Travel platform creates new job opportunities for Egyptian guides

The platform says its locals can tailor activities and give visitors an insider's view on where to go and what to see. (Screengrab)
Updated 21 September 2019

Travel platform creates new job opportunities for Egyptian guides

  • Showaround is a platform that allows travelers to hire locals as personal tour guides

CAIRO: Apps have become increasingly popular in Egypt in recent years, creating new job opportunities and challenging traditional business and marketing channels.

For instance, Uber has around 90,000 monthly active drivers in the country, and Airbnb has grown massively.

Showaround, a platform that allows travelers to hire locals as personal tour guides, has attracted more than 6,300 locals.

“It’s a wave of change. It’s the fourth industrial revolution. Expect more and more apps to change how business is done,” Mohsen Aziz, 41, a software company owner in Cairo, told Arab News.

“Moreover, it opens up the space for new job opportunities and new products and services that were almost impossible to offer previously.”

Aziz said of Showaround: “Regardless of the local guides’ background, they still get recruited by global tourists. Subscribers’ profile picture, write up and service users’ reviews drive demand.”

On the app, men and women, primarily aged 21-35, post interesting pictures that include ancient sites, yoga positions and hiking.

Tour prices range from $3 to $15 per hour, but many locals offer their services for free to gain reviews.

“While I’m happy we’re driving better tourist services through such platforms, I’m concerned that these locals aren’t trained or have enough of a background to be ambassadors for our country to explain thousands of years of history,” said professional tour guide Rasha Hussein.

“Guides should get government licenses to practice. It doesn’t sound fair. We spent years studying and practicing to be eligible.”

Egypt aims to attract 12 million tourists in the fiscal year 2019-20, an 11 percent increase from 2018-19, according to government plans.

The Tourism Ministry recently announced partnerships with six international companies, including CNN and Expedia, to promote tourism through global platforms and modernize marketing mechanisms for Egyptian tourist destinations.

The government aims to increase the number of tourist nights spent in Egypt to 127 million, compared to 113 million in 2018-19.

Egypt’s tourism revenues reached $11.4 billion in 2018, an increase of around 50 percent ($7.6 billion) from 2017, according to figures from the Tourism Ministry.


Fatah and Hamas blame each other for reconciliation failure

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, left, and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.
Updated 57 min 46 sec ago

Fatah and Hamas blame each other for reconciliation failure

  • Sources said Fatah wanted to exclude three factions — the Liberation Movement, the Mujahideen Movement and the Popular Resistance Committees — whereas Hamas wanted them to participate because of their loyalty

GAZA CITY: Fatah and Hamas have blamed each other for their lack of reconciliation following the release of US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan.
The Trump peace plan, supported by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, calls for the creation of a demilitarized Palestinian state that excludes Jewish settlements built in occupied territory and is under near-total Israeli security control. It also proposes US recognition of Israeli settlements on occupied West Bank land and of Jerusalem as Israel’s indivisible capital, along with Israeli annexation of the Jordan valley.
It has been trashed by the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation as well as the Palestinian Authority.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called on all factions to unite and develop a common strategy to counter the peace deal and there were hopes he would send a PLO team to Gaza to reconcile with his political rivals at Hamas, ending 13 years of internal division. But the meeting has yet to materialize, with each side accusing the other of obstruction and exclusion.
Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip by force from the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority in 2007, with the takeover leaving Palestinians divided between two governments. Hamas controls Gaza and the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority governs autonomous areas of the Israeli-occupied West Bank. The two sides remain bitter enemies.
The PLO’s Saeb Erekat, who is executive committee secretary, said the organization’s factions were ready to go to the Gaza Strip. “It is Hamas that is delaying the visit, by refusing to invite the factions to hold a meeting that includes all the factions in Gaza,” he told Arab News. “We do not see any reason for Hamas to delay issuing invitations to the Palestinian factions to respond to what was agreed upon in holding a factional meeting in Gaza, until a reconciliation agreement is reached and ending
the division.”
Azzam Al-Ahmad, a member of the Fatah central committee, said the group was not waiting for the approval of any party to go. It was waiting for an official date from Hamas in order to hold the factional meeting in Gaza.
In 2017 Hamas and Fatah signed a reconciliation agreement after Hamas agreed to hand over administrative control of Gaza, including the key Rafah border crossing.

The deal was brokered by Egypt and helped bridge the gulf between the two Palestinian parties — the Western-backed Fatah and Hamas, which is viewed as a terrorist organization by several countries including the US.

HIGHLIGHT

Mahmoud Abbas called on all factions to unite and develop a common strategy to counter the peace deal and there were hopes he would send a PLO team to Gaza to reconcile with his political rivals at Hamas, ending 13 years of internal division. But the meeting has yet to materialize.

Hamas leader Ismail Radwan said there was no need for hiding or “evasion” as the group’s stance was clear about representation and delegations. “It (Hamas) has repeatedly welcomed the visit of the delegation to achieve reconciliation, the brothers in Islamic Jihad and the popular and democratic fronts approved that,” he told Arab News. Fatah, he said, opposed the inclusion of “resistance forces.”
“The problem lies in the political thought of Abbas and his team, who do not believe in real partnership on the ground, and they like to exclude the resistance factions that have presented hundreds of martyrs,” he added.
Sources said Fatah wanted to exclude three factions — the Liberation Movement, the Mujahideen Movement and the Popular Resistance Committees — whereas Hamas wanted them to participate because of their loyalty.
A Fatah delegation visited Gaza last week without meeting Hamas. Radwan said there was no meeting because the delegation insisted on holding a “bilateral meeting” with Hamas only.
“We welcomed the arrival of the delegation of the Palestinian Authority in the hope that it would be a prelude to a meeting at the level of general secretaries or a scheduled national meeting, but unfortunately Fatah started with obstacles, the first of which was the refusal of the national and factional presence at this meeting,” he said.
Ibrahim Abrash, a political science professor at Al-Azhar University in Gaza, said there was no reconciliation agreement in sight. “What happened after the announcement of the deal of the century is an emotional state without real intentions on both sides of the division,” he told Arab News. Mutual accusations and the justifications for the visit’s failure were “trivial,” he added.