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126,000 tourists visit Egypt since early July amid COVID-19 downward trend

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Egypt Tour

CAIRO, Aug. 24 : Egypt has received 126,000 tourists since it reopened its seaside resorts to international flights and foreign tourists on July 1, after a three-month halt due to the coronavirus pandemic, Egyptian Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, Khaled al-Anany, said on Monday.

Al-Anany’s comments came during a meeting in Cairo with Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly and the visiting Secretary-General of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Zurab Pololikashvili.

This Egyptian minister said this “great achievement” demonstrates the success and efficiency of the procedures introduced by his ministry, according to state-run Ahram Online news website.

Madbouly said the virus hit the world at a time when Egypt’s tourism was breaking its own records in terms of the number of arriving tourists.

“It will take some time to pick up the same pace due to tourists’ reluctance to travel at the time being,” the prime minister said.

He stressed that Egypt’s policies target maintaining a balance between the requirements of health and the economy.

Egypt, which has so far registered 97,340 COVID-19 infections and 5,262 deaths, resumed international flights in early July, after it lifted a partial curfew it has been imposing since late March, and reopened restaurants, cafes, theaters and cinemas, as well as hotels, museums and archeological sites, all with limited capacity.

About 600 hotels nationwide were allowed to reopen, having met the safety protocols announced by the authorities and at a reduced occupancy of 50 percent.

The North African country, which has been witnessing sharp decline in daily COVID-19 deaths and infections, also decided to reopen archeological sites, hotels and museums in the monument-rich city of Luxor for tourists from the beginning of September.

All travelers coming to Egypt will have to present a recent PCR test that proves they are free from COVID-19 as of September 1.

Earlier in the day, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi and Pololikashvili discussed the recent prominent tourism projects in Egypt amid the coronavirus outbreak.

During their meeting in Cairo, Sisi highlighted Egypt’s strategy to resume tourism under precautionary measures set by the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities in coordination with all concerned parties, which aims at achieving a balance between the return of tourism in Egypt, and ensuring the safety of tourists and workers in the tourism sector, Egyptian Presidential Spokesman Bassam Rady said in a statement.

For his part, Pololikashvili praised the Egyptian efforts to gradually receive foreign tourists, as well as the unprecedented support provided by the government for the tourism sector, which is one of the pillars of the Egyptian economy.

Tourism is one of the main sources of national income and foreign currency in Egypt. The country’s tourism revenues hit a record high of 13 billion U.S. dollars in 2019.

Experts believe that the visit of the UNWTO chief is of great importance for the Egyptian government which is working hard to resume tourist activities in the country in order to compensate the losses the sector has inflicted since the outbreak of the pandemic in mid-February.

“This visit is highly important…it is the best promotion made recently to visit Egypt,” Mohammed Othman, deputy chairman of tourism chamber in Upper Egypt, told Xinhua.

He noted that the visit proves that the government’s plans and measures have succeeded to keep the tourism sector alive and ready to receive foreign and local tourists once again.

Othman expected that tourism will revive within the next two months, expressing hope that an anticipated boom would help the industry compensate the losses inflicted in the past few months.

“I also hope that the Chinese tourists, who used to come in big numbers, would make Egypt as one of their favorable destinations again,” he said.

Middle East

Turkish Court Jails 27 For Life Over 2016 Coup Attempt

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

A Turkish court on Thursday jailed 27 former pilots and other suspects for life in one of the largest trials stemming from the bloody 2016 coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

They were convicted of crimes including murder, trying to overthrow the constitutional order and attempting to assassinate the president, an AFP reporter in the courtroom said.

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Health

Saudi Arabia to make COVID-19 vaccine free for citizens and residents

As per Gulf News, Dr Asiri told Al Ekhbariya that Saudi Arabia will receive vaccines through COVAX facility as well as through companies outside of the consortium.

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Saudi King Salman

Abu Dhabi: Saudi Arabia’s Health Ministry on Monday announced that it would make the coronavirus vaccine available for free to all citizens and residents.

“Those who have not tested positive for COVID-19 will be given priority in the vaccine campaign in the coming months,” said Dr Abdullah Asiri, the assistant undersecretary at the ministry.

He, however, added that those below 16 years of age will not be vaccinated unless research proves otherwise.

As per Gulf News, Dr Asiri told Al Ekhbariya that Saudi Arabia will receive vaccines through COVAX facility as well as through companies outside of the consortium.

“The Kingdom worked on two paths to obtain the vaccine, through the COVAX organisation, which the G20 had a role in creating and financing…Saudi Arabia will obtain a large number of vaccines through this facility, while the second track is directly contracting with the big companies to cover the gap that cannot be covered through COVAX,” Arab News mentioned Asiri as saying.

According to the World Health Organization, “the COVAX facility forms a key part of the COVAX pillar (COVAX) of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, a ground-breaking global collaboration to accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines.”

The Saudi Health Ministry further expected that by the end of next year, the vaccines would cover 70 per cent of the Kingdom’s population.

“One of the most important goals set by the G20 during Saudi Arabia’s G20 presidency is to support all-inclusive and equitable access to vaccines, diagnostic and treatment tools,” said Dr Abdullah Asiri.

Dr Asiri added that a comprehensive plan for vaccine distribution will be ready “in the coming weeks”.

During the two-day G20 summit hosted virtually in Riyadh, Dr Abdullah Al Rabeeah, the supervisor general of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre, on Friday said that his country would be among the first ones to get hold of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Dr Al Rabeeah added that Saudi Arabia has spent over USD 200 million on COVID-19 vaccine and drug development.

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz had in March also ordered free coronavirus treatment for all citizens.

Meanwhile, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Monday announced: “There is now real hope that vaccines, in combination with other tried and tested public health measures, will help to end the pandemic.”

His remarks came after drugmaker AstraZeneca announced that its COVID-19 vaccine was up to 90 per cent effective. With this, AstraZeneca has become the third major drug company after Pfizer and Moderna to have reported late-stage data for a potential COVID-19 vaccine.

“The significance of this scientific achievement cannot be overstated. No vaccines in history have been developed as rapidly as these. The scientific community has set a new standard for vaccine development,” added Tedros.

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India

India To Host G20 Summit In 2023: Grouping’s Declaration

India looks forward to taking forward the G20 agenda in 2023 after the Italian and Indonesian presidencies, the source said.

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g20 summit

G20 leaders announced on Sunday that India will host the summit of the high-profile grouping in 2023 — a year later than what was decided earlier.

India was earlier slated to host the summit in 2022 with the Osaka declaration of the G20 stating last year that “we look forward to meeting again in Saudi Arabia in 2020, in Italy in 2021 and in India in 2022”.

“We thank Saudi Arabia for hosting a successful Riyadh Summit and its contribution to the G20 process. We look forward to our next meetings in Italy in 2021, Indonesia in 2022, India in 2023 and Brazil in 2024,” the G20 Riyadh Summit Leaders Declaration said.

On India now hosting the summit in 2023, a source said, “The order of the rotating presidency is decided among member states on the basis of consultations and mutual convenience.”

India looks forward to taking forward the G20 agenda in 2023 after the Italian and Indonesian presidencies, the source said.

In a statement on the summit, the Ministry of External Affairs said it was decided that the G20 presidency will be held by Indonesia in 2022, India in 2023 and Brazil in 2024.

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