Egypt re-opens Port Tawfiq-Jeddah line after 14 years

Port Tawfiq-Jeddah navigation line between Egypt and Saudi Arabia is being opened after a 14-year hiatus. (Wikimedia Commons)
Updated 23 February 2019
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Egypt re-opens Port Tawfiq-Jeddah line after 14 years

  • Port Tawfiq was a private maritime port for travelers between Suez and Jeddah until 2006
  • The line was suspended after the sinking of the ferry Al-Salam Boccaccio 98, in which 1,000 people died

CAIRO: The Egyptian Red Sea Ports Authority has announced the re-opening of the Port Tawfiq-Jeddah navigation line between Egypt and Saudi Arabia after a 14-year hiatus.

Prior to 2006, Port Tawfiq was a private maritime port for travelers between Suez and Jeddah. 

The line was suspended in that year, however, after the sinking of the ferry Al-Salam Boccaccio 98. About 1,000 people died in what was described as one of the worst maritime accidents in history. 

Most of the passengers were Egyptian nationals working in Saudi Arabia, while others were pilgrims returning home from Hajj. 

Malak Youssef, spokesperson for the Red Sea Ports Authority, told Arab News that the tragedy has caused much of the passenger traffic between the two ports to come to a halt.  The Red Sea Ports Authority and Maritime Safety Authority have been in talks in recent years about the reopening of the line, he said.

The decision, according to Youssef, will attract companies and investors, and will boost trade. The Tawfiq line will be provided with up to six vessels.

The reception halls of Port Tawfiq can accommodate 2,500 passengers. A series of police checks will be implemented to ensure the security and safety of passengers.

Suez MP Abdelhamid Kamal had submitted a request to the head of Parliament in Cairo to consider the re-opening of the Suez navigation line. The closure had deprived Hajj and Umrah travelers and unofficial or unlicensed workers of an important route. 

“Operating the port is one of people’s major demands in Suez, following its closure in 2006,” Kamal said.

Ayman Saleh, of the Red Sea Ports Authority, said in a statement that the operation of the navigation line will open door to thousands of jobs for the youth of Suez Governorate. The project will also benefit the area with the upgrade of its infrastructure, its docks and reception halls.

According to Saleh, a completion date for the launch of the line has not been set yet. 

The Red Sea Authority and Maritime Safety Authority are still working on the details of the reopening. “We will provide services to the public and provide them with security and protection,” Saleh said.


Tourism chiefs salute fashion designer for holding son’s wedding in Lebanon

Elie Jr. and Christina Mourad. (Twitter)
Updated 3 min 56 sec ago
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Tourism chiefs salute fashion designer for holding son’s wedding in Lebanon

  • The tourism leader said the situation was to do with Lebanese ego, but he emphasized that wedding parties held in Lebanon could be better than those staged abroad on all levels

BEIRUT: Lebanese fashion designer Elie Saab has been hailed by tourism chiefs for staging his son’s lavish wedding reception on home turf.
The influential Syndicate of Owners of Restaurants, Cafés, Night-Clubs and Pastries in Lebanon saluted Saab “for holding the wedding party of his son, Elie Jr., and the Lebanese bride, Christina Mourad, in Lebanon instead of abroad, as do tens of Lebanese leaders and lords.
“Holding wedding parties abroad has deprived the tourism sector as well as other sectors in Lebanon of important revenues that can revive the national economy,” the syndicate said.
The nonprofit body that represents restaurateurs, added that the glittering event had “turned the country into a huge wedding attended by more than 3,000 guests from inside and outside Lebanon.
“People shared their joy on social media, communicating Lebanon’s image of civilization and tourism to the world. This wedding filled Lebanese hotels, restaurants and nightclubs and stirred the economic cycle for more than 10 days before and after the wedding. We salute the man who loves peace and Lebanon a thousand times.”
Jean Abboud, president of the Association of Travel and Tourist Agents in Lebanon (ATTAL), told Arab News: “The syndicate’s stance comes in response to a phenomenon that emerged a few years ago. Distinguished people have been holding lavish weddings for their children abroad, where they spend millions of dollars. This has not only been done by politicians, but also businessmen and senior employees, as if it has become a trend or an added value.”
The tourism leader said the situation was to do with Lebanese ego, but he emphasized that wedding parties held in Lebanon could be better than those staged abroad on all levels. “We have outstanding wedding planners who get employed to plan weddings abroad,” he added.
Abboud pointed out that the tourist season in Lebanon this year had so far been promising with the number of visitors from GCC countries, and especially Saudi Arabia, up on 2018 figures. He added that the 2019 draft budget approved by Parliament last week had not put “any burdens on the tourism sector.”
Chairman of the Hotel Owners Association in Lebanon, Pierre Al-Ashkar, estimated the cost of wedding parties held by Lebanese people abroad to be around $400 million, including hotel accommodation, purchases and transportation, in addition to the expenses of the wedding itself.
He said: “There is no longer a difference between politicians and businessmen who choose to hold their children’s wedding parties abroad. It is true that these weddings are no more than a few hundred, but their expenses are huge and, therefore, deprive Lebanon of this money.”
Al-Ashkar pointed out that the number of tourists choosing Lebanon this summer had risen, highlighting a significant 30 percent increase in the proportion of visitors from Europe.
“However, the number of tourists from GCC countries, especially Saudi Arabia, has not been as we had wished,” he added.
“Maybe this is because these tourists, who have not been visiting Lebanon for five to seven years, now have business in other countries or investments in tourist places outside of Lebanon, especially as some countries now offer incentives to attract tourists carrying certain passports and residence permits.”