Hassan Abdel Zaher is a Cairo-based contributor to The Arab Weekly.

  • Egypt seeks to renew interest in Sinai’s religious sites, On: Sun, 10 Sep 2017

  • Egypt needs to automate railway network to prevent accidents, minister says, On: Sun, 20 Aug 2017

  • Egypt mediation hopes in Syria facing uncertainty, On: Sun, 13 Aug 2017

  • Al-Azhar looks to broaden appeal with Cairo Metro booths, On: Sun, 13 Aug 2017

  • Egypt foreign exchange reserves on the rise, On: Sun, 13 Aug 2017

  • Painters from Sinai fight terrorism with art, On: Sun, 30 Jul 2017

  • Egypt’s energy future is ‘bright,’ says head of parliamentary committee, On: Sun, 16 Jul 2017

  • We are fighting Qatar-backed militias: Libyan National Army, On: Sun, 18 Jun 2017

  • Egypt’s investment hopes clash with harsh realities, On: Sun, 21 May 2017

  • Dismay in Egypt as al-Azhar reform fails to materialise, On: Sun, 14 May 2017

  • Pope Francis’s visit boosts morale of Egypt’s Christians, On: Sun, 07 May 2017

  • Umrah no longer affordable for Egypt’s poor, On: Sun, 07 May 2017

  • Turning the Suez Canal Economic Zone into a magnet, On: Sun, 30 Apr 2017

  • In Egypt, polygamy has its apologists and nemeses, On: Sun, 30 Apr 2017

  • Economists, rights advocates concerned over Egypt’s state of emergency , On: Sun, 23 Apr 2017

  • ISIS attacks exacerbate Egypt’s daunting challenges , On: Sun, 16 Apr 2017

  • Egypt may need more than state of emergency , On: Sun, 16 Apr 2017

  • New budget augurs fiscal gloom in Egypt, On: Sun, 16 Apr 2017

  • Egyptian Minister Abdel Ghaffar: There is ‘will’ to rescue scientific research, On: Sun, 09 Apr 2017

  • Key Egyptian legislator says poverty more dangerous than terrorism , On: Sun, 26 Feb 2017

  • Egypt’s Planning minister upbeat about future, On: Sun, 29 Jan 2017

  • The newly emerging face of terrorism in Egypt , On: Sun, 25 Dec 2016

  • Egypt’s population growth cause for concern, On: Sun, 18 Dec 2016

  • Egypt’s minister advocates ‘fighting terrorism through education’ , On: Sun, 04 Dec 2016

  • Egypt, West reaching deadlock over Libya?, On: Sun, 13 Nov 2016

  • Egypt-Ethiopia tension set to rise , On: Sun, 23 Oct 2016

  • Rights advocate sceptical about role of Egypt institutions , On: Sun, 16 Oct 2016

  • Studies on Ethiopian dam on Nile may come too late, On: Sun, 18 Sep 2016

  • Egyptian Finance minister: Reform ‘must start today, not tomorrow’, On: Sun, 11 Sep 2016

  • Reconciliation offered to Mubarak regime figures who repay state , On: Sun, 28 Aug 2016

  • Egypt, Turkey: Can they still make up? , On: Sun, 28 Aug 2016

  • Egypt’s church-building bill is milestone for Copts , On: Sun, 21 Aug 2016

  • Housing mostly unaccessible in Egypt, On: Sun, 07 Aug 2016

  • Egypt mulls flexible monetary policy, On: Sun, 24 Jul 2016

  • Egypt warming up to natural gas prospects, On: Sun, 03 Jul 2016

  • Egypt TV drama reflects artistic decline, On: Sun, 26 Jun 2016

  • Fears mount in Egypt as foreign debt keeps rising , On: Sun, 12 Jun 2016

  • Authorities see religious schools promoting extremism , On: Sun, 29 May 2016

  • Egyptian writer faces jail, triggering calls for legal reform , On: Sun, 29 May 2016

  • Egypt seeks to renew interest in Sinai’s religious sites

    A long way to go. Hikers walk in the Wadi Hudra area in South Sinai. (Reuters)

    2017/09/10 Issue: 122 Page: 23

    Cairo - Egypt is seeking to re¬brand Sinai as a desti¬nation for international religious tourism despite tight security conditions in parts of the peninsula because of bloody incidents between the army and a branch of the Islamic State (ISIS).

    The government is organising a conference in September to pro¬mote Sinai’s potential as an inter¬national religious tourism centre. It is hoping to capitalise on the significance the area holds for the three major monotheistic religions to attract millions of pilgrims and visitors every year.

    “Sinai is a place where all reli¬gions meet,” said Gaber Taye, a senior official at the Ministry of Religious Endowments, which is sponsoring the new drive. “It is strongly relevant to Islam, Christi¬anity and Judaism.”

    For the past four years, Sinai, which has some of Egypt’s most renowned beaches and resorts, including Sharm el-Sheikh, has made headlines, not for its tour¬ist charm, but for the blood spilled in it. ISIS militants carried out at¬tacks that claimed the lives of hundreds of troops and policemen and turned some parts of northern Sinai into no-go areas for civilians.

    ISIS has specifically targeted Christians, forcing hundreds of Christian families to flee to cities west of the Suez Canal.

    “Followers of Islam, Christian¬ity and Judaism would lose a lot by not visiting religious sites in Sinai,” Taye said. “We are speak¬ing here of sites that witnessed the very beginning of the three reli¬gions.”

    Among the sites the ministry will try to put on the international tourism map is Mount Sinai. Also known as Mount Horeb, it is men¬tioned many times in the Book of Exodus, the Bible and the Quran. Researchers are divided on the lo-cation of the real Mount Sinai and many say that the one in Sinai is where Moses is believed to have received the Ten Commandments.

    Near Mount Sinai is Saint Cath¬erine’s Monastery, said to be the oldest continually occupied mon¬astery in the world.

    The Companions Mosque opened in Sharm el-Sheikh in March. It cost $1.6 million to build and can accommodate up to 3,000 people.

    Egypt’s tourism sector was dealt a painful blow in late 2015 when ISIS operatives allegedly planted a bomb on a Russian pas¬senger plane, killing 224 people on board. This led to Russia and other countries suspending flights to Egyptian tourist destinations, depriving Egypt of millions of in¬ternational tourists and billions of dollars in lost revenues.

    International tourists have start¬ed returning to Egypt in numbers in recent months, with hotel occu¬pancy in traditional destinations such as Sharm el-Sheikh, Hurgha¬da and Luxor experiencing an in¬creased number of visitors.

    Tourism experts said, however, that Egypt has a long way to go be¬fore it returns to the pre-Russian plane bombing tourist flow rates.

    “This is why we say putting Si¬nai’s religious sites on the inter¬national religious tourism map will carry a huge number of ben¬efits,” said Ahmed Shoukry, the head of the International Tourism section at the Ministry of Tour¬ism. “This can bring in a new type of tourists overlooked for years by entertainment and heritage tourism campaigns.”

    Renewed international inter¬est in Sinai, especially in untradi¬tional tourist sites, could sabotage plans by the ISIS militants bent on establishing an Islamic caliphate in Sinai, retired police Major-Gen¬eral Farouk Megrahi said.

    “The terrorists want to scare everybody out of Sinai so they can claim the land for themselves. They will hide like rats as tourism motivates development through¬out the peninsula,” he said.

    Editors' Picks

    The Arab Weekly Newspaper reaches Western & Arabic audience that are influential as well as being affluent.

    From Europe to the Middle East,and North America, The Arab Weekly talks to opinion formers and influential figures, providing insight and comment on national, international and regional news through the focus of Arabic countries and community.

    Published by Al Arab Publishing House

    Publisher and Group Executive Editor: Haitham El-Zobaidi, PhD

    Editor-in-Chief: Oussama Romdhani

    Managing Editor: Iman Zayat

    Deputy Managing Editor and Online Editor: Mamoon Alabbasi

    Senior Editor: John Hendel

    Chief Copy Editor: Richard Pretorius

    Copy Editor: Stephen Quillen

    Analysis Section Editor: Ed Blanche

    East/West Section Editor: Mark Habeeb

    Gulf Section Editor: Mohammed Alkhereiji

    Society and Travel Sections Editor: Samar Kadi

    Syria and Lebanon Sections Editor: Simon Speakman Cordall

    Contributing Editor: Rashmee Roshan Lall

    Senior Correspondents: Mahmud el-Shafey (London) & Lamine Ghanmi (Tunis)

    Regular Columnists

    Claude Salhani

    Yavuz Baydar


    Saad Guerraoui (Casablanca)

    Dunia El-Zobaidi (London)

    Roua Khlifi (Tunis)

    Thomas Seibert (Washington)

    Chief Designer: Marwen Hmedi


    Ibrahim Ben Bechir

    Hanen Jebali

    Published by Al Arab Publishing House

    Contact editor at:editor@thearabweekly.com

    Subscription & Advertising: Ads@alarab.co.uk

    Tel 020 3667 7249

    Mohamed Al Mufti

    Marketing & Advertising Manager

    Tel (Main) +44 20 6702 3999

    Direct: +44 20 8742 9262


    Al Arab Publishing House

    Kensington Centre

    177-179 Hammersmith Road

    London W6 8BS , UK

    Tel: (+44) 20 7602 3999

    Fax: (+44) 20 7602 8778

    Follow Us
    © The Arab Weekly, All rights reserved