Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat :

Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat : Egyptian Official to Aswat Asharq Al-Awsatt: Recovery of Saudi Tourism Reflects on Arab Region

Egyptian Deputy Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, Ghada Shalaby (Photo: Adnan Mahdali)
Egyptian Deputy Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, Ghada Shalaby (Photo: Adnan Mahdali)
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Egyptian Official to Aswat Asharq Al-Awsatt: Recovery of Saudi Tourism Reflects on Arab Region

Egyptian Deputy Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, Ghada Shalaby (Photo: Adnan Mahdali)
Egyptian Deputy Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, Ghada Shalaby (Photo: Adnan Mahdali)

Egyptian Deputy Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Ghada Shalaby told Aswat Asharq Al-Awsatt that Saudi Arabia’s recent achievements in the tourism sector benefit all countries of the Arab region.

Shalaby pointed to the importance of cooperation between Cairo and Riyadh to develop integrated tourism programs, underlining the need for Egyptian and Saudi companies to strengthen their relations in this sector.

The Egyptian official said that her country aims to attract 17.5 million tourists by the end of 2024, and 30 million tourists in 2028, given its great tourism potential and ability to provide distinguished service at a reasonable price.

Inter-Arab Tourism

The Deputy Minister of Tourism and Antiquities pointed to the mutual cooperation between Riyadh and Cairo to develop intra-Arab tourism, with the aim to transform the Middle East region into a destination for international tourists.

Shalaby said that her country succeeded in attracting 15 million tourists during the past year, despite the geopolitical circumstances that affected the region and the world and the volume of tourism movement.

She highlighted the great interest that the Egyptian government attaches to this sector in terms of supporting, empowering and stimulating investment, revealing that tourism constituted between 11.5 and 15 percent of the domestic product in the past four years.

“There is a great understanding between the government sector in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, especially in the procedures provided to the Hajj and Umrah pilgrims and the established controls that are implemented through partners in the private sector, in addition to other mechanisms and controls that aim to attract tourists through specialized tourism companies,” Shalaby told Aswat Asharq Al-Awsatt.

The Umrah Plus Program

Commenting on the steps taken to promote the Umrah Plus program, Shalaby said that the new product comes to maximize the facilitations offered to some nationalities to obtain a visa to Egypt, in order to visit diverse Islamic monuments and holy places.

“At the same time, those who come to Egypt can go to perform Umrah after the end of their visit,” she said, noting that two companies have forged an agreement to work on this new product.

The deputy minister stated that Saudi Arabia is at the top of the countries that lead inbound tourism to Egypt, in addition to other states such as Germany, Russia and England, which find Cairo an important tourist destination.

Electronic visa

Shalaby touched on the many facilities provided by Egypt to tourists, including an electronic visa for 180 nationalities, at the cost of $25, to those wishing to avoid the queues in the arrivals halls, as well as a 5-year visa, which can be obtained through the Egyptian embassy and consulates in the Kingdom, at a value of $700.

She stressed the importance of partnership with Arab countries to develop intra-tourism, which she described as crucial in attracting tourists coming from distant countries.

“Tourists often talk about going to Europe, where they go to France and from there to Germany, Spain, Austria and Switzerland. We, as Arab countries, aim to offer the same opportunity for tourists to come to the Middle East and go to Saudi Arabia and from there to the Emirates, Egypt, Jordan and the rest of the Arab countries,” she said.

The Egyptian Deputy Minister of Tourism and Antiquities spoke about the distinguished investment initiatives and opportunities provided by the government, including deductions and loans to complete tourism projects in the Pyramids and Sphinx area, as well as the vicinity of the Grand Museum.



Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat : Hamdok Optimistic for Burhan-Hemedti Meeting

Abdullah Hamdok, Sudan’s former Prime Minister and leader of the Sudanese Coordination of Civil Democratic Forces (Taqaddum)
Abdullah Hamdok, Sudan’s former Prime Minister and leader of the Sudanese Coordination of Civil Democratic Forces (Taqaddum)
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Hamdok Optimistic for Burhan-Hemedti Meeting

Abdullah Hamdok, Sudan’s former Prime Minister and leader of the Sudanese Coordination of Civil Democratic Forces (Taqaddum)
Abdullah Hamdok, Sudan’s former Prime Minister and leader of the Sudanese Coordination of Civil Democratic Forces (Taqaddum)

Abdalla Hamdok, Sudan’s former Prime Minister and leader of the Sudanese Coordination of Civil Democratic Forces (Taqaddum), is optimistic about a potential meeting between Sudan’s army leader, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and Rapid Support Forces (RSF) commander Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo “Hemedti.”
Speaking to Aswat Asharq Al-Awsatt on the sidelines of a Cairo conference for Sudanese political forces, Hamdok said: “A meeting between the two sides is possible through the African Union’s Presidential Committee led by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.”
Hamdok highlighted that this committee “is a positive step, providing a mechanism to bring the conflicting parties together, which didn’t exist before.”
In late June, the African Peace and Security Council formed a committee led by Museveni to bring together Sudan’s military and RSF leaders promptly. They proposed an urgent African Union summit to address Sudan’s situation.
Hamdok called it a historic step, noting it’s the first mechanism at the presidential level. He hoped the committee could influence both sides and achieve peace.
He praised the recent African Peace and Security Council meeting for showing Africa’s concern for Sudan.
At the Cairo conference for Sudanese political forces, Hamdok highlighted it as a crucial gathering since the crisis began, focusing on ceasefire strategies and a sustainable political resolution.
He emphasized there’s no military solution to Sudan’s conflict and advocated for political negotiations.
The Cairo conference united Sudanese political and civilian forces under the theme “Together for Peace,” addressing ceasefire, humanitarian aid, and a political roadmap.
Hamdok pointed out that Sudan is undergoing the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis, with 25 million people inside Sudan facing famine.
“Starvation is claiming more lives than bullets,” said Hamdok, highlighting the urgent need to reach war-affected populations.
The former premier urged action to deliver aid across Sudan’s borders and ensure it reaches those in conflict zones.