The official gazette on Tuesday published a decision by the prime minister for the establishment of a joint stock company for metro lines and rail transport management, operation and maintenance.
Under the decision, the Ministry of Finance, the New Urban Communities Authority, the National Investment Bank and the National Authority for Tunnels, will establish the company together.
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has said in a statement on Tuesday that he vows to continue the battle for comstruction and to face domestic and external challenges “with the same determination” displayed during the 30 June Revolution.
In a post on Facebook commemorating the seventh anniversary of the revolution, El-Sisi stressed that “Egypt is a nation that has made history and continues to make history on various fronts,” and said the country serves as an “inspiration for humanity.”
The president also said that the revolution would “live in the memories of all generations due to what it instilled in terms of pride, dignity and patriotism, and for safeguarding the country’s identity from abduction.”
“I renew the vow to continue our honorable battle to achieve development and face challenges both at home and abroad,” he said.
On 30 June 2013, millions of Egyptians took to the streets to protest the tumultous rule of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, who had come to power in June 2012.
Amid the mass protests against his rule, Morsi was removed from office on 3 July by a wide coalition of political forces, which set a roadmap for amending the country s constitution and holding new elections.
Thursday, 2 July, will be a fully paid day off for governmental and private sector workers on the occasion of the seventh anniversary of the 30 June revolution.
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi will inaugurate on Monday a number of national projects, including the new Sphinx International Airport as well as Heliopolis landmark Baron Empain Palace following the completion of its first-ever restoration.
The ceremony, which El-Sisi is attending at Al-Galaa Theatre in Heliopolis, will also see the inauguration of the New Administrative Capital Airport and a number of projects in eastern Cairo.
Speaking at the event, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly presented plans for the development of Khedivial Cairo, which began with the renovation of Cairo’s Tahrir Square and other areas, including the Maspero Triangle and the Magra El-Oyoun aqueduct, which is set to serve as a tourist attraction.
Madbouly said that the size of development projects carried out by Egypt in the past six years totaled EGP 4.5 trillion ($278 billion).
The PM said that Egypt continues to achieve the best growth rates in the Middle East and North Africa despite the repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic on global growth rates.
He said the global economy is seeing a recession due to the pandemic, with a negative growth rate amid a plunge in tourism traffic globally.
Madbouly said that Egypt’s growth rate had reached 5.9 percent before the crisis, but the forecasted growth rate now stands at 4 percent by the end of fiscal year 2019/2020, which is still the highest in the region.
The PM said that the size of government investments in fiscal year 2020/2021, which begins on 1 July, is estimated at EGP 400 billion, adding that the state also seeks the restoration of around 1.2 million feddans in the upcoming period to help achieve self-sufficiency in agricultural resources.
The state has allocated EGP 15 billion in the telecommunications sector in the upcoming financial year to upgrade the sector’s infrastructure and scale up the services provided to citizens, Madbouly said.
By August, more e-services will be provided to citizens through the government’s digital portal, he said, adding that the government aims to provide 155 online services by the end of 2020.
Revival of the Baron Empain Palace
President El-Sisi attended the inauguration of the long-dormant Baron Empain Palace in Heliopolis following a restoration process that took over two years.
The palace is designated as a tourist destination as well as a historical exhibition on the history of Heliopolis.
The restoration work on the mansion, originally built in 1911, was carried out in collaboration with the Armed Forces Engineering Authority and the Arab Contractors Company on a budget of more than EGP 100 million.
Tourism and Antiquities Minister Khaled El-Anany said the inauguration of the palace is important for the country’s tourism sector, adding that the opening reaffirms that “Egypt does not forget its history.”
Egypt will gradually resume regular international flights at all its airports starting 1 July. Foreign tourists will only be allowed into three coastal governorates as part of tour groups, which aims to make up for the losses the vital sector has suffered amid the pandemic.
Egypt hopes that the resumption of regular flights starting next month will boost its ailing tourism sector, an essential source of foreign currency.
Minister El-Anany said that the country is currently bracing for the gradual resumption of tourism on Wednesday to three governorates under strict preventive measures.
El-Anany said 400 hotels nationwide have received the necessary health safety certificates to reopen and receive tourists at a reduced occupancy, praising support provided by the finance ministry and the Central Bank of Egypt to help aid a sector hit heavily by the pandemic.
New airports inaugurated
The Egyptian president also attended the inauguration of two new airports: Sphinx International Airport (SPX) and the New Administrative Capital Airport, both of which aim to alleviate pressure on Cairo International Airport, which is in the eastern side of the capital.
The SPX, which is part of the government s plan to stimulate tourism to the country, had opened its doors in 2019 as part of a trial operation.
The airport aims to serve the Greater Cairo districts of 6 October and Sheikh Zayed, as well as the governorates of Fayoum and Beni Suef.
It also aims to serve tourists coming to visit the pyramids and the anticipated Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), which is around 90 percent complete.
The SPX, built with a budget of EGP 300 million, has been dubbed the “300 passenger airport” in reference to its accommodation capacity per hour.
The New Administrative Capital Airport was also inaugurated under a plan to connect the areas of East Cairo, Shorouk and Badr cities, as well as the Suez Canal cities.
The airport will have the capacity to accommodate 300 passengers per hour, with 45 buildings around the place and a main terminal of over 5,000 square meters of space, which will help ease the load on the capital’s main airport.
Two Egyptian members of parliament were diagnosed with coronavirus on Saturday and Sunday, including Abdel-Rehim Ali, an independent MP representing Dokki, Giza, who was diagnosed with COVID-19 while on a trip to Paris.
Ali, a researcher on political Islam, left Cairo for Paris last week to attend a conference on the Libyan crisis. A statement issued by Abdel-Rehim s office on Sunday morning said he had a high fever on Saturday night and was taken to a private hospital in Paris, where he tested positive for the virus on Sunday morning.
"He is currently receiving treatment in the intensive care unit," the statement said.
Hiatham El-Hariri, a leftist MP representing Karmouz, Alexandria, has also tested positive for the coronavirus.
In a Facebook statement on Friday evening, El-Hariri said "on Wednesday morning, I had mild fever so I did some tests… On Thursday morning, I [suffered from] fatigue and headed to a fever hospital where I tested positive for COVID-19."
A total of 11 Egyptian MPs have so far been diagnosed with coronavirus.
Parliament spokesperson Salah Hasaballah told Al-Ahram Online that six of the infected MPs have been admitted to isolation hospitals.
"They have almost recovered and five of them have left the hospital," said Hassaballah, adding that "we have other three MPs who preferred home isolation and their general conditions are now stable."
Hassaballah said "the infection of 11 MPs will not stop parliament from holding its plenary sessions scheduled for next week, on Sunday 5 July."
"Despite the infections, we were able to discuss and pass the 2020/21 budget and development plan, as well as five election laws," said Hassaballah, adding that "next week, parliament will discuss new draft laws on taxes, intellectual property rights and other economic issues."
Egypt has been witnessing a steady increase in coronavirus cases, with the total infections until Saturday recording 63,923 and deaths reaching 2,708.
Starting this week, Egypt has lifted a number of restrictions in place since March, including lifting a nighttime curfew and reopening restaurants, coffee shops, and some cultural and social venues, albeit under new hygiene and safety restrictions.
Sudan said in a letter to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on Wednesday that it is “deeply concerned” about Ethiopia’s decision to start filling its controversial dam on the Blue Nile without prior agreement with downstream countries Egypt and Sudan.
Egypt s southern neighbour urged the international body to "discourage" all parties from any “unilateral action."
In its three-page letter, which was seen by Ahram Online, Khartoum said the unilateral filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) will put the operation of the Sudanese Roseires dam, whose reservoir is located 15 km away from the Ethiopian dam, and the lives of millions of people living downstream at "a very high risk."
"Sudan is deeply concerned about Ethiopia s decision to start filling the GERD reservoir in the absence of an agreement," said the letter by Sudan’s Foreign Minister Asmaa Mohamed Abdallah.
Khartoum called upon Cairo and Addis Ababa to adopt a draft agreement it proposed during talks earlier this month as a basis for finalising a deal. The agreement would regulate the filling and long-term operation of the GERD and adopt drought mitigation and safety measures.
Sudan s letter to the UNSC came after Egypt sent a letter to the Security Council on 19 June requesting its intervention to resolve the dam dispute with Ethiopia.
Egypt s letter to the Security Council came after talks stalled last week and Addis Ababa declared it will go ahead with the filling of the dam in July, even without a deal.
In its letter to the UNSC, Khartoum said that despite the potential positive impacts of the Ethiopian dam on Sudan, including increased hydropower generation and better management of the country’s irrigation system, the project can carry “substantial risks” without an agreement regulating its operation and filling.
Those negative impacts include threatening the operational safety of Sudanese dams and the flood-plain agricultural system of Khartoum as well as possible socioeconomic and environmental harms, it said.
Khartoum believes "there has to be an agreement in place with Ethiopia on how it intends to fill and operate GERD, otherwise the GERD stands to cause substantial risks to Sudan."
Sudan said the GERD "will completely change the flow regime of the Blue Nile" by flattening its hydrograph and with its gigantic size it "can poses substantial negative impacts on Sudan if not properly designed, constructed, filled and operated."
Such harmful impacts, Sudan says, would "threaten the lives and safety of millions of Sudanese citizens."
Khartoum told the UNSC that the draft agreement it submitted on 14 June to Egypt and Ethiopia has successfully brought divergent views closer. The agreement was based on the consensus reached during Washington talks - that stalled in mid-February - as well as the output of previous discussions throughout the past years.
Despite what Sudan sees as "significant" technical progress, it emphasised that divergence on some "fundamental legal issues" still persisted.
Egypt, however, stated that disagreements were not merely related to the legal terms but also included technical issues, including regulating the operation of the dam during drought and extended drought.
Among the legal disputed terms that Sudan mentioned in its letter is the "binding nature of the agreement", Ethiopia’s insistence to include water-sharing issues in the agreement, and a lack of a binding dispute resolution mechanism.
Khartoum s proposed agreement of 14 June "ensured that the agreement to be signed will be legally binding and cannot be amended or terminated without the agreement of all three parties." However, Sudan s letter said Ethiopia proposed a document of "guidelines" that can be revised and in some cases terminated.
Ethiopia s insistence not to commit to a legally-binding agreement was previously highlighted by the Egyptian irrigation ministry which said Ethiopia insisted on drafting “guiding rules that [it] can unilaterally amend."
Egypt said the recent talks between the water ministers of the three countries “have made little progress" due to Ethiopia’s "intransigent positions" on both the technical and legal aspects of the deal.
Khartoum proposed at the end of last week s negotiations the referral of pending legal issues to the prime ministers of the three countries to allow the negotiations to resume.
Sudan urged the UNSC to call upon the three countries to “demonstrate their political will and commitment by resolving the remaining issues and to conclude an agreement.”
"The draft is comprehensive, fair, and balanced and it paves the way for concluding a comprehensive and final deal," Sudan said describing its draft agreement, adding that with the political will and commitment from the parties "we can conclude this historic agreement."
Libyan parliament speaker said on Wednesday that the Libyan people will request the military intervention of Egypt whenever needed.
Speaking to Egypt s state-owned MENA news agency, Akeela Saleh said the Egyptian intervention "would be legitimate under the Libyan people s mandate."
"We will request the intervention of the Egyptian armed forces to support the Libyan army in case of the penetration of Sirte" by armed militias, Saleh stressed.
The foreign ministers of a number of Arab countries said in a videoconference on Tuesday that the water security of Egypt and Sudan is “inseparable from Arab national security.”
During the meeting, held to discuss the situation with the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), the ministers expressed their rejection of any act or measure that would infringe on the rights of Nile Basin countries.
The ministers praised Sudan’s call for holding new rounds of negotiations from 25 May till 17 June in order to reach an agreement about the rules of filling and operating the GERD. They also welcomed UN chief Antonio Guterres’ call for Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia to reach an agreement through negotiations.
The ministers also expressed their deep concern about the unfruitful talks between the three states, stressing the need for resuming negotiations in order to reach a deal that takes into consideration the interests of all parties.
The Arab top diplomats called on all parties not to take unilateral actions, including the filling of the GERD by Ethiopia, without first reaching a deal with the two other countries about the general rules. Otherwise, they argued, this would serve as a direct violation of the Declaration of Principles signed by the three states in Khartoum in March 2015.
They also emphasised the importance of the three countries abiding by international law, as well as resuming technical studies on the socio-economic and environmental impact of the GERD on Egypt and Sudan.
Sudan s state minister for foreign affairs said on Tuesday that Egypt and his country share a consensus about the Arab resolution on the GERD.
Omar Ismail said that both countries have cooperated on this issue, stressing that Sudan is a "key party" in the GERD talks.
Following days of renewed talks between the water ministers of the three countries, which were brokered by Sudan, the negotiations reached a deadlock due to Ethiopia’s "intransigent positions" on both the technical and legal aspects of the deal.
Ethiopia refused to sign a binding agreement between the three countries, insisting on drafting “guiding rules that [it] can unilaterally amend,” Egypt said.
Cairo and Addis Ababa recently sent letters to the United Nations Security Council in the latest escalation in the GERD crisis.
Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides and his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry discussed the latest developments in the East Mediterranean region in a telephone call on Sunday June 21,2020.
The top diplomats also talked about the situation in Libya and Turkish moves that fomented tension in the Arab country and destabilized the whole region, the Cypriot Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
They agreed on the need of an immediate ceasefire and a return to the political process based on the outcome of the Berlin Conference and relevant UN Security Council resolutions, including No. 2510.
Christodoulides reiterated Nicosia’s full support for Cairo’s initiative that takes into consideration those resolutions.
A military solution in Libya would be Egypt’s last resort to safeguard its security, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said on Sunday, one day after Egypt asserted that it has a legitimate right to intervene in the neighboring country to secure its borders amid growing tensions in the region.
In an interview with Saudi owned Al-Arabiya TV, Shoukry said that Egypt has been coordinating with international and regional players in Libya, stressing that a military move would be Cairo’s “last option to preserve its security.”
“We refuse Turkey s attempt to expand in Libya,” he said, adding that Ankara’s expansion in Syria, Iraq and Libya is in violation of international legitimacy.
Shoukry’s interview came one day after Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said that Cairo has a legitimate right to intervene in the war-torn neighboring country to restore security and stability after receiving "direct threats" from "terrorist militias", stressing that Egypt has long been reluctant to take the move.
El-Sisi said that any intervention in Libya by Egyptian forces “would be led by the Libyan tribes,” stressing that the Libyan frontline of Sirte and Al-Jufra is “a red line” for Egyptian national security.
Earlier this month, President El-Sisi, commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA) Khalifa Haftar, and the speaker of the Libyan parliament Aguila Saleh announced a peace initiative, dubbed the Cairo Declaration, to end the civil war in Libya through a ceasefire and an elected leadership council.
The Cairo plan comes after the collapse of an offensive launched by Haftar in April 2019 to capture the Libyan capital, further extending the rival Government of National Accord’s (GNA) control over most of northwest Libya.
Egypt, the UAE and Russia are backing Haftar in the east, while Turkey supports the Tripoli-based GNA.
Shoukry said that Egypt is currently discussing the Libya situation with Tunisia and Algeria, and that the three countries have a “shared view” on the matter. The minister added that “it is time for serious action to achieve stability” in the country.
On the disputed dam Ethiopia is building on the Blue Nile, Shoukry said that Egypt wishes to see a "convergence of views" between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan.
The minister said that Cairo has presented a draft agreement on the mega dam without providing more details, as the growing tensions with Ethiopia have pushed Egypt to ask the UN Security Council to intervene to resolve the dispute.
“We have resorted to the UNSC after the Ethiopian side refused to [reach] an understanding. They have been persistent in rejecting mediations,” he said, describing the UNSC move as a “sovereign decision.”
Shoukry’s comments come after El-Sisi stressed on Saturday that Egypt is committed to pursuing a diplomatic path to resolve the dispute over the hydropower dam being built near the Ethiopian border with Sudan.
Saturday’s statements were the first by the Egyptian president since Egypt officially lodged a complaint with the UN Security Council after Ethiopia said it would start filling the dam’s reservoir next month regardless of whether a deal is reached.
Renewed negotiations between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) remained deadlocked after Addis Ababa refused to enter into a legally-binding agreement over the controversial project, Egypt’s irrigation ministry said on Wednesday.
The days-long talks between the water ministers of the three countries that were brokered by Sudan “have made little progress" due to Ethiopia’s "intransigent positions" on both the technical and legal aspects of a deal, the ministry said in a statement.
Ethiopia refused that the three countries conclude a binding agreement in accordance with international law, and stood firm on merely reaching “guiding rules that [it] can unilaterally amend,” the ministry said.
Addis Ababa has also refused to include in the agreement a legally-binding mechanism to settle disputes between the three nations, or effective measures to cope with drought, the Egyptian ministry added.
Sudanese Irrigation Minister Yasser Abbas suggested on Wednesday referring the contentious issues to the prime ministers of the three countries to reach a political consensus that would allow talks to resume as soon as possible.
But Egypt said Ethiopia had opposed to this proposition which the Egyptian statement described as "a last-ditch attempt" to resolve the stalemate.
However, a statement by the Ethiopian irrigation ministry later on the day said the meeting concluded with an agreement to continue the negotiation after "Sudanese delegation" gets a requested consultation with its prime minister done.
The three countries resumed talks on 9 June via video conference after more than three months of deadlock. Officials from the US, EU and South Africa, the current chairman of the African Union, attended as observers.
Abbas, meanwhile, told reporters after the talks ended that the three countries agreed on “90% or 95%” of the technical issues but the differences over the legal aspects remained unsolved.
Nevertheless, his ministry said in a statement later that the legal disagreements reflect “major conceptual differences” between the three nations.
The Sudanese minister said his country and Egypt refused Ethiopia’s attempts to include points on the sharing of Nile water in the deal. “The deal should be on the filling and operation of the dam, not the sharing of water quotas between the three countries.”
“A deal should be signed before the start of the filling,” Abbas stressed.
Ethiopia has repeatedly said it will start filling the reservoir of the mega dam next month regardless of whether an agreement is reached or not.
Earlier this month Sudan asked the UN Security Council to encourage all parties to refrain from taking unilateral actions, and Egypt had also urged the bloc to call on Ethiopia to not act unilaterally by filling the dam.
In response, Addis Ababa told the UN body that it “does not have a legal obligation to seek the approval of Egypt to fill the dam.”
After US-sponsored meetings in Washington stumbled in February, US Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin said the “final testing and filling [of the dam] should not take place without an agreement.”
The US demand was reiterated on Wednesday when the US National Security Council (NSC) said that “it is time” to reach a deal over the GERD before Ethiopia starts filling the dam’s reservoir.
In a post on its official Twitter account, the NSC said "257 million people in East Africa are relying on Ethiopia to show strong leadership, which means striking a fair deal."
The US, represented by the Treasury Department, and the World Bank stepped in last year to host tripartite negotiations, which began in November and lasted till February after years-long negotiations between the three countries hit a dead end. Ethiopia, however, skipped the last round of Washington talks.
Earlier this week, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said his country may resort to the United Nations Security Council to prevent Ethiopia from taking any “unilateral” action on the hydropower project if Addis Ababa remains "intransigent."
Egypt stressed that it has been seeking a “fair and balanced” agreement for the three nations through nearly a decade of talks but was met by “stringent” approach from Ethiopia.
Egypt, which is almost entirely dependent on the Nile River Nile for its freshwater, fears the dam will diminish its water supply, which is already below scarcity level. Some 85 percent of the Nile water that reach Egypt flow from Ethiopia highlands.
Ethiopia hopes the massive $4.8 billion megaproject on the Blue Nile will, which would generate 6,000 megawatt when complete, will allow it to become Africa’s largest power exporter.
The Arab League has condemned the detention and abuse of a group of Egyptian workers in Libya.
Footage circulating in recent days on social media appears to show militias loyal to Libya’s internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) assaulting tens of Egyptian workers in the western city of Tarhuna.
The Arab League welcomed in a statement on Tuesday the GNA’s statement in which it vowed to arrest and punish the perpetrators of what it described as a "criminal act".
The video has sparked outrage in Egypt, prompting Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel-Aal and Emigration Minister Nabila Makram to promise a proper response to the incident at the right time.
On Tuesday, the United Nations raised alarm about the incident, while calling for an investigation.
In its statement, the Arab League also expressed concern over the discovery of a number of mass graves mostly in the city of Tarhouna in recent days.
Eight mass graves were discovered in an area evacuated this month by rival forces allied to eastern military commander Khalifa Haftar, AFP reported. The UN said it noted the discovery "with horror".
“A source at the Arab League warned of the danger of reprisal killings on the fabric of the Libyan society and on the success of the political course and ceasefire efforts,” the statement said.
“The source also emphasised the illegitimacy of methods of detaining, insulting, and torturing civilians, both Libyans and non-Libyans as a means of delivering political messages,” the statement added.
The Arab League also expressed its readiness to cooperate with the Libyan authorities in both incidents.
Egypt has supported east-based military commander Khalifa Hifter who is fighting the forces of the UN-backed government in the capital, Tripoli.
Egyptian Health Minister Hala Zayed said on Tuesday that Egypt ranked among the lowest in countries worldwide regarding the number of deaths from the coronavirus, adding that those with chronic diseases were the first in terms of deaths.
Egypt reported 94 new fatalities on Tuesday, bringing the total number of deaths to 1,766 so far.
Egypt will seek other options, including going to the United Nations Security Council, if Ethiopia remains intransigent during the new round of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) talks, Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry stated on Monday in Cairo.
According to the Egyptian foreign ministry, Shoukry said at a lecture organised by the Egyptian Business Council for International Cooperation that Egypt has been committed to negotiating in good faith to reach a balanced and fair agreement to the “GERD crisis” in the past years for the best interest of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia.
"The latest round of negotiations will not yield positive results as long as Ethiopia is intransigent, in which case Egypt will have to look into other options, such as going to the UN Security Council to shoulder its responsibility in protecting international peace and security by stopping Ethiopia from taking a unilateral action that will negatively affect Egypt s water rights."
Shoukry s statements came as the irrigation ministers of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia have started another round of online talks over GERD on Monday after failing to reach an agreement a few days ago.
Egypt and Sudan presented last month two memos to the Security Council, detailing the GERD situation from its onset and how both countries have concerns about the dam which Ethiopia said it plans to fill in early July in violation of earlier agreements.
Ethiopia hopes the massive $4.8 billion megaproject on the Blue Nile will allow it to become Africa s largest power exporter.
But Egypt, which relies on the Blue Nile for 85 percent of its freshwater, fears the dam will diminish its water supply, which is already below scarcity level.
Egypt has a water share of around 570 cubic metres per person annually, well below the water scarcity level of 1,000 cubic metres per person per year. The figure is expected to drop further to 500 cubic metres by 2025.
On regional developments
During the lecture, Shoukry also discussed the global political, economic, and social challenges as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, and tackled several regional issues, including developments in Palestine, Libya, Yemen and Syria.
He stressed Egypt s rejection of unilateral actions by Israel to annex the West Bank, stating this may end opportunities to revive the peace process based on the two states solution as well as the Arab Peace initiative.
On Libya, Shoukry spoke about the Cairo Declaration initiative Egypt announced two weeks ago, saying it was in line with the current UN initiatives and agreements.
“The initiative aims to ensure fair representation for Libya s three provinces, unifying its institutions, and the fair distribution of Libya s wealth,” the Egyptian foreign minister said.
Shoukry asserted it is necessary to reach a comprehensive political settlement in Syria in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 2254 to ensure the country s unity and the safety of its institutions.
Shoukry also stated the Yemen crisis needed a political solution and an end to foreign intervention.
Egypt will resume flights at all Egyptian airports with countries that have opened their airports as of 1 July, the country s Civil Aviation Minister Mohamed Manar announced, according to state news agency MENA.
Egypt announced last week it was only resuming international flights to some coastal cities that have been least affected by the coronavirus starting the beginning of July while keeping other regular international flights suspended.
The areas are southern Sinai, the Red Sea govenorate and Marsa Matrouh on the Mediterranean, the cabinet said
Egypt suspended international flights on 19 March in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus. It has since only allowed its airports to open to domestic, freight and special repatriation flights.
The government has so far allowed dozens of hotels to operate at a reduced occupancy rate after adhering to safety protocols. The move is meant to revive its key tourism sector, which has been hit hard by the virus restrictions.
The permitted occupancy rate of the reopened hotels was initially set at 25 percent, but was increased to 50 percent earlier this month.
The spokesperson of the Egyptian Irrigation Ministry Mohamed El-Sebaie said Egypt is keen on reaching consensus regarding the disputed Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) during the ongoing online talks, which set off on Tuesday, but without returning back to square one.
The irrigation ministries of Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia started online talks on the GERD in the attendance of observers from the US, the EU and South Africa.
The virtual talks come on the back of Sudan s endeavours to bring back the concerned parties to the table following an escalating war of words between Cairo and Addis Ababa.
In an interview with MBC Masr satellite channel over the phone on Thursday, El-Sebaie said "Egypt is keen on achieving joint gains [for the three countries] without harming any party, and without returning back to point zero. I mean we will not start from the beginning."
He stressed Egypt s four conditions during the virtual meeting: Egypt demands confirmation from Ethiopia it would take no “unilateral action” on filling the dam until an agreement is reached; a specific timeframe from 9 to 13 June to reach an agreement on the filling and operation of the dam; talks should be based on the terms of reference to the Washington and World Bank-brokered document in February; and that the observers who have been attending the meetings act as “facilitators.”
"We hope to reach [an agreement] that satisfies all sides ... and feel there is a genuine will on all sides to reach consensus... if there is no will, we will never reach consensus," he added.
The spokesman noted that the Sudanese side doesn t support one side more than the other, adding that Sudan is a main partner in the negotiations because it has direct interests and each country is keen on attaining its objectives.
"The target is not to reach a conflict of interests," he stressed.
The ongoing talks are the first between the three sides since February, when the Washington and World Bank-mediated negotiations came to a halt after Ethiopia pulled out of a meeting in Washington.
When talks between the three African countries reached a deadlock last October the US stepped in to act as an observer of negotiations.
Egypt s Cabinet agreed on Wednesday to exempt incoming tourists on charter flights from the paying the tourist visa till 31 October 2020, the end of the summer tourism season.
The decision is part of measures to encourage tourism following the expected resumption of flights in the upcoming period.
Egypt has suspended international flights since mid-March to curb the spread of coronavirus.
The civil aviation ministry has decided to grant a 50 percent discount on landing fees for charter trips to all touristic cities.
The Egyptian government will hike electricity prices by up to 30 percent for households next fiscal year but will extend its plan to phase out power subsidies by three more years, Electricity Minister Mohamed Shaker said on Tuesday.
The new price hikes range from 17 to 30 percent based on consumption levels, the minister said in a televised press conference. They will take effect starting July 1 and appear on the electricity bills for August.
Egypt was initially planning to entirely phase out electricity subsidies by the end of the 2018-2019 fiscal year but extended the period until the end of the 2021-2022 fiscal year before announcing Tuesday that subsidies will be phased out even more gradually through 2024-2025.
The delay in the gradual lifting of subsidies is estimated to cost the government EGP 26.7 billion (approx. $1.64 billion), Shaker said.
The minister said that current electricity bills sometimes have errors and that the ministry was working to eliminate these errors through several mechanisms including by installing pre-paid electricity smart cards.
Here are the new rates based on tiers:
- First tier of usage: First 50 kilowatt hours (kWh) – increased from 30 to 38 piastres per kilowatt-hour (26.6%)
- Second tier: 51-100 kilowatt hour – increased from 40 to 48 piastres (20%)
- Third tier: First 200 kilowatt hour – increased from 50 to 65 piastres (30%)
- Fourth tier: 201-350 kilowatt hours – increased from 82 to 96 piastres (16%)
- Fifth tier: 351-650 kilowatt hours– increased from 100 to 118 piastres (18 %)
- Sixth tier: 651-1,000 kilowatt hours – is fixed at 1.40 piastres.
- Seventh tier: Above 1,000-kilowatt hours is not subsided and is sold for 145 piastres.
Egypt’s Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) said on Monday it has rearranged its priorities to include vital sectors, including the healthcare sector, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In a virtual press conference attended by Ahram Online, the SWF’s Executive Ayman Soliman said the fund has repositioned priorities to include food and pharmaceutical manufacturing, healthcare services and financial services and financial inclusion sectors.
“Investments in financial technology [fintech] is no longer a luxury, especially as some sectors see a recovery due to the pandemic,” he said.
He revealed that talks are ongoing with a number of investors over investment opportunities in the sector, without providing further details.
He said the fund has held talks with African funds in Senegal, Uganda and others to export the "Egyptian experience" on financial technology directly.
Soliman said the fund’s priorities also include investments in manufacturing and infrastructure.
“There are incoming requests to the fund for investments in infrastructure. Our goal is to use capital recycling in the sector,” he said.
Egypt’s Medical Syndicate announced on Sunday that the number of doctors that have died from coronavirus since the outbreak of the epidemic in Egypt has reached 47.
Dr. Philipe Mitri, an ear, nose and throat consultant, is the 47th doctor to pass away from coronavirus complications in Egypt, Ibrahim El-Zayat, a member of the Medical Syndicate’s board, said on Sunday.
According to El-Zayat, six other doctors passed away from coronavirus on Saturday.
The six doctors are obstetrics and gynecology consultants Samir Othman, Ayman Zaki and Youhana Lotfy, pediatric surgeon Mahmoud Khedr, pediatrician Hisham Abd El-Hamid, and neurosurgeon Sayid Rushdy.
In May, Egypt’s Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said that Egyptian doctors who die from coronavirus are treated as martyrs.
He added that financial compensations to the doctors families will be handled by the Fund of Medical Professions announced by President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi in late March.
Egypt decided late on Wednesday to cancel a seven-day mandatory quarantine period for Egyptians arriving from abroad that was meant to limit the spread of the croronavirus, sources told Al-Ahram Arabic.
The period was initially set at 14 days before authorities shortened it over two weeks ago to one week.
Instead of being quarantined at hotels, university dorms, or student hostels upon arriving, returnees will be required to self-quarantine at home for two weeks as a precaution against the virus.
Upon arrival, returning nationals will undergo a coronavirus rapid test at the airport, and those who show symptoms of the illness will be transferred to isolation hospitals, while those who don’t would be allowed to spend their quarantine at home.
Cairo International Airport started implementing the decision on Wednesday night when it received three flights repatriating 450 citizens from Lebanon, a source at the airport told Al-Ahram.
None of the passengers showed any symptoms of the virus and they were allowed to leave the airport to their homes where they will be required to self-quarantine.
According to Al-Ahram, the airport in the Red Sea city of Marsa Allam was late in applying the decision, sending passengers who arrived Wednesday night to designated quarantine hotels.
The airport had received Wednesday two flights from Saudi Arabia and a flight from Kuwait with a total of around 500 passengers.
Returnees were expected to be discharged from quarantine and returned to Cairo within hours as none of them showed symptoms when tested at the airport, airport sources said in the early hours of Thursday.
The government had covered the quarantine costs of those staying at university hostels. However, those who decided to spend their quarantine period at designated hotels in the city of Marsa Alam had to pay for their stay.
Egypt is mainly keeping its airspace open to cargo and domestic flights during the general flight suspension, which has been in place since March.
Egypt is still operating flights to repatriate its citizens from abroad.
Earlier this week, Aviation Minister Mohamed Manar Enaba said the government was considering resuming international flights, expecting the halt to be lifted within weeks. The date is yet to be announced.
Egypt reported Wednesday 1,079 new coronavirus cases and 36 deaths, with the number of new cases continuing to drop for a third straight day. The country’s total now stands at 28,615 cases and 1,088 deaths.