Rouhani: ‘Our people have lost faith in Iran’s future’

President Hassan Rouhani arrives at the Iranian Parliament in the capital Tehran, on August 28, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 29 August 2018
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Rouhani: ‘Our people have lost faith in Iran’s future’

  • Rouhani spoke out in Parliament in defense of his economic record, blaming the country’s woes on the US sanctions rather than his team’s management
  • Iran’s rulers have been divided between a pragmatic faction that aims for better international relations, and hard-liners who are wary of reforms

JEDDAH: Iran’s Parliament subjected President Hassan Rouhani to a live public grilling on Tuesday over the country’s collapsing economy — then rejected his answers and referred him to the judiciary.
Rouhani blamed US sanctions rather than government incompetence for Iran’s economic debacle. But he admitted: “Many people have lost their faith in the future of the Islamic Republic and are in doubt about its power.”
MPs had demanded explanations for soaring unemployment, slow economic growth, the plunging value of the rial, cross-border smuggling, and the lack of access by banks to global financial services.
In a vote, they found only Rouhani’s answer about banks satisfactory. The judiciary could rule that he broke the law and Parliament has the power to dismiss him.
The vote in Parliament came two days after MPs fired Finance Minister Masoud Karbasian and three weeks after they dismissed Labor Minister Ali Rabiei. At least 70 MPs have also signed a motion to fire Industry Minister Mohammad Shariatmadari.
“The Parliament’s move is politically motivated and indicates that tensions will increase in the Islamic Republic in coming months,” said Saeed Laylaz, an Iranian economist.

Saudi adviser: Sanctions unlikely to stop Iran exports completely

The US reimposed sanctions in August targeting Iran’s gold trade, motor industry and access to US dollars. Worse will come in November when the US aims to cut Iran’s oil exports to zero.
The plunge in the currency and soaring inflation have sparked street demonstrations against profiteering and corruption, with many protesters demanding regime change.
In a further blow to the president, European support for the 2015 nuclear deal after US withdrawal and the reimposition of sanctions appeared to be crumbling.
France, which has been leading efforts to defy US sanctions and salvage trade ties with Tehran, banned its diplomats from non-essential travel to Iran. Among the reasons given for the ban was a foiled Iranian plot in June to bomb a rally near Paris held by an exiled opposition group.
“The behavior of the Iranian authorities suggests a hardening of their position vis-a-vis our country, as well as some of our allies,” French Foreign Ministry Secretary-General Maurice Gourdault-Montagne said in a memo to staff.

Detailed coverage: Parliament censures Rouhani in sign pragmatists losing sway


Top Egyptian travel company sees sector recovering as tourists return

Updated 20 November 2018
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Top Egyptian travel company sees sector recovering as tourists return

  • Egypt’s revenues from tourism jumped 77 percent year-on-year in the first half of 2018 to $4.8 billion
  • Tourism is a cornerstone of Egypt’s economy, a source of income for millions of citizens and a major source of foreign exchange

CAIRO: One of the biggest Egyptian travel companies, Travco Group, said on Tuesday that hotel bookings are rising as tourists return to the country after years of political turmoil and security concerns.
Tourism is a cornerstone of Egypt’s economy, a source of income for millions of citizens and a major source of foreign exchange. But the sector suffered severely in the years following 2011’s popular uprising and was further hampered by a spate of militant attacks which targeted visitors.
Egypt’s revenues from tourism jumped 77 percent year-on-year in the first half of 2018 to $4.8 billion, while the number of tourists arriving in the country increased by 41 percent to just over 5 million.
Travco Group, which owns over 40 hotels in Egypt and abroad and is the local agent for Germany’s TUI Group, raised its prices by 30-35 percent at the beginning of this winter season, its CEO Hamed El Chiaty told Reuters in an interview.
“The level of tourist bookings during the current winter holiday season in Egypt is promising,” Chiaty said, adding that bookings from Germany, Italy, Poland and Ukraine were particularly promising.
In a devasting blow to the already struggling sector, Russia halted all flights to Egypt, and Britain stopped flights to Sinai, after an Islamist militant bomb attack brought down a Russian passenger plane in October 2015, killing everyone on board.
There have not been any major attacks aimed at the tourist sector in well over a year and Russia resumed flights to Cairo in April, although it has yet to authorize its aircraft to land in the Red Sea resort of Sham Al-Sheikh.
Chiaty said that Travco’s price increases were the highest in seven years, rising to pre-2011 levels, while occupancy levels at the group’s hotels were more than 80 percent, with the exception of Sharm Al-Sheikh.
Travco has market share of between 15 and 20 percent of the Polish, Belgian, English, Italian, Ukrainian and Austrian markets, Chiaty said, adding that it had recently refurbished its hotels.