Tourists throng Egypt pyramids after bombing, but future clouded

Tourists throng Egypt pyramids after bombing, but future clouded
Excited holidaymakers rode camels and queued to enter a tomb as they snapped pictures of the Great Pyramid. (AFP)
Updated 30 December 2018

Tourists throng Egypt pyramids after bombing, but future clouded

Tourists throng Egypt pyramids after bombing, but future clouded
  • The attack comes as Egypt’s vital tourism sector has begun to recover after years of instability
  • A bombing hit a tourist bus killing four people on Friday

GIZA: Crowds of tourists stared in awe at the towering pyramids of Giza near Cairo on Saturday undaunted by a nearby bomb attack a day earlier that killed holidaymakers from Vietnam.

A roadside bombing ripped through a tourist bus killing three tourists and an Egyptian guide on Friday, as it traveled near the world-famous attraction.

The attack comes as Egypt’s vital tourism sector has begun to recover after years of instability and militant violence that scared visitors away.

“I think terrorism can strike anywhere in the world,” Somand Yang from South Korea told AFP.

“You have to be careful but it is also like luck.” Security forces guarded the entrance to the sprawling site and Yang, 32, said she had no qualms about visiting.

“Lightning never strikes twice in the same place. So I figured it will be even safer today,” she said.

Excited holidaymakers rode camels and queued to enter a tomb as they snapped pictures of the Great Pyramid, the only surviving structure of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

Hawkers followed the tourists, doggedly trying to sell trinkets and souvenirs. Despite the steady flow of visitors, Egyptians working at the site said they were shaken by the attack — and concerned that it could hit their livelihoods.

“I knew the guide who died yesterday,” said Dalia Sadaka, as she accompanied a group of sightseers.

“I completely broke down yesterday, but I had to get to work in the morning,” she said, pointing to her visibly swollen eyes.

Earlier hit hard by a string of bloody attacks and unrest, visitor numbers to Egypt have more recently staged a partial recovery.

In October 2015, a bomb claimed by a local affiliate of Daesh killed all 224 people on board a passenger jet carrying Russian tourists over the Sinai peninsula.

That incident dealt a severe blow to Egypt’s tourism industry, which was still reeling from the turmoil set off by the 2011 uprising that forced veteran leader Hosni Mubarak from power.

The official statistics agency says arrivals reached 8.2 million in 2017, up from 5.3 million the year before.

But that figure was still far short of the record influx in 2010 when over 14 million came.

“I fear yesterday’s incident may have an impact on our source of income,” said an elderly man who offers camel rides, declining to give his name.

“It is very regretable,” he said. “We were finally happy that tourism started picking up a bit.”


Lebanon’s president expresses hope for Israel border talks

Updated 02 December 2020

Lebanon’s president expresses hope for Israel border talks

Lebanon’s president expresses hope for Israel border talks
  • President Michel Aoun was in Beirut for discussions with Lebanese leaders
  • The negotiations are the first non-security talks to be held between the two countries

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s president said Wednesday he wants maritime border talks with Israel to succeed and that disagreements during the last round of negotiations can be resolved based on international law.
President Michel Aoun spoke during a meeting with John Desrocher, the US mediator for the negotiations, who was in Beirut for discussions with Lebanese leaders.
The fourth round of talks, which was scheduled to take place Wednesday, was postponed until further notice, officials in the two countries said.
The negotiations are the first non-security talks to be held between the two countries, which have no diplomatic relations and are technically in a state of war following decades of conflict. Resolving the border issue could pave the way for lucrative oil and gas deals on both sides.
Israel and Lebanon each claim about 860 square kilometers (330 square miles) of the Mediterranean Sea. During the second round of the talks the Lebanese delegation — a mix of army officers and experts — offered a new map that pushes for an additional 1,430 square kilometers (550 square miles).
Israel’s Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said in an interview with Army Radio last week that “the Lebanese presented positions that are a provocation,” but he added that all negotiations start with “excessive demands and provocations.”
“I hope that in a few months we’ll be able to reach a breakthrough,” he added.
A statement released by Aoun’s office quoted him as telling Desrocher that Lebanon wants the talks to succeed because “this will strengthen stability in the south and allow us to invest in natural resources of oil and gas.”
He said difficulties that surfaced during the last round can be solved through discussions based on the Law of the Sea. Aoun said if the talks stall then “other alternatives can be put forward,” without elaborating.
The last round of talks were held in November and hosted by the United Nations in a border post between the two countries.
Israel has already developed offshore natural gas rigs, producing enough for domestic consumption and export abroad. Lebanon hopes that its own oil and gas discoveries will help alleviate its long-running economic troubles.