, New York, killing 49 onboard and one person on the ground.

In 2016, 412 people were killed in the United States in aviation accidents - nearly all in general aviation accidents and none on commercial passenger airlines.

The last fatal passenger jet airliner accident worldwide took place in November 2016 near Medellin, Colombia and the last commercial passenger aircraft crash to kill more than 100 people occurred in October 2015 in Egypt.]]>
1/2/2018 12:13:48 PM
<![CDATA[Sharm El-Sheikh-Duba navigation line to operate soon for Arab tourists]]>
According to Red Sea Port authorities, Sharm El-Sheikh’s navigation line is the first of its kind to be constructed in the city.

1-__Blue_Lagoon,_Dahab,_Egypt
Blue Lagoon, Dahab, April 13, 2013 – Wikimedia/ Charlie

The Egyptian government signed the deal with Arab Bridges Maritime- owned by Egypt, Jordan and Iraq- to start operating the navigation line within the next few days by moving ships and ferry boats on two-hour trips to provide all travelers with additional means of transportation beside their cars, according to Red Sea Port authorities.

They added that initial studies of the navigation line confirmed that it will play an important role in attracting tourists from neighboring Arab countries, especially from Saudi Arabia, Emirates, Kuwait and Oman.


]]>
1/1/2018 7:46:22 PM
<![CDATA[Sedon Home open for visitors in Nubia ]]>
In Aswan, you feel that you are in a calm and natural paradise as the Nile, mountains and huge greens surround you, but to experience Nubian life is one of the most exquisite experiences you can have in Egypt.

Nile_View_from_Sedon_Home
Nile View from Sedon Home.- EgyptToday / Doaa Farid

At a home-based restaurant carved out of a hill in Aswan, visitors have the privilege to act like Nubians as Sedon Home blends Nubia’s culture with Aswan’s natural beauty.

If you are in Aswan, it takes only 20 minutes by motorboat from Philae mooring toward the south to reach Sedon Home. On your way to Sedon Home, let your eyes trace the beautiful colorful walls of the village’s houses along the bank of the Nile.

Once you see a house built out of sand, clay and stone, holding an arched roof covered with red and green stalks, then you have arrived at Sedon Home. The place’s walls are covered with flowers to give an example of the simple and attractive decorations of Nubian homes.

Gate_to_the_Nile_From_Sedon_Home
Gate to the Nile From Sedon Home.jpeg - Egypt Today / Doaa Farid

Sedon Home is a restaurant and café owned by a Nubian family who wanted to utilize a part of their home to increase their income.

food_Cooked_over_the_Nile
food Cooked over the Nile.- Egypt Today / Doaa Farid


Sedon Home, named after the family’s father Sedon, offers a full and satisfying service that ranges from Nubian plates and dishes that are well cooked upon your arrival to traditional beverages like Nubian tea. Also, the serving staff there, who are the family members, dress in Nubian traditional clothing.

Sedon Home is a two-story building where you can sit on the second story and enjoy a panorama view of the Nile and Philae Temple, while you can also bask in a refreshing breeze in the first story. ]]>
1/1/2018 12:00:00 PM
<![CDATA[Saint Catherine Monastery closes for 2 days]]>
Aligning with Christmas festivities, the General Administration of Tourism and Antiquities sent a formal notification to the Egyptian Travel Agencies’ Association informing them not to organize any tours to Saint Catherine Monastery, South Sinai, on January 5 and 6, 2018, on the occasion of Christmas.

This decision came in light of the National Organization for Urban Harmony’s decision to develop the area surrounding Saint Catherine Monastery, including passages, lighting system and pathways.

2-Saint_Catherine_s_Monastery,_Mount_Sinai
Close Look at Saint Catherine Monastery, May 8, 2010 – Wikimedia /Bassem Abdel Azizi


As the monastery is in the list of World Heritage Sites, the government started Saint Catherine’s development projects on Saturday after implementing several measures in the area.

Saint Catherine Monastery is one of the world’s oldest monasteries and the center of monastic life in Southern Sinai. It is surrounded by a high, two-meter thick wall of close fitting granite to protect it against possible perpetrators.

This region is believed to be enshrining the burning bush from which God first revealed himself to Moses, including a lot of treasure trove of icons and manuscripts. Also, it encompasses the well of Moses, where it is said to be the place he met his future wife, Zipporah.

3-Saint_Catherine_s_Monastery_on_the_Sinai_Peninsula
Saint Catherine Monastery, Mount Sinai October 9, 2009 – Wikimedia/Ovedc
]]>
12/31/2017 8:49:44 PM
<![CDATA[Celebrating New Year with Pharaos at Abu Simbel Temple]]>
According to Agence France Press, Christmas 2017 was different because many tourists from Africa, Asia and the two Americas, visited Abu Simbel Temple. This year witnessed the highest number of visitors travelling to Aswan and Abu Simbel temple specifically; the number of tourists has increased by 55 percent in comparison to last year, reaching around 6.7 million tourists.

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Entire look of Abu Simbel

In December 2017, Abu Simbel Temple welcomed a number of tourists celebrating Christmas in a secure atmosphere, where all hotels and cruises were completely booked.

Abu Simbel Temple is one of the most popular monumental buildings in Aswan, which is located at the second cataract of the Nile River.

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Great Temple of Ramses II (left) and Small Temple of Nefertari (right) – Wikimedia


The temple, carved out of a sandstone cliff on the west bank of the Nile, was discovered twice. It was initially discovered in 1813 by Swiss researcher Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, and then rediscovered in 1817 by Egyptologist Govani Battista.

At the entrance of Abu Simbel Temple, there are two seated statues of the Pharaoh showing the ruler wearing a short kilt, a beautiful headdress which is a double crown with a cobra and a false beard. Next to the statues’ legs, are smaller statues of the Pharaoh’s relatives. The top of the temple is a row of 22 squatting baboon statues. The baboon’s cry was believed to welcome the rising sun.

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Great Temple of Ramses II (left) and Small Temple of Nefertari (right) – Wikimeida

Further into the temple, there are images and hieroglyphics describing Ramses II’s victory at the battle of Qadesh, in addition to empty storerooms.

According to many scholars, this great temple was created to celebrate the victory of Ramses II over the Hittites at the Battle of Qadesh in 1274 BC. This means that the temple was situated on the border of the conquered lands of Nubia after many military campaigns were carried out by the Pharaoh against Nubia.
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View of Nefertari Temple - Wikimedia

Abu Simbel is made up of two temples. The smaller one was built for Queen Nefertari and has two statues of her and four pharaohs; each about 33 feet (10 meters) in height.

Ramses II built this temple to impress Egypt's southern neighbors, and also to reinforce the status of Egyptian religion in the region; Abu Simbel was one of six rock temples erected in Nubia during the ruling period of Ramses II and its construction took 20 years from 1264 BC to 1244 BC .

UNESCO considers Abu Simbel Temple one of the historical and monumental places that needs to be protected against floods. ]]>
12/31/2017 2:51:09 PM
<![CDATA[EgyptAir distributes gifts to passengers to mark New Year]]>
Holders of the "EgyptAir Plus" Golden Cards were surprised to have them promoted to Platinum Cards, whereas Silver Cards were promoted to Golden Cards.

Some economy-class tickets were also replaced by business-class tickets.

The Egyptian flag carrier also distributed vouchers to be used at the free markets inside Cairo airport. ]]>
12/31/2017 1:11:45 PM
<![CDATA[Full board, plane tickets from Cairo to Moscow for $650]]>
An Egyptian-Russian cooperation protocol for maintaining civil aviation security was signed on December 15 during a meeting between Egyptian Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathi and Sokolov in Moscow, Egypt’s Aviation Ministry said in a statement.

The protocol intends to resume flights between Cairo and Moscow for the first time since 2015, beginning in February 2018, the statement added.

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Tourism in the Red Sea - File photo

Khalil said that a seven-day trip to Egyptian resorts, including full board accommodation at 4-star hotels and the plane tickets between Cairo and Moscow, will cost $650, Mostafa Khalil, Egyptian vice president of the Federation of Tourism Chambers, told the Russian Information Agency Novosti on Thursday.

Khalil added that direct flights between Cairo and Moscow will start again in February, and that direct flights could attract 300,000 tourists from Russia in 2018, not only to Red Sea resorts, but also to more cultural distinctions.

“About 100,000 Russian tourists visited Egypt in 2017, although there weren’t direct flights, as they do prefer Egyptian resorts, and Russian tourists are considered our best customers since the 1990s,” Khalil said

He also expects the tourism sector in Egypt to regain its strength starting next year. Rates of Russian tourists are expected to increase during winter 2019-2020.

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Tourism in Egypt's Red Sea

Former Aviation Minister Wael El-Madawi told Egypt Today that tourism depends on charter flights, which will be discussed in a new round of negotiations in March and April 2018.

Madawi said that matters will gradually improve as Egyptian authorities work to provide assistance to tourists arriving from abroad. Russian tourists, as well as visitors from around the world, are expected to increase in the coming year; Madawi says this is something Egypt must be prepared for.

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Russia's President Vladimir Putin (L) meets with Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (R) in Cairo, Egypt December 11, 2017 - REUTERS

Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Egypt earlier this month, which was his second official visit to Egypt since President Sisi assumed power in 2014.

In a joint press conference held in Cairo, Putin said that he discussed speeding up the resumption of direct passenger flights, which were halted between both states since 2015.

He added that Russia is ready to resume direct passenger flights to Egypt. He further praised the “major steps” Egypt has taken to upgrade security measures at its airports.
]]>
12/30/2017 10:20:00 PM
<![CDATA[EXCLUSIVE - In Pics: Marsa Alam sees tourism boom for Christmas]]>
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Passengers line up at Marsa Alam aisport arrival halls - Photo courtesy: Egypt Today/ Ahmed Rabie

He further pointed out that 60-70 percent of tourists are reported to be coming from the Czech Republic and Poland, adding that Marsa Alam’s visitors are usually greeted with water cannons and complimentary Christmas gifts, including flowers and chocolates.

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A child wearing Santa Claus hat at Marsa Alam airport - Photo courtesy: Air Cairo Airline Facebook page


In previous statements, Bashar Abou Taleb, head of the Tourist Guides in the Red Sea affirmed that this winter season is better than previous years, noting that Marsa Alam’s occupancies overrun those of the popular destination, Hurghada, this year for the first time in the history of the city.

Ahmed Rabie, a member of Marsa Alam airport ground staff, told Egypt Today on Saturday that the airport received its first direct flights from Milano through the Egyptian aviation company, Air Cairo, a few days ago.

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Passengers line up at Marsa Alam aisport arrival halls - Photo courtesy: Egypt Today/ Ahmed Rabie

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Marsa Alam airport arrivals schedule - Photo Courtesy: Egypt Today/ Ahmed Rabie


]]>
12/30/2017 9:03:35 PM
<![CDATA[EgyptAir: 30% discount on Pompeii and Guangzhou flights ]]>
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Guangzhou Guangdong shopping, China 2011- Wikimedia

All EgyptAir‘s clients can utilize this offer by reserving tickets now to Pompeii and Guangzhou on flights no. MS968 and MS958 on January 15, 16, and 17, 2018. This offer is available to all EgyptAir’s clients in Egypt or any European country.

EgyptAir launches four flights weekly on Saturday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to Pompeii which takes off from Cairo International Airport at 4:00 p.m. Cairo local time.

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Temple of Apollo, Pompeii – Wikimedia

On the other hand, all flights to Guangzhou take off daily from Cairo International Airport at 00:15 a.m. Cairo local Time.

For more information, you can check EgyptAir’s official website.
]]>
12/30/2017 8:45:10 PM
<![CDATA[Nepal bans solo climbers from Everest]]>
The cabinet late Thursday endorsed a revision to the Himalayan nation's mountaineering regulations, banning solo climbers from its mountains -- one of a string of measures being flagged ahead of the 2018 spring climbing season.

"The changes have barred solo expeditions, which were allowed before," Maheshwor Neupane, secretary at the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, told AFP.

Neupane said that the law was revised to make mountaineering safer and decrease deaths.

Experienced Swiss climber Ueli Steck lost his life in April this year when he slipped and fell from a steep ridge during a solo acclimatisation climb to Nuptse, a peak neighbouring Everest.

The ban is likely to anger elite solo mountaineers, who enjoy the challenge of climbing alone, even eschewing bottled oxygen, and who blame a huge influx of commercial expeditions for creating potentially deadly bottlenecks on the world's tallest peak.

The cabinet also endorsed a ban on double amputee and blind climbers, although Everest has drawn multitudes of mountaineers wanting to overcome their disabilities and achieve the formidable feat.

New Zealander Mark Inglis, who lost both his legs to frostbite, became the first double amputee to reach the top of the 8,848-metre (29,029-foot) peak in 2006.

Blind American Erik Weihenmayer scaled Everest in May 2001 and later became the only visually-impaired person to summit the highest peaks on all seven continents.

Aspiring Everest climber Hari Budha Magar, a former Gurkha soldier who lost both his legs when he was deployed in Afghanistan, said the ban was discriminatory.

"If the cabinet passes, this is #Discrimination against disable people, breaking #HumanRights," Magar said in a Facebook post after the decision was proposed early this month.

Thousands of mountaineers flock to Nepal -- home to eight of the world's 14 peaks over 8,000 metres -- each spring and autumn when clear weather provides good climbing conditions.

Almost 450 climbers -- 190 foreigners and 259 Nepalis -- reached the summit of Everest from the south side in Nepal last year.]]>
12/30/2017 11:49:38 AM
<![CDATA[Unforgettable visit to El-Tor city ]]>
El Tor City is the capital of South Sinai Governorate located 265 kilometers from the Suez Gulf. It is a small town on the Cairo/Sharm El Sheikh desert road.

It is one of the old cities in South Sinai with a long interesting history including the golden era of the Pharaohs and Islam. Buried monuments are found inside Al-Wadi Valley and Islamic artifacts are located in the region of Al- Kellany.

In the royal age, it was considered the main port, called El-Tor Port, in Egypt on the Red Sea, which is apparent from all the royal monuments there, some of which date back to the Mohamed Ali period.

Although the city’s location is on a desert road, it still has plenty of restaurants, cafeterias and some juice shops. The places are located around the market where Egyptian meals and fresh seafood is available.

This holy site is a fusion between Islamic and Coptic monuments, such as Hmam Musa , Mount El Tor, El-Tor monastery and Jad Jewish church, all of which add scared value to the city.

El-Tor Mountain is the most featured place in the city where the prophet Moses received God’s Ten Commandments.

Serbal Mountain is the second most popular touristic spot there and fifth highest mountain in Egypt. Close to its base are traces of a fourth century monastery, in addition to many granite dwellings on its summit but the foot of the mountain is filled with many inscriptions carved on its rocks.

Close to the northern part of El-Tor City, there is Hmam Musa where five water springs are located. The calming water springs double as therapeutic springs due to the high sulfur rate that provides a natural treatment for various diseases.

Any visitor to El-Tor city will feel the spiritual and calm atmosphere like nowhere else in this world. ]]>
12/29/2017 12:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Egypt to participate in 3 tourism exhibitions in Jan., Feb]]>
The exhibitions are expected to be held at Stuttgart and Munich in Germany, along with Bern, Switzerland. The fees of participating at each one of these exhibitions amounts to $500, according to a notification sent by the Tourism Promotion Authority to the Egyptian Tourism Companies Chamber on Thursday.

The notification stated that the exhibitions are CMT expedition at Stuttgart from January 13 until 21, Munich expedition, which will be held from February 21 until 25, and FESPO expedition scheduled to be held at Bern, Switzerland.

Several tourism promotion authorities from many countries are expected to participate at these three exhibitions.

Last November, Hisham al-Demiri, chairman of the Tourism Promotion Authority traveled to Warsaw, Poland, to open the Egyptian department of TTW exhibition that was held from November 23 until 25. Other several similar exhibitions have been announced during the last year in different countries.]]>
12/28/2017 4:51:26 PM
<![CDATA[Miss Greece says goodbye to Egypt ]]>
Upon Miss Greece’s arrival to Cairo, Miss Egypt, Farah Shabban, and her family hosted Psilou in their home. They fed her Egyptian meals and celebrated her visit with Egyptian Folklore songs that filled her soul with the warm, familiar atmosphere of the Egyptian family.

Psilou visited the Pyramids of the Giza, in the company of Miss Egypt and the Head of Egypt’s Internal Tourism Sector, Adel El Masry. She captured many photographs beside Khufu Pyramid and was surprised by its architectural structure. She entered Khufu Pyramid to learn more about Pharao’s mysterious history and Egyptian civilization. She also visited the Egyptian museum.


Miss Greece’s 2017 visit was organized by the General Authority for Tourism Development in cooperation with the Manager of the Miss Egypt Pageant, Dr. Amal Rizk, as a celebration of World Tourism day. The celebration is considered to be a great opportunity to support and encourage tourism in Egypt.

María Psilou’s visit reflects a growing positive international attitude toward Egypt, which ushers in a new growth progress in the tourism sector for the upcoming months.
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Photo1- Miss Greece 2017 is during her visit at Giza Pyramids with Farah Shabban – Egypt Today/Mahmoud Hassaballah

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Photo 2 Maria Psilou at Farah Shabban’s home – Egypt Today/Mahmoud Hassaballah

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Photo3 Maria Psilou at Egyptian Museum – Egypt Today/Mahmoud Hassaballah
]]>
12/28/2017 12:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Aswan hotels celebrate a fruitful festive Christmas]]>
"Aswan governorate is experiencing a tourist boom, coinciding with Christmas and New Year celebrations this year. Hotel occupancy rates exceed 80 percent, with a huge turnout of foreigners of all nationalities spending their Christmas holiday in Upper Egypt," said Khairi Mohamed, Chairman of the Sub-Chamber of Tourism Companies in Aswan.

Tourism has been picking up recently; Egypt has become a lot cheaper for many international tourists, especially after the country floated its currency last year.

According to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS), hotel occupancy rates recorded 8.129 million nights in October 2017 and 8.150 million nights in November 2017 compared to 3.315 million nights in November 2016.

Meanwhile, occupancy rates in April 2017 increased to 45.2 percent, up from 20 percent in 2016, CAPMAS reported.

"This winter’s bookings witnessed an unprecedented boom, contributing to the increase in inflow to Luxor and Aswan. We started to see foreigners buying souvenirs and strolling over the Nile Corniche, after the tourism sector suffered long lean years due to tourism scarcity," Mohamed added in an exclusive statement for Egypt Today

Tourism revenues jumped 211.8 percent to $5.3 billion in the first nine months of 2017, compared to $1.7 billion last year. The number of tourists who visited Egypt in this time period jumped 55.3 percent to 5.9 million, with European visitors reaching 3.2 million, an 85-percent increase from the previous year.

Hilton Hotels Worldwide announced recently that they aim to increase the number of hotel rooms they manage in Egypt by 40 percent by the end of 2022.]]>
12/27/2017 6:00:18 PM
<![CDATA[Learn about Camel racing in Egypt’s Eastern Desert ]]>
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File - Jockeys compete during the opening of the International Camel Racing Festival in Ismailia, Egypt, March 21,2017

Ismailia Governorate has vast a desert and beautiful landscape, where around 13 Bedouin tribes come together every year to host the International Camel Racing Festival at Fayed City, Ismailia.

In March 2018, Egypt’s Eastern Desert will transform into a race track; competing jockeys on their camels hurl themselves across the sand, while convoys of SUV's and trucks speed alongside them – visitors get an exciting ride and a great view of the race as well.

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A part of the competitors in the Serabioum Valley, Ismailia – Five Photos

The camel race is part of an annual camel festival outside the city of Ismailia. Around 150 camels compete in the race ranging from a relatively short three kilometer track to a 15 kilometer race, or three laps around the five kilometer circuit. The jockeys are mostly small children, aged 11 years old, sometimes even younger.

Competition among the Bedouin tribes in the race is expected to be strong, as the winners will receive a total of LE 100,000, split between the winners from different races.

Ismailia Governorate hopes the camel races will encourage tourism, as organizers say a growing number of international tourists visit the festival every year; though they do not take part in the race, they do live an experience of a life time.

“It’s the first time they have come,” said Sheikh Suleiman Abu Shukri about his tribe, whose territory extends from Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula into neighboring Saudi Arabia.

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Battle of Ismailia Monument, March, 2004 – Wikimedia

Ismailia Governorate is located in the Northeastern part of Egypt between the Port Said Governorate and the Suez Governorate, roughly an hour and a half from Cairo. It was named after Ismail Pasha, the Ottoman viceroy of Egypt, who oversaw the country during the building of Suez Canal.]]>
12/27/2017 3:54:29 PM
<![CDATA[Turkey to restore Sudanese Red Sea port and build naval dock]]>
The restoration at Suakin was agreed during a visit to the ancient port by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour said.

Making the first trip by a Turkish president to Sudan, Erdogan said Turkey had been temporarily granted part of Suakin so it could rebuild the area as a tourist site and a transit point for pilgrims crossing the Red Sea to Mecca.

He said the Suakin deal was one of several, worth $650 million in total, agreed with Sudan, which emerged from two decades of U.S. sanctions in October and is seeking to attract international investment.

The countries also agreed “to build a dock to maintain civilian and military vessels,” Ghandour told reporters, adding that they had signed an agreement “that could result in any kind of military cooperation”.

The agreements come three months after Turkey formally opened a $50 million military training base in Somalia as it exerts increasing influence in the region.

Suakin was Sudan’s major port when it was ruled by the Ottoman Empire, but fell into disuse over the last century after the construction of Port Sudan, 35 miles (60 km) to the north.

Speaking on Monday in Khartoum, Erdogan said the refurbished port city would attract Mecca-bound pilgrims who would want to see the island’s history, helping Sudan’s tourism sector.

“Imagine, people from Turkey wishing to go on pilgrimage will come and visit the historical areas on Suakin Island,” Erdogan said. “From there ... they will cross to Jeddah by boat.”

The other agreements signed during Erdogan’s visit include Turkish investment to build Khartoum’s planned new airport and private sector investments in cotton production, electricity generation and building grain silos and meat slaughterhouses.

Erdogan and Bashir said they aimed for trade between the two countries to reach $10 billion, Turkey’s Foreign Economic Relations Board said.

In October, the United States lifted a trade embargo and other penalties that had cut Sudan off from much of the global financial system.

Sudan’s state minister for investment has said he aims to attract investment of $10 billion a year, compared to $1 billion estimated by the United Nations for 2016.]]>
12/27/2017 2:42:01 PM
<![CDATA[55% rise in international tourism in Egypt ]]>
Around 1,222 tourists have arrived in Dahab on Wednesday, according to sources from the tourism police. It is expected that the serene town will witness larger waves of visitors in 2018, exploring Dahab’s underwater world and participating in the life of the Egyptian-international community.

The Red Sea town is famous for its moderate climate and its relaxed atmosphere with its friendly and hospitable people. Tourists from Russia, Germany, Ukraine, Italy and the United Kingdom are offered a wide range of water sports, such as snorkeling, scuba and free diving, wind and kite-surfing.

The most famous diving spot in Dahab is the Blue Hole, and it is well known amongst the international diving community. The lighthouse, an area where most of the restaurants and hotels are located, offers an easy, accessible and beautiful reef for diving and snorkeling fans alike. Additionally, the town provides comfortable and clean accommodations which are even more affordable than in other diving destinations in Egypt, such as Sharm El-Sheikh.

Egypt also has a glut of tourist attractions such as Luxor, Aswan, Alexandria, Taba and Hurghada. Images of the Nile River also instantly spring to mind. Africa’s greatest river with its all year-round mild climate and its significant location is definitely among the top tourist destinations of the world.

United Nation World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) released a report stating that Egypt is one of the countries that achieved a remarkable revival in tourism with around 8 million tourists visiting Egypt by the end of 2017.]]>
12/27/2017 1:11:37 PM
<![CDATA[Foreign tourist numbers up 23 percent in Tunisia in 2017]]>
Tourism accounts for about 8 percent of Tunisia's gross domestic product, provides thousands of jobs and is a key source of foreign currency, but has struggled since two deadly militant attacks in 2015.

A total of 6.731 million tourists visited the North African country in the year until Dec. 20, data provided by the presidency showed.

The number of European tourists rose by 19.5 percent to 1.664 million, the data showed. The number of French visitors rose by 45.5 percent and the number of Germans by 40.8 percent in the same period.

The number of Algerians visiting rose by 40.5 percent to 2.322 million.

Tunisia's tourism revenues rose by 16.3 percent to 2.69 billion dinars ($1.09 billion), data showed.

In 2010 Tunisia's tourism revenues had hit a record at 3.5 billion dinars with almost 7 million tourists visiting.

The rise is helping the government weather an economic crisis as it plans to raise taxes from 2018, part of reforms agreed with the International Monetary Fund in return for a loan package.

High unemployment has driven youth to seek illegal migration to Europe. ]]>
12/27/2017 11:50:56 AM
<![CDATA[EgyptAir to operate 3rd-weekly commercial flight to Moscow]]>
"There will be also 20 flights to the Egyptian fans to attend the world cup, in accordance with the agreed security measures between the two sides," said Musallam to Flight and Space.

"The company seeks to cover most of the African states after the arrival of the Boeing’s (B737-800) Next Generation airliner to Cairo International Airport and the purchase of nine (B737-800) airliners during 2018 to 2020," added Musallam.

EgyptAir occupied an advanced ranking in the recent report of the British agency OAG, to be one of the most accurate airlines in operating on-time flights in October 2017.

“EgyptAir is ranked as the 31st among the best 50 airlines in the world, for its accuracy in operating on-time flights,” chief of EgyptAir's flights, Sherif Ezzat, stated Thursday, revealing that EgyptAir's accuracy reached 86.7 percent for the 6,266 flights that were operated in October 2017.

Ezzat expressed his happiness with the ranking, saying that the national airline of Egypt was in competition with the top airlines in the Middle East and the whole world; thus the company honored the control officers for their efforts in operating flights on time.

The evaluation depended on the accuracy of arrival and departure times, which EgyptAir is attempting to raise to 90 percent in the upcoming period, according to Ezzat.]]>
12/26/2017 2:41:42 PM
<![CDATA[Guide to New Year’s Eve treks ]]>
1- Bab El-Donya trek:

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View of Jebel Bab El Doneya March 12,2008 – Wikipedia

This trek is organized by The Hiking Club – an online club for organizing short trips to explore Egypt – on December 29, 2017 for 2 days/3 nights at Jebel Bab El-Donya, one of several ranges giving a stunning view of the Gulf of Suez .

The Bab El-Doneya trek is a new adventure where you can climb Jebel Bab El-Donya, hike among grass and green desert plants nestled between the rocks of the mountain, and take in the clear weather from Ein Najila Spring at the foot of Jebel Bab El-Donya.

It costs only EGP 1,950 ($109.3) to include transportation in A/C private bus, cook, Camels, registration fees and two night of camping under the stars.

For more information you can visit The Hiking Club Facebook page.

2- Heissa Island in Nuba, Aswan trek:

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Philae island, Aswan – Wikipedia

This trek is hosted by Egypt Hiking community, which organizes many hiking activities all over Egypt.

The plan includes spending four nights at Nubian House on Heissa island.

This trek is different, as you can live the Nubian life and get in touch with their culture and daily habits.

Heissa Island lies in the reservoir of the Old Aswan Dam along the Nile River in southern Egypt. It is the present site of the relocated Ancient Egyptian temple complex of Philae.

Here, you can relax by the Aswan’s Nile during a boat tour of Lake Nasser. Also, spend unforgettable moments at Cataract Hotel before taking lunch at Anakato Hotel.

It is only EGP 2,900 ($163) to enjoy an amazing night. This cost includes accommodation with meals for four nights in the Nubian guest house on Heissa Island, a kayak tour in the Shalal area around the island and all transportation during the trip except transportation from Cairo and back.

For reservations and more information, you can visit the Egypt Hiking Community Facebook page.

3- El-Dakhla Oasis trek:

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View of Old town in Dakhla Oasis – Pixabay

This two-day trip organized by Astro Trips, an Egyptian travel agency, from December 28-31, 2017, gives you a great opportunity to have a closer look at El-Dakhla Oasis, which lies west of the Nile River between Cairo and Luxor. In the past, El-Dakhla was a fertile land producing fruit and grains.

But now the oasis invites you for more activities, such as hiking, bird watching, enjoying the Bedouin life and swimming in hot springs.

($128.9) 2300 EGP is the total coast for and endless enjoyment during El- Dakhla trek to include accommodation, transportation, three meals a day, Safari program and Bedouin party.

4- Mount Saint Catherine trek:

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Outlook of Saint Catherin mountain – Pixabay

New Year’s Eve is a magical time at Mount Saint Catherine, which is the highest mountain in Egypt located southeast of St. Catherine Village in Sinai Peninsula that will have you overlooking the entire country from the top. Also, you can climb it over three days this week from December 31, 2017 to January 2, 2018.

This trek is brought to you by Mount Dream, online event organizer, for only EGP 950 ($53), as you can climb the mountain until you reach the summit where you take in a spectacular view over Sinai region. ]]>
12/26/2017 12:00:00 PM
<![CDATA[Thailand November tourist arrivals up 23.2 pct - ministry]]>
The kingdom saw a total of 31.85 million foreign tourist arrivals in the period from January to November, up 8.1 percent from the previous year, Pongpanu Svetarundra, permanent-secretary of the tourism and sports ministry, said in a statement.

Pongpanu said Thailand expects a record 35.4 million visitors in total this year, up 9 percent from the previous year.

Around 10 million of those visitors are expected to be Chinese, he said.

Thailand's tourism industry is a major employer and accounts for 12 percent of Southeast Asia's second-biggest economy.

In 2016, there were a record 32.6 million visitors.

The tourism sector has weathered more than a decade of political upheavals in Thailand including several rounds of anti and pro-government street demonstrations and two military coups.

Tourist arrivals are driven by visitors from China.]]>
12/25/2017 9:31:21 PM
<![CDATA[Barquq Mosque: Architectural masterpiece in heart of Cairo ]]>
Upon the orders of Al-Zahir Barquq, the mosque was built in 1384-1386 as one religious complex. It entails a mosque, a school, and a mausoleum. All were subtly designed to remain as a witness for the grandeur of architecture surviving over hundreds of years.

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Ceiling outlook of Al-Zahir Barquq mosque, Cairo, Egypt Best Places Facebook Page, 20 December, 2017


According to history references, the Circassians were first imported to Egypt as slaves by Sultan Qalawun in the 13th century. As a Circassian, Barquq freed himself in 1363 to establish his own dominance with the help of Circassian Mamluks in 1382. He indeed established himself and was married to the last descendant of Qalawun's family – Baghdad Khatun. Barquq ordered this complex to be constructed as a funerary for his family.

Al-Zahir Barquq School:

Barquq School includes an old huge building formed out of huge rocks. The old building is meant for the accommodation of over 100 students of those who were interested in studying the four schools of Islamic religion. The school has further included rooms for the teachers annexed with stables for the horses.

The marble-floored entrance is marked by a very high, wide, ventilated opening meant to allow sound to echo. This genius design made it easy for teachers to be heard when they called a student’s name.

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Interior outlook of Al-Zahir Barquq mosque Qibla corner, Cairo, Egypt Best Places Facebook Page, 20 December, 2017


Al-Zahir Barquq Mosque:

At one side of the wide, rectangular complex is the mosque (prayer area). In the middle, there is a fountain that was used by worshippers to make ablution before the prayer.

Barquq Mosque has a distinctive octagonal minaret that differs from other 14th century minarets. The ceiling of the mosque is decorated with intersecting white and blue marbles in the stones. The design is inspired by the intersecting arches at the top of the minaret of Qalawun Mosque. The minaret was based on four columns taking the shape of a ram's head.

Interior_outlook_of_Al-Zahir_Barquq_mosque_Qibla_corner,_Cairo,_Egypt_Best_Places_Facebook_Page,_20_December,_2017,
interior outlook of Al-Zahir Barquq mosque, Cairo, Egypt Best Places Facebook Page, 20 December 2017


Al-Zahir Barquq Mausoleum:

The mosque contains four “iwans” (vaulted spaces that open on one side to a courtyard) with large pointed arches and inscriptions carved in stone. The open court is paved with marble mosaic and features large porphyry (colored marble) disks.

The mausoleum is located underneath one of the four iwans to the north side of the prayer hall. It is found directly after a decorative passage that leads into the mausoleum. The dome above the mausoleum has wooden pendentives that are painted with magnificent decorations. The windows of the mausoleum are of shiny colorful glass that radiates the sun light all day long.

Outlook_of_Al-Zahir_Barquq_mosque_from_the_courtyard,_Cairo,_Egypt_Best_Places_Facebook_Page,_20_December,_2017,
Outlook of Al-Zahir Barquq Mosque from the courtyard, Cairo, Egypt Best Places Facebook Page, 20 December, 2017

The Mosque’s Founder :

Shihab al-Din Ahmed ibn Muhammad al-Tuluni was the founder of Barquq's religious complex. As a descendant of a family of architects, Tuluni's architectural experience and creative artistic personality have partaken to leave a mark all over the mosque.

Out of his gratitude for the creative architect, Barquq asked Tuluni – a Christian who converted to Islam – to have the façade windows of the mosque made into the cross shape.

The_main_door_with_a_wide_ventilation_openning,_Al-Zahir_Barquq_mosque,_Cairo,_Egypt_Best_Places_Facebook_Page,_20_December,_2017,
The main door with a wide ventilation opening, Al-Zahir Barquq Mosque, Cairo, Egypt Best Places Facebook Page, 20 December 2017


It was notable that the doors all over the mosque have two bronze medallions of varied sizes to knock on the door. The big medallion was used for men, while women used the smaller knockers. This design was mainly meant to avoid contact among men and women.

The mosque is a piece of art that loudly speaks of the grandeur of the founder. It was created by a genius architect aware of the place dimensions and the people traditions during that era.]]>
12/25/2017 2:10:06 PM
<![CDATA[Year of 2017 is the best for Egypt tourism: official]]>
Despite the hardships crippling the tourism sector in Egypt, tourist numbers in 2017 came close to levels seen before its 2011 revolution, he added.

Hotel accommodation rates in Luxor and Aswan during Christmas and New Year vacations are high, he said, adding that part of this increase is attributed to the growing number of cultural tourism fans, especially those coming from Scandinavian and southeastern Asia countries.

Arrivals from Japan and China to Luxor and Aswan have increased by 200 percent, he said.

Othman called for launching more campaigns in countries that care about such kind of tourism like Latin American countries. ]]>
12/25/2017 12:22:33 PM
<![CDATA[Air Cairo operates 1st flight from Milan to Sharm El Sheikh]]>
In a statement, Director of Public Relations at Marsa Allam Airport Mohamed Taman said that water salutes have been used to mark the flight's arrival as a part of the international protocol of the arrival of the first flight of an airline to an airport.

The passengers were also greeted with flowers from the moment of their arrival and the arrival ceremony was displayed on the airport's screens, Taman added.

Air Cairo will also operate a new flight from the Italian cities of Milan and Verona to Marsa Alam Airport, using the Airbus A320 family aircraft, said Chairman of IMAC Airport Management and Operations Hany Aqab.

The airport's administration provides all facilities and services to facilitate the procedures for passengers and aircraft, he noted.]]>
12/25/2017 11:33:49 AM
<![CDATA[Thailand November tourist arrivals up 23.2 pct: ministry]]>
The kingdom saw a total of 31.85 million foreign tourist arrivals in the period from January to November, up 8.1 percent from the previous year, Pongpanu Svetarundra, permanent-secretary of the tourism and sports ministry, said in a statement.

Pongpanu said Thailand expects a record 35.4 million visitors in total this year, up 9 percent from the previous year.

Around 10 million of those visitors are expected to be Chinese, he said.

Thailand's tourism industry is a major employer and accounts for 12 percent of Southeast Asia's second-biggest economy.

In 2016, there were a record 32.6 million visitors.

The tourism sector has weathered more than a decade of political upheavals in Thailand including several rounds of anti and pro-government street demonstrations and two military coups.

Tourist arrivals are driven by visitors from China.]]>
12/25/2017 11:30:13 AM
<![CDATA[Miss Greece 2017 encourages Egyptian Tourism ]]>
Psilou’s itinerary includes a number of tourist spots to learn more about Egypt’s great history and ancient civilization, information she can share with the people of Greece and encourage them to visit Egypt.

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This visit comes as a part of the Miss World protocol, wherby every queen must represent her country globally and build good relations with her counterparts in the world.

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Photoshoot of Maria Psilou –

The 20-year-old Psilou was crowned as Star Hellas in 2017 and then went on to compete in the Miss Universe pageant. She studies philosophy at the University of Patras.

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Maria Psilou Miss Greece 2017 – Official Facebook page

Miss Egypt, Farah Shabban, and Maria Psilou competed at the 2017 Miss World pageant held in China where they became friends and agreed on a program for encouraging tourism to both their countries.
Greece won the Miss World crown once with Irene Skliva in 1996 and won Miss Universe once in 1964 with Corinna Tsopei. ]]>
12/25/2017 12:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[CAPMAS: Occupancy rates witness a yearly Increase]]>
"The number of tourists has reached 778,800 tourists last November versus 449,800 in November 2016," read the CAPMAS Newsletter for December.

According to the Central Agency statistics, hotels’ occupancy rates has recorded 8.129 million nights in October 2017, and amounted to 8.150 million nights in November 2017 compared to 3.315 million nights in November 2016.

Meanwhile, occupancy rates in April 2017 increased year-on-year to 45.2 percent, up from 20 percent a year earlier, CAPMAS said.

The tourism sector has been struggling ever since the January 25 Revolution of 2011 and it was recently hit by the downing of a Russian airliner over Sinai in late 2015, which resulted in a Russian and UK travel ban to the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh.

However, tourism has been picking up recently; especially since Egypt has now become a cheaper destination for many tourists around the world after floating the local currency.

Tourism revenues jumped 211.8 per cent year-on-year to $5.3 billion in the first nine months of 2017, compared to $1.7 billion the year before.
The number of tourists who visited Egypt in that time jumped 55.3 per cent to 5.9 million, with European visitors reaching 3.2 million, an 85-percent increase from the previous year.

In this context, Hilton hotels worldwide has announced recently that it aims to increase the number of hotel rooms it manages in Egypt by 40 percent by the end of 2022.]]>
12/24/2017 7:45:28 PM
<![CDATA[Heavy fogs causes Emirates to cancel 10 flights ]]>
Christmas holidays are a high season for UAE’s airlines as people travel abroad to celebrate the festive period with their families or on vacation.

According to Emirate Airlines’ official website, all cancelled flights are between Dubai and Tehran, Bahrain, Dammam, Kuwait, Larnaca, Basra, Amman, Budapest, Hong Kong and Baghdad.

Etihad airways anticipates some flight delays and cancellations and some return flights to Abu Dhabi were expected to face disruption.

“Poor weather conditions had led to delays and cancellations of some of our flights on Friday and Saturday,” Etihad airlines said on its official Twitter account.

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Dubai, United Emirates, May 13, 2015 – Pixabay
]]>
12/24/2017 4:38:04 PM
<![CDATA[South Sinai in blue ]]>
The Blue Desert, also known as “blue valley” or “colored mountain”, took its color in 1980 when Belgian artist Jean Verame colored the rocks and boulders of the area with bright turquoise and blue hues as an artistic celebration of the peace treaty signed by Egypt-Israel 1973.

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Stanley Bridge in Alexandria, Egypt, December 18, 2017 – Wikimedia/Wing

With the approval of former Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat, after two years of persuading the Egyptian authorities, Verame arrived in Sinai with 10 tons of blue paints which were approved by the United Nations.

Verame worked on the project for two years, using up to 10 tons of paint to complete his project including rocks on an area of four-kilometer with boulders as high as 10 meters, giving the desert a spectacular contrast against the stark yellows and beiges of the desert.

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Red mountains in the Blue Desert, May 23, 2015 – Pixabay

The Blue Desert is easily accessible by car from Nabi Salah, or on foot from Wadi Isbaiya through a trail splitting away from the paved road leading to Saint Catherine Monastery, in line with the mausoleum of Sheikh Nabi Salah. Heading southeast, the desert lies in the Saint Catherine Protectorate not far from Mount Sinai.

A work of man-made and natural art amalgamated, the Blue Desert is popular for its red mountains that stand across golden stones and huge sculptures from granite of blue with some green desert plants nestled between them. Even the rocks there are balloon-shaped, resembling large gobs of chewing gum strewn across the desert.

The Blue Desert is an ideal place for travelers who want to camp. For many reasons, it is a precarious place for relaxing, taking beautiful distance and mountain climbing.

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Sinai’s blue sky, September18, 2016 – Pixabay
]]>
12/24/2017 2:15:02 PM
<![CDATA[Kannur International Airport to be operational by September 2018]]>
Once completed, the apron of the airport will have parking bays for 14 Code E aircraft or 20 Code C aircraft. The airport will be able to handle at a time 2,000 passengers. KIAL is expected to change the face of north Kerala in areas like tourism and business activities, especially handloom, textiles and floriculture, the Chief Minister’s Office said.]]>
12/24/2017 1:52:05 PM
<![CDATA[Christmas tourist arrivals in Goa have dropped by 30 pct]]>
“As far as Christmas is concerned, there has been drop in foreign and domestic tourist arrival by almost 30 per cent compared to last year,” Savio Messiah, President, Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG), told PTI. Messiah claimed that the factors “like GST” have affected the high-end tourists while many have refused to come because of the “high air-fares” and “high cost of holiday” in the state. Messiah said the situation will hopefully improve during the New Year celebrations with more people arriving in the state. However, Goa tourism department claims the tourists have just begun arriving and the number would go up during the coming week. “The tourists have already begun arriving in the state. We expect more footfall this week. You can see yourself how streets are abuzz with the guests,” the state’s Tourism Director Menino D’Souza said.

While D’Souza refused to quantify the number of tourists expected to visit Goa during the next week, a senior department official said the tourism industry trends indicate that more than four lakh tourists will usher in the New Year in the state. While popular Electronic Dance Music festivals Sunburn and Supersonic have abstained from Goa this season, TIMOUT72, a new event, is scheduled to be held at Vagator in North Goa between December 27-29. The beach shack owners, who recently went through a tough time due to Cyclone Ockhi, have got back on their feet and are expecting a good business.

“The shack owners have forgotten about the cyclone. They have reconstructed their structures and are waiting for a good tourist season,” said Cruz Cardoso, President, Shack Owners’ Welfare Society. He said the number of tourists arriving at the beaches is expected to surpass last year’s figures. Cardoso said tourists have started arriving on the beaches and a majority of them are domestic travellers. “There is not much response from the international tourists,” he claimed.]]>
12/24/2017 1:47:14 PM
<![CDATA[Nile cruises return again to Luxor, Aswan ]]>
Two Nile cruises, Zahra and Nile Heart, have started their Nile trip from Luxor to Aswan. The low Nile River at the Kom Ombo region caused many tourist cruises to travel backward into the Nile.

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Nile ships moored in The Nile, Luxor 14 April, 2012- Wikimedia

According to tourism sector officials, the Nile islands in Kom Ombo negatively and gradually affected the Nile levels until the water level depth reached around 140 centimeters. At that point, cruises stopped at the outpost.

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Nile view at Elephantile, Aswan February 1, 2011 – Wikimedia / Marc

Sources from tourist companies said, "There were eight cruises stopped at Kum Ombo, Aswan due to the low water level there. Another two cruises cancelled their Nile tour from Kom Ombo to Luxor."

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View of sunrise at Aswan March 18, 2011 – Wikimedia / Marc Rackyart

The official added that constructing a passageway at a higher level of the Nile solves the problem by allowing two Nile cruises to traverse.]]>
12/23/2017 8:38:36 PM
<![CDATA[Huge turnout by foreign tourists on visiting Qaitbay Citadel in Alex.]]>
In statements to MENA on Saturday, the General Director of the Islamic, Coptic and Jewish Antiquities in Alexandria and the North Coast Mohamed Metwali said that Qaitbay Citadel combines between a unique view overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and the glory of history reflected by its archaeological feature.]]>
12/23/2017 4:25:02 PM
<![CDATA[Sonic boom or bust? Dreams of super-fast jet travel revival face headwinds]]>
Fifteen years ago, Boeing Co (BA.N) canceled plans to build the near-supersonic Sonic Cruiser, the last big attempt by a major manufacturer to speed up commercial travel.

Now Japan Airlines Co Ltd (9201.T) and Virgin Group are backing one of the three U.S. supersonic projects, Denver-based Boom Technology Inc, which plans a 55-seat all business class jet.Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) is partnering with Aerion Corp to develop smaller supersonic business jets, with Spike Aerospace Inc also targeting the private jet market given many see the super-rich as the likeliest early adopters of supersonic travel.

Concorde was developed in the 1960s, meaning this is hardly a new technology. But the program was government-backed, with only 14 jets ever delivered to then-government owned British Airways (ICAG.L) and Air France (AIRF.PA). Other airline orders evaporated as the purchase price soared and they were eventually retired as maintenance costs rose and passenger revenue fell.

New players are relying on venture capital funding models.“This is more about engines and economics than it is about airframes,” Richard Aboulafia, the vice president of analysis at aerospace research firm Teal Group, said of the challenges of a supersonic revival.

To make the project economics stack up the engines need to be far more fuel efficient and less noisy than those used by Concorde or fighter jets.That has proven tough to engineer, especially at higher speeds like the Concorde’s Mach 2, which halved the travel time from London to New York to 3.5 hours.Engine manufacturers and jet makers have spent decades improving fuel efficiency, expanding range and reducing noise.

But to get up to mach speed, a supersonic jet requires an engine core more like those on the commercial jets of the 1970s and 1980s which noisily gobble more air and fuel.
“A large fraction of the benefits we have in efficiency and noise reduction we are going to lose as soon as we have to go back to that sort of architecture,” said Daniel Edgington-Mitchell, an aerospace engineering lecturer at Melbourne’s Monash University.

Aerion, the most advanced of the proposed supersonic jet projects, is working with GE Aviation (GE.N) to develop an engine based on a core used in F-16 fighters and Boeing 737s that was developed in the 1970s, a GE spokesman said.In a sign of the challenges involved using an older engine core rather than spending $1 billion-plus to engineer a new one, Aerion has reduced the jet’s planned speed from Mach 1.6 to 1.4.Today’s top business jets fly at around Mach 0.9 and commercial jets at Mach 0.85.

Jeff Miller, Aerion’s head of marketing, said the speed had fallen to meet noise standards and due to temperature limits involved with adapting an existing engine core. Aerion, chaired by billionaire businessman Robert Bass, plans for the 12-seat, $120 million jet to make its first test flight in 2023, with entry into service in 2025.

“Aerion has researched the problems since 2003 and therefore reached the highest degree of realism,” Leeham Co analyst Bjorn Fehrm said, comparing it to the loftier supersonic ambitions of Boom and Spike. “If one wants to go faster, a suitable core is harder to find.”Boom wants a $200 million jet capable of Mach 2.2 and Spike aims for a $100 million jet at Mach 1.6, down from an earlier Mach 1.8.

Both want their jets to enter service in 2023, two years earlier than Aerion.Several industry sources said those timelines appeared unrealistic because the companies have yet to select engines and will face testing and certification challenges.

Boom founder and CEO Blake Scholl said the company was examining an adaptation of an existing engine as well as a clean-sheet option, with more to say next year. Spike CEO Vik Kachoria said his company was in talks with two engine suppliers. Both are working on smaller demonstrator aircraft with different engines designed to prove the concept is achievable within their proposed timeframes.

Engine maker Rolls-Royce Holdings PLC (RR.L) said it was interested in supersonic work. United Technologies Corp’s (UTX.N) Pratt & Whitney division said it was “not currently” working with Boom and did not respond to a question on Spike, while GE did not provide comment on either project.

Scholl said airlines need a speed of at least Mach 2 to make the supersonic business case stake up because that would shave one day off a trans-Atlantic itinerary and two days off trans-Pacific trips. For now, only over-water itineraries are under consideration due to widespread bans on civilian supersonic flights over land.

“Faster speeds not only are better for passengers, they are better for airlines, who get to turn the plane around and fly more segments in the same day, possibly even with the same crew,” Scholl said.Japan Airlines and Virgin Group, which declined to comment, have a combined 30 options over Boom jets, with three other as-yet-unnamed customers signed on for another 46.

Former British Airways chief Concorde pilot Mike Bannister said the biggest hurdle for Boom was to develop jets at a price that would stack up for airlines, or early orders would evaporate as they had with Concorde.

“The technical challenges, whilst great, are surmountable,” said Bannister, who was the captain of the last-ever commercial Concorde flight and has advised Boom’s team.“It is an absolute delight to be able to see on the horizon the prospect of another supersonic airliner, particularly for my family because my daughter who is 24 is a commercial pilot. I would love to see my daughter flying it.”]]>
12/23/2017 2:13:50 PM
<![CDATA[Trump travel ban should not apply to people with strong U.S. ties: court]]>
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers several West Coast states, also said its ruling would be put on hold pending a decision on the latest version of the travel ban from the Trump administration by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Since taking office in January, Trump has been struggling to enact a ban that passes court muster.A three-judge panel from the 9th Circuit narrowed a previous injunction from a lower federal court to those people “with a credible bona fide relationship with the United States.”It also said that while the U.S. president has broad powers to regulate the entry of immigrants into the United States, those powers are not without limits.

“We conclude that the President’s issuance of the Proclamation once again exceeds the scope of his delegated authority,” the panel said.The ban targets people from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen seeking to enter the United States. Trump, a Republican, has said the travel ban is needed to protect the United States from terrorism.

The state of Hawaii, however, challenged it in court, and a Honolulu federal judge said it exceeded Trump’s powers under immigration law.Trump’s ban also covers people from North Korea and certain government officials from Venezuela, but the lower courts had already allowed those provisions to go into effect.

The same three-judge 9th Circuit panel, which limited a previous version of Trump’s ban, heard arguments earlier this month.Trump issued his first travel ban targeting several Muslim-majority countries in January, which caused chaos at airports and mass protests.

He issued a revised one in March after the first was blocked by federal courts.That expired in September after a court fight and was replaced with the current version.The ban has some exceptions. Certain people from each targeted country can still apply for a visa for tourism, business or education purposes, and applicants can ask for an individual waiver.

“We are pleased that the Supreme Court has already allowed the government to implement the proclamation and keep all Americans safe while this matter is litigated. We continue to believe that the order should be allowed to take effect in its entirety,” U.S. Justice Department spokeswoman Lauren Ehrsam said in a statement.]]>
12/23/2017 12:08:06 PM
<![CDATA[One day visit to peak of Jebel Abbas Pasha]]>
Jebel Abbas Pasha, located in the center of the high mountains in South Sinai, is a black volcanic mountain with a stunning view of the surrounding mountain ranges, lowlands and the town of St. Catherine.

On the top of the mountain are the ruins of an unfinished palace dating back to Egypt’s viceroy Abbas Hilmi Pasha. It is said that he suffered from tuberculosis and wanted a building similar to a Swiss sanatorium.

Jebel Abbas Pasha is a popular trekking route, as it is approachable on foot from the town of St. Catherine. Its massive black walls stand firm next to the red granite dome of Jebel Abu Mahashir, holding a hidden green basin.

The best time to visit Jebel Abbas Pasha is in the morning or before sunset, as the mountain’s peak rewards the visitor with a stunning view over the town of St. Catherine and Mt. Sinai.

A one day visit to Jebel Abbas Pasha is an unforgettable experience, where the explorer becomes one with nature.

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Photo 1- Stunning view from the top of Jebel Abbas Pasha, Sep. 13, 2012 – Wikimedia.com/Mohamed Moussa.

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Photo 2 Portrait of Egypt’s viceroy Abbas Pasha, whose palace is on top of Jebel Abbas Pasha – Wikimedia
]]>
12/23/2017 12:00:00 PM
<![CDATA[Oman opens sprawling oryx reserve to ecotourists]]>
Once extinct in the wild, the rare member of the antelope family famed for its elegant horns has been dragged back from the precipice in a sprawling reserve fenced off for decades from the public.

That changed last month when authorities for the first time officially opened the sanctuary to visitors part of a broader bid by Oman to boost tourism as oil revenues decline.

On a recent outing, wildlife rangers in SUVs patrolled the sandy plains of the reserve in central Oman's Haima province, spotting groups of grazing oryx and other indigenous species.

For years, the main goal has been a basic one ensuring the oryx can survive by focusing on "helping the animals here reproduce and multiply", said sanctuary spokesman Hamed bin Mahmoud al-Harsousi.

But now, as numbers have ticked up from just 100 some two decades ago to almost 750 today, the authorities began eyeing another role for the reserve.

"There has been more interest in its tourism potential to take advantage of its uniqueness and rare animals," Harsousi told AFP.

'Arabian unicorn'

The story of the Arabian oryx sometimes referred to as the Arabian "unicorn" due to its distinctive profile is one of miraculous survival.

Hunted prolifically, the last wild member of the species was killed in Oman by suspected poachers in 1972.

The species only clung to existence thanks to a programme to breed them in captivity and in the early 1980s a batch of 10 were released into Oman's Arabian Oryx Sanctuary.Since then, regenerating the oryx has been an often precarious process.

The Omani sanctuary sprawls over 2,824 square kilometre (1,100 sq miles) of diverse terrain from flat plains to rocky slopes and sandy dunes.Its own fate has been nearly as tortured as that of the oryx it houses.

In 2007, the sanctuary became the first place ever to be removed from UNESCO's World Heritage list as the government of Oman turned most of it over to oil drilling.

On guard against poachers

Now, as oil prices have plunged over the past few years, it is the wildlife once again that has become an increasing priority for the authorities.

Harsousi puts the current number of Arabian oryx in the sanctuary at 742 and says that other species are flourishing there too.

"In the past three years, we have been able to increase the number of the Arabian gazelle, known as sand gazelles, from 300 to about 850," he added.In addition to the animals, there are 12 species of trees that provide a habitat for diverse birds.

Oman has been on a push to transform itself into a tourist draw pitching its beach resorts to luxury travellers and desert wilderness to the more adventurous.Officials in the sultanate told AFP that a major tourism plan would be announced within a matter of weeks.

Those working at the oryx sanctuary hope that it can help play a lead role in luring visitors to the country.But there are also fears that greater openness could see the return of an old foe hunters.

With that in mind security is being kept tight, said Abdullah Ghassab Obaid, a wildlife guard at the reserve."Thirty guards and a police patrol are working to provide security in the reserve to prevent any infiltration."]]>
12/23/2017 11:37:54 AM
<![CDATA[Russian tourists in Egypt increase 32%: Media outlets]]>
Most of the tourists headed to Hurghada, Sharm el-Sheikh and Cairo using indirect flights. This increase came despite the difficulties faced by the lack of air traffic between Egypt and Russia during the last period, especially after the 2015 Russian plane crash in Sinai.

The highest number of Russian tourists – about 47 percent – chose to head to Hurghada as their first distention, followed by Sharm el-Sheikh with 42 percent and finally Cairo with only 11 percent.

On December 15, Russian Transport Minister Maksim Sokolov told Russia 24 that the Egyptian-Russian direct flights would resume in the first half of February.

“In the first half of February, if there are no other changes and negative events, the regular air communication between Cairo and Moscow will resume," he was quoted by the news channel.

The Russian suspension has affected Egypt’s national economy negatively, as the tourism industry, especially from Russia, represents a key source of foreign currency to the country. The return of Russian flights and tours could be a massive boost to tourist numbers, which have reached 5.3 million tourists in 2016, compared to 14.7 million in 2010.

In an interview with Egyptian-owned news agency MENA on December 20, Minister of Tourism Yehia Rashed said that Egyptian tourism has overcome its crises and all its difficulties. He added that 2018 will witness even more achievements.]]>
12/22/2017 9:47:35 PM
<![CDATA[Modern-day Mowgli: Indian toddler forges bond with monkeys]]>
Samarth Bangari's unusual friendship was discovered when the youngster was spotted alone in his village in southern India playing with nearly two dozen grey langurs.

The infant's uncle Barama Reddy said it was "strange" for the monkeys to behave like that, and villagers feared the boy would be attacked while his parents worked in a nearby field.

But it soon became clear they were more than comfortable in his presence, with the youngster happy to share some of his food with the visiting troupe.

The monkeys kept returning, day after day, to visit their young friend in Allapur, roughly 400 kilometres (250 miles) from the city of Bangalore, his uncle said.

"Since that day, the monkeys haven't missed a day. They come to the house around the same time," Reddy told AFP.

"Even if he is sleeping, they first wake him up, and then sit with him for an hour or two."

The unusual relationship piqued local interest, and soon people began visiting the house to catch a glimpse of young Samarth tottering around the farm with 20 langurs in tow.

Thinking the monkeys must enjoy the company of children, another youngster was plonked next to Samarth but the langur pack became aggressive, Reddy said.

He said Samarth was now a local legend due to his "special bond" with the monkeys, whose sounds he mimics even though he cannot speak yet.

"Everyone thinks that he is special and they are communicating with each other, and can understand what is being said," Reddy said.

Mowgli was a character in "The Jungle Book", Rudyard Kipling's tales about a boy who grew up in the wild in India, and is often used as a shorthand for people who are able to bridge the human-animal divide.

]]>
12/22/2017 1:42:48 PM
<![CDATA[Enjoy the rain on Alexandria’s Stanley Bridge ]]>
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Stanley Bridge on the Alexandria beach, Egypt, December 18, 2017 – Wikimedia/Wing

Stanley Bridge is the first bridge in Egypt to be constructed over the sea, allowing natives and visitors to experience the architectural style of the cosmopolitan Egyptian city. It is considered by many to be a major part of the reconstruction and decoration of Alexandria beach.

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View of Stanley beach from the Stanley Bridge, August 8, 2007 -Wikimedia/Leonardo

The bridge is named after the district where it is built. It has four towers designed in the Islamic style by the famous constructing company Arab Contractors to compliment the royal palace in Al Montazah.

Stanley Bridge is 400 meters long and 30 meters wide, with a design that opens up hearts and invites visitors to go for a walk over the sea. The bridge was built with the aim of enlarging the Alexandria beachside, as the narrow two-way street by the walk was suffering from too much traffic.

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The view from Stanley Bridge, Alexandria September 27, 2014 – Wikimedia/Ahmed Younis

There is an underpass near the bridge to allow pedestrians to safely cross to the other side. While walking along Stanley Bridge, you will see fishermen line up on the Bridge waiting for their catch of the day.On the other side, there are many local and international restaurants that allow you to dine to the stunning view of the Bridge over the Mediterranean Sea.

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Alexandria Sea, November 23, 2014 – Pixabay

Over the years, Stanley Bridge has become one of the most remarkable landscapes in Alexandria, offering many recreational activities, like fishing.]]>
12/22/2017 12:00:00 PM
<![CDATA[In Photos: Solar alignment illuminates ancient temples]]>
The annual two-hour event, starting at 6 a.m., marks the first day of winter, as per the outstanding progressive knowledge of the ancient Egyptian.

Every year, attendees come to watch the sunlight as it falls perfectly perpendicular on the sanctuary of Amun Ra’a at the center of the temple; the sunrays then move towards the temple’s gates to reach Hatshepsut’s ancient temple.

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The sight of the sun falling perpendicular on the palace of template of Amoun Ra’ in Luxor - Archive

“The phenomenon is one of the most important events that we are seeking to utilize to revive tourism and spread knowledge of the ancient Egyptian civilization,” Luxor’s governor stated, adding that it is a proof of how ancient Egyptians were worldwide pioneers in the field of astrology.

Fayoum’s governor, along with top officials, archaeologists, ambassadors and tourists, also witnessed the rare astronomical phenomena, which occurred simultaneously at Karun Palace in Fayoum.

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The sight of the sun falling perpendicular on the palace of template of Amoun Ra’ in Luxor - Archive

The astrological event marks the northern winter solstice, which is the year’s shortest day and also the beginning of the winter season. It happens twice a year to mark both winter and summer. ]]>
12/21/2017 7:55:00 PM
<![CDATA[Jamaican jungle safe from mining - for now]]>
At the cost of billions of dollars in potential earnings, Prime Minister Andrew Holness last month set aside the Cockpit Country as a “national asset” too valuable to exploit.

The decision has its detractors but plenty of beneficiaries too - be it future generations of Jamaicans or the current crop of parrots, butterflies, ferns and frogs that call Cockpit home.

Holness announced the creation of the 74,726-hectare Cockpit Country Protected Area last month, ruling out mining even though prospectors had already received licenses to look for bauxite.“This area is too valuable,” he said, elevating its status as a national asset over its potential monetary worth.

“While we will forgo the extraction of millions of tonnes of high grade bauxite and limestone with potential earnings of billions of United States dollars, we cannot put a price tag on the loss to our water resources and biodiversity.”

The decision won Holness plaudits from environmentalists.Jamaica Environmental Trust Executive Director Diana McCaulay said she was “certainly more optimistic” after more than a decade of campaigning to protect the zone.

McCaulay cited valuable aquifers and unique biodiversity, including rare species of parrots, butterflies, frogs, snails, and ferns, as reasons to protect the remote area.An impenetrable jungle in western Jamaica, the region is inhospitable to outsiders and also has a rich cultural history.

The land is claimed by the Accompong Town or Leeward Maroons, who are descendants of runaway slaves who fought the British to a bloody stalemate in a 90-year-war.Maroons were Africans who escaped slavery and mixed with indigenous populations to form independent settlements.

Separate maroon communities in the mountains of western and eastern Jamaica signed peace treaties with the British in 1739 that granted them permanent freedom from slavery and awarded them land autonomous from the colonial government in Jamaica.

They maintain an independent streak to this day - and say it was never for Holness to set aside land they consider their own.

“What the prime minister should have told the world is that the Cockpit Country is separate from Jamaica by our treaty rights,” Accompong Town Deputy Colonel Melvin Currie told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, using his honorific title as bequeathed to his ancestors by the British.

“The treaty says that we should live forever and hereafter in a total state of freedom.” Currie disputes how the British drew up the boundaries of the Cockpit Country and how much land is therefore theirs.McCaulay calls it “a complex legal issue” and that what should have been about 15,000 hectares was reduced to 1,500 hectares in the final document drawn up by the British.

The successful campaign to protect jungle in western Jamaica comes on the heels of international recognition for the natural and cultural heritage of eastern Jamaica.In 2015, the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park became Jamaica’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site.

A biodiversity hotspot rich in natural attributes, the region was also singled out for its secret trails, archaeological remains, look-outs, hiding places and other features key to maroon culture.According to Susan Otokoun, executive director of the Jamaica Conservation and Development Trust, a charity which manages the national park, ecotourism destination is now its future.

“We see tourism as an opportunity for income generation,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “That was one of the ideas behind both the park and the heritage site – to create sustainable livelihoods.”

Moore Town, one of the oldest Windward or eastern maroon villages, sits on the lush edge of both the park and the World Heritage Site. It is a three-hour drive from the capital Kingston, the last on windy dirty roads into the mountains.

Colonel Wallace Sterling, leader of the 8,000 maroon descendants here, hopes tourism helps his village, with young people more likely to chase big-city opportunities than stay put.

“We want to see development in harmony with nature and encourage young people to stay, which is not the situation now,” Otoukon said. “Culture and natural heritage are ways you can stimulate economic growth.”

Above all, given the recent experience of his fellow maroons in Acompong Town with the Cockpit Country, Sterling believes the land must stay protected from resource exploitation.

“It is better to stay as it is and we remain poor, healthy, and happy than you giving us a few pennies and telling us that we’re better off,” he told Thomson Reuters Foundation on his front porch, peeling papaya picked from his yard. “The mining company is going to get most of the money.”

While environmentalists are rejoicing over the Cockpit Country Protected Area, they recognize their work is not done.

“We still have to hold the prime minister to his word to make sure he does what he said he’s going to do,” McCaulay said.Otoukon echoed those concerns.“The announcement leaves me feeling a bit positive but my concern is still the level of active management of these protected areas,” she said.

“Bauxite is not the economic future of the country,” she said. “It’s an unequal sacrifice. People who live in these areas are asked to give up their homes, livelihoods, and communities.”]]>
12/21/2017 6:26:43 PM
<![CDATA[Plastic recycling aims to cure turtle tummy-ache on Kenya's coast]]>
She had been hospitalized after her guts were blocked with white plastic bags she swallowed, mistaking them for jellyfish, and tiny plastic pieces entangled in the sea grass she eats.

In a bid to clean up Kai’s environment, the villagers of Watamu, who depend on fishing and tourism, joined hands in 2016 with an entrepreneur and a local ocean conservation charity to recycle plastic waste from two marine national parks in eastern Kenya.

In Malindi town, 20 km (12.5 miles) from Watamu and 115 km north of Mombasa city, Sam Ngumba Ngaruiya, 59, is turning plastic waste collected from beaches into green construction materials.

They include six-foot fencing poles used by schools and farms, road signs, paving, roof tiles and recycled plastic containers slowly gaining traction among local people.

Villagers in Watamu, including school children, gather plastic waste from the sea, beaches and households every Friday, a holy day for the Muslim-majority community here.

The poorer among them sell the plastic to Ngaruiya’s company, Regeneration Environmental Services Ltd.

At Watamu’s Blue Lagoon Bay, Gilbert Risiki Ngonyo told the Thomson Reuters Foundation he supplements his irregular earnings from small carpentry and painting jobs with about 3,000 Kenyan shillings ($29.15) a month from selling the salvaged plastic.

The recycling factory pays 10 shillings for 1 kg of plastic - the equivalent of roughly two 2-litre empty plastic water bottles.

In four hours, collectors can gather 50 kg of plastic, earning 500 shillings ($4.86) - “enough to eat and feed their family for a day”, said Ngaruiya.

Locals, many of them women – who work faster than men, according to Ngaruiya - segregate the plastic materials into eight types.

After being machine-chopped into 1-cm flakes, the plastic is washed and dried, before additives like hardeners and sun-blockers are mixed in.

The plastic is heated to melting point to avoid noxious fumes. Then locally sourced river sand, gravel, fiber-glass, sawdust or coconut fibers are added to the hot liquid, and it is poured into moulds to set.

“Basically we are substituting plastic for cement,” said Ngaruiya, a U.S.-trained bio-engineer. Melted plastic absorbs sand, squeezing it as it cools, to become compact and strong, he explained.

“These recycled plastic products can last 200 years,” he said. The negative aspect of plastic waste – that it does not deteriorate or decompose for hundreds of years - becomes a positive when converted into construction materials, he added.

According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, the tourism industry suffered from 2011 to 2015, with coastal marine parks hit the hardest. Visitors to Kilifi County’s Watamu marine park fell by 35 percent, while that in Malindi saw about 40 percent fewer.

The government attributes the drop to security concerns caused by attacks linked to Islamist groups.

Ben Kithiy, a 24-year-old currency changer in Watamu who makes a living from European and American tourists visiting the fine white sand beaches to snorkel, water ski and windsurf, can think of another reason.

“Floating plastic pieces sticking to the body when you are swimming in these waters makes for a very unpleasant experience,” he said. Even local children who come to clean up the beaches don’t want to swim for that reason, he added.

Every year, between 4.8 million and 12.7 million tonnes of plastic are dumped in the world’s oceans, depending on river flooding, costing some $8 billion, according to a 2017 report from UN Environment.

Kithiy found five foul-smelling dead turtles on his local beach in Blue Lagoon Bay last year. Several others were floating inertly in shallow waters after eating plastic, and would likely have starved to death, he said.

Casper Van De Geer, who manages the Watamu Turtle Watch conservation program, said that of the 30 to 80 turtles brought in for rehabilitation each year, 15 percent are harmed by plastic.

“Close to half of them die of infection as pieces of hard plastic lodge into nooks and crannies inside the intestine, lacerating it and causing infection,” he said.

Since starting production in 2016, Ngaruiya’s factory has recycled 40 to 50 tonnes of plastic waste gathered from Watamu and Malindi. It has a daily capacity of 2 tonnes, but regular orders for recycled materials are yet to come in, despite products being competitively priced, the entrepreneur said.

Ngaruiya has poured in $500,000 of his money - mainly for research. While Kenya banned single-use plastic bags earlier this year, conscious of their devastating impact on wildlife, Ngaruiya’s business has received no financial incentives or subsidies from the government, banks or other funding agencies.

Nicky Parazzi, founder of the non-profit Local Ocean Trust, which runs Watamu Turtle Watch, said the tourism industry, including beach hotels, should contribute more to recycling initiatives.

Ngaruiya’s business has provided the missing link in building a circular economy for plastic, she added.

Ngaruiya said greater awareness is needed at the consumer level. “It’s time to take personal responsibility with one’s own waste, to separate the organics from the plastics, and ensure they reach the recycling centers,” he said.

More such centers are needed along the African coast, with smaller factories alongside, he added.

At the UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi this month, 193 member countries resolved to prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds by 2030.

About 40 countries have signed up to a “Clean Seas” campaign launched by UN Environment in January 2017 to introduce government policies for industry to minimize plastic packaging and redesign products, while urging consumers to change their throwaway habits before irreversible damage is done to oceans. ]]>
12/21/2017 6:23:12 PM
<![CDATA[Oyun Musa springs: Nature meets therapy ]]>
Oyun Musa is one of Egypt’s hot springs; renowned for the therapeutic effects of its water, the destination has made Sinai popular for therapeutic tourism.

Located 250 kilometers from Cairo and stretching one kilometer along the Gulf of Suez, the location of Oyun Musa is blessed with a dry climate and golden sands.

Oyun Musa boasts the world’s highest sulfur rates, and with temperatures reaching up to 27 degrees Celsius, the water helps treat many diseases such as those of the kidneys and skin.

Oyun Musa’s water flows from a high mountain into a natural lake 100 meters in depth, situated beside the coast. Comprising a site for spiritual peace and comfort, Oyun Musa is a group of hot springs, some sweet and some bitter, which form a small fertile oasis.

The story of the springs tells that Moses met his future wife, Zipporah, after protecting her and her sisters from an aggressive group of local shepherds. According to the monks, these springs never dry up, and it is the monastery's main source of water.
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Old Picture for Oyun Musa Sep.10,2000 – Wikimedia .com

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Sunrise at Oyun Musa April.14,2012 – Pixa bay .com
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12/21/2017 12:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Emirates to add third London airport to its network]]>
The Dubai-based airline said it would begin daily flights between its Middle East hub and London’s third busiest airport on June 8, and that it would be the first Middle East airline to fly to Stansted.

It will be the third London airport Emirates flies to after London Heathrow and London Gatwick, and its seventh airport in the United Kingdom.

Stansted, 35 miles north of London, has traditionally been a base for European airlines flying holiday routes and budget carriers like Ryanair and easyJet, although full-service carrier British Airways started flying there last year.

Emirates said it expected some of its demand to come from nearby technology and pharmaceutical hubs in Cambridge and Peterborough.

“There is a clear demand for this service from both business and leisure travellers and we anticipate that this news will be warmly received both across our global network, as well as by the business community based in the Stansted catchment area,” Emirates President Tim Clark said in a statement.

Emirates said flights would be operated by a three-cabin 354-seat Boeing 777-300 fitted with its new first class that features private, enclosed suites.]]>
12/20/2017 8:19:24 PM
<![CDATA[Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways to end Tehran flights in January]]>
The airline launched the review in 2016 that has also seen it sell or step away from investments in foreign carriers.Etihad’s five weekly flights to Iran’s capital will be reduced to two a week between Dec. 25 and Jan. 23, before it suspends the route entirely on Jan. 24, an airline spokeswoman said.

She declined to say why the route was being suspended, but said in a statement that affected passengers could switch to an alternative travel date between Dec. 25 and Jan. 23 or be refunded.

Since launching the strategy review, Etihad has said it would cut flights to San Francisco and Dallas-Fort Worth in the United States.Britain’s top defence buyer Tony Douglas will join Etihad next month as its new group chief executive, as the airline rethinks its rapid expansion strategy.

Two of Etihad’s major foreign investments, Air Berlin and Italy’s Alitalia, filed for administration this year.Douglas, who joins Etihad from Britain’s Ministry of Defence, has previously served as chief executive of Abu Dhabi’s airport company.

Etihad has made few details public about its strategy review, which since being launched has seen the departure of its James Hogan, its group chief executive who led the airline for a decade.]]>
12/20/2017 8:17:03 PM
<![CDATA[China's border city with North Korea eases tourism curbs - sources]]>
A group of 40 Chinese tourists left on Friday from the border city of Dandong to Pyongyang, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters, a sign local authorities have not been strongly enforcing curbs on tourist flows.

“This is the largest group to go in from Dandong since the curb,” a tour operator said, adding the tourists traveled by train into North Korea for a four-day tour.

The Dandong Tourism Bureau declined to be interviewed for this story. When asked for comment, China’s foreign ministry said they did “not understand the situation.”

Local businesses in China are known to find ways around policies introduced by local authorities or Beijing, whether in good times or bad.

“There’s always a way around government policies,” said one Dandong-based tourism source. “You know how Chinese people are.”

“I think the central government will be very annoyed at Dandong for lifting the travel restriction,” the tour operator said.

MONEY-MAKER FOR NORTH

Tourism to North Korea is not banned by the United Nations and is one of the few remaining ways that North Korea earns hard currency. The Korea Maritime Institute, a South Korean think-tank, estimates that tourism generates about $44 million in annual revenue for North Korea.

The U.N. has ramped up sanctions over North Korea’s accelerating missile program over the past year, curbing key export industries including coal, seafood and textiles.

Simon Cockerell, head of Beijing-based Koryo Tours which organizes travel to North Korea, said he saw 3 to 4 busloads of Chinese tourists in Pyongyang in mid-November. “But I‘m not sure where they entered from or what visas they were on,” he said.

“If you have a visa to North Korea, it doesn’t say where you can and can’t go. So once you enter into Sinuiju or Rason, you could travel onwards to Pyongyang. The North Koreans wouldn’t care,” Cockerell said.

Sinuiju and Rason are popular entry points for Chinese tourists traveling overland into North Korea.

TRUMP‘S VISIT

China never publicly announced a ban on Chinese tourists visiting Pyongyang and strongly opposes unilateral sanctions, which it says undermines U.N. unity.

But the day before U.S President Donald Trump’s first official visit to China in early November, Reuters exclusively reported that the Dandong Tourism Bureau had told Chinese tour operators based in Dandong to halt trips to North Korea’s capital of Pyongyang.

Trump has frequently praised Chinese President Xi Jinping Trump with whom he has been working to exert pressure on North Korea through strict enforcement of sanctions over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

Dandong, a city of 800,000 people in northeastern Liaoning province, is the main trading hub on the Chinese side of the border and most tour companies that take Chinese tourists to North Korea are based there. The U.N. sanctions have particularly hit Dandong’s economy this year.

Almost all tours to North Korea have stopped and many Dandong-based companies who traditionally conducted business with North Korea are struggling, sources told Reuters.

“A lot of the more successful Chinese businessmen have gone on holidays because there’s nothing for them to do around here at the moment,” said one Chinese businessman in Dandong.

China’s trade with North Korea has already fallen to its lowest in months. Beijing has repeatedly said it is rigorously enforcing U.N. resolutions aimed at reining in Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear programs.

North Korea has accelerated the pace of its missile tests this year. Pyongyang said its latest test on Nov. 28 was an intercontinental ballistic missile that it said could deliver heavy nuclear warheads anywhere in the continental United States.]]>
12/20/2017 3:29:09 PM
<![CDATA[South Korean inbound travel agency says China bans group tours to South]]>
“I was told from my boss this morning that our Chinese partners (based in Beijing and Shandong) said they won’t send group tourists to South Korea as of January,” the official from Naeil Tour Agency told Reuters by phone. The move was probably due to visa refusals by Chinese authorities, the official said.

The move came despite South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s recent visit to China, which showed some signs of a thaw in relations since the row over the anti-missile system broke out last year.]]>
12/20/2017 3:25:13 PM
<![CDATA[Sphinx International Airport starts operating in January: Civil Aviation Minister]]>
In his testimony on the anticipated opening of five airports across the nation and the ministry’s plan to prepare those airports to receive the resumed Russian flights, the minister said that upon the analyzing the experimental operation, we will determine the readiness of the SPX, which is located in west Cairo on the 45th km on the Cairo-Alexandria Desert Road in Giza, is ready for air navigation.

The minister denied the closure of Taba airport, saying that the airport witnessed low number of passengers and flights in the past few months; however, it is fully prepared to receive international and local flights.

“Regarding the other three airports, the Bardawil Airport in central Sinai and Bernice Airport in the South of the Red Sea, those are dedicated to serve the local area,” Fathy testified before the committee on Wednesday. He added that the ministry is waiting for the completeness of establishing the Administrative Capital to build its airport.

On the resumption of the Russian flights in next February, Fathy said: “We have informed the airlines to get ready and settle their situation,” he added: “We agreed to meet again in April with the Russian side to discuss charter flights to Hurghada and Sharm El–Sheikh.”

On December 18, Parliament’s Tourism and Civil Aviation Committee held a meeting headed by MP Sahar Talaat Mostafa to listen to the Minister of civil Aviation about developing airports.

The meeting discussed the ministry’s efforts in operating and developing Egyptian airports and achieving balance and integration of the air traffic between all airports.

Last week, Russian Transport Minister Maksim Sokolov announced that Cairo International Airport has met the requirements of the Russian aviation security, which paves the way for the resumption of Russian flights to Egypt.
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Egyptian Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathi and Russian Transport Minister Maksim Sokolov in Moscow on Friday, Dec. 15, 2017 - Press photo

Flights between the two countries were halted in 2015 after a Russian passenger jet crashed in Sinai, killing all 224 people onboard.
russia
The remains of a Russian airliner are inspected by military investigators at the crash site at the al-Hasanah area in El Arish city, north Egypt, November 1, 2015. Russia has grounded Airbus A321 jets flown by the Kogalymavia airline, Interfax news agency reported on Sunday, after one of its fleet crashed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 people on board. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

Shortly after the crash, the Islamic State’s Sinai branch claimed responsibility for the incident, which occurred in the vicinity of the Sinai insurgency led by IS affiliates following the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi.]]>
12/20/2017 2:59:16 PM
<![CDATA[Rashed: Egyptian tourism overcame its crises]]>
In an interview with MENA, he added that tourism in 2018 will achieve more progress and development with a view to restoring its previous rates and its real status on the global tourism market.

The route of the Holy Family and the return of Russian tourism in February along with other markets that lifted their travel ban to Egypt will help achieve remarkable boom in Egyptian tourism, he added.

He underlined that the security situation in Egypt is stable and that all required measures were adopted to secure tourists.

He noted that Europe includes several promising tourist markets such as the Polish and Ukrainian markets. ]]>
12/20/2017 12:49:31 PM
<![CDATA[Today’s trek in Ras Abu Galum National Park ]]>
Ras Abu Galum is a clear definition to living in a big city puts major places and shores in focus to other many prosperous destinations that are still hidden between city’s outskirts and main roads.

Ras Abu Galum National Park, which lies between Dahab and Nuweiba in the East coast of south Sinai, is one of three national parks in Southeast Sinai that covers 500 kilometers squared and 300 meters in depth.

It is considered to be a diving site of 30 meters (100 feet) to suit divers of all experience levels. Diving here is starts with a sandy slope that descends from the shore with the reef wall starting on both sides in a way that supports the presence of a lot of pinnacles, dramatic rock formations and a various marine life. Meanwhile, the northern side of the site is famous for its coral gardens.

Ras Abu Galum is a balanced eco environment, where the desert embraces mountains and valleys, as marine life holds a variety of coal fees and colored fish to get lost in. All of these are driven by glamorous wildlife housing various wild animals, like foxes, gazelles and many reptiles to give visitors a taste of the Bedouin life there.


On the edge of the National Park of Ras Abu Galoum is a bedouin Village on the beach of Ras Abu Galum. It offers a memorable style of accommodation. It might not be the very best but, surely, it is unique. In this accommodation, you can bring your own sleeping bag, and you have the choice between sleeping outside under the stars or in a tent.

1-Waterfalls_of_Wadi_El_Rayan,_Fayoum,_Egypt
Photo1- Shore of Ras Galum, Sinai – Panoramio

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Photo 2 – Abu Galoum Protected, Nuweiba, South Sinai, Egypt September 18, 2015 – Wikimedia/Mohamed

3-Wadi_El_Rayaan_,_El_Fayoum Wadi El Rayaan , El Fayoum ,South Sinai, Egypt September 18, 2015 – Wikimedia/Mohamed
]]>
12/20/2017 12:10:00 PM
<![CDATA[Belarus nationals seek to get e-visa to enter Egypt: diplomat]]>
The two sides also discussed adding Belarus to the list of countries whose nationals can apply for an online visa to enter Egypt as tourists.

He noted that there is a remarkable increase in the number of tourists to Egypt in 2017.

The diplomat said a workshop was organized in Minsk in December for 14 Egyptian hotels as part of efforts to increase the number of Belarus tourists to Egypt.

The workshop was attended by more than 120 representatives of Belarus tourist agencies that send tourists to South Sinai. ]]>
12/20/2017 12:02:31 PM
<![CDATA[Turkey's tourism revenue to reach $26 billion in 2017, minister says]]>
Turkey also forecasts over 38 million arrivals in 2018, Kurtulmus told Turkish broadcaster AHaber.]]>
12/19/2017 7:38:52 PM
<![CDATA[Melania's birth country Slovenia sees strong tourism growth]]>
017 will be the fourth record year in a row for Slovenian tourism after revenues from foreign tourists reached some 2.3 billion euros (2.04 billion pounds) last year, Pocivalsek told a news conference.

Tourism in Slovenia rose strongly because of a general increase of tourism in Europe and a successful promotion of Slovenia as a safe country.

Officials say it also got something of a boost from Melania Trump having been born in the city of Sevnica in southeastern Slovenia before becoming a fashion model and moving to the United States.

“We received a lot of attention from (international) journalists because of the U.S. First Lady and we managed to present Slovenia as an attractive, green country,” Maja Pak, head of the Slovenian Tourist Organisation, told the same news conference.

About 60 percent of Slovenia is covered by forests while the country has some resorts on the Adriatic sea as well as a number of Alpine and spa tourist resorts.

Pocivalsek also said Slovenia plans to gradually privatise all tourist accommodation infrastructure which should further improve tourism business. At present about 40 percent of hotels in Slovenia are in state hands.

“I want a well-considered privatisation ... which will be in favour of the state and the companies that are being sold,” Pocivalsek said.

In the first 10 months of 2017 the number of foreign tourists jumped by almost 17 percent year-on-year, the statistics office said last month.

In the first nine months of the year, the latest data available, the number of tourists from the United States rose by 23.4 percent, it added.

According to the government’s tourism strategy the revenues from foreign tourists should rise to at least 3.7 billion euros per year by the end of 2021.]]>
12/19/2017 7:37:08 PM
<![CDATA[Saudi Arabia to launch tourist visas in early 2018]]>
Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz told AFP that "all government approvals" are in place for the launch of electronic visas next year to "all nationals whose countries allow their citizens to visit" Saudi Arabia.

"We are now just preparing the regulations who is eligible for the visas and how to obtain them," added the head of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, who is a son of King Salman.

The move to open up its tourism sector is a major shift for Saudi Arabia as powerful Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman seeks to radically overhaul the kingdom's oil-dependent economy and shed its ultra-conservative image.

Apart from the millions of Muslims who travel to Saudi Arabia annually for the Hajj pilgrimage, most visitors face an arduous process and steep fees to enter the kingdom.

Saudi Arabia currently grants tourist visas for a limited number of countries, but even those applications involve a range of restrictions, including requirements to travel through an accredited company and stay at designated hotels.

Prince Sultan said the cost of the new tourist visa had not yet been settled, but stressed that it would be "as low as possible, because we believe the cumulative economic impact is greater than the cash from the visa".

Saudi Arabia, though richly endowed with natural beauty, is notorious worldwide for its longstanding bans on the mixing of the sexes, alcohol consumption and women driving making it an undesirable destination for many.

In recent months, the kingdom has broken with some of its most rigid rules lifting a cinema ban, allowing genders to mix at a national celebration and announcing that women will be allowed to drive next June.

Prince Mohammed in August announced a massive tourism project to turn 50 islands and a string of sites on the Red Sea into luxury resorts.]]>
12/19/2017 4:02:11 PM
<![CDATA[Saudi's Tayyar to expand online travel business into Egypt]]>
The move is part of a broader restructuring to build the firm’s leisure, hospitality and online sales services.

Al Tayyar announced on Wednesday that its board had approved a strategic transformation plan to consolidate its some two dozen subsidiaries into four new business units.

The plan shifts the firm’s focus from a traditionally heavy reliance on government travel contracts into advising leisure travelers on tourism plans, operating hotels and developing Arabic-language platforms for online ticket booking.

“We will continue to grow [online sales], invest in and upgrade these technologies, add new products, enter into new markets and continue getting much larger market share in the local market,” said chief executive Abdullah Aldawood.

The announcement comes at a sensitive time for the company, after its founder and board member Nasser bin Aqeel al-Tayyar was detained in the anti-corruption probe led by the kingdom’s powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Tayyar owns a 12.8 percent stake in the company, according to Thomson Reuters data. Aldawood said the firm has received payments from government agencies since the detention and has not communicated with Tayyar.

“We have received direct communication from senior ministers in the cabinet conveying the government’s full faith and support for the company,” he said. “We continue our business with government agencies as usual.”

Aldawood said Al Tayyar plans to relocate around 30 of its existing retail locations to high-traffic areas such as malls, where they will promote aspirational tourism trips.

The company is also planning to list a real estate investment trust (REIT) on the stock market in the first quarter of 2018 and develop 30 new mid-market hotels with 6,000 rooms, building off a 2016 agreement with U.S.-based Choice Hotels.

The REIT, which Dawood said would be worth hundreds of millions of riyals, would consist of Al Tayyar’s undeveloped land holdings as well as equity from third parties and debt from banks.

It will be used to fund hotel development in Mecca to cater to the increased numbers of Muslim pilgrims Saudi authorities hope to attract for the hajj and umrah pilgrimages.

Building the hotels will also help Al Tayyar avoid penalties on its undeveloped or “white” land, which Saudi Arabia is beginning to tax in a bid to boost commercial activity and address a politically sensitive housing shortage.

Aldawood said Al Tayyar would add jobs as part of the expansion in hospitality and online sales, but declined to say how many. There would be no structural layoffs, he said.]]>
12/19/2017 2:16:10 PM
<![CDATA[Record number of Americans to travel during Christmas holiday: AAA]]>
Roughly 107.3 million Americans will journey 50 miles (80 km) or more from home during Dec. 23 through Jan. 1, a 3.1 percent increase from a year earlier and the most ever recorded, AAA said in a report.

That would be the sixth consecutive record high for the holiday season, the Heathrow, Florida-based organization said.

“More expensive gas prices are not swaying holiday revelers to stay home,” AAA Senior Vice President Bill Sutherland said. ”We’ve seen the strong economy and growing consumer confidence fuel holiday travel all year long.”

The largest share of travel, roughly 90.7 percent, will be on U.S. roads. Energy traders watch this activity closely because it accounts for 10 percent of global oil demand.U.S. motor trips will rise to 97.3 million for this holiday season, the seventh consecutive annual increase, AAA said.

The group expects air travel to grow by 4.1 percent to 6.4 million trips, the highest since 2004 as passengers take advantage of lower ticket prices.Air travel now accounts now for 5.9 percent of all travel, following four consecutive years of share increases, AAA said.

For 2017, motorists are on pace to break the record for most vehicle miles driven on U.S. roads, helping spur potential record demand for gasoline.U.S. gasoline demand and vehicle miles traveled both set records in 2016.

Gas prices jumped more than 10 percent after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, peaking on Sept. 8 at an average of $2.67 a gallon. Prices were at $2.45 a gallon on Thursday, up about 9 percent from a year earlier, AAA said.]]>
12/19/2017 2:09:21 PM
<![CDATA[Lizard, turtle among more than 100 new species found in Mekong region]]>
The Southeast Asian countries flanking the Mekong river, which snakes down from the Tibetan plateau to the South China Sea, are among the most biodiverse in the world.

Each year, scientists announce scores of new species discovered in the region, which includes Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

But there are fears that many more species could die out before they are found in a region whose jungle and river ecosystems are increasingly threatened by roads, dams and a thriving illegal wildlife trade.

In total, scientists confirmed 115 new species in 2016 after a lengthy vetting process, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).They include 11 amphibians, two fish, 11 reptiles, 88 plants and three mammals.

"While the global trends are worrisome, and the threats against species and their habitats here in the Greater Mekong are massive, these new species discoveries give us enormous hope," said WWF's Lee Poston.

"But we have to do more to protect their habitat and prevent them from entering the illegal wildlife trade," he added.

The new finds include a bat with a horseshoe-shaped face and a snail-eating turtle discovered by a scientists in a local market in northeastern Thailand.

The Crocodile Lizard, a scaly reptile that hails from northern Vietnam's evergreen forests, was also among the new species announced on Tuesday.

Although the reptile was first discovered in 2003, it has taken years to confirm its status as a separate subspecies.

Coal mining and pet trade poachers have gravely endangered the lizard, whose numbers are estimated to be fewer than 200, scientists said.

Two new mole species were also found in Vietnam, with researchers noting that their underground dwellings have helped protect them.

Over the past 20 years more than 2,500 new species -- amounting to around two per week -- have been discovered in the Greater Mekong, WWF said.]]>
12/19/2017 11:48:52 AM
<![CDATA[50% increase in Belgian tourists in Egypt ]]>
The network has confirmed that Red Sea coastal cities like Hurghada and Sharm El-Sheikh are once again the most popular destinations for Belgian tourists after years of depression as a result of terror attacks in the region.

According to Broximal Media statistics, around a third of Belgians spent their holidays in Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada which resulted in a substantial increase in Belgian tourism in Egypt.

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Sphinx at Giza Pyramids, Dec.15, 2017 – Pixbay

Egypt is considered by Belgian tourists as the second most popular travel destination due to its geographical location, natural sunny weather, historical sites like Giza Pyramids and the high quality of hotels and resorts.

United Nation World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) released a report stating that Egypt is one of the countries that achieved a remarkable revival in tourism with around 8 million tourists visiting Egypt by the end of 2017. ]]>
12/19/2017 12:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[In Pics: Vatican ORP visits Pyramids, Sphinx Friday ]]>
The Vatican’s delegation, which is currently visiting Egypt for several days to recognize places that would be included in the pilgrimage program in Egypt, met Thursday with Pope Tawadros II, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark and Egypt’s Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed al-Tayeb.

Pope Tawadros and Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayeb 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.


Egypt’s top religious leaders, Tawadros and Tayeb, also stressed the good relations between the Catholic Church in the Vatican and the Egyptian Coptic Church.

Earlier this month, Tourism Minister Yehia Rashid paid a three-day visit to Vatican City, during which he met with Roman Catholic Pope Francis, who blessed the Holy Family journey in Egypt as an official Christian pilgrimage.


After Pope Francis’s decision to bless the Holy Family journey in Egypt, they agreed to organize the first official Christian pilgrimage in May 2018.
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12/19/2017 12:00:00 AM