Ahram Online, by Azza Radwan Sedky
A new wave of demonstrations starting 11 November would lead to Egypt's demise. However, the majority of Egyptians are likely to stand against that call
In January 2011, the majority of Egyptians, befuddled and apprehensive, stayed at home but watched closely as history unfolded. They knew that change was needed; they realised that the calls of those in Tahrir Square were warranted, but they were extremely anxious over short and long-term repercussions.
In the short term, imminent danger had Egyptians nights-on-end guard their homes and possessions from looting and thuggery. As prisons and police stations got broken into, as official buildings and churches were set on fire, and as streets became treacherous, Egyptians suffered nerve-racking panic and curfew restrictions.
For the long term, they feared changes that would lead to economic hardships, terrorism, and unnerving culminations.
We can honestly say that Egyptians had every right to be apprehensive, for today we are reaping what we sowed: the pandemonium synonymous with ousting President Mubarak, and soon afterwards, followed by President Morsi’s presidency and deposing.
The chain of events intertwines like a Rubik's cube: a domino effect, where one event initiates a succession of others, and as much as I was for change in 2011, I am dead certain that we are where we are today because of the dim-sightedness we suffered back in 2011.
President Mubarak would’ve stepped down six months afterwards had the activists in Tahrir not insisted on a prompt ousting. In those six months, Mubarak, whilst still in control, would have guaranteed that the Muslim Brotherhood became ineffective. Soon afterwards though, the grassroots revolution morphed into a Muslim Brotherhood victory.
Had the disdain of anything related to Mubarak not taunted Tahrir and activists in general, Egypt would not have lost a precious year with Morsi in office. But once Morsi became president, the whole environment changed.
The Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates assumed a powerful grip on Egypt, and in no way were they to let go of that power, ultimately devising the current turmoil.
The slippery slope the Muslim Brotherhood initiated after the ousting of President Morsi continues to plague us today: every effort is being made to pull Egypt down. If it isn’t overt terrorism, then it is other destructive measures.
Tourists have long gone, and despite the hard-fought battle to have them return, resorts and monuments remain empty. The economy has been dealt a severe blow as manipulative hands incite a currency war, commodity shortages, and hiked prices.
We are paying the penalty for not being wise enough to anticipate the ramifications of our own doings. No one can deny that had we envisioned the course we were to partake on and where it would lead us, we would’ve thought twice back in 2011.
And today the same perennially dissatisfied and disgruntled cluster at one level, and the forever-raging dissidents in Turkey at another level, are calling for another wave of protests and demonstrative actions on 11/11.
Heaven forbid that such a call be realised; but if it is, it will be the end of Egypt, for despite the mammoth efforts that the president and his team are implementing, we are facing compounded challenges and teetering between success and failure.
Another wave of sit-ins, protests, upheavals, you name it, will be the cause of Egypt’s demise.
Why 11/11? No one really knows, but some have interpreted it as four fingers, as in the Rabaa sign, and it makes sense to be just that. And if we are going to fall victims to another Muslim Brotherhood wave of dissent, then we deserve the collapse that we will inflict on ourselves and on Egypt.
So as a reminder to those who are contemplating 11/11 because sugar is scarce or rice is unavailable, what will occur after a successful 11/11 will be by far more damaging than ever imagined, so beware, simplistic folks, beware of such Muslim Brotherhood schemes.
But I have hope that those who watchfully sat out the first revolution will not let anyone harm their country once more. The “Couch Party,” the majority of Egyptians, those who watched perturbed but didn’t budge during the first revolution, have gained a voice and a presence and will not let such an upheaval occur. They have learned their lesson the hard way.
The change that is taking place in this group is crystal clear. The nonchalant attitude is long gone; they care about Egypt, exhibit their love, and encourage others to become hard workers and devoted Egyptians.
Keen on lifting Egypt out of its difficult times, they promote and buy Egyptian products; they donate generously to Project Tahya Masr; they hail the Egyptian army and its martyrs, and they take pride in everything Egyptian. They effect change and demand attention.
Their voice and spirit are loud and clear. And these are the Egyptians, the majority, who will stand behind Egypt against the call for its destruction.
The writer is author of Cairo Rewind: The First Two Years of Egypt's Revolution.
Cairo International Airport’s new Terminal 2 is now compliant with all aviation security requirements, Russia’s transport minister, Maxim Sokolov, said in interview with Rossiya 24 TV Channel.
"Certain items have not yet been implemented, but [alot] has been done, particularly in the new terminal of Cairo airport, which is nearly fully in line with all international aviation and transport security requirements, except the automatic control system of staff access to airside," the minister said Tuesday in statements reported by Russian news agency TASS.
Cairo International Airport has three main terminals. Terminal 2 was re-opened for flights after renovations in late September.
Sokolov added that Russia has not asked for any new additional requirements from the Egyptian side.
The statements by Sokolov come only a few days after Hisham Bastawi, an aide to Egypt Interior Minister, said authorities have implemented most airport security measures demanded by Russia with the remaining ones to be put in place in the coming weeks.
According to Bastawi, a biometric system of employee access to airports, which monitors the time of arrival and departure of staff, is among the measures to be implemented.
Negotiations between the two countries to resume Russian flights to Egypt have been ongoing since the end of 2015, with multiple visits exchanged between officials to reach a protocol for a green light on resuming flights.
Russia grounded flights to and from Egypt after an Airbus A321 en route to St Petersburg crashed soon after taking off from Sharm El-Sheikh on 31 October 2015.
All 224 people aboard died as a result of the crash that was classified by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) as a terrorist attack.
The return of Russian flights to Egypt would mean the country could once again receive large numbers of Russian tourists to boost its ailing tourism industry, which is a major source of much needed foreign currency for Cairo.
In a long-winded, 1600-word article, the NY Times suggests Egyptians will snap over the existing sugar shortage. It reckons Egyptians can’t possibly withstand such a crisis and will become unhinged over the lack in sugar. “Snap” as in break down, lose their minds, or even revolt is what the NY Times implies.
My first thought was who writes these posts? Surprisingly, the writers are two Egyptians. I also wondered if scarcity of sugar in Egypt was worth an article in the acclaimed NY Times. And finally, and most importantly, I wondered if Egyptians were shallow and frivolous enough to revolt over sugar scarcity.
The article cites the reasons behind the imminent “snapping”: Egyptians have a sweet tooth, which makes sugar an absolute must. For example, how on earth will Egyptians manage without the spoonfuls of sugar piled in their tea mugs? How will Egyptians make do without their national pudding, Om Ali? I guess we cannot appease Egyptians without Om Ali, or maybe they will die of hunger for the lack of it. I cringe from the triviality.
Ahmad El-Gebaly, the subsidized-goods store owner in Bulaq, is quoted saying, “Nobody can stand him [El-Sisi] anymore…Who can live without it [sugar]?” The assumption is El-Gebaly, representing the poor, used to believe in El Sisi and now can’t stand him anymore because sugar is scarce.
Then the article goes into the many challenges that Egypt faces, which Sisi’s “management of the economy and his overall rule” created: the free fall in the economy caused by political turbulence and militant attacks; the plummeting pound, now worth half its value; the collapse in tourism; the dwindling revenue from overseas workers; the 15.5 percent inflation rate; and the rift between Egypt and Saudi delaying shipment of discounted petroleum products “setting off fears of a deteriorating relation with an ally that has propped up Egypt with more than $25 billion.”
High time someone goes after the NY Times to exonerate Egyptians and their president.
NY Times, had you said that Egyptians cannot take the agony of watching their young men die fighting terrorism, I’d have agreed. Had you said Egyptians will snap because the world doesn’t see eye to eye with them, I’d have agreed. Had you said Egyptians want a better education and a better health care system, I’d have agreed. But to belittle from Egyptians and believe they’ll snap over sugar is farcical.
You may be right that Egypt is facing an uphill battle, but your attempt to discredit President Sisi, as the cause of these challenges, is faulted. It is due to President Sisi that Egypt has managed thus far to survive the above atrocities against it. It is only because Egyptians believe in President Sisi’s efforts that Egypt is where it is, stable and functioning, despite the hardships.
In case you don’t know, with the flurry of attacks on Egyptian soil and men, Egypt is unequivocally at war—a different kind of war altogether, one Egypt has not been exposed to before.
Egypt fought many wars against colonialists, invaders, occupiers, and conquerors, but a war against terrorism, it hasn’t, at least in this magnitude. Still, it is a bonafide war, one that may last for years, and more of a war than many of the preceding ones.
And dire times demand dire measures not only in Egypt but everywhere else.
During and after World War II, shortages and food restrictions were the name of the game. In 1940, Britain rationed not only sugar, but bacon and butter, too; bread was rationed in 1946, a year after the war ended. Rations lasted for 14 years, until 1954.
In wartime Canada, home canning, parks-turned-vegetable-gardens, food conservation were common. People were encouraged to raise farm animals such as chicken and rabbits even goats in their back yards.
Canada also rationed sugar, butter, tea, coffee, and meat at different times during World War II. Months of food shortages and a hike in food prices led to these rations. I wonder if the NY Times would’ve incited these strapped-for-food Brits and Canadians to snap.
The austerity measures that some European countries are enduring in this day and age is another eye opener. Even with the austerity measures that followed the bailouts from the EU and the International Monetary Fund, and the cut in minimum wage, the Greeks did not snap but are taking the measures in stride.
I could go on and on about shortages, austerity measures, and what countries have to endure to get over the humps they face.
The fact that Egyptian aren’t feeling a harsher pinch is due to the efforts exerted to provide the needy with subsidized food supplies. The reform in the food subsidy system allows approximately 20 million ration cards holders, over 80 percent of Egyptians, to enjoy subsidized bread and many other foodstuffs including tea, meat, rice, etc.
I also hate to disappoint you, NY Times; if there is anyone who can call on Egyptians to “tighten their belts,” so to speak, it is President Sisi. Egyptians understand the man’s efforts, and they are willing, even if not very happy, to comply.
No other leader could’ve taken such extreme measures, such as the cut in fuel and power subsidies, except President Sisi. Power subsidies have been cut twice thus far, and Egyptians are only now beginning to realize the need to conserve energy.
In the seventies, when President Sadat tried to abolish bread subsidies, riots shook the streets of Cairo. Egyptians had no clue that they will live to regret the colossal damage attributed to subsidies; forty years later, President Sisi is abolishing subsidies but protecting those in need simultaneously. He realizes subsidy cuts are not very appealing, but he also recognizes that it is measure that must be undertaken. And today Egyptians understand.
Maybe your writers should’ve asked Egyptians if they would pay more to see a decrease in the number of staggered power outages that used to last for hours on end. What was the use of cheap electricity when there wasn’t enough of it to go round?
Or maybe your writers could’ve written about other improvements: the slow eradication of Hepatitis C while selling the medication at a fraction of the cost and creating a successful blueprint for other countries to overcome this debilitating disease.
Or maybe your writers could’ve written about the thousands of new homes built to relocate an estimated 850,000 slum dwellers who used to live in informal settlements deemed unsafe and likely to collapse, an effort that will bring them dignity and respect.
More importantly, maybe your writers should have listened to the mother whose son died in an ambush in northern Sinai, who, despite her grief, said that if her son had to die, then this is the best death, the one for Egypt.
Egypt will prevail despite your efforts to demoralize and belittle from Egyptians. We will keep a united front against all those who wish us ill.
Associated Press, via Fox News
CAIRO – Egypt has made fighting Islamic militants its overriding foreign policy objective, a decision that has brought it closer to Syrian President Bashar Assad, Russia and Iran, in turn antagonizing its chief financial backer, Saudi Arabia.
The policy is risky at a time when Egypt is struggling to contain a homegrown Islamic insurgency and tackling its worst economic crisis in decades. Saudi Arabia, which has helped keep Egypt's economy from collapse with billions in aid, has already signaled its displeasure by holding back promised supplies of fuel.
This direction of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi's foreign policy is rooted in the military's 2013 ouster of his predecessor Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood.
"Cairo's single-minded pursuit of the Brotherhood — and of any Islamist group that bears the slightest resemblance to the Brotherhood — has become the guiding principle of Egypt's foreign, as well as domestic, policy," Middle East expert Steven A. Cook wrote in Foreign Affairs magazine.
Perhaps no single incident showcased this direction as much as Egypt's support this month for a Russian resolution on Syria at the U.N. Security Council.
Moscow put forward its resolution even as it vetoed a rival French resolution calling for a halt to Russian and Syrian airstrikes, which have caused hundreds of deaths in the Syrian city of Aleppo in past weeks.
Egypt voted in favor of both drafts, saying it did so in hopes of stopping Aleppo's suffering. But siding with Russia — and by implication Assad — reflected the stance of el-Sissi's government that defeating Islamic militants in Syria is the priority.
It led to the first public spat between Cairo and Riyadh since el-Sissi took office in 2014.
Adding insult to injury, Egypt this week hosted one of Assad's top security aides for talks, while Russian and Egyptian commandos held joint war games — at a time of widespread outrage in the Arab world over Russia's air bombardment of Aleppo.
Saudi Arabia is seeking Assad's ouster and has strongly backed rebel factions, including ones with hard-line Islamist ideologies.
Egypt, in contrast, sees militants in Syria as a threat. It has been far cooler to the prospect of removing Assad.
Egypt's direction undermines Saudi Arabia's hopes to build a Sunni axis to block the influence of its top rival, Shiite, non-Arab Iran. In fact, Cairo's show of support for Assad put it closer to Iran, the Syrian leader's top ally.
Egypt has sided closer to Russia even though Moscow has banned commercial flights to Egypt ever since the downing a year ago of a Russian jet full of tourists in the Sinai Peninsula. The crash is blamed on a bomb placed onboard by Egypt's branch of the extremist Islamic State group.
Read on here.
يكتب اسامه كمال
لم أكن قد بلغت الثامنة عشرة عندما اصطحبنى صديق بريطانى هو الموقر «هوارد ليفيت»، وهو رجل صالح قارب وقتها الخمسين من عمره وتعلمت منه الكثير، اصطحبنى للعلمين لزيارة مقابر الجنود البريطانيين ضحايا الحرب العالمية الثانية.. توقفنا أمام شواهد القبور وبدأت عيناه تدمعان، ثم انفجر فى بكاء شديد، فسألته لم يبكى جنوداً لقوا حتفهم منذ سنوات طويلة.. كان يمكننى أن أفهم لو صلى من أجلهم، ولكن البكاء الشديد أدهشنى.. فكانت إجابته: «أبكى لأنهم أطفال ألقى بهم فى أتون الحرب»
قرأت أعمارهم على شواهد القبور، فكان بعضهم فى سنى والبعض أكبر قليلاً، وبالطبع فى مثل عمرى وقتها يعتبر الشاب نفسه كبيراً فتعجبت من مقولته إنهم أطفال، ولكنى التزمت الصمت احتراماً لمشاعره ودموعه التى ظلت تتساقط طوال طريق العودة للإسكندرية ونحن نستمع إلى أغنية يتحدث المغنى عن جندى لن يرى حبيبته مرة أخرى لأنه باقٍ يحرس الحدود
غابت القصة عنى لسنوات طوال، حتى قرأت يوم الجمعة عن استشهاد 12 من جنودنا البواسل فى الهجوم الإرهابى على نقطة تفتيش زغدان فى سيناء وكان ذلك بعد يومين فقط من كلام مملوء بالشجن والقوة فى نفس الوقت من السيدة سامية عطية أم الشهيد البطل إسلام عبدالمنعم مهدى فى الندوة التثقيفية للقوات المسلحة.. كلام السيدة العظيمة كان شحناً معنوياً ألهب مشاعر الحضور، بين حزن عميق وإعجاب شديد بمشاعر صادقة لسيدة ود الكل أن يقبل يديها، كما قبل الرئيس السيسى رأسها
على الهواء فى اليوم التالى، بدأت أقرأ أسماء وأعمار شهداء نقطة زغدان.. كانوا فى سن 21 و22، فتملكتنى فكرة أنهم أطفال.. لم أتمالك نفسى وأجهشت فى البكاء رغماً عنى لأنهم بالفعل أطفال حتى ولو كانوا رجالاً بمقاييس الرجولة فى زمن عزت فيه شواهد الرجولة، وهى بلا شك لا صلة لها بالذكورة.. لم يستشهد جنودنا كجنود بريطانيا الذين قتلوا فى أرض غريبة دفاعاً عن أطماع إمبراطوريتهم أمام أطماع إمبراطورية النازى، بل كانوا يحرسون طريقاً داخل وطنهم حتى لا يمر منها أعداء الحياة ليهددوا باقى بقاع سيناء الطاهرة ولا ينفذوا إلى وادى النيل المكتظ بسكانه وأنا واحد منهم.. أطفال بمقاييس العمر، فدونى بأرواحهم رغم أن العمر كان طويلاً أمامهم يهنأون فيه بالحياة كأقرانهم، ولكن الله اختارهم شهداء بجواره، فتركوا المستقبل ولم يكن لديهم الكثير فى شريط حياة ماضى ليسجلوه
بكيت كما بكى صديقى البريطانى، رغم شعورى بالفخر أنهم أبطال من بنى وطنى مثلهم مثل من كانوا فى أعمارهم، وقضوا نحبهم دفاعاً عن الأرض والعرض فى نصر أكتوبر 73.. ولكن المؤلم أيضاً أن شهداء زاغدان استشهدوا على يد مصريين أو حتى عرب.. فكرت فى آبائهم وأمهاتهم وهم يعيشون لحظات قاسية وهم يتلقون النبأ، وأن عجلة الحياة التى تقضى بأن يدفن الابن أباه وليس العكس قضت بأن يدفنوا أبناءهم.. لحظة قاسية لا يعرفها إلا من عاشها
عزاؤنا ردة فعل المواطنين وتصاعد حالة التلاحم بين المصريين مرة أخرى عدا من شذوا عن القاعدة، وقد اعتدنا منهم الشذوذ فى آرائهم وأفعالهم وأقوالهم.. عزاؤنا ردة الفعل على أرض سيناء التى بدأت فى نفس لحظات كتابة هذا المقال، ليس ثأراً ولكنه تصحيح لوضع وجب تغييره اليوم وليس غداً.. عزائى أن نستفيق من الحالة التى نعيشها وندرك أننا ما زلنا نخوض معركة بقاء ضد قوى لا تبغى لنا إلا الفناء، ولكن هذا الشعب بإرادته وبإذن الله باق والإرهاب فان.. اللهم ارحم شهداءنا وأسكنهم فسيح جناتك وأنزل على ذويهم السكينة
Brilliant, brilliant. The New York Times, by Nicholas Kristof
Is there a double standard for women in politics?
Imagine if it were Hillary Clinton who had had five children by three husbands, who had said it was fine to refer to her daughter as a “piece of ass,” who participated in a radio conversation about oral sex in a hot tub, who rated men based on their body parts, who showed up in Playboy soft porn videos.
Imagine if 15 men had accused Clinton of assaulting or violating them, with more stepping forward each day.
Imagine if Clinton had held a Mr. Teen USA pageant and then marched unannounced into the changing area to ogle the young bodies as some were naked and, after doing the same thing at a Mr. USA pageant, marveled on a radio show at what she was allowed to get away with.
Imagine if in a primary election debate Clinton had boasted that there’s “no problem” with the size of her vagina.
Imagine if Clinton had less experience in government or the military than any person who has ever become president?Imagine if she had said about a man running against her in the primaries, “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that?”
Imagine if it were Clinton who had boasted, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”
Imagine if it were Clinton who had been caught on a hot mike referring in a degrading way to men’s genitals and boasting that her prominence gave her license to grab men’s crotches.
Read on here.
The second part of a second interview president Sisi gave the chief editors of Al-Ahram, Al-Akhbar and Al-Gomhoreya newspapers in less than two months. The first part was published on Saturday
The second part of an interview with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and the editors of the three state-owned newspapers was published on Sunday, revealing his views on Egypt's foreign affairs, battle with corruption and the role of Egypt's youth and political groups in the country's life.
This is the second interview El-Sisi has given with the chief editors of Al-Ahram, Al-Akhbar and Al-Gomhoreya newspapers in less than two months.
The first part of the interview was published on Saturday.
Egypt's foreign relations
Defending Egypt's stance regarding the war in Syria, El-Sisi explained Cairo's UN security council vote in favor of two different resolutions to end fighting in Aleppo, stressing that the vote had not affected relations with Saudi Arabia.
Cairo, which represents Arab countries on the 15-member council, voted on a French-drafted resolution and a rival Russian proposal that would have scaled down military action in Aleppo.
"The common thing between the two resolutions is that they both call for an end to fighting and in favor of sending humanitarian aid to the people of Syria…that is what we care about as a state and as Egyptians...that is why we supported and voted in favor of the two resolutions," El-Sisi said, stressing that the two votes were not contradictory as critics suggested.
The president refuted that Egypt's vote for the Russian resolution has had an effect on Cairo's relations with Riyadh.
Following Egypt's UN Security Council vote, the Saudi ambassador to Cairo, Ahmed Kattan, left the country for a three-day visit to the kingdom while Saudi oil company Aramco cancelled its October oil shipment to Cairo.
"Strategic relations between Egypt and Saudi Arabia are not affected by anything and we should not allow anything to harm these relations," the president insisted.
Thanking Saudi Arabia for the support it has shown Egypt, El-Sisi further accused traditional and social media of "drawing a [false] picture" of tension between the two allies.
Saudi Arabia has supported Cairo with billions of dollars in aid, grants, oil products and cash deposits to buoy the country's economy following the toppling of president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.
El-Sisi also refuted in the interview any "plots against Ethiopia," responding to statements made last week by Ethiopian officials, claiming that Egypt and Eritrea directly support anti-government demonstrations by the Oromo ethnic group.
"We do not interfere in any country's internal affairs and we do not plot against anyone."
"Talking in front of the Ethiopian parliament I stated that we had two choices: either to cooperate or to confront, and we chose cooperation," El-Sisi said.
Egypt and Ethiopia witnessed tensions in recent years over the construction of Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam, a project Cairo fears will negatively affect Egypt's Nile water share. Addis Ababa maintains that the dam project, which Ethiopia needs to generate electricity, would not harm downstream countries.
Relations improved in recent months, particularly after Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan signed in September the final contracts for the long-awaited technical studies on the potential impact of the dam on downstream countries.
"Egypt enjoys a balanced, open and stable relation with other countries," El-Sisi stressed.
On his meeting with US presidential candidates Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump in New York last month, El-Sisi said the aim was to reveal Egypt's vision for the region to guarantee better understanding with whichever candidate takes office.
On relations with Russia, El-Sisi said that efforts are ongoing
to resume Russian flights back to Egypt.
Russia suspended all flights to Egypt after a Russian plane leaving Sharm El-Sheikh crashed in Sinai last October in what is suspected to be a terrorist attack.
El-Sisi stressed that relations with Russia are "strong and exceptional," adding that talks regarding the nuclear power plant deal are being concluded and the deal is expected to be finalized by the end of the year.
Last November, Sergey Kiriyenko, the head of Russia's state-owned nuclear firm Rosatomalong, along with a Russian delegation, signed the Dabaa nuclear plant deal with the Egyptian government.
The plant, which will be built in the western desert, is expected to be finished within 12 years and will consist of four nuclear power units, 1,200 megawatt (MW) each. El-Sisi has frequently stressed that the project is peaceful and aims to produce electricity.
On relations with China and India, El-Sisi said that the two countries support Egypt and plan to cooperate in business and technology.
On Greece and Cyprus, El-Sisi said that last week's trilateral presidential meeting in Cairo confirmed the three countries' cooperation in combatting terrorism and illegal migration.
Egypt's fight against corruption and the importance of reform
Shifting to Egypt's internal political scene, El-Sisi said he is closely following the "youth talks" ongoing at youth centers across the nation, in preparation for a "youth conference" to be held in Sharm El-Sheikh.
The conference is expected to include more than three thousand participants from Egypt's different political groups. El-Sisi said it will be a good chance to discuss the criticism that Egypt's parties and political groups play a weak role.
El-Sisi also stressed the role of the Egyptian state in fighting corruption.
"The state is not at all tolerant with corruption…I support all state institutions that are concerned with the issue and we have no stake in covering up corruption."
"We are fighting a relentless battle against corruption," he added.
El-Sisi, however, criticised the media for publishing "inaccurate" estimates of corruption.
Egypt’s top auditor Hisham Geneina was sacked last March by a presidential decree hours after prosecutors accused him of making false claims about widespread government corruption.
Geneina told media outlets that Egypt lost LE600 billion (about $76 billion) between 2012 and 2015 due to government corruption. Prosecutors charged that the auditor of exaggerating the sums.
El-Sisi said that the public needs to see the "bigger picture" regarding the economy and realize the importance and inevitability of reform.
In closing, the president urged the people to "stand together" and warned of overpopulation which he described as the "biggest danger."
The Root, by ALLISON KEYES
Posted: October 16, 2016
Tourists are returning after the 2011 protests to visit awe-inspiring historic sites like the pyramids and the tombs of great pharaohs.
Karim El Minabawy stands on the Nile Terrace at the Semiramis InterContinental Hotel in Cairo, grinning as he gestures at the rainbow of lights surrounding the iconic river.
“See these colors all around? … It is an amazing view by night. Three o’clock in the morning, you see these colors until sunrise,” says El Minabawy, adding that “it is the city that does not sleep.”
The river is dotted with brightly lit cruising restaurants, casting pink, blue and green lights across the water, and there are hotels that overlook the banks of the river and the pulsing night life of revelers out for a stroll. Even from the balconies of many facilities, you can turn off the lights in your room and sway to the cacophony of bouncy music that blasts from the hot spots along the river.“We have two icons in Egypt: the pyramids and the Nile,” says El Minabawy, president of Cairo-based Emeco Travel Egypt. “Around the Nile, we have all of our attractions, our night life, all of our entertainment. … Most of the hotels are downtown. You can see the 6th of October Bridge, the longest in all of Africa. … You will see such fantastic dream scenery, always by the Nile. It’s a mix of entertainment, the food and enjoying [Zamalek] island.”
El Minabawy was speaking to a group of international journalists on a media delegation arranged by the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt (AmCham Egypt). The visit, including Cairo, Luxor and Sharm El Sheikh, was aimed at increasing tourism in Egypt, which was hurt badly by the 2011 protests that forced President Hosni Mubarak from power. Security is still tight in some places, but tourists are beginning to return, and there’s a lot to do, and jaw-dropping sites to explore.
Obviously, the first thing one should see is the pyramids—and Giza is smack dab in what locals call Greater Cairo.
They can be seen in all their splendor from the frenetic expressway on the way, and when you get there, they simply take your breath away. Tourists stand on sand that was once walked upon by pharaohs and crane their necks to look up at Khufu—also known as the Great Pyramid. It was built as a funerary complex for that pharaoh, beginning around 2575 B.C. One can ride camels or horses between the pyramids and can even enter the largest and smallest. There are many vendors, some of whom can be a bit aggressive, and available for purchase is everything from painted parchment to small statues of the Egyptian cat goddess Bastet.
In the same complex stands the immense Great Sphinx of Giza, believed to be around 4,500 years old. Her ruined face—she seems female—has what some describe as Negroid features as she stares majestically toward the rising sun. You can’t stand between her paws anymore, but they are the size of a city bus. Tourists were taking numerous selfies, including some in which they appeared to be kissing this iconic limestone figure. It almost feels as if the human-headed lion is speaking, if one only knew how to listen.You can actually hear its voice if you take in the spectacular sound-and-light show, and see the pyramids and the sphinx lit with brilliant colors, as the massive monument tells the story of the rule of the ancient Egyptians.
Whether you are a serious shopper or simply a student of history, no tour of Cairo is complete without a visit to historic El Moez Street. Not only are there gorgeous mosques along one of the oldest streets in Egypt, but there is also a buzzing bazaar where you can watch artisans working on their creations on the street. There are also coffee shops where you can take a load off and people-watch, and you might even run into a vendor with a monkey that might hop on your shoulders for a visit. Be careful, though—he may bite! The street is lit up like a Christmas tree at night, with throngs of tourists and locals wandering through to pick up a thing or two.
Fans of history must visit the iconic Egyptian Museum, which is currently displaying about a third of the objects found in the tomb of King Tutankhamun in 1922.
A friendly Sphinx stands outside to greet you, but once you get inside, you’ll have to catch your breath over the breadth of pharaonic objects inside. There are life-size statues of the king, who died at the age of 19, as well as jars that once contained wine, which were buried with him. Tourists can also see, in bright living color and in person, the iconic funerary mask that has traveled the world. But be prepared to spend some time, since every available bit of space in this museum is taken up by amazing, sometimes surprisingly brightly colored artifacts.
Outside of Cairo, the charms of Luxor beacon, including the historic Valley of the Kings and Queens. The first tomb, that of Ramesses IV, gives tourists a stark look at how hieroglyphics that are faded in the sun can become bright as stars deeper inside. Some of the tombs look as if they were painted only yesterday, and the images will blow your mind.
You should also see the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut, the only female pharaoh, which is breathtaking.
On the East Bank of Luxor stand two of the most recognizable temples in the world. You can still see remnants of the brilliant colors that once adorned this spectacular monument.
At night it is brightly lit, so one can see the incredible detail that still adorns the obelisks and the columns of this temple, dating back to around 1392 B.C. An aisle of Sphinx stands out in front and once connected Luxor to the jaw-dropping Karnak Temple, which also hosts a colorful and cool sound-and-light show.
Once you’re done with the culture and history, you may want to hit the beach. Sharm El Sheikh, on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula, has water so clear that tourists can see nearly to the bottom from the plane. Spend some time on the beach—or, better yet, go scuba diving or snorkeling off Tiran Island. Hop on this boat for a day of water sports, great food and friendly company you won’t soon forget.
You might also take a crack at a genuine bedouin dinner in the desert, where you can nosh on Egyptian delicacies, ride a camel and watch amazing feats of fire dancing while lying back on a comfy cushion. If you stay at the Four Seasons Resort in Sharm El Sheikh, one can be arranged for you.
The bottom line is that, yes, security is still very tight in many places, including the airport at Sharm El Sheikh and even at the five-star hotels in Cairo. But tourists are returning to this North African nation, and a life-changing visit to historic sites that are thousands of years old is worth it.