<![CDATA[rss-Travel]]> All Rights Reserved for The Cairo post <![CDATA[Travel]]>]]> 100 29 <![CDATA[Video: A village where people 'love' to sit on crocodiles]]>
People in Bazoule, around 30 kilometres from the capital Ouagadougou, share their pond with more than 100 of the razor toothed creatures.

“We got used to the crocodiles when we were young, swimming in the water with them and all that,” said Pierre Kabore, just a few metres away from a crocodile feasting on chicken provided by the village.

“Now we can always approach them and sit on them and if you have the courage, you can lie on them too. There’s no problem, they are sacred crocodiles. They don’t do anything to anyone.”

According to local legend, the startling relationship with the predators dates back to at least the 15th century.

The village was in the grip of an agonising drought until the crocodiles led women to a hidden pond where the population could slake their thirst.




“The villagers organised a party to celebrate and thank the reptiles,” Kabore said.

A celebration known as Koom Lakre is still held every year during which villagers make sacrifices and ask the animals to grant their wishes of health, prosperity and a good harvest.

Far from being considered a threat, the crocodiles are deemed to have a mystical connection with Bazoule.

“Crocodiles are represented as the soul of our ancestors and if one of them dies, they are buried and even given a funeral as if they were human,” said Kabore.

“When a misfortune is about to happen in the village, they cry out. Elders are charged with interpreting the cries, and then make wishes to ward off bad luck.”

The unusual contact between man and croc has drawn disbelieving tourists to the village to see for themselves.

On their arrival, travellers can buy a chicken which is hung on a stick by a guide and used to entice the crocodiles out of the pond so that visitors can pose with the creatures.

“It was nice to watch from a distance but sitting on one was a bit freaky,” said Thomas Baspin, a young Frenchman who came to visit his grandparents in Burkina Faso.

“I’m glad I did it but I’m also glad it’s over!” he quipped.

Tourism has become a big money-spinner for the impoverished villagers, but a three-year-old extremist insurgency in Burkina Faso is taking its toll.

Ouagadougou has come under attack three times, most recently in March, when extremists attacked the military headquarters and French embassy.

“We could have more than 10,000 visitors per year but at the moment, there’s no more than 4,000 or 5,000,” said Raphael Kabore, one of the guides.

Global warming is also believed to be having an impact. Rainfall levels are down each year, and the famous pond that is the crocodiles’ home is shrinking. When it disappears, will the reptiles once more guide their human friends to a new watery home?
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6/20/2018 4:30:32 PM
<![CDATA[Me, myself, and the search for answers in Egypt's Dahab]]>
Questions like “Am I leading life or is life leading me?”spin over and over in my mind as similar days go by, like a handful of dust in an oblivion’s hand.

With this question in mind, and in a modest attempt to protest time’s autocracy, I travelled to Dahab, in South Sinai with the sole purpose of finding a getaway far from the hustle and chaos of everyday Cairo. My friend Yasmeen and I took the bus after midnight from Abdel Monem Ryad square as we braced ourselves for a long road trip - due to security checks on the way. Yes, the trip was long, but I kind of enjoyed the road listening to Um Kolthoum’s “Hazehi Leilaty” (This is My Night) and since I couldn’t recall the last time I’ve seen the sunrise, the morning’s breeze was refreshing as sunrays gained strength bit by bit turning our quiet ambiance into gold.

“This is promising!” I said smiling to Yasmeen.

After a 12-hour trip, we finally arrived. Being greeted by the bluest sea you could set eyes on dissipated all sense of exhaustion; we even embarked on our program immediately, and instead of sleeping, we took a stride in the gangway or “Elmamsha”, where we enjoyed a peaceful walk by the sea, and a soothing sunset.

Nature of Dahab Beaches
A beach in Dabab - Photo provided by Rabab Fathy

This is my night, the one that stood between a forgone past and a future that has not begun; this is the dream of my life.

Love has become you; wishes are you.

So with passion, pour into my glass.

For soon love will change its home and our nest, his birds shall forsake.

And a place which was once home will see us as we see it now: a wasteland


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A cafe in Dahab - Photo provided by Rabab Fathy

Listening to Um Kolthoum on my mobile, we continued walking between restaurants and colorful wooden two-storey cafes which are designed to resonate the past while directly overlooking the sea: people could’ve just taken a swim jumping from there.

Cafes overlooking the sea
Cafes overlooking the sea - Photo provided by Rabab Fathy

The first night there quickly passed.

The next morning, Shaaban - the driver assigned by the tourism company that booked our trip - was waiting for us.

Yameen Elshabeeny, Shabaan the driver and Rabab Fathy
Yameen Elshabeeny, Shabaan the driver and Rabab Fathy - Photo provided by Rabab Fathy

“Fahlawi”, or “shrewd” was my first impression about him the day before, he is a know- it-all kind of guy. To save time, effort and probably petrol, he combined two other clients with us in the car yesterday; they were staying in a nearby hotel. And today, probably to save time, effort and petrol again, he gathered the four of us once again – later we would thank him for this – and drove us the Blue Hole diving site.

The Blue Hole

Dahab is very famous for this place despite being notorious for many divers losing their lives trying to discover its secrets. On the site, there is an honorable wall that carries the names of the late divers.

Since Yasmeen is not much of a swimmer and since it was my first time in the Red Sea, I preferred trying snorkeling over diving. It was also my first time to snorkel so it was a bit of a struggle at the beginning, I could not breathe, I almost felt like drowning at one point but I was far too determined to give up. Firmly I put on the mask and snorkel again and dipped my head in the water.

A whole new world opened in front of my eyes, I felt like I was in a three dimension colorful underwater garden, full of bright and yet again colorful reefs and sea creatures which were going on with their lives undisturbed by the few curious swimmers. A school of blue fish welcomed me by swimming right next to my face, I immediately raised my head laughing out of fear of them touching me and then sunk again.

I started breathing through the snorkel, and I was forced to organize my breathing. Listening to my deep breath; in and out, in and out, , peace and serenity found their ways to my heart. And then, all of a sudden, I heard nothing. It was absolute silence. I let go. I let go of all control over my body, arms and legs stretched, I let the water stir me in the direction it preferred. If someone was watching me from above, they probably would have thought I was dead.

“Hello there dear” I heard a faint voice within me saying before it disappeared again.

In the deep silence of the blue, I have found traces of my old self, the one I’m looking for but can’t seem to find. I think I’ve lost it – I presume like many of you – along the way, with every goodbye, heartbreak, betrayal and loss ..

I got out of water with a deep sense of gratitude.

A while later, the four of us – Yasmeen, myself and the two clients - were taken by boat to Abo Galum and then by a car to the Blue Lagoon Beach. Both are must see attractions in Dahab for snorkeling and swimming.

Twailat Mountain

Our day had come to an end, but our night was still young. We decided to experience a cultural Bedouin night in Twailat
The sky was filled with so many stars that I couldn’t help but keep looking upward. A guy with a telescope named Ahmed explained to us the movement of the stars, the difference between planets and stars, and how Jupiter for example doesn’t twinkle unlike stars. He pointed to different constellations in the sky, opening yet a whole new world in front of my eyes.

Shabaan had a little time before he went to the next client, so he started chatting with us about his life. Bedouin songs played while he talked about “elrezq” or breadwinning and how he believes what goes around comes around, and how he, the uneducated, made sure his siblings got a good education in the belief that helping them will eventually bring onto him God’s blessings, even though he is not as pious as he wants to be.

“So he is a fahlawy but “ibn bald” (a gentleman) with a good heart,” I thought to myself trying to remember the last time I was engaged in a conversation like that. That was me many moons ago, a good listener.

Yet again I found another trail to my old self. There under the stars.


Before leaving, I took a walk up the mountain to stargaze – yes you read it right, I’m one of those dreamy people – and I played “Hazehi Leilaty” once again:

Life shall seek us for amusement and then of us would make fun.

Another night went by, and on the next morning, Shabaan was waiting for us in front of our hotel. Guess what! In order to save time, effort and petrol , he gathered us once again with two clients, who turned out to be two nice gentlemen in their mid twenties. Ahmed Nagi and Mohamed Shabaan came all the way from Cairo to get away from the hectic daily life. Just like us.

The two are friends since kindergarten, a fact they were very proud of and a fact that warmed both Yasmeen’s heart and mine. It always feels nice to meet people who are able to take care of one another and share the same passion about making a relationship work. Masha’allah!

Wadi Gnai

Off we went to the three pools, another great place for snorkeling, but instead Yasmeen and I decided to take a beach buggy ride to Wadi Gnai, a little oasis in Dahab. It was my first time riding a beach buggy, and I confess I was a bit afraid especially after losing control at the beginning.

Riding Beach Buggy
Rabab and Yasmeen on beach buggies in Dahab - Photo provided by Rabab Fathy

But a 9-year-old boy named Talal rode with me, and there was something about him. Despite being really young, he was kind, a kindness extenuated by his youthful ignorance. Young as he is, he took care of me, old as I am: he wanted to make sure I had a good time.

Rabab Fathy with Talal
Rabab Fathy with Talal - Photo provided by Rabab Fathy

We sang together as we drove next to huge overlapped yellow, green and brown mountains:

Life shall seek us for amusement and then of us would make fun, so come let me love you a little bit more now.

Then Yasmeen fell from her vehicle.

For a moment, my heart skipped a beat, but thank God, she was able to move her body quickly and got out with minor injuries. It was a good laugh afterwards.

“Sou’ ‘ala mahlak, terouh l’ahlak.” “Drive slowly to return to your family,” Talal said after continuing our ride. Indeed, the fast pace of life makes us forget where we ultimately want to go, safe and sound.

“I’m touched.” I heard a steady voice within me say. It was the voice of my old self again, as it was gaining the confidence to pop up amidst the stillness.

We reached our destination in Wadi Gnai. The place felt like a dream. It was desert, mountains and green palm trees. We were told that each of these trees belong to the forefathers of the Bedouin tribes that still live there and carry their names, reflecting pride in their roots and long family line.

Serene nature of Wadi Gnai
Serene nature of Wadi Gnai - Photo provided by Rabab Fathy

“The world forgetting, by the world forgot.” The words of Alexander Pope orbited in my head as I stood there mesmerized by the beauty of my calm surrounding.

Wadi Gnai
Wadi Gnai in Dahab - Photo provided by Rabab Fathy

We went back to the three pools where we were united with Nagy and Shabaan who spent their day in the sea. We chatted about our lives and what we do. Despite the age difference, us in our early thirties, them mid twenties, we reached out.

Three Pools
A beach in Dahab - Photo provided by Rabab Fathy

And I guess we did so partly because Dahab is a very good destination for the like-minded. People whom you don’t need to explain things to, you sort of get along with even if you’re strangers who happen to be out of all the places on earth in the same exact place and time. And so we did.

Our journey was coming to an end. We bid Nagy and Shabaan farewell as they left one day ahead, promising to keep in touch to capitalize on the coincidental path crossing.

Like the habit of good times, our trip ended soon, too soon to find an answer for my question, and although I can’t promise you would either, I did find something far more important: I’ve met myself, the self life has managed to distance me from, and I’ve found the path that I shall follow.
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6/19/2018 12:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[8 charter flights take fans, celebrities to Russia for 2nd game]]>
Egypt, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Uruguay are competing within Group A. Egypt played its first game against Uruguay on Friday; the national team will face Russia on June 19 and Saudi Arabia on June 25.

An airlift between Egypt and Russia has been launched since the beginning of the 2018 World Cup. About 3,000 Egyptian fans are estimated to be traveling to Russia to support the national team. Nineteen charter flights have been operated until now alongside the basic scheduled flights.

Several flights specialized for celebrities departed during the past couple of days to Russia. Another celebrities and media figures' flight departed on Monday morning with Fifi Abdu, Hassan al-Radad, Samir al-Iskandarani and Sherif Mounir onboard.

Flights between the two countries (Egypt – Russia) were halted in 2015 after a Russian passenger jet crashed in Sinai, killing all 224 people onboard. Flights were resumed last April.

Egypt’s national team managed to reach the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia for the first time since 1990 after beating Congo 2-1 at Borg El Arab Stadium on October 8; this however raised Egyptians' hopes to achieve good results, especially in the presence of Mohamed Salah.


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6/18/2018 2:21:23 PM
<![CDATA[Pics: Amid challenges, Arish residents celebrate Eid al-Fitr at sea]]>
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People from different districts of Arish have gathered on beaches to enjoy the park games’ equipment – press photo

Celebrating Eid al-Fitr holiday, which is an important Islamic feast that follows the holy fasting month of Ramadan, people from different districts of Arish have gathered on beaches to enjoy the park games’ equipment.

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People from different districts of Arish have gathered on beaches to enjoy the park games’ equipment – press photo

Using the beach to place the entertaining equipment was a smart choice. Although there are apparently some few parks in Arish which can be played in, yet, some of them are expensive. Samir Hassan, one of the beach’s visitors said that some of the equipment can be used for LE 5 ($0.23) only per 10 minutes.

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People from different districts of Arish have gathered on beaches to enjoy the park games’ equipment – press photo

“Imagine that in Arish city there are no public parks,” Yassin Rashid, a visitor said, adding that there is a park in the city center with expensive entry tickets.

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People from different districts of Arish have gathered on beaches to enjoy the park games’ equipment – press photo

Sami Abdel Rahman, another visitor said that the beach of Al-Arish is a magnificent tourist and entertaining site, adding that the residents of the city still like the beach and a large number of people visit it.

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People from different districts of Arish have gathered on beaches to enjoy the park games’ equipment – press photo
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People from different districts of Arish have gathered on beaches to enjoy the park games’ equipment – press photo

During Ramadan, around 120 children participated in an “iftar” gathering held in the presence of police and army men.

The celebration held by the Tree Foundation for Development and Art, was attended by around 120 children and 30 relatives. Iftar is the meal Muslims eat in Ramadan to break their fast.

Head of the Tree Foundation, Mohamed al-Temsah, said that a delegation from the North Sinai Security Directorate distributed food cartons to the children's families, in a celebration dubbed “Sahaba” (the cloud). Sahaba is an initiative that targets orphans and children of Sheikh Zuweid, and Rafah cities, who moved to live in Arish city.

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The Tree Foundation held “iftar” gathering for around 120 children in Arish city – press photo

During the celebration, children were surprised by a number of military men distributing gifts and taking pictures with them.

“My message to the world and to all our enemies inside and outside [the country] that we live here in Arish in safety,” said Sheikh Gamal Hamid, head of the Central Administration of Al-Azhar Institutes in North Sinai.

“Egypt and Arish are safe thanks to our sons of the Armed Forces,” Hamid stated, adding that “people walk safely in the streets [of Arish].”

In one of the deadliest terrorist attacks, 311 Muslim worshippers were killed in November 2017 by militants' gunfire during Friday prayers inside Al-Rawdah mosque in Arish.

Egyptian security forces at the Ministry of Interior killed on Monday 15 terrorists in an exchange of fire after locating their hiding place by Arish's ring road, according to the security forces report.

The elements were in contact with some terrorist leaders abroad who support them financially to carry out terrorist acts aimed to destroy the state, especially after the success of Egyptian efforts to combat terrorism, the statement read.

On February 9, Egypt’s military launched its comprehensive operation, Sinai 2018, against jihadists, who have launched attacks on the security and military forces for years.

Additional reporting by Walaa Ali
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6/17/2018 7:34:51 PM
<![CDATA[2nd Italian tourist delegation arrives in Cairo for Holy Family’s Journey]]>
The Patriarch of the Coptic Catholic Church Ibrahim Ishaq will receive the delegation on Sunday evening at the Faculty of Catholic Theology in Maadi district, Southern Cairo, the Church announced in a statement.

This delegation’s visit comes in light of the pilot program for dramatic reenactment of the journey made by the Holy Family in Egypt. The delegation will visit a number of Churches and Monasteries, besides being taken on a tour in the faculty of Theology and Humanities in Maadi. The second delegation’s visit was in February.

The Holy Family came from Palestine to Egypt via the Arish road and arrived in Old Egypt, and then they moved to Upper Egypt. They hid there for a while and then returned to the north, passing through the Natroun Valley, and then continued their way back through Sinai to Palestine.

Pope Francis visited Egypt in April 2017, carried out mass and acknowledged the Holy Family’s journey in Egypt as an official Christian pilgrimage. This announcement puts the Holy Family tour on equal footing to Fatima in Portugal, suggesting that thousands of Christian tourists would visit Egypt.]]>
6/17/2018 6:41:02 PM
<![CDATA[EgyptAir to operate 11 World Cup charter flights to Russia]]>
Ten flights are set to carry 1,700 people on Monday, while one will fly on Sunday with 150 on board, said the flag carrier on Sunday.

This is in addition to regular flights to Moscow on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, it noted.

EgyptAir started on Thursday a plan of charter flights to carry Egyptians seeking to boost the Pharaohs, who are competing in Group A with Russia, Saudi Arabia and Uruguay.

Egypt's team was defeated 0-1 in the opener against Uruguay on Friday. It will face Russia on Tuesday.]]>
6/17/2018 11:40:37 AM
<![CDATA[Casino designed by Zaha Hadid opens in Macau]]>
Rows of exposed elevators glide up and down the imposing lobby inside the $1.1-billion "Morpheus" resort, a 42-storey addition to Macau's glitzy skyline named after the Greek god of dreams and developed by Melco International.

Iraqi-British Hadid, who died in 2016, was the first woman to win the prestigious Pritzker Prize for architecture. Her major works in China included the Guangzhou Opera House and a mega mall in Beijing.

For her first Macau project, finished posthumously, two tower blocks were merged using curvaceous bridges to create "voids" and allow as much light in as possible, Viviana Muscettola of Zaha Hadid Architects told AFP.

Describing the design as a "jump into the unknown", Muscettola said the exterior ribbons of steel hold up the building and free up space inside by minimising the need for vertical columns.

Melco's chairman Lawrence Ho told AFP he had "wanted to find the most iconic architect that can do something just insane" before the project started in 2013.

Semi-autonomous Macau is the only place in China where gambling is legal, bringing in revenue that easily dwarves Las Vegas.

The resort's opening comes as the enclave is undergoing something of a renaissance, with gaming revenues bouncing back after being hard hit by a corruption crackdown launched by China's President Xi Jinping in 2012.

- Luxury-seeking crowds -

While the big spenders have returned to the territory -- high-rollers were Macau's biggest drivers of revenue growth in 2017, according to Bloomberg News -- analysts say the mass market is also behind growth seen so far this month.

Extravagant duplex villas with their own in-room gym and massage quarters are located on the top floors of Morpheus for VIPs, along with a gaming area exclusively for these residents.

There is also a rooftop pool, while two restaurants by Alain Ducasse, one of the chefs awarded the most Michelin stars, are part of efforts to court luxury-seeking crowds.

Revenues slid after Xi declared his war on graft with many mainland big spenders staying away from Macau, which had gained a reputation as a centre for laundering illicit money out of China.

In response to the crackdown casino giants launched a slew of new mega-resorts, offering everything from theme parks to luxury spas as they looked to attract more mass-market gamblers to compensate for the fall in high-rollers.

But Macau's monetary authorities this month issued a warning to financial institutions against the illegal use of UnionPay cards as China continues to crack down on capital outflows.

Ho's father Stanley, 96, who made his riches by transforming Macau from a sleepy Portuguese outpost into the world's biggest casino hub, officially stepped down from his flagship casino empire SJM earlier this week.]]>
6/16/2018 4:24:19 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt launches World Cup tourism campaign ]]>
Earlier this week, Egypt was selected as the first African Regional Supporter of FIFA World Cup 2018. The contract signed with the Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation’s “Egypt – Experience and Invest” campaign aims at promoting Egypt as a global investment destination and attracting tourists from around the world, by speaking to millions of World Cup followers.

Egypt’s Minister of Tourism Rania al-Mashat had affirmed that “Egypt - Experience and Invest” would use the opportunity of the World Cup qualification to showcase, in a modern way, the rich and rewarding diversity of tourism experiences that Egypt offers.

The ministry’s international tourism campaign aims to promote the beauty of Egypt to millions of soccer fans through the World Cup events.

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The campaign will also showcase the wide spectrum of investment opportunities in the country. “Being an Official Regional Supporter of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ gives us the outreach in Africa to highlight and communicate the premium positioning and enormous investment diversity and potential Egypt has to offer,” Minister of Investment and International Cooperation Sahar Nasr said Tuesday.

Despite missing the ‘Egyptian King’ Mohamed Salah, the Pharaohs played a strong first game on Friday. Uruguay, however, ended the game with a 90th-minute winner to see off Egypt 1-0 in the tournament opener.

The Pharaohs have to win their upcoming games against Russia and Saudi Arabia to secure a seat in the 16th round.

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6/15/2018 5:59:54 PM
<![CDATA[Gardens, public parks receive thousands celebrating Eidul Fitr]]>
The Giza Zoo has put a plan to accommodate hundreds of visitors during Eid al-Fitr, and avoid problems of crowds by increasing the number of ticket booking outlets.

The zoo has also provided two large screens to watch the Egypt, Uruguay match as part of the World Cup hosted in Russia on Friday.

The garden that hosts various numbers of animals will also present new shows by two lions, Kangaroos and monkeys.

Ambulances have been deployed to places of gatherings and parks.

In Beheira, security and health bodies carried out intensive campaigns on parks, clubs and tourist destinations to monitor food offered to people, while hospitals were put on high alert to be able to receive any cases.

In Damietta and Qalyubia, gardens and public parks were opened for citizens for free.

In Aswan, the occupancy rate at large number of hotels reached more than 60 percent.

Additional reporting by MENA ]]>
6/15/2018 12:58:00 PM
<![CDATA[Perfect Eid hanging-out spots at nominal prices]]>
All Egyptians, Muslims and Coptic alike, enjoy Eid al Fitr vacation in numerous places outdoors, with family and friends. However, a lot of people are confused and cannot make up their minds as to where they should spend the Eid vacation, especially when one wants to enjoy their time on a tight budget.

All the way from Alexandria to Aswan, Egypt Today looks at possible spots to spend eid.

Bahary District Alexandria

Entrance is free for Anfoushi Beach located in the Bahary District Alexandria.

Family and friends could enjoy the sea while having snacks all day on the white sand.

Water sports could be enjoyed too as long as you bring your equipment with you.

Citadel of Qaitbay is a few steps away from the Anfoushi beach; the ticket is as low as LE 20.

Morsy Abo El Abbas Mosque is also located in this ancient area. This mosque is considered historical and illustrates a certain era in Egyptian history.

A tiny harbor is also located in the area, where individuals could easily rent tiny boats to enjoy a simple cruise near the shore of the beach. Larger boats could also be rented in other bigger harbors near the citadel. Prices are very low and should not exceed the equivalent of $2.

Many souvenirs can be found in the area are mainly made of “dried fish” or other sea creatures that may seem uncommon for many. In the same area there is an aquarium that displays really strange and beautiful marine creatures that are mummified. The entrance price for the Aquarium is LE 10.

Montaza District (Park) Alexandria

For LE 25 only, one could enjoy 370 acres of vast green fields.

The fields are surrounded by a masterpiece of a castle that was once occupied by the ruling Alawi Family that represented a certain era in Egyptian history.

In the Montaza park, individuals could enjoy seeing the different series of castles that surround the place while enjoying the greenery and the scent of the colorful flowers.
Families can also bring all the food and beverages they want and enjoy a day out in the sun in the midst of rare flowers and greenery.

Al Qalyubiyah

Al Qalyubiyah is famous for having numerous public parks and gardens for individuals and families to enjoy, especially during Eid al Fitr due to the fact that many families tend to go out in this area to enjoy the beautiful natural scenes and take pictures for memories.

The two most visitied parks by Egyptians during Eid al Fitr are: “Al Kanater Al Khairiya,” where they usually enjoy 300-year-old trees spread over an area of 500 Acres; and, “Al Reyah Al Tawfeeke” (River in) that offers exotic natural beauty and a waterfall where one can take pictures.

There, families can enjoy boat rides and enjoy a day out with minimal expenses.
Another crowd favorite is in Al Qalyubiah’s Banha: Sicily Garden, which offers exotic and natural scenery along the Nile River.

Aswan

Princess Feryal’s Garden is a spot of natural beauty where families and locals can enjoy and spend a great day outdoors in the city of Aswan.

King Farouk’s castle in Aswan is also a place for tourists and locals alike to enjoy the view of the sun as it sets on the river Nile. In different areas in the castle, vast gardens with beautiful flowers could be seen surrounding the place. With an intriguing design that offers an architectural masterpiece, King Farouk’s castle is considered by locals as one of the perfect spots to spend Eid.

Marsa Matrouh

Home to famous beaches that have become all too well-known through classic Egyptian movies, Matrouh is part of all of us, really. Growing up with a TV blasting to Farid Shawky’s laugh or Soad Hosni’s cheekiness, Matrouh embodies all that we grew up watching: love, calmness, beauty and building that take you back some 50 years. This is not to say that the city is outdated, just that its buildings have retained their old beauty.

Locals and visitors alike tend to enjoy the beaches in Marsa Matrouh as it offers a beautiful blue sea with white sands. The beaches there are very clean and the air is not as polluted as the other major cities in Egypt.

During Eid, there are also numerous events that are organized by local youth organizations. Perhaps one of the most interesting part of these events are the mobile flights called “Zarda,” in the local Bedouin dialect, in which the youths share the expenses of foods and drinks during their adventures in the area. Bedouin food is cooked and numerous outdoor activities are enjoyed.

Sohag

Two famous gardens are found in the city of Sohag, both of which offer a great place for families and friends to enjoy Eid al Fitr: “Gazeerat al Zohoor” Garden (Island of Flowers Garden) and Qraman Garden.

A short walk away from Sohag’s museum, the Island of Flowers Garden is in the middle of the River Nile.
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6/15/2018 10:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Egypt to invite 30 World Cup fans to visit country for free]]>
Mashat said that 30 football fans will be granted a seven-day journey to Egypt free of charge, within the framework of the "golden ticket" contest organized by the Tourism Ministry.

The promotional campaign will start on Friday that marks Egypt's opener match against Uruguay in the World Cup, Mashat announced.

The Ministry of Tourism has revealed its plan to promote for tourism in Egypt on the sidelines of the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia, in a ceremony organized by the ministry.

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Minister of Tourism Rania al-Mashat, Ahmed Youssef, chairman of the Board of Directors of the Egyptian Authority for Tourism Development attend a ceremony organized to reveal the ministry's plan to promote for tourism in Egypt on the sidelines of the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia - Egypt Today/Mohamed Al-Hossary


Ahmed Youssef, chairman of the Board of Directors of the Egyptian Authority for Tourism Development, said that the ministry aims to reach 2 billion viewers worldwide.

Youssef said that the campaign's mission is to encourage those who wish to visit the country, and therefore attract more tourists based on the visitors' assessment of their experience in Egypt.

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Ahmed Youssef, chairman of the Board of Directors of the Egyptian Authority for Tourism Development attends a ceremony organized to reveal the ministry's plan to promote for tourism in Egypt on the sidelines of the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia - Egypt Today/Mohamed Al-Hossary


Social media is important to reflect the civilization of the country and we already use 17 languages to communicate with the whole world through advertisements and promotional plans, Youssef said.

The ministry will create ads using the language of the country participating in each match to be broadcasted on the most viewed channels, Youssef said, affirming that Egypt was granted the right to air ads during the World Cup's 64 matches.

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Minister of Tourism Rania al-Mashat attends a ceremony organized to reveal the ministry's plan to promote for tourism in Egypt on the sidelines of the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia - Egypt Today/Mohamed Al-Hossary


Egypt's contract with FIFA

Egypt - Experience and Invest company has become the first African official sponsorof the FIFA World Cup 2018, FIFA announced in a statement on Tuesday.

According to a statement issued by the Ministry of Tourism on Wednesday, the company, which is affiliated with the Egyptian government, signed a contract with the FIFA to become an official regional supporter of the world cup to promote the country as a global investment destination, and to attract more tourists from around the world to visit the country.

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According to a statement issued by the Ministry of Tourism on Wednesday, the company, which is affiliated with the Egyptian government, signed a contract with the FIFA to become an official regional supporter of the world cup - press photo


The deal gives advertising space to the government's Egypt - Experience & Invest campaign, FIFA added.

“Being an official regional supporter of the 2018 FIFA World Cup gives us an outreach in Africa to highlight and communicate the premium positioning and enormous investment diversity and potential Egypt has to offer,” Sahar Nasr, Egypt’s minister of investment and international cooperation said commenting on the signing.

Egypt’s Minister of Tourism Mashat also affirmed that Egypt - Experience and Invest is willing to use the opportunity of the Egyptian qualification to the World Cup to showcase in a modern way the rich and rewarding diversity of tourism experiences that Egypt offers.

Egypt wants to broadcast World Cup matches

Egypt has said it will "oblige" FIFA to allow it to broadcast 22 matches of the 2018 World Cup which begins in Russia on Thursday, challenging the control of global soccer's governing body over broadcasting rights.

Egypt's Competition Authority (ECA) said FIFA, being the sole organization able to grant broadcasting rights for the World Cup, was in violation of Egyptian freedom of competition laws, the official gazette said on Tuesday.

Egypt's national soccer team is participating in the World Cup for the first time since 1990, and the country is pinning its hopes on Liverpool forward star Mohamed Salah.

Tourism in Egypt

Tourism in Egypt has been picking up recently, with Tourism Minister Mashat saying that the tourism sector is on the way to regain its boom, referring to the increase of reservations in Egypt during the next season.

Tourist nights increased 96.5 percent year-on-year in January 2018, reaching 8.5 million, compared to 4.3 million in January 2017, a report from the state statistics agency CAPMAS said.

The report also showed that the number of departing tourists in January 2018 stood at 771,000, compared to 566,000 in January 2017, increasing by 36.2 percent.

Tourism is one of Egypt’s main foreign currency earners, but it has suffered several blows since the January 25 Revolution of 2011.

Egypt has outranked both the US, UK and the entire African continent when it comes to safety, according to the recently published Gallup Global Law and Order's annual report.

The US and the UK ranked in the 21st and 35th places, respectively, while Egypt ranked as the16th out of 135 countries.

Additional reporting by Reuters ]]>
6/14/2018 3:00:46 PM
<![CDATA[U.S. counterspy warns World Cup travellers' devices could be hacked]]>
In a statement to Reuters on Tuesday, William Evanina, an FBI agent and the director of the U.S. National Counterintelligence and Security Center, warned World Cup travellers that even if they think they are insignificant, hackers could still target them.

“If you’re planning on taking a mobile phone, laptop, PDA, or other electronic device with you - make no mistake - any data on those devices (especially your personally identifiable information) may be accessed by the Russian government or cyber criminals,” he said.

“Corporate and government officials are most at risk, but don’t assume you’re too insignificant to be targeted,” Evanina added. “If you can do without the device, don’t take it. If you must take one, take a different device from your usual one and remove the battery when not in use.”

Evanina’s warning comes as U.S. intelligence, law enforcement and congressional officials are still investigating Russian hacking in the 2016 presidential election and whether anyone with President Donald Trump’s campaign was aware of or aided it. Trump has repeatedly denied there was any collusion and Russia has said it did not meddle in the U.S. election.

Another U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said British security agencies have issued similar warnings to the British public and the England football team, which is competing for the World Cup.

In a statement, Britain’s National Cyber Security Center said it was “providing expert cyber security advice to the (UK) Football Association ahead of their departure to Russia for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.”

The NCSC, a branch of the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), Britain’s electronic eavesdropping agency, also issued a warning to the public.

Private cyber security expert Patrick Wardle said the official warnings constituted “really good advice. When I travel to Russia, I bring ‘burner’ devices, so if they get hacked, it doesn’t really matter.”

A burner device is typically bought for temporary use, then thrown away.

U.S. agencies have issued similar warnings before other major international sporting events, including the recent Winter Olympics in Seoul.]]>
6/13/2018 10:36:46 AM
<![CDATA[Tourism promotion starts from World Cup: study]]>
Ahmed confirmed in the study that the tourism sector must make use of the Egyptian national football team's participation in the World Cup to promote all forms of tourism, not the least of which is sports tourism.

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Egyptian national team official jet – Press photo

The researcher also said that sports tourism can generate a lot of revenues to the country, which is why travel and tourism agencies have been intensifying their advertising resources to benefit from this great sporting event.

According to the study conducted by the researcher, it is necessary to benefit from the idea of Egyptians traveling to Russia during the World Cup by distributing propaganda brochures and souvenirs to foreigners in Russia.

Also, Egyptians must show an urban appearance that reflects the original Egyptian heritage, such as wearing the Pharaonic garb to attract people’s attention, the study added.

On the other hand, it is possible to make use of the Egyptian national team in promoting Egyptian tourism by having the plane and buses of the Egyptian team themed with pictures of the pyramids, the Sphinx and Pharaonic temples as means of propaganda.

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The Egyptian national football team upon arrival to Russia for World Cup 2018 on June 10, 2018 - Press photo/FIFA official Facebook page

The Saudi Arabian team did the same by using a falcon image on their jersey, and the Cameroonian team had a lion's face on theirs.

The study also called for the need to communicate with many international sports celebrities to analyze the sports of the World Cup such as the jewel of Brazil Pele, the Argentine legend Maradona and the French star Zinedine Zidane to involve them in advertising campaigns for Egyptian tourism in Russia.

The study also pointed to establishing a number of events in popular Russian hotels and museums to showcase Ancient Egypt civilization.

The head of the hotel department of the Russian Ministry of Sports and Tourism announced that Russia will see an inflow of more than 21 million tourists in 2018, including one million football fans, so it will be a great opportunity for Egypt to promote tourism to its touristic destinations.

The World Cup will witness a crowd of about 10 million fans and nearly 2 billion viewers around the world.

It is worth mentioning that the World Cup will be attended by 32 national teams, including the Egyptian football team, which will participate for the third time in its history after a 28-year-absence.

The World Cup’s matches will be held in 12 sports stadiums in 11 Russian cities (Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kaliningrad, Kazan, Nyingj Novgorod, Samara, Volgograd, Saransk, Rostov, Sochi and Ekaterinburg).
]]>
6/13/2018 10:35:05 AM
<![CDATA[Egypt to set tourist program to recreate Holy Family journey]]>CAIRO – 12 June 2018: The Coptic Orthodox Church will receive from June 17 to June 21 the second Italian tourist delegation that will participate in the pilot program for dramatic reenactment of the journey made by the Holy Family in Egypt.


Nader Girgis, member of the Holy Family Marketing Committee, said the delegation includes 50 tourists, headed by the Bishop of the Italian city of Viterbo, who will visit the five places included in the Holy Family journey's program.


The Tourism Ministry has devised the program to encourage tourists to visit the country to see a unique artistic rendition of the religious story and to trace the journey’s trail that covers many Egyptian cities that Virgin Mary, Jesus and Joseph had visited while fleeing King Herod’s persecution in Palestine.


On Oct. 4, Pope Francis organized a special greeting in Rome for a high-level Egyptian delegation led by Tourism Minister Yahya Rashid to promote a pilgrimage in the footsteps of the Holy Family’s Flight into Egypt.


The pope’s blessing comes as a mandatory step in the process of initiating the Roman Catholic pilgrimage program to Egypt, which is set to launch next year.


The Flight into Egypt, as mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew, is a biblical event that marks when an angel appeared to St. Joseph in a dream to advise him into fleeing to Egypt with Mary and infant Jesus; the event itself holds a unique iconic representation.



Catholic pilgrimage to Egypt to initiate after Pope's blessing
]]>
6/12/2018 8:46:15 PM
<![CDATA[Berlin, the city of culture, history and leisure]]>
What makes the city beautiful is that it has something for everyone. History enthusiasts are going to feel in heaven in Berlin because the city is filled with numerous museums and monuments.

After Germany’s defeat in the Second World War, the Germans were strong willed and re-built their nation; in no time, Germany became one of the biggest industrial countries in the whole world, taking great pride in manufacturing two of the best cars in the history of automotive; Mercedes Benz and Porsche.

If you want to see amazing museums that illustrate the different historical stages of the country and its people, visit Berlin.

Among the numerous Museums located in Berlin my favorite three are:

Käthe Kollwitz (Museum)

Kollwitz is one of the greatest female German artists that illustrated the agony, pain, and suffering of the Germans during specific eras.

The statues and artistic works of the museum seem so real that even decades after Kollwitz' death, her artistic works still stand.


Neues Museum

This is the best museum I visited in Berlin. It is eye catching, posh and classic, with stunning internal designs. The museum contains a lot of historical pieces and artifacts from different civilizations.

As an Egyptian, I felt proud and happy to watch the visitors' admiration of the Egyptian monuments in the museum. The museum dedicated a special corner to ancient Egypt's artifacts, focusing on Queen Nefertari's amazing collection.


Museum Island

The wonderful combination of the museum's artistic work along with the natural beauty of the greenery and the Spree River that surrounds it makes the museum a must see.

I should not forget to mention the beauty of the parks located in different spots of Berlin.
Thiel Park and Schiller Park are two must-visit parks; the relaxing scenery and fresh air they offer provide visitors with an incomparable sense of freedom.

Moreover, the amazing German city has a specialized shopping district located west of Berlin for shopping enthusiasts, in an area named bezirk Charlottenburg, where Kurfurstendamm Street is located.

Kurfurstendamm is packed with both shopping malls and historical monuments.
My favorite department stores in the shopping district are kaDeWe and Cloppenburg; they offer great collections of clothes and souvenirs with affordable prices.

We have some good news for foodies, too! You can find a wide variety of cuisines in Berlin; Turkish, Arab, Indian, Lebanese, and Chinese, among others.

My favorite place to eat was a small bistro in “Hackershe” market area, where numerous cafes and restaurants offering a selection of traditional and ethnic foods for reasonable prices can be found.

Just wondering around the city you will surely bump into small cafes and bistros all the time. This is what makes Berlin amazing, you can just wander around and still find a place to chill!

Berlin also has numerous rivers flowing across the city, each offering a different set of activities for tourists and locals to enjoy alike.

Some of the famous rivers in Berlin are the Spree River, as well as Havel and Dahme rivers.

Want to know more about Berlin and its beauty and secrets and night life? Stay tuned to the long version of Egypt Today Magazine!

]]>
6/11/2018 10:46:14 AM
<![CDATA[PICS: Tourism keeps Vietnam's ancient water puppets afloat]]>
Backstage behind a thin bamboo screen, around 20 puppeteers slosh around waist-deep in rubber overalls wielding the marionettes with long rods.

"The puppets are pretty heavy... and the water also creates resistance," said puppeteer Nguyen Thu Hoai, who swapped her galoshes for flip-flops between sold-out shows.

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Some of the puppets weigh as much as 10 kilograms (22 pounds) and the largest ones, like the one-metre-tall (three-foot) fairy, require four people to manipulate - AFP

"But our years of training and experience helps us control them," added Hoai, who like many of her colleagues graduated from Hanoi's College of Theatre and Cinema.

Some of the puppets weigh as much as 10 kilogrammes (22 pounds) and the largest ones, like the one-metre-tall (three-foot) fairy, require four people to manipulate.

The shows at Hanoi's Thang Long theatre have become a staple on the well-trodden tourist circuit and draw thousands every week, including many first-time viewers.

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The shows traditionally featured age-old fables and mythical lore, like the famous Hanoi parable about a Vietnamese king's treasured sword that was used to fight off Chinese invaders - AFP

"I've never seen a puppet show that way with the water," American tourist Caroline Thomoff told AFP after a show.

"I could really see people fishing, dancing and all the different performances that happened."

Vietnam is the birthplace of the centuries-old art form that emerged in the northern rice paddies as entertainment for farmers.

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Vietnamese puppeteers controlling water puppets from behind a bamboo screen in a pool during a performance in Hanoi - AFP

The earliest record of the performances is on a 12th century stele that still stands at a pagoda in northern Ha Nam province, but historians say water puppetry likely originated even earlier.

The shows traditionally featured age-old fables and mythical lore, like the famous Hanoi parable about a Vietnamese king's treasured sword that was used to fight off Chinese invaders.

- Overseas appeal -

The tropes haven't changed much, and neither have the hand-carved wooden figures of animals, boats, farmers or fish painted in brilliant golds, reds and greens, according to Chu Luong, the director of Thang Long theatre.

"When our children and later generations see performances they will be just like the original versions," he told AFP.

Despite its ancient roots -- or perhaps because of them -- the shows draw little attention from local Vietnamese viewers, especially millennials.

More than half of Vietnam's 93 million people are under 30 and often prefer their entertainment in digital form.

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The shows at Hanoi's Thang Long theatre have become a staple on the well-trodden tourist circuit and draw thousands every week - AFP

"There are new types of entertainment now, electronic devices and the internet, so apart from festivals we can't perform all the time because (local) people don't watch a lot," said Pham Dinh Viem, a third-generation puppet carver from a craft village in Thai Binh province.

Like other puppet craftsmen in the village, Viem doesn't earn enough to support his family making the marionettes so he picks up work on the side as a manual labourer.

But he perseveres, hopeful the next generation might pick up a passion he says runs in his blood.

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The earliest record of the performances is on a 12th century stele that still stands at a pagoda in northern Ha Nam province, but historians say water puppetry likely originated even earlier - AFP

Yet as interest wanes at home, there are signs water puppetry may be gaining traction abroad.

Canadian Director Robert Lepage returned to Toronto this year with an adaptation of Stravinsky's opera "The Nightingale", in which the orchestra pit was transformed into a pool of water for singers-come-puppeteers commanding marionettes.

For puppetmaker Viem, such innovative approaches may be the secret to reviving the centuries-old tradition among locals.

"If the script and the performance don't change, it's impossible to serve the audience in the long-term," he said.

]]>
6/10/2018 11:18:29 AM
<![CDATA[Antiquities Ministry to reveal logo of GEM Sunday]]>
A number of ambassadors and representatives of foreign countries in Cairo will attend the conference, which will be held under the auspices of the Tourism Ministry.

The new logo of the GEM will also be revealed during the conference.

In press statements on Friday, General Supervisor of the GEM Tarek Tawfiq said that the Egyptian and foreign companies, which will be responsible for the preliminary management and operation of the GEM's services should be experienced and efficient in this field, as the services, which these companies will provide, include the operation of a group of shops and restaurants.

Tawfiq underlined that the Antiquities Ministry will be responsible for the management of archaeological artifacts, laboratories, restoration centers, archaeological stores and exhibition halls.]]>
6/9/2018 9:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Ministry of Environment takes precautionary measures against jellyfish ]]>
The preparations taken by the ministry regarding the issue include the registration of beaches, as the General Directorate of the Northern Protected Areas in the Ministry of Environment’s Nature Protection Department has decided to identify the number of beaches that may be exposed to jellyfish during the 2018 season.

The ministry clarified that teams have been established to monitor and collect data from different beaches, along with teams of rapid intervention in the natural reserves of the northern region.

The task force work includes establishing a sub-operation room parallel to the main operation room in the ministry to receive reports and complaints from different beaches, as well as the number of jellyfish spotted daily and record it, along with measurements of temperature, wind speed and direction, sea state and wave height.

The ministry pointed out that it will measure the quality of water and that it will take samples of the jellyfish for genetic analysis in the National Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries (NIOF) in Alexandria and the central laboratories in the Red Sea regional branch.

The procedures of the ministry also include coordination with concerned authorities and ministries on measures and precautions to be followed in case of the jellyfish phenomenon becomes a widespread one.

In 2017, the shores of the North Coast and the Mediterranean cities of Alexandria and Port Said saw a surge in jellyfish numbers.
]]>
6/7/2018 12:43:02 PM
<![CDATA[Benzema posts photos of Egypt’s flag during his vacation in Hurghada]]>
benzema during his vaction in hurghada

Benzema expressed his admiration of Hurghada and Marsa Alam by sharing every moment of his vacation on his social media accounts, showing the beaches, resorts, landmarks and tourism sites in Hurghada and Marsa Alam; he also stressed that he will return soon with his family.

benzema 4

Benzema posted Egypt’s flag above his photos on all social media accounts which is set to play an important role in revitalizing Egypt’s tourism during the upcoming summer season; he also encouraged his friends and fans to visit Hurghada to enjoy the stunning nature.

benzema 3

Hurghada and Marsa Alam, located on the Red Sea, have a moderate weather throughout the year, making them an ideal place for sea sports such as diving, snorkeling, sailing, windsurfing and deep-sea fishing; the two cities are among the main tourist attraction spots.

benzema 2

Benzema wasn’t included in France’s final squad participating in the Russian World Cup Scheduled for June 14.

benzema 1

The French came to Egypt crowned with the most valuable clubs tournament in the world, the UEFA Champions League, where he scored the first goal for his team in the match that ended by a 3-1 victory for Real Madrid.

benzeama

The 30-year old striker won’t be representing his country in this year’s World Cup which will be hosted by Russia.

]]>
6/6/2018 3:58:18 PM
<![CDATA[Airbnb suspends substantial number of Japan listings ahead of new rental law]]>
The law, which will comes into force on June 15, requires owners to obtain a government registration number and meet various regulations that some have decried as overly strict.

"This weekend we reached out to those hosts who have not yet obtained their notification number to let them know that they will need this to accept any new bookings," Airbnb spokesman for Asia-Pacific Jake Wilczynski told AFP.

"We have informed those hosts that we are in the process of turning off future listing capabilities."

He declined to confirm the exact number of listings affected, but local media reports and sources put the figure at about 80 per cent of the rentals available on the site across Japan.

Wilczynski said many Airbnb hosts had already obtained their registration, and others were "going through or finalising" the process.

"We are on course to register tens of thousands of new listings in Japan in the months ahead," he added.

Airbnb and other peer-to-peer rental sites have publicly welcomed the new law, saying it removes uncertainty in a sector that has long existed.

But some hosts say it imposes onerous rental requirements, which they see as intended to favour the hotel industry.

The law limits stays to 180 days a year, and allows local governments to impose additional restrictions, with the tourist magnet of Kyoto only permitting rentals in residential areas between mid-January and mid-March, the low season for tourists.

They also criticise the registration process as excessively complicated and bureaucratic.

"The registration process is a headache," said Ben, a Tokyo Airbnb host who has rented to dozens of visitors.

"I studied the requirements and collected the required documents when it started in mid-March. To my view, the key point is not about the speed of the process, but the hurdles are too high," he told AFP, giving only his first name.

"I'm very discouraged and thinking of giving up."

A Japanese tourism official told AFP earlier this year that the law was "urgently needed to ensure public health and prevent trouble with local residents".

The changes come as Japan works to boost already record numbers of tourists and as it anticipates an influx of visitors for next year's Rugby World Cup and the 2020 Olympics.

]]>
6/6/2018 1:23:40 PM
<![CDATA[Violence shuts Africa’s iconic Virunga gorilla park till 2019]]>
“It is clear that the Virunga region is deeply affected by insecurity and that this will be the case for a certain time,” park director Emmanuel de Merode said in a statement.

“So that Virunga can be visited in safety, much more robust measures are needed than in the past,” the Belgian added.

“That will require very significant investment and that makes it impossible to reopen to tourism this year.”

The park closed provisionally on May 11 until June 4 after the shooting dead of a ranger and the kidnapping of two British tourists in an attack by a local militia.

The Britons and their driver were freed two days after the attack.

Then on May 21 two soldiers and a civilian were murdered by armed men who attacked a convoy driving through the park.

On April 9, five rangers and a driver were killed.

In the last 20 years at least 176 rangers have been killed in Virunga. De Merode survived an attack in 2014.

“We have called on a respected international security service to carry out an audit of our security measures,” the park statement said.

Numerous militia and armed gangs roam North Kivu province near the Rwanda and Uganda borders fighting for control of territorial and natural resources.

Established in 1925 close by Lake Kivu and the Nyiragongo volcano, Virunga is home to about a quarter of the world’s population of critically endangered mountain gorillas, as well as to eastern lowland gorillas, chimpanzees, okapis, lions, elephants and hippos.]]>
6/5/2018 1:45:03 PM
<![CDATA[Sphinx, Capital airports to go international in weeks: minister]]>
After the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) reviews and accepts the applications of the two airports, they will be able to provide air navigation services in the region and will appear to all pilots flying across the world, the minister said.

The ICAO recognition will also allow for schedules to be set for air companies that have already applied to organize flights at the new venues.

Sphinx Airport, west of Cairo, will be inaugurated during summer 2018. The Capital Airport, east of Cairo, will be inaugurated “afterwards”, Fathy said April 17 during the Aviation African event in Cairo.

The two airports are meant to reduce pressure on Cairo International Airport; each accommodates more than 300 passengers per hour.

The Capital Airport, also known as Katameya Airport, will serve the new capital and the surrounding new urban communities, and is close to the cities of Suez, Ismailia and Port Said.

Meanwhile, Sphinx Airport will serve the cities of Sheikh Zayed and 6th of October, and is close to Alexandria, Fayoum and Beni Suef governorates. It is also significantly close to the Grand Egyptian Museum and the Giza Pyramids.
]]>
6/4/2018 4:06:22 PM
<![CDATA[Two states’ officials in talks to increase flights between Taba, Berlin]]>
The talks sought to address ending the German government’s precautionary measure concerning compelling German aviation companies to fly their planes at an altitude of over 26,000 feet in the sky of Egypt’s South Sinai, sources told Al-Watan newspaper.

The ministries of aviation and tourism in addition to the ambassadors of the two countries are leading the talks, according to the source. Egypt would also urge the German government to ease the tax burden imposed on the German tourism travelling to Egypt.

A German tourist travelling to Egypt would pay a travel tax that is about four times what they would pay while travelling to some other countries.

Minister of Tourism, Rania al-Mashat said in March that the value of tax imposed on German tourists differ according to the country they wish to visit, and is determined on geographical bases. A German tourist travelling to Egypt would pay up to €27 ($31.7) as a travel tax, according to Mashat. However, a tourist would pay only €7 ($8.2) if travelling to Turkey for example.

Sources also revealed that the talks aim to refresh tourism between the two countries, and increase the flights between the two countries, especially between the Red Sea cities of Sharm El-Sheikh, and Hurghada and German cities.

In January 2017, Egyptian Foreign Ministry said that the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure announced, for the first time since the Russian plane crash that took place in Sinai, freeing aviation companies from the obligation of flying their planes over 26,000 feet.

However, Mashat’s calling on the German government to end the precautionary concerning the 26,000 feet altitude, reveals that the German government’s January decision has not been put into effect.

In October 2015, the Airbus A321, operated by Metrojet, crashed over the Sinai Peninsula, which was carrying Russian tourists returning from the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh to St. Petersburg, killing all 224 on board. The crash was claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group.

Russia, along with some other countries, had decided to suspend direct flights to Cairo and Sharm El-Sheikh for an indefinite period.

Egypt has struggled since then to refresh tourism and convince countries to allow their citizens to visit the tourist attractions in the country. In April 2018, Egypt and Russia have resumed flights after more than two years of suspension.
]]>
6/4/2018 3:51:25 PM
<![CDATA[Waning Gibbous Moon approaches Mars above Arab skies]]>
Jeddah Astronomy Society reported that Mars will be visible as a red point of light, adding that through the use of a telescope, it is easy to see Mars’ disc and the main surface features of the Moon.

The Moon and Mars will not be visible within the same frame through a telescope, but can be viewed jointly through binoculars.

Jeddah Astronomy Society further added that Mars is now brighter than it was during the past few years. By the end of July, the red planet would be near our planet and would become brighter than it has been since 2003; therefore, this year would be very ideal for observing the planet.

Preferred places for star gazing in Egypt include the Katameya and Helwan observatories in Cairo, the Whales Valley in Fayoum, Siwa Oasis, and Sinai due to the lack of pollution and light in said areas.
]]>
6/3/2018 4:13:16 PM
<![CDATA[The Greeks who lived and died in Egypt's Alexandria]]>
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Tomb of Joseph Audiche in the Greek Cemetery in Alexandria - Egypt TodayHanaa Abul Ezz

“The Greeks are very peaceful as long as you do not approach them. Long back, there was a company that came to the place to guard it, and they seized some antiques which belonged to the place. Later, they had been affected by a deadly disease that forced them to confess their actions,” said Naeem, the cemetery’s guard.

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The Greek Cemetery in Alexandria - Egypt TodayHanaa Abul Ezz

The tombs of the Greek community in Alexandria were founded on a large piece of land in El Shatby area, which was given by Muhammad Ali Pasha. The first, second and third marble tombs are decorated with statues and sculptures.

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The Greek Cemetery in Alexandria - Egypt TodayHanaa Abul Ezz

George Averof was buried in the first tomb, which is empty, as his remains were transferred to a cemetery in Athens, Greece. He acquired a lot of money in Egypt and then spent it on charity in Greece and Egypt. In Greece, he established a college of engineering and other charitable institutions for the people of Athens. In Egypt, he built a school on 1,160 acres.

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The Greek Cemetery in Alexandria - Egypt TodayHanaa Abul Ezz

There is also the family cemetery of the famous Greek poet Konstantinos Petrou Kavafis, one of the greatest poets of modern Greece, a non-typical Greek-Egyptian who expressed the common convergence of two worlds – ancient Greece and the ancient Middle East – in his poetry.

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The Greek Cemetery in Alexandria - Egypt TodayHanaa Abul Ezz

Next to him is the tomb of George Antoniadis, who donated his home and his garden of rare flowers and plants to the Alexandria governorate, along with the tomb of Kutiska, founder of the Greek Hospital, which is now known as Gamal Abdel Nasser Hospital.

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Greek Cemetery in Alexandria - Egypt TodayHanaa Abul Ezz

When you walk a little, you'll find the tomb of Alexandria's most famous wooden merchant's daughter, Zorvadakki, whose tombstone shows an angel putting his finger in front of his mouth as a sign for her visitors to stay silent during their visit to her tomb.

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Greek Cemetery in Alexandria - Egypt TodayHanaa Abul Ezz

The cemetery also includes the tombs of the most prominent individuals of the Greek Society of Alexandria, such as Dr. Anastasi, Salvagon, Zerfozaki, Kazoli, Rali, Ridoknakki and Kaszali, among others. There are also tombs containing about 100 belongings of Greek air force soldiers who died in the Middle East during World War II.

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Greek Cemetery in Alexandria - Egypt TodayHanaa Abul Ezz

A three-year plan was prepared to repair the damage of the Greek community's three tombs in Alexandria. The Electronics Department and the Science Applications Laboratory at the Faculty of Archeology of the Technological Education Institute in Lamia, Greece, in cooperation with the Greek Society in Alexandria, studied and maintained the marble tombs of the Greek Society in Alexandria.

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Greek Cemetery in Alexandria - Egypt TodayHanaa Abul Ezz

During the summer vacation, when Greek students come to visit their families, they visit the Greek tombs to clean the area and restore the statues.

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Claudine - Jenny Travassaro in the Greek Cemetery - Egypt TodayHanaa Abul Ezz
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6/3/2018 11:50:37 AM
<![CDATA[Intensive attention paid to Holy Family's journey history, minister]]>
A scientific panel has been formed in cooperation with concerned bodies to document the historical trip, Anani told a ceremony held to mark the anniversary of the journey.

The event, held at the Coptic Museum in Cairo, was attended by Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark.

Pope Tawadros II attended the celebration that was organized by the National Egyptian Heritage Revival Association (NEHRA).

The national anthem was played and documentaries featuring the Holy Family's journey were displayed.

The event was attended by the ministers of antiquities, tourism, planning, immigration, culture and local development in addition to a raft of officials, statesmen and ambassadors.]]>
6/2/2018 12:09:52 PM
<![CDATA[Qantas and Air NZ sign alliance as downunder tourism booms]]>
The agreement covers 115 domestic routes in both countries, but not the trans-Tasman route where the respective flag carriers compete. It comes as domestic revenues fuelled by fare hikes are driving profits, dividends and stock prices skyward.

The deal “leverages the strengths we each have in our home markets,” Qantas Chief Executive Alan Joyce said in a statement. Air New Zealand boss Christopher Luxon added that the two airlines “will continue to compete across all markets”.

Both carriers have been cruising as international tourist numbers touch all-time highs and further stimulate domestic travel by catching internal flights - markets where the pair are entrenched - in both countries.

Qantas soared to a record profit in February, while Air New Zealand said it was headed for its second-highest annual profit ever.

The tie up also marks a shift in airline alliances as both Qantas and Air New Zealand have dropped or redrawn deals with Gulf carriers in recent months.

Qantas last year said it would drop flights to Emirates’ Dubai hub and re-establish its popular Singapore stopover for European flights, while Air New Zealand has ended at 7-year alliance with Virgin Australia Holdings.

It will likely cost Virgin domestic customers in Australia, since passengers flying in with Air New Zealand would now be more likely to stick with its new codeshare partner, Sondal Bensan, an analyst at Qantas’ biggest shareholder, BT Investment Management, wrote in an email.

“Good for Qantas, bad for Virgin,” he added.

Virgin was not immediately available for comment.

Air New Zealand shares were 4.5 percent higher at noon in New Zealand and Qantas shares were almost 1 percent higher in Australia, as both markets fell on Friday. Virgin shares were unchanged. ]]>
6/1/2018 11:14:37 AM
<![CDATA[American singer Usher enjoys beauty of Siwa]]>
The American musician established his name to be one of the famous celebraties in music industry, mastering both singing and songwriting with a career spanning over 24 years.



Siwa

, one of Mother Nature’s masterpieces, located about 560 km from Cairo and stretching over 25m below sea level. It includes many palm trees that were meticulously grown between mud-brick homes and also has a number of crystal clear springs, lakes and rivers as a way for villagers to escape from the harsh heat of the sun.

The lake is four meters in depth, but you cannot drown in it due to the heavy capacity of this water, as there is a large amount of natural salt mixed in it.

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5/31/2018 9:18:00 PM
<![CDATA[Rare blue whale spotted in Egypt's Taba]]>


In an interview with Egypt Today, Hisham Gabr, head of the Chamber of Diving and Water Sports said that the blue whale was spotted in Egypt’s city of Taba on Wednesday, but no one could capture photos for it. Taba is on the border near Eilat.

taba
Overview shot of the city of Taba – Wikimedia Commons/Mohammed Moussa


Gabr affirmed that the blue whale does not pose any danger to tourists and divers.

Egyptian Ministry of Environment said in a statement published on Thursday that it is monitoring the movement of the giant creature, adding that the blue whale might have lost his way while travelling to the north seeking cold water areas.

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A blue whale spotted in the gulf of Eilat, May 29, 2018 – courtesy of Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority


The ministry said its marine environment experts will study the reasons behind the presence of the blue whale in the red sea, and analyze the results of such phenomenon.

Environment Minister Khaled Fahmy ordered observation teams in the protectorates of the Red Sea and South Sinai to monitor the creature and capture photos for it.



A 20-meter blue whale of a species that is almost extinct appeared in the gulf of the red sea city of Eilat, far from its usual home in the southern hemisphere and Northern Atlantic, Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority said Tuesday.

The giant marine mammal appeared only 300 meters away from the shore, Ynet news reported. The welcomed guest was not spotted on Wednesday in Eilat, according to media reports, and is believed to have headed south to Egypt.

Blue whales are the largest creatures on the planet. A blue whale almost exists alone or with only one other partner, and may leave its habitat and travel for long distances for reasons including searching for food and reasons related to climate change.

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A blue whale spotted in the gulf of Eilat, May 29, 2018 – courtesy of Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority


Blue whales are vulnerable creatures that do not jeopardize human beings. However, Egyptian Ministry of Environment has urged citizens, in case they spot the creature somewhere, to stay apart and not to swim close to it.

The blue whale is not familiar with the red sea. Blue whales are up to 30 meters long and weigh up to over170 kilograms. They were hunted almost to extinction in the 20th century. In 1996, the blue whales were placed under protection.

Whaling has decreased the number of Antarctic blue whales, the largest blue whale subspecies, from 390,000 to a low of about 360 in 1973, according to a study by Trevor A. Branch, Koji Matsuoka, and Tomio Miyashita published in 2006.



According to National Geographic in 2016, scientists think the number of blue whales worldwide is between 10,000 and 20,000. However, the estimated numbers are uncertain.]]>
5/31/2018 3:00:24 PM
<![CDATA[Environment Ministry to hold ‘Iftar’ gathering in Wadi Degla June 1]]>
The ministry announced in a statement on their Facebook page that it will hold a celebration at 4 p.m., in cooperation with Sahara Survival School, for the fifth year in a row in Ramadan in Wadi Degla protectorate, south east of Maadi district, Cairo.

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The Ministry of Environment holds an iftar gathering in Ramadan – Press photo/Environment Ministry


The celebration will incorporate a fair for sports activities and photography, in addition to seminars about required skills to live in the desert. A fair for Bedouin handmade products will also be held, according to the statement.

Additional reporting by Jehad Al-Sayed

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The Ministry of Environment holds an iftar gathering in Ramadan – Press photo/Environment Ministry


The celebration comes on the sidelines of the International Day for Biological Diversity and World Environment Day (WED) celebrations, the statement read. Head of the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency Shehab Abdel Wahab and a number of researchers in the ministry will attend the celebration.

Nations celebrate the World Environment Day on June 5 every year. The theme of this year’s WED is “Beat Plastic Pollution”, which is one of the biggest environmental challenges. According to statistics of the WED, 13 million tons of plastic leak into the oceans, and threaten marine life.

In line with the global move to reduce the consumption of plastic bags, Egyptian Minister of Environment Khaled Fahmy extended the activities of his ministry’s new national initiative called “Enough Plastic Bags”.

Earlier in May, Fahmy participated in the initiative by distributing 4,500 non-woven bags as alternatives to traditional non-recycled plastic bags. About 4,500 eco-friendly biodegradable plastic bags – bags that decompose through living organisms – have been circulated since the launch of the initiative.

The Ministry of Environment launched the EU-funded initiative on June 5, 2017, targeting Egypt’s strong dependency on plastic bags and aiming to reduce their use due to the negative effects they have on the environment and the economy.

The head of the Environmental Affairs Agency declared that Egyptians use about 12 billion plastic bags each year. The use of non-biodegradable plastic bags causes severe problems to the Nile River and the seas; hence, it negatively affects environmental tourism and diving.
]]>
5/31/2018 12:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[Singapore Airlines to launch world’s longest commercial flight]]>
The 8,277 nautical mile (15,329km) flight from Singapore to Newark, New Jersey with 161 business class and premium economy seats will eclipse the 7,843 nautical mile Qatar Airways flight from Doha to Auckland as the world’s longest, according to airline data provider OAG.

Airlines including Singapore Airlines, Australia’s Qantas Airways and US-based United Continental Holdings are adding ultra-long haul flights that can capture an airfare premium of around 20 per cent versus flights involving one or more stops.

The Singapore-Newark flight marks the return of a popular route for Singapore Airlines. The carrier had flown the marathon flights until 2013, when high fuel prices made the use of four-engine Airbus SE A340-500 jets uneconomic. It has since flown to New York’s JFK Airport via Frankfurt.

Singapore Airlines is Airbus’ first and to date only customer for the A350-900ULR, an ultra-long range version of the fuel-efficient twin-engine A350 jet.

Qantas has said it is considering the purchase of the A350-900ULR or Boeing Co’s 777X to allow it to fly non-stop from Sydney to London from 2022, an even longer 9,200 nautical mile journey.

Singapore Airlines said on Wednesday that it also plans to introduce non-stop flights from Singapore to Los Angeles with the A350-900ULR at a later date.

The airline expects to receive its first A350-900ULR in September, with all seven on order due by the end of the year.
]]>
5/30/2018 11:17:13 AM
<![CDATA[Egyptian Tourism Authority launches campaign in GCC countries]]>
Egyptian Minister of Tourism Rania El Mashat stressed upon the importance of the Arab and GCC market, which represents a huge sector of the touristic market in Egypt, as these regions export hundreds of thousands of tourists to Egypt every year.

Arab tourism to Egypt represents 30 percent of annual touristic income.

The minister further explained that Egypt always welcomes its fellow Arab tourists to visit anytime, adding that most Arab visitors feel at home while they are in Egypt.

She said that Egypt has always been an important destination for Arab visitors because of its close proximity and similarities in the general norms and traditions shared by most Arab nations.

Mashat stressed upon the importance of launching such a promotional program regarding Egypt in the Arab world, especially during the month of Ramadan, as most Arab families gather together during Iftar (meal when Muslims break their fast), to watch the different Ramadan shows broadcasted on TV.

Ahmed Yusuf, head of the Egyptian Tourism Authority, stated that the promotional campaign depends greatly on the short promotional film “This is Egypt”.

The short film achieved numerous global awards, as it is is broadcasted on four TV channels in different countries in the GCC during peak watching hours – before, during and after the special Ramadan shows.

The channels chosen for the promotional campaign are MBC 1, Rotana Khalijeya, Sama Dubai and Dubai TV.

Yusuf further stated that huge promotional signs and banners promoting Egypt are placed outdoors in open areas in the UAE and KSA.

Yusuf also stated that special social media promotional campaigns have been launched to target social media users on different platforms and on smartphones in the KSA, UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain and Jordan.
]]>
5/29/2018 12:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[Princess Khadija Palace in Helwan to become museum of religion]]>
The handover was made by Cairo Governor Atef Abdel Hamid, in the presence of Antiquities Minister Khaled Anany - on behalf of Prime Minister Sherif Ismail - Social Solidarity Minister Ghada Waly and other officials and the ambassadors of Austria, Switzerland and Germany.

"The prime minister attaches great importance to the museum that embodies the path of Egypt's religious history as well as depth of religious tolerance among faiths in Egypt," said Antiquities Minister Anany said.

"The palace will be a beacon of reviving Egypt's heritage,

"Bibliotheca Alexandria seeks reviving the history of the Helwan district," he added, pointing out to the unique status of the museum that displays faiths throughout history."

Cairo governor, for his part, said that the renovation of the place has been finalized at a cost of EGP 28 million.

A few months ago, Cairo governorate signed a protocol with Bibliotheca Alexandria to determine the cultural fate of the architectural gem through coordination with authorities concerned to do so.

Princess Khadija is the daughter of Khedive Tewfik, who was the sixth ruler from the Muhammad Ali Dynasty and reigned over Egypt from 1879 to 1892.

The palace was built in 1895 in Helwan, but was given away by Princess Khadija to the Ministry of Health and Population to later become a hospital.

The 500-square meter palace has a western pavilion built on 300 square meters, besides a northern one built on 200 square meters.

It houses 50 halls, sized 25-100 square meters, along with the main hall that accommodates 120 persons.]]>
5/28/2018 9:03:00 AM
<![CDATA[Waha of Siwa, a historic isolated village ]]>CAIRO – 26 May 2018: Qarat Umm El Sagheir, Al Waha, in Siwa Oasis is located about 270 km away in the northeast of Siwa. The village is isolated deep in the desert and is situated about 300 km southeast of Marsa Matruh.

There is no public transport but the village residents receive some assistance from the governor of Matruh and some other parties, along with the annual gifts from the presidency which are received by the Matruh’s governor to deliver to the people of Al Waha.

The gifts include food commodities and financial assistance to everyone in Al Waha.

The population of the Al Waha is estimated at 700 inhabitants. They are of Berber (Amazigh) origin and they speak the Amazigh language alongside the Arabic language. They have no work or activities other than planting palm trees, olive trees and some crops which satisfy their local consumption.

Al Waha residents live in one floored houses built with a mixture of salt and mud. Their houses are located close to the ancient houses which were inhabited by the ancestors of the residents.

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The houses in Al Waha - Egypt TodayHassan Moshali.jpg

Men are engaged in the cultivation of palm trees and olive trees, using groundwater that is forced from the ground in a boiling state. The water is poured into a large basin to be stored until it cools down and then used for drinking and watering palm trees, olive trees and crops.

Al Waha depends on the aid delivered from the governorate and other parties. The people of Qarat Umm El Sagheir preserve their instinct and pride in their isolation and the state authorities seek to connect them with the rest of the country and provide them with services.

The last two decades witnessed the provision of some necessary services in the place, through the establishment of a school, a generator to illuminate the village, solar cells, and the provision of televisions so that people can follow up and monitor what happens in Egypt.

Lately, the governorate provided an ambulance in the village to transfer urgent conditions. In the past few years, Matruh provided a car to transport the villagers weekly to Siwa Oasis and return them on the second day. There are no means of communication between the village and the outside world, except for a telephone at the headquarters of the local unit used for emergencies.

The people of Umm El Sagheir get their needs from the surrounding environment and trade with each other by exchanging goods and services. They usually don't need to use money, only in limited cases or to get their needs from outside the Waha by travelling to Siwa or Marsa Matruh.

The school, which was established in the recent years, has contributed in educating the Qarat Umm El Sagheir children, as well as most of the adults. One of the residents received a high level of education after starting at an older age. He now works as a teacher in Qarat Umm El Sagheir School along with other teachers from outside Al Waha who stay at a guest house specialized for them.

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Students in Qarat Umm El Sagheir School - Egypt TodayHassan Moshali.jpg

Major General Alaa Abu Zeid, governor of Matruh, confirmed that the people of Qarat Umm El Sagheir refuse to move to any other place that is associated with urbanization and services. He pointed out that previous governors offered the people to move to Siwa Oasis or any other place they choose but they refused.

When traveling to Al Waha, it is preferable to travel with at least two cars in case any technical or mechanical failure takes place because there are no services or telecommunication on the road. ]]>
5/27/2018 3:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Costa Rica's 'Little Jamaica' coast struggles to ride out climate storm]]>
Low boulders now sit in place to help shelter Cocles, with its reggae bar and cafes serving rice and beans, where tourists cycle past fruit stalls selling lychees and soursop and signs warn of sloths crossing the beach road.

But as rising seas threaten parts of the tropical eastern coast, dubbed “Little Jamaica”, many worry that the visitors who generate numerous jobs in the area - known for its palm-fringed beaches and exotic wildlife - could go elsewhere.

“This year was the craziest I’ve ever seen... we lost everything - there was no sand, there was nothing, the water was hitting right here, all those trees fell down,” said Downer, pointing to the nearby road amid a torrential downpour.

“I saw the water come under my car, whoosh - it didn’t take it, but... I’ve never seen that before. I think everything is changing, it’s a little warning,” he said, his family sheltering from the rain under their beach shack surrounded by surfboards.

Global warming could cause sea levels around the world to rise between 70 cm and 1.2 meters (28-47 inches) in the next two centuries, ramping up pressure on the roughly half of the world’s population who live near the coast, said a German-led team of researchers in a study published in February.

Scientists say parts of Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast have lost at least 20 meters (66 ft) of beach in the past 15 years, as creeping sea levels and changing wave patterns cause coastal erosion, often exacerbated by coral reef degradation.

They warn that higher seas and increasingly unpredictable conditions could start to damage infrastructure and take a heavy economic and social toll.

In addition to the creeping effects of climate change, extreme events like hurricanes are likely to worsen the impact on many coastal communities, said Borja Reguero, a researcher at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Trees are being replanted on parts of Costa Rica’s coast to halt erosion and protect livelihoods.

But more extreme conditions demand hefty spending on infrastructure such as wave breaks and sea walls to delay mass relocations, some experts say.

“In 100 years, all of the villages in Costa Rica’s Caribbean and Pacific coasts will inevitably be flooded,” said Omar Lizano Rodriguez, a University of Costa Rica oceanographer.

“There’s not the resources or political will to solve the problem. Costa Rica deals with emergencies but not prevention.”

FRIGHTENED TOURISTS
Tourism is a mainstay on the tropical coast, some 200 km (125 miles) east of San Jose, where many are descended from the Jamaicans who originally came to work on a jungle railway, and English mixes with Spanish and Patois.

In Cahuita, where the coastal national park draws tourists looking for sloths snoozing in the treetops and howler monkeys leaping through the forest, the sea has already consumed slabs of beach and is starting to menace the sleepy town.

On the wooden veranda of Spencer Seaside Lodging where she works, Araceli Huertas explained storm waves are now much higher than in previous years and sometimes crash over the reinforced sea wall in front, soaking the hotel’s rooms.

“The tourists are frightened it’s a tidal wave or a tsunami or something, as they don’t see this very often,” said Huertas, who has lived in the beach town for 15 years. “Now the sea is calm but when the sea looks very high, they want to leave.”

Wild conditions are causing trouble for fishermen who cannot go out in rough seas and are landing smaller catches, said Jose Ash, as two men dragged a boat out of reach of the high tide.

“People who live from the ocean can’t go anywhere - it’s too dangerous,” said the fisherman and tour guide, whose own boat was moored offshore.


“What I hear is they’re going to build a dock right here for the fishermen, they’re going to put some big stones and jacks out there by the big breakers, but that’s just like blah, blah, blah for the past 10 years.”

Cahuita’s national park regularly has to redraw its coastal paths but an elevated wooden walkway built after parts of the access road were washed away now allows it to stay open even when the sea washes ashore, helping keep local guides in work.

As rising waters push back the park’s shorelines and reduce its trees, the animals that tempt visitors to the area are also coming under pressure, said park guard Mirna Cortes Obando.

“All the coastline inside the park has been affected - for example, we’ve lost nearly 50 meters of beach over the last 10 years,” said Cortes, on the veranda of the park’s headquarters, which was surrounded by water during recent storms.

“We’re losing much of the trees here, the almonds, the sea grapes, the coconuts that the animals use for food.”

Together with the non-profit Talamanca-Caribbean Biological Corridor Association, the park is now planting more trees along the coast to limit erosion, while a team monitors the coral reef that helps protect parts of the shore.

BRANCHING OUT
Some of the young trees such as coconut palms have been wiped out by storms, but they should eventually create a barrier to protect against rising waters, said Julio Barquero Elizondo, marine biologist at the association.

Educational programs are also crucial to better prepare for climate change, said Barquero in Hone Creek village, where hundreds of saplings grow in the non-profit’s plant nursery.

“We have to have alternatives and not just think about the beach and the sea - the guides should also know about forest tourism and indigenous communities, to have a broader offering so that climate change won’t be so damaging,” he said.

Back in Cahuita’s national park, wildlife guide Richard Hills-Wilson pointed to the tangle of sun-bleached trunks that was once a broad stretch of sand he played on as child.

He is bracing for the next storms, as he marks 33 years of working in the area next month.

“The beach is going to go,” he said. “If there’s no beach, then nobody comes.”]]>
5/26/2018 1:29:32 PM
<![CDATA[Turkey's Muslim-friendly holidays find a modest place in the sun]]>
Dozens of hotels and resorts on Turkey’s shores, featuring separate pools and beaches for men and women to meet religious strictures on modesty, are attracting families from Turkey, the Middle East and Muslim communities in the West.

While still only accounting for a small fraction of tourists, the market for “halal”, or Islamic-compliant, holidays has shrugged off the turmoil and looks set for more growth.

“In the last couple of years there was a boycott of Turkey as a tourism destination but we have seen halal-friendly tourism booming throughout this period,” said Ufuk Secgin of halalbooking.com, which promotes international Islamic holidays.

“Halal conscious travelers are more resilient. They are not easily scared by headlines,” Secgin said, speaking over loud pop music at a men-only pool and water slides in Elvin Deluxe resort.

The total number of tourist arrivals in Turkey dropped by a quarter to a 10-year low in 2016, hit by a failed coup, a wave of bomb attacks and a dispute with Moscow which kept millions of Russians away. It bounced back last year and the government expects 40 million visitors this year.

Secgin’s company brought 12,000 tourists in 2015, almost doubling that number in each of the next two years despite turbulence in Turkey. This year it expects 70,000 to come to visit country whose president, Tayyip Erdogan, is a pious Muslim who has brought religion back into mainstream public life.

Only 60 or so hotels and resorts offer halal-friendly breaks, out of many thousands of hotels across Turkey, but a report in November said Turkey has jumped four places to the third most popular destination for Islamic holidays, behind the United Arab Emirates and Malaysia.

In a sign of the popularity of the halal hotels, they were all fully booked in Turkey last year for the Eid al-Fitr holiday which marks the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, unlike traditional hotels, according to the State of Global Islamic Economy Report prepared by Thomson Reuters and Dinar Standard.

“Noting the consumer demand at the country’s 60 halal hotels, Turkish hoteliers have started to diversify away from conventional tourism by focusing on this emerging segment.”

SUN, SEA, SINGLE-SEX

In Alanya, a Mediterranean resort known for it wide sandy beaches, halal hotels offer a Muslim prayer rug in every room, pools and beaches separately designated for men and women, and mixed areas of families. Food at the buffet meals is all halal, and alcohol is not served.

At the Wome Deluxe hotel, women-only pools with female security guards and spa staff are shielded from outside view by large panels. Guests can only enter after handing in phones and cameras.

“A couple of years ago, 80-90 percent of our guests were from Turkey. Currently more than 60 percent of our guests are foreign Muslims,” said general manager Yusuf Gerceker.

Many of those foreign guests are Muslims from European countries, who say that the rise of right-wing and anti-immigrant sentiment has made them want to take holidays elsewhere. Moves by municipal authorities in France to ban the body-covering burkini swimwear also made them uncomfortable.

“There are prohibited activities for Muslim women in France, we can’t go to beaches or swimming pools,” Rihab Hassaine said, relaxing beside the covered women-only pool with her friends.

“It is not possible to find this kind of holiday with a Muslim concept over there,” Hassaine, from France, said sipping her soda in a bikini at a women’s only pool in southern tourist destination of Alanya.

Yavuz Tanriverdi, born and raised in Germany, playing with his children on a mixed beach in Alanya said he came to Turkey because he wanted to fit in.

“My wife wears a burqa covered bikini, for the people here it’s completely normal, in Germany it wouldn’t be that way,” the 36-year-old father said.

“Everyone looks at you as if you don’t belong.”
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5/24/2018 11:35:43 AM
<![CDATA[Thai bay made famous by film 'The Beach' to close for four months]]>
The bay, on Phi Phi Leh island in the Andaman Sea, was the main location of the 2000 film starring Leonardo Di Caprio, which revealed to viewers the stunning beauty of Thailand’s turquoise seas and white-powder beaches, spurring many to visit.

Up to 5,000 visitors go to the beach every day, says Thailand’s tourism agency, traveling by speedboat and ferries to Maya Bay, which is sheltered by 100-meter high cliffs.

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General view of Maya bay seen in Andaman sea at Krabi province, Thailand May 23, 2018. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

The closure from June 1 is a bid to salvage the area’s coral reefs, which have been damaged by warmer temperatures and growing numbers of tourists.

“This is one way to try to preserve our natural heritage, which is a vital part of our important tourism industry,” said Kanokkittika Kritwutikon, director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s office in Phuket.

No boats will be allowed to moor in the bay, said a tour operator, Maya Bay Tours.

“We have been advised that Maya Bay will close from 1 June to 30 September 2018 to allow some recovery time for the bay,” it said on its website. “No boats will be allowed to moor in Maya Bay, but we will run past the bay.”

Tourism receipts make up about 12 percent of Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy, but there has been increasing concern about Thailand’s ability to manage its rapidly growing number of visitors and the environmental impact of mass tourism.

This year the country banned smoking and littering at 24 beachside locations over environmental concerns.

Thailand is among the world’s biggest contributors of ocean waste, posing a serious threat to wildlife, the magazine Science said in a report in 2015.

Some in the tourism industry said Maya Bay’s closure would have little impact, however.

“There are other places to visit which are equally interesting,” said Geng, 35, a hotel receptionist on Phi Phi Island, who gave only one name.

“June to September is not high season. I can take tourists to other beaches, like Monkey Beach and Bamboo Island.”

]]>
5/23/2018 11:55:48 AM
<![CDATA[Mexican truckers travel in fear as highway robberies bleed economy]]>
Back then, El Flaco, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, was beaten, blindfolded and taken to a house near Mexico City where his captors threatened to kill him. Three days later he managed to escape and flee.

Today he travels with a machete and a satellite tracking device in his cab that can pinpoint him in emergencies.

Truckers covering Mexico’s vast territory often move in convoys to reduce the risk of robberies, which in 2017 almost doubled to nearly 3,000. Some drive with armed escorts traveling alongside them. Others remove the logos from their trucks.

Companies like brewer Grupo Modelo, a unit of AB InBev, and the Mexican subsidiary of South Korea’s LG Electronics have stepped up efforts to protect their drivers, deploying sophisticated geo-location technology and increasing communication with authorities.

The problem is part of a wider Latin American scourge of highway robbery that acts as a further drag on a region long held back by sub-par infrastructure.

“Roads are getting more and more dangerous, you try not to stop,” the 50-year-old El Flaco said, as he drove in the central state of Puebla, the epicenter of highway freight theft.

“Since I was kidnapped, I’ve gotten into the habit of looking in the mirror, checking car number plates, looking at who’s gone past me,” he added. “I look at everything.”

On the most dangerous roads, like those connecting Mexico City with major ports on the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific, it is almost certain that one in every two truckers will be held up, a study by U.S.-based security firm Sensitech showed.

While no official data on losses exist, insurers paid out almost $100 million in 2016 to crime-hit cargo operators, up 4.5 percent on 2015, Mexican insurance association AMIS says.

The true sum is likely far higher: only one in three loads is insured due to the cost, according to industry estimates.

More than 80 percent of goods are transported by road and rail in Mexico, and the thefts are hurting competitiveness at a time the country is seeking to diversify trade and tap new sources of business.

Fuels, food and beverages, building materials, chemicals, electronic goods, auto parts and clothing are all top targets, Sensitech said.

COMPETITION SQUEEZE
Upon taking office in December 2012, President Enrique Pena Nieto promised to get a grip on gang violence and lawlessness. But after some initial progress, the situation deteriorated and murders hit their highest level on record last year.

Highway robberies of trucks fell through 2014. But they almost doubled in 2015 to 985, hit 1,587 in 2016 and reached 2,944 last year.

The government has responded by stepping up police patrols in affected areas and lengthening prison sentences for freight robbery to 15 years.

But robberies are still rising and most are not even reported due to the arduous bureaucratic process involved, Sensitech says.

“It’s hurting productivity and competitiveness,” said Leonardo Gomez, who heads a transportation national industry body.

Some drivers are armoring cabs in trucks made by companies like U.S. firm Kenworth, an expensive move that still only covers a tiny fraction of the almost 11 million trucks crisscrossing Latin America’s second-largest economy.

Last year, 53 trucks were armored against high-caliber weapons, up 40 percent from 2016, according to the Mexican Association of Automotive Armorers.

Attacks are not confined to roads. Some 1,752 robberies were recorded on railways last year, official data show.

Criminals have also become more sophisticated.

They are turning to high-caliber weapons and employ devices to block Global Positioning Systems (GPS) to prevent trucks communicating their whereabouts, experts say.

Previously, companies that suffered robberies were generally able to recover their vehicles. Not any more.

“It’s not just the goods they want, it’s the trucks too,” said Carlos Jimenez of Mexican insurance association AMIS.]]>
5/22/2018 2:49:14 PM
<![CDATA[Maznoq app helps find the nearest restroom]]>
Wherever you are; if you need to find a restroom, this app will definitely help you reach the nearest restroom location.

Visit the website www.maznoq.com and enter your email address to get the application as soon as it’s out.

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Maznoq app

On Maznoq Facebook page, users wrote positive feedback regarding the app. “This is going to be the best app in the world,” Hassan Mamdouh, a Facebook user commented.
“This application will help a lot of people, including me,” Ali Alaa said.

Another user noted, “Even though people are making fun of this app, it will be very successful.”

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5/21/2018 10:50:01 AM
<![CDATA['Crystal cloud' installation draws crowds to Vietnam rice terrace]]>
Local farmers mingled with curious tourists to capture photos of the netting decorated with Swarovski crystals and draped over towering bamboo and steel poles on the top of the terraced hill in Yen Bai province.

Some were in awe of the unexpected display in the far-flung rice field.

"This is very unique, I've never seen any outdoor exhibit like this," said tourist Vu Chi Bao. "When the sun shines and reflects on the crystals... it looks wonderful."

Farmer Lu Thi Ly was amazed at the growing crowds coming to the site.

"We can't believe this many people know about these rice terraces now, these crystals have made them more popular," he said.

But not all were dazzled.

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The 'crystal cloud' installation features 58,000 shimmering beads - AFP

Several people took to social media to complain about the flashy installation, saying it tarnished the area's natural landscape.

"I don't know what is beautiful about it, the original nature is already a masterpiece. It's just going to ruin it," Facebook user Luu Bich posted.

Vietnam is racing to develop its tourism sector in a bid to boost its economy and catch up with more popular Asian destinations like Thailand and Malaysia.

But it has also come under fire for forging ahead with controversial tourism projects.

A cable car to the country's highest mountain in northern Sapa sparked outrage from some locals when it opened in 2016, and a similar project proposed in a remote cave in central Vietnam has drawn scorn in recent months.

Organisers said they hope to tick up tourist visits to Yen Bai and "open dialogue to create arts in public spaces", according to the event's official Facebook page.

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Organisers said they hope to tick up tourist visits to Yen Bai and 'open dialogue to create arts in public spaces - AFP

Some 500,000 tourists visited the northern province last year, compared to 6.9 million to better-known Halong Bay and 2.5 million people to Sapa, according to official statistics.

The figures include domestic tourism, which is fast-growing in Vietnam as officials try to draw visitors to sites like Yen Bai on the road less traveled.

The crystal cloud display is open until the beginning of harvest season in October.
]]>
5/20/2018 10:49:51 AM
<![CDATA[TripAdvisor readers choose Hurghada among world's Top 25 Destinations]]>
Hurghada city at the governorate of Red Sea came at the 21st grade of the list, where TripAdvisor recommended its readers to visit the Egyptian resort for several reaons.

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The Red Sea resort of Hurghada - Flickr

“Stunning coral reefs and turquoise waters perfect for windsurfing have made Hurghada, on Egypt's Red Sea Coast, a busy resort town. Within easy reach of the stunning Giftun Islands and the Eastern Arabian Desert,” TripAdvisor wrote on its official website.

“Hurghada has seen enormous amounts of development in the past decade, it does seem overrun with tourists at times. But it’s a relatively easy beach escape for Europeans, and some of the world's best diving and snorkeling sites are just offshore. Walk or catch a cab to explore the old quarter, El Dahar” it added.

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Hurghada hotels in the southern part of the city February 5, 2011 – Wikimedia/Marc Ryckaert

The Egyptian resort was followed by New Delhi in India, Cusco in Peru, Rio de Janeiro in Brazil and Sydney in Australia, while the French capital of Paris topped the list as the most attractive city in the world for tourists, followed by London, Rome, Bali island in Indonesia and Crete island in Greece.

TripAdvisor is the world's largest travel site; it enables travelers to unleash the full potential of every trip, with over 630 million reviews and opinions covering the world's largest selection of travel listings worldwide, covering approximately 7.5 million accommodations, airlines, experiences, and restaurants, the list is based on the voting of holidaymakers and tourists of the most appealing cities in the world.

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Aquarium introduces native sea animals in Safaga – Wikimedia.com
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5/19/2018 4:14:59 PM
<![CDATA[Going back in time on Portugal’s ‘presidential train’]]>
Now, after a one-million-euro ($1.2 million) restoration, the luxury, electric blue “presidential train” is taking passengers again — though only on 25 days a year, when it leaves its home at the National Railway Museum to criss-cross the picturesque Douro valley for a 500-euro gourmet trip.

This new lease of life was brought about by Goncalo Castel-Branco, a 37-year-old businessman who saw the six-carriage train in the museum and fell “in love”.

“I was determined to do something with it,” he tells AFP.

“My daughter suggested turning it into a restaurant. I found that idea brilliant.”

So he had the train restored in 2010 and launched “The Presidential,” a culinary travel experience that takes passengers on a nine-hour journey which includes a gourmet menu and winery visit.

Every spring and throughout the grape harvesting season, it departs from the northern city of Porto to weave through the Douro, taking in the famous vineyards of the region.]]>
5/19/2018 10:59:45 AM
<![CDATA[People are pillaging the world’s protected areas: study]]>
One third of the world’s protected areas are under “intense human pressure,” warned the report.

Furthermore, some 2.3 million square miles (six million square kilometers) of protected land — equivalent to two-thirds the size of China — are unlikely to conserve endangered biodiversity.

“Only 10 percent of lands were completely free of human activity, but most of these regions are in remote areas of high-latitude nations, such as Russia and Canada,” it said.

The problem is most acute in Asia, Europe and Africa, study co-author James Watson, director of the science and research initiative at the Wildlife Conservation Society, told AFP.

“Most nations are doing the first step, and gazetting protected areas but not doing the harder, and more important, second step of funding the management of those protected areas and ensuring they were secured against large-scale human interference,” he said.

Protected areas are seen as a critical solution to the biodiversity crisis facing the planet, by allowing safe havens for birds, mammals, and marine life to thrive.

The amount of lands set aside globally as protected areas has doubled since 1992.

“We know that when they are well managed, well financed and well placed, they work,” Watson said.

– Six-lane highway? –

But researchers found disturbing examples of large-scale human infrastructure being built inside nature preserves.

For example, railways run through Tsavo East and Tsavo West national parks in Kenya, home to the endangered eastern black rhinoceros and lion populations famous for their strange lack of manes, Watson said.

“Plans to add a six-lane highway alongside the railway are well underway,” he said.

Barrow Island National Park in Western Australia — home to endangered mammal species such as the spectacled hare-wallaby, burrowing bettong, golden bandicoot and black-flanked rock-wallaby — also house major oil and gas extraction activities.

In the Indonesian island of Sumatra, more than 100,000 people have illegally settled in Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park — home to the critically endangered Sumatran tiger, orangutan and rhinoceros — and converted around 15 percent of the park area for coffee plantations.

US national parks like Yosemite and Yellowstone also suffer due to “the increasingly sophisticated tourism infrastructure being built inside their borders,” he said.

“We found major road infrastructure such as highways, industrial agriculture, and even entire cities occurring inside the boundaries of places supposed to be set aside for nature conservation,” said co-author Kendall Jones, a researcher at Queensland University in Australia.

“More than 90 percent of protected areas, such as national parks and nature reserves, showed some signs of damaging human activities.”

Researchers said solutions include making sure governments set aside the funds to manage preserves strictly for biodiversity.

Some of the success stories in this realm include Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary in Cambodia, Madidi National Park in Bolivia, and Yasuni Biosphere Reserve in Ecuador, Watson said.]]>
5/18/2018 11:05:34 AM
<![CDATA[Bye bye 'beer bike'? Amsterdam determined to tame tourism]]>
The leading Green-Left and other parties negotiating a new municipal government after March elections vowed to return “Balance to the City”, in a document of that name seen by Reuters.

“The positive sides of tourism such as employment and city revenues are being more and more overshadowed by the negative consequences” including trash and noise pollution, the document said.

Changes the document outlines include curtailing “amusement transportation” such as multi-person “beer bikes”; cracking down on alcohol use in boats on the canals; further restricting AirBnB and other home rentals; and a large tax hike.

Capture
FILE PHOTO: Tourists pose for photos outside the Rijksmuseum in central Amsterdam, Netherlands, December 1, 2017. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

The plans announced on Wednesday also include creating an inventory of all commercial beds in the city to try to cap various sectors such as those on cruise ships and in hotels.

“I’m very happy that the city is now finally taking action, because residents have been asking for it for a very long time,” said Bert Nap of neighborhood organization d’Oude Binnenstad, in the historic center.

“What I’m worried about is that this package of measures is so drastic that there will be a lot of lawsuits and political resistance, which will cost a lot of time.”

He said the city was suffering from too many visitors in general, which had the effect of changing the character of the center into one big tourist attraction. He also said some unruly, drunken tourists were making the city center an unattractive place for local residents.

EDGY LURE
With a population of around 800,000, the city expects 18 million tourists in 2018, an increase of 20 percent from 2016 levels, many drawn by an edgy atmosphere generated by readily available soft drugs and the “red light” sex zone.

Capture
FILE PHOTO: Dam Square is pictured in this aerial shot of Amsterdam, Netherlands, June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Cris Toala Olivares/File Photo

Anti-tourist and anti-expatriate sentiment have been steadily on the rise in Amsterdam, as both are blamed in part for helping drive housing prices increasingly out of the reach of ordinary Dutch people.

The average apartment in Amsterdam cost 407,000 euros ($475,000) in 2017, an increase of around 12 percent from 2016 levels, according to national real estate association NVM.

The change of emphasis has already started from national government over the past years, to try to dissuade visitors from the more earthy pastimes the city is famous for.

Advertising campaigns have focused on the city’s canals, the Anne Frank House and the museums packed with the greatest works of Van Gogh and Rembrandt.

Legislators have helped the re-branding, shutting a third of the city’s brothels in 2008 and starting a program in 2011 to close marijuana cafes located near schools.

“Amsterdam is a city to live and work in - it’s only a tourist destination in the second place,” the municipal document said.

]]>
5/17/2018 11:14:29 AM
<![CDATA[Thomas Cook on track with Turkey, Greece, Egypt holidays popular]]>
Analysts are on average expecting Thomas Cook to post operating profit of 352 million pounds for the 12 month period to Sept. 31, which would represent a 7 percent rise on last year’s result.

Thomas Cook said that in Britain, the smaller part of its business in revenue terms compared to its bigger divisions in the Nordics and Germany, France and Belgium, margins were under pressure due to adverse currency moves and hotel cost inflation.

It was mitigating this pressure by shifting holidays from Spain to destinations like Greece and Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean.

For its first-half, which includes its weaker winter season when fewer Europeans take holidays, Thomas Cook on Thursday posted an underlying loss from operations of 169 million pounds, a 5 percent improvement on last year.

That was buoyed by strong demand for holidays to Egypt and long-haul destinations, improving its first-half performance.

Thomas Cook also said on Thursday that it would scrap its Club 18-30 holiday brand.]]>
5/17/2018 10:25:20 AM
<![CDATA[Stories behind 9 of Egypt’s colloquial proverbs ]]>
Arabic idiomatic expressions reflect the wisdom and beauty of the Arabic language, and they depict a general truth that has been realized over generations of experience, representing a sensible view of the entire world.

Many Egyptians use idioms without knowing the wonderful stories behind them. While some Egyptian proverbs are based on actual stories, others have been made up to express a certain idea in specific situations.

1 - Zucchini

In Arabic: hiya kussa

English equivalent: on the clout list

1 (1)
Zucchini, September 3, 2014 - Wikimedia/MikeMozart

Egyptians use this proverb for referring to corruption, favoritism and nepotism, and especially when a rule does not apply to all people.

The story of this proverb dates back to the Mamluk era. All the gates of the Cairo were closed at night, and everyone was prevented from entering. Therefore, all people had to wait out until the morning to enter, except zucchini merchants because their vegetable goes bad quickly.

This exception angered the other traders because the law did not ensure equality between them. One night, the guards allowed zucchini merchant to cross the gate, so one of the angry merchants yelled “it is zucchini,” explaining to those helplessly watching some traders crossing and others not that the fortunate ones carry zucchini.

Hence, Egyptians inherited the idiom of “zucchini” and repeat it when they see any corruption or illegal acts.

2 – Entering a bathroom is not like leaving it

In Arabic: Dukhul el hamam mesh zay khurugu

English equivalent: to be in deep water

2
Emergency exit WC sign, March 31, 2007 - Wikimedia/Hendrike

During the Ottoman era in Egypt, a man decided to open a new Turkish bathhouse. To attract many customers; he wrote on a placard that entering the bath was free.

Therefore, a large number of people rushed in blindly, but when the customers finished and decided to leave, the owner completely refused to return the customers’ clothes until they paid a fee for using the bath.

The customers argued that the placard stated they could enter for free. He then replied: “entering the bath is not like leaving it.” From this moment onwards, the bathroom owner’s response became an Egyptian idiom; Egyptians use this idiom when someone gets involved in a dilemma and is unable to get out of it as easily.

3 – We buried it together

In Arabic: Dafnino sawa

English equivalent: you can’t have your cake and eat it, too or read the riot act

3
Two donkeys - CC via Pixabay/JACLOU-DL

Once upon a time, two merchants had a donkey and they overloaded it with work, so they named it “Abo El Sabr” (the father of patience) due to its endurance. One day, their donkey died and they cried a lot. Then, they decided to appreciate the donkey’s efforts and buried it appropriately. The two merchants sat next to the donkey’s grave every day and cried until people noticed their grief.

People asked them about the reason for their sadness. They responded, “Abo El Sabr died; he was a symbol goodness, bliss, helpfulness and mercy," so people thought that they spoke about a holy person or Sheikh.

Overnight, the two merchants built a mausoleum over the donkey’s grave, and people began collecting offerings, gifts and presents for “Sheikh Abo El Sabr.”

A few years later, one of these merchants took the entire amount of gifts collected without splitting them in half; the other merchant threatened to complain to Sheikh Abo El Sabr. His partner laughed and said: “who is Abo El Sabr? We buried him together, remember?” Nowadays, people use the proverb when someone tries to trick and deceive his accomplice.

4 – Those who feared shame, died

In Arabic: Elli ekhtashu mato

English equivalent: No morals

4
A house burns-Wikimedia/Kpahor

Egyptians repeat this saying to complain about people who have no shame.

People during the Ottoman era used firewood, timber, wood and sawdust to heat the bathroom floor and water. One day, a fire erupted in one of the women’s bathrooms.

The majority of women rushed to flee from the fire without wearing their clothes, whereas others who were shy preferred death over escaping while naked.

When the owner of the bathroom asked if anyone had died, the doorman told him: “those who feared shame, died.”

5 – The co-wife is sour, even if she is a jar

In Arabic: El-durra murra hatta law kanet garra

English equivalent: A jealous woman will set a whole house on fire

5
An illustration of two women fighting in the street – CC via Wikimedia Commons

This is one of the most popular idioms in the Middle East, especially when a husband gets married for a second time.

Once upon a time, there was a woman who asked her husband to marry another to be able to have children, as she was infertile. However, her husband refused because he knew that jealousy and fights might erupt between the two wives.

The husband agreed due to his wife’s insistence, but he told her that he would marry a foreign woman to minimize problems that might occur. After a while, he returned to his house with a human-sized pottery jar and dressed it in women’s clothes. He then put the jar in his bedroom and told his first wife he would introduce her to his new wife after he returned from his work.

The husband went to work and when he came back, his first wife told him she was humiliated and insulted by his second wife. Therefore, he beat the jar of pottery until it broke and his wife recognized the truth. She then told him: “the co-wife is sour, even if she is a jar.”

6 - He, who does not know, says lentil

In Arabic: Ele maye’rafsh ye’oul ads

English equivalent: Can’t see the forest for the trees

6
Red lentils spilling out of a jar - Creative Commons via Wikimedia Commons

People use this proverb when they attempt to explain the truth of an idea to others who do not believe it and see it from a different perspective.

There was once a thief who stole money from a legume merchant. Running away, the thief stumbled into a sack of lentils, causing the lentils to scatter everywhere.

Hence, people thought that the thief had stolen some lentils due to hunger, so they blamed the legume merchant for his “cruelty” and they let the thief escape. The merchant said: “he, who does not know, says lentil.”

7 – A monkey is a deer in its mother’s eyes

In Arabic: El-erd fe ein ommo ghazal

English equivalent: A face only a mother could love

7
A monkey embraces its mother – CC via Wikimedia Commons

Egyptians say this idiom to criticize people with clearly biased opinions; for example, when people mock someone who admires the beauty or work of someone who actually does not deserve the praise.

The story of this idiom was written by the Greek storyteller, Aesop; he wrote a lot of stories and fairy tales for children in order to teach them moral lessons.

One of Aesop's stories told the tale of the king of the forest who commanded a competition to choose the most beautiful animal in the jungle and to give a prize for the winner. The contest comprised a lion with its cub, a peacock with its young, a cat with its kitten, a zebra with its foal and a deer with its fawn.

However, at the end of the competition, all the attendees were surprised when they saw a monkey with her infant participating in the contest. The attendees tried to convince the monkey to withdraw from the competition, but the monkey completely refused and tried to convince the others that her young is beautiful. The king laughed and said: “a monkey is a deer in its mother’s eyes.”

8 – He, who has a vial on his head, touches it

In Arabic: Ely 3ala rasu bat7a ye7ases 3aliha

English equivalent: Red handed

8
A person holds a feather – CC via Pixabay/MariaGodfrida

This idiom is usually used when people are talking in general about a topic, and then someone becomes annoyed and goes on to defend himself.

Long ago, a man lived alone in a small village and raised chickens, but he observed that the number of his chickens was decreasing, so he went to a sheikh at the mosque and complained to him.

The next day, the sheikh decided to gather the villagers to give them a sermon about honesty. During his speech, he referred to the man’s chickens that had been stolen. The sheikh ended his sermon by saying: “I discovered the thief, as he forgot to remove the feather from his head.” A man automatically hurried to clean his head, revealing he was the thief. In time, Egyptians replaced the “feather” with a “vial,” which in turn has been given a different meaning to be a “head injury.” The usage of the idiom remained the same.

9 – Came back with Hunain’s shoes

In Arabic: A’ad be khufain Hunain

English equivalent: to come to grief

People say this idiom when they fail to do or achieve something.

9
An illustration of a pair of leather clogs – CC via Wikimedia Commons

Once upon a time, there was a renowned shoemaker in Al Hirah, Iraq, named Hunain, and people came to him from all over the world due to his skill and experience in making high-quality shoes.

One day, a traveler riding a camel stopped in front of Hunain’s shop. The traveler admired Hunain's shoes and started asking him about the price. After much bargaining, they never reached an agreement, and the traveler began talking down to Hunain.

Hunain got annoyed by the traveler’s behavior, especially that Hunain's customers left because they saw him preoccupied with the traveler, so Hunain did not sell anything.

Hunain decided to get back at this traveler by stealing his camel and everything loaded on it. He went on a side road and threw one shoe on the road and a few meters away he put the other shoe.

During the traveler way, he saw a shoe but he did not care because the other shoe was missing. After a short distance, the traveler found the second show. Therefore, the traveler left his camel and went to collect the shoes from the road, which allowed Hunain to steal the camel. When the traveler returned to his home, his relative asked him about his camel and all the things he purchased during his travel. The traveler said: “I returned with Hunain’s shoes.”
]]>
5/16/2018 11:03:50 AM
<![CDATA[Serbian village hopes its vampire will rival Dracula as tourist draw]]>
As yet, an unmarked grave that could be that of Petar Blagojevic, a peasant who died in 1725, is not quite the spectacle of Bran Castle, which has become known as the home of Dracula and attracts visitors from around the world.

But that is not stopping the villagers of Kisiljevo, around 100 km (60 miles) east of Belgrade, from dreaming big.

“We have one thing no other village in the world has. We have the Kisiljevo vampire,” notary and folklorist Mirko Bogicic said, speaking of his hopes for eventually building a vampire themed village, with period costumes and homes.

Bogicic said Blagojevic came back from the dead to torment his family and neighbors, lurking near houses to demand food or shoes and attacking and strangling his victims.

In a region where superstitions and similar stories are abundant, Bogicic says the difference in Kisiljevo is that the story was documented at the time by a representative of the then Habsburg monarchy, Frombald.

According to a story published a Vienese newspaper of the time, terrified villagers demanded an investigation which led to the opening of Blagojevic’s grave.

“They found the body intact, with his beard and nails visibly grown ... they quickly prepared a hawthorne stake and he was stabbed with it ...,” Bogicic said, holding a photocopy of the newspaper.

“The he (Frombald) ... noted that those wounds, and mouth and ears all bled fresh, red blood.”

Nearly three centuries later, Kisiljevo, the nearby lakeside resort Srebrno Jezero and the small riverside town of Veliko Gradiste are looking to cash in.

They hope the legend will attract tourists from the Danube cruises, some of which already stop in Veliko Gradiste.
]]>
5/15/2018 11:22:12 AM
<![CDATA[Locations of Holy Family's visit to Egypt to be renovated in 6 months]]>
This stage will consist of five individual sites amongst 25 total, in the areas of Masr Al Qadima, Al Maadi and Wady El Natron. The journey’s path is said to be 3500 KM in distance.

Ismail assigned the attendees of the meeting to create a group of representatives for the different entities that will be assigned to supervise all the works related to the project throughout its revival stages and alongside the path of the journey, especially during the period of trial and error, the preparation of the tent that is supposed to be prepared to welcome the visitors and to complete paper work related to the Ministry of Antiques.

The committee decided that all works should be done simultaneously in all the necessary spots along the sacred journey’s path. The meeting was attended by the ministers of antiques, tourism, local development in addition to the governors of Cairo and Al Beheira.

During the meeting, the Ministry of Tourism reviewed a report of the completed works, confirming the preparation to welcome visitors during the upcoming period. Part of the renovation works consists of preparing the surrounding areas of the five sites of the journey’s path to be able to support the works that is made in the specified sites. In the specific locations and surrounding areas the pavements have been fixed for visitors to walk freely and reorganizing of the traffic in the surrounding areas is also put in mind.

Signs with names and description of each site will be prepared to guide the public and shabby areas are being regarded for renovation works to support the touristic site and create an atmosphere in which the tourists can enjoy their time, yet find it easy to access any services they may need, such as toilets or restaurants, cafes and malls. This area should be prepared with universal touristic standards, to be able to get as much benefit from it as possible.

The aim of the renovation work is to encourage Religious tourism in Egypt, taking advantage of the amazing and unique monuments Egypt posseses and to create an educational, touristic experience for the visitors where they can enjoy sightseeing while being educated about the story behind it and its related matters.

The Holy Family came to Egypt, traveling for about three-and-a-half years across the country. What we have done is—and this project is not recent, we started it about two or three years ago— we picked eight locations in four cities and we readied them from the infrastructure perspective to receive the customers, clients and tourists,” Hesham el-Demery, chairman of the Egyptian Tourism Promotion Board, told Egypt Today in April. 

To promote the tour, in collaboration with Egyptian authorities, Pope Francis visited Egypt later in April of 2017, carried out mass and acknowledged the Holy Family’s journey in Egypt as an official Christian pilgrimage. This announcement puts the Holy Family tour on equal footing to Fatima in Portugal, suggesting that thousands of Christian tourists would visit Egypt.

Ismail declared to reporters last April 2017, that the Tourism Ministry has devised a program to encourage tourists to visit the country to watch a unique artistic rendition of the religious story and to trace the journey’s trail that covers many Egyptian cities after Virgin Mary, Jesus and Joseph had fled King Herod’s persecution in Palestine.]]>
5/14/2018 10:23:40 AM
<![CDATA[Tourists visit ancient temple in Sohag during Nile cruise]]>
Ayman Abdel Monaem, Sohag governor, pointed out that Abydos and such Nile cruises would help put Sohag on the map of international tourism.

Head of Al Belina City Hall in Sohag, Amer Awad, said that Abydos welcomed the 55 tourists traveling on a Nile cruise. Upon their arrival, the tourists received bouquets and expressed their happiness for being in Abydos and exploring King Seti l temple.

Abydos is one of the oldest cities of ancient Egypt and it’s located about 11km west of the Nile River in Al Belina, Sohag.

It is considered to be one of the magnificent archeological sites in Egypt; the sacred city was the place of many ancient temples and it is believed that Osiris was buried there.

Façade, Temple of Seti I, Abydos, Egypt - CC via Wikimedia CommonsRoland Unger
Façade, Temple of Seti I, Abydos, Egypt - CC via Wikimedia CommonsRoland Unger.jpg

King Seti l was one of the least known pharaohs in ancient Egypt. His stunning temple is among the famous ancient attractions still standing in Egypt.

Today, Abydos is known for the memorial temple of King Seti l. The temple consists of inscriptions from the 19th Dynasty, known in the modern world as the Abydos King List.
In 2017, Egypt was included in the Telegraph’s list of “20 incredible holidays in the river” as one of the most amazing open air museums in the world, especially the Nile cruise from Cairo to Luxor and Aswan.

According to National Geographic’s list of the best 21 cruises in the world, two Egyptian Nile cruises made it to the top six and they are Nour El Nil's luxurious cruise ships Malouka (16-passenger capacity) and Meroë (20-passenger capacity).

National Geographic promised that the experience will make the tourist feel like a modern day pharaoh.
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5/13/2018 2:35:07 PM
<![CDATA[In Iraq's crumbling Basra, a yearning for a glorious past]]>
Once dubbed the “Venice of the Middle East” for its network of canals, the 1,400-year-old city was a magnet for regional tourism until the early 1980s.

Today the cherished canal of Mohamed’s youth is a reeking, refuse-filled cesspool, forcing passersby to hold their noses.

It is a showcase for the widespread breakdown of public services in a country plagued by turmoil, corruption and decay since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

“Basra was once a wonderful place,” said Mohamed, 52, who runs a grocery shop established by his father in 1966 in a street full of traditional dwellings that are falling apart.

“But we’ve had wars and neglect,” he said, pointing to the illegible scrawl on a wooden post from the 1960s - the last time Iraqi authorities put up street signs in the city of 2.5 million people, Iraq’s second largest, just upstream from the Gulf.

Basrawis interviewed at random said they would not vote in Saturday’s parliamentary election or, even if they do, had lost faith that officials would restore their city to its old glory.

A shopping mall, some five-star hotels and elegant restaurants have sprung up in Basra since 2003 thanks to steady oil money, port facilities and an international airport.

Iraq, OPEC’s second-largest producer, extracts most of its oil from southern fields and exports it through terminals in and around Basra - the engine of an expanding private sector with a middle class largely in work, unlike much of the rest of Iraq.

But since 2003, state authorities have not restored a single house in Basra’s historic Old City, made up of Ottoman edifices famous for wood carvings on balconies, windows and ceilings.

State interest in preserving the Old City faded as Iraq went through a ruinous series of wars - with nearby Iran in 1980-88, and U.S.-led coalition forces that ended Saddam’s occupation of Kuwait in 1991 and then his rule in 2003. A U.N. embargo in place until 2003 helped lay waste to the oil-driven economy.

Only five historic residences were partially repaired in the 1990s and much of the remaining residential stock is at risk of collapse, according to Azhar Hashim, who runs Basra’s historic heritage department.

Her office has carried out studies recommending restorations of scores of Old City residence. “But nothing has happened,” Hashim said with a shrug.

STIFLING MISMANAGEMENT
State officials blame a public funding crisis wrought by years of low oil prices. But Basra residents blame profound neglect and corruption in public services over the past decades, worsening under the Saddam-era sanctions.

“It’s mismanagement, corruption and theft (of public funds),” said Walid Mustafa, a retired soldier who grew up in an Ottoman house whose roof has collapsed.

Basra is one of the few cities in the Middle East without an effective water treatment system. It boasted an advanced sanitary infrastructure in the 1960s but it broke down decades ago, turning Basra’s waterways into cesspools whose stench is compounded by a notoriously hot desert climate.

Even major roads are potholed while civic pride projects such as a “sports city” to host competitions were aborted.

Ali al-Ghasseb, chairman of the Basra Investment Commission, acknowledged mistakes after 2003 in repairing infrastructure.

But he said Basra province and the central government were now working to improve the sewage system thanks to a Japanese loan while a new hospital was being built with help of Kuwait.

The World Bank is also helping Iraq reduce severe air pollution arising from the gas flares of nearby oil fields.

CULTURE AMIDST GARBAGE
Located at Iraq’s marshy southern tip where the Euphrates and Tigris rivers merge near the Gulf, Basra was for centuries a melting pot of Arabs, Persians, Turks, Indians and Greeks who all left their cultural imprint.

Much of Iraq suffered destruction in the string of wars since the 1980s. But Basra was especially hard hit as a city on the front line of the war with Iran, only a few dozen km (miles) across the Shatt al-Arab delta to the east.

More devastation occurred in the course of two uprisings by southern Iraq’s majority Shi’ite Muslims against the Sunni Saddam that were brutally crushed.

More recently, a drought has almost dried up canals while Basra is also often engulfed in smog blamed on oil production.

Tired of the state failing to restore historic buildings, local artists are trying to revive a once-vibrant cultural life.

At a refurbished Ottoman palace, art exhibitions and concerts are held as painters, poets and musicians have come back after many years of keeping a low profile to avoid Saddam’s agents or, after his overthrow, Islamist militants.

“We now have an event almost every day. Security has improved,” said Abdelhak al-Mothafer, head of the state cultural centre in the palace.

But with few inclined to make their way through broken, garbage-strewn streets to the palace, painter Sabri Al-Malek sat alone there one recent day waiting for buyers to show up.

“I have sold only three of 21 paintings,” he said. “We don’t have any tourists anymore like in the 1970s when Basra had its heyday.”

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5/12/2018 10:31:11 AM
<![CDATA[Despite hurricanes and Trump, Cuba retains charm for foreign tourism firms]]>
According to sources with knowledge of industry figures, tourist arrivals in the first three months of the year fell to roughly 1.4 million compared with 1.5 million in the same period of 2017.

Of that figure, 177,000 people arrived by sea and spent relatively little money onshore, an increase of 38,000 from the previous year, as foreign cruise lines stepped up their visits.

The downward trend continued in April, the sources said, the tail end of the November-to-May high season in Cuba.

Yet hospitality companies including Spain's Melia Hotels International and Iberostar Hotels & Resorts, Singapore’s Banyan Tree Holdings Ltd. and Apollo Global Management LLC’s Diamond Resorts International Inc. have all announced new projects.

Representatives of the companies often complain about the impossibility of owning their properties outright and the local bureaucracy, but acknowledge they make a profit.

"Cuba was, is and will be a key tourism area so it is just a matter of timing," said Eric Peyre, who represents Louvre Hotels SAS, a French subsidiary of China’s state-owned Jin Jiang International Hotels Development Co, one of the world’s largest.

Peyre, who has worked in the Cuban tourism industry for 25 years, said the company just took over one hotel but plans to have 10 within a few years.

"Every hospitality company will come to Cuba one day or another and we have decided to enter now," he said.

Over the last two years more than a dozen cruise lines have also arrived, including U.S. leaders Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., Carnival Corporation and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., which have steadily increased their Cuba stake.

"United States cruise lines continue to add sailings and increase the size of vessels on the routes," said John Kavulich, president of the New York based U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, who follows the sector. He said the main restraint on growth was port capacity in Cuba.

The dip in tourism revenue this year is painful for Cuba's Communist-run government, which is struggling with declining export revenues and dwindling support from crisis-hit ally Venezuela.

The Trump administration has made it more difficult for people to travel to Cuba, banned Americans from patronizing military-owned establishments and issued a travel warning that it may be unsafe to visit Cuba.

HAVANA HARD HIT

Havana was particularly hard hit as the number of American tourists dramatically declined, leaving once overflowing hotels and restaurants with plenty of room to spare.

The U.S. trade embargo restricts Americans to cultural, religious and educational tourism or family visits, thus making Havana, and not beach resorts, a top draw for U.S. visitors.

U.S. visitors, not including those of Cuban origin, fell to 98,000 in the first three months of the year versus 160,000 a year earlier. Of those, 25,000 came on cruise ships, twice the number during the same period in 2017, the sources said.

Nevertheless, there are five new five-star hotels under construction in Havana, three of which broke ground recently.

The hotels are all owned by the military-run Gaviota hospitality corporation and will be managed by foreign firms. The Trump administration has forbidden U.S. citizens from patronizing Gaviota.

Other hotels in the Cuban capital are undergoing renovations. Most are owned by non-military tourism companies, such as the famous sea-front Hotel Habana Riviera built by U.S. mobster Meyer Lansky on the eve of the 1958 Communist revolution.

"Everybody is planning long term. That is why the Cuban government is building in Havana and all foreign companies are asking how to be part of this development," Peyre said.

Foreign businessmen and local experts say 2017, with a booming 26 percent growth in arrivals before Hurricane Irma hit in September, was a fluke and so this year’s downturn is not the end of the world. Despite the hurricane's impact, arrivals for last year as a whole rose 16 percent.

"We are very pleased that we can show the world that for us Cuba is indeed the next big frontier market and a great place to invest," said Sebastiaan Berger, CEO of Ceiba Investments, a Guernsey-incorporated company with close to 20 years experience in Cuba and a $175 million portfolio.

Ceiba announced this month a $150 million project to upgrade four joint-venture hotels and build a fifth with Cuban partner Cubanacan and Melia Hotels International. The Melia Habana Hotel will add 168 rooms.

Berger, like Peyre, was unperturbed by the Trump administration.

"We are a company dedicated to investments in Cuba and have been investing in real estate under Presidents Bush Sr., Bush Jr., Bill Clinton, Barrack Obama and now Trump," he said.]]>
5/11/2018 6:06:46 PM
<![CDATA[Ladder specialized for Airbus 380 reaches Egypt]]>
Engineer Mohammed Saeed Mahrous, chairman of the company, announced that Cairo International Airport had always been ready with the facilities necessary for such aircrafts to land safely on the runway, but the ladder for the specified airbus was missing, which disabled such aircrafts to land in Cairo International Airport.

Mahrous mentioned in his statements that the ladder costs €824,000 and that the company was able to receive it with all its parts. Cairo International Airport is now ready to welcome any Airbus 380 aircraft to land in its runways, according to Mahrous.

Among the first aviation companies that owned Airbus 380 aircrafts are Emirates, Singaporean and Itihad airlines, which are considered the pioneers of the aviation industry globally.

Airbus 380 is a huge aircraft and is a double decker. It was first manufactured by Airbus company in 2004. There are around 538 of that specific aircraft operating globally. These aircrafts are designed for long-haul flights and can welcome more than 600 passengers on board; Airbus 380 is a powerful aircraft and is machined to fly long, endless hours without stopping.

Airbus 380 is more advanced than any other commercial type of aircrafts manufactured to date. It uses environmentally friendly components, is designed to operate in “low noise mode” and is the lowest among all other aircrafts in terms of emissions. Different parts of the aircraft are manufactured in different countries in Europe such as Spain and England and then sent to France to be assembled by Airbus Company.
]]>
5/10/2018 5:41:26 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt wins membership in ACAC's Executive Council]]>
The Arab Civil Aviation Commission is an Arabic Organization specialized in Aviation and follows the Arab University Council.

The aim of the organization is to create an atmosphere of cooperation and coordination among the Arab countries in the field of civil aviation. Plans for advancement of the industry in the near future are also put in mind.

The total number of members in the commission is 21 Arab countries. The management hierarchy consists of a General Assembly, Executive council, General Administration and five different committees, each represented by an expert from each country.

The Arab Civil Aviation Commission focuses on creating a better atmosphere for civil aviation in the Arab world, while providing all the necessities to rise up with the industry, and to keep up a high standard in all the services related to the Arab Aviation. The Commission aims to unify the goals of all its members and focuses on improving the industry as a whole.
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5/10/2018 4:52:40 PM
<![CDATA[New 2 weekly flights between Bergamo, Alexandria launched]]>
According to Italian magazine, Easyviaggio, the two-weekly flights by Air Arabia Egypt will be from Orio al Serio International Airport in Bergamo city to Alexandria. The flights are scheduled to be on Sundays and Fridays all year.

On May 5, official source at Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism said to media outlets that Egypt is seeing a 100 percent rise in bookings by Italian holidaymakers during the summer season, compared to the same period last year, according to Italian tour operators .

He added that the months of January and February of this year saw a 75 percent increase year-on-year in the number of Italian tourists visiting Egypt.

The Italian daily newspaper, La Stampa, said in a report on Friday, May 4, that Italian tourism to Egypt doubled during the first months of 2018, with Italian tourists increasing by a whopping 94 percent.

The newspaper added that the number of Italian tourists who visited Egypt in January 2018 stood at 15,707, compared to 12,471 in January 2017, increasing by 25.9 percent.
In February, the number increased by 76.2 percent year-on-year, standing at 19,241.

Tourism in Egypt has been picking up recently, with Egypt’s tourism revenues jumping 211.8 percent year-on-year to $5.3 billion in the first nine months of 2017, compared to $1.7 billion the year before.

]]>
5/9/2018 4:23:02 PM
<![CDATA[Two new churches inaugurated in Minya]]>
In statements on Wednesday, Spokesman for the Coptic Orthodox Church Polis Halim said that the churches are named "the flight to Egypt church" and "the cave church".

The Holy Family's seeking refuge in Egypt is considered to be an event of utmost significance in Egypt's long history and during their journey in Egypt, the Holy Family rested in a cave which is now located inside Gabal al Tayr's ancient church.

maher eskandar (62)
Jebel el-Teir Church in Minya in October 2017 - Maher Eskandar

Gabal Al Tayr (Mountain of the Birds in Arabic) is located on the East bank of the Nile and given its historical significance it is now a popular tourist destination that attracts more than two million visitors every year.

]]>
5/9/2018 1:38:48 PM
<![CDATA[Thai capital colorful in the eyes of former flight attendant]]>
The city is very vibrant and offers one of the best night lives in the entire world. Thai people are extremely genuine and friendly. As long as a foreigner respects the laws and norms of the Thai society, everything should go well. Thai people are very proud, as they are the only country in Asia that has never been colonized by a Western force. Thailand was always advanced, even in ancient times, compared to its neighboring countries, especially when it comes to medicine and agriculture. Thai people were able to stand against all attempts of colonization and efforts to change their identity by outsiders.

In Bangkok, the streets are usually very crowded, especially during the rush hours. The streets are generally well–constructed, but some areas can get a bit dirty and unorganized. The weather is usually humid and hot, as Thailand is a tropical country. Visitors coming from the west specifically should always keep themselves hydrated, as the humidity and heat could affect them significantly since they are not used to that weather. Arabs from the Gulf region love to visit Thailand; the weather does not bother them, as they are used to similar weather conditions back home. Some Arabs own properties there and know the country inside out.

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Food Stalls are very common in Thailand offering tasty and

Many locals in Thailand use the scooter as a means of transportation, as it is more convenient for them and requires less gas. Both females and males are extremely friendly in Thailand, and they will always greet a foreigner with a smile and the word “Sawatika”, which means “Hello” in Thai. Both palms are held together towards the face as the person bows down slightly in a prayer-like manner. The higher the palms are held the more respect is given to the person.

Thai people are generally poor, and tourism is the country’s main income, besides agriculture and fishing. There are plenty of exotic places to visit in the city, such as the floating market that offers tourists a unique experience, shopping for groceries as they float around the river with a tiny fishing boat. There are five different floating markets in Bangkok, each offering different merchandize! Talin Chan and Damnoen Saduak are two examples of such floating markets in Bangkok.

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Buddism is the primary religion in Thailand - Portal Detailandia.com

Bangkok is famous for its street food and stalls that offer amazing, tasty dishes for a very inexpensive price. It is said that even though it is “street food”, Thais have a tendency for keeping a high standard in terms of hygiene, as it is part of their culture and religion. Thai people are mostly genuine and would love to help tourists or socialize with them. Most of them do not speak English well, but both sides somehow manage to understand one another and keep the conversation flowing.

Buddhism is the country’s dominant religion. Thai people take their religion very seriously and they do not allow any disrespect to any of the Buddha figures and temples found all over the city. Photography of such statues or imitating them while taking a picture could get you landed in a Thai prison for years!

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The beauty of Bangkok - groupon.com

The temples in Bangkok are so colorful and beautiful. At night, when the lights are turned on and decorations are more obvious, the temples’ beauty stands out more.

Thailand consists of many beautiful islands, each offering tourists and locals an indescribable experience in the midst of some of the world’s most beautiful natural scenes. Pi Pi and Phuket are the most commonly visited islands in Thailand.


]]>
5/8/2018 3:28:26 PM
<![CDATA[Replica Panmunjom village draws tourists after Korea summit]]>
With a low cement block between them marking the "border", they shake hands as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korea's President Moon Jae-in did when they met at Panmunjom on April 27.

Many visitors joined hands and hopped over the mock Military Demarcation Line to the "North" and back, re-enacting the scene that was broadcast live.

"My children urged me to come here after they saw the the famous scene on TV at school class," Park Sook-hyun, a 44-year-old housewife, told AFP.

Chung O-Chul, 46, said he came from the southern city of Changwon to see the replica and "celebrate reconciliation" between the two Koreas.

"But I was overwhelmed by this huge crowd", he said.

Panmunjom, known as the Joint Security Area, is inside the Demilitarized Zone, a 250 kilometre (155-mile)-long swath of land that divides the Korean peninsula.

Despite its name, the DMZ is among the most heavily fortified areas on the planet and the Joint Security Area is the only place where soldiers from the North and South stand face-to-face.

The replica was built for the 2000 blockbuster "JSA: Joint Security Area", a mystery thriller by renowned director Park Chan-wook.

The village has UN blue-coloured huts, Panmungak, a drab cement building on the North side, and the Freedom House pavilion on the South side.

But despite the realism there is a complete lack of the tension visitors feel when they set foot on what former US president Bill Clinton once described as the "scariest place on Earth".

"It is almost like the real Panmunjom but what lacks here is the tense atmosphere" said Park, adding she had a chance to visit Panmunjom 20 years earlier.

The facility and two other outdoor movie sets belong to the Korean Film Council's Namyangju Studios in the eastern suburbs of Seoul.

"The two other movie sets used to be more popular than Panmunjom replica but following the summit, most visitors want to see Panmunjom set first," a studio official said.

And there are only a few weeks left to visit "Panmunjom" as the sets will be torn down after the end of May ahead of the studio's relocation to the southern city of Busan next year. ]]>
5/7/2018 11:06:22 AM
<![CDATA[Cuban artists plan to stage alternative Havana biennial]]>
Organizer Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara said he came up with the idea of the “00Biennial” when the government postponed the official one by a year to 2019, saying it had to prioritize funds on rebuilding after Hurricane Irma.

His project is controversial in a country where the state dominates all aspects of society, including culture, which it has promoted heavily since Cuba’s leftist 1959 revolution. Many Cuban artists told Otero Alcantara they fear their careers could be affected if they participate, he said.

Still, more than 100 artists, including several foreign ones, have agreed to participate and will display their work in the independent studios that have flourished in Havana in recent years, said Otero Alcantara.

That so many Cuban artists are backing the 00Biennial reflects both the eagerness of those already working outside institutions for an alternative platform and the increasing independence of others.

The growth in tourism, the private sector and internet access has made it easier for them to gain visibility and make money.

“I would like... to break with the myth built over 60 years that to do something independent, separate from the state, is the devil, or counterrevolution,” said Otero Alcantara.

Cuba’s National Union of Writers and Artists issued a statement on Thursday saying the 00Biennial aimed to “create a climate propitious to promoting the interests of the enemies of the nation” using “funds of the mercenary counter-revolution.

“We will not allow the name and significance of the Biennale of Havana to be tarnished,” it said.

Cuba’s longtime foe, the United States, has in the past provided funds to promote its alternative arts scene like rap as part of efforts to foster democracy on the island.

Otero Alcantara said he aimed for the 00Biennial to be inclusive and non-political.

But Jorge Fernandez, head of Cuba’s Museum of Fine Arts and director of the last official biennial, said that was either naive or disingenuous.

“Unfortunately, everything that is done in Cuba is politicized,” he said, standing in front of a vibrant work by Cuban surrealist Wifredo Lam inside the museum. “Even if they are not trying to, it can be done from abroad.”

The most famous participant is set to be Cuban performance artist Tania Bruguera, who works in both Havana and New York and won the Tate Modern’s coveted commission for the Turbine Hall this year.

She has had several run-ins with Cuban authorities over works testing the boundaries of freedom of expression, although she still has pieces exhibited on the island. In 2015, she set up an “Institute of Artivism” in her Havana home, holding workshops to “foster civic literacy and policy change.”

Foreign artists said they had not been aware of the controversy surrounding the 00Biennial when they applied to participate.

“I just thought - this is a way to show my work,” said Diego Gil Moreno de Mora, who plans to hang rows of skinned pig heads representing the people society chooses as scapegoats.

Given the 00Biennial’s meager funds, raised mainly through crowdfunding, according to organizers, participants were told they would have to finance their own flights and accommodations, and should present a work they could easily create on site.

One reason for this, they later learned, was that their work risked being confiscated by customs officials at the airport.

Colombian artist Natalia Lopez arrived early to create thousands of cubes of dirt in Havana’s parks for an installation in which visitors would walk on them, turning them once more into part of the earth.

The underlying concept was the importance of the earth as a whole rather than divided into territories, she said.

Some artists operating outside Cuban state institutions, like Osvaldo Navarro, part of the rap group La Alianza, said there was a need for alternative platforms.

He chose to leave the state-run Cuban Rap Agency a few years ago to be more free with his lyrics, but struggled to reach his public due to the state monopoly on the media and spaces.

“I hope they understand what we want to do,” said Navarro, after filming a video for a rap song about the 00Biennial on a Havana rooftop, “which is to showcase artists who don’t have a space elsewhere but who do good, pro-social art.”]]>
5/5/2018 11:52:43 AM
<![CDATA[Hundreds of residents flee Hawaii volcano eruption]]>
Drone footage of the volcanic eruption on Hawaii's Big Island showed orange magma gushing up from cracks in the ground in a wooded area.

Authorities ordered a mandatory evacuation of Lanipuna Gardens and the Leilani Estates neighborhood, home to about 1,700 people and 770 structures.

No injuries have been reported.

Governor David Ige said residents were being housed in community centers until the danger from Kilauea, one of the world's most active volcanos, has passed.

Ige signed an emergency proclamation releasing disaster funds to Big Island.

"Hawaii Fire Department reports extremely high levels of dangerous Sulfur Dioxide gas detected in the evacuation area," the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency said.

It said there had been "active volcanic fountaining" in the Leilani Estates area, located several miles from the summit of the Kilauea volcano.

Aerial footage showed orange lava bubbling up from a fissure around 500 feet (150 meters) long and spouting into the air like a fountain.

The eruption began around 4:45 pm local time Thursday 0245 GMT Friday) and stopped at around 6:30 pm local time, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS).

The USGS warned, however, that "the opening phases of fissure eruptions are dynamic and uncertain.

"Additional erupting fissures and new lava outbreaks may occur," it said.

- 'Fire curtain' -

The eruption came after hundreds of small earthquakes in recent days that followed the collapse of a crater floor on the Puu Oo volcanic cone.

A 5.0-magnitude earthquake on Thursday morning south of the cone triggered rockfalls and potential additional collapse of the crater, USGS said.

It sent a short-lived but massive pink plume of ash wafting into the air.

Big Island resident Janice Wei, who moved to Hawaii from California -- known for its high earthquake risk -- said the eruption was almost a "relief."

"We've been waiting for big movement from the crater, after so many small earthquakes," she told AFP.

"Hawaiians and local people have lived here forever," she said. "You know what's going on; we have warning systems."

"Everybody should be prepared."

The broader district potentially impacted by the threat is home to some 10,000 people.

Using his drone, area resident Jeremiah Osuna captured video footage of the lava flow, which he described as a "fire curtain" that left him feeling "shock and awe."

"It was like if you put a bunch of rocks into a dryer and turned it on -- a lot of earth and pressure and fire just moving around," Osuna told AFP.

Governor Ige activated the state's National Guard troops, and told residents to pay heed to official warnings.

In his emergency declaration, the governor noted the current flow was similar to a 1960 eruption in the Kapoho area that "caused significant damage."

- FEMA mobilizing -

Geologist Janet Babb of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory told AFP that scientists had been following an "intrusion of magma" down the rift zone since Monday afternoon in anticipation of a possible eruption.

Though the cracks from which lava was emitting had gone dormant, she emphasized that "the overall concern and the overall event has not ended."

US Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii said the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was mobilizing resources, as well as monitoring for forest fires, power outages and water supply issues.

Hawaii Island, or the Big Island, is the largest of the eight main islands that comprise the Pacific US state, an archipelago that includes hundreds of smaller volcanic islands.]]>
5/5/2018 4:20:00 AM
<![CDATA[The Land of Bengal: Perspective of an ex cabin crew]]>
Dhaka generally has two major seasons throughout the year; summer and monsoon season. Summer time extends from March until May, and the weather is scorching hot.

In May, the monsoon season starts and the rain falls viciously for days and days continuously with no mercy. This could go on for two to three months non-stop, and the city becomes drowned.

The streets of Dhaka are extremely dirty and unorganized. It is severely crowded, with an obvious traffic problem. Cars, scooters, tuk tuks, horse-carts and people are all crushed together sharing the terrible streets of the city. Rubbish is everywhere.

Yet Dhaka is famous for a few things. Many Western businessmen travel there for the very special handicrafts made in Bangladesh. Filigree, embroidery and shell carving are just a few things people from Bangladesh excel in. Merchants interested in such items travel to Dhaka to make deals and sell such items back home in their native countries.


Handicraft training workshop in Bangladeshi village women in 2015- CC via Wikimedia
Handicraft training workshop in Bangladeshi village women in 2015- CC via Wikimedia


Dhaka is also considered as a meat haven for meat enthusiasts. The cattle there is raised with special care to produce some of the world’s best meat and dairy products.

Scenes in and around Dhaka, Bangladesh- CC via Wikimedia
Scenes in and around Dhaka, Bangladesh- CC via Wikimedia


Pharmacies there are notorious for selling benzodiazepines and sleeping medications, that strictly require a doctor’s prescription, cheaply for tourists, without the need to show any prescriptions.

Several branded clothes brands are being manufactured in Dhaka, Bangladesh, because of cost-cutting by major companies. Cost cutting can be achieved by hiring cheap labor. This means that, most branded clothes customers buy from malls worldwide are generally often hand woven in Dhaka, and other cities and villages in Bangladesh, unfortunately, often by children. It is said that the common salary for a worker in Dhaka is equivalent to $1 a day.

A large percentage of the country’s labor comes from children, which is illegal practice. There are many markets where such branded clothing is sold extremely cheap near the university district.

Dhaka is also very famous for its confectionaries. Anybody with a sweet tooth would love to try some of Dhaka’s desserts and chocolates.

Bengali Jullab Dessert- CC via Flickr - ikon
Bengali Jullab Dessert- CC via Flickr - ikon


Even though Dhaka was once part of India, it gained independence on March 26, 1971. It is a unique country with a very friendly society. Most people in the city are poor, and would leap to serve a foreigner for a small reward in return. It is not recommended for ladies, especially foreigners, to go out alone, especially after 6 p.m. when the sun sets, as the streets become more hectic at night.


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5/4/2018 11:10:36 AM
<![CDATA[Jewish pilgrims gather in Tunisia for Lag B’Omer festival]]>
Hundreds of pilgrims had on Wednesday morning already reached the Ghriba synagogue on the island of Djerba in southern Tunisia, an AFP photographer said, with thousands more expected to follow.

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French Jewish women write their wishes on eggs that will be placed in a cave under the Ghriba synagogue in Tunisia's Mediterranean resort island of Djerba on the first day of the annual Jewish pilgrimage to the synagogue on May 2, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / FETHI BELAID)

Alongside a heavy police and military presence, Tunisian worshipers were joined by those from Israel and European countries to celebrate the annual Lag B’Omer festival.

“We’ve come to Djerba at least 20 times, for holidays and for the Ghriba festivities week as well,” said French pilgrim Ketty Acco.

“We’re always very happy that tourism is growing again because before, there used to be 7,000 or 8,000 people and now we’re happy because tourists are coming back,” she added.

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Jewish pilgrims take part in the annual pilgrimage at the Ghriba synagogue in the Tunisian resort island of Djerba on May 2, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / FETHI BELAID)

Prime Minister Youssef Chahed was also expected to visit the synagogue, where dried fruit and boukha — alcohol made from local fruits — were blessed at the start of the two-day celebration.

The number of Jews in Tunisia has fallen significantly from around 100,000 before the country gained independence from France in 1956, to a current estimate of around 1,500.

This year organizers expected between 5,000 and 6,000 pilgrims to visit the synagogue, around twice as many as 2017.

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A French Jew holds eggs bearing writing expressing her wishes that will be placed in a cave under the Ghriba synagogue in Tunisia's Mediterranean resort island of Djerba on the first day of the annual Jewish pilgrimage to the synagogue on May 2, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / FETHI BELAID)

Between 150 and 200 Israelis are due to take part in the festivities, according to co-organiser Victor Trabelsi, whose father Perez is head of the Ghriba synagogue.

The community is still recovering from a suicide bombing at the synagogue in 2002 that killed 21 people. Before the attack some 8,000 pilgrims used to travel to Djerba for the annual celebration.

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A Tunisian Jewish woman is seen in the Ghriba synagogue in the Tunisian resort island of Djerba on May 1, 2018 on the eve of the annual Jewish pilgrimage to the synagogue. (AFP PHOTO / FETHI BELAID)

Although the security situation in Tunisia has improved over the past two years, authorities continue to be wary and urge vigilance.

The state of emergency imposed after a series of attacks on tourists and security forces in 2015 remains in place, having been extended in March for a another seven months.

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Jewish pilgrims take part in the annual pilgrimage at the Ghriba synagogue in the Tunisian resort island of Djerba on May 2, 2018. (AFP/Fethi Belaid)

The presidency has said it wants to guarantee security during municipal elections on Sunday, the holy Muslim month of Ramadan and the tourist season.
]]>
5/3/2018 11:39:12 AM
<![CDATA[Amazon river dolphins in steep decline: study]]>
Once considered abundant in the Amazon basin, the boto (Inia geoffrensis) and the tucuxi (Sotalia fluviatilis) are now halving in population every 10 years, said the report in the journal PLOS ONE.

Experts say the freshwater dolphins are increasingly being killed for use as bait, a practice that endangers their survival, particularly since the females bear a single calf on average every four to five years.

"Until recent decades, the boto was sheltered from harm to some extent by legends and superstitions," but the relatively new hunt for them grew with the use of flesh and blubber as bait for catfish which have become widely available commercially, the study said.

Researcher Vera da Silva from Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazonia and colleagues based their findings on 22 years of surveys in the Mamiraua Reserve in Brazil -- an area described as a core part of their range -- where dolphins have been tracked by boat monthly from 1994 to 2017.

"At current rates, boto populations are halving every 10 years, and tucuxi populations are halving every nine years," said the report, which is the first to quantify current population trends in Amazon freshwater dolphins.

"The results are profoundly concerning, and show rates of decline among the most severe of any measured in a cetacean population since the early years of modern whaling."

The International Union for Conservation of Nature currently lists these freshwater dolphins as "data deficient," meaning not enough is known about their numbers in the wild to assess the degree of threat to the population.

But the PLOS ONE study argued that if the IUCN Red List considered the latest findings, both species would be classified as critically endangered.

River dolphins are already legally protected in the Amazon basin, but the laws need greater enforcement, researchers said.

Another type of river dolphin found in South Asia (Platanista gangetica) is considered endangered by the IUCN.

In China, the Yangtze River dolphin or baiji (Lipotes vexillifer), was declared functionally extinct in 2006 due to human activities like overfishing, dam building, pollution and boat traffic.]]>
5/3/2018 12:40:00 AM
<![CDATA[New flights from Bristol to Hurghada]]>
“It’s great to welcome this new flight from Bristol Airport to meet the British tourist demand – now reaching the same levels as 2015, with over 40 U.K. flights a week,” British Ambassador John Casson said in a press release.

Casson added, “Egypt is once again a dream destination for hundreds of thousands of British tourists. That’s good news for Egypt’s economy – with British tourists’ nights up 90 percent last year and spending double.”

The ambassador mentioned that British holidaymakers left the cold and rainy skies of Bristol on Tuesday morning for the sunny skies and 26°C water in Hurghada.

Thomas Cook released its annual report last week indicating that bookings for holidays in Egypt this summer increased 89 percent compared to 2017. The number of visitors is close to where they were for Thomas Cook in 2015.

“We’re very pleased to expand our Bristol program so that more customers can enjoy some summer sun in our most popular short and mid-haul holiday destinations,” Christoph Debus, chief airlines officer at Thomas Cook, added in the press release.

“We are delighted to introduce flights to Hurghada – we have increased the number of seats on sale to Egypt by 14 percent across the U.K. this year, flying to both Hurghada and Marsa Alam.”

Thomas Cook’s first commercial tour was in 1845 to Liverpool. In 1869, he transferred his business to Egypt, hiring two steamers and holding a party for tourists by the Nile River in the same year the Suez Canal opened.
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5/2/2018 12:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[Luxor Airport reopens after weather conditions improve]]>
The Ministry of Civil Aviation further confirmed that the airport has received two flights affiliated with EgyptAir coming from Cairo Airport after being suspended for several hours at the airport because of bad weather and low visibility.
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5/1/2018 4:38:07 PM
<![CDATA[Ukrainian tourists to Egypt will increase to 1M: Ukraine FM]]>
Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zaid indicated that Klimkin’s visit is important because it’s the first visit between the two countries at this political level since 2010.

Shoukry thanked the Ukrainian ministry of foreign affairs for amending the travelling instructions to Egypt on April 18, 2018. Shoukry is hoping that this move will increase the rate of Ukrainian tourists visiting Egypt. The number of Ukrainian tourists in Egypt reached about 800,000 in 2017.

“The number of Ukrainian tourists in Egypt was about 800,000 in 2017; this year they will increase to one million tourists,” Klimkin said.

Shoukry welcomed back the direct flights between Cairo and Kiev, Ukraine, clarifying that this step will positively affect tourism and business relations.

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5/1/2018 1:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Egypt seeks to break World Record for largest flag flown by paramotor ]]>
This event is considered the first air sports festival in Egypt and around 60 skydivers and paramotor pilots from 16 countries including Egypt, the U.S., the UK, Germany, Canada, Brazil, France, Spain, Holland, Oman, Bahrain, Mexico, Norway, Poland, Cyprus and Croatia recently took part in a high-flying competition over Egypt’s Great Pyramids to break a world record for the largest flag flown by a paramotor.

The festival also meant to promote Egypt's tourism, which has suffered over the past few years due to political and security concerns.

The last largest flag flown while skydiving was about 2,607 square meters and was achieved by a German team called Cypres Demo. The event was held in Germany on June 26, 2017. ]]>
4/30/2018 10:21:24 AM
<![CDATA[Tourism boom to test Uzbekistan's thaw after years of self-enforced isolation]]>
But the photogenic 30-year-old pair are frontline members of a newly-formed, user-friendly Tourist Police deployed in the famed Silk Road city of Samarkand and other hotspots as a visitor boom sweeps the Central Asian country.

The force, established in January, is viewed as part of a broader opening initiated by Uzbekistan's authoritarian government following a long period of self-enforced isolation.

More than 2.5 million tourists visited Uzbekistan last year (2017), a 24 per cent increase on the previous year, according to the UzDaily news site.

"In the pas, I worked as a teacher and then as a wedding stylist. I even won a national prize as a stylist," recalls Ms Zukhra Rakhmatova, one half of a sister act proficient in English, Russian, Farsi, Turkish and Japanese.

"But our grandfather served in the force and our uncle too," Ms Rakhmatova told Agence France-Presse. "It was always our dream to serve."

Samarkand - a former power centre positioned at the epicentre of millennia-old trade routes linking China and Europe - hosts symbols of authoritarian continuity as well as tentative reform.

A short walk from the ceramic and marble dazzle of the three madrasahs towering over the city's old square is the statue of Islam Karimov, who ruled the country from before independence in 1991 until his death in 2016.

Laid to rest in a grand mausoleum in Samarkand's historic centre, Karimov is criticised by rights groups as the architect of one of the world's most repressive and closed-off police states.

Far from being disavowed, his monument is now yet another photo opportunity for visitors and wedding parties in the city, where he was born in 1938 and remains widely revered.

"Everyone makes mistakes but Islam Karimov is a hero. He worked day and night to protect the Uzbek people," said a 22-year-old bridesmaid posing for pictures by the monument.

The young woman, who did not give her name but said she had travelled to Samarkand from the capital Tashkent, refused to say what "mistakes" she thought Karimov had made.

Whether out of political pragmatism or genuine deference to a man he served for 13 years as prime minister, Karimov's successor, 60-year-old Shavkat Mirziyoyev has also continued to honour his mentor in public.

In the aftermath of the former leader's death, new strongman Mirziyoyev likened him to a "father", even as he toned down some of the totalitarian excesses that defined Karimov's 27-year rule.

Foreign tourism, which grew by around a quarter during Mirziyoyev's first year in office emerged as a key battleground in a power struggle that pitted the new reform-touting president against regime hardliners.

In February for instance, Mirziyoyev ordered the introduction of a 30-day visa-free regime for citizens of seven countries - Israel, Indonesia, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Turkey and Japan - and relaxation of registration rules for citizens of 39 others.

In cities like Samarkand, the changes were cheered by a population that endured long stretches of economic stagnation under Karimov.

"(We need to) open up of course," said chef Malika Shakhimardonova at a mutton-grilling teahouse in the shadows of the Bibi-Khanym Mosque, completed on the orders of medieval conqueror Tamerlane in the 15th century.

"Let the tourists arrive to us like brothers and sisters," said Shakhimardonova, whose kitchen is expanding.

Many saw significance in the fact that Mirziyoyev's relaxation of visa restrictions came days after Rustam Inoyatov, 73, who led the notorious national security service for over two decades, was dismissed.

Inoyatov was widely reported to have blocked a previous effort by Mirziyoyev to revamp tourism and to have insisted on retaining long-standing security measures, including a blanket ban on photography in the capital's metro.

Such bans, which occasionally saw visitors detained by police, were "rudiments of the Soviet Union" now consigned to the past, said the country's new 44-year-old tourism chief Aziz Abdukhakimov.

"We want tourists to take as many photos as possible. Put them on Instagram. It is the best advert for the country," he told AFP.

The Rakhmatova sisters, who scoot around Samarkand on two-wheeled, motorised Segways and are trained to administer first-aid, certainly seem far removed from the grimmer elements of a former communist police state.

But Ms Fatima Rakhmatova jokes that their dual presence on the tourism beat might sometimes give visitors a different impression.

"Some tourists will see one of us close to one attraction then move on to another and find the other sister standing there," she explained.

"They smile but sometimes give us a strange look. Probably because we are identical they think the police is following them around," she laughed.
]]>
4/29/2018 10:57:49 AM
<![CDATA[In pics: Government allocates LE 70M for developing nature reserves]]>
The government started to develop the Wadi Degla, Petrified Forests and Wadi El Rayan reserves. Ahmed Salama, head of the Ministry of Environment’s protection sector, said that the second phase of developing the reserves will begin after completing the engineering designs with a budget of about LE 70 million.

Salama added that the second phase will include an interactive geological museum and opening a visitors’ lounge on the eastern part by establishing a side road from Ain Sokhna in coordination with the Armed Forces. This comes in conjunction with the development of the following Sinai reserves: Abu Gallum, Nabq, Saint Katherine, Ras Muhammed and Taba.

Wadi_Degla_-_Egypt_-_CC_via_Wikimedia_CommonsWael_Fouda
Wadi Degla - Egypt - CC via Wikimedia Commons/Wael Fouda

The head of the protection sector noted that the developments have contributed in changing the form of the reserves, especially after providing services to visitors, either through signs or geological and botanical information. He pointed out that Cairo’s reserves have been visited by about 60,000 visitors each year.

In the beginning, the ministry worked on removing encroachments in the reserves of Wadi Degla, Wadi El Rayan, Nabq and Al Asyooti. These reserves had been damaged by individuals. To avoid more damage, security companies have been assigned to protect the reserves 24 hours a day.

Water_falls_in_El-Rayan_village,_Fayoum_protectorate_-_CC_via_Wikimedia_CommonsRowayda_Abdelgwad
Water falls in El-Rayan village, Fayoum protectorate - CC via Wikimedia Commons/Rowayda Abdelgwad

On the other hand, Salama revealed that the ministry is conducting an inventory of 14 districts and studying their nature to determine the validity of being declared natural reserves. He mentioned that the plan of these areas dates back 21 years ago to 1997, which means that it is possible there might be changes in some of the reserves.

Salama clarified in special remarks to Youm7 that the areas are el-Maghara, Ras Al Hikma, Wadi Qena and Wadi Gerafi, among others. He added that the areas are being reviewed to declare what works are needed to provide protection for the natural resources and to maintain ecological balance.]]>
4/28/2018 4:31:20 PM
<![CDATA[China Fosun dials up tourism push with $1.74B Atlantis Sanya luxury resort]]>
The conglomerate’s 11 billion yuan ($1.74 billion) investment in China’s southernmost province is in line with the central government’s desire to further boost tourism in Hainan, already popular among Chinese holidaymakers.

Fosun, co-founded by Chinese billionaire Guo Guangchang, has been one of the country’s most acquisitive overseas dealmakers.

But like peers including Dalian Wanda Group and HNA Group, Fosun - China’s largest privately held conglomerate - has faced increased scrutiny by Beijing for debt-fuelled, big-ticket foreign deals and is now pursuing a development path more closely aligned with Beijing’s priorities.

Tourism is viewed as key to China’s shift towards a more consumption-driven model of economic growth from an investment and export-led one. Beijing aims to raise the country’s tourism market revenue to 7 trillion yuan by 2020, from 5.3 trillion yuan last year.

Hainan, one of China’s top holiday destinations, has sought to internationalise its tourism sector since 2010 after winning approval from the central government to develop international tourism. But only 1.1 million out of 67 million visitors came from abroad in 2017.

Located on Haitang Bay, one of the major bays in Sanya and known for its 22-kilometre strip of white, sandy beaches, Atlantis Sanya was inspired by Dubai’s Atlantis, The Palm. The integrated resort offers hotel suites with views of underwater marine life, as well as a water park and a shopping mall.

The resort, owned by Fosun and managed by Kerzner International [KZL.UL], occupies an area of 540,000 square metres - equal to 66 soccer pitches - and has 1,314 guest rooms.

“Atlantis Sanya is not only a forerunner of the supply-side reform of the tourism industry, but is also becoming a new landmark of Hainan tourism,” Xu Zhenling, vice mayor of Sanya said at a news conference on Saturday ahead of the resort’s grand opening scheduled for the evening.

She said the resort will also raise Hainan’s profile overseas, as the island province - China’s largest economic development zone - seeks to further open up its economy and focus on developing modern tourism, services and high-technology industries.

Plans to build China’s first Atlantis resort in Hainan, the third in the world, were first unveiled in 2013.

The resort adds to a broad portfolio owned by Fosun Tourism and Culture Group, a key profit growth driver for the conglomerate, which also owns the French Club Med holiday company and a stake in Canadian theatrical production company Cirque du Soleil.]]>
4/28/2018 2:33:21 PM
<![CDATA[The truce village of Panmunjom]]>
Panmunjom, about 55 km (34 miles) north of Seoul, is considered one of the last vestiges of the Cold War. It is located in the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ), the 4-km (2.5 mile) wide buffer that runs along the heavily armed military border.

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The truce village of Panmunjom


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The truce village of Panmunjom


The border was framed by a truce signed at Panmunjom that suspended the 1950-53 Korea War, which pitted U.S.-led U.N. forces and South Korea against North Korean and Chinese troops.

The truce village of Panmunjom has been used as the venue for the return of remains of U.S. soldiers killed during the Korean War. Nearly 8,000 U.S. personnel are listed as missing from the war, the remains of more than half of which are thought to be buried in the North.

South Korea also returned to the north via Panmunjom the remains of North Korean soldiers or civilians who had drowned and whose bodies had drifted into the south during floods in North Korea. Sometimes the North Koreans drifted alive into the south and were returned home if they wanted repatriation.

It used to be almost every Wednesday that photographers from international news agencies based in South Korea visited the truce village of Panmunjom to cover events there. Now we only go to the border village around once a month.

Usually closed circuit television cameras from both Koreas monitor the area. However soldiers from the North and South face off, sometimes very closely, when there are tourists, visiting state leaders or media representatives at the truce village. Military talks and Red Cross talks have been held there. Thousands of tourists a year visit the village to see the Cold War’s last frontier.

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The truce village of Panmunjom


It takes only 45 minutes to drive from central Seoul to the truce village. Activists from anti-North Korean civic groups sometimes gather to send balloons carrying anti-Pyongyang leaflets toward North Korea from just south of the restricted border area, only a few miles away from Panmunjom.

Pictures of soldiers from both Koreas standing guard at Panmunjom are used frequently by media clients, especially when there are stories on tension between the two Koreas. North Korea is believed to have produced about 50 kg (110 lb) of plutonium, which experts say would be enough for six to eight nuclear weapons. It has conducted nuclear tests twice. South Korea, while a major user of nuclear power, does not have a nuclear arms program. Its U.S. ally has promised protection under its “nuclear umbrella”.

North Korea has 1.19 million troops in active service, and more than 7.7 million reservists among a population of 23.4 million, making it one of the world’s most militarized countries. South Korea, with a population of 48.7 million, has 650,000 troops on active duty and about 4.5 million reserve forces.

South Korean aid to the North was stopped after conservative President Lee Myung-bak took power in 2008, demanding Pyongyang first give up its nuclear ambitions. It was the start of tense relations between the two rivals after a decade of exchanges and steps toward peace. Pyongyang’s nuclear arms program is believed by activists to be the starving communist country’s last desperate attempt to shelter its regime from the outside world.

South Koreans must seek permission from their government to enter the North as the two Koreas are still technically at war, with the Korean War ending in an armistice rather than a peace treaty. However there is one place people can cross the border without special permissions or visas. This is a blue building called the Military Armistice Commission (MAC) Conference Room, where visitors can briefly step into North Korean territory and see the South from the North.]]>
4/27/2018 12:25:06 PM
<![CDATA[Nepal preps for busy year as hundreds cleared to climb Everest]]>
Tourism authorities have granted 346 mountaineers permission to scale Everest this spring climbing season, with many already at base camp acclimatising before embarking for the summit.

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Every spring, Mount Everest claims lives: last year, seven climbers died on the mountain

That figure falls just shy of the record 373 permits granted last year.

Most Everest hopefuls are escorted by a Nepali guide, meaning about 700 climbers will tread the same path to the top in the coming weeks when the weather is most favourable.

A boom in climbers has made mountaineering a lucrative business since Sir Edmund Hillary and sherpa Tenzing Norgay made the first ascent in 1953.

But the rapid growth in the climbing industry has accompanied complaints of overcrowding on the mountain and fears that inexperienced mountaineers could run into trouble.

"There is an optimum number of people who can expect to undertake a safe summit expedition... I do wonder if we've exceeded that," Ben Clark, a manager for expedition operator Asian Trekking, told AFP at base camp.

Another 180 climbers are preparing to summit Everest from its north side in Tibet, according to the China Tibet Mountaineering Association.

Among those is Nepali climber Lhakpa Sherpa, who will attempt to break her own record of eight summits of the mountain -- more than any woman in the world.

"I keep going to encourage other Nepali women to climb," the 44-year-old said before she left Kathmandu for the expedition last week.

Another 15 Nepali women are making the ascent from the south side -- a record number, official records show.

Climbing in Nepal is a male-dominated business but the divide is slowing breaking down in the Himalayan nation.

"We are climbing to show that we are strong and capable of taking this challenge up," said Rosha Basnet, who is part of a team of five Nepali women making the expedition to Everest.

An ever-growing number of Indian climbers are drawn to Nepal by its proximity to home and cultural ties. Indians outnumbered all other climbers on Everest's south in 2017 bar Americans.

Spring is the busiest time of year on the mountain as the winds and temperatures are more forgiving than at other times.

But every spring, Everest claims lives: last year, seven climbers died on the mountain.

The permits do not come cheap. Foreigners must pay $11,000 for the privilege of summiting, before their expedition costs.

They are a much-needed source of revenue for cash-strapped Nepal, which raked in more than $4 million in Everest permits fees alone in 2017.]]>
4/27/2018 11:38:22 AM
<![CDATA[Brazil's Anitta: careful strategy behind singer's rags-to-riches tale]]>
It's been a fast but long ride from the rough Rio de Janeiro neighborhood of Honorio Gurgel -- where Anitta, 25, grew up -- to the palm-lined condo she now calls home.

But as Brazil's biggest pop star explained to AFP, it's not so much a fairy tale as a story of social media savvy and hard-headed business strategies.

"An artist has to know who she is and to be consistent in building her career," she said in an interview at her lavish house in Rio's upmarket western area of Barra da Tijuca.

Born Larissa Machado, she began singing in church with her family and at 17 she was discovered by a producer who saw her in a YouTube video.

Five years later, Anitta found fame in Brazil with "Meiga e Abusada" ("Sweet and Sassy") and "Show das Poderosas" ("Show of the Powerful"), but her skills at navigating the online markets have been the key, helping catapult her to rapidly growing international stardom.

She has 28 million followers on Instagram and her 2015 song "Bang" has been watched 343 million times on YouTube.

"Vai Malandra" ("Go Naughty"), which features Anitta twerking to the sultry rhythm of baile funk-style rap, set social networks on fire and became the first Brazilian song to enter Spotify's Top 20 Global.

The video is set in a Rio favela and celebrates the often violence-plagued neighborhoods' vibrant and sexy street culture, complete with women using electrical tape to create perfect tan lines and sculpted men with peroxide-blond hair and gold chains.

The fact that she didn't airbrush out the cellulite on her now famously quivering backside only fueled the social media frenzy -- and boosted her credentials as a singer who preaches female empowerment.

- World conquest -

Brazil is Latin America's biggest country but Anitta says it's not big enough for her.

"I thought I would get to where I wanted to in Brazil when I was about 30, but by 22, I was already doing great," she told a conference Harvard hosted for Brazilian business leaders, where she was a surprise guest this April.

"I like challenges, so I studied the international market."

Singing in English and Spanish overcomes the hurdle of having Portuguese as her native language. Although Brazil has a huge market, the rest of the continent speaks Spanish -- and that's before you start looking further afield.

While English is "the universal language," she is also focusing on Spanish-language songs to reach the rest of the Latino world, recording alongside Colombian artists Maluma and J Balvin.

She spent two years visiting clubs in Spain, the United States and Mexico to get a feel for the market and her potential fans, seeing herself as Brazil's answer to the border-hopping Latin sensations Ricky Martin and Alejandro Sanz.

"I just went ahead and tried to seize the moment," she said.

The strategy works, taking her from the 2016 Rio Olympics opening ceremony to an appearance last year on NBC's "Tonight Show." This summer, she'll be pushing the Anitta brand with shows at Rock in Rio Lisboa in Portugal, and in Paris and London.

Billboard magazine named her number 10 on a list of the most influential artists of social networks last December, while this February, Vogue magazine places her among the world's most influential people.

- Diva moments -

With its jacuzzi, palm trees and large swimming pool, Anitta's three-floor house is the cliche pop star's abode. But despite that and her large retinue of assistants, she says she keeps herself grounded.

"I may have my diva moments but I don't want to get to where I'm considered untouchable," she said.

In person, Anitta barely resembles the pouting, swaggering star of "Vai Malandra." She is diminutive, neatly dressed in black pants and a yellow sweater, and her hair falls in golden curls, rather than the dark braids of the video.

That chameleon-like adaptability, helped by several rounds of plastic surgery, is a big part of her rise.

Her mantra, she says, "is to do things differently. I research the market but only so that I can do something other than follow the trends. I look for things that haven't been explored yet."

And she clearly doesn't lack self-belief.

"All my dreams that I had, I've fulfilled," she said. "I wanted to show people that it's possible to do everything that they say is impossible."]]>
4/27/2018 4:50:00 AM
<![CDATA[W.Africa gorillas more numerous than thought, but still endangered]]>
Prior estimates were based on nest counts taken from isolated areas across the great apes' habitat range, said the report in the journal Science Advances.

The new count uses mathematical modeling to project likely ape numbers in areas where their nests haven't been directly surveyed by people.

The estimates are based on other factors known to influence ape numbers, such as proximity to roads and people, and recent outbreaks of Ebola virus which can be deadly.

Spanning 59 sites in five countries surveyed over 11 years, it is the most comprehensive and accurate dataset ever compiled on these apes, said one of the lead authors, Fiona Maisels, conservation scientist for the Wildlife Conservation Society.

The results show that western lowland gorillas in western equatorial Africa number nearly 362,000, up from prior estimates of 150,000-250,000 individuals.

And chimpanzees in the area are expected to number almost 129,000, up from earlier counts of 70,000 to 117,000.

- Still in danger -

But despite the larger numbers, researchers still found a speedy drop in the population in recent years, which means the apes are still in danger of going extinct.

Some 19.4 percent of the gorilla population was lost between 2005 and 2013, said the report.

At this rate, the gorilla population is expected to plunge 80 percent in just three generations.

Maisels said researchers are "pleased" to have a more accurate number, but cautioned that it does not change the gorillas' status as critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.

Nor does it change the characterization of chimpanzees as endangered.

"What we are worried about is the gorillas are going down to a tune of 2.7 percent per year," Maisels said.

"The other kind of worrying thing is that the majority of gorillas and chimps do not live in protected areas," she said.

As many as 80 percent of the great apes live outside protected areas, according to the study.

About 60 percent of all known gorillas and 43 percent of chimpanzees live in the Democratic Republic of Congo, while Gabon is home to 27 percent of the gorilla population and 34 percent of chimpanzees.

High densities of both apes also live in southern Cameroon.

Even though killing gorillas is illegal worldwide, hunting remains the top threat to survival, followed by disease and habitat loss.

More anti-poaching efforts are needed, both inside and outside protected areas, said the report.

Better land planning could help preserve the apes' high-quality habitat.

"Given that gorillas are more numerous and chimpanzees are more ecologically resilient than expected, and that large areas of ecologically functional great ape habitat remain, we are hopeful that robust conservation policies, well-managed parks, and responsible industrial practices can stop their declines and provide for secure and thriving populations," the study concluded.]]>
4/26/2018 1:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[US, British families experience life in Fowa, Kafr el-Sheikh]]>
An American family visited Fowa for a short holiday, where they received a warm welcoming and experienced great hospitality from the local people.

The tourists are celebrating Mohamed Salah for winning the Best Player in England Award - Egypt TodayMohamed Suleiman
The tourists pose for a picture – Mohamed Suleiman

The family spent three days in the city. They were welcomed by Abdul Mohsen al Ouden, head of Fowa’s city hall, who met them in one of the city’s family parks.

The tour began after a three-hour break at the guest house. They shopped at the local souq (market) that is rich with colors, agricultural products and ancient mosques. They ate breakfast at a local restaurant and ordered “foul” (fava beans) and falafel. Afterwards, they walked around the magical streets of Fowa.

The family walking around the local souq in Fowa - Egypt TodayMohamed Suleiman
The family walking around the local market in Fowa – Mohamed Suleiman

Ayman Abu Naja Salah, head of the Fowa Heritage and Tourism Foundation, said that the family attended workshops for handmade kilims, textile tapestries and carpets. They spoke with the owners of the workshops and learned how to make carpets and kilims. The family of four participated in making a piece of tapestry and a carpet, which they kept as a souvenir. The two children spent five hours following the steps of one of the workers. They kept the work they made as a souvenir to remind them of the trip.

Later on, the family headed to the Nile River and fished with the local fishermen. They then communicated with the people of Fowa in a friendly and welcoming atmosphere.

The delegation are having the local breakfast falafel and beans - Egypt TodayMohamed Suleiman
The tourists are having the local breakfast falafel and beans – Mohamed Suleiman

On their last day, the family went to spend a full day in the rural areas, joining the farmers while working. The kids rode donkeys with excitement, and then the four explored the streets of Fowa on a horse carriage. They visited metal workshops and worked with a worker named Ahmed al Haddad.

The boy carries tea cups while walking in between the grass - Egypt TodayMohamed Suleiman
A boy carries tea cups while walking in between the grass – Mohamed Suleiman

When their trip ended, 10-year-old Andrew said, “I am happy that I visited Fowa, and the best thing I liked was making and designing kilims and carpets.” He also added, “I enjoyed the greeneries and riding the donkeys, as those things we don’t find in America.”

The American child palying with the ducks - Egypt TodayMohamed Suleiman
An American child playing with the ducks – Mohamed Suleiman

Another tourism delegation consisting of two American and three English tourists also visited the city of Fowa. They visited the rural areas, ate Egyptian breakfast, went on Nile cruises, and joined the fishermen and peasants in their profession. They also roamed the markets and streets of Fowa, spending their time by the greeneries, eating vegetables and drinking tea while singing various English songs.

The American and English tourists participate in baking - Egypt TodayMohamed Suleiman
The American and British tourists participate in baking – Mohamed Suleiman

The Youm7 staff and tourists celebrated together when Mohammed Salah won the Player of the Year award and they sang the famous “Mo Salah” song. They hope that Salah doesn't leave Liverpool FC, assuring that their love for Egypt increased due to loving Mohammed Salah.

One of the children joins one of the metal workers - Egypt TodayMohamed Suleiman
One of the children joins one of the metal workers – Mohamed Suleiman

Timothy Mark, one of the English tourists, said that if anyone knew the value of the Egyptian countryside, no one would think about travelling abroad. He used to visit Egypt occasionally, but he had only been to Cairo, Sharm el-Sheikh and Alexandria; he never knew of Fowa. When he visited the city, he confirmed that now whenever he comes to Egypt, he’ll go to spend his holiday in Fowa.

The family walking in Fowa streets - Egypt TodayMohamed Suleiman (2)
The family walking in Fowa streets – Mohamed Suleiman

He added that he got tired of the crowded and noisy places, preferring to stay in a quiet and calm place.

The delegation visited the farm lands, played a number of musical pieces, and sang American and English songs, and even some French and Portuguese songs. They drank tea in the afternoon, went to the banks of the Nile River to take pictures and then went to the guest house to rest. Afterwards, they played some street games with the children.

The children are over excited while riding the donkey - Egypt TodayMohamed Suleiman
Children are excited riding the donkey – Mohamed Suleiman

Abu Naja assured that Fowa has become an important tourism attraction for American and British tourists. He declared that the city received almost 40 tourists of different nationalities in three months.

Abu Naja added that what makes the tourist delegation special is the children accompanied by their families. This gives a positive impression and will have a positive impact on tourism. Those children will talk about their experience in Fowa to their friends and relatives. This will lead to an increase in the demand of tourism, and the children might encourage their family and friends to visit.
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4/26/2018 12:40:00 AM
<![CDATA[Pics: Military museums open for free on Sinai Liberation day ]]>
This comes as part of the Armed Forces’ effort to raise and spread awareness, patriotism and military culture amid youth, to acquaint them with the glories, championships and sacrifices of Egyptians.

Here is the list of military museums that you could visit:

1 - Museum of Alamein Military

The Al-Alamein War Museum is located on the Alexandria-Marsa Matrouh road. It comprises five halls which narrate the story of the Second World War in North Africa, and each of them is dedicated to one of the four countries which are involved in the war: Egypt, Germany, Italy and Great Britain.


Museum of Alamein Military
Museum of Alamein Military, May13, 2011 – Wikimedia/Heather Cowper

The fifth hall is called the Mixed Hall because it displays the entire collections of memorabilia, guns, uniforms, photos and maps. It also has a part which tells the history of each country and why they were involved in the war.

Additionally, the Alamein’s guardian has huge army tanks, artillery, vehicles and various large and heavy equipments and weapons used by different forces in the battlefield of Al- Alamein.

2 - Port Said War Museum

It was established on an area of approximately 7000 meters squared which is located at July 23 Street, El Arab, Port Fouad, at Port Said governorate. It was inaugurated in 1964 after Egypt’s victory against the tripartite aggression of France, Britain, and Israel on the city of Port Said in December 1956, as a witness to the intrepid people of Port Said in defense of their homeland.

Port Said War Museum
Aircraft of MIG 16 within Port Said War Museum, November 2017 – Wikimedia/Ahmed.m.hanfy

The Port Said Museum hosts a large collection of military tools, equipments, Israeli tanks, guns and some parts of military aircrafts. There is an open exhibition area which contains various collections of weapons seized in the wars of 1956 and 1973 and it also includes some archaeological weapons from the Mohamed Ali era.

Furthermore, it has four halls. The first hall displays the historical overview of the city of Port Said and valuable information about Port Said in ancient and Islamic era. The second one includes various artworks that tells the story of the Suez Canal and the plate announcing the presidential decree of nationalizing the Suez Canal as well as the pivotal role of the canal in the history of Egypt’s politics, military and economy.

The third hall tells the victory of the people of Port Said on Dec. 23, 1956 against three great countries; France, Britain and Israel. It also includes some portraits of Egyptian heroes who resisted the aggression and various weapons from the tripartite aggression
The fourth hall contains different equipment from the war of October 1973, and pictures of Egyptian troops while crossing the Suez Canal with the intention of pushing the Israelis out of the Sinai Peninsula.

3 – October 6 Panorama Museum

It is situated on Salah Salem Road in Nasr City, and was opened on Oct. 5, 1989 by ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Hosni Mubarak. It has an open exhibition area which includes two platforms: one of them is used to display some Egyptian Armed Forces’ weapons used during the October War in 1973, and the other platform displays some equipment seized from war.

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The 6th October panorama museum, October - Wikimedia/Daniel Mayer

The main building of the museum has halls, the first hall depicts the works and efforts of the Egyptian Armed Forces since 1967 until 1973, whilst the other hall includes a theater which shows a documentary film called “The Road to Victory” which explains how Egyptians crossed Bar Lev Line. The third hall displays and explains the role and the effort exerted by the main three branches of the Armed Forces during the October 1973 war and also has a historical library.

4 – Egyptian National Military Museum

The museum was established in 1936 at the old building of the Egyptian Ministry of Defense in Al Falaki Street at Cairo governorate then it was relocated to a temporary location in the Garden City district of Cairo.

Egyptian national military museum
Soviet-Built Egyptian MiG-21F displayed in the Egyptian National Military Museum in Cairo Citadel, March 2009, - Wikimedia/LeCaire

In 1948, the national military museum transferred into Cairo Castle in accordance with the instructions of Colonel Abdul Rahman Zaky and it opened in November 1949 while it was rehabilitated and developed by the cooperation between Egypt and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in 1990. It was officially reopened by former President Mohamed Hosni Mubarak in 1993.

The military museum is one of the largest military museums in the world and it is a specialized museum which contains various sections that recorded the history of the Egyptian military and the development of Egypt’s weapons and equipments.

Additionally, it presents documentary films about the role and the bravery of the Egyptian soldiers throughout Egypt’s history. The National Military Museum’s courtyard has a statue of one of Egypt’s historic military heroes, Ibrahim Pasha, who was the son of Mohamed Ali Pasha.
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4/25/2018 4:17:35 PM
<![CDATA[Australia boy, 12, runs away to Bali using family credit card]]>
The boy ran away from his Sydney home after a row with his mother, flying first to the Western Australian city of Perth on budget airline Jetstar and then on to Bali, according to commercial broadcaster Channel Nine.

"He just doesn't like the word 'no', and that's what I got, a kid in Indonesia," his mother, Emma, told Channel Nine in a programme that aired late Monday.

"It's too easy, it's way too easy. There's a problem in our system," she said, calling for tighter controls on air travel by young people.

The family had previously visited Bali on holiday and Emma said her son had already tried to book flights there on his own but had been knocked back by airlines because he did not have a letter from her.

"We screamed, we begged for help (from Australian authorities) for weeks on end," Emma added.

"When the first attempt to Indonesia took place, we were told his passport was going to be flagged."

The boy, who "wanted to go on an adventure", said he was told by airline staff this time that he did not need permission from his parents to board the flights.

He spent four days in Bali, where he said he checked into a hotel, hired a scooter and drank beer before a friend alerted his mother to a geotagged video of himself playing in a swimming pool.

The holiday cost his parents Aus$8,000 (US$6,100), according to Channel Nine.

The Australian Federal Police said they were first notified that the boy might try to leave the country on March 8, before being told he might be in Bali on March 17.

The boy was found by Indonesian police the following day.

His parents then flew to Bali to take him home.

The federal police said an alert to prevent international travel had not been placed on the boy, and it did not have the power to cancel or request the cancellation of a passport if there were no suspicions of crimes committed.

"The AFP will work with partner agencies to review the circumstances of this matter and current operating procedures, to ensure this type of incident does not occur again," an AFP spokeswoman said in a statement.

Jetstar told Channel Nine the airline had since changed its procedures to prevent children over 12 from travelling without parental permission.

In general, Australian airlines do not allow children younger than five to travel alone.

Children between five and 11 must be booked on an unaccompanied minor ticket while those from 12-15 are required to have a permission slip from their parent or guardian.]]>
4/25/2018 1:22:45 PM
<![CDATA[Tourism to Egypt since January increased by 30%: minster]]>
In a press conference on the sidelines of the Arabian Travel Market Exhibition held in Dubai, Mashat praised Arab tourism to Egypt, which represents 30 percent of tourism to the country.

Mashat promised that the government will focus on medical tourism under the supervision of the Prime Minister Sherif Ismail.

In March, Ayman Abdel Aziz, secretary general of a newly formed technical committee for medical tourism under the supervision of the Cabinet, said that 20 hospitals would be ready soon to receive patients from abroad.

The medical tourism program would offer heart, orthopedic, eye and other surgeries in the first phase for 15 Arab and African countries, Abdel Aziz explained

Mashat affirmed that she will invite tourism decision makers in the Gulf to visit Egypt to explore investment and tourism opportunities in various Egyptian cities.

Moreover, Mashat highlighted the procedures Egypt has carried out to attract Arab tourists, including facilitating procedures for entering the country and issuing visas to Arab visitors.

In March, an official said the ministers of foreign affairs and aviation are working on establishing a mechanism to issue facilitated medical tourism visas to foreign patients for the first time in the country.
]]>
4/24/2018 10:11:16 AM
<![CDATA[Brits’ bookings to Egypt rise up to 89%: Thomas Cook]]>
In its 2018 “Holiday Report”, Cook stated that “Brits have returned to Egypt in big numbers and are showing similar enthusiasm for Tunisia now the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice has changed.”

“Package holiday bookings to Egypt are up 89% year-on-year, even with Sharm el Sheikh effectively closed to tourists. Visitor numbers to the Red Sea are now close to where they were for Thomas Cook in 2015, although centered entirely on Hurghada and Marsa Alam, which was introduced in February 2017 for the winter 2017/18 season,” the report stated.

The report added that the first flights to Egypt sold out and bookings have been strong for months, so much so that Thomas Cook Airlines has increased to 11 weekly flights for this summer. Importantly, the family share of bookings for Tunisia is 44 percent and 51 percent for Egypt.

Last October, Cook announced resuming its air flights to Marsa Alam International Airport, starting October 30 after a nine-year suspension since 2008.

According to the famous firm, this discussion came as a result of the rapid growth of holiday demand in Hurghada, which witnessed a 113-percent increase for the winter of 2017.

“Egypt has proven popular this summer and bookings remain strong for the winter period,” Thomas Cook's managing director in the U.K., Chris Mottershead, said. The flights were announced to be from Birmingham and Gatwick to Marsa Alam, Egypt.

In August 2017, Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zaid issued a statement after a meeting held between Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and Alistair Burt, a British Conservative Party politician, affirming that the volume of British tourism increased 60 percent over last year.

Also, in a short interview with DMC television channel last September, British Ambassador to Egypt John Casson said there are about 40 weekly direct flights between Egypt and the U.K.

On October 30, Casson stated that British tourism to Egypt has increased by 74 percent in contrast with last year.

]]>
4/24/2018 12:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[Royal Train to become new tourism attraction]]>
Nasrallah pointed out that his company has submitted a proposal to operate in partnership with one of the largest tourism companies.

King Farouk and Mostafa El-Nahas - King Farouk Official Website
King Farouk and Prime Minister Mostafa El-Nahas - King Farouk official website


The chairman of the company owned by the Railway Authority added that the proposal depends on operating the train with special tourist tickets. This is to encourage tourism between Alexandria and Aswan and also acts as a source of revenue for the railway.

The Royal Train belongs to King Farouk (the Last King of Egypt) and it is one of the antiques that should be taken care off. The train which runs at a speed of 60 kilometers was designed by the Italian Fiat in 1951. It was one of the first trains that worked with diesel; which is why the train has been called the ‘Royal Diesel’.

Prince Farouk and his sisters on the train in Alexandria - King Farouk Official Website
Prince Farouk and his sisters on the train in Alexandria - King Farouk official website

The train consists of two cars and each car is divided into two parts. The first part in the first car contains a cockpit and a restroom for the driver. The second part was designed for the royal guard.

The second car is the Royal Car. It houses a saloon where King Farouk met and welcomed his guests. There was also a restroom for the king, a wireless telephone and a music cabin.

Young King Farouk - King Farouk official website
Young King Farouk - King Farouk official website


The train’s station was established by the Koppa Palace which made it easy for royal guests to reach the palace directly from the train station in Cairo or the station in Alexandria. King Farouk sometimes liked to drive the train by himself.

The train was pivotal until the 1952 revolution, but after that its role started to dwindle.

The Royal Train Now - Egypt Today, Reda Hebeishy
/The Royal Train - Egypt Today Reda Hebeishy

Former President Mohammed Naguib refused to take the Royal Train to Upper Egypt; instead he took an ordinary train with an open cart. When Gamal Abdel Nasser took over, he also refused to take the train and preferred the people’s train, the same train as Naguib.

The Royal Train - Egypt Today, Reda Hebeishy
The Royal Train - Egypt Today, Reda Hebeishy

During the time of Anwar Sadat, a new semi-open car was designed in the Royal Diesel. He travelled in it with his guests. Spanish Company, Timonza, in cooperation with the Egyptian Company, Semaf, designed a new armored car in the train for former President Hosni Mubarak. He only took the train twice.

]]>
4/23/2018 1:12:33 PM
<![CDATA[Italian tourists will return to Sharm El Sheikh in flocks: Vento Viaggi]]>
”Italy supports tourism in Egypt, especially in Sharm El Shiekh, as all Italian tourism companies started running their flights to Egypt, upon Italian tourists requests to spend their vacations in the city,” Viaggi said during the opening of Viaggi’s office in Sharm El Shiekh.

Italian tourists ranked second before 2010 for the most amount of tourists from one country visiting Sharm El Shiekh, and it is expected that Italy will once again be on top during the next period, as there is continuous coordination with the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and the Governor of South Sinai, Andrea said.



Italian tourism companies promote the sea-side Egyptian destination to attract more tourists, Andrea mentioned. The city of Sharm El Sheikh is a destination that has no alternative for the Italian tourists, whether on the level of services in hotels, places of entertainment, weather, or prices.

]]>
4/21/2018 2:34:58 PM
<![CDATA[2018 African Mountain Bike Championship to kick off in Egypt]]>
Separately, in a statement released on Friday, the environment ministry said that a number of contracts will be inked with major companies specialized in waste equipment industry in Kafr El Shiekh, Qena and Assiut governorates, a move that falls within the framework of the national program for solid waste management.

The signing ceremonies will be attended by the environment minister and a number of officials from competent bodies, the ministry added.]]>
4/21/2018 9:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Russian lawyer Alexei Navalny by Egypt's Pyramids ]]>
Navalny gained his fame in Russia, through social media and writing articles in many newspapers like Forbes.

Russian flights to Cairo were resumed on April 12 after more than two years of suspended flights on the back of the downing of a Russian airliner over Sinai in late 2015.

Russian tourists visiting Egypt are expected to reach one million by the end of year, former head of Egypt's Federation of Tourism Chambers, Elhamy al-Zayat, said.
]]>
4/21/2018 1:30:00 AM
<![CDATA[Egypt participates in Kazakhstan International Travel & Tourism Fair 2018]]>
For his part, Abdullah stressed that Egypt is a safe country and that the tourism industry is witnessing a huge boom thanks to its revamped beaches and high-quality lodging and residences.

The governor also stressed that the Red Sea governorate is working to increase the number of airports, in coordination with the relevant authorities, to take in all visitors coming to the Red Sea's different tourist destinations.

The Red Sea and South Sinai governors have jointly held several meetings with senior Kazakhstani officials as well as representatives from major airline companies in Kazakhstan in order to increase the number of Cairo-bound flights.

They also discussed and exchanged views on working to increase the quota of tourists coming from Kazakhstan to Egypt and vowed to work on overcoming all potential obstacles in this regard.

Moreover, Kazakhstani officials expressed that Kazakhstani tourists have a strong liking for Egypt’s charming landscape and its great year-round climate.

Having been held from April 18 to 20, the international fair brought together senior officials and exhibitors from all over the world.

Over the past period, the Red Sea governorate has witnessed a remarkable European tourist turnout; German visitors recorded the highest numbers of tourists coming to Egypt, Abu Hajaj Al-Amari, a tourist expert, said on Friday.

He added that hotel occupancy rates in the Red Sea reached 6 percent, attributing the increase in numbers of tourists to the political instability of Turkey, which has been predominantly European holiday makers’ most favorable destination, and also to the rise in the tourism promotion campaigns earmarked for overseas travelers, most recently including the Berlin Stock Exchange Conference held in March.]]>
4/21/2018 12:50:00 AM
<![CDATA[Maldives set to open world’s first underwater hotel residence]]>
In the race to bag the title of world’s first undersea residence the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island looks to be in the lead, having announced that its US$15 million (RM58.3 million) residence The Muraka will open later this year.

Named after the local Dhivehi word for coral, the residence will span two levels, with the lower space featuring a king size bedroom, living area, bathroom and spiral staircase that leads to the upper floor.

Guests sleep 16 feet (five meters) below sea level with 180-degree panoramic views of the Indian Ocean and its inhabitants: tropical fish, sharks, corals and other assorted marine life.

When they need to come up for air, guests can climb upstairs to the first floor, which houses a living space, two more bedrooms, bathroom, gym, butler’s quarters, security quarters, kitchen, bar, and dining room.

The infinity pool and deck have been designed to face the direction of the sunset for optimum viewing.

The Muraka can accommodate up to nine guests.

The Conrad Maldives Rangali Island also became the first to open an undersea restaurant, the Ithaa, which is now in its 13th year.

The title of world’s largest underwater restaurant, however, goes to its sister property the Hurawalhi Island Resort, which opened the restaurant named 5.8, in reference to its watery location 5.8 meters (18 feet) below sea level.

Meanwhile, Dubai is also in the midst of building the world’s first underwater luxury resort which will be modeled after the city of Venice.

The Floating Venice will be located 4 km offshore from Dubai’s mainland and feature an underwater space that includes guest cabins, restaurants, and underwater spa.

It’s expected to open in 2020. ]]>
4/20/2018 2:03:50 PM
<![CDATA[EgyptAir operates two weekly flights between Kuwait, Sohag]]>
In statements to MENA on Thursday, Regional Manager of EgyptAir Fathy Nazih said that the new flights will be operated on Fridays and Sundays.

The company will also run one weekly flight from Kuwait to Cairo, Nazih added.

The number of flights will be subject to further increase in the future, he said.

He urged passengers to abide by baggage allowance which is two pieces of baggage each with a maximum weight of 23 kilogram (50 lbs: Input Block Size) and one piece with a maximum weight of 7 kg kilogram.

Passengers with checked baggage exceeding the allowance stated above will be charged for excess baggage, he stressed. ]]>
4/19/2018 11:55:49 AM
<![CDATA[Tourism min. discusses promoting tourism with Italian amb.]]>
Mashat affirmed the importance of Italy’s market as one of the most significant tourism sources for Egypt, pointing out the depth of the Egyptian-Italian relations. She also expressed her happiness with the fruitful cooperation and exchange of ideas between the two sides.

The Italian ambassador stressed the desire of Italian tourists to travel to Egypt due to its many attraction sites and special cultural landmarks.

Cantini invited the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism to spread knowledge about Egyptian culture by participating in the Italian cultural exhibition that will take place in Milan, Italy from March to September 2019.

Also, Mashat met with the chairman of the Tour Guides' Union, Hassan Nahal, and a group of members of the Tour Guide Syndicate on Monday. She stressed the need to hone the skills of tour guides. In the meeting, Nahal submitted a set of proposals to improve the tour guide sector.

Mashat expressed the ministry’s keenness to improve, train and raise the efficiency of Egyptian tour guides, which contributes to upgrading the tour guide sector.]]>
4/18/2018 1:05:45 AM
<![CDATA[Dangerflow thrilled with Cairenes’ reactions, prepare for Alexandria concert]]>
On April 13, Dangerflow performed at Al-Azhar Park in Cairo with popular singers Ahmed Sheba, Tarek el-Sheikh, May Abd El Aziz and the mahraganat band Sawarikh. The members of the Miami-based band said they were happy with the reactions of their Egyptian fans.

1
Dangerflow with Tarek el-Sheikh at Al-Azhar Park on April 18, 2018 - Press photo

The concerts aim at enhancing cooperation between Egyptian and American musicians as part of the American Music Abroad (AMA) program of the U.S. embassy in Cairo.

d13
Dangerflow with Sawarikh band at Al-Azhar PArk on April 13, 2018 - Press photo

Angel Ocean, one of Dangerflow’s members, added that they loved the Egyptian music and the professionalism of the Egyptian musicians.

d11
May Abd El Aziz at Al-Azhar Park on April 13, 2018 - Press photo

He mentioned that Egyptian pop music produces different voices and rhythms that make "the heart beat and the body dance."

d8
Dangerflow performs at Al-Azhar Park on April 13, 2018 - Press photo

The band teamed up with AMA as musical ambassadors to represent the United States in a series of international tours. They have visited seven countries and spoken to high school and college students about the life-changing power of music. They are planning to do the same in Egypt.

IMG-0048
Dangerflow on a came at the Giza Pyramids - Press photo

Meanwhile, the band has seized the opportunity to visit the Giza Pyramids and other attractions in Cairo and is expected to do the same in the ancient Mediterranean city of Alexandria.


]]>
4/18/2018 12:40:00 AM
<![CDATA[Aviation Africa 2018 Conference, Exhibition starts]]>
The event is attended by secretary general of African Airlines Association (AFRAA), regional director for foreign affairs of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), head of African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC) and regional director of International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

After the inauguration of the conference, workshops will be held for the participants tackling a host of important issues, including the role of Africa in the aviation field, investing in the infrastructure of civil aviation projects, means to combat e-terrorism and an agreement on a unified African transport market.

As many as 660 participants from 50 countries will take part in the event.]]>
4/17/2018 11:11:29 AM
<![CDATA[Antiquities min. reviews progress of Avenue of Sphinxes]]>
The Avenue of Sphinxes is the road that connects Luxor Temple to Karnak Temple. It is about 2,700 meters long and 76 meters wide. Chairman of the Armed Forces' Engineering Authority Kamel al-Wazir and Luxor Governor Mohamed Badr accompanied Enani during his tour.

In an interview with Egypt Today earlier in April, Enany said that a new place has been determined for an evangelical church on the side of the road that is set to be removed.

1
From left, Chairman of the Armed Forces' Engineering Authority Kamel al-Wazir, Luxor Governor Mohamed Badr, Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany head a group of officials in a tour in Luxor to follow up the updates of the Avenue of Sphinxes project


It is noted that only the back part of the Virgin Mary Church located on the side of the road will be removed. In addition, some houses around the avenue have been demolished in order to excavate it.

Badr said earlier that people would be compensated for the demolished properties and that new houses would be constructed for them in other places.

In an interview with Egypt Today last May, the head of the projects’ sector at the Ministry of Antiquities, Waheed Abou el-Ela, said the road will be paved to allow easy access for visitors, in addition to moving utilities like electricity and water.

The project also includes the development of the floors, the completion of the excavation and repairs to the collection of ram-headed sphinxes on the sides of the avenue.

2
From left, Luxor Governor Mohamed Badr, Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany and Chairman of the Armed Forces' Engineering Authority Kamel al-Wazir, head a group of officials in a tour in Luxor to follow up the updates of the Avenue of Sphinxes project


The project to excavate and restore the Avenue of Sphinxes began in 2005, and about LE 600 million ($34 million) have been spent on the project. The project was halted after the January 25 Revolution in 2011 and was resumed in 2017 after President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi gave his instructions to complete the project as soon as possible.

3
Luxor Governor Mohamed Badr, Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany and Chairman of the Armed Forces' Engineering Authority Kamel al-Wazir, head a group of officials in a tour in Luxor to follow up the updates of the Avenue of Sphinxes project


4
Luxor Governor Mohamed Badr, Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany and Chairman of the Armed Forces' Engineering Authority Kamel al-Wazir, head a group of officials in a tour in Luxor to follow up the updates of the Avenue of Sphinxes project

5
Luxor Governor Mohamed Badr, Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany and Chairman of the Armed Forces' Engineering Authority Kamel al-Wazir, head a group of officials in a tour in Luxor to follow up the updates of the Avenue of Sphinxes project

6
Luxor Governor Mohamed Badr, Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany and Chairman of the Armed Forces' Engineering Authority Kamel al-Wazir, head a group of officials in a tour in Luxor to follow up the updates of the Avenue of Sphinxes project
]]>
4/16/2018 9:42:46 PM
<![CDATA[China's 'Hawaii' to allow horse racing, sports lotteries]]>
The province will be urged to explore opening new types of lotteries connected to sports and international competitions, according to the guiding opinion jointly issued by the Communist Party Central Committee and State Council which was published Saturday by state news agency Xinhua.

It marks a change of tack for the Communist government which has long banned most forms of gambling in mainland China and comes against the backdrop of its massive campaign against corruption.

But those concerns appear to be taking a back seat as Beijing looks to ramp up consumption to fuel China's economy and rebalance away from the investment and exports that have led the way for four decades.

The plan aims to make Hainan, an island off China's southern coast, a "trial free trade zone" to try out the reforms Beijing has pledged to bring to the mainland for years with few tangible successes.

The outline comes days after President Xi Jinping pledged a "new phase of openness" for China at Hainan's annual Boao Forum for Asia, a Davos-like meeting of international leaders.

We will "build Hainan into an important open door for China onto the Pacific and Indian oceans", the plan says.

Sectors to open up to further foreign investment include healthcare, education, sports, communications, internet, culture and finance.

Beijing also wants to to position Hainan as a "centre of international tourism consumption", a goal which has faced halting progress despite sandy beaches and massive spending on plush resorts.

The province has not proven an international draw so far, attracting fewer than a million foreign visitors in 2016 -- compared with over seven million in Thailand's Phuket, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News.

As part of making the island green and sustainable, the reform package will push the introduction of electric vehicles and "gradually prohibit sales of gasoline-powered vehicles", Xinhua said.

Development of a gaming and tourism industry in Hainan could also create a new rival for semi-autonomous Macau, the world's largest gaming market and the only part of China where casino gambling is legal, dwarfing Las Vegas.
]]>
4/16/2018 12:20:59 PM
<![CDATA[Orman Park holds its 85th annual flower exhibition]]>
Different flowers, Rosa, Tulipa, Ranunculus. Photo taken April 7, 2018 - Egypt TodayMariam Mosleh (2)
Different flowers, Rosa, Tulipa, Ranunculus. Photo taken April 7, 2018 - Egypt Today/Mariam Mosleh (2)

Different species of flowers shown at Orman Park. Photo taken April 7, 2018 - Egypt TodayMariam Mosleh
Different species of flowers shown at Orman Park. Photo taken April 7, 2018 - Egypt Today/Mariam Mosleh

Every year, the spring festival is held at the park, where many companies and institutes exhibit their plants, seeds and flowers.

The beginning of the flowerexhibition at Orman Park. Photo taken April 7, 2018 - Egypt TodayMariam Mosleh
The beginning of the flower exhibition at Orman Park. Photo taken April 7, 2018 - Egypt Today/Mariam Mosleh

View of the flower exhibition at Orman Park. Photo taken April 7, 2018 - Egypt TodayMariam Mosleh
A view of the flower exhibition at Orman Park. Photo taken April 7, 2018 - Egypt Today/Mariam Mosleh

The exhibition holds about 600 different types of plants, varying from palm trees, orchids, daisies, roses, cacti and so much more. All your garden requirements can be found at the park. Brides’ bouquets can also be designed and collected from the park.

Pink Rose representing the arrival of Spring at Orman Park. Photo taken April 7, 2018 - Egypt TodayMariam Mosleh
Pink Rose representing the arrival of Spring at Orman Park. Photo taken April 7, 2018 - Egypt Today/Mariam Mosleh

Plants to design and build your garden. Photo taken April 7, 2018 - Egypt TodayMariam Mosleh
Plants to design and build your garden. Photo taken April 7, 2018 - Egypt Today/Mariam Mosleh

The fair is not just limited to plants and flowers, as there are also animals that can be adopted, such as cats, dogs, parrots, rabbits and fish. Natural honey is also sold at the park.

Orman Park flower exhibition. Photo taken April 7, 2018 - Egypt TodayMariam Mosleh (2)
Orman Park flower exhibition. Photo taken April 7, 2018 - Egypt Today/Mariam Mosleh

Orman Park, flower and plants exhibition. Photo taken April 7, 2018 - Egypt TodayMariam Mosleh
Orman Park, flower and plants exhibition. Photo taken April 7, 2018 - Egypt Today/Mariam Mosleh

Minister of Agriculture Abd El-Moneim El Banna addressed the importance of the exhibition at both the local and international levels, where flowers, ornamental plants, fruits, and medicinal and aromatic plants are presented. He added that the exhibition effectively contributes to increasing production and exports of the sector.

Colorful and different species of flowers . Photo taken April 7, 2018 - Egypt TodayMariam Mosleh
Colorful and different species of flowers . Photo taken April 7, 2018 - Egypt Today/Mariam Mosleh

Red peony flowers shown at Orman Park. Photo taken April 7, 2018 - Egypt TodayMariam Mosleh
Red peony flowers shown at Orman Park. Photo taken April 7, 2018 - Egypt Today/Mariam Mosleh

The park is located in Giza Square, Dokki, east of the Nile River and west of Cairo University. It is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Entrance tickets cost EGP 2 ($0.11), in addition to EGP 5 for a camera, while it costs EGP 20 if visitors park their cars inside the park.

Shishi Gashira Camellia flower. Photo taken April 7, 2018 - Egypt TodayMariam Mosleh
Shishi Gashira Camellia flower. Photo taken April 7, 2018 - Egypt Today/Mariam Mosleh
]]>
4/15/2018 10:16:40 AM
<![CDATA[Suicide machine draws crowds at Amsterdam funeral show]]>
Called the "Sarco", short for sarcophagus, the 3D-printed machine invented by Australian euthanasia activist Philip Nitschke and Dutch designer Alexander Bannink comes with a detachable coffin, mounted on a stand that contains a nitrogen canister.

"The person who wants to die presses the button and the capsule is filled with nitrogen. He or she will feel a bit dizzy but will then rapidly lose consciousness and die," said Nitschke, who has been dubbed "Dr Death" for his work to legalise euthanasia.

The "Sarco" is a device "to provide people with a death when they wish to die," Nitschke told AFP.

The inventors put a model of the device on display, together with a set of virtual reality glasses to give visitors a true-to-life experience of what it would be like to sit in the pod, before ultimately pressing the button.

Nitschke said he aimed to build the first fully-functioning pod before the end of the year.

After that, the design will be put online as an open-source document for people to download.

"That means that anybody who wants to build the machine can download the plans and 3D-print their own device," Nitschke said.

Asked about the controversy surrounding euthanasia and legal hurdles, Nitschke said: "In many countries suicide is not against the law, only assisting a person to commit suicide is."

"This is a situation where one person chooses to press a button... rather than for instance standing in front of a train."

"I believe it's a fundamental human right (to choose when to die). It's not just some medical privilege for the very sick. If you've got the precious gift of life, you should be able to give that gift away at the time of your choosing," Nitschke said.

Thousands of visitors flocked to the annual Amsterdam Funeral Expo at the city's famous Westerkerk, where all the latest trends in death, such as biodegradable coffins and a hot-rod funeral hearse were on display.

But the "Sarco" drew large crowds, many of them morbidly curious to try out the device's chair and virtual reality glasses.

"It was really an experience and a strange thing to see. But very pretty and calm. You see the moon, you see the sea. It's very calm," said Piet Verstraaten, 52, from the eastern Dutch city of Venray.

Others, however, were not impressed.

"Well, I think it's quite silly. It's stupid. I don't get it. I'm not interested in a real 'Sarco'. No," said 52-year-old Rob Bruntink.]]>
4/14/2018 11:58:52 PM
<![CDATA[Aisha Fahmy Palace, Zamalek gem to visit while in Cairo]]>
View of the whole stair case and the paintings from the bottom. Photo taken April 7, 2018 - Egypt TodayMariam Mosleh
View of the whole stair case and the paintings from the bottom. Photo taken April 7, 2018 - Egypt Today/Mariam Mosleh

Designed by Italian architect Antonio Lasciac in a beautiful, classic European style, the palace was built in 1907 by the Nile River in Zamalek on an area of 2,700 square meters.

The garden of the palace. Photo taken April 7, 2018 - Egypt TodayMariam Mosleh
The garden of the palace. Photo taken April 7, 2018 - Egypt TodayMariam Mosleh

One of the bedrooms in the Palace with its authentic European furniture. Photo Taken April 7, 2018 - Egypt TodayMariam Mosleh
One of the bedrooms in the Palace with its authentic European furniture. Photo Taken April 7, 2018 - Egypt Today/Mariam Mosleh

The two-storey building contains five rooms with various original textile art and European oil paintings. A room originally used for playing billiards and a billiards scoring board was turned into a living room, where the name of Fahmy's father has been engraved in the wood. The furniture in the living room doesn’t belong to Fahmy, as the government and curators carefully chose the furniture to match the decorations in the room.

Repainted door in one of Aisha Fahmy's rooms. Photo taken April 7, 2018 - Egypt TodayMariam Mosleh
Repainted door in one of Aisha Fahmy's rooms. Photo taken April 7, 2018 - Egypt Today/Mariam Mosleh

Living room in the Museum, used to an entertainment room with Billiards. Photo taken April 7, 2018 - Egypt TodayMariam Mosleh
Living room in the Museum, used to an entertainment room with Billiards. Photo taken April 7, 2018 - Egypt Today/Mariam Mosleh

The second floor contains rooms for antiques, along with a Japanese room gifted to Fahmy by the Japanese embassy. The architecture of this room represents Japanese civilization and portrays two Buddha statues made of gold-plated wood.

Original Turkish and Iranian carpets in Aisha Fahmy Palace. Photo taken April 7, 2018 - Egypt TodayMariam Molseh
Original Turkish and Iranian carpets in Aisha Fahmy Palace. Photo taken April 7, 2018 - Egypt TodayMariam Molseh

Japanese designed room gifted from the Japanese Embassy to Aisha Fahmy. Photo taken April 7, 2018 - Egypt todayMariam Mosleh
Japanese designed room gifted from the Japanese Embassy to Aisha Fahmy. Photo taken April 7, 2018 - Egypt Today/Mariam Mosleh

The princess’s bedroom, meanwhile, was decorated with shiny gold leaves. She also had her own fitting room and a summer room next to the Japanese room. The aesthetic chandeliers in the museum and the artistic window paintings haven’t been changed since Fahmy’s time, although broken pieces of glass in the windows were restored and drawings were revived.

Original Paintings on the windows by the stair case in the museum. Photo taken April 7, 2018 - Egypt TodayMariam Mosleh
Original Paintings on the windows by the stair case in the museum. Photo taken April 7, 2018 - Egypt TodayMariam Mosleh

Different view of the Japanese room. Photo taken April 7, 2018 - Egypt todayMariam Mosleh
Different view of the Japanese room. Photo taken April 7, 2018 - Egypt Today/Mariam Mosleh

After Fahmy's death in 1962, the palace was given to the government. A decree was issued to make the palace a presidential mansion, before coming under the supervision of the Ministry of Culture. In 1975, Abdel Hameed Hamdy, chairman of the Arts and Literature Association, received an approval from then-Minister of Culture Yusuf Sibai to make the palace a part of the association. In the following year, the palace became the Center of Arts. Since then, the museum has held dear memories for almost all Egyptian artists who exhibited their work in the center.

One of the original carpets owned by Aisha Fahmy. Photo taken April 7, 2018 - Egypt TodayMariam Mosleh
One of the original carpets owned by Aisha Fahmy. Photo taken April 7, 2018 - Egypt TodayMariam Mosleh

]]>
4/14/2018 4:18:00 AM
<![CDATA[Portuguese president tours Great Pyramids of Giza]]>
A delegation from the Portuguese Embassy escorted the president in his tour, which comes as part of his recent visit to Egypt.

Prime Minister Sherif Ismail received on Thursday the Portuguese leader to discuss ways of enhancing bilateral relations between the two countries.

Earlier on Wednesday, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi received his Portuguese counterpart, de Sousa, in the Ittihadyyia Presidential Palace. De Sousa is paying a two-day state visit, where he will discuss economic relations’ enhancement and international and regional issues of mutual concerns.

This is the first visit for a Portuguese president to Egypt in 24 years. De Sousa was elected as president in 2016.
]]>
4/13/2018 2:08:57 PM
<![CDATA[Dangerflow arrives in Cairo to perform concert]]>
Dangerflow is expected to produce new kinds of fusion as a result of cooperation between them and Egyptian folk singers Ahmed Sheba, Tarek al-Shiekh, el-Sawarikh and Mai Abdel Aziz.

دانجرفلو_في_النيل
U.S. band Dangerflow – Press Photo


Later, Dangerflow is scheduled to head to Alexandria governorate to hold another concert. Other activities will be held from April 17 to 20.

The band’s concert at Al-Azhar Park on Friday aims to enhance the cooperation between Egyptian and American musicians.


دانجرفلو_في_النيل_2
U.S. band Dangerflow – Press Photo


On April 4, the U.S. Embassy in Cairo tweeted about the band’s concert, calling on Egyptians to get their tickets. “Get your tickets NOW for HAKAWATYA2018 featuring hip-hop artists DANGERFLOW and Egyptian Mahraganat stars Ahmed Sheba and el-Sawarikh," the embassy stated.




The group, led by both Angel Ocean and Eric Stinnett, first came to the scene in 2007 and released their first album, “Win, Lose or Die”, in November 2011. They make sure that each and every song includes an inspiring message.

Recently, the band teamed up with American Music Abroad (AMA) as musical ambassadors to represent the United States in a series of international tours. They have visited seven countries and spoken to high school and college students about the life-changing power of music. They are planning to do the same in Egypt as well.
]]>
4/13/2018 10:24:12 AM
<![CDATA[EgyptAir, Panasonic Avionics sign deal in field of welfare programs]]>
Under the deal, Panasonic will provide EgyptAir with the latest technique of welfare programs and In-flight Entertainment (IFEC) system which refers to the entertainment available to aircraft passengers during a flight.

The new services will be offered at six Boeing Dreamliner 900-787 aircrafts, that Egypt is expected to receive in 2019.

In a statement on Thursday, CEO of EgyptAir Holding Company Safwat Mosallam said that the modern technologies in communications and internet fields added a different form for the travel experience.

The move comes within the framework of the company’s strategy aiming at developing its fleet and upgrading the services offered to passengers on board, Mosallam added.

The Panasonic’s system was selected after an extensive and precise study for a number of other systems and examinations carried out to ensure their conformity with the company’s new strategy, Mosallam noted.

Chief Executive Officer for Panasonic Avionics Hideo Nakano expressed his pleasure over cooperating with EgyptAir in view of the new agreement.

He voiced his keenness on further cooperating with the Egyptian flag carrier to provide passengers with the best travel experience all over the world.]]>
4/12/2018 3:09:04 PM
<![CDATA[EgyptAir operates 1st flight to Moscow after 2 years and half halt]]>
A source inside EgyptAir said they had offered discounts that can reach up to 25 percent on flight tickets from Cairo International Airport to Moscow to attract travelers and encourage tourism.

Moscow is expected to receive the Egyptian airline's flights on Saturdays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.

On Wednesday April 11, the first flight of Russian Aeroflot airlines arrived to Cairo International Airport after more than a two-year hiatus after a bomb downed a Russian charter over the Sinai Peninsula in 2015.

An Airbus 320 with 160 Russian passengers on board arrived at Terminal 2 of the Cairo International Airport; the Egyptian Aviation Services Company facilitated all the procedures for the Russian passengers.

The Russian Aeroflot airlines will operate three flights every week between Cairo and Moscow.

Flights were suspended at the end of 2015 after a bomb downed a flight carrying holidaymakers from the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheik, killing all 224 people on board, mostly Russian tourists. The attack was claimed by the Islamic State group.

Since the crash, Egypt has been implementing new, tighter security measures at all of its airports to meet the Russian demands necessary for the resumption of flights, with multiple visits from Russian security delegations to observe changes implemented by the government.]]>
4/12/2018 11:26:43 AM
<![CDATA[Saudi archaeological treasure of Al-Ula to open to tourists for the 1st time]]>
Al-Ula, an area rich in archaeological remnants, is seen as a jewel in the crown of future Saudi attractions as the austere kingdom prepares to issue tourist visas for the first time - opening up one of the last frontiers of global tourism.

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A picture taken on April 1, 2018 shows an aerial view of carved rose-colored sandstone mountains, known as "The Dancers", in al-Ula in northwestern Saudi Arabia. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is set to sign a landmark agreement with Paris on April 10, 2018 for the touristic and cultural development of the northwestern site, once a crossroads of ancient civilizations. (Photo: AFP)

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is set to sign a landmark agreement with Paris on Tuesday for the touristic and cultural development of the northwestern site, once a crossroads of ancient civilizations.

“All of Al-Ula is an open air museum,” Anazi said during a media tour just days before Prince Mohammed’s trip, revealing a patchwork of rock-cut tombs containing niches for burials.

“There is so much history here still waiting to be discovered.”

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A picture taken on March 31, 2018 shows a Saudi man walking near ancient tombs at the Khuraiba archaeological site near Saudi Arabia's northwestern town of al-Ula. The area, roughly the size of Belgium, served as an important way station and bedouin watering hole on the trade route linking the Arabian Peninsula, North Africa and India. (Photo: AFP)

The tombs, some containing pre-Islamic inscriptions and drawings such as hunting scenes, are a legacy of the Nabataean artistic tradition. The chiseled rock art forms could help unravel the mysteries of millennia-old civilisations on the Arabian Peninsula.

The area, roughly the size of Belgium, served as an important way station and bedouin watering hole on the trade route linking the Arabian Peninsula, North Africa and India. It is home to the kingdom’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, Madain Saleh, built more than 2,000 years ago by the Nabataeans.

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A picture taken on March 31, 2018 shows foreigners walking nextto a date farm amidst sandstones in the Khuraiba archaeological site near Saudi Arabia's northwestern town of al-Ula. The walled city of Al-Ula, with tightly packed mud-brick and stone houses that were inhabited until modern times, sits decaying under the scorching sun. (Photo: AFP)

“Every day something new is being discovered,” Jamie Quartermaine, an expert from the Britain-based Oxford Archaeology group, told AFP.

“The potential is endless. Look behind you,” he said, pointing at ancient animal art depictions engraved on a rocky spur inside an Al-Ula hotel resort.

Gift to the world

A helicopter tour of the area revealed a desert landscape that appeared like the top of a foamed latte, dotted with heritage sites and towering maze-like rock formations. The Saudi-Franco partnership is in part aimed at preserving the site from further erosion and vandalism it has faced.

At one archaeological site called Al-Khoraiba, Anazi pointed at a bereft cistern. Photos taken by French explorers Jaussen and Savignac, who visited the area in the early 20th century, showed the same cistern once featured the statue of a deity.

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A picture taken on April 1, 2018 shows an aerial view of carved rose-colored sandstone mountains in the desert of al-Ula in northwestern Saudi Arabia. The chiseled rock art forms could help unravel the mysteries of millennia-old civilizations on the Arabian Peninsula. (Photo: AFP)

The walled city of Al-Ula, with tightly packed mud-brick and stone houses that were inhabited until modern times, sits decaying under the scorching sun. But before a preservation plan is launched in collaboration with France, all archaeological treasures need to be accounted for, said Amr al-Madani, head of the Royal Al-Ula Commission.

A massive two-year surveying programme began in March, which includes scanning via helicopters, satellites, drones and a remote sensing technology called Lidar, he told AFP.

“This is a significant undertaking incorporating all levels of survey from aerial survey down to ground checking,” said Quartermaine.

“This is about national pride in our own past,” Anazi said.
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A picture taken on March 31, 2018 shows a Saudi man standing at the entrance of a tomb at Madain Saleh, a UNESCO World Heritage site, near Saudi Arabia's northwestern town of al-Ula.Al-Ula is expected to fully open up to global tourists within three to five years, launching the site as what Saudi officials describe as “a gift to the world”. (Photo: AFP)

A Franco-Saudi deal to develop Al-Ula calls for the creation of a dedicated agency modelled on the lines of the French museums agency, which spearheaded the establishment of the Louvre museum in Abu Dhabi. At least one large museum is planned to be built in Al-Ula. Gerard Mestrallet, the former CEO of French electric utility company Engie, has been appointed special envoy of French President Emmanuel Macron for Al-Ula.

Al-Ula is expected to fully open up to global tourists within three to five years, launching the site as what Saudi officials describe as “a gift to the world”.

Pride in our past

Al-Ula is among a hidden trove of Saudi archaeological treasures. Archaeologists last year used Google Maps to find hundreds of stone “gates” built from rock in a remote Saudi desert, which may date back as far as 7,000 years.

They also discovered evidence of 46 lakes believed to have existed in Saudi Arabia’s northern Nefud desert, which experts say has lent credence to the theory that the region swung between periods of desertification and a wetter climate.

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A picture taken on April 1, 2018 shows a man standing outside of the Qasr al-Farid tomb (The Lonely Castle) carved into rose-coloured sandstone in Madain Saleh, a UNESCO World Heritage site, near Saudi Arabia's northwestern town of al-Ula. Al-Ula, an area rich in archaeological remnants, is seen as a jewel in the crown of future Saudi attractions as the austere kingdom prepares to issue tourist visas for the first time -- opening up one of the last frontiers of global tourism. (Photo: AFP)

Tourism is one of the centrepieces of the blueprint to prepare the biggest Arab economy for the post-oil era. Al-Ula’s hotel infrastructure is currently inadequate, with only two facilities with a capacity of 120 rooms.

But the project is about reviving the glory of Saudi Arabia’s ancient past. There is currently scant information in Saudi history textbooks about Al-Ula.

]]>
4/11/2018 1:08:33 PM
<![CDATA[Hundreds of flights cancelled in Germany as airports hit by public sector strikes]]>
Lufthansa said on Monday it was cancelling more than 800 of its planned 1,600 flights on Tuesday and Frankfurt airport operator Fraport has warned of disruption.

As well as Frankfurt, airports in Munich, Cologne and Bremen were hit. The industrial action also affected nurseries, rubbish collection services and swimming pools in several German states.

"We want to send a clear signal to employers with these massive strikes," Frank Bsirske, head of Verdi, Germany's biggest labour union for service sector employees, said. "We expect an offer to be made for the third round of talks that is worthy of discussion so we can reach a good solution."

He said the union would escalate the dispute if employers did not present an offer next week. The third round of talks start on April 15.

Verdi has called for a 6 percent pay rise for its 2.3 million public sector employees at the federal and local level. Germany's federal government and municipalities have rejected that, saying such an increase would force them to outsource jobs.

The strikes, which started at 5 a.m. (0300 GMT) were due to run until 6 p.m. (1600 GMT) on Tuesday.

Europe's biggest economy is in robust shape, with record tax revenues and a budget surplus. Rising employment, inflation-busting pay hikes and low borrowing costs are fuelling a consumer-led upswing.

In the industrial sector, 3.9 million workers agreed on a pay and flexible working hours deal in February that amounted to a roughly 4 percent rise per year for 2018 and 2019. Inflation edged up to 1.5 percent in March.

The European Central Bank is keeping a close eye on the German wage negotiations for any sign that wage growth is picking up, potentially lifting inflation and allowing the ECB to start winding down its massive stimulus programme.

Neighbouring France has also faced industrial action in the last few weeks in protests against President Emmanuel Macron's planned reforms.]]>
4/10/2018 11:40:02 AM
<![CDATA[Belgium amb. expresses her love for Egypt by drawing pyramids ]]>



The ambassador wrote on the post: “Egypt invites itself on the beach in Belgium.” It is clear that she invites Belgians to visit Egypt through that drawing.

The ambassador usually publishes posts on her Twitter account show the beauty of Egypt.











On December 19, the Belgian network Broximal Media revealed that Belgium’s travel agencies recorded a 50-percent increase in flight bookings to Egypt since the last summer.

Egypt is considered by Belgian tourists as the second most popular travel destination due to its geographical location, natural sunny weather, historical sites like the Giza Pyramids and high end 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.

]]>
4/10/2018 11:21:18 AM
<![CDATA[Tourists soak up Belfast’s bloody past, 20 years after peace deal]]>
Republican Peadar Whelan is one such guide, having spent 16 years behind bars for trying to kill a British policeman in the late 1970s.

The 60-year-old now earns a living recalling “The Troubles”.

The conflict broke out in 1969 and only ended with the Good Friday Agreement signed 20 years ago on Tuesday but the wounds are far from healed and there are fears now that looming Brexit could upset the peace.

“It was a war here,” said Whelan as he began his tour outside a former school on Falls Road, a majority Catholic street separated from the Protestant community by a “peace wall” — one of dozens of separation barriers in the province.

The brick walls of the now-abandoned building still bear the bullet holes of the Loyalist snipers.

Falls Road was the scene of numerous clashes between Catholic Republicans and Protestant Loyalists and the British army had a surveillance post at the top of the nearby Divis Tower.

“Through the tour we’ll hopefully give you a real sense of the way in which the whole kind of military, colonial, occupying objective of the British army... becomes clear,” Whelan said.

Arriving at a memorial garden for Republican activists and Irish Republican Army (IRA) fighters, Whelan recalled the “volunteers” who fell during the violence, but whom the other side describes as terrorists.

The group of around 10 tourists is then taken to the west of Falls Road, to a large fresco depicting a smiling Bobby Sands, the militant nationalist who died in his cell in 1981 after a 66-day hunger strike.

‘No regrets’

Whelan described the solidarity among Republican prisoners at the time.

“I was 19 years of age, hadn’t a clue,” he explained.

“After three days of torture and abuse ,my door opened and this man (Sands) has given me a bag with biscuits and books and newspapers and some fruit,” he added.

“Somebody just saying ‘you’re not on your own here’.”

The next stop takes in the peace wall that has separated the Catholics of Falls Road from the Protestants of Shankill Road since 1969.

On the other side of the wall, Noel Large continues the tour.

He is the same age and has spent the same time in prison as Whelan, but is from the loyalist camp.

The tattooed former militant, who joined a banned group aged 17, said he “grew up to fear and be suspicious of Catholics”.

As a young man he was involved in murders, attempted murders and robberies.

Large was sentenced to four life sentences, totalling 357 years, following his arrest in 1982.

But he was finally released in 1998 as part of the Good Friday agreement that brought an official end to the violence.

“What I did didn’t change anything, it made things worse,” said Large, now a grandfather.

By contrast, Whelan claimed to have “no regrets”.

“I am who I am, I was who I was,” he added.

The diametrically opposed paths of the two men converged little-by-little as the violence subsided.

Today, they both practise their storytelling skills, taking visitors to neighbourhoods they know by heart.

But Whelan does not see the “peace walls” disappearing any time soon, believing that even though “the war is over”, people remain worried about the return of violence.

“At some point, the walls will go but when... who knows?” he said.

Large agreed, saying: “It’s going to take a couple of generations for people to move beyond and stop thinking of the Troubles”.

One major concern is Brexit, with the future of the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland a key sticking point that some fear could reignite tensions.

“Brexit is the elephant in the room,” said Large. “We don’t know what the implications are.

“No-one wants the return of a hard border,” he added. — AFP]]>
4/9/2018 12:34:59 PM
<![CDATA[Are Egyptian stray animals unfortunate to be in Egypt? ]]>
In 2015, a video of a dog named “Max” being stabbed to death caused uproar, and Al Ahly Club was accused of poisoning stray cats. A year earlier, el-Gezira Club was also accused of another mass cat poisoning. The campaigns have had an impact on public opinion and, perhaps, the judiciary. The three young men who killed "Max" were sentenced to one to three months in prison. The club cases, however, did not lead to a verdict.

The campaigns have also relatively succeeded and helped improve the relationship of Egyptians with animals. Since then, posts on social media promoting mercy towards animals have significantly increased. From posts that ask people to wash empty tuna cans before throwing them away so they do not attract cats and injure their mouths to posts telling people how to feed wild birds, such posts bear large numbers of shares.

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A stray cat drinking water on Imad Al Din Street in Cairo governorate – Egypt Today/Hend Safwat

Erhamo organization, one of the animal rights societies in Egypt, has launched a public awareness campaign on social media, encouraging people to feed stray animals.The initiative called upon the people to bring food and water for the stray dogs, Erhamo organization’s Facebook page admin told Egypt Today in a message. “Some Egyptian volunteers usually bring food and water for stray animals, particularly on Fridays,” the admin said, “when groups of volunteers gather in a certain place to feed its stray animals across Cairo.”

Simultaneously, many people try to raise awareness about animal rights via Facebook by posting some tips and information on ways to help and protect animals. A Facebook user asked people to check under their cars before moving, as kittens or pups usually lie beneath cars.



Some users asked people to put out plastic tubs filled with water to quench animals’ thirst, while others urged donating money or efforts to any animal organization and standing against wrongdoers to stop them from harming animals. These posts are widely shared in ways that were not noticeable perhaps just five years ago.

Local stray dogs prove their intelligence

“The majority of dogs who live in the streets are malnourished and dirty, but if you take care of them, they would be just as pretty and good as any other dogs and sometimes they would be better than other breeds. If you loved stray dogs and took care of them, they would be great, smart, and protect you like any foreign dogs – like German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers and Rottweilers – do,” Mahmoud Atef, a dog trainer said.



Mahmoud had adopted two Egyptian stray puppies, which are called in Egypt “Baladi puppies,” and he let them become accommodated with his other foreign dogs – a Boxweiler dog and a Malinois dog - within his home. Later, he found out that stray dogs are easy to train, socialize with, and that they are able to recognize people’ feelings and orders like other pets and guard dogs.

“Baladi dogs are more alert than other species in recognizing dangers. If someone got closer to my home while all the other dogs are deeply asleep, the Baladi dogs are the first dogs to notice this stranger and they start barking to alert me before my Boxweiler and Maliniois do,” he explained.

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A stray dog sleeps deeply among Egyptians pedestrians – Egypt Today/Hend Safwat

On El-Geish Street, Abbassia in Cairo, there is a man who comes in his car every evening to purchase his newspaper, and bring food for stray cats and dogs. Once the stray animals see him; cats run towards him and dogs wag their tales, expressing their happiness. He has also become somewhat of a celebrity resident of this neighborhood, who spoke to Egypt Today of his love for animals.

“Feed a human for three days and he will forget you in three seconds. Feed a dog for three days and it will remember you forever,” residents who live on El-Geish Street told Egypt Today, referring to the man whose identity is unknown.

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Ali Helal sits among stray dogs during his night shift – Egypt Today/Hend Safwat

Meanwhile, the newspaper seller has apparently been impacted by the unknown man.
“I try to help stray dogs and cats as much as I can, by bringing some food and treating them mercifully,” newspaper salesman, Ali Helal, said.

“Stray dogs are immensely smart. Last month, I fell asleep during my night shift and two thieves tried to rob me. However, two stray dogs called Naema and Shabel, immediately began barking frantically to wake me up,” he explained.

Some Egyptian role models in dealing with animals

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Amr Mohamed feeding stray cats – Egypt Today/Hend Safwat

Mercy doesn’t exist among adults only, but it also exists among children as well.
“I am fascinated by cats,” Amr Mohamed, an 11-year-old boy said.

Everyday Amr feeds stray cats because they cannot always find food for themselves. Amr says he feels like a famous actor when he sees the cats that he feeds run toward him on the street.

Simultaneously, there are some Egyptian role models who try to help stray animals by placing a small bowl filled with water or food in front of their shop or let street cats and dogs sleep peacefully on the street without disturbing them.

Humans should take care of animals and treat them as they treat other people, Nagy Al Shany, a bread seller, said.

“Look at Egyptian stray dogs whilst crossing the road, you will notice that they wait until running cars become slower and when they fail at crossing the road alone, they would wait until they see a human while crossing the road to cross with them.These stray dogs didn’t receive education on traffic safety and no one has taught them how to cross the road,” Nagy added.

“If we compare Egyptian stray dogs with any other dogs such as German Shepherds, you will notice that other dogs cannot cross the road until someone teaches them,” he explained.

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A vegetable salesman kisses his horse – Egypt Today/Hend Safwat

Egyptians’ mercy to animals is not limited to cats and dogs. Villagers in rural areas evidently look after their working animals and farm animals.

“I can’t hurt my donkey, as it is the main source of my livelihood, but I give it a light beating to push it to walk, as I beat up my children to force them to study. Donkeys in general are lazy and they like to stop a lot during work. Furthermore, I make sure my cattle receive a medical checkup every 6 months by bringing a veterinarian to them,” a farmer from a small village at Damietta governorate, who wished not to be named, told Egypt Today.

It would be very hard and difficult to separate a pet owner from his pet, especially when a strong and real relationship is established between them.

Mahmoud Atef, a dog trainer, has further adopted 2 street dogs called Timon and Drogo when they were only 20 days old. Originally he had intended to sell them after training them like his other dogs.

Mahmoud has tried to prove his idea that Egyptian Baladi dogs have the ability to learn and obey orders like foreign dogs. However, a strong bond was established between Mahmoud and his stray dogs, making it very difficult for him to split-up with them.

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Birds flying – Egypt Today/Hend Safwat

Some Egyptians also pay attention to the birds flying above them and try to establish a relationship with them.

At 7:30 a.m. every day, Seif Al Din Mohamed, a student at Cairo University, throws some seeds for birds. Seif’s relationship with these birds began when he started cleaning his birds’ cage, at which point some seeds fell to the ground and attracted wild birds.

“When I forget to put out seeds for the birds, they come knocking on my kitchen window, as if they are asking me about their breakfast. From that moment onwards, I committed myself to feeding these birds regularly,” Seif said.

Why Egyptians avoid abusing animals

Islamic teachings regarding mercy to animals are deeply rooted in the Egyptian psyche. Every Egyptian must have been told in his/her childhood famous hadiths by Prophet Mohamed, when a prostitute entered heaven for quenching the thirst of a dog, and another was punished in hellfire for locking up a cat; neither did she feed the cat nor let it fend for itself.

Egyptians have extraordinary stories which have been passed down from generation to generation for hundreds of years. One of these myths says that evil spirits possess cats.

“Animals are helpless creatures and God commands us to take care of them. If we hurt them, God would punish us. Therefore, I can’t hit animals, especially cats because devils exist in their bodies, so if we hurt them the devils in them would retaliate,” according to Bayoumi Gaber who has been a concierge at El Geish street for more than 20 years.

Other than religious teachings, many Egyptians have heard stories, especially from their parents and grandparents, about men and women who hurt helpless animals and were struck by death or disease soon after. But such stories can almost never be verified by the people who hear them, so they just take a stance on the matter, and act accordingly.
]]>
4/8/2018 4:57:11 PM
<![CDATA[Hope for Mauritanian desert economy as tourists return]]>
For most of the last decade, the spectacular dunes, barren canyons and oases of the Adrar region have been a no-go zone for European nationals.

The danger of terrorist attacks and kidnappings is still real, reflected by Mauritania's decision to join four other countries in fighting jihadism in the Sahel.

But after France eased its assessment of the security risk for the Adrar, a tiny number of French visitors are now returning, stirring hopes for the blighted local economy.

"I missed the Sahara. The colors of the dunes, the wind on the sand, the starry skies," Godin, a retiree from La Rochelle in western France, told AFP.

"When I sleep under the stars in the middle of the camp, I feel like I'm in a cocoon," she said, on a rocky plateau surrounded by acacia trees.

Centuries ago the ancient Mauritanian towns of Chinguetti, Oualata, Tichitt and Wadan were key hubs for the camel caravan trade, which would snake across the Sahara selling gold and salt.

"Ever since I was a kid I was fascinated by the legends of the great caravans," said an awestruck visitor, Guillaume Jordan.

Jihadist blow

Adrar, a region 400 kilometers northeast of the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott, once had a small but thriving excursion business, offering the extremes and the beauty of the desert to European travelers with a taste for adventure.

In the 2000s, the region drew up to 14,000 visitors a year, mainly from France - which, as the former colonial power, has a deep affinity with Mauritania - but also the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Japan and Britain.

But the activity was dealt a crippling blow when four French tourists were shot dead in 2007, an attack claimed by an Al-Qaeda affiliate.

The following year, another local money-spinner, the celebrated Paris-Dakar off-road auto rally, was canceled because of security concerns. The race was later relocated to South America.

The tour business staggered on before all but drying up in 2011 after further jihadist attacks.

The first seeds of hope were sown in March 2017, when the French foreign ministry gave a cautious downgrade of the region's security risk.

It rated the risk as "orange," meaning that travel there is "not advised except for essential reasons."

Encouraged by the change, the French tour company Point-Afrique Voyages, relaunched chartered flights between Paris and Atar, the main regional city, at Christmas - the first to fly this route since 2011.

A total of 14 flights - supported by some 350,000 euros ($422,000) in subsidies by the Mauritanian government - were scheduled until March 24.

"Since the flights to Atar resumed, the figures for people coming by land have also risen," said Mohammed Ba ould Ne, head of Mauritania's National Tourism Office.

Kadi Mehdi, director of Mauritanides Voyages, described 2018 as "a test season" for a revival of European visitors.

The tourism industry's big challenge is to prove the country is safe, he said.

"Dozens of police are constantly patrolling the area. We do not see them, but they are there," said Mehdi.

'Benefits of tourism'

The flights and growing trickle of visitors provide hope to the many guides, camel owners and hoteliers who have been unemployed, many of whom are the economic victims of terrorism.

"We have been at a near standstill for almost a decade. Now that planes are arriving, the city [Chinguetti] is starting to live again," said hostel owner Lemine Bahan.

The trickle-down benefits of tourism should not be under-estimated, said Point-Afrique Voyages director, Maurice Freund.

Mauritania is part of the so-called G5 Sahel group, which also includes Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali and Niger. These countries are setting up a five-nation force to combat extremists.

"Mauritania has made enormous efforts to secure its territory," Freund said.

But "military force will never solve the problems alone," he said.

"Tourism is a tool for peace."
]]>
4/7/2018 1:26:44 PM
<![CDATA[Germany to provide trainers to Egyptian hotel staffer]]>
Muller is currently on a holiday visit to Hurghada. He expressed during the meeting his admiration for the resort city with its wonderful sunny weather as well as the spectacular coral reefs in its sea.

The German minister said he feels safe and secure while moving in Hurghada, noting that he will convey a message of reassurance to the German people about the city as a safe tourist destination.]]>
4/7/2018 11:42:45 AM
<![CDATA[Southeast Asia's idyllic islands buckle under tourism strain]]>
Tourism experts say the region’s infrastructure is buckling under record visitor numbers, especially as more Chinese holiday abroad, and expect more drastic measures to come.

Airports have become chaotic, hotels are being thrown up hastily with little regard for safety and sanitation, tropical beaches are strewn with garbage and coral reefs are dying.

Thailand already has plans to shut its famous Maya Bay in the Phi Phi islands for four months this summer, while an environmental group is calling for urgent government action to tackle a “crisis” on the Indonesian tourist island of Bali.

“Many out-of-control destinations across Asia will need clean-ups,” said Brian King, associate dean of the School of Hotel and Tourism Management at Hong Kong Polytechnic University. “These may come from government, or industry or from NGO-driven community action. The danger is that little happens until the crisis point is reached.”

He added: “Boracay is not the first and won’t be the last closure.”

Airlines have already started to cut back flights to Boracay, which had 2 million visitors last year, with the largest foreign contingents coming from China and South Korea, ahead of its closure on April 26. [nL4N1RI1ZZ]

Screen Shot 2018-04-06 at 7.44.28 PM
FILE PHOTO: Tourists take pictures on the island of Koh Tao September 19, 2014. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom/File Photo

The Philippines, which had record visitor numbers last year after three years of double-digit growth, estimates the Boracay closure could reduce full-year GDP by 0.1 percent.

It is also planning to inspect the beach resort of Puerto Galera, on the island of Mindoro, and is already looking at the resorts of El Nido and Coron, in Palawan province, where an influx of tourism and rapid development has put infrastructure under strain.

But rival tourist hotspots around the region are not all rubbing their hands at the prospect of the extra revenue from the redirected tourist traffic.

Kanokkittika Kritwutikon, the head of the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Phuket office, said the island was at “stretching point”, particularly its airport, which has undergone a number of upgrades in recent years to try to cope with overcapacity.

“Our policy is to try to spread tourism around” from Phuket to “secondary destinations that are less well-known,” said Kanokkittika. “Apart from guests arriving by plane to Phuket we also have boats coming in, including cruises, so you can imagine how many tourists come through Phuket.”

The shutdown of Maya Bay in an attempt to salvage the area’s coral reefs - which have been damaged by crowds of tourists and warmer temperatures - follows the closure of 10 popular Thai diving sites in 2016 after a National Parks survey found bleaching on up to 80 percent of some reefs.

Pattaya, south of Bangkok, serves as another cautionary tale.

An influx of western tourists from as far back as the 1960s, when American soldiers came on leave from the Vietnam war, and a construction boom in the 1990s transformed it from a picturesque fishing village to a town known for its seedy nightlife and high crime rate.

Thailand’s tourism ministry expects 37.55 million tourists this year, up from a record 35 million in 2017, of which 9.8 million were from China.

Screen Shot 2018-04-06 at 7.44.39 PM
FILE PHOTO: Tourists sunbathe on the beach of Thailand's Phi Phi island December 23, 2005. REUTERS/Bazuki Muhammad/File Photo
SHUTDOWNS “TOO LATE”

Benjamin Cassim, a tourism lecturer at Temasek Polytechnic School of Business in Singapore, said the closures of Boracay and Maya Beach could become “test cases” and will be closely monitored by other countries with popular beach resorts.

A non-profit group in Indonesia has been calling on the government to tackle what it calls an “environmental crisis” in Bali, the country’s most popular tourist island, which saw more than 5.5 million visitors last year.

Indonesian authorities have long faced criticism for allowing unplanned developments that have swallowed up rice fields with golf courses and villas on Bali. Its beaches are regularly strewn with plastic washed up from the ocean during certain months of the year.

Nonetheless, President Joko Widodo has been trying to promote creation of 10 “new Balis” in other parts of the scenic Indonesian archipelago.

“Environmental conditions in Bali are now increasingly degraded,” said I Made Juli Untung Pratama of WALHI, the Indonesian Forum for Environment.

“The culprit is the construction of massive tourism accommodation, without a proper regard to Bali’s environment. The massive development of tourism accommodation has caused the environmental crisis in Bali.”

Shutdowns such as the one on Boracay are not a new phenomenon. Back in 2004, Malaysian authorities shut all hotels on the island of Sipadan, known for having some of the best scuba diving in the world, to help protect its eco-system and subsequently restricted tourist numbers to the island.

But some say these extreme actions often come too late, and a more sustainable solution is needed across the region.

“Proactive environmental protection is a far more effective approach than reactive environmental protection,” said Matt Gebbie, an analyst from Horwath HTL Indonesia, a tourism consultancy.

“You can’t revive coral reefs and eroded beaches and degraded forests in six months,” Gebbie said. “Proactive protection is essential for the long term sustainability of resort destinations.”

Reporting by John Geddie and Dewey Sim in SINGAPORE; Neil Jerome Morales and Martin Petty in MANILA; Amy Sawitta Lefevre in BANGKOK; and Cindy Silviana and Tabita Diela in JAKARTA; editing by Philip McClellan
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4/6/2018 7:47:24 PM
<![CDATA[Philippines eyes greener Boracay, but cleanup plan unclear]]>
Authorities have yet to provide much detail beyond that for the planned rehabilitation of Boracay island, which President Rodrigo Duterte recently described as a "cesspool" and ordered closed for six months.

The government says the overhaul is necessary to save the tiny island, which generated over $1 billion last year but cannot cope under the strain of 2 million tourists a year.

Boracay will be closed to tourists from April 26 to pave the way for a cleanup. No budget has been announced for the work.

Some 195 businesses in Boracay were found to be discharging untreated waste water into the sea, resulting in increased concentration of human faeces along the beaches and posing health risks to swimmers.

Duterte ordered the shutdown on Wednesday, and businesses are scrambling to prepare as airlines slash flights to Boracay and try to channel visitors to other holiday islands in the archipelago nation.

The closure reflects the growing pressures on beach resorts across Southeast Asia as visitor numbers surge.

The rehabilitation period for Boracay, however, may go beyond six months, and the cost of making it liveable again had yet to be determined, Environment Undersecretary Jonas Leones told a media briefing.

Authorities have yet to finalise the waste-to-energy plant's capacity which, Leones said, offered a long-term solution to the garbage problem of an island that produces 90 to 115 tonnes of trash a day.

Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said about 1,000 three-wheel taxis and cars in Boracay could be converted into electric vehicles, but details had to be discussed with the energy department.

The environment ministry has issued a "notice of violation" to businesses discharging sewage and has ordered the destruction of more than 900 illegal structures in forest and wetlands.

"The wetlands will be rehabilitated. The forest lands will be recovered and properly taken care of," Cimatu said, appealing for understanding from residents and businessmen.

"This is a short-term sacrifice, this is for their own good," he told reporters.

On the northern tip of the central Panay island, Boracay is home to more than 30,000 people whose livelihoods depend on tourism, directly and indirectly.

One of 7,300 Philippine islands, it hosts 1,800 businesses, including global hotel chains like Shangri-La and Movenpick, and locally listed companies Megaworld Corp and Manila Water Co Inc.

The government's 2 billion pesos ($38.4 million) for a "calamity fund" to help people in Boracay may not be enough to tide residents over for six months, said Jose Clemente, president of the Tourism Congress of the Philippines.

"Something pervasive in the island now is everyone does not know what's going to happen to them. So much uncertainties." he said in an interview with CNN Philippines.]]>
4/6/2018 2:55:18 PM
<![CDATA[Cheers! French chef hails police after stolen wine found]]>
Thieves took 320 bottles of vintage wine from Jean Sulpice's restaurant by picturesque Lake Annecy in the French Alps in February -- just two days after he was awarded two Michelin stars.

The wine, worth a total of 400,000 euros $490,000), was stolen from the cellar of the Auberge du Pere Bise, where clients pay up to 92 euros for a starter, 84 euros for a main course and 210 euros for a tasting menu.

"We have arrested the perpetrators of the burglary, four in number, and their accomplices. Some 250 bottles out of the 320 stolen were found," police told AFP. "The booty was estimated at 400,000 euros."

Sulpice, who won 2018 "cook of the year" in the Gault Millau guide, said in a statement: "After two months of investigations, the cellar of the Auberge du Pere Bise has found part of its historical heritage.

"We would like to warmly thank the Annecy Gendarmerie and more particularly the Research Brigade for its professionalism."

The chef added: "It is thanks to their determination that a century of work has been saved."

The recovered wine included bottles of Chateau Yquem, Domaine de la Romanee Conti, Petrus, Chateau Mouton Rothschild, and Chateau Margaux.]]>
4/6/2018 12:06:09 AM
<![CDATA[In pics: et reviews; Beauty of Nubian culture]]>
The Nubian civilization is undoubtedly an ancient civilization. The Nubians are ancient people who lived with the Pharaohs of Egypt on the banks of the Nile for thousands of years, setting up the civilization that we are still learning from.

Nubian houses

Nubian houses are built of mud bricks as the material is not affected by heat. There must be domes over each house, which distributes the sun's heat inside the house to ensure that heat waves are not vertical, according to Nubian resident Mohamed Farid.

Farid added that the Nubian House is simple in design and inexpensive, spacious and comfortable and has a special delight, and is better than modern housing and buildings. It is also free of diseases because these mud brick are a mixture of clay, sand, water and rice husks or hay, all of which natural materials.

The people of Nubia are keen to draw the Nile, boats and palms over their houses; this goes back to the old Nubian village where houses were built on the banks of the Nile and in front of each house a group of palm; this was all before the construction of the Aswan High Dam.

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Nubia houses in Aswan - Egypt today/ Walaa Ali

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Nubia houses in Aswan - Egypt today/ Walaa Ali

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Nubia houses in Aswan - Egypt today/ Walaa Ali

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Nubia houses in Aswan - Egypt today/ Walaa Ali

To reach the village, one must ride a boat (falouka) – an important means of transportation in Aswan – and one must ride it at least two or three times during the journey. However, riding falouka is different from being on a big ship; it gives one an intense enjoyment of the Nile and its charm.

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Nubia houses in Aswan - Egypt today/ Walaa Ali

Henna Tattos

The village comprises many famous places, like the villa of famous Egyptian singer Mohamed Mounir, known as “the King”, and the famous Cataract Hotel.

In the Nubian Village, there are many things to enjoy such as the view of the Nile and bright houses, camel rides, shops and henna tattoos; villagers always invite visitors for tea, food and even weddings.

Madeha, 49, has been drawing henna tattoos for tourists and visitors for 25 years; she told Egypt today that the most tourists who like henna tattoos are from Spaniards and Italians.

She prepares the natural herbs of the henna with some oils, kneads them and then filters the mixture with a piece of soft cloth to become easy to use.

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Henna tattoos in Nubia/Aswan - Egypt today/ Walaa Ali

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Nubia Shops in Aswan - Egypt today/ Walaa Ali

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Nubia Shops in Aswan - Egypt today/ Walaa Ali

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Statues embodying Nubian life in the Nubian Museum in Aswan - Egypt today/ Walaa ali

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Statues embodying Nubian life in the Nubian Museum in Aswan - Egypt today/ Walaa ali

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Statues embodying Nubian life in the Nubian Museum in Aswan - Egypt today/ Walaa ali

Sunset Moment

One of the most beautiful experiences is having lunch at a Nubian restaurant, where one can enjoy a wide variety of Arabic and Egyptian dishes that are specially delicious and rich in the taste of Nubian spices.

At the end of the day, a beautiful sunset is waiting, which reflects grandeur, magic and beauty; it is a landscape that inspires many people, especially writers and poets.

Finally, the Nubian Village is more than just a beautiful place; it is a vivid depiction of our country’s culture, civilization and beauty.

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Sunset moment in Aswan - Egypt today/Mahmoud Shlieb

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Sunset moment in Aswan - Egypt today/Mahmoud Shlieb
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4/5/2018 12:00:00 PM
<![CDATA[Jupiter, Venus, Waning Gibbous moon to be spotted in Arab skies]]>
In April 2018, Jupiter appears at about 9 p.m. and remains for the rest of the night.

By the end of April, Jupiter will be spotted in the skies of the Arab world after sunset, in preparation for its meeting with the sun on May 9.

Jeddah Astronomy Society also said Venus will be seen towards the eastern horizon after sunset.

Preferred places for star gazing in Egypt include the Katameya and Helwan observatories in Cairo, the Whales Valley in Fayoum, Siwa Oasis, and Sinai due to the lack of pollution and light in said areas.


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4/4/2018 4:29:40 PM
<![CDATA[US band Dangerflow to perform in Cairo, Alexandria in April]]>
The band will be conducting a series of concerts in Cairo and Alexandria, in addition to a free performance at Misr University of Science and Technology on Monday, April 16.

“While in Cairo, the group will conduct workshops with Egyptian musicians and exchange ideas with Egyptian youth on how music can inspire, uplift, and empower communities, and encourage the next generation to make positive choices,” the band explained in a press release.

In Cairo, Dangerflow will collaborate on stage with various Egyptian artists such as Ahmed Sheba, Tarek el Sheikh, Sawarekh and Mai Abdel Aziz. In Alexandria, the band will conduct a concert, and other activities from April 17 to 20.

The group, led by both Angel Ocean and Eric Stinnett, first came to the scene in 2007 and released their first album “Win, Lose or Die” in November 2011. They make sure that each and every song includes an inspiring message.

Recently, the band teamed up with American Music Abroad, AMA, as musical ambassadors to represent the United States in a series of international tours. They have visited about seven countries, and spoken to high school and college students about the life changing power of music. They are planning to do the same in Egypt as well.


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4/4/2018 2:21:00 PM
<![CDATA[SOHO square in Sharm El Sheikh, leading entertainment center]]>
“From fitness to cinema to leisure activities and live performances, everything you want in a holiday is here!” Savoy Group-Sharm El-Sheikh's website describes SOHO square.
The leisure activities at SOHO square include bowling, ice skating, tennis, squash, and billiards.

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Light Installations at SOHO Square - Best Places Egypt Facebook Page

Entertainment centers at SOHO include a dancing fountain, Culturama, kids zone, and a shopping bazaar. Designed in the style of Middle Eastern souq, the bazaar offers an amazing shopping experience.

You can walk around the square without having to pay a penny. The place attracts many visitors who take many pictures while walking and exploring the place. SOHO square opens from 9 a.m. to 3 a.m. and the lighting at night makes it even more special.

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Light Installations at SOHO square - Best Places Egypt Facebook Page

Sharm El Sheikh is located on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt, on the coastal strip of the Red Sea. Sharm El Sheikh is a place where tourists can experience a diverse marine life and admire many of the Red Sea coral reefs, this makes Sharm an attractive spot for divers and eco-tourists.
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4/4/2018 12:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[et reviews Philae Temple: The Legend of the Nile River]]>
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Philae Temple, Mar. 2018 - Egypt Today/Mahmoud Shleib

The Temple previously flooded in 1906, which prompted the officials at the Ministry of Antiquities to gather large parts of the Temple, stone by stone, and transfer them to Agilika Island in 1971, about 500 meters from its original place in Philae Temple. The stones were subsequently transferred back after the construction of the High Dam.

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Philae Temple, Mar. 2018 - Egypt Today/Mahmoud Shlieb

“Philae” translates to "sweetheart” from Greek; however, the temple’s ancient Egyptian and Coptic name is “Belak”, which means “the end” because the Temple was built on Egypt’s last border in the south.

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Philae Temple, Mar. 2018 - Egypt Today/Mahmoud Shlieb

The temple is also called the Temple of Isis because it was built for her as an exile after she fell in love with one of the public, Osiris. Her father refused to allow her to marry him because she was a queen.

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Philae Temple, Mar. 2018 - Egypt Today/Mahmoud Shlieb

Philae Temple was built during the third century BC before the Amenhotep and Arsenofis Temples.

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Philae Temple, Mar. 2018 - Egypt Today/Mahmoud Shlieb

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Philae Temple, Mar. 2018 - Egypt Today/Mahmoud Shlieb

Over the centuries, Philae Temple was used for the worship of the goddess Isis; the practice of worshipping Isis later spread from Egypt to Greece and Rome.

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Philae Temple, Mar. 2018 - Egypt Today/Mahmoud Shlieb

Philae Temple has been witnessing a huge number of Egyptian and foreign tourists in the last period; more than a thousand a day, according to tourist guide Ahmed Mohamed, a tourist guide. Mohamed added that visiting Philae Temple is usually implemented in tourists’ and visitors’ basic programs in Aswan.

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Philae Temple, Mar. 2018 - Egypt Today/Mahmoud Shlieb

Philae Temple displays history and events in a dazzling image via the sound-and-light show; the sound-and-light performances also tell the myth of Isis and Osiris’s Journey.

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Philae Temple, Mar. 2018 - Egypt Today/Mahmoud Shlieb

It is my first and definitely not last visit; truly a wonderful experience. The embrace of ancient Egyptian history, enjoying the food while listening to music and dinning in restaurants perched on the Nile between the stones of the temple is not an experience one would choose to live only once.

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Philae Temple, Mar. 2018 - Egypt Today/Mahmoud Shlieb

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Philae Temple, Mar. 2018 - Egypt Today/Mahmoud Shlieb

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Philae Temple, Mar. 2018 - Egypt Today/Mahmoud Shlieb

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Philae Temple, Mar. 2018 - Egypt Today/Mahmoud Shlieb

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Philae Temple, Mar. 2018 - Egypt Today/Mahmoud Shlieb

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Philae Temple, Mar. 2018 - Egypt Today/Mahmoud Shlieb
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4/3/2018 11:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Profile: Giza governorate celebrates its national day]]>
Giza Governor Mohamed Kamal el-Daly then lit a flame and youth carried it all the way to the martyr’s memorial at Shobak village in the Badrahsen district.

March 31 marks the anniversary of the battle that took place in 1919 between Nazlet el-Shobak's farmers and British occupation troops.

via GIPHY



Visit Giza’s scenes for free on its national day

The governorate coordinated with some ministries to allow the citizens to visit some scenes for free during the day.

Mit Rahina Open Air Museum

Minister of Antiquities Khaled Anany decided to open the Mit Rahina Open Air Museum for free to visitors during the national day of the governorate.

The Memphis Open Air Museum at Mit Rahina is a small diversion between Saqqara and Giza. It has a number of statues tagged as belonging to Ramses II, an alabaster sphinx, pieces of other statues and the colossi of Ramses II. Most of the displayed artifacts seem to be New Kingdom relics.

Mit_Rahina_open_air_museum_-_Statue_of_King_Ramses_II
Statue of King Ramses II - Mit Rahina open air museum – CC via Wikimedia Commons

Mit Rahina has a great significance in representing the civil life of the ancient city Memphis. The archaeological elements of the site include the museum of the colossal statue of King Ramses II, the great temple of the god Ptah and the palace of King Ramses II.

In the garden of the museum compound, there are numerous masterpieces, such as an alabaster sphinx, an inscribed pedestal and a granite sarcophagus.

Giza Zoo

Minister of Agriculture Abdel Moneam el-Banna approved allowing visitors to the zoo for free also. Giza’s governor said that the governorate used to celebrate this day every year with citizens to extend ways of communication between the executives and the citizens of Giza, adding that the zoo is one of the most important facilities in the governorate, which attracts citizens of different ages.

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: FILE – Giza Zoo

The governor added that the heads of Giza’s districts will intensify the work of cleaning and beautification throughout the governorate in order to appear beautiful and clean during the celebration of the National Day.

The Giza Zoo is the biggest animal park in the Middle East, and it was first opened for the public in 1891 during the rule of Khedive Tawfiq.

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File: Giza Zoo

Many kinds of rare and endangered animals and birds live in the park and have successfully bred there.

The Zoological Museum, the first and largest of its kind in the Middle East, is located inside the zoo. It displays mummified animals from all over the region and Africa.

Photo: FILE – Giza Zoo

Major locations in Giza

Giza is very rich in ancient Egyptian monuments. The Saqqarah Stepped Pyramid is an archeological remain in the Saqqara necropolis northwest of the city of Memphis.

The Great Pyramid of Giza, also known as the Pyramid of Khufu or the Pyramid of Cheops, was built by Cheops, second pharaoh of the 3rd Dynasty (2613-2494 B.C.) . It is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

The Sphinx, or the guard of the Kingdom of the Immortal, is a huge rock sculpted in the shape of a lion with a human head.

There is also the Egyptian Sound and Light show that narrates the ancient Devotion history, in addition to several distinguished Pharaonic monuments at Saqqarah, Abu-Sir and Dahshour.

via GIPHY



The Pharaonic Village is an experience like no other in Giza governorate. The instant you begin sailing down the canals that circuit through the island, you are immersed totally in Egyptian history and legend. Everywhere you look, you will find more and more of the sights and sounds of ancient Egypt. It becomes possible to imagine that you have traveled through time to a distant and glorious past.

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The Pharaonic Village - official website

Cairo University is Egypt's premier public university, which was known as the Egyptian University from 1908 to 1940 and King Fuad I University from 1940 to 1952.

On December 21, 1908, a ceremony was held in the presence of statesmen and notables to open the university. The first president of the university was Ahmad Lutfi al-Sayyid .

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Cairo University - Official website

A look at Giza governorate

Giza is one of Greater Cairo’s urban governorates. It is located in the center of the country, bordered in the north by Cairo and extending to 6th October City in the southwest, with a total area of 38,157 square kilometers. The total population is 8,632,021.

It includes a stretch of the west bank of the Nile Valley around Giza and a large stretch of desert, including Bahariya Oasis.

Giza is privileged with plenty of ancient Pharoanic monuments, coming second in abundance of Pharoanic monuments after Luxor.

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4/2/2018 12:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[In pics: et reviews Nubian Museum in Aswan]]>
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Some mummies in the Nubian Museum in Aswan - Egypt today/ Samar Samir

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Some pictures show sinking Nubian archaeological in the Nubian Museum in Aswan - Egypt today/ Walaa Ali

The Nubian Museum, which was established by UNESCO in 1997, protects and showcases artifacts from an ancient Nubian civilization and culture as well as information on Nubia’s history from prehistoric times until now, in addition to the most important Nubian traditions and the ancient Nubian language.

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Archaeological collections in the Nubian Museum in Aswan - Egypt today/ Samar Samir

The museum covers an area of 50,000 square meters, including a huge garden, several artifacts from different eras and various collections of the Egyptian civilization.

The museum consists of three floors: the first floor is below the ground level, and contains stores and workshops; the second floor is a large hall for displaying artifacts, and the third houses a library, a cafeteria, rooms for museum secretaries, photocopying and microfilm rooms.

Walking into this overwhelmingly historical museum, we were met with friendly faces and the upmost of hospitality from the museum staff. Their manner and excitement towards the history took me back to a few hundred years ago, back to when life was much simpler. Leaving the museum later that evening, we felt much happier, more peaceful, like we had walked into a different era… one where simplicity and joy is in control.

We did not expect the museum to have such beauty, calmness and structure. Each side of the museum explains the history of Nubia; you do not need a tour guide with you because every piece in the museum has a full explanation in an excellent educational way. What distinguishes the museum is its allocation to the history of Nubia, a focus that is much deserved and appreciated.

The Museum also explains the history of Nubia from the prehistoric era until now. On a personal level, we learnt a lot of information of the history of Nubia and Egypt during our visit. It is a wonderful place from which you could never tire.

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Archaeological collections in the Nubian Museum in Aswan - Egypt today/ Samar Samir

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Archaeological collections in the Nubian Museum in Aswan - Egypt today/ Samar Samir

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Archaeological collections in the Nubian Museum in Aswan- Egypt today/ Walaa Ali

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Archaeological collections in the Nubian Museum in Aswan- Egypt today/ Walaa Ali

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Statues show Nubian educational life in the Nubian Museum in Aswan - Egypt today/ Walaa Ali

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Some pictures show the Nubian civilization in the Nubian Museum in Aswan - Egypt today/ Walaa Ali
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4/1/2018 11:14:08 AM
<![CDATA[South Korean musicians arrive in Pyongyang for concerts]]>
The 120-member group including top girlband Red Velvet flew from Seoul's Gimpo airport aboard a chartered civilian flight to Pyongyang via the rarely used direct air route between the two Koreas, as a rapprochement on the peninsula gathers pace.

"This performance in Pyongyang will add momentum to inter-Korean exchanges and cooperation that resumed with the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics" in the South, said Culture Minister Do Jong-hwan, who led the group.

They were greeted on arrival at Pyongyang airport by Do's counterpart Pak Chun-nam as well as Hyon Song-wol, founder of the North's popular all-female Moranbong band, the South's Yonhap agency reported.

Under the theme title "Spring is Coming", the South Korean musicians will perform a concert in Pyongyang Sunday before a joint show with North Korean artists at the capital's 12,000-seat Ryugyong Jong Ju Yong Gymnasium on Tuesday.

While in Pyongyang, Do said, he will meet with North Korean officials to discuss further cultural and sports exchanges between the two Koreas that have restarted after a decade-long hiatus.

The two rivals on Friday agreed a date for next month's inter-Korean summit -- the third ever of its kind following 2000 and 2007 meetings -- at Panmunjom truce village on the heavily-fortified border on April 27.

Following the meeting between the North's leader Kim Jong Un and the South's president Moon Jae-in, landmark talks are planned between Kim and US President Donald Trump, which could come by the end of May.

The rapid rapprochement was kicked off by last month's Winter Olympics in the South and comes after a year of heightened tensions over the North's nuclear and missile programmes, which saw Kim and Trump engage in a fiery war of words.

Together with athletes and cheerleaders, the North sent musicians led by Hyon Song Wol to the South to celebrate the Games.

The shows in the North -- the first of which will take place at the 1,500-seat East Pyongyang Grand Theatre on Sunday -- will be taped and edited by a South Korean video crew to be made into a joint TV programme for both countries, Yonhap news agency said.

- 'Love Maze' -

The South Korean musicians taking part include singers and bands from a variety of genres, ranging from traditional folk songs to trendier K-pop, while some 20 taekwondo performers have also travelled.

Among those due to perform are Cho Yong-pil, the influential 68-year-old singer who performed a solo concert in Pyongyang in 2005, and Choi Jin-hee, 61, who took to the stage in the North in 1999, 2002 and 2005.

Her 1984 mega hit "Love Maze" was reported to be late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il's favourite song, and is credited with helping South Korean pop culture gain a following in the socialist state.

Love Maze is often heard playing in Pyongyang restaurants, with its romantic lyrics altered to adulation of their leader.

Members of top K-pop girlband Red Velvet will also perform in Pyongyang, venturing onto stages more traditionally occupied by North Korea's own mega girl group the Moranbong band, who are famous for their fast-paced patriotic songs.

Joy, one of the five members of Red Velvet, will miss the trip to Pyongyang due to her TV drama shooting schedule, their agency SM Entertainment said.

Seohyun, a 26-year-old star from K-pop group Girl's Generation, will act as a master of ceremony for the events in Pyongyang.

She made a surprise appearance alongside a North Korean classical music ensemble during their performance in Seoul last month.

Many North Korean defectors say they have seen South Korean TV dramas and heard K-pop music through blackmarket USB drives in the North despite an official ban on the "decadent capitalist culture".]]>
4/1/2018 12:19:29 AM
<![CDATA["I've never been so happy" - Nobel winner Malala in Pakistan]]>
Visiting her homeland for the first time since a Taliban gunman shot her in the head over her blog advocating girls' education, 20-year-old Yousafzai also contradicted Pakistani critics who accuse her of promoting an ideology at odds with the country's Islamic values.

"I am proud of my religion, and I am proud of my country," she told Reuters in an interview at her hotel on Friday.

Wearing a rose-printed head scarf and flowing tunic and trousers - one of many outfits family and friends brought her from Pakistan to Britain, where she is studying at Oxford University - Yousafzai said she was elated at being home, though she is still waiting for security clearance to visit Swat.

"I had never been so excited for anything. I've never been so happy before," she said.

"I miss everything about Pakistan ... right from the rivers, the mountains, to even the dirty streets and the garbage around our house, and my friends and how we used to have gossip and talk about our school life, to how we used to fight with our neighbours."

She said she has wanted to return before but, aside from security concerns, there was the hectic pace of school and her entry exams to Oxford, where she began studying last year for a degree in politics, philosophy and economics.

NOBEL PRIZE

Yousafzai's journey to becoming the youngest ever Nobel winner began with the local branch of the hardline Taliban movement taking over her hometown in Swat, about 250 km (160 miles) from the capital, Islamabad, in 2007, when she was 9 years old.

The Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) banned television, music and girls' education, and burned about 200 schools, following the example of the 1990s Taliban government in neighbouring Afghanistan, which forcibly excluded women from nearly every aspect of public life.

"I still remember each and every moment, right from the fear while sleeping at night that you might not be alive the next day," Yousafzai said. "The fear that if you are going to school, someone might stop you and throw acid in your face."

Her father was a teacher in a school that educated girls and managed to stay open until early 2009.

After the Pakistani army drove out the Taliban in mid-2009 she became a symbol for girls' education through a blog she wrote for the BBC's Urdu service, which started while the Taliban were still in power, and a documentary "Class Dismissed", that profiled her.

It made her a target. In 2012, a masked gunman boarded her school bus, singled her out and shot her. The Taliban later said it had carried out the attack for her promotion of liberalism.

She was flown to Britain for surgery and has remained abroad since, co-writing a best-selling book "I Am Malala" and starting a foundation advocating girls' education worldwide.

In 2014 she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, along with an Indian activist.

POLARIZING FIGURE

Though she is perhaps the world's best-known Pakistani, Yousafzai - known almost universally as just "Malala" - is polarizing figure at home, beloved by many but reviled by others.

A group of private schools in Pakistan declared Friday to be "I Am Not Malala Day", for what its spokesman described as her "anti-Islam and anti-Pakistan ideology".

That description puzzles Malala.

"I just don't know anything I've said that makes me anti-Pakistan or anti-Islam," she said. "Islam has taught me the importance of peace. Islam has taught me the importance of education. The first word of Islam, or the first word of the Koran, is 'Iqra' which means 'read'."

Government commitment to education was one of the subjects of her meeting on Thursday with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, whose government, along with the army, helped arrange her trip, including providing security.

"We did talk about education and I appreciated what he has done, but I think there is a lot more that needs to be done. The government promised 4 percent of GDP for education but only so far has increased it to 2.7," she said.

Meetings with the prime minister - as well as other world leaders - might seem a far cry from a schoolgirl's life in the Swat Valley, but Malala said some aspects of her life, like attending Oxford, were longtime dreams.

"My initial plan was that I would continue my education, I would continue speaking out for the girls who cannot go to school ... and one day once I finish my secondary education, I will apply to Oxford," she said.

"So it was in my plan ... I did not know that this attack would happen and I would move to the UK, but I wanted to focus on Pakistan and continue to do as much as I could for girls education."]]>
3/31/2018 1:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[Thai bay from ‘The Beach’ to be shuttered for four months]]>
The announcement bolsters an order last month blocking boats from mooring on Maya Bay in a bid to prevent further damage to its coral reefs.

Up to 4,000 tourists and hundreds of boats have been flocking daily to the white-sand beach on Ko Phi Phi Ley, an island whose towering limestone cliffs and azure waters were made famous by the film starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

But the bay will now be off limits to travellers for four months from June and September, which falls during Thailand’s monsoon season, said National Park Office Director Songtham Suksawang.

“We reached a resolution to close Maya for four months to allow the ecological system to rehabilitate,” he told AFP.

The beach’s land entrance will be shuttered while boats will be barred from dropping off passengers, he added.

During the shutdown four universities will conduct a study on how to develop more sustainable forms of tourism, he said.

The closure is the latest effort to mitigate the environmental damage wrought by Thailand’s mammoth tourism industry, a crucial pillar of the economy that brought a record 35 million travellers to the kingdom last year.

Environmental experts and officials have warned that mass tourism is causing irreversible damage to beautiful beaches, with litter and unchecked development disrupting local ecosystems.

Smoking has already been banned on 20 of the country’s most famous beaches this high season, with a fine or even jail for those who flout the new rule.

Leonardo DiCaprio played the lead in The Beach, a Danny Boyle-directed adaptation of Alex Garland’s classic backpacker novel of the same name.]]>
3/30/2018 11:34:34 AM
<![CDATA[Spring out with 'Jaz Collection' offers and deals]]>
“Jaz Collection” is one of the biggest and premier hotel ownership and management chains in the Middle East, currently operating over 45 properties in Egypt, covering all the main vacation spots in the land of mystery.

“Jaz Collection” offers classic holiday experiences in its vibrant, sunny resorts, through its snazzy lifestyle, and fabulous destination and varieties from North to South and East to west.

For those who are seeking indulgence in an exciting holiday with top quality services, where one would enjoy dynamic services, fine dining and true extravaganza in prime & booming holiday destinations, look no further; Jaz Collection hotels and resorts has it all!

This spring, stretch out in the shade on a private beach with helpful staff standing by and a cocktail in reach, or shuffle your feet to a holiday beat, with diving, dancing and discovering Egypt’s exciting cultural, all done the “Jaz” way!
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3/27/2018 4:57:52 PM
<![CDATA[Coyotes, deer, raccoons: Take a walk on New York’s lesser-known wild side]]>
And if New Yorkers are animal friendly, their love of wildlife can be challenged when a coyote gobbles up a house pet, a deer chows through tomato plants or a raccoon strews garbage across the street. Wildlife has been increasing for about 30 years in New York, with its 11,735 hectares of park, where hunting is prohibited and there are few natural predators, says Jason Munshi-South, assistant biology professor at Fordham University. He studied primates in Borneo and elephants in Gabon, but is now an expert on animal life in the US financial capital, North America’s most populous city.

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A gull finds food on the rocks near Orchard Beach in New York. (AFP)

He estimates that thousands of raccoons live in New York -- at least 100 of them in Central Park, together with several thousand deer and 50 nomadic coyotes, mostly in the Bronx, though they sometimes roam elsewhere. When it comes to marine life, seals have basked on the rocks of Pelham Bay in the Bronx, and the occasional whale as come up for air in the waters around Queens. Each spring, the piping plover -- considered in New York and several other US states to be an endangered species -- begins arriving to nest in Rockaway Beach.

Coyote not so ugly

“Even if you haven’t seen a coyote, the coyote has seen you!” park ranger Kayla Mackey, 25, tells a group of residents at the workshop “living with urban coyotes” in a Bronx park on a recent, cold sunny Sunday. Mackey explains there is no reason to fear coyotes, which are difficult to spot because they move quietly at night. It is best to keep your distance and not feed them. If one approaches, she advises people to “act big.” After the briefing, the group embarks on a long walk in search of coyotes, or at least their tracks and droppings.

“Coyotes don’t eat humans. People are not part of their daily diet,” Mackey, binoculars around her neck, tells the accompanying group of children and adults. “We have to give people tools to better coexist with wildlife. If you don’t know there are 2,000 deer in Staten Island and you drive fairly quickly you’re very likely to hit one of those deer,” explains Richard Simon, director of the city’s wildlife unit.

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A pair of Brant geese take off from the water near Orchard Beach. (AFP)

New York set up the unit in late 2016 and has since implemented a program to sterilize about 95 percent of the male Staten Island deer population -- about 1,100 animals according to Simon’s estimate. “When there’s trouble, it’s usually people’s fault, not the animals,” says Munshi-South. “They should be mostly left alone.”

Animals are New Yorkers too

Simon insists that “the city is large enough for both, animals and people.” Sometimes, he says, people call and ask for the animals to be taken “back to nature.” “But there’s no place to take them to. They live here now,” he insists. If someone gets scared when they see a coyote and call 911, the police are obliged to respond. They will try to capture it. Some have been killed. A recent city campaign on mass transit featured photos of wild animals next to the strapline “New Yorker” and also urged people not to hand out food.

“There’s no reason to feed a squirrel a hot dog or a pretzel,” says Simon. Feeding can mean that animals lose their fear of humans. It can also lead to biting. Some raccoons in Central Park can even become aggressive and try to steal food from passers-by. “Some people are surprised, they tell me ‘oh, I thought we only had rats here’,” says Munshi-South. “When we’re doing work in the parks in the summer and it’s very hot and there are a lot of mosquitoes it’s actually not that different from the way you feel” in Borneo, he joked.

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3/27/2018 3:28:54 PM
<![CDATA[309 tourists enjoy hot air balloon rides in Luxor]]>
From the top, tourists will see the Nile River, the temples of Luxor, Karnak, the Luxor museum, Medamud, Esna, Armant, the Mummification museum, Ramesseum temple, Medinet Habu, Valley of Kings and Queens, and other ancient Pharaonic monuments.
Once the balloon starts to fly, it slowly and gradually flies up to approximately 1,000 meters above the ground. The journey runs between the east and west banks of Luxor on 30- to 50-minute trip.

A hot-air balloon flies over the city of Luxor, south of Cairo, Egypt December 13, 2016. Photo by Amr Abdallah DalshReuters
A hot-air balloon flies over the city of Luxor, south of Cairo, Egypt December 13, 2016. Photo by Amr Abdallah DalshReuters

The 15 balloons flew west of Luxor, the world’s first archeological city. The trip started at dawn on Sunday, amid a state of joy that prevailed among the 309 tourists participating in the trip.

Luxor’s hot air balloon rides are among the most famous activities of the city. Tourists from all over the world ride the balloons when they visit the governorate to enjoy the beautiful landscapes and reflect on the ancient Egyptian civilization, where the great monuments can be seen from the sky in addition to the majestic temples and tombs of the great kings.

Hot-air balloons carrying tourists fly over the city of Luxor, south of Cairo, Egypt December 13, 2016. Photo by Amr Abdallah DalshReuters
Hot-air balloons carrying tourists fly over the city of Luxor, south of Cairo, Egypt December 13, 2016. Photo by Amr Abdallah DalshReuters

The hot air balloons help tourists discover Luxor from the top which is considered to be the biggest open museum in the world. The journey shows most of the ancient Egyptian civilization and tourists can enjoy the mesmerizing view and take photos of the historic buildings. The ancient temples and museums of Egypt have been built thousands of years ago on both sides of the Nile River.

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3/26/2018 12:20:00 AM
<![CDATA[Qantas launches first direct flight from Australia to London]]>
The 17-hour flight, operated by a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, will touch down in London at 5.05 a.m., having covered a distance of more than 9,000 miles (14,484 km).

It is the world’s second-longest flight after a Qatar Airways service between Doha and Auckland that covers 9,028 miles (14,529 km), or just 19 miles (31 km) more than the stretch from Perth to London.

The flight marked a “historic day for aviation”, said airline Chief Executive Alan Joyce.

“From today it will be the first link between Australia and Europe that has ever occurred non-stop in aviation,” he told reporters at a launch event. “We are so excited.”

About 730,000 British tourists visit Australia every year and the new service could boost interest in the state of Western Australia, often overlooked in favour of the country’s east coast, said Tourism Minister Steven Ciobo.

“There will be more opportunity than ever before for us to continue to showcase and highlight all the very best parts of Australia, including some of the most magnificent and iconic parts of Western Australia,” he said.

The service was a “game-changer”, said Mena Rawlings, Britain’s high commissioner to Australia.

“To have the opportunity to get on a plane at Heathrow and step out in Perth is just phenomenally exciting and I’m sure we are going to see lots and lots of people taking advantage of that.”

Before the new service, the longest flight to Britain was a journey of 7,275 miles (11,708 km) between Heathrow and Jakarta, operated by Garuda Indonesia, the national carrier.

Qantas plans to introduce non-stop flights from Australia’s east coast to Britain in the next few years.]]>
3/25/2018 1:14:20 PM
<![CDATA[Humanity imperiled by abuse of life-giving Nature: reports]]>
Fish stocks may run out by 2048 and more than half of Africa's bird and mammal species lost by 2100 unless drastic measures are taken, according to four comprehensive reports released in Medellin.

Up to 90 percent of Asia-Pacific corals will suffer "severe degradation" by 2050, while in Europe and Central Asia, almost a third of known marine fish populations, and 42 percent of land animals and plants, are in decline.

"This alarming trend endangers economies, livelihoods, food security and the quality of life of people everywhere," warned the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

Compiled by nearly 600 scientists over three years, the reports underline that nature provides humans with food, clean water, energy, and regulates Earth's climate -- just about everything we need to survive and thrive.

"We're undermining our own future well-being," IPBES chairman Robert Watson said of the findings.

"Biodiversity continues to be lost across all of the regions of the globe. We're losing species, we're degrading ecosystems... if we continue 'business as usual', we will continue to lose biodiversity at increasing rates."

The IPBES assessment divided the world into four: the Americas, Africa, Asia-Pacific, and Europe and Central Asia -- the whole planet except for the Antarctic and the open seas.

Volunteer scientists combed through some 10,000 scientific publications for the most extensive biodiversity survey since 2005.

The findings were summarized in four reports approved by 129-member IPBES' member countries in Colombia. They contain guidelines for governments to make biodiversity-friendlier policies in future.

The texts make for grim reading, and come in the same week that the death of Sudan -- the world's last northern white rhino male -- served as a stark reminder of the stakes.

- Mass extinction will continue -

For the Americas, the survey warned that species populations -- already 31 percent smaller than when the first European settlers arrived -- will have shrunk by about 40 percent by 2050.

An estimated 500,000 square kilometers of African land is estimated to be degraded, it added.

The continent will suffer "significant" plant losses, and its lakes will be 20-30 percent less productive by 2100.

afp-64b0b76043e81d39e423d182e80b93427f1f8fb3

In the European Union, meanwhile, only seven percent of marine species assessed had a "favorable conservation status".

"If we continue the way we are... the sixth mass extinction, the first one ever caused by humans will continue," Watson old AFP.

Scientists say mankind's voracious consumption of biodiversity has unleashed the first mass species die-off since the demise of the dinosaurs -- only the sixth on our planet in half-a-billion years.

- Demand will grow -

In many places, climate change driven by burning fossil fuels for energy was worsening the loss of biodiversity, the reports found.

"This is what we've got to get across to policy makers: we have to look at climate change and biodiversity together," Watson said.

"Climate change affects biodiversity, changes in our natural vegetation affects climate change. And both of them, if we don't do this correctly, will undermine many of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: clean water for everyone, food security for people, energy security, human security, equity."

There are plenty of hurdles.

"Economic growth is going to continue. Population growth is going to continue to 2050, therefore demand for resources will grow," said the IPBES chairman.

Even at best-case-scenario levels, global warming will continue adding to species loss, which will cause further degradation of ecosystems.

But the scientists point to possible solutions: creating more protected areas, restoring degraded zones, and rethinking subsidies that promote unsustainable agriculture.

Governments, businesses, and individuals must consider the impact on biodiversity when taking decisions on farming, fishing, forestry, mining, or infrastructure development.

Different regions will require different solutions, said Watson.

"It's not too late" to halt or even reverse some of the harm, he said.

"Can we stop all of it? No. Can we significantly slow it down? Yes," Watson said.

The IPBES will bring out a fifth report on the global state of soil, fast being degraded through pollution, forest-destruction, mining, and unsustainable farming methods that deplete its nutrients.]]>
3/24/2018 7:50:00 AM
<![CDATA[New Maryland Park ready to welcome back visitors]]>
The park is now full of greeneries, with more than 1,000 new trees planted. The park has also added a dancing fountain that moves with to the rhythm of music; waterfalls; and tracks for people to enjoy walking or running on. There is also 7,000 square meters of entertainment activities underground, including nine cinema halls and an amusement park.

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View from the top - Best Places Egypt Facebook Page

The park’s renovations are to be completed over three phases; so far, only the first phase is done. Entry tickets cost LE 20 ($1.13).

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View from a different angle - Best Places Egypt Facebook Page

The residents of Heliopolis were very excited after they heard that the park had been developed and re-opened, according to the Best Places Egypt Facebook page. They had been concerned about the future of the park when the old trees were cut down.

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View of the park - Best Places Egypt Facebook Page

A Facebook user commented, “I visited the park and it looks amazing. I hope the people and the government take good care of it.”

The park was established in the 1950s. Heliopolis residents bitterly watched as the grass covering the park’s 50 acres almost disappeared and the lake where they used to feed ducks and pelicans was drying up.

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A statue of two farmers and a lamb at the Maryland Park before renovation in March 2015 – Yasmin Mostafa
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3/23/2018 12:20:00 AM
<![CDATA[Missing Austrian tourist found uninjured at Hurghada island]]>
The tourist was on a cruise trip, and was with other tourists on a speedboat before he went missing. He had been kitesurfing and strayed too far from the boat.

Hassan Al-Tayeb, chairman of the Red Sea’s REPS, confirmed in a statement on Wednesday that the Austrian tourist had gone missing while on a speedboat cruise with a group of tourists in Hurghada and that the boat had returned without him. A rescue speedboat from REPS was then notified to look for him.

“The 55-year-old citizen, Weimer Shelvister, went missing north of Hurghada, where the boat in which he was returned without him,” Tayeb added.

The tourist returned back safely to the group of tourists he was with in Hurghada, and was found to be in good health and uninjured.
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3/22/2018 12:37:44 AM
<![CDATA[History of Egypt’s flags, national anthems]]>
Every morning, Egyptian students across the nation stand up straight, facing Egypt’s flag and singing the Egyptian national anthem.

What does the Egyptian flag represent? How many times have the flag and anthem changed? What do the colors and symbols on the flag mean? Who composed the lyrics of the national anthem?

Egyptian flag 1881-1922

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Egypt’s flag 1881-1922 –Wikimedia Commons


The first Egyptian flag was released when Mohamed Ali seized power in Egypt in 1805. It has a red banner with three white crescents and three stars. The three stars and crescents referred to the victory of Mohamed Ali in the three continents of Africa, Asia and Europe, as well as his sovereignty over Egypt, Sudan and Hejaz.

Meanwhile, “Al Salam Al Malaky”, composed by Italian opera composer Giuseppe Verdi in 1869, was the first national anthem, during the era of Khedive Ismail.



Egyptian flag 1922-1953

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Egypt’s flag 1922-1953 –Wikimedia Commons

King Fuad I changed his title from sultan to king when the British recognized Egyptian independence in 1922. Simultaneously, Fuad I issued a royal decree for adopting a new national flag, which consisted of three white stars inside a big white crescent on a green background.

The three stars symbolized Egypt, Nubia and Sudan, while the green background represented Egyptian agriculture. However, other opinions have said the three stars symbolized the people who lived in Egypt: Muslims, Christians and Jews.

“Eslamy Ya Misr”, the anthem from 1923 until 1936, was written by Egyptian poet Mustafa Sadeq al Rafeaie and composed by Safar Ali. It is still being used at the Egyptian Police Academy.



Egyptian flag 1953-1958

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Egypt’s flag 1953-1958 –Wikimedia Commons

After the kingdom was formally abolished on July 18, 1953, the flag of the 1952 revolution became the Egyptian national flag, which consisted of red, white and black stripes. Red represented the struggle against British occupation, white symbolized ending the monarchy without bloodshed, and black referred to the end of the oppression experienced at the hands of the monarchy and British colonizers.

In 1952, Egypt adopted “Nashid Al Huriyya” as its anthem, which was sung by Egyptian singer Mohamed Abdel Wahab and written by Egyptian poet and journalist Kamel el Shennawy.



Egyptian flag 1958-1972

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Egypt’s flag 1958-1972 – Wikimedia Commons

Between 1958- 1961, the United Arab Republic (UAR) was formed by Egypt and Syria – a short lived political union – and a national flag similar to the Egyptian flag of 1953 was adopted, however with some changes. Two green stars representing Egypt and Syria were placed on the flag instead of the eagle of Saladin.

On September 28, 1961, Syria declared independence from Egypt. Despite the breaking of the union, Egypt retained the name of the United Arab Republic until 1971.

“Walla Zaman Ya Selahy” was the national anthem of the United Arab Republic, which was retained as the official anthem of Egypt until 1979, even though the UAR had been disbanded.

The anthem was written by poet Salah Jahine and composed by Kamal al Tawil; it was sung by renowned Egyptian singer Om Kulthum. Furthermore, the melody of “Walla Zaman Ya Selahy” was also used in Iraq from 1965 to 1981, but without the lyrics.



Egyptian flag 1972-1984

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Egypt’s flag 1972-1984 – Wikimedia Commons

On January 1, 1972, Egypt formed the Federation of the Arab Republics along with Syria and Libya. The flag of the federation was similar to the flag of the United Arab Republic, but the two stars were replaced by the golden falcon of Qureish, which was used as an emblem of Arab nationalism.

This alliance lasted for only five years, from 1972 to 1977, but Egypt retained the name and the flag of the Federation of the Arab Republics until 1984.

Egypt's flag 1984-present

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Egypt’s flag 1984-present –Wikimedia Commons

On October 4, 1984, the current Egyptian flag was adopted. The current flag of the Arab Republic of Egypt consists of red, white and black horizontal stripes.

Red represents the sacrifices and blood of Egyptian martyrs, white symbolizes peace, black stands for the dark period of occupation, and the eagle represents strength and power.

“Bilady” is the current Egyptian anthem; it was composed by Mohamed Younis al Qaday and Sayed Darwish. The lyrics of the anthem had been taken from Egyptian lawyer Mustafa Kamel’s speech in 1907.

In 1979, the third president of Egypt, Mohamed Anwar Sadat, entrusted Mohamed Abdel Al Wahab to recompose this anthem.



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3/22/2018 12:20:00 AM
<![CDATA[Mohamed Mounir passes Capital of Arab Culture's torch at Hilton Luxor Resort & Spa]]>
Hilton Luxor Resort & Spa is Egypt’s perfect holiday destination. With a glorious view over the great Nile and the historic city of Luxor, the stylish hotel is located in the village of Karnak on the east bank of the lush Nile River. A short two-minute walk from the ancient Karnak Temple, a 10-minute drive from the center of Luxor and an enjoyable 20-minute ride away from Luxor International Airport, the Hilton Luxor Resort & Spa is the ideal base to explore all the area’s attractions.
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3/21/2018 8:08:06 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt’s ambassador visits Travel and Vacation Show in Canada]]>
The Egyptian pavilion promoted Egypt’s tourist destinations with placards, pamphlets and booklets as part of an effort exerted by the Egyptian state to encourage Canadian tourism to Egypt, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said.

“Egyptian and Canadian visitors praised the Egyptian pavilion,” the ministry added.

Canada’s hosting of the Egyptian pavilion in this show coincided with Egyptian expatriates’ voting in the 2018 Egyptian presidential election that was held abroad March 16-18 in 139 embassies and consulates across 129 counties around the world.

The Ottawa Travel and Vacation Show was held for a period of two days, and over 200 travel exhibits from 50 different countries around the world were represented by their tourist boards or embassies. It also showcased a range of travel and tourism industry products and services, as well as highlighting various kinds of tours and destinations.
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3/21/2018 10:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Put yourself in your mother’s shoes when you buy her gifts]]>
The gifts most Egyptian sons and daughters give do not always coincide with what their mothers want. Therefore, we have asked some mothers about what they want and what they don’t want for mother's day this year.

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Zeinab Abd al-Twab laughs with her husband. The picture was provided by the family.

Zeinab Abdel Tawab, in her early 60s and a housewife, told Egypt Today that she is hoping her two sons will give her a shawl, cardigan or shoes, instead of kitchen tools and appliances such as plates, toasters and kettles.

However, gift preferences change from one mother to another depending on their needs and age.

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Gihane Calache among her family. The picture was provided by the family

“I want my children to get high grades at their schools; this is the best gift they can present to me this year. I do not want anything in life except seeing their success,” Gihane Calache, a mother of two children, said.

The first Mother’s Day was celebrated in Egypt in 1956. This tradition spread to other Arab countries and some people prefer to name it Family Day, as children celebrate both parents not only mothers.

Nowadays many children buy two gifts, one for their mothers and one for their fathers.

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Gamal in Aswan - Picture provided by Gamal.

“Every year we buy two gifts. This year, my sister and I will purchase a scarf and a cloak for our mother as well as a tie and a belt for our father on Family Day,” Gamal Mohamed, 17, said.

Ghada Sheif, who has an extended family of 35 members, lives in the small village of Meit Taher in the Dakahlia governorate, where her family gathers annually to celebrate her on that day. She described Mother’s Day as “exhausting and beautiful,” since she can’t take her usual naps because she has to attend to the large numbers of guests she receives.

On this day, mothers also receive greeting cards and flowers, and many websites offer special greeting text messages for this occasion.

“My sons always buy my gifts when the Mother’s Day discount starts and the quality of most things aren’t good. So I ask them not to buy anything during the discount season, but they often remember Mother’s Day at the last moment. I hope they change their habit this year,” Nagah al-Hadedy explained.

“Boom! Happy Mother’s Day, my daughters usually give me the present after popping a balloon, and I actually hate this kind of joke,” governmental school teacher Naema Atef said.

“Yes, they bring me exactly what I want; like makeup, perfume and shoes,” she said, but she still doesn’t like their “ridiculous jokes,” Naema added.

“I know that I am a troublemaker and I do not usually take my mom’s advice, but on her birthday and on Mother’s Day, I try to obey her as much as I can; I wake up early on these two day and I perform the household chores on her behalf and I buy a present and flowers,” Gamal, a student, explained.

Mother’s Day Celebrations in Egyptian history

The story began when a famous Egyptian journalist Ali Amin received letters from mothers complaining about their children who neglected them when they got old.

In response, Amin suggested in his daily column Idea that Egyptians should celebrate Mother’s Day. The notion was overwhelmingly welcomed and Egyptians started the yearly tradition on March 21, 1956.

It is a common belief that Mother’s Day was originally celebrated in western countries, originating from Greek and Roman spring festivals.

In fact, the first celebration of motherhood occurred in Egypt as a Pharaonic tradition. Ancient Egyptians held an annual festival to honor Isis, one of the most popular goddesses of ancient Egypt, who represented the ideal mother and wife.

Whatever its origin is, Mother's Day is a chance not to be missed to honor mothers and express our gratitude for them.
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3/21/2018 12:50:00 AM
<![CDATA[Air Arabia launches regular flights between Sohag, Jeddah]]>
The first flight on the new route took off from Sohag on Tuesday morning.

The company will operate three flights weekly from Sohag Airport to King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah as part of its plan to expand its operations.

The company launched seven new air routes in 2018.

Air Arabia is the first low-cost aviation company in the Middle East that operates flights to 147 destinations around the world.

The company operates flights in Egypt from Cairo International Airport, Borg el Arab Airport, Assiut Airport and Sohag Airport to Sharjah, Ras al Khaimah, Amman, Riyadh and Jeddah.]]>
3/20/2018 11:42:06 AM
<![CDATA[Agreement signed between EgyptAir Maintenance, Kenya Airways]]>
During the 27th MRO Africa Conference and Exhibition, held in Cairo from March 18 to 20, Minister of Civil Aviation Sherif Fathy and Chairman of EgyptAir Holding Company Safwat Musallam witnessed the signing during their visit to the booth of EgyptAir Holding and its subsidiaries at the exhibition.

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The 27th MRO Africa Conference and Exhibition-Press Photo

The 27th MRO Africa Conference and Exhibition was attended by Minister of Civil Aviation Sherif Fathy; Egypt’s President of the Civil Aviation Authority Hani Al-Adawi; Director of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in the Middle East Mohamed Rahma; Chairman of EgyptAir Holding Company Safwat Musallam; President of the Egyptian Aviation Academy Elias Sadeq; leaders of the civil aviation sector; major manufacturers of aircraft, aircraft engines and spare parts; representatives of African airlines; and suppliers of aircraft spare parts.

Musallam said that EgyptAir Holding Company is studying launching new airlines in Africa to reach all central African airports.

He added that the company is not focused only on airlines, but has also exchanged expertise with other companies and entered new fields in African air transport, referring that Egypt has promoted a trade exchange between Egypt and African countries by making regular cargo flights between Cairo and Juba, South Sudan, as well as to Lagos, Nigeria and N'Djamena, Chad.

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The 27th MRO Africa Conference and Exhibition-Press Photo
Musallam remarked that Egypt has a leading role in the evolution of the aviation industry at African and international levels, confirming that Egypt is keen to meet the requirements of the African market and to harness all its potential to serve Africa and develop the aviation sector, which is the cornerstone of any economic renaissance within the continent.

Minister Fathy said that Egypt has a pivotal role in the field of civil aviation and a growing interest in harnessing all its potential to serve Africa and develop this vital sector.

He also stressed that Egypt is keen to extend its cooperation with African countries and to intensify joint investments with African countries in all fields.

In the same context, Abu-Taleb Tawfik, chairman of EgyptAir Maintenance and Engineering, mentioned that aircraft maintenance across the world is witnessing a remarkable development in addition to the development of aircraft manufacturing technology.

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The 27th MRO Africa Conference and Exhibition-Press Photo

Tawfik added that the MRO Africa Conference and Exhibition provides a good opportunity for the maintenance companies, airlines, and manufacturers of aircraft, parts and engines, and it provides a platform for the development of African investments in this area, as it will expand and develop large-investment industry.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, ICAO Director Rahma said that the aviation industry in the African continent is witnessing great development, which is one of the highest in the world due to the growing investments related to aviation within Africa and the importance of the sector, which attracts huge investments in Africa.

He pointed out to the support given by the United Nations for sustainable development, development programs and several initiatives aimed at serving the aviation sector in Africa.
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3/19/2018 5:21:25 PM
<![CDATA[Portugal’s flourishing tourism becomes economic mainstay]]>
Portugal has long been popular for its beaches, historic sites and golf courses, but tourism has broken records in the past few years after government and businesses looked to the sector as an engine of growth after the 2011-14 debt crisis.

Gloria Guevara, the president of the WTTC, told Reuters Portugal was already in the top five most-visited countries in Europe, and now “they should make sure that they continue as one of the top five”.

Portugal has been spared the bloody attacks seen in neighbouring European countries and benefited as violence and political unrest deter visitors from parts of the eastern Mediterranean and north Africa.

With Portugal starting to muscle into the ranks of Europe’s most popular destinations, Guevara urged the country to adopt measures to avoid problems of so-called overtourism seen in cities including Barcelona.

That includes investment on infrastructure such as potentially a new Lisbon airport.

Portugal’s tourism sector was set to grow further, thanks to a “very rich culture, amazing gastronomy,” and its geographic position with a long coastline and sunny climate.

Price and quality balance

Portugal won the top destination spot in the 2017 World Travel Awards after the number of foreign tourists jumped 12 per cent to 12.7 million. Including domestic tourists, the total is about 21 million.

Guevara said Portugal’s focus on tourism had ensured that travellers and holiday companies had turned to the country, with many new hotels and frequent flights by low-cost carriers.

“It’s (Portugal) competitive. Do I see it as a cheap destination? No I don’t, but I think price is good, they need to maintain the quality,” said Guevara, who is from Mexico.

She added that “if they (Portugal) continue doing what they are doing, another 100,000 jobs will be created,” expanding what has become the country’s largest economic sector.

Unemployment in Portugal is around 8 per cent but the figure is much higher for younger people.

The jobs total should reach 1.15 million by 2028, according to new WTTC estimates provided by Guevara.

The data showed that the total contribution of travel and tourism to Portugal’s GDP reached 17.3 per cent, or €33.5 billion (RM160.8 billion), last year. It is forecast to reach 20.5 per cent of GDP in 2018.

Other main sectors of the economy include construction, textiles and car production.]]>
3/19/2018 12:37:22 PM
<![CDATA[Swedish celebrity’s dream comes true in Egypt]]>
Victoria was born in a family of five in a small village in Northern Sweden. She started firstly as an athletic girl and then she became a word-class member of the Swedish national ski team. She was ranked as the fourth along with her teammates in the Olympics in the Super-Giant Slalom.

With a calamitous injury in her shoulder at the age of 16 she was no more allowed to go for Olympics. She was still a young girl who has never wore high heels, her mother and sister secretly enrolled her into Miss Sweden Beauty Pageant. Because of her overwhelming beauty she became Miss Sweden 1993.

Woke up to this amazing view ... guess what city? #happyfriday

A post shared by Victoria Silvstedt Official (@victoriasilvstedt) on



“A dream come true, finally made it to the Pyramids, definitely once in a lifetime” Victoria encounters on her official instgram account. One of her achievements this year has come true and she finally visits Egypt and the pyramids. She revealed that Egypt is one of the most beautiful countries; she was happy to see the warmness of the sun, as Egypt has its own special beautiful sunny weather.

She was obsessed with her short trip to Egypt and how nice the people were. She mentioned on her official instgram account that Egyptian people doesn’t differentiate between people’s religion and that the pyramids have its special energy.

“Had the most memorable trip to Cairo and the pyramids…The people of Egypt are so warm and welcoming” she added this caption on a photo of her in Egypt.



Sunset hour 🌅 #pyramids #positivevibes

A post shared by Victoria Silvstedt Official (@victoriasilvstedt) on


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3/18/2018 10:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Egypt’s attractions and prices lure Dutch, British, German travelers]]>
Flights to Egypt doubled with Turkish airline Corendon, reported Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad on Tuesday based on figures from the Dutch Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators (ANVR). Holidays are requested at such pace that booking in the high seasons are expected to be sold out by April.

Meanwhile, hoteliers in Spain are planning to lower their prices as British and German tourists have shown higher interest in Egypt, Turkey and Tunisia, the three of which offer much lower prices than Spain, in addition to their much-liked attractions.

Bookings for Egypt have increased by 61 percent, Spanish tour operators were told at the ITB Berlin, the world’s largest tourism trade fair, which lasted from March 7-11, Spanish news website Ultima Hora reported on March 10.

In Germany, Alltours revealed a double-digit sales increase in summer holiday sales with heavy demand on Egypt, Turkey and Greece, according to a March 14 report by FVW, a German tourism magazine.

FTI reported a similar increase driven by sales for the three countries. Schauinsland-Reisen expected a growth in customer numbers of 10 percent in 2018, thanks to the same countries. The tour agency said demand for Egypt increased by 50 percent compared to the same time last year.

Germany’s TUI and Thomas Cook also said there is a “clear” increase in bookings for Egypt.

Egypt devalued its currency in November 2016, giving the dollar and the euro more than a double of their value before the pound. At the same time, Egyptian hoteliers have been reducing their prices to attract more tourists, and the country’s tourism sector have been improving services and expanding beach and cultural attractions along the Red Sea, in Luxor and Aswan and in Cairo.

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3/17/2018 12:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Alexandrian catacombs: A look into Hellenistic past ]]>
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Pillars inside the catacombs – Photo courtesy of Ancient history Facebook page

The Catacombs of Kom el-Shoqafa offers a detailed look into the metropolitan the past of the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. They were one of the Seven Wonders of the Middle Ages.

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Sarcophagus showing Egyptian god and priests offering sacrifices is seen in the photo taken on April 4, 2007 – CC via Wikimedia Commons/Jerrye & Roy Klotz, MD

The necropolis, dating back to the second century AD and expanding through the third and fourth centuries, contains statues and archaeological objects attributed to the Hellenistic era and the early Roman period in Egypt. It was rediscovered in 1900 after a donkey fell into the entrance shaft, although excavation work in the area had begun in 1892.

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Funerary art in the catacombs - Photo courtesy of Ancient history Facebook page

Kom el-Shoqafa, meaning the Mound of Shards in Arabic, was named so because it was covered with broken jars and pots made of clay that were left by people who visited the tombs.

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Frescoes in Tigrane Tomb, Catacombs kom El-Shoqafa seen in a photo taken on Sept. 4, 2017 – CC via Wikimedia Commons/Ibrahim el-Mezayen

Bearded snakes, flying sun disks, crowns representing Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt, are some of the magnificent art that can be seen deep below the ground. The mixture of ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman funerary art in the catacombs is manifested in beautiful harmony.

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Graves in the catacombs on Sept. 7, 2003 – CC via Wikimedia Commons/Ronald Unger

A ticket into the site costs Egyptians LE 35, while Egyptian students are only asked to pay LE 20, according to the Egypt Tourism Authority website. The place is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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3/16/2018 12:30:00 AM
<![CDATA[Egypt hosts 27th Annual African Aviation 'MRO Africa 2018']]>
The conference is expected to witness high turnout, with about 500 participants from 70 African, European and Middle Eastern companies confirming their participation.

MRO Africa 2018 will be attended by Senior Airline, Aviation and Regulatory Officials from all over Africa, as well as by Senior Representatives of MRO Organisations, Supply Companies, Aircraft Manufacturers and International Companies involved in Aircraft and Engine Leasing, Aviation Finance, Aviation Insurance and Airline Support Services.

MRO Africa includes an exhibition co-located with the Conference for leading International and African MRO suppliers to market their products and services.]]>
3/15/2018 1:58:00 PM
<![CDATA[Camel Racing Festival ends in Srabioum desert of Ismailia]]>
Camel Union President Eid Hemdan revealed that nine countries have joined this cycle of the festival, including Saudi Arabia, Jordon, Tunisia, Algeria, Sudan, Eritrea, France and Switzerland.

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Two boys riding their camels during the festival on March 13, 2018 – Mohamed Awad

Hemdan added that some Arab contestants use camels raised by Egyptian tribes, which have ties of kinship with other tribes in neighboring countries.

Camel races are held on a five-kilometer track and the distance of the race is determined according to the age and ability of the camel.

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Children race as part of the festival on March 13, 2018 – Mohamed Awad

Ahmed al-Raidani, a camel care specialist, said that all of the tribes are responsible for taking care of their camels and of protecting the animals well.

Despite the unbearable weather in the desert in Sinai, in Srabioum and in Belbes, People are always trying to establish projects and plantations to cultivate the desert and benefit from the great space they have. Being extremely intelligent in dealing with nature and its resources, the Bedouin tribes have always succeeded in their endeavors.

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A camel during sunset as the festival ends on March 13, 2018 – Mohamed Awad

Tribes gather in four annual camel race events in Sinai, Ismailia, New Valley and Aswan. Each tribe is proud of the camels they have, which can reach an award of LE 500,000 ($28,360) according to the camels' ability to endure, their speed and their age.

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Two Bedouins talking after the end of the festival on March 13, 2018 – Mohamed Awad
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3/15/2018 12:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[LE 235M to protect Alexandria’s Qaitbay Fort from rising sea]]>
Governor Mohamed Sultan said in a youth seminar at Bibliotheca Alexandrina with the slogan “participate, innovate and advance” that the renovation project will kick off in April.

Renovations will mainly focus on the stones on which the fort was built, according to studies issued by the Ministry of Antiquities and the Engineering Center for Archaeology and Environment at Cairo University.

Meanwhile, the Egyptian General Authority for Shores Protection, supervised by the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation, also conducted a number of studies to establish barriers in order to keep the sea waves away from the stone on which the Fort was based.

Qaitbay Fort is one of the most important attractions of Alexandria. It was built on the remains of the Alexandria Lighthouse, which was one of the ancient Seven Wonders of the ancient world.

Holding Down the Fort

CAIRO – 15 September 2017:Walking down the Alexandria Corniche, you can’t help but gaze over to the historical castle that stood witness to the city’s rich history for over 500 years.



The historical castle can be seen from afar along the Alexandria Corniche. It stands witness to five centuries of the city’s long history. Qaitbay Citadel was built in 1477 by Sultan Ashraf Sayf al-Din Qaitbay to guard against Ottoman invasions.

Since the times of the Mamlukes, the citadel has stood the test of time, rising strong as a bastion protecting the old city. Nearby, exactly 15 meters away, lie the sunken monuments, 2,500 archeological pieces dating back to the Ptolemaic dynasty.

Climate change is putting the heritage site in danger, as rising sea levels caused sea water to sweep beneath the northern part of the citadel, while waves hit the upper northern part. The movement of the sea has pulled sands away from the citadel, which threatens the stability of the building.


Additional reporting by Samar Samir
]]>
3/14/2018 1:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Russian tourist gives birth in Dahab’s Red Sea]]>
Social media users were shocked by photos circulating of a young woman lying on the Red Sea beach while giving birth to her baby with the help of a specialist doctor and her husband.

This charming moment was captured by Hadia Hosny El Said’s uncle from their balcony in Dahab.

Hadia said that the lady performed birth exercises in the sea and then gave birth. After giving birth, Hadia recalls that the women walked out of the sea as if nothing had happened.



Water birth is type of birth known to help in reducing the pain of contractions during labor and leaving the woman more relaxed during childbirth. Additionally, the water creates a good environment for the baby, who enjoys the benefit of being born into an environment similar that which it had been in for the past nine months.

Russia's direct air links with Egypt have been suspended since October 2015 after the fall of a Russian charter plane over the Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 people on board.

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

Russia’s Aeroflot announced that it will resume regular flights from Moscow to Cairo on April 11, TASS reported the air carrier as saying Tuesday.

The company began sales of tickets on Tuesday. On Monday, TASS reported that flights between Egypt and Russia are tentatively scheduled to begin in April.

A source close to talks between the two countries told the Russian news agency that Russian Sheremetyevo Airport and Aeroflot airline have signed a service agreement with EgyptAir, the flag carrier airline of Egypt, on providing security services at Cairo Airport.

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A doctor holding the baby standing with the father who was holding the umbilical cord - a photo taken by Haida Hosny


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A Russian mother in the sea after giving birth to her child - a photo taken by Haida Hosny


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The family gathering around the newborn - a photo taken by Haida Hosny
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3/13/2018 9:50:31 PM
<![CDATA[Flights between Moscow, Cairo to resume April 11]]>
The company began sales of tickets on Tuesday. On Monday, TASS reported that flights between Egypt and Russia are tentatively scheduled to begin in April.

A source close to talks between the two countries told the Russian news agency that Russian Sheremetyevo Airport and Aeroflot airline have signed a service agreement with EgyptAir, the flag carrier airline of Egypt, on providing security services at Cairo Airport.

The Russian authorities stated on Saturday that flights between Cairo and Moscow will resume in late March or early April, Sputnik reported.

In October 2015, Russia suspended civilian air traffic to Egypt after a bomb was detonated on a Russian charter plane over Sharm el-Sheikh, killing all 224 people on board. Russia qualified the incident as a terrorist attack.

Since the crash, Egypt has been implementing new, tighter security measures at all of its airports to meet the Russian demands necessary for the resumption of flights, with multiple visits from Russian security delegations to observe changes implemented by the government.
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3/13/2018 12:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Egypt participates in "In Tour Market 2018" in Moscow]]>
"In Tour Market 2018" is one of the most important and biggest tourism exhibition organized by Russia ahead of the summer season, a statement by the Foreign Ministry said Monday.

As many as 1,450 exhibitors are taking part in the event, expected to lure more than 80,000 visitors this year, the statement added.

The Russian media widely covered the Egyptian participation in the fair, it noted.

A number of meetings between the exhibitors and representatives of Russia's Federal Agency for Tourism will be held on the sidelines of the event, according to the statement.]]>
3/12/2018 11:16:54 AM
<![CDATA[Europe's tourist hot spots look for ways to cope with the crowds]]>
They are turning to smartphone apps and car-sharing promotions to try to cope with the overcrowding, which has upset the local population and also the tourists.

Some 9 percent of travellers who took part in a survey by consultancy IPK said that overcrowding affected the quality of their trip last year.

Security concerns over beach destinations inTurkey and a rise in cheap flights have boosted growth in international arrivals to countries like Spain and Croatia to more than 10 percent over the past few years, according to data from the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

"Overcrowded destinations are successful, but there is a thin line between success and failure," Dubrovnik mayor Mato Frankovic told Reuters at the ITB travel trade fair in Berlin.

But rather than trying to limit the number of visitors, who spend money on hotels, meals and souvenirs, the cities are coming up with ways to channel tourist flows away from the most popular attractions.

Dubrovnik aims to launch a smartphone app by the end of 2018 that lets users know when the narrow alleys of the old town are crowded and suggests alternative sights outside the city walls.

It also plans to test a car-sharing scheme to entice tourists to explore the surrounding areas.

Barcelona is working on a joint marketing plan with the region around the city to get tourists to venture beyond the city's most famous sites such as the Sagrada Familia church or the Las Ramblas boulevard.

"Barcelona is small but the destination of Barcelona is beyond the city and has a lot of attributes and attractions," said Barcelona Tourism director Joan Torrella Rene.

Even New York City, across the Atlantic Ocean, has launched a campaign to encourage tourists to explore the boroughs beyond Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty.

It is also trying to lure more visitors during off-peak times in January and February, for instance, with events such as New York Restaurant Week and Broadway Week.

"That really helps give visitors tremendous value and helps us fill the slower periods," Christopher Heywood, a spokesman for New York City's official tourism organisation NYC & Company, told Reuters.

CRUISE CONTROL

The booming cruise industry is one of the biggest challenges for some cities.

In Dubrovnik, multiple cruise ships often disgorge thousands of passengers in one day, making the city's streets noisy and overcrowded.

The city is now trying to stagger the arrival of the ships and eventually to ensure arrivals are spread evenly throughout the week so that there won't be 10 ships coming to port at the same time.

Venice has drawn up new rules requiring big cruise ships to take a less glamorous route to the industrial port of Marghera, rather than passing by St. Mark's Square.

Some travel companies are also playing a role in the battle against overtourism.

Ctrip, China's biggest online travel agency, uses data to predict which destinations may be overcrowded and expensive and then offers customers alternatives that may be in less demand, Chief Executive Jane Jie Sun said.

"Consumers like it because they get the best value from their travel. Hotels like it because they can host all these travellers better. Airlines like it because they are not running to overcapacity on one route and under on another," she said.

Airbnb, criticised for its impact on local housing in popular tourist cities, said it does offer rural properties on its site, often in areas where there are no hotels.

"Tourism is only going to grow and by distributing over a larger surface area, you can minimise the impact," co-founder and chief strategy officer Nathan Blecharczyk said in an interview.

The UNWTO has been working with universities on the problem of overtourism and plans to publish recommendations in a few months on how destinations can cope.

"You need a balance between growth, sustainability and promotion of destinations," UNWTO Secretary General Zurab Pololikashvili said.

Gloria Guevara, president and chief executive of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), said destinations had to plan for the long term and create infrastructure that allowed them to direct tourist flows to stimulate local economies without overburdening hotspots.

"At the end of the day, tourism creates jobs, creates well-being and reduces poverty. But the benefits should be for everybody," she said.

The WTTC and consultancy McKinsey plan to work with six cities to try out various tactics to combat overcrowding.
]]>
3/11/2018 1:51:43 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt, Cyprus, Greece reach cruise tourism agreement]]>
In a meeting held on the sidelines of the IT travel trade fair in Berlin, Mashat and her Cypriot and Greek counterparts, Yiorgos Lakkotrypis and Elena Kountoura, respectively, agreed to form a joint working group to study the newly-reached agreement.

The study will include maritime ports of the three countries to which the cruises will visit, Mashat said.

They also agreed to launch a joint campaign to promote tourism to the three countries, she added, continuing that they will have a joint program for yacht tourism.

Mashat has called for holding a joint ministerial meeting in Cairo to discuss what will be done by the working group.

In June 2017, Egypt and Greece discussed a project of launching cruise lines between the two countries, al-Masry Youm newspaper reported.
]]>
3/10/2018 6:28:49 PM
<![CDATA[Flights between Egypt and Moscow to resume in March ]]>
In October 2015, Russia suspended civilian air traffic to Egypt after a bomb was detonated on a Russian charter plane over Sharm el-Sheikh, killing all 224 people on board. Russia qualified the incident as a terrorist attack.

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

According to Egyptian Civil Aviation Minister Sharif Fathi, Moscow and Cairo will discuss the resumption of charter flights in April, 2018.

"We also agreed to continue our contacts in the spring, around the month of April. We will continue our negotiations regarding the decision on the rest of Egypt's airports," Fathi added.

On December 15, Fathi also travelled to Moscow and met Russian Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov.

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

On December 11, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Egypt for the second time since President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi was sworn into office in May 2014.

The visit showed increasing interest from Moscow to boost cooperation with Egypt after bilateral relations were knocked by the plane crash.

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

The return of Russian flights and tours could be a massive boost to tourist numbers that reached 5.3 million in 2016, compared to 14.7 million visitors in 2010. However, it should be noted that the industry is recovering gradually.

]]>
3/10/2018 2:52:00 PM
<![CDATA[Europe's tourist hot spots look for ways to cope with the crowds]]>
They are turning to smartphone apps and car-sharing promotions to try to cope with the overcrowding, which has upset the local population and also the tourists.

Some 9 percent of travelers who took part in a survey by consultancy IP said that overcrowding affected the quality of their trip last year.

Security concerns over beach destinations in Egypt and Turkey and a rise in cheap flights have boosted growth in international arrivals to countries like Spain and Croatia to more than 10 percent over the past few years, according to data from the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNTO).

“Overcrowded destinations are successful, but there is a thin line between success and failure,” Dubrovnik mayor Mato Frankovic told Reuters at the IT travel trade fair in Berlin.

But rather than trying to limit the number of visitors, who spend money on hotels, meals and souvenirs, the cities are coming up with ways to channel tourist flows away from the most popular attractions.

Dubrovnik aims to launch a smartphone app by the end of 2018 that lets users know when the narrow alleys of the old town are crowded and suggests alternative sights outside the city walls.

It also plans to test a car-sharing scheme to entice tourists to explore the surrounding areas.

Barcelona is working on a joint marketing plan with the region around the city to get tourists to venture beyond the city’s most famous sites such as the Saga Familial church or the Las Rambles boulevard.

“Barcelona is small but the destination of Barcelona is beyond the city and has a lot of attributes and attractions,” said Barcelona Tourism director Joan Tortilla Rene.

Even New York City, across the Atlantic Ocean, has launched a campaign to encourage tourists to explore the boroughs beyond Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty.

It is also trying to lure more visitors during off-peak times in January and February, for instance, with events such as New York Restaurant Week and Broadway Week.

“That really helps give visitors tremendous value and helps us fill the slower periods,” Christopher Heywood, a spokesman for New York City’s official tourism organization NYC & Company, told Reuters.

CRUISE CONTROL

The booming cruise industry is one of the biggest challenges for some cities.

In Dubrovnik, multiple cruise ships often disgorge thousands of passengers in one day, making the city’s streets noisy and overcrowded.

The city is now trying to stagger the arrival of the ships and eventually to ensure arrivals are spread evenly throughout the week so that there won’t be 10 ships coming to port at the same time.

Venice has drawn up new rules requiring big cruise ships to take a less glamorous route to the industrial port of Marghera, rather than passing by St. Mark’s Square.

Some travel companies are also playing a role in the battle against overtourism.

Ctrip, China’s biggest online travel agency, uses data to predict which destinations may be overcrowded and expensive and then offers customers alternatives that may be in less demand, Chief Executive Jane Jie Sun said.

“Consumers like it because they get the best value from their travel. Hotels like it because they can host all these travelers better. Airlines like it because they are not running to overcapacity on one route and under on another,” she said.

Airbnb, criticized for its impact on local housing in popular tourist cities, said it does offer rural properties on its site, often in areas where there are no hotels.

“Tourism is only going to grow and by distributing over a larger surface area, you can minimize the impact,” co-founder and chief strategy officer Nathan Blecharczyk said in an interview.

The UNTO has been working with universities on the problem of overtourism and plans to publish recommendations in a few months on how destinations can cope.

“You need a balance between growth, sustainability and promotion of destinations,” UNTO Secretary General Zurab Pololikashvili said.

Gloria Guevara, president and chief executive of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), said destinations had to plan for the long term and create infrastructure that allowed them to direct tourist flows to stimulate local economies without overburdening hotspots.

“At the end of the day, tourism creates jobs, creates well-being and reduces poverty. But the benefits should be for everybody,” she said.

The WTTC and consultancy McKinsey plan to work with six cities to try out various tactics to combat overcrowding.]]>
3/10/2018 12:17:20 PM
<![CDATA[U.S. fails to keep pace with global tourism boom]]>
While U.S. President Donald Trump maintains that the travel ban blocking visitors from nations including Iran, Libya and Syria is needed to protect the United States from Islamic militants, the bans have raised concerns over America’s image as a welcoming country, with data showing a decline in tourist numbers last year.

International arrivals to the United States were down 4 percent in the first three quarters of 2017, Trump’s first year in office, according to the most recent data available from the United States.

By comparison, international tourism arrivals worldwide in 2017 were up 7 percent, representing the strongest result in seven years, figures from the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) show.

“Politics is not helping us,” said Tilo Krause-Duenow, owner of German tour operator CANUSA, which specializes in trips to North America.

“The potential for the U.S. could be much bigger. Prices have come down due to the currency weakening and we should have seen a much bigger increase in demand,” he told Reuters at the ITB travel fair in Berlin.

German market researcher Gfk says that bookings from Germany to the United States are down 20 percent for the 2018 summer season, though it said this could be down to factors such as last year’s hurricane season and foreign exchange rates as well as the Trump effect.

Flight bookings to the United States fell 2 percent in 2017 and were flat in the first two months of 2018, a report by travel analysis company ForwardKeys showed this week. The report cited a weaker British pound, which makes it more expensive for Britons to travel abroad, and Trump’s travel ban.

America’s hopes of improving its reputation as a foreigner-friendly destination look to have been dented further this week, with Trump’s imposition of steel and aluminum tariffs on Thursday raising fears of an international trade war.

SPENDING POWER
New York had initially predicted a decline in international visitors by 300,000 for 2017 after Trump took office but now expects a smaller decline of about 100,000 to roughly 12.6 million.

“We’re still concerned because it takes the spending power of four domestic travelers to equal the spending power of one international traveler,” said Christopher Heywood, spokesman for New York City’s official tourism organization NYC & Company.

One area of optimism is ForwardKeys data showing that international forward bookings to the United States from within the Americas over the next six months are up 7 percent, but bookings from elsewhere have crept up by only 0.5 percent.

Some travel operators, however, say the concerns are overblown.

Arnaud Devanlay, of Evaneos, a website that offers tailor-made tours, said people had been concerned in the early part of last year but then decided to travel anyway.

“They’re visiting a country, not a government,” he said.

Delta Air Lines’ (DAL.N) sales director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, meanwhile, says that recent weakness in the dollar will help to lift demand.

“People want to go where they get the most for their money, where they feel safe and there’s exciting things to see,” Delta’s Bob Hannah said.

“And Trump’s not going to stop that.”]]>
3/10/2018 12:16:59 PM
<![CDATA[Sharm el-Sheikh, where you can take amazing pictures on the go]]>
1Old Rusting ship, Lara ship, Tiran Island, Sharm El Sheikh on Dec. 3, 2016 - Mohamed Mokhtar

Mohamed Mokhtar is one of the Cairene people who have been living there since 2000. He loves mobile photography so much; he transmits the beauty of Sharm to people who are not able to see it by capturing the beautiful places, landmarks and nature there.

2Marsa Breka, Ras Mohamed National Park, Sharm El Sheikh on Feb. 13, 2017 - Mohamed Mokhtar

When he was asked why he left Cairo and went to Sharm, he said that “Sharm is a totally different city in everything; his time there is not always wasted like in Cairo, he found time to do whatever he likes and this is actually because of the relaxation and beauty that is always around him, there are no traffic jams!”

3Marsa Breka, Ras Mohamed National Park, Sharm El Sheikh on Nov. 6, 2017 - Mohamed Mokhtar

He added, “You can get to work in less than ten minutes, you can go to the church and mosque in anytime as it’s easier than Cairo. People are open minded, no one is allowed to get into your own life, you can live your life as you wish to live it; freely and without restrictions. There is no pollution; the streets are clean and you feel the pureness in everything around you.”

4_(2)Marsa Breka, Ras Mohamed National Park, Sharm El Sheikh in October 2016 - Mohamed Mokhtar

“Living in Sharm makes you feel that you are alive; you are living the life you deserve to live.”

5Hadaba Sharm open beach, famous for snorkeling, in Sharm El Sheikh on Dec. 25, 2016 - Mohamed Mokhtar

6Hadaba Sharm open beach, famous for snorkeling, in Sharm El Sheikh on Dec. 24, 2017 - Mohamed Mokhtar

7Hadaba Sharm open beach, famous for snorkeling, in Sharm El Sheikh on April. 4, 2017 - Mohamed Mokhtar
8Sahaba Mosque, Sharm El Sheikh on Nov. 29, 2016 - Mohamed Mokhtar

9Sahaba Mosque, Sharm El Sheikh on Nov. 29, 2016 - Mohamed Mokhtar

10El-Samaeyeen Church, Sharm El Sheikh in 2016 - Mohamed Mokhtar

11Relaxing Fanar Beach, Sharm El Sheikh on Augt. 5, 2017 - Mohamed Mokhtar
]]>
3/9/2018 9:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Overtourism and the big chill: travel trends in 2018]]>
But as industry professionals descend on Berlin for the ITB fair, the world’s largest travel trade show, the news isn’t all good.

Some of the most popular destinations are becoming victims of their own success, leaving the sector scrambling to respond to concerns about overcrowding and environmental damage.

Here’s a look at the themes expected to dominate this year’s ITB, which started yesterday and runs until Sunday.

Egypt, Tunisia and Turkey all suffered steep drops in visitor arrivals in recent years after a series of terror attacks and bouts of political instability. But a period of relative calm has tempted tourists to set their fears aside and rediscover these classic destinations, lured by the promise of sun, sea and rock-bottom prices.

In Egypt alone, arrivals more than doubled in 2017, according to the World Tourist Organization.

Tunisia, badly shaken by a museum attack and beach shooting in 2015 that together killed 60 people, saw tourist arrivals jump by more than a third last year.

The Palestinian territories are tipped as an up-and-coming destination, while Israel, despite a tense security situation, has seen a spike in bookings following a no-expenses-spared promotion campaign.

Some of this year’s hottest destinations are also the coldest, with growing numbers of holidaymakers prepared to shiver to experience the other-worldliness of Lapland, Greenland or Antarctica, or the breath-taking colour show of the Northern Lights.

Iceland owes its unprecedented tourism boom in part to “Game of Thrones” fans eager to explore the wild landscapes that featured in the television show. In 2017, the country with fewer than 340,000 residents welcomed a staggering 2.5 million visitors.

While the money they bring may be welcome, the hordes of tourists in places like Iceland has sparked a backlash among locals, who complain that their nation’s pristine locations are being overrun.

The grumbles have been even louder in perennially popular places like Barcelona, Amsterdam and Venice, where residents are increasingly fed up with the crowds, the strain on public infrastructure and unaffordable rents as city centre flats become Airbnb holiday lets.

Authorities have started to take notice, vowing measures to curb the influx – and posing fresh challenges to the travel industry.

“So-called overtourism has become a major problem this year,” the IPK International tourism consultancy said in a recent report. “The industry urgently needs to find answers.”

Flexible working hours and jobs that can be performed anywhere with wifi have blurred the lines between travelling for business or leisure.

These so-called “bleisure” travellers, mainly aged 18 to 34, are free to book a beach escape on a whim or tag a few extra days onto a business trip to do some sightseeing – so long as their tech needs are met.

Thailand, determined to tap into these affluent digital nomads, has embarked on a major push to boost its high-speed internet infrastructure, including on its most remote and picturesque islands.

Hotel guests have long been used to the little cards in the bathroom asking them to re-use their towels. But as environmental pressures grow, hotel chains and tour operators are going a step further, bringing eco-friendly travel into the mainstream.

To encourage responsible water use, it is becoming increasingly rare to find large baths in hotel rooms, even in luxury establishments, according to the specialist magazine Travel Weekly.

In drought-hit South Africa, hotels have taken action to reduce their laundry loads by switching to paper napkins and washing the linen less frequently.

In Norway, the government is planning tough new restrictions on cruise ships entering its spectacular fjords in a bid to lower harmful emissions and crack down on pollution.]]>
3/8/2018 12:02:17 PM
<![CDATA[Bulgaria’s skiing boomtown sparks dire nature warnings]]>
But nature lovers are demanding limits to the growth of the bustling resort carved into the majestic pine forests of Pirin National Park, a Unesco World Heritage site since 1983.

The clearance of more than 160 hectares of centuries-old forest to build the ski zone already prompted Unesco in 2010 to remove the area from the World Heritage designation, labelling it a “buffer zone”.

Now a much larger area could come under threat after a government decision in December opened 48 per cent of the park’s 40,000 hectares for construction, sparking weekly protests attended by thousands across the country.

Protestors accuse the government of favouring business interests in a country ranked by watchdog Transparency International as the EU’s most graft-prone, with one huge banner at a recent rally in the capital Sofia reading: “Corruption! Save Pirin”.

But the resort is the area’s biggest employer and locals have responded with their own demonstrations in favour of expansion.

At issue in particular is a plan to build a second ski lift to ease persistent queues at the sole six-person lift, which currently takes 2,200 skiers per hour up to the 75 kilometres of runs.

‘Horrific’ queue

British holidaymaker Carolyn Bennett, 30, is among the skiers who come in droves to Bansko from Britain, Russia and Bulgaria’s Balkan neighbours, attracted by the cheap food and lift passes as well as budget flights.

But even on a supposedly quiet day, she was among scores of people at the foot of the ski lift, where queues form from early morning and waits can last up to three hours.

“Another gondola is going to have a huge impact environmentally but I imagine coming here in peak season, that queue would probably be horrific,” she shrugged in the crammed gondola cabin.

“With a daily lift pass costing €28 (RM136), Bansko is the cheapest resort of its capacity in Europe, and even if our queues have become notorious, people keep pouring in,” Bansko’s marketing chief Ivan Obreykov told AFP.

Daily lift passes at ski resorts in France and Austria typically cost twice as much.

Bansko hosts some 35,000 to 40,000 visitors per month during the winter season. On a busy day, up to 7,000 people could hit the ski lift at the same time in the mornings.

Booming construction in the once quiet town of 9,500 inhabitants has seen its two-storey houses and cobbled streets surrounded by hotels and luxury apartments with space for 18,000 guests.

While ugly concrete skeletons of a number of hotel projects abandoned after the 2008 financial crisis mar the landscape, pressure is mounting to expand both the town and the ski zone.

Trojan horse claim

Obreykov praised the government’s green light for the second ski lift, adding that its construction was the resort’s “first and most pressing task”.

But those opposed to the plan say it is a Trojan horse to cover up previous unauthorised building and encourage even more expansion.

“If they wanted to do just a second gondola, they would not have opened almost half of the territory of Pirin National Park for construction,” WWF’s Konstantin Ivanov said at a rally in Sofia.

“We don’t buy their promises that nothing more will be built there,” he added.

WWF claims the ski zone has already grown to cover 60 percent more territory than initially agreed and points to as yet unapproved plans for huge expansion of the resort.

Obreykov denied the charge, adding that new ski runs could be built only within the current area of the ski zone.

A recent study for the WWF concluded that the resort has already inflicted “irreparable damage” on the reserve, calling for Unesco to inscribe Pirin on its List of World Heritage in Danger if new construction begins.

A report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in November also said the conservation outlook for Pirin National Park — home to bears, chamois and wolves — was of “significant concern” and just one step away from the final “critical” stage.

IUCN also underlined the “threats of disturbance and fragmentation of the site associated with the exclusion of the skiing areas as incompatible with its World Heritage status.”

‘Deepening mistrust’

For economist Petar Ganev, of the Sofia-based Institute for Market Economics, the row is an example of “deepening mistrust in Bulgaria’s institutions”.

On the one hand, Ganev said Bansko is “a positive example of a very poor place which grew into a prosperous resort” and that building a second ski lift could be justified for that reason.

But, he added, suspicions that development is not being regulated fairly will “continue to bring people out on the streets”.

“The problem is not the second gondola but the corruption in the country,” Ganev said.]]>
3/8/2018 11:51:32 AM
<![CDATA[Aviation Ministry takes part in ITB Berlin to support tourism: official]]>
"Our presence is important to ease obstacles and discuss with the German side means to boost bilateral cooperation," Fat'hi told MENA correspondent Wednesday.

He put the number of German tourists visiting Egypt at 1.234 million, adding that "we will work to increase that figure by the end of the current year."

Germany is an important trade partner of Egypt, the minister said.

He made it clear that Egypt comes third among trade partners of Germany in the Arab world and Middle East.

According to Fathi, the phrase "airport security" sends negative message about Egyptian airports, insisting highest security levels are applied.

ITB Berlin kicked off here earlier today and should last until March 11.]]>
3/7/2018 11:58:57 AM
<![CDATA[Portugal leases empty monasteries, forts to boost tourism]]>
But despite being declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2012, Elvas receives few visitors aside from the occasional Spanish day-tripper.

To try to change this, Portugal?s second largest hotel group, Vila Gale, is spending around five million euros ($6.0 million) to convert a former convent into a luxury hotel.

Dozens of builders are working on the 17th-century whitewashed building, last used as a military court, to transform it into an 80-room, four-star hotel that is set to open next year.

"We are convinced that with a quality hotel, tourists will stay in Elvas," said Jorge Rebelo de Almeida, the president of Vila Gale, which was awarded a 40-year lease to operate the state-owned building.

Tourism has become a key driver of Portugal's economy since 2014 when the country exited a three-year 78-billion-euro international bailout that imposed harsh austerity measures on its citizens.

Now, to attract visitors to places not currently on their radar, and help ensure a constant year-round flow of tourists, Portugal's socialist government is leasing abandoned monasteries, forts and other historic sites to private groups to be turned into hotels and other leisure centres.

- Record numbers -

The building is one of 33 abandoned historical sites the government is offering to lease for up to 50 years under a programme dubbed "Revive".

Among the other available sites is a fort in the northwestern town of Caminha that has one of only three wells in the world located at sea.

Another is a sanctuary in Cape Espichel near Lisbon where according to legend there was once an apparition of the Virgin Mary.

"I am convinced that the future of tourism involves hotels with a differentiated offering," added Rebelo de Almeida, whose company posted revenues of 173 million euros last year, a 13 percent jump over 2016 as it benefited from Portugal's tourism boom.

Tourism accounts for 12.5 percent of the country?s economic output and has been growing steadily since 2011, with British, German and French nationals accounting for nearly half of all foreign visitors.

But most tourists from abroad head to the sandy beaches of the Algarve, Portugal?s southernmost province, the capital Lisbon, with its wealth of historical monuments, and the northern Porto region and its nearby terraced hillside vineyards that overlook the Douro river.

And arrivals are concentrated in late spring, summer and autumn, with tourism activity slumping in winter.

"We want to get away from these traditional destinations," Portugal?s secretary of state for tourism, Ana Mendes Godinho, told AFP, before adding the government wanted to "extend this activity throughout the entire year".

Portugal welcomed a record 18.2 million foreign tourists in 2016 and, while official figures for last year have not yet been published, government and tourism sector officials believe the figure was even higher.

- 'Moment of euphoria' -

The country has seen a surge in visitors partly due to security concerns in other popular sunshine holiday destinations, such as Egypt and Turkey.

Portuguese hotels welcomed 20.6 million guests in 2017, an 8.9 percent rise over the previous year, helping the tourism sector to create some 53,000 new jobs.

These results show that "the tourism sector can still grow a great deal in Portugal", said Godinho.

Tourism leaders are optimistic the boom will continue in 2018.

"With the reservations we already have, we predict this year will be better than 2017," said Raul Martins, the president of the Portuguese Hotel Association (AHP), which represents more than 60 percent of the country?s hotels.

Pestana, the country?s biggest hotel group which runs a chain of luxury hotels in historical buildings known as the Pousadas de Portugal, is equally optimistic.

"Portugal is going through a moment of euphoria," said the company?s chief development officer, Jose Roquette.

The company will this year expand its hotel in the heart of the walled city of Obidos, which is crammed with whitewashed houses livened up with dashes of vivid yellow and blue paint, more than doubling the number of its rooms to 47 from 19 to meet strong demand.

"Obidos is today known as the little medieval corner of Portugal," said Nuno Ribeiro, who manages the hotel.

"The efforts to make other cultural destinations in the country have started to pay off," he added.
]]>
3/7/2018 10:54:54 AM
<![CDATA[Beetles face extinction due to loss of old trees]]>
Many saproxylic — literally, “dead wood” — beetles could disappear if remaining old-growth trees are not allowed to decline naturally, according to a report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which maintains the Red List of endangered animals and plants worldwide.

Eighteen percent of the 700 beetle species surveyed were found to be at risk, but the percentage is likely higher because there was not enough data to classify a quarter of those examined.

The 3,000 known species of saproxylic beetles need dead and decaying wood at some point during their life cycles.

The insects also play a crucial role in recycling nutrients, and provide a key food source for birds and mammals. A few are also pollinators.

“Conservation efforts need to focus on long-term strategies to protect old trees across different landscapes in Europe,” said Jane Smart, director of the IUCN’s Global Species Programme.

“This will ensure that the vital ecosystem services provided by these beetles continue.”

The loss of trees across Europe is the main driver of the decline, according to the report, based on research by 80 experts.

The beetles, and other wildlife, are also threatened by urbanisation, the expansion of tourism, and the increased frequency and intensity of wildfires in the Mediterranean region.

The Red List update tagged Stictoleptura erythroptera — which seeks out large trees with deep cavities — as “vulnerable” to extinction.

Another species, Iphthiminus italicus, has declined due to tree farming and wildfires. It was classified as “endangered”, an even more precarious status.

The report calls for integrating conservation strategies into forest management.

“Currently, management practices lead to the transformation of wood pastures into either woodland or grassland, destroying the essential vegetation mosaic many saproxylic beetles need,” said Luc Bas, head of the IUCN’s European office.]]>
3/6/2018 11:28:14 AM
<![CDATA[6 bills, 12 landmarks, statues that made it to Egypt's money]]>
1 – LE 200
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Egyptian seated scribe on the reverse of LE 200 - CC via Wikimedia Commons
Scribe
The scribe who is depicted on the back of the LE 200 note sitting on floor, wearing a black wig and holding a papyrus and a pen was an ancient Egyptian scribe ‘writer’ during the Pharaonic era.

A scribe’s duties ranged from writing letters for town people and recording harvests to supervising the construction of monumental buildings; administrative and economic activities were also authorized by scribes.

Qani-Bay Al-Rammah Mosque
Islamic architecture reached its peak during the Mamluk era. The mosque of Qani-Bay Al-Rammah was designed as one large impressive complex building for various purposes, such as religious, educational, social and funerary purposes. The complex belongs to Qaniby Al-Safi, aka Al-Rammah, who was famous for his horsemanship and spears.

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Qani-Bay Al-Rammah Mosque on the obverse of LE 200 - Beshoy Fayez
The mosque is featured on the LE 200 banknote because of its architectural and historical value. It was established in 1503 AD/ 908 AH on a high hill at the Citadel Square. However, it has been closed since 1992.

2 – LE 100
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The great Sphinx of Giza on the back of LE 100 - CC via Wikimedia Commons
The Great Sphinx
The Great Sphinx is on the LE 100 note, as it is the oldest statue in the Egyptian civilization; it is located next to the Pyramids of Giza, and dates back to the reign of King khafre - fourth king of the Fourth Dynasty. It has a lion’s body and a human head, combining the power of the lion with the wisdom of man. Some experts said that it represents King Khare.

The Mosque and Madrasa of Sultan Hassan

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The Mosque and Madrasa of Sultan Hassan in the front of LE 100 - Beshoy Fayez
The complex of Sultan Hassan is a massive mosque and school located near the citadel in Cairo. Its construction took three years - without a single day of rest - during the Mamluk era, from 1356 to 1359 CE. This mosque is considered a remarkable piece of art for its fantastic size and innovative architectural components. It comprises schools for all the four doctrines of the Sunni school; Syafi'i, Maliki, Hanafi, and Hanbali.

3 – LE 50
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The Temple of Edfu on the reverse of LE 50 - CC via Wikimedia Commons

The Temple of Edfu
The Temple of Horus in Edfu, also known as the Temple of Edfu, is considered to be the best preserved and second largest temple in Egypt after the Karnak temple. Horus’ Temple reflects the traditional Pharaonic architecture, as it was built during the Ptolemaic era from 237 to 57 BC. It was oriented from east-west instead of the current north- south configuration.

Abo Hreba mosque
Abo Hreba Mosque is one of the great archaeological mosques established during the Qajmas Ishaqi era, the Mamluk prince of Circassia. It was built in 885 AH (1480 AD) in Al Darb Al Ahmar Street, near Bab Zuweila. Even though it was established by Seif al-Din Al-Qajmas Ishaqi, it was named Abo Hreba Mosque after Sheikh Abo Hreba who lived and was buried in it.

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Abo Hreba mosque in the front of LE50 -Beshoy Fayez
Subsequently, the Egyptian state had honored this mosque by putting its image on the LE 50 note.

4 - LE 20
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The chariot on the reverse of LE 20 - CC via Wikimedia Commons
The chariot
The chariot is a two-wheeled vehicle that was used in ancient times for racing and fighting and was pulled by a horse or horses. It was introduced to Egypt by the Hyksos invaders in the 16th century BC.

Mosque of Mohamed Ali
Mohamed Ali Mosque is one of the most renowned historical and touristic landmarks in Egypt. It was cemented on the highest point inside the courtyard of the citadel of Salah Al-Din. Its construction began in 1830 until 1848 and it was built in the style of Ottoman mosques in Istanbul.

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Mosque of Mohamed Ali on the observe of LE 20 - CC via Wikimedia Commons
Turkish architect Yousef Boushnaq came from Istanbul to build this great mosque for Mohamed Ali who ruled Egypt from 1805 to 1849. Mohamed Ali was buried in a tomb that he had prepared for himself within the mosque.

5 – LE 10
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Pharaoh Khafre on the back of LE 10 - CC via Wikimedia Commons

Pharaoh Khafre
Khafre was the fourth king of the Fourth Dynasty of Ancient Egypt. The second great pyramid of Giza was built by Khufu’s second son Khafre. He also built the great Sphinx in Giza.

Moreover, Khafre took power after the death of his older brother Diedefrea, but some historians said Khafre murdered his brother to take the throne. Khafre commanded his sculptors to carve the God, Horus, behind his head which means he was representing Horus on earth.

Al Rifai Mosque
Al Rifai Mosque is a symbol of religious tolerance, as it is decorated by Christian crosses.

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Al Rifai mosque in the obverse of LE 10 - Beshoy Fayez
It is one of largest mosques in Cairo, and it is situated in the Citadel Square. It faces the mosque and school of Sultan Hassan; even though the time lapse between them was about 500 years, Al Rifai Mosque is similar to the mosque of Sultan Hassan in magnitude and height.

In 1869, Khushyar Hanim entrusted Husayn Fahmi Pasha to build a large mosque; it was completed in 1912 - about 43 years later. The mosque is almost rectangular in shape and it consists of two sections, the first part is the pray house and the second part consists of the royal tombs and mausoleums.

Khedive Ismail and three of his wives, Sultan Hussein Kamel, King Fouad, his mother Princess Ferial and his son King Farouk, the Shah of Iran as well as Khushyar Hanim were all buried in this mosque before the completion of its construction; thus adding to the mosque's importance.


6- LE 5
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The god of Nile ‘Hapi’ on the reverse of LE 5 - CC via Wikimedia Commons

The god of the Nile ‘Hapi’
Hapi was the ancient Egyptian god of the Nile. During the flood, Egyptians would throw offerings, amulets and other sacrifices into the Nile for Hapi.

He was also god of Upper and Lower Egypt. The LE 5 banknote shows that Hapi gives prosperity for Egyptian people, with the lotus on his head representing the south and the papyrus referring to the north.

Simultaneously, the bar below the currency shows the process of agriculture and milking cows; it refers to the importance of agriculture.

Mosque of Ahmed Ibn Tulun

Is considered the second oldest mosque extant in Egypt that has survived mostly in its original form and it is also the third largest mosque in the world; at over 26,000 square meters, Ahmed Ibn Tulun - founder of the Tuluind state in 869 AD - established this mosque between 876 AD and 879 AD as the capital of the Tuluind state in Egypt in order to accommodate his entire troops during Friday prayers.

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Mosque of Ahmed Ibn Tulun on the obverse of LE 5 - CC via Wikimedia Commons
The mosque located in the Sayeda Zeinab Neighborhood, it was inspired by the mosque of Samarra -I bn Tulun’s homeland in Iraq. The Ibn Tulun mosque is famed for its architecture and unique minaret.
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3/5/2018 12:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[Pakistan aims to revive glory of ancient Mughal city]]>
The painstaking work is part of efforts to preserve Lahore's crumbling architectural history as officials juggle conserving its diverse heritage with building modern infrastructure in Pakistan's chaotic second city.

The metropolis, which once served as the capital of the Mughal empire that stretched across much of the subcontinent, has been subsumed into a myriad of civilisations across the centuries.

This rich past is most visible in the milieu of architecture salted across the Walled City of Lahore – from Hindu temples and Mughal forts to Sikh gurdwaras and administrative office built during the Raj.

Yasin Eken has more.



On par with Samarkand

"You get a history of a thousand years, 500-year-old houses and monuments and mosques, shrines and a very peaceful atmosphere," says Kamran Lashari, director general of the Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA).

Prime among them, and dating back to the 11th century, the Lahore fort was first built of mud and was then later reinforced with stone over the centuries by a long cast of Mughal emperors who oversaw its expansion and the accompanying artwork.

But periods of conflict along with searing heat, monsoon rains and years of neglect have taken a toll on the fort.

Despite the onset of decay, experts suggest the city's vast Islamic architectural heritage could make it a contender to rival more established Silk Road travel destinations.

"Lahore can easily compete with Samarkand. It nearly matches Ispahan," says Sophie Makariou, president of the Parisian-based National Museum of Asian Arts.

Makariou adds that its failure to shine is more to do with safety concerns that have plagued the nation after multiple attacks.

"Due to the bad reputation of Pakistan, it remains unknown," she explains.

Pearl of the Punjab

But as security across Pakistan continues to improve, officials are hoping to revive Lahore's lost glory.

More than 40 conservationists with the WCLA – including engineers, architects and ceramists from across the globe – are currently working on restoring the mosaic mural on the fort's exterior.

"It's one of the largest murals in the world. It contains over 600 tile mosaic panels and frescos," says Emaan Sheikh from the Agha Khan Trust for Culture.

Restoration of the mural is just part of a larger project to refurbish the fort, which includes conservation projects in the royal kitchen, the summer palace and a basement, according to WCLA's director general Kamran Lashari.

Similar work by the WCLA has already been done to revamp the artwork at the historic Wazir Khan mosque and the Shahi Hammam – one of the only surviving Turkish Baths in the subcontinent that is approximately 400 years old.

The city's famed Delhi Gate, which once hosted extravagant Mughal processions arriving in Lahore from the east, has also been fully restored along with dozens of homes in the Walled City.

Many of those involved in the project are optimistic.

"The cities which are most famous for tourism, you can take London, Madrid, Istanbul, Rome, all the prerequisites which are available in those cities, are available in Lahore," claims Ahmer Malik, head of Punjab's tourism corporation, referring to Lahore's architectural and cultural attractions.

But not all are convinced.

Kamil Khan Mumtaz, President of Lahore Conservation Society (LCS), an advocacy organisation promoting preservation projects, says the efforts run the risk of transforming the old city into a "Disneyland" to attract tourists.

"This was a pedestrian's city. A pre-Industrial revolution modelled city. This should be conserved into that original state instead of remodelling buildings," said Mumtaz, who is pushing for the use of traditional construction materials in restoration projects.
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3/4/2018 1:29:35 PM
<![CDATA[Documentaries show independence of US and Egyptian women]]>
“It challenges men; it challenges their ideas of what femininity is, of what being a leader is. I love the conversations I have with men who watch the film and who become inspired by it and who become inspired by all the women in the film,” Bagwell told Egypt Today.

Annie Wang, one of the 11 entrepreneurs showcased in the film, shared a similar opinion in an interview after the screening at the American University in Cairo. Much like all the women in the documentary, she is a successful business leader.

“Even though it’s “Dream, Girl,” it’s for everyone, anyone with a dream…It’s wonderful that women can take the stage and show the world that this is what an entrepreneur looks like,” said Wang, co-founder of Senvol, a database for the additive manufacturing industry.

Indeed, some young men said in the discussion organized by the American Film Showcase following the premier that they were inspired by the featured women to become entrepreneurs and asked Bagwell and Wang for advice on where to start.

A business partner
“Trust is the basis to choosing a partner. That is the foundations of any kind of business relationship… then you’re able to resolve any kind of conflicts… the only way to resolve conflicts is that you have to trust them so much that you’re willing to say I’m willing to give up my idea and go with your idea because I trust your judgment and I trust you, and the other way around,” Wang said.

Bagwell started off on her own to produce her film, but found her business partner in one of the women she chose to feature, Komal Minhas, an Indo-American film producer.

“We need to find people that are truly passionate about whatever the mission is that we’re working on but I think we also need to find people who we can communicate with,” Bagwell remarked.

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1- Erin Bagwell during an interview with Egypt Today at the U.S. embassy in Cairo in December 2017 – Egypt Today/Sherif Ihab

“One of the first things that we did was, like, have a really uncomfortable conversation around money and around what would happen if this happened, and I think you need to be able to have really uncomfortable conversations with people and you need to have honest conversations,” she added.

Where to start
“I don’t believe in making reckless economic decisions without any kind of analysis,” Wang said of quitting a corporate job, adding that taking a job can also teach a person a lot of things.

If someone has multiple project ideas, the best way to find out which of them has the best product market is to sell, according to Wang.

She recommended making a prototype of each idea and testing them with the market, then getting feedback and working on the service a little more. An entrepreneur then should sell his product over and over again until the service really matches the market well.

Administrative steps should follow: register a business bank account and a contract between the business partners, including difficult to discuss items such as what happens in the case of death.


But first, that person should take a look at their family situation, their financial situation, whether or not they have support, emotional and financial support and then make a decision whether they are able to do a startup, Wang recommended.

If the project did not work, that is only part of the experience.

“If in your heart you want to do a startup, it doesn’t mean you have one chance in life. You can try and you can fail and you can try again later in life,” Wang said, noting that the project could be one’s sixth or seventh job.

“Keep that dream alive and find an opportunity to do it,” Wang emphasized.

For Bagwell’s part, she said “I would tell people who may be in a place where they’re feeling persistence or they don’t feel they’re really succeeding: sometimes it takes time. And sometimes the universe I think is giving us lessons and they want us to know something, and we’re not gonna be able to move forward and have success until we learn that.”

“Sometimes it takes failure after failure to harness that idea [of the entrepreneurial project]”… what are you learning from that experience, what are you taking away from that?” Bagwell said.

In charge: to be yourself or to be “compassionate like a woman”
“If we ourselves don’t have role models, we should be willing to be on stage to be the role models that we had always wanted,” Wang said.

She emphasized she wants to see everyone who is given the opportunity to take the stage, be visible and be a role model for someone else. That is why she agreed to appear in the film, not realizing it was going to be widely distributed and that it would bring her to Egypt one day.

Wang is a leader in quite a male-dominated industry. She said in the Q&A session that sometimes in conferences and meetings, people would ask her business partner questions, rather than herself. Even when it is clear she has the analytical data, they still wait for another answer from her business partner.

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Annie Wang – Photo Courtesy of dreamgirlfilm.com

“When I first started in business I really had a hard time because I felt a sense of experience conflict: if I was not nice or demanding or aggressive, it meant that I was not a woman,” she told Egypt Today.

“Then I realized that it was society telling me, society is defining women as nice compassionate not aggressive not demanding… Society defined that for me, I never defined it. I never had any say in what a woman was and was not,” she said.

Wang then advised women not to think whether they are behaving like a man or a woman because that is irrelevant, and to think instead of what the business needs to be successful.

“Colored Dress,” an Egyptian docudrama on female independence
An Egyptian docudrama produced in 2017 also has all-female protagonists. “Colored Dress”, directed by Ehab Moustafa, features 15 middle-class women of most civil statuses who have overcome difficult circumstances to lead independent lives.

“The very definition of the phrase 'an independent woman' needs to be corrected. People do not understand that an independent woman may be married, may be a mother or even a grandmother and is happy with her husband. We have the wrong impression of the phrase ‘independent woman,’” Moustafa told Egypt Today.


Unlike “Dream, Girl”, the Egyptian film is not business oriented, and it attracted a majority of female audiences in its screenings so far, according to Moustafa.

Hana Moussa, one of the featured women, speculates that fewer men than women attended because they do not believe that Egyptian women can really be independent. Independence to her is to be able to “lead a life without a man, be a leader at work, and impact others intellectually, emotionally and financially.”

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Hana Moussa on her desk at a newspaper, July 17, 2017 - YouTube still from “Colored Dress Song,” Ehab Moustafa channel

Only two of the women in “Colored Dress” were married, though others were engaged, in a relationship, widowed or divorced. In “Dream, Girl,” there was clear spousal support in the cases of Bagwell and Wang, otherwise there were no significant roles played by men in the lives of the other entrepreneurs.

To Bagwell, marriage and motherhood are not obstacles; rather, it depends on the romantic partner.

“I think your partner is such a big determinant of what your career is going to look like. And I think sometimes we can have partners that support us, and I think sometimes we can have partners who demand a lot of our time.”


“It’s really important for young women and men to have those conversations… what is your life gonna look like in 10 years… do you wanna have a career, do you wanna have a family?”

Moustafa said marriage and motherhood do not constitute an obstacle to female independence; rather it is cultural heritage that impact all women, single or married, and it is one that the society “does not bother to investigate.”

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Director Ehab Moustafa (front row, middle) with the crew and women of “Colored Dress” – Picture provided by Ehab Moustafa

“When a man realizes that her [his partner’s] success is his, her intelligence is his, her achievement is his, when he realizes that he will enjoy dealing with a successful woman more than suppressing and controlling a woman… that is an abnormal personality… a confident, smart, sophisticated man enjoys that his partner is successful,” Moustafa added.

The Egyptian director was inspired by the women in the film from “the first moment” because his criteria for choosing them are inspiring: middle-class women of ages between 22 and 45 years old and of all social statuses – all independent.

Moussa, who came to Cairo from Alexandria to live on her own and pursue a career in media, complained that Egyptian movies and drama usually show single women as “miserable,” and hopes “Colored Dress” will contribute to changing that notion.

]]>
3/3/2018 12:50:19 PM
<![CDATA[This is why British Amb. in Egypt prefers Cairo to London ]]>

Casson has launched an online campaign with hashtag #reasonstolikeCairo, and from time to time he post a picture for different activities he does in the capital of Egypt, like tasting Egypt’s traditional food, visiting magnificent places or practicing the Egyptian traditions.

The official account for the British ambassador has one million followers. He is very active on social media, and uses the Egyptian colloquial slang normally in posting, which makes it fun for people share and comment.

Video: The British Ambassador in Egypt cooks Fattah in Eid

CAIRO - 2 September 2017: The British ambassador to Egypt John Casson is keen to share Egyptians their food traditions in their especial events and feasts. This time, he posted a video on Twitter in which he is cooking "Fattah", the most famous Egyptian dish in Eid El Adha, an Islamic holy feast.



Mr Casson moved to Cairo from 10 Downing Street where he was the Prime Minister’s Foreign Affairs Private Secretary from 2010 to 2014. His career has had a strong focus on the Arab world, including as Deputy Ambassador in Jordan, as Head of the FCO’s Near East and North Africa Department, and accompanying the Prime Minister on his visit to Egypt in 2011. From 2002-2005 he held the high profile role leading the U.S. political outreach of the British Embassy in Washington, according to the British Government official website.

He has also worked for the UK Representation to the EU in Brussels and as Senior Policy Adviser in HM Treasury. Before entering Government he worked as a Research Assistant at Cambridge University and in the House of Commons. He moved to Cairo with his wife Kathryn Casson, who was Private Secretary to the Development Secretary from 2011 to 2014, The British Government official website mentioned.

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3/3/2018 12:44:45 PM
<![CDATA[4 places you cannot miss while in Siwa]]>
Here are the most wonderful places you cannot miss in Siwa, hopefully they might convince you to take the trip:

1- The salt lakes: the color of the water is enchanting; you can stay there all day doing nothing except staring at the beautiful shimmering surface. You can also swim in the water and because of the high levels of salt, your body floats very easily; just be careful not to get water in your eyes as the salt can irritate them.

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Siwa Salty lake – Best Places Egypt official Facebook page

2- Fitnas Island: the sunset there is breathtaking. The local people there have a special tea unlike any other tea in Egypt, and some of the most delicious dates in the whole country.

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A boat at the coast of Fitnas Island in January 2018 - Egypt Today

3- The Siwa House Museum: it is a museum where you can see the lives of the Siwan people; their way of life, traditions, customs, and even Siwan weddings. The wedding dresses they use are not the traditional white ones, but are more of a “Jalabeya”. A Siwan wedding can last seven days.

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The entrance to the Siwi House - Egypt Today

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A room in the Siwi House in January 2018 - Egypt Today

4- Safari: Don’t ever go all that way and miss the Siwan safari. For thrillseekers, you will enjoy your time in the 4x4 cars which were almost driving vertically. Drivers are a hundred percent professional while driving these vehicles, so you are safe! Once we finished the safari we moved to a desert nearby these dunes which was filled with cans lighted with fire. They made us their special grilled chicken which they had grilled under the sand. We sat in their tent talking about their culture and listening to their traditional songs.

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The safari trip in Siwa - Egypt Today

The simplicity of life in Siwa is like no other place. If you have the chance to travel to Siwa, don’t ever miss it.
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3/2/2018 12:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[Sheikha Hossneya Mosque comes back to life]]>
Shali is a small ancient city in Siwa, which dates back to 1206 A.D. It was constructed to act as a shelter for the oasis and protect it from any entrenchment. It is located 306 kilometers southwest of Marsa Matrouh. Shali means “city” in the old Siwan language.

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FILE- Renovation works at Sheikha Hossneya Mosque in Shali-Egypt Today



Sheikha Hossneya Mosque does not only have a remarkable religious, historical and archeological importance, but it also has social importance, as it was the one and only media center for the desert city, through which news, weddings and deaths were announced. It also serves as a witness to the unity between easterners and westerners.

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FILE- Renovation works at Sheikha Hossneya Mosque in Shali- Egypt Today


The mosque was named after a Moroccan woman with the same name who had passed by the city and donated a sum of money for the construction of the mosque. It dates back to Shali’s creation date.

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FILE - Sheikha Hossneya mosque in Siwa Oasis, Egypt Today


Siwa Oasis is located in western Egypt between the Qattara Depression and the Egyptian Sand Sea in the Western Desert, nearly 50 kilometers east of the Libyan border. It is one of Egypt’s most isolated communities, with a population of about 33,000 people.

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FILE - Sheikha Hossneya mosque in Siwa Oasis, Egypt Today


Its fame lies primarily in its ancient role as the home to an oracle of Ammon, the ruins of which are a popular tourist attraction that gave the oasis its ancient name.

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3/1/2018 10:47:04 AM
<![CDATA[Rock art and mystery: Ancient camel sculptures in Saudi desert]]>
Around a dozen humped sculptures, some of them damaged from erosion and vandalism, are possibly around 2,000 years old and were recently found in a private property along a desert crossing in the northern province of Al-Jouf.

Chiseled on three rocky spurs, the sculptures, which also depict equids, or hoofed mammals, show a level of artistic skill unseen in other rock art forms in the Saudi desert.

They could help unravel the mysteries of ancient life in the Arabian peninsula.

"They are a work of artistry and creativity," Khalifah said, giving AFP a tour of the desolate area in Al-Jouf, now well known in archaeological circles as "the camel site".

Khalifah, part of a Franco-Saudi research team that explored the site in 2016 and 2017, said he accidentally discovered the carvings some years ago when a local friend told him about a "camel-shaped mountain".

"Instead when I visited the area, I found camels were carved in the mountain outcrops. This is truly unique," he said.

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Desolate area in Al-Jouf, now well known in archaeological circles as "the camel site" - AFP

Camels - for centuries venerated as the "ship of the desert" - are a familiar motif in artworks from the kingdom.

But the three dimensional engravings in Al-Jouf, some featuring only part of a camel's body such as the hooves, differ from those discovered at other Saudi sites.

Many are perched high on the outcrops and would have required ropes or scaffolding.

One engraving in particular stands out - a camel facing what appears to be a donkey, mule or horse, animals that have rarely been represented in the region's rock art.

"The three dimensional carvings show great skill in their level of naturalism and their sheer size," Maria Guagnin, from the Germany-based Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, told AFP.

"This may potentially change our understanding of prehistoric population dynamics and cultural traits."

But the site is shrouded in mystery, with little information on who created the carvings or the tools they used.

Khalifah said the closest may be the Nabateans, a nomadic Arab tribe known for founding the city of Petra in modern-day Jordan that was carved out of sandstone desert cliffs.

Rich past

The discovery has shone a spotlight on Saudi Arabia's rich Bedouin heritage. The kingdom is endowed with thousands of examples of painted rock art and ancient inscriptions.

Archaeologists last year used Google Maps to find hundreds of stone "gates" built from rock in a remote Saudi desert, which may date back as far as 7,000 years.

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They also discovered evidence of 46 lakes that used to exist in Saudi Arabia's northern Nefud desert, which experts say has lent credence to the theory that the region swung between periods of desertification and a wetter climate.

The carvings in Al-Jouf may be the most significant recent discovery.

"This is an important scientific discovery which reminds us of the important pre-Islamic history of Saudi Arabia," archaeologist Guillaume Charloux, from France's Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), told AFP.

"I can only hope that it will lead people to discover the variety and richness of the Saudi Arabian past," said Charloux, who led the research team with Khalifah.

The carvings have different styles, which suggests there was more than one artist behind them.

It is possible, archaeologists say, that the Al-Jouf site was one of veneration or on a caravan route used as a resting place or boundary marker.

"My hypothesis today is that the sculptors are local people, and that the site is an emblematic place on the regional and caravan routes towards Mesopotamia," said Charloux.

Unanswered questions

More fieldwork is now needed to find the answers.

Many of the eroded sculptures are hard to date, but archaeologists estimate they were possibly completed in the first centuries BC or AD.

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"If they pre-date the domestication of the camel, then they represent wild specimens who may have been hunted, and a successful hunt may have been vital for the survival of the local human populations," said Guagnin.

For now, Saudi authorities are closely guarding the Al-Jouf site from any treasure hunters, amid local speculation of hidden gold.

The government is also seeking ownership of the site from the local landowner.

Saudi officials who gave AFP the tour pointed out how one of the rocky spurs seen from an angle appears like a human face, with a nose-like protrusion.

Also visible alongside the engravings were painted art forms, which showed human and mythological beings and an object that appeared to look like a chariot.

Khalifah, however, dismissed some of the art as amateurish, "like a child drawing on paper", with no indication whether they came before or after the sculptures.

"There are so many unanswered questions," Khalifah said.]]>
2/28/2018 11:25:57 AM
<![CDATA[Indian-American novelist Akhil Sharma mistaken for Arab by racists]]>
“It felt a bit like being erased. If I were to shout at you and say you’re a fat man, you’d feel sort of frightened at being shouted at. But then you’d think, ‘I’m not a man. I’m not fat. What does this have to do with me?’” Sharma told Egypt Today in an interview after his participation in the Cairo Literature Festival, which ran from February 17-22, 2018.

“So there’s this real sense of erasure, which feels like a type of violence,” Sharma said, excited at answering the question.

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The logo of Cairo Literature Festival 2018

The young Sharma, who immigrated with his family to the U.S. when he was eight, did not think much of what that meant for the Arab community. At 19, he began writing his first published novel, “An Obedient Father”, about a corrupt Indian civil servant based in New Delhi, a world that he knew better at the time.

an obedient father
Akhil Sharma’s “An Obedient Father"

On the character and setting of the novel, he said there was “a huge lag between where you are and what you write about. You write about something that happened five years ago because it takes that long to process and digest.”

“Mohamed is driving his daddy’s car”

Sharma studied public policy and creative writing, and he attempted to become a screenwriter. He attended law school, became a banker, but then went on to be a creative writing assistant professor at Rutgers University-Newark.

Today, Sharma is 47 and lives in New York, where racism is not as open.

“I remember being recently in a street in New York, and seeing a man, an Arab-looking man, driving a Rolls-Royce down a street, and this man standing next to me talking to a friend of his, saying ‘look, Mohamed is driving his daddy’s car,’ which was of course contemptuous and racist,” he recalled.

“I felt very defensive and protective about the man who was being referred to. But when that was occurring when I was young, I didn’t think that. My first thought was of myself,” he continued.


Similarities between Indians and Arabs are not exclusive to the looks, at least in the eyes of racists. Arab and Indian literature exhibit many resemblances.

Sharma compared visuals and introspection rather than thought in Egyptian Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz’s novels to the writings of India’s R.K. Narayan.

Both writers drive their style from 19th century literature, whereas Indian-American literature is tied to the 20th and mid-20th century literature, much like Alaa al-Aswany’s “The Yacoubian Building” in Egypt, Sharma said during the interview inside the U.S. embassy in Cairo.

Other than literature, and although Sharma does not consider he knows Egyptians, he said he feels that many of the same issues that affect Egyptians are affecting Indians.

“Certain issues of politics, even things like living in a hot country… or problems of parking. There are all these ways that are similar, and similar pressures often lead to similar responses,” he explained, smiling.

Having been to Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor and Aswan, Sharma is certain that Egypt can be an attractive destination for Indian tourists, even though they will find similarities.

“Everybody in the world is curious to come to Egypt. I think everybody in the world would like to see the Pyramids… Egypt belongs to its own category; it’s a little bit like the Great Wall of China. It feels like you have not lived your life unless you’ve seen these things.”

Removing sensorium from “Family Life”

One of the things Sharma is proudest of in his acclaimed second novel, “Family Life”, is the fact that he removed elements of sensorium but still managed to keep his readers engaged.

He substituted smell, feel and sounds with humor, internal thoughts and descriptions of feelings. Because there is no causation for events to happen and they occur over time, Sharma decided to “thin out reality so it became easier for the reader to go in and slip out of a scene.”

It took Sharma 12 years to write the semi-autobiography about an Indian boy who immigrated to the U.S. with his family, but a life-changing accident suffered by his brother prevented the family’s full integration into the society.

“I asked for my parents’ permission and my mother said to me, ‘Akhil, just make me look good.’ My dad doesn’t read, nor does he believe that anybody else reads. So for him it wasn’t a big thing that I was writing about our family, and he said, ‘Akhil, if you wanna keep a secret, put it in a book.’”

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Akhil Sharma’s acclaimed novel “Family Life”
Revealing so much about his life in the novel, Sharma said, “As a fiction writer, you’re so used to telling the truth. I tend to be very candid about myself when I’m scared or angry or hurt or petty.”

He won the 2015 Folio Prize and the 2016 International Dublin Literary Award for the novel, but doesn’t think about being awarded in India.

Flashing back to 2001, when he won the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award and Whiting Writers’ Award for “An Obedient Father”, Sharma said he felt “strange” when he was awarded by Hemingway’s only surviving son, because he had heard about the award for a long time.

“It felt embarrassing, because I only knew his father as a writer and I knew that Hemingway had not been an especially good husband and hadn’t been an especially good father. And so, it felt weirdly impolite to meet this man, because I thought so highly of his father, but only for very selfish reasons.”

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2/27/2018 1:31:12 PM
<![CDATA[Danny Glover in Egypt for fourth time]]>
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His last visit was in 2016, when he was one of the judges for the Luxor African Film Festival in its fifth edition.

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The famous star has expressed his great love for Egypt, especially charming Aswan, during a phone interview with Egyptian international channel Nile T.V.

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Danny Lebern Glover is an American actor, film director and political activist. He is well known for his leading role as Roger Murtaugh in the “Lethal Weapon” film series, as well as his roles in “The Color Purple” (1985), “To Sleep with Anger” (1990), “Predator 2” (1990), and “Angels in the Outfield” (1994). He also has prominent supporting roles in “Silverado” (1985), “Witness” (1985), “Saw” (2004), “Shooter” (2007), “2012” (2009), “Death at a Funeral” (2010), “Beyond the Lights” (2014), and “Dirty Grandpa” (2016).


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2/27/2018 12:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[Artist puts Disney characters in beautiful landscapes in Egypt ]]>
The Egyptian Pyramids are the largest constructed monuments in the entire world; 4000 years old, they are one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Egypt also has the Great Sphinx, a mammoth construction which guards the Giza Pyramids.

Disney characters have influenced so many artists who talked, wrote or even painted them. Disney characters are known to bring happiness to people through their happy cartoon faces; if you were to guess the reason for a child’s smile, Disney characters would be a safe bet. Both beautiful places in Egypt and charming paintings of Disney characters have been put together in a collection of photos that were drawn by an Egyptian artist.

“I am Muhammed Salah, a self-taught Egyptian artist and a graduate of the Faculty of Engineering, living in Egypt and enjoying my own planet,” stated Muhammed Salah when describing himself and his art. He uses his artistic touch in his beautiful drawings that combine the

beauty of Egypt and the beauty of Disney characters

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This photo is at the Giza Pyramids, the characters: Beast and Belle from “The Beauty and the Beast.”

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This photo is in Khan El-Khalili, the character: Snow White from “Snow White.”

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This photo is in Daqahlia, the characters: Timon & Pumbaa from “The Lion King.”

timon n pumpa

This photo is in Alexandria, the characters: Tarzan & Jane from “Tarzan.”

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This photo is in Salah El-Din Citadel in Cairo, the character: Tinker Bell from “Peter Pan.”

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This photo is in the Cairo tower, the character: Rapunzel from “Rapunzel.”

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This photo is in Aswan, the character: Moana from “Moana.”

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This photo is in Cairo, the characters: Mowgli and King Louie from “The Jungle Book”.

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2/26/2018 12:20:00 AM
<![CDATA[Wheels come off Gobee.bike hire service in France]]>
"It is with great sadness that we are officially announcing to our community the termination of Gobee.bike service in France on 24 February 2018," the Hong Kong-headquartered service said.

"Over the months of December and January, the mass destruction of our fleet has become the new entertainment of underaged individuals," said Gobee.bike, which had rolled out 2,000 two-wheelers in Paris alone and had some 150,000 users across France.

The company said that "more than a thousand bikes" had been stolen and almost 3,400 damaged nationwide, with almost 300 complaints filed to police and 6,500 repairs needed.

Gobee.bike had already thrown in the towel in the northern cities of Lille and Reims as well as Belgian capital Brussels for the same reason.

The bright green bicycles were located via a smartphone application and hired for 50 cents ($0.6) an hour by swiping a barcode to open the safety lock.

The user, who paid a 15 euro deposit, could then leave the bike anywhere, unlocked.

"It was sad and disappointing to realise that a few individuals could ruin such a beautiful and promising project. We had to come to the conclusion that it could not be viable and there was no other choice for us than shutting down, nationwide," Gobee.bike said.

Gobee.bike and other rivals such as Ofo or Obike had hoped to bag market share after Paris authorities in January threatened sanctions against the new operator of the city's better known Velib system, over a chaotic rollout under a new contractor that left some 300,000 users seething.

The sturdy grey bikes are a familiar sight in the French capital, popular with tourists and commuters alike a decade after the scheme was launched.

But a redesign and partial switchover to electric versions, plus a change of management from French giant JCDecaux to Franco-Spanish upstart Smovengo proved messy.

After weeks of disruption, just 64 docking stations were operational by mid-January out of 1,460 supposed to be up and running by April. Many riders complained the mobile app regularly crashed while calls to customer service went unanswered.

Smovengo blamed the delays on electrical problems and a legal dispute with JCDecaux.]]>
2/25/2018 12:20:04 PM
<![CDATA[Five places where you can show off photography skills]]>
1. Mohammed Ali Palace
The magical buildings of the past and royal era of Egypt will give your photos more regal touch.
Location: Manial District
Cost: LE 300 for weddings and LE 50 for ordinary sessions.
Map: https://goo.gl/8y6JQe

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Inside Mohammed Ali Palace in Manial, Cairo - Best Places Egypt Facebook page

2. Gayer-Anderson Museum:
There’s nothing better than taking your wedding photos amongst the great mix of history and nature that exists in the Gayer-Anderson museum.
Location: Sayeda Zeinab District
Cost: LE 300
Map: https://goo.gl/K9StUo

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Gayer-Anderson Museum from the outside - Best Places Egypt Facebook page

3. Maadi Island:
Location: Maadi District
With the charm of the Nile in the background and the green area around, Maadi island is the perfect choice for a tranquil composition.
Cost: LE 500
Map: https://goo.gl/BrxyRy

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A view inside Maadi Island - Best Places Egypt Facebook page

4. Fagnoun village:
If you want to take a photo with a background of the Egyptian countryside, Fagnoun village is the best example; it will make you feel that you are in a real Egyptian farm with all its small details.
Location: Sakkara Road
Cost: LE 500
Map: https://goo.gl/5LhWL2

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A view inside Fagnoun Village in Giza – Marian Reda

5. Al-Azhar Park:
If you are a lover of green areas, you will definitely like Al-Azhar Park with its huge areas of luscious green grass.
Location: Salah Salem Street
Cost: LE 300
Map: https://goo.gl/ZQFE5Q

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A view inside Al-Azhar Park - Best Places Egypt Facebook page
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2/24/2018 12:20:00 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).

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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



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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.
]]>
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.



]]>
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.

44770-Cover_Photo_-_Luxor_hot_balloons_in_the_early_morning
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.


]]>
2/16/2018 6:22:45 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.
]]>
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.
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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

a

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

a

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

a

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.

_DSC0365
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.

IMG_5499
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.

7b940d67-e13a-4863-974d-2ea649ccd175
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.



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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.

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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.”
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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.
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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.
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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.”

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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