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Mon, 05/15/2017 - 01:00

Cabinet meeting ends without word of reshuffle

Mon, 05/15/2017 - 01:00

A meeting of Egypt's Council of Ministers on Wednesday ended without any mention of a cabinet reshuffle, despite a tempest of recent speculation that a ministerial shakeup was around the corner.

"We have no instructions for a reshuffle," said council spokesman Magdy Rady. "Although the post of transport minister remains vacant."

Transport Minister Mohammed Mansour resigned late last month following a tragic train crash south of Cairo in which 18 people were killed. Minister of Energy and Electricity Hassan Younis was subsequently made acting transport minister until a permanent appointment is made.

Wednesday's cabinet meeting reportedly focused on instructions issued by President Hosni Mubarak -- discussed at the ruling party's recently-concluded annual congress -- regarding economic reform, social justice, improvement of public services, agricultural development and overpopulation.

At the close of the meeting, Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif extended the council's condolences to the families of the victims of the recent rail tragedy. "Although investigations aren't complete yet, the report submitted to us attributed the accident to human error," Nazif said, commending the recently-resigned transport minister for his efforts to modernize Egypt's transportation sector.

Petroleum Minister Sameh Fahmi reportedly left the meeting early after being summoned by Mubarak. It remains unclear, however, whether Fahmi's half-hour meeting with the president had any bearing on an anticipated cabinet reshuffle.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

<img src="http://www.egyptindependent

Mon, 05/15/2017 - 01:00

<img src="http://www.egyptindependent

Mon, 05/15/2017 - 01:00

<img src="http://www.egyptindependent

Mon, 05/15/2017 - 01:00

Iraq offers housing contracts to Egyptian private sector

Mon, 05/15/2017 - 01:00

The Iraqi government on Tuesday offered contracts for the construction of 3.5 million housing units in Iraq to the Egyptian Ministry of Investment. If taken up, the project -- part of the country's reconstruction program -- would be assigned to Egyptian private-sector contractors.

Iraqi National Investment Authority President Sami el-Aargi told Egyptian Investment Minister Mahmoud Mohi Eddin that there were "many other opportunities for Egyptian companies to carry out development projects in various fields, including tourism, industry and agriculture."

Speaking on condition of anonymity, one board member of the Egyptian Contractors Union said that the Iraqi government was trying to make good on outstanding debts owed to Egyptian companies that took part in the Iraqi "Oil-For-Food" program, which was run by the United Nations from 1995 to 2003.     

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

 

Poland thanks Egypt for cooperating in Magdalena death investigations

Sat, 05/13/2017 - 05:51

Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry received a telephone call from his Polish counterpart, in which he thanked Egypt for the cooperation between the Egyptian and Polish authorities in following up the investigation into the death of Polish tourist Magdalena Zuk, a 27-year-old, who died in the Red Sea a few days ago.

Shoukry confirmed during the call that the Egyptian side will continue to provide all forms of assistance, coordination and exchange of information with the Polish side during the next phase until the completion of the ongoing investigations.

The two ministers also expressed their hope for the completion of the planned visit of the Polish President to Egypt in the second half of this year, on the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Egypt and Poland, also the meeting between President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and heads of states of the Visegrad Group in the coming period.

Informed sources revealed that the judicial authorities and the Egyptian Foreign Ministry responded to all the demands of the Polish authorities to view and follow up and attend the ongoing investigations into the circumstances of the incident.

The prosecution office of Hurghada allowed a Polish investigator to see the progress of the investigations, in addition to the presence of a Polish doctor to dissect the body of the tourist in the morgue of Hurghada General Hospital last Wednesday.

For their part, Polish officials said the tourist may have been a victim of organized crime in human trafficking.

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) reported Polish officials as saying that Polish investigators followed several hypotheses in the investigation, including rape, and the involvement of human trafficking gangs in the incident.

The tourist arrived at Marsa Alam airport on April 25 and was scheduled to leave Egypt on May 2 from Marsa Alam airport to Katowice airport in Poland, but her flight was canceled and she was taken to the hospital.

According to Al-Masry Al-Youm, preliminary investigations by Tourism Police indicated that Magdalena took her own life on April 30 because she was in a depressive state and suffering extreme anxiety, adding that she was not raped as rumored. Witnesses and hotel staff said she seemed disturbed.

According to witness reports, Magdalena was extremely upset that her boyfriend could not join her on the trip. She was seen crying at the airport, Polish media reported.

 

10 Takfiris killed in clashes with tribesmen in Sinai

Sat, 05/13/2017 - 04:55

Tribal sources announced the killing of 10 members of the takfiri organization Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis on Friday, including the organization’s training officer, in clashes with tribes south of the city of Rafah. Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis is a terrorist group which pledged allegiance to the "Islamic State" (IS) terrorist organization in 2014. It has been orchestrating attacks against army, police, judges, and Coptic Christians, killing dozens. The sources said that a number of tribes, led by the tribe of Tarabin, launched an armed attack on the takfiri elements in the areas of al-Masora and al-Barth, south of the city of Rafah, where the violent clashes occured between the two sides. The takfiri leader is Mahmoud Nimr Zaghra, also known as Abou al-Abd, a Palestinian national and the top official for training in Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis. The tribe of Tarabin, which is fighting a war against the terrorist organization, announced the opening of all its guesthouses for free in Egypt and the Arab countries, as well as in the village of al-Barth south of Rafah, to receive consultation, assistance, and coordination from all those seeking revenge from IS. The tribe confirmed its continued cooperation with the armed forces and state institution. Sinai’s powerful tribes have stayed on the sidelines of the battle between Egyptian authorities and a growing insurgency led by the IS group that has been raging in North Sinai in recent years. However, an open conflict between the tribesmen and the militants emerged in recent weeks. In late April, an IS suicide bomber killed four tribesmen standing watch in Rafah. The tribes retaliated by killing eight suspected IS fighters in a battle in the town earlier this month. Moussa al-Delh, a powerful member of the Tarabin tribe announced earlier this month in a statement on his Facebook page that the tribe is at war with militants under the leadership of the state, inviting other Sinai tribes to join the fight.  

Breakthrough in the Sudanese-Egyptian 'Visa Crisis'

Sat, 05/13/2017 - 03:29

Egypt and Sudan agreed during an emergency meeting of the Egyptian-Sudanese consular committee on Friday to mull ways of accelerating the movement of Egyptian goods heading to Sudan through the joint ports.

The Sudanese side expressed its readiness to facilitate its entry, and continue to exempt the diplomatic and private passport holders from the visa, and issue the visa free of charge for a maximum period of 6 months for the holders of ordinary passports, renewed for another similar period.

A joint statement issued by the Egyptian-Sudanese consular committee said that the committee also agreed to exempt women from both countries from the requirement of obtaining an entry visa in the ports of the two countries' borders, and all citizens over the age of 50 and under the age of 16.

Ambassador Khaled Yousri Rizk, Assistant Foreign Minister for Consular Affairs and Egyptians Abroad, who chaired the Egyptian side during the meeting, confirmed that among the facilities offered to Sudanese nationals is exemption from registration procedures, visa fees.

Sudan's Ambassador to Cairo, Abdel Mahmoud Abdel Halim, said that the meetings of the Committee came after a period of consular concerns of the Sudanese citizens and Egyptians.

He explained that this committee is one of the new mechanisms that emerged from the Egyptian-Sudanese Higher Joint Committee, chaired by Presidents Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and Omar Al-Bashir.

He added that the committee was held at the invitation of the Egyptian side, saying that it was a good start to solve all the problems related to the Egyptian and Sudanese citizens and that it will be followed by other meetings, stressing that what happened was a serious beginning to solve all the problems.

Sudanese authorities have begun last month to implement a decision requiring Egyptian travelers to obtain entry visas, based on the principle of reciprocity, because the Egyptian government imposes the same procedures on Sudanese travelers.

 

Egypt among top 50 spending countries for international tourism

Fri, 05/12/2017 - 11:51

China continued to top the world's countries for rates of spending on international tourism with an increase of 12 percent over the past year.

China was followed by the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom and France as the top five countries spending in foreign tourism, according to the latest reports by the World Tourism Organization.

Egyptians achieved an increase in spending on foreign tourism by up to 19 percent being on the list of the top 50 countries spending on foreign tourism.

Eight other markets recorded double-digit growth in spending in 2016, namely Vietnam by + 28 percent; Argentina by + 26 percent; Egypt by + 19 percent ; Spain by + 17 percent; India by + 16 percent; Israel and Ukraine by 12 percent; and Qatar and Thailand by 11 percent.

The 2016 results on spending from major overseas markets reflect an increase in demand for international tourism worldwide, according to the World Tourism Organization's latest World Tourism Barometer.

Recent data on overseas tourism spending are very encouraging, despite the many challenges in recent years. The results of spending on overseas travel are consistent with growth of 4 percent to reach 1.2 billion in 2016.

Egypt's auto rickshaw gets a new, home-grown challenger

Fri, 05/12/2017 - 10:27

In his workshop near Cairo's pyramids, Ahmed Saeed Omar has manufactured a mini four-wheeled vehicle that he hopes will fill a gap in the market.

Omar's "mini car", a rectangular vehicle made of a solid steel body which seats up to six people, is cheaper than the widely-used imported auto rickshaw -- not much more than a covered three-wheel scooter with a passenger bench -- because it is almost entirely locally produced.

Prices of imported products have soared since Egypt devalued its currency in November as part of measures to stimulate the economy.

A rickshaw can cost around 38,000 Egyptian pounds ($2,105)and has a 175cc engine, while Omar's mini car costs 34,000 pounds and has 300cc engine.

"This is a better alternative to the (rickshaw), more cost-efficient and more spacious," Omar, 35, told Reuters.

Three-wheeled rickshaws are widespread in many Egyptian cities, usually in neighbourhoods with narrow alleyways, and are mostly imported from India.

Since the cost of imports has soared, Omar thinks there may be market for his design.

"The cars are in some showrooms and people have bought them," he said. "There is demand." ($1 = 18.0500 Egyptian pounds) (Reporting by Amr Abdallah Dalsh; Writing by Nadine Awadalla Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)
 

Poultry, meat prices soar ahead of holy month of Ramadan

Fri, 05/12/2017 - 07:23

The prices of poultry and beef increased madly before the month of Ramadan, as the kilo of poultry increased by LE3 on Thursday to reach LE26 for the live poultry, and LE31 for frozen poultry. Beef reached LE145 per kilogram for locally produced beef and upwards of LE80 for the imported variety. Al-Masry Al-Youm reported that the kilo of live poultry is sold by retailers at a price ranging between LE35 to LE40, and the frozen variety between LE40 to LE45. Mohamed El Shafei, Vice President of the Poultry Federation, said that the total poultry produced is about 700,000 birds per day and that the Federation seeks to increase the production to 2.1 million birds per day to meet the needs of citizens during the month of Ramadan. The Butchers' Devision president Mohamed Wahba said the main reason behind meat price hikes is the lack of a government plan to develop and protect the animal wealth. Egypt imports 60 percent of its meat needs and produces 40 percent locally, Wahba told Al-Masry Al-Youm. He called on the government to support local products and solve the problems facing local meat production. He pointed out that shortage in cultivated land is behind the weakness of the domestic production of meat. Despite the reclamation of large areas of land, encroachment on agricultural land and construction continues, he added. Wahba called for doubling the size of cultivated land in Egypt. Egypt currently has about 9 million feddans of cultivated land, which is almost the same size of agriculture land that existed in Egypt under late President Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1960 and served only 20 million citizens. Egypt's population is currently 100 million, he pointed out.  Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

 

 

Egypt’s Islamic State affiliate claims deadly Sinai attack

Fri, 05/12/2017 - 06:18

The Islamic State group in Egypt has claimed responsibility for a deadly attack on local tribesmen this week in the restive northern part of the Sinai Peninsula.

Egyptian officials had said earlier that Wednesday’s assault killed 10 members of the Tarabin tribe manning a checkpoint near a militant-stronghold south of the border town of Rafah. The IS affiliate, known as Sinai Province, claimed in a statement on Friday that its fighters killed 15 “apostates” and wounded others who fled, leaving behind their SUVs. Sinai’s powerful tribes have so far stayed on the sidelines of the battle between Egyptian authorities and the growing insurgency in Sinai led by the Islamic State group in recent years. However, an open conflict between the Tarabin tribesmen and IS militants emerged in recent weeks.

Thomas Cook to resume flights to Marsa Alam, suspended since 2008

Fri, 05/12/2017 - 05:20

Thomas Cook British airline has announced it will resume flights to Marsa Alam airport twice a week from Birmingham on Monday and Gatwick on Thursday after suspending flights to the city since 2008. 

The company advised its customers to spend their holidays at Marsa Alam resorts and enjoy diving trips and mild weather.

According to sources in the tourism and hotels sector in the Red Sea, Thomas Cook canceled tourist bookings in Sharm el-Sheikh for the winter and summer of 2017/2018 because of the warnings by the British Foreign Office against terrorist threats.

The company's offices informed customers who made reservations that the company can either provide alternative cities for the holiday or refund the money, according to the sources. Thomas Cook advised visiting Marsa Alam and Hurghada instead of Sharm el-Sheikh.

The sources expected Egypt to receive more than double the number of tourists from the UK compared to last year.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

 

Judge who killed army conscript referred to court

Fri, 05/12/2017 - 04:21

Top prosecutor Hesham Barakat referred on Thursday a judge accused of killing an army conscript to the criminal court, after the approval of the Supreme Judicial Council.

The judge H. F. was charged with the premeditated murder of conscript Mo'men Saad in Nasr City district, Cairo.

Saad was killed when the judge from the economic court shot him in a building in Nasr City on Wednesday May 3.

Investigations conducted by police indicated that the victim entered the building upon hearing a dispute. The judge had accused a women of theft when he saw her in the building - this woman was the conscript's fiancee. He had intervened to save his fiancee when the defendant shot him dead.

 

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

Prominent Muslim cleric who called Jews, Christians 'apostates' awaits trial

Thu, 05/11/2017 - 10:15

Muslim cleric and former undersecretary to the Minister of Religious Endowments Salam Abdel Galil is facing huge backlash after he said that Christians and Jews are "apostates" on the television show he presents on privately-run channel El-Mehwar.

Abdel Galil was explaining pertinent verses from the Quran about non-believers.

Local media outlets have reported that Abdel Galil will stand trial on June 25. It is believed that he was referred to trial on charges of "religious contempt" as his statements were derogatory toward Christianity and Judaism. Reports indicate that several lawyers notified the prosecution of the cleric's inflammatory remarks.

The verses that he cited said Christians and Jews used to be believers when they followed Jesus and Moses, but they are now considered to be apostates as they refuse to follow the prophet Mohamed "despite frequent warnings from Muslim clerics".

Abdel Galil called on all Jews and Christians to convert to Islam so as to avoid punishment from God on Doomsday, saying that Jesus will not help them after death.

"When death is coming, you [Christians and Jews] will not be able to repent for your sins. You were told that you had gone astray and should follow the right path represented in Islam, but you refused; however we [Muslims] will live peacefully alongside to you," he said.

In response to his statements, the Ministry of Endowment issued a statement on Wednesday to say that Abdel Galil has been suspended from delivering religious lessons in mosques.

Similarly, El-Mehwar's channel administration issued a similar statement, saying that Abdel Galil's program has been suspended.

The Islamic Research Complex affiliated to al-Azhar also released a statement on Thursday explaining that Abdel Galil's statements only represents his point of view and is not in any way related to the Sunni Muslim institution.

The cleric then released a statement attempting to justify his controversial statements. He said Islam's legitimate tenet is that the very concept of Christianity is corrupt.

"We [Muslims] consider Christianity and Judaism as corrupt notions, which is exactly how 'Christians' see Islam; they also consider it corrupt. However, this concept does not mean that Islam allows you to kill or rob followers of these other religions," Abdel Galil said.

His ideology is considered to support extremism, as the Islamic State-affiliated group Sinai Province considers Christians in Egypt to be "apostates" and has threatened, kidnapped and killed a significant number of the Coptic minority in North Sinai and elsewhere in Egypt.

At the beginning of April, suicide bomber attacked two Coptic churches in the cities of Alexandria and Tanta; the attacks left more than 46 people dead and over 150 injured.

The IS group claimed responsibility for the attacks and vowed that these would be followed by more attacks against Coptic meeting points and churches in Egypt.

Giza Pyramids director denies Saudi prince rented area for marriage proposal worth $40 million

Thu, 05/11/2017 - 09:52

Director of the Giza Pyramids area Ashraf Mohey Eddin denied the news reported by the BBC about a Saudi Emir who rented the entire pyramids archaeological area to propose to his girlfriend.

Mohey Eddin described the news as "illogical".

Holding weddings in the archaeological area is banned under  Egyptian law, said Mohey Eddin, adding that no concerts may be held at the archaeological area except upon permission from the Minister of Antiquities and the Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, he told Al-Masry Al-Youm.

The BBC quoted the UK-based Quintessentially as reporting that the Saudi prince had used the company to rent out the Giza Pyramids area and flown 300 family members and friends to Egypt to see him asking his sweetheart to marry him in front of the pyramids.

The rent and a private ceremony held at the archaeological site cost $40 million, according to BBC.

 

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

Eman's case progressing well in UAE hospital: Emirati newspaper

Thu, 05/11/2017 - 08:15

Eman Abdel Aaty's psychological condition and health are progressing well, the director of the Abu Dhabi hospital where the Egyptian woman is being treated was quoted as saying by Emirati al-Bayan newspaper. "We have reached amazing results in Eman's treatment," said Doctor Yassin al-Shahat, the director of Burjeel Hospital in Abu Dhabi. Abdel Aaty has started to move her arms and legs and pointing at areas of pain in her body, said Shahat. Abdel Aaty also starting talk with the medical team and asking them for what she wants, he said, adding that she could sit on the hospital bed normally which reflected great progress psychologically and health-wise in her case. Shahat described Abdel Aaty's case when she first arrived in Abu Dhabi as "miserable".  Abdel Aaty's health and psychological condition were very poor when she first arrived in hospital as we could not even move her limbs. She was suffering from severe depression, especially as she is still suffering from the after-effects of a stroke, Shahat mentioned. The preliminary examination conducted by the medical team supervising the Egyptian patient's treatment showed that she suffers from deep and contaminated bedsores that need intensive treatment. She also suffers from severe urinary tract infections, as well as a disease not previously announced -- a relapse in the aortic valve of the heart, he said. Cardiologists had opted for conservative treatment at this stage. Burjeel Hospital will take charge of Abdel Aaty's treatment until she reaches a stage that enables her to live a normal life regardless of the cost of treatment, said Shahat, stressing that the hospital will also not hesitate to seek the help of doctors from abroad if necessary. Abdel Aaty was transferred from India to the UAE due to the unsatisfactory aftercare of a weight-loss surgery. Abdel Aaty, who lost about 325 kilograms after undergoing surgery in an Indian hospital, left India earlier in May for the UAE for long-term treatment. A medical team formed of 20 doctors received Abdel Aaty at Abu Dhabi International Airport where was accompanied by "happiness patrols" - police teams formed to spread happiness inside the country - in addition to police and civil protection vehicles until she reached the hospital. The funds for her travel and medical care were raised through crowd-sourcing, with people from India and elsewhere contributing to her treatment. The 36-year-old from Alexandria has lymphedema, a condition that causes body tissue to swell. She had a stroke when she was 11, after which her weight gradually increased. 

 

Polish tourist deliberately committed suicide, not raped: Tourism Police

Thu, 05/11/2017 - 07:36

Mystery still surrounds the death of Magdalena Zuk, a 27-year-old Polish woman who committed suicide at Port Ghalid hospital where she was being held for her own safety a few days after arriving at the Red Sea resort town.

However, her family and some news outlets have reported that Magdalena was sexually assaulted and drugged at her hotel which has caused further speculation as to the true circumstances of her hospital stay.

According to Al-Masry Al-Youm, preliminary investigations by Tourism Police indicated that Magdalena took her own life on April 30 because she was in a depressive state and suffering extreme anxiety, adding that she was not raped as rumored. Witnesses and hotel staff said she seemed disturbed.

Local news outlets reported that an autopsy was performed, but the results have not yet been released.

Magdalena arrived in Egypt as a tourist on April 25. Polish media reported that her boyfriend was not able to join her because his passport had expired.

According to witness reports, Magdalena was extremely upset that her boyfriend could not join her on the trip. She was seen crying at the airport, Polish media reported.

Upon arrival at the hotel, employees noticed that she seemed to suffer from extreme anxiety and nervousness – often speaking loudly and shrieking. The hotel administration referred her to the nearest hospital on April 28.

As an initial response, the Polish Foreign Affairs Ministry released a statement to say that the Polish Consulate in Egypt is in communication with Magdalena's family and with the Egyptian authorities to follow up on the investigations, according to Polish media outlet The News.

"The Polish Consulate in Egypt is following up on all ongoing investigations, led by the office of the Polish attorney-general. Tt is the responsibility of the Egyptian authorities to clarify the circumstances of the incident," the Polish Foreign Affairs Ministry's statement read.

Polish commercial television network TVN cited footage of Magdalena video calling her boyfriend and asking him to come and get her from the hotel, explaining that she couldn't say exactly happened to her in the past couple of days.

According to another video from the hospital's CCTV, Magdalena appeared nervous upon arrival at Port Ghalid hospital. The footage shows her trying to jump from a window in the hospital hallway while the nurses and doctors are doing their best to stop her.

"We administered sedatives, but after just 30 minutes she became a nervous wreck again we were forced to restrain her on the bed with ties. We had two nurses watching over her," the doctor supervising her told Egypt Independent on Wednesday.

Magdalena managed to escape the restraints; she jumped toward the window, attacking the nurses who tried to stop her. "Then she jumped and died," the doctor finished.

The doctor said he is unsure about why she was so disturbed, but he thinks it was because she fell into a deep depression since her arrival in Egypt.

Speculation still on the rise as to why Magdalena Zuk, 27, took her own life on April 30. In both Egypt and Poland, people are wondering whether she actually committed suicide, perhaps due to depression or sexual assault, or if she was pushed out a window and killed.

Following the incident, the Polish news website "Storm Front" claimed that Magdalena was sexually assaulted by hotel employees, as well as a travel agency employee that oversaw her trip to Egypt. The outlet also reported that Ukrainian hotel employees found her drugged and unconscious in her room, indicating that she had been raped.

33C in Cairo forecast for Friday, 27C in Alexandria

Thu, 05/11/2017 - 07:07

Meteorologists expect warm weather on Friday in Lower Egypt, Cairo and northern Upper Egypt. The north coast will experience moderate temperatures and very hot weather in southern Upper Egypt, especially during the day. Maximum temperatures predicted are 33C in Cairo, 27C in Alexandria, 40C in Qena, 41C in Luxor and 43C in Aswan. Low- and medium- level clouds will appear in the north. Mist is expected to affect visibility in the morning along the north coast, Lower Egypt, Cairo, the Suez Canal cities and cenral Sinai. Winds will be mostly northwesterly and moderate in strength, prevailing in the Gulf of Suez and the Red Sea, possibly disrupting navigation.   Waves in the Mediterranean Sea will range between 1.5 to 2 meters high, and 2.5 to 3 meters in the Red Sea. Surface winds will be northwesterly across both seas.   Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm