CAIRO, January 2 - RIA Novosti, Nadim Zuaoui, Margarita Kislova. Egypt expects the revival of the tourism sector in 2017 after the disastrous 2016, and in Cairo they do not hide that the sector will really work only in one case: when the ban on flights from Russia is lifted and a massive Russian tourist flow returns to the country.
On the eve of the New Year holidays, another group of experts from Russia visited Cairo International Airport, whose task was to check security measures, as well as new equipment installed in the second terminal of the air harbor. It is to this terminal that Aeroflot is expected to fly after the decision to lift the ban on flights with the Arab Republic of Egypt.
The long-awaited announcement of the resumption of flights has not yet sounded. According to the Egyptian Civil Aviation Ministry, the parties only "agreed on mutual visits in January." However, the same statement noted that Russian experts still "positively assessed" the security measures and related equipment at Cairo International Airport.
How many more checks will be required, no one can say for sure. Since the termination of flights at the end of 2015, different deadlines have been called - tourists in the "land of the pyramids" were first expected in the spring of 2016, then in June, at the end of October, mid-November, and, finally, by the end of 2016. Now sources familiar with the situation are making new forecasts and talking about January or the end of March 2017, when the summer schedule for airlines will take effect. Experts are encouraged by the fact that the resumption of air traffic is being discussed at the highest level of the presidents of the two countries, who support this optimism in their statements on this issue.
The Egyptian authorities have repeatedly stated that they have done and continue to do everything necessary to guarantee a high level of security, as well as the fact that the measures taken at the international airports of Egypt are no longer only in line with international standards, but are superior in their severity measures in a number of the world's largest air hubs. "Currently, we are proud that security measures at our airports are more serious than at many airports in popular European cities," Mahmoud al-Qatt, an expert from the aviation accident investigation department at the Egyptian Ministry of Civil Aviation, told RIA Novosti.
According to the head of the Center for Security Studies Khaled Okashi, Egypt understands Russia's concern about possible attacks on Russian interests and citizens, especially after Moscow began to actively fight terrorism. However, Egypt, he said, is very serious about ensuring the safety of those places and facilities that Russian tourists visit. "In any case, Egypt has fulfilled everything that was required of it in terms of security measures and equipment. It should be noted that representatives of different countries who have visited Egyptian airports have noted significant progress," RIA Novosti's source said.
Egyptian Minister of Tourism Yahya Rashed said in an interview late last year that 2017 could be the year of a revival in the tourism sector. "The Ministry of Tourism has set a goal to receive ten million tourists in 2017. This means returning to the level of 2015," the minister said.
He admitted that the outgoing year has become difficult for the tourism sector due to the catastrophe of a Russian liner in the skies over the Sinai and the subsequent suspension of flights from a number of countries, primarily Russia and the UK. These two countries provided about 60% of foreign tourists.
Now the number of tourists arriving in Egypt is gradually increasing, some countries have resumed suspended flights, others promise to do so in the near future. Egyptian experts are confident that large numbers of foreign tourists will return after the resumption of tourist flow from Russia, when Moscow will confirm the safety of the Egyptian tourist product.
Egypt is located on the Sinai Peninsula, and also has access to northeast Africa. A special geographical position, the state's access to two sea channels (the Mediterranean and the Red Sea), as well as a long coastline (1 million sq. Km). The country has established trade cooperation with Libya, as well as Sudan and Israel - key partners of the state.
Geographical location affects the climate situation in the region. A desert climate prevails here. During the year, there is a minimum amount of precipitation, and the maximum air temperature increases as the tourist season approaches. High humidity, as well as the daily temperature drop, helps to cool the air at night, which creates comfortable conditions for traveling around the country. Winter in the region is a decrease in temperature to +20 degrees and an increase in atmospheric pressure. In the summer, the air warms up to +36 degrees. In some regions of the state, the temperature rises to +40. The southern part of the country with a desert climate can heat up to +50.
The length of the country determines the development of tourism in the region. Popular destinations are represented by the following resorts:
As of 2017, the population of the region is about 60 million people. Every year there is an increase from 800 thousand to 1 million people. Most of the local residents live in Cairo - about 40%. Both Arabs and Nubians, Bedouins and other nomadic tribes live in Egypt, the main activity of which is reduced to farming and agriculture.
Most of the local residents adhere to the Muslim confessions. About 7% of the total population is Christian. The spoken language is the Arabic dialect. The peculiarity of the Arabic writing is that they write from right to left. Reading the numbers is similar. The locals speak excellent English. On it you can explain, bargain, and also get the necessary information from local residents.
Islam on the territory of the country is the defining vector of the development of society. Most of the time of the week on the streets you can hear the loudspeaker, with the help of which the morning, afternoon and evening prayers are broadcast.
Tourists will be able to appreciate the unique national costumes of local residents. Those who live in the countryside prefer to wear loose-fitting shirts. The national color scheme is dominated by white and black. Costumes are often decorated with lace and multi-colored inserts.
At first glance, a Russian may think that Egypt is an eastern country, but already traveled far and wide by our compatriots and immigrants from Europe. This gives rise to the illusion that this country is as comfortable to stay as any CIS or EU country. Meanwhile, for all its popularity, Egypt remains part of the Middle East world, which leaves its mark on almost everything. Therefore, it is worth carefully examining the rest in Egypt: features of behavior, clothing and much more.
The most important differences between Egypt and Russia and neighboring countries are, perhaps, two. The first and main difference is religion. About 90 percent of Egyptians are Muslims, while the remaining 10 percent are Christians.
However, one should not think that local Muslims are no different from Russian Tatars or the peoples of the North Caucasus. They differ, and how. The above-mentioned Muslim peoples of Russia are primarily representatives of the Western world, and it is difficult to distinguish them from a Christian, an atheist or an agnostic.
Egyptian Muslims, although not as radical as, for example, Afghans or Pakistanis, but still quite recently lived in very archaic conditions. Civilization has affected this country very unevenly, therefore, hospitality and cordiality in relation to tourists go hand in hand with wariness, and sometimes with hostility.
However, calm weather in summer is much more dangerous, since at this time even cautious people are prone to sunstroke and burns. The dry climate means that even the most aggressive sun does not seem like that at all. Even swimming in water can burn your skin in a very short time, and this feature of Egypt should also be taken into account.
Since most of the Russians do not speak Arabic, communication is possible only with English-speaking Egyptians or those who have already mastered Russian. Both groups of local residents belong to the most advanced and civilized part of Egyptian society, so the likelihood of seeing manifestations of fanaticism or other intolerance on the part of such Egyptians is minimal.
However, the reliability of such Egyptians should not be considered one hundred percent. There are few fanatics among them, but there are enough scammers. Therefore, it is better to limit communication only with the hotel staff.
There is a dilemma here: Egyptians are generally committed to patriarchal traditions and are benevolent. Visiting is as much an integral part of their life as a hookah or belly dance. Therefore, if a tourist is invited to visit, it is advisable for him to agree so as not to offend the inviter.
However, women should flatly refuse such offers, if only because no Egyptian respecting traditions would invite a woman to his place. If the invitation is accompanied by promises, it can be downright dangerous.
It is a little more difficult for men, since they may indeed be invited, but here they have to decide for themselves whether to accept the invitation or not. In any case, it is better to leave large amounts of cash or a credit card in the safe, numbers, as well as valuables.
In the process of getting ready for vacation, our heads are busy only with making a list of necessary things for the trip and anticipating the pleasure of the upcoming vacation on the shores of the Red Sea. It is not surprising that we often forget about the pitfalls, both literally and figuratively. In order not to turn the desired trip into a nightmare, it is important to know what troubles, purely hypothetically, may lie in wait for a tourist in Egypt.
In addition to the widespread worldwide restrictions on the traffic of tobacco and alcoholic products, an attempt to import or export from Egypt certain goods creates the risk of serious problems with the police, up to and including imprisonment.
Bloggers and videographers should give up the idea of taking a quadcopter on a trip. Drones of any type are prohibited from importing without permission from the Egyptian Ministry of Defense. If, nevertheless, in some incredible way it was possible to smuggle the aircraft through customs without permission, its use in the country promises an arrest, a fine, the opening of a criminal espionage case and imprisonment for a period of one to seven years.
We also advise you to be careful with painkillers, some of which are equated by the Egyptian authorities to narcotic drugs. In October 2017, Briton Laura Plummer was arrested at Hurghada airport for importing 300 tablets of a powerful pain reliever that is sold over the counter in the UK but is considered a drug in Egypt. Laura was sentenced to three years in prison and released under an amnesty only at the beginning of 2019.She claimed that she was carrying a drug for her friend, who suffers from back pain, but could not provide any documents. If a tourist, for health reasons, needs to take a strong pain reliever or antidepressant on vacation, it is imperative to have a doctor's certificate confirming that medicines are being imported into Egypt for personal use, or to purchase the necessary medicines at one of the local pharmacies.
Among the goods prohibited for export from Egypt, we first of all note corals, shells and other components of the ecosystem of the Red Sea, which is under the protection of the country's government. It cannot be argued that the check is carried out thoroughly, but the offender caught red-handed will have to pay a fine. Penalties in Egypt are also applied when trying to export antiques, antiques, ancient artifacts.
Photo enthusiasts should be sensitive when taking photos outside the hotel. It is forbidden to photograph people performing namaz. It is forbidden to take pictures of law enforcement officers without their prior consent.
Photography of military units, police stations, bridges, airports, government agencies (ministries, embassies) and other strategically important urban infrastructure is classified as espionage. In a bad combination of circumstances, such a violation can result in the opening of a criminal espionage case and imprisonment for a period of one to seven years.
In practice, a "fined" foreign tourist is asked to remove the footage and the rules are explained. If the tourist is polite, shows understanding, follows the instructions - the parties leave amicably. Disobedience to representatives of power structures will lead to an undesirable tough scenario.
Egyptian public transport is generally very good. The rail network connects the Nile Valley, the Nile Delta and the Suez Canal area, and it is fairly easy to travel elsewhere by bus or shuttle. There are feluccas and cruise ships on the Nile, and in the desert you can test your camel riding skills. For those in a hurry, there are Egypt Air flights.
Trains linking a limited number of destinations are best used for long journeys between major cities - air-conditioned cars are a more comfortable alternative to buses and taxis. Over short distances, trains are slower and less reliable. There is a significant difference between the relatively fast, air-conditioned trains (including those with sleeper cars) and the snail-crawling local trains without air conditioning.
For safety reasons, the authorities only ask tourists to use special air-conditioned trains between Cairo and Upper Egypt, so the clerks on the railroad will not sell you tickets for other trains. Most tourists follow the rule, but if you have a good reason not to do so, ask to buy an Egyptian ticket or take the desired train and buy a ticket from the conductor. Students with ISIC cards receive a 30% discount on all rates except for berths and sleeper cars.
Air-conditioned trains almost always have two classes of carriages. The most comfortable is the first class (daraga oola), with air conditioning, waiters, reclining chairs and no standing in the aisles. Unfortunately, for those who want to sleep, the videos work until midnight. The top-tier second-class air-conditioned carriages (daraga tanya mumtaaza) are less soft and more crowded, but while costing two-thirds of the price of first class, it's not a bad deal. Sometimes, air-conditioned trains have only first or only second class.
Between Cairo, Luxor and Aswan, foreigners are only allowed to use four "tourist trains" (three with seating and one with sleeping cars), where the cars are guarded by full-fledged police officers with Uzi submachine guns. In the past, regular sleeping accommodations were an economical way to get overnight to Luxor or Aswan, but now tourists are only allowed to use the much more expensive sleeping cars. Nevertheless, a regular first or second class carriage at a lower cost is quite convenient for an overnight crossing.
Seats can be reserved seven days in advance. Sometimes there are overlaps with the booking, but a little bakshish to the conductor usually solves all the problems. The general difficulty is that return tickets cannot be booked at the point of departure, so if you need to return to Cairo from Aswan/Luxor (or vice versa), it is better to take care of this on the day of arrival. Most travel agents sell first class tickets for a small commission, eliminating the need to queue. Estimated ticket prices: a first class ticket from Cairo to Aswan costs about $ 14; second class with air conditioning - $ 8.50.
Trains without air conditioning can be composed of ordinary second class carriages (daraga tanya aadia) with soft seats and third class carriages (daraga talata), where the benches are only wooden, and the doors and windows are open for ventilation. Both classes are always packed, the carriages are ancient and often dirty, and the timetables are taken out of thin air.
Very few foreigners use such trains, and if you need a long journey, it should be done only to save money. But over short distances, one might like the chaos and the sight of peasants and merchants entering and exiting at stops. There is no advance booking here, you don't have to queue. You just buy a ticket from the conductor and pay a small fine.
Recently, many new, sometimes very strange, types of tourism have appeared. People go for things, health, recipes, new acquaintances. It's amazing how diverse interests can be.