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News - Egypt News

Amwal Al Ghad English - 2014-12-22 09:06:23
The slide of the ruble is keeping Russian tourists away from Egyptian beaches and halting the nascent recovery of a tourism industry already suffering from three years of turmoil, industry insiders say. The demand from Russian vacationers is down 40 percent this December compared with last year as spending a holiday in Egypt becomes more expensive, Ehab Wahdan, general manager of the Egypt office of Moscow-based tour operator Tez Tour, said of his company's business. The worst hit places are Egypt’s Red Sea resorts, the most popular destination for Russian tourists, particularly in the winter months when Egypt offers a warm climate at relatively affordable prices. Russians are the largest single tourist group in Egypt, making up about a fifth of foreign vacationers in the country in the past four years, as well as 60 percent of tourists to the Red Sea, according to official data. “Everyone in the business here is at breaking point,” said Aly Nouh, owner representative at Movenpick in Soma Bay near Hurghada, one of the biggest tourist spots on Egypt's Red Sea coast. “No other nationality can fill the shoes of the Russians; they constitute a clear majority of the tourists in Hurghada.” The ruble lost more than 50 percent of its value this year on the back of declining oil prices and economic sanctions from the West. It currently trades at around 60 to the dollar. Short-lived recovery Egypt’s LE49 billion ($7 billion) tourism industry began recovering in 2014 after plummeting in the second half of 2013 due to the bloody violence that followed the ouster of president Mohamed Morsi. The 2.7 million tourists who visited Egypt between July and September this year generated around $2 billion, a 70 percent increase over the same period last year which saw 1.6 million tourists generating $900 million. Red Sea destinations in particular saw something of a comeback this summer as many European nations lifted warnings against travel to Sinai, imposed following a terrorist attack on a tourist bus in February 2014. But Moscow's economic woes may handicap this recovery. "Our occupancy is down to 25 percent now, if that, and we are charging as low as $32 per person per night," said Sayed Kassem, owner of two hotels in Hurghada. In September, when the ruble was trading between 37 and 39 to the dollar, Kassem says his hotels were still offering double rooms for $60-70 a night, with occupancy of up to 90 percent. The Ministry of Tourism declined to provide Ahram Online with the breakdown of tourist figures in October and November. President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, however, took note of the decline during his visit to Hurghada last week, and tasked the cabinet with finding a solution to encourage Russian tourists to return, Cairo-based daily Al-Masry Al-Youm reported. One in seven Egyptians Employing one in seven Egyptians, tourism is one of Egypt's main sources of foreign currency. According to Central Bank data, tourism generated $9.7 billion in the 2012/13 fiscal year -- almost double the revenues from the Suez Canal. "The sector is dying," Kassem said, citing mounting costs of energy and food, as well as tax hikes on substances like alcohol. Egypt’s government in July issued a spate of fuel and electricity price hikes, along with tax increases, in an attempt to shore up the state’s coffers and tackle a widening deficit. "Our cost per customer is $18-20, and I have to pay over 24 taxes amounting to 22 percent of my profit," Kassem said. "The government is bleeding us dry just when we need the most help," Tez Tour's Wahdan sees no solution but to wait it out. “The ruble needs to stabilise, for people to adapt and make travel plans and budget accordingly.” "Until then," says Wahdan, "all the sector can do is keep the rates low and hope for cold weather in Russia this winter." More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2014-12-22 07:39:36
Revenues from the Suez Canal fell to $442.8 million in November from $482.3 million in October, Egypt's state information website said on Sunday. The fastest shipping route between Europe and Asia is one of Egypt's main sources of foreign currency. A major expansion of the 145-year-old waterway is planned. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2014-12-22 07:30:11
Egypt opened on Sunday the Rafah border crossing with Gaza for the first time in two months, Egyptian and Palestinian officials told Reuters. The Rafah crossing will be open for two days only, on Sunday and Monday, from 9am to 4pm. Palestinian students and patients, as well Palestinians living abroad, will be allowed to cross between Egypt and Gaza. Maher Abu Sabha, the Hamas-appointed director of crossings, said Rafah would be open for two days to allow Gazans with serious illnesses to travel to Egypt and beyond for treatment and to allow foreign nationals and students to travel. An Egyptian official, citing "security reasons," said there was no decision yet to allow the permanent and full opening of the crossing as was the case before 25 October. The Egyptian authorities closed the crossing following the deadly attack on an Egyptian armed forces checkpoint on 25 October when at least 31 army personnel were killed. Sinai-based militant group Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis claimed responsibility for the attack. Egyptian authorities usually close the Rafah crossing following major attacks against its security forces. Hamas leaders have distanced themselves from violence in Egypt and say they have no armed presence in areas outside Palestinian boundaries. Since then, Cairo has opened the crossing only twice to allow thousands of Palestinians stranded in Egypt and beyond to return to Gaza, which is dominated by the Islamist Hamas faction. Egypt’s army has been facing a decade-long jihadist militant insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula, with militant attacks increasing over the past year and expanding into Cairo and the Nile Delta, killing hundreds of army and police personnel. The military has also announced killing and arresting hundreds of militants. Civilians have also been caught up in the violence. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2014-12-22 07:25:57
Qatar has pledged its "full support" to Egypt, an official statement said, ending more than a year of regional isolation over its support for Cairo's ousted Islamist president. "The security of Egypt is important for the security of Qatar... the two countries are linked by deep and fraternal ties," said a statement from the office of the Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani. The statement came a day after Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi met in Cairo with a Qatari envoy. After the meeting with Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdel Rahman Al-Thani, Sisi's office issued a statement saying: "Egypt looks forward to a new era that ends past disagreements." In its statement Sunday, Qatar thanked Saudi Arabia for its mediation in a diplomatic crisis that had seen several Gulf states pull their ambassadors from Doha. Saudi, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain severed ties following Qatar's support for the Muslim Brotherhood after the ouster of Islamist Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi in July last year. Qatar had repeatedly denounced Morsi's removal, and still provides shelter for many Brotherhood leaders, especially those who have been forced to flee a crackdown in Egypt. According to the pan-Arab daily Asharq Al-Awsat, Sisi and Thani are expected in Riyadh soon for a summit hosted by Saudi King Abdullah. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2014-12-22 07:22:20
The interior ministry announced on Sunday that it had killed the members of a "terrorist cell" belonging to Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, a militant group which has carried out the most deadly attacks against Egyptian security forces since militancy spiked in the country in 2013. Police spokesman Hany Abdel-Latif said that security forces discovered an explosive-manufacturing cell in the Nile Delta's Sharqiya governorate and raided the location. The cell members exchanged fire with police forces and were killed, Abdel-Latif said. Abdel-Latif described the cell as including some of the "most dangerous terrorist elements in the country," and said two of them were involved in previous attacks. Egypt’s security forces have been facing a decade-long jihadist militant insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula, with attacks increasing dramatically since the ouster of president Mohamed Morsi in 2013. Some attacks have also been launched in mainland Egypt, including in Cairo and in the Nile Delta. Militant attacks have killed hundreds of military and police personnel since Morsi's ouster. The military has reportedly arrested and killed hundreds of militants in response. Civilians have also been caught up in the violence. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2014-12-21 16:42:37
Egypt opened the Rafah border crossing on Sunday for incoming passengers from the Gaza Strip for the first time in almost two months, Palestinian and Egyptian officials said. Rafah is the only major crossing between impoverished Gaza, home to 1.8 million Palestinians, and the outside world that does not border Israel, which blockades the strip and allows passage mainly on humanitarian grounds. Egypt shut the crossing on October 25 after Islamist militants in Egypt's adjacent Sinai region killed 33 members of its security forces in some of the worst anti-state violence since Islamist president Mohamed Morsi was toppled in July 2013. Since then, Cairo has opened the crossing only twice to allow thousands of Palestinians stranded in Egypt and beyond to return to Gaza, which is dominated by the Islamist Hamas faction. Hamas has long had ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, which was ousted from power in Egypt when Morsi was overthrown, but its relations with the current Egyptian government are tense. Maher Abu Sabha, the Hamas-appointed director of crossings, said Rafah would open for two days to allow Gazans with serious illnesses to travel to Egypt and beyond for treatment and to allow foreign nationals and students to travel. An Egyptian official, citing "security reasons", said there was no decision yet to allow the permanent and full opening of the crossing as was the case before October 25. Hamas's leaders have distanced themselves from violence in Egypt and in Sinai and say they have no armed presence in areas outside Palestinian boundaries. Some children stood by the fence, while others sat or slept over luggage that piled up outside the gate as their families awaited to pass. "I have been waiting for three months to leave, this is very bad," said Mnwar Shaath, 58, a Palestinian woman clad in a long black robe who lives in Saudi Arabia and came to visit family in Gaza. "I am sick and I was afraid I may die here, away from my children, I want to go back and die among them," she said. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2014-12-21 11:18:52
Egypt said on Saturday it supports a draft resolution submitted by the Palestinians to the U.N. Security Council setting out terms for a final peace deal with Israel. The Palestinians on Wednesday presented the resolution setting a 12-month deadline for wrapping up negotiations on a final settlement and the end of 2017 for completion of an Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian territories. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri held talks in Cairo on the resolution during which Shoukri offered Egypt's support for the move, a foreign ministry statement said. It said that during their talks, Shoukri stressed Egypt’s support for “the choice of the Palestinian people and its leadership.” He offered Cairo's “full backing for the legal rights of the Palestinians in establishing an independent state along the borders of June 4, 1967 with East Jerusalem as its capital,” the statement said. The draft resolution calls for a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as the shared capital. Washington says it will not back the resolution, objecting in particular to the deadline for an Israeli withdrawal. Cairo brokered a cease-fire between Israel and Palestinian Hamas militant movement to end the Gaza summer war that killed 2,140 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and 73 people on the Israeli side, most of them soldiers. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2014-12-21 08:39:39
Egypt has appointed Khaled Fawzy as acting head of its General Intelligence Service (GIS) to succeed Mohamed Farid El-Tohamy, who has been relieved of his duties for health reasons,  sources said.Fawzy was the head of the country's National Security Authority, an organ of the GIS.Tohamy's failing health is behind the move and the decision was not motivated by security concerns, a source at the Egyptian presidency told Al-Ahram Arabic news website.El-Tohamy served as the director of Egypt's General Intelligence Service from 5 July 2013, when he was appointed by interim president Adly Mansour following the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi amid massive protests against his rule.There was no official confirmation from Egypt's presidency. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2014-12-21 07:41:52
Qatar welcomed a Saudi Arabian initiative to generate reconciliation between Egypt and Qatar and said that it cherishes the efforts of the Gulf state. The Saudi palace had announced on Saturday night that a meeting between President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, a special envoy from Qatar, and a special envoy from Saudi Arabia had led to positive steps towards reconciliation. Relations between Qatar and Egypt had been tense since the 2013 ouster of Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, a close ally of Qatar. Qatar on Saturday stressed its acceptance of the Saudi statement, and confirmed it "completely stands by the brotherly Arab republic of Egypt" as Qatar's security is connected to Egypt's security. The Qatari statement added that the Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamal Al-Thani had initiated the Saturday meeting, sending his special envoy to meet with the Egyptian president, who received him very generously. "Qatar, which cares about Egypt’s leading role in the Arab and Islamic world, seeks strong bilateral relations and mutual efforts to develop Egypt which will be in the interest of the peoples of both countries," the statement of the Qatari royal court concluded. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2014-12-21 07:37:05
The Palestinian Authority's chief negotiator arrived in Cairo Saturday for talks on Palestine’s bid for a UN resolution that would give Israel a deadline to withdraw from the occupied territories. Coming from Ramallah through Jordan, Saeb Erekat is expected to spend three days in Egypt, where he is due to meet with Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, and Secretary-General of the Arab League Nabil El-Arabi. The Palestinian negotiator is seeking Egyptian support for Palestine's intentions to pursue a UN resolution that puts a 12-month deadline on an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal and recognises the state of Palestine. Erekat's visit follows decisions by the French, Swedish, Spanish and British parliaments to initially recognise the state of Palestine. Last week Jordan proposed a draft resolution to the UN Security Council which proposes a "comprehensive peace agreement" between Palestine and Israel within 12 months from adopting the resolution. The resolution mandates "peaceful coexistence" between two states: Palestine and Israel, with Jerusalem a capital for both states. According to the proposal, complete and gradual Israeli withdrawal from territories occupied in 1967 should be accomplished by 2017. More»