Lebanon minister apologizes to Egypt for insulting its cleanliness

A view of the Pyramids of Giza on the southwestern outskirts of the Egyptian capital of Cairo. (AFP)
Updated 06 November 2018
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Lebanon minister apologizes to Egypt for insulting its cleanliness

  • Avedis Guidanian complained that negative media reports about Lebanon were harming his country’s image and hindering tourism
  • Guidanian apologized for his disparaging remarks and visited the Egyptian ambassador to Lebanon

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s tourism minister has apologized to Egypt after criticizing the country’s cleanliness and living conditions in a newspaper interview, Lebanon’s state news agency NNA said.
Caretaker Tourism Minister Avedis Guidanian, in the interview published on Monday by Lebanon’s English-language Daily Star, complained that negative media reports about Lebanon were harming his country’s image and hindering tourism.
“Look at Egypt — is there a place dirtier than it? People are louder than us, there is more traffic than here — people live in graves, OK? But there is tourism, because they know how to sell the country,” Guidanian said.
Late on Monday Guidanian apologized for his remarks and visited the Egyptian ambassador to Lebanon on Tuesday, NNA said.
In Egypt, pro-government TV talk show host Ahmed Moussa said he “does not care for his apology,” but stressed the good relations between the people of Egypt and Lebanon. Moussa dismissed the minister as a “fool” and said the Lebanese government should “intervene.”
An official diplomatic source said the minister’s statement in the newspaper “does not reflect the position of Lebanon as a country or government, nor the Lebanese people.”
“The Lebanese people come to Egypt for tourism in large numbers,” the source added.
A Lebanese tourist in Egypt was sentenced in July to eight years in prison after authorities said she had insulted the country in a Facebook video post. The tourist, Mona el-Mazboh, had made a series of complaints including of sexual harassment. Her sentence was reduced in September to one year and suspended, and she left Egypt.
Lebanon has been without a government for six months since parliamentary elections, holding up vital reforms and raising fears for the economy. Prime Minister-designate Saad Al-Hariri has so far been unable to find consensus among rival political parties to form a national unity government.


Egypt offers residency to foreign investors

Updated 43 min 26 sec ago
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Egypt offers residency to foreign investors

  • A three-year residency is on offer for those who invest $200,000, and five years for those who purchase property worth $400,000
  • To begin the process for obtaining Egyptian residency, a preliminary contract must be agreed between the property owner and the foreign investor

CAIRO: In an attempt to further boost its booming real estate sector and attract foreign investment, Egypt will grant residency permits to foreigners who invest at least $100,000 in the country’s property market.
The growth rate of Egypt’s property market stands at 133 percent in 2018. This has been fueled by strong demand for housing, along with the sporadic launch of residential construction projects.
The minimum investment required to obtain a residency permit is $100,000. A three-year residency is on offer for those who invest $200,000, and five years for those who purchase property worth $400,000. The offer also applies to properties that are still under construction.
Khaled Abbas, the deputy minister of housing, said the procedures for the scheme are being set up in consultation with the Passport, Immigration and Nationality Administration.
To begin the process for obtaining Egyptian residency, a preliminary contract must be agreed between the property owner and the foreign investor, and then signed by an authorized body, such the Urban Communities Authority, the Tourism Development Authority or the governorate in which the property is located. Bank statements must also be provided confirming that the money has been transferred from overseas. The passport office will then approve the period of residence.
Members of the House of Representatives welcomed the announcement as a positive move for Egypt and an incentive for foreign investment, which it is hoped will create jobs and economic opportunities.
Whether the public will be so keen remains to be seen.
“This might be a bit problematic,” said Aly Salem, a resident of Cairo. “The housing demand in Egypt is already high, with the surging youth population and more and more people looking to get married each year. Where will they stay, if foreigners start swooping in and acquiring both residency and a huge housing unit with just $100,000?”
Offering further details, Gen. Kamel Amer, the head of the Parliament’s Defense and National Security Committee, said foreigners will not have any political rights for the first five years of residency and they will not be eligible to vote for 10 years. He also said spouses and children of investors will not be granted residency unless they live in Egypt.
Spain and Portugal have implemented similar programs in an attempt to boost their property markets. Previously, a foreigner had to live in Egypt for 10 consecutive years to be eligible for naturalization.
The new residency law is part of the efforts to repair the damage to Egypt’s economy caused by severe austerity measures imposed after the $12 billion loan package from the International Monetary Fund in 2016.
The cost and size of properties in Egypt, which are often large and lavish apartments, compare favorably to those in many other countries. Despite this, few Egyptians can afford to pay for a house upfront, but some private property developers are offering 10-year, interest-free installment plans.