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Ayman's blog

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If you’re a 20-something who witnessed the mind blowing Pokémon cartoon series, game or cards game in the nineties and early 2000s, then surely you’ve heard about the viral Pokémon Go game. The game has taken the world by storm and forced people to hit the streets searching for Pokémon.

From a marketing perspective, it is every marketer’s dream for their product or service to go viral and that’s what has happened with this game. But this wasn’t an overnight success, because the marketing team behind the game used effective marketing tactics that helped them deliver their message quickly and without spending lots of money.

Linking Nostalgia with the Modern World

Back in the 2000s, Pokémon became a phenomenon that many were hooked on. Yet, modern ways to get us hooked back on to Pokémon were not very effective.

The game team used the same characters, story and plot but with a different, 2016, touch. Now we got the remarkable Pikachu linked to our smart phones and we can catch’em all using GPS.

Word of Mouth Advertising

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We don’t know the marketing budget for the game, but surely word of mouth, which doesn’t cost any money, was an important technique used to make the game go viral. Personally and similar to most of us, I knew about the game from social media, as my friends on Facebook were posting about it and taking screenshots from the game.

This drove me to my Play Store to start exploring it myself. Afterwards, news outlets and websites starting talking about the game too to gain traffic, explaining how to play it and writing about other topics that Pokémon lovers want to read about.

The Importance of Timing

Imagine the game being launched in January when it’s freezing cold in most parts of the world. No one will be hitting the streets walking for hours trying to catch Pokémon. It was crucial that the game was launched in the beginning of the summer when school is out and festivals start, especially given that the game’s target audience are out most of the time during summer.

Keeping Loyal Customer

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Pokémon Go developers made important engaging features that helped users keep coming to the app. For starters, you improve your profile every time you catch a Pokémon, in addition to incentives you receive by playing the game and of course, these attracting Pokestops.

Paid Advertising is Not Always Important

Of course this depends on your product or service, but Pokémon Go proved that the marketing rule that says that you must have a paid advertising strategy in order to reach potential customers is not essential.

Few users were bombarded with Pokémon Go advertising, which was presented in the form of a video trailer, yet it reached millions. The lesson learned here is that it is important to focus on engaging with a community and linking them with what you’re presenting.

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By Nada Deyaa’

Throughout the history of comic books, readers have enjoyed seeing the fascinating powers of countless male superheroes like Superman, Batman, and Spiderman. However, women heroes, though present, have not achieved the variety and popularity of their male counterparts with few notable heroes like Wonder Woman and Catwoman, among a handful of others.

In Egypt, almost no comic book has drawn a satisfying superhero character that speaks to people and conveys the author’s message in a funny, short, or catchy way. Most often, these creations are drawn and characterized in a way that only addresses young people or are used as tools for political irony. However, all of that is about to change with the release of Lamis, the latest Egyptian woman superhero.

Lamis is a super-powered drug dealer, who grew up suffering from all types of childhood abuse. Through a series of comics, she tells of her adventures in the dark world of drugs and manipulating human nature. The comic tells the details of the hero gaining her powers, and how she uses them to achieve her goals. The comic is available to the public through Koshk, a mobile comic application that offers users different types of comics for free.

In the first issue, released last week, Lamis is introduced as a girl jumping over a car from a roof and saving what appears to be a kidnapped, newborn child from a gang. “You must label me as the good girl now,” she says. “But don’t rush it; good and bad are labels that we call each other before believing them, while in reality, life doesn’t run that way. There are millions of shades of good and bad.”

However, as readers grow attached to her good side, they are impressed with how she confidently calls herself “a dirty woman” and accepts herself the way she is.

It only takes a few frames of the first released issue, entitled “Configuration,” for readers to connect with Lamis, accept her job as a drug dealer, and invade her life, following her adventures that she has with her best friend Hossam.

Lamis first came to life with the talent of creator Safia Baraka, an Egyptian of Palestinian origin. With the help of her husband, Hamid Yehia, who drew all of the illustrations, the couple created Egypt’s first woman superhero.

“I first wrote the story to be a film, but I found that it would be too expensive for us to produce,” Baraka said. “So after we decided to write it as a comic book, we made sure to still treat it as a film when it came to the illustrations, colours, and characters.”

The couple, who have been married for five years, wanted to print the comics as a book, but they were faced with dozens of required permits, legislations, and approvals. They decided to look for a digital alternative to printing the comic, which they found in the application Koshk.

“In most comic books around the world that feature superheroes, there were none that featured the personal details of the hero’s life. That includes the sufferings he must have gone through as an abnormal little kid, his personal problems, and his hopes and dreams. That’s what I mainly wanted to focus on while writing Lamis,” Baraka said.

What makes Lamis different from other comic books is each character’s mixture of good and evil.

“This is the reality of human nature—none of us are totally good or pure evil. Even if we do make mistakes, it’s okay to forgive ourselves and accept it the way it is. I also aimed to make the main character of my story a girl who has done all types of wrong things because girls in our society are not allowed to make any mistakes, and if they do, they are stamped with it forever,” Baraka explained.

From the first trailer of the comic, even before it was released to the public, Lamis received a lot of positive feedback on social media, with hundreds of likes and shares. Posters of the comic filled many streets in certain neighborhoods and the readers’ anticipation was clear.

“I couldn’t believe that the comic would attract all this attention even before its release,” Baraka said, amazed. “I believe that what mainly brought people’s attention to Lamis was the feeling that she’s one of them, with all of their flaws and their grace.”

“Also, artistically, people felt that they are watching a movie rather than reading a comic book, and that is thanks to Hamed’s illustrations,” she added.

While framing the storyline in comics, both Baraka and Hamed were not targeting a particular audience, but simply those of all ages who love comic books and are eager to find an appropriate Arabic comic production.

“Both Hamed and I were raised on the stories of Adham Sabry — they shaped our personalities and taught us much. Nowadays, we haven’t found any stories that resonate with us in the same way. And as adults, we still haven’t find anything that entertains us while also treating the reader as an adult, so hopefully Lamis will fill that space,” Baraka concluded.

Hamed, who works as a director, made sure that the characters’ forms, faces and casual clothing were drawn in a style that would become familiar to the readers.

“When I read the story Safia wrote, the shape of the characters automatically started forming in my mind,” Hamed said. “I knew for sure that I would draw Lamis to look similar to the real-life Safia. It’s not only because both of them have so many common traits, but it’s the way I see Safia as the superhero of my life.”

“While characterizing the main personas of Lamis, I sought to draw in a quality and standard that could match international comic books like Marvel and DC,” Hamed added.

The comic is written to be produced in series of about six episodes each. Every two weeks readers can catch the new episode on the Koshk application.

FGM

Security forces in Egypt’s Daqahliya governorate have imprisoned Raslan Fadl, the first Egyptian doctor to be brought to trial and convicted for performing a female genital mutilation (FGM) procedure that killed a 13-year-old girl.

While a press release from the Women’s Center for Guidance and Legal Awareness in Egypt hailed Daqahliya’s security forces for finding Fadl and implementing his prison sentence, the center’s executive director Reda El Danbouki told Newsweek that Fadl turned himself in to the authorities “because of the increasing pressure on him from Egyptian and international media.”

Fadl was sentenced in January 2015 to two years in prison with hard labor for manslaughter and three months for performing the banned practice and killing 13-year-old Soheir Al-Bataa during the procedure. However, in December of that year, two separate reports from National Public Radio (NPR) and Vice claimed that Fadl was continuing to practice medicine in his village in Mansoura.

A few months later, it was reported that an Egyptian court had revoked Fadl’s license.

FGM continues to be a widespread practice in Egypt, despite being banned in 2008. Article 242 of Egypt’s Penal Code criminalizes the circumcision of girls and the punishment for performing FGM is a prison sentence ranging from three months to two years or a fine of EGP 5,000.

According to the 2015 Egypt Health Issues Survey (EHIS), around 9 in 10 women aged 15-49 have undergone the procedure. This number is only four percent lower than statistics from a 2008 survey.

The study found a greater prevalence of the practice among those with lower levels of education and those living in rural areas, compared to respondents living in urban areas and with higher levels of education and wealth.

According to the World Health Organization, Egypt, Somalia, Guinea, Djibouti and Sierra Leone have the highest rates of FGM. A 2013 UNICEF report found that Egypt has the world’s highest total number of FGM sufferers, with 27.2 million women having undergone FGM.

From left: Israel`s President Rivlin, Egyptian Ambassador Khairat, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Sara Netanyahu.

From left: Israel’s President Rivlin, Egyptian Ambassador Khairat, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Sara Netanyahu.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi for his leadership and his efforts to advance peace between the Israelis and Palestinians during a celebration of Egypt’s National Day.

“I want to thank President a-Sisi for his leadership and for his efforts to advance peace between Israel and the Palestinians and in the broader Middle East,” declared the Israeli Prime Minister on Thursday.

In a speech given at the residence of the Egyptian Ambassador to Israel in Tel Aviv, the Israeli Prime Minister said that Egyptians and Israelis have “so much” that they can accomplish together.

“We have so much that we can accomplish together. We can work, and are working together in agriculture, and we can work in water, in energy, in every field of human endeavor to make the lives of our peoples and the lives of peoples in the Middle East as a whole better, more secure, richer. “A future of hope, a future of prosperity, and a future of peace.” said the Israeli Prime Minister.

“I am proud that our two nations have been in peace for nearly four decades. Through storms, turbulence, earthquakes, we have remained in peace and we shall remain in peace. It is the foundation of our national vision and our vision for the region and beyond.”

Egypt’s National Day event was also attended by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, opposition leader Yitzhak Herzog, and members of Israel’s Knesset.

Netanyahu’s statement at the event comes weeks after Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry made a rare visit to Israel in efforts to advance peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians.

In a speech in May, President Sisi said there is a “real opportunity” for peace, stressing the importance of the international community in reaching a solution.

“I am saying to the Israelis that there is a real opportunity to achieve peace,” the President said, while stressing that Egypt is prepared to exert all efforts necessary to resolve the long-standing conflict.

Egypt’s President Sisi has enjoyed a positive relationship with both the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. In Gaza, Hamas has been attempting to thaw its relationship with Egypt after resistance following the ouster of former President Mohammed Morsi in July 2013, who was strongly backed by Hamas.

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In attempts to ease tensions, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi stressed in a meeting with Coptic Christian Pope Tawadros II that all Egyptians are equal under the Egyptian constitution.

The meeting, which was held after multiple incidents of sectarian violence in Egypt, saw the President stressing the importance of unity despite such attacks. President Sisi praised the spirit and role Coptic Christians have displayed in Egypt since the January 25 revolution.

The President continued that recent incidents should not damage relations between different Egyptian communities and that unity is paramount.

Meanwhile, the Coptic Pope stressed the importance of standing together for the future of the country, but stressed that Copts should be allowed to practice their religion freely and without fear.

During the meeting, the President said that initiatives such as the Family House are positive steps that eliminate extremist ideas and promote unity. Family House is an initiative between the Coptic Orthodox Church and Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam’s top authority, that sees scholars and clerics from both faiths working together on various projects for the community.

Earlier this month, 15 people were arrested for setting fire to Coptic Christian homes in Egypt’s Minya. One Coptic Christian was also killed during the recent violence.

Since becoming President, Sisi has called for greater religious tolerance and reform in Islamic discourse. The Egyptian President also became the first Egyptian head of state to attend Christmas Mass in 2015. In 2016, during his second appearance at Christmas Mass, the Egyptian President vowed to rebuild all churches destroyed in the aftermath of the ouster of former President Mohammed Morsi.

Sectarian tension between Muslims and Christians has been rife in the past decade, with clashes often taking part in rural Egyptian cities. Coptic Christians make up approximately 16 percent of Egypt’s population, with 15 million Copts in Egypt.

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“Open up! We’re dying!” This is how 20-30 people who are crammed inside an unbearably hot eight-meter police truck begged for help in Mohamed Diab’s brilliant film Eshtebak [CLASH]. Detainees of all political backgrounds call desperately amongst tear gas, crowds and gunshots. The film will make you go through all of these feelings. It personally made me cry, laugh, and put me at the edge of my seat.

The film’s brilliance relies within the fact that it does not cheaply advocate one side over the other. It narrates times of high political tension and conflict back in July 2013 during the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi by the military. It presented all sides, and as the plot progressed, I had failed to keep supporting the characters I just cheered for. In fact, I sympathized and then hated every single character over and over again.

The cinematography had a significant role. Using many bright lights and diverse angles in such tiny spaces perfectly conveyed the feeling of claustrophobia and hysteria among protestors. It was so surreal that I could feel the anxiety during the break.

Before the movie was released, Diab, the director, wrote about the message he wanted to send. “Hysteria moved from one side to another. It’s very painful to get oppressed by those who are like you…I believe in humanity and I know that hysteria can make people the worst version of themselves. I spent three years in making this film to deliver a message to those overwhelmed by the hysterical virus. It’s the best response and it is a message of love,” wrote Diab in a Facebook post.

“A message of love” was indeed delivered by the actors’ superb performance. I was impressed by the performance of all actors especially by the young actors, including Ahmed Malek, Mai El-Ghaity, and Ahmed Dash, who all excelled and made me excited for the upcoming generation of Egypt’s actors. All actors delivered a performance to be proud of.

Eshtebak has been definitely receiving a lot of excitement and supporters lately, including Hollywood’s Tom Hanks, who sent a letter of encouragement and admiration to Diab, and asked everyone to see the movie. It’s been admired at the Cannes festival and I believe that even 50 years from now, this film will be viewed as an extraordinary production that impeccably documented a troubled time in the history of Egypt.

Excavations at British sites are Revolutionizing Prehistoric Studies and Revealing Secrets of the Past

You might say British archaeology is in a golden age, especially with excavations and discoveries at two sites that are adding great knowledge of the prehistory of the islands. One site, from about 2500 BC, is on the Orkney Islands off Scotland’s northern coast, and the other, from about 1000 BC, is not far from London.

The excavations at the two sites coincide with a two-week British Festival of Archaeology that wraps up this weekend.

Though they are separated by many years and about 650 miles (1,050 km), the two sites are providing insights into what life was like in the British Isles before there were written language and historians to record the lives of the people.

In the Orkneys are a settlement, monumental stone circle and temple complex called Ness of Brodgar that has been under excavation since 2003. For about 4,500 years, the earth held the secrets of an ancient people who worshiped, farmed and lived there. Over the years archaeologists have been extracting those secrets and now want to share them with the world. (See here for a website about Brodgar.)

The site in England, at Whittlesey in Cambridgeshire, was a settlement of roundhouses that burned, perhaps in an attack by hostiles, and fell into the river, where the silt preserved the settlers’ stuff so well that some are calling it Britain’s Pompeii.

A bronze socketed ax was one of many Bronze Age tools found at Must Farm, a site that dates back about 3,000 years and is the finest site of that era ever found in Britain and one of the finest in Europe.

The embellished mummy case containing the remains of the priest Iret-hor-iru

The mummy of an ancient Egyptian man from 2,200 years ago was recently scanned by researchers. The results proved that the man, who lived during the reign of the Ptolemies, had weak bones and tooth decay – two issues that are generally associated with a more modern way of life.

The man was believed to have been a priest, and his mummy is on display at Israel`s national museum. While examining the remains, the researchers used a CT scan to reveal that he suffered from some illnesses during his lifetime. The mummy, nicknamed ``Alex``, was wrapped in strands of linen with a gold mask placed over his skull’s face and was encased in a gold and a black coffin. When he died he was between 30 to 40 years old.

A CT (computerized tomography) scan of a 2,200-year-old Egyptian mummy on display in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

A CT (computerized tomography) scan of a 2,200-year-old Egyptian mummy on display in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. Associated Press Photo

Some of the skeletons found on one of the two Viking ships.

When people think of Vikings going on voyages, many imagine a bloodthirsty crew bent on evil and domination, and armed to the teeth for the looting and pillaging of helpless villagers. That may have been true of some Viking missions, but perhaps not all.

Researchers analyzing two apparent Viking ship burials from more than 1,000 years ago in the Baltic Sea have published a new article in the journal Antiquity. The authors speculate that this crew, who died violent deaths, was intent on more a more peaceful mission.

The men aboard the two ships were carefully buried on their ships, says an article about the research in USA Today:

Whoever interred the dead aboard two ships in what is now Salme, Estonia, in about 750 AD went about their work with great care and respect. Many of the 41 bodies were carefully positioned, and valuables were scattered among the remains. Researchers found swords bedecked with gold and jewels and hundreds of elaborate pieces from a chess-like strategy game called Hnefatafl, or The King`s Table. They also found two decapitated hawks and the skeleton of a large dog, which had been cut in half.

They were young, tall men. One stood nearly 6 feet—which was much taller than average for the time. Chemical analysis of their teeth and the design of the rich artifacts they were buried with makes the researchers think the men were from central Sweden, according to archaeologist and co-author T. Douglas Price, an emeritus professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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Weightlifter Abeer Abdelrahman has made history by becoming the first-ever Egyptian woman athlete to win an Olympic medal, albeit belatedly, following the disqualification of three athletes from the 2012 London Olympics for doping offenses.

The gold medal for the 75 kg event had originally been awarded to Svetlana Podobedova of Kazakhstan. Russia’s Natalya Zabolotnaya was the silver medalist and Belarus’ Iryna Kulesha was the bronze medalist.

Abdelrahman, aged 24 years, had originally come fifth, but now moved up to claim the silver medal.

The gold medal is now awarded to Spain’s Lidia Valentin, who had finished fourth. Abdelrahman is not the only Egyptian weightlifter to enjoy belated success from the London Olympics. After the disqualification of Apti Aukhadov from Russia in the men’s 85 kg last month, Egypt’s Tarek Yehia moved into the bronze medal position.

The last time Egypt won any medals for weightlifting in the Olympics was 1948.

Representatives pose after the opening ceremony of the Arab league conference on July 25, 2016 in Nouakchott. AFP PHOTO / STR

Representatives pose after the opening ceremony of the Arab league conference on July 25, 2016 in Nouakchott. AFP PHOTO / STR

The 27th Arab League Summit held in Nouakchott, Mauritania came to a close on Tuesday after several state leaders, including Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and Saudi King Salman Al-Saud, failed to attend.

Egyptian media had reported earlier this week that Sisi’s absence at the summit was a result of an assassination plot against him but presidency spokesman Alaa Youssef denied these reports as “not true.”

King Salman, meanwhile, was reportedly unable to attend due to health concerns.

Despite the absence of many state leaders, the summit focused on a number of pressing regional issues, particularly the situations in Libya, Syria, Yemen and Iraq.

Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail, who attended the summit in Sisi’s stead, denounced foreign intervention in the region and blamed it for the rise of terrorism, particularly the Islamic State.

“Foreign intervention in Arab affairs is one of the major reasons for the current crisis, therefore we should work together to cement our domestic fronts in order to be able to stand up to these foreign interventions,” he said.

The summit’s ending statement also refused the “external interference in Arab affairs by Iran.”

Speaking at an Arab ministerial meeting ahead of the summit on Saturday, Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry said that Egypt has been working to deter “foreign plots” against the country and the Arab world as a whole.

The foreign minister called for increased Arab cooperation to prevent the turmoil currently pervading several countries in the region from reaching other countries enjoying stability.

The Arab leaders at the summit also discussed the Israeli-Palestinian crisis and called for an end to the Israeli occupation of Arab territories but otherwise did not put forth potential solutions.

“The Declaration emphasized the centrality of the Palestinian issue in the joint Arab action. In this regard, the Arab leaders commended, in their declaration, the recent Egyptian efforts to push the peace process and welcomed the French Initiative that calls for the convening of an international peace conference,” reads the summit’s final statement.

The summit was held in Mauritania for the first time since the country joined the Arab League as a member state in 1973. Morocco had been set to host the summit but backed out earlier in July due to the lack of “objective circumstances that guarantee a successful Arab summit.”

This was also the first summit to take place during former Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmed Aboul-Gheit’s tenure as the League’s Secretary-General.

REUTERS/Murad Sezer

REUTERS/Murad Sezer

Egypt has expressed reservations on the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s (OIC) draft resolution to list the Gulen movement as a terrorist organisation, an official in the Islamic organisation said.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan alleged that conspirators loyal to U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, previously designated by Turkey as a terrorist movement, were behind the failed coup attempt on July 15.

The OIC member states unanimously agreed on the text of the draft resolution, except for Egypt, who expressed their reservations, citing legal reasons.

The OIC official told Aswat Masriya that Egypt’s representative requested more time in order to consult with Egyptian authorities and discuss legal procedures involved in the draft resolution, which he described as a “surprise”.

Discussions took place during the preparatory meeting of foreign ministers of OIC member-state in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The meeting is held in preparation for the 43rd OIC Council of Foreign Ministers session, scheduled to be held in the Uzbek capital, Tashkent, in October.

Earlier this month, Egypt was accused of blocking a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning the attempted coup in Turkey, Reuters reported. Egypt’s ministry of foreign affairs however denied the reports, saying Egypt had only proposed a minor amendment.

Turkey’s foreign ministry spokesperson Tanju Bilgiç said that Egypt’s objection to the resolution was “natural”, Anadolu Agency reported .

“It’s natural for those who came to power through a coup to refrain from taking a stance against the attempted coup that targeted our president and government, who came to power through democratic elections,” Bilgiç said during a press conference

Egyptian ties with Turkey have deteriorated following the army’s ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, which followed mass protests against his rule.

Content by Aswat Masriya

The arrival hall is empty at the Sharm el-Sheikh Airport in south Sinai, Egypt, Monday. Airbus executives say they are confident in the safety of the A321 that crashed Oct. 31 in Egypt`s Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 people on board. Photo: AP

The arrival hall is empty at the Sharm el-Sheikh Airport in south Sinai, Egypt, Monday. Airbus executives say they are confident in the safety of the A321 that crashed Oct. 31 in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 people on board. Photo: AP

The number of tourists visiting Egypt in June dropped by 59.9 percent in comparison to the same month last year, according to the latest numbers from the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS).

Whereas Egypt received 820,000 tourists in June 2015, that number dropped by nearly 60 percent year-on-year to reach 320,000 tourists.

Russian tourists, who once comprised the biggest bulk of Egypt’s tourist arrivals, dropped by 49.8 percent, while the number of tourists visiting from the United Kingdom and Germany dropped by 11.9 and 8.6 percent, respectively.

June’s declining figures mark the largest drop in tourist arrivals the country has witnessed since the beginning of the year. CAPMAS had reported a 54 and 51.7 percent drop year-on-year in tourist arrivals in April and May, respectively.

The new figures come against the backdrop of continually declining revenues since the 2011 uprising that ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak from the presidency and triggered widespread instability in the country, scaring both tourists and foreign investors away.

More than 14.7 million tourists traveled to Egypt prior to the uprising, with that number falling to 9.8 million in 2011.

The tourism sector, a vital part of the economy and a key source of hard currency, has also been hard-hit by last year’s downing of a Russian airliner which was claimed by a group affiliated with the Islamic State, and killed all 224 people onboard.

In late February, Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said tourism revenues had fallen by approximately USD 1.3 billion since the Russian plane crash.

The country’s tourism revenues dropped by 66 percent during the first quarter of the year in comparison to 2015, with total earnings amounting to just USD 500 million, down from last year’s USD 1.5 billion.

Despite Egypt’s dwindling tourism revenues, which have played a part in triggering the country’s ongoing foreign currency crisis, Egypt aims to attract 12 million tourists by the end of 2017 by way of implementing an ambitious six-point plan, which will include increasing the presence of the national airline EgyptAir abroad, cooperating with low-cost airlines and improving services.

The Roman silver coins that were recently discovered in Ampurias, Spain and the amphora in which they were held.

The archaeological site of Empúries (Ampurias), located in the province of Girona, Catalonia, Spain, is a unique site in the Iberian Peninsula which contains both the ruins of a Greek city -the colonial enclave of Emporion, founded in 575 BC - and a larger, later Roman city which took over from the intermediate Roman military camps. This special mix of time periods gives the archaeological site a privileged role in the understanding of the evolution of Greek and Roman urban sites at the edge of the Mediterranean thousands of years ago.

According to data provided by Canal Patrimonio (Canal Heritage), an International Archaeology Course is organized for this site each year. Although this activity has been enriching knowledge of the site for the past 70 years, excavations there continue to provide more details on ancient life. For example, a student enrolled in the course during the current campaign has recently made an exciting discovery - an amphora holding two hundred silver coins - denarii (singular ‘denarius’).

In addition, other students coming from Spain, Portugal, and Italy have also discovered a small bronze ladle, known as a `simpulum` (a large spoon/ladle used to extract wine), the remains of a dozen amphorae that were used to store wine, and various ancient structures.

The rare pottery kiln that was used to fire jars in the ancient workshop. Photographic credit: Royee Liran, Israel Antiquities Authority.

During the construction of a new residential quarter, north of the new Yaʽarit neighborhood, a team of archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority uncovered a Roman era pottery workshop, where jars were manufactured. The kiln, used to fire the jars, is the only one known to date in the country to have been hewn entirely in bedrock.

“What makes the pottery works so special is its unique kiln, which was hewn in bedrock and is unlike most of the kilns known to us that were built of stone, earth and mud” said Joppe Gosker, head of the IAA excavations, in a press release.

Joppe Gosker, excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, inside the pottery workshop’s water reservoir in Shlomi.

Joppe Gosker, excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, inside the pottery workshop’s water reservoir in Shlomi. Photographic credit: Royee Liran, Israel Antiquities Authority.

The 5th century A.D. workshop included a system for storing water, storage compartments, a kiln, etc,

“The kiln was meticulously constructed. It consisted of two chambers – one a firebox in which branches were inserted for burning, and a second chamber where the pottery vessels were placed that were fired in the scorching heat that was generated” added Gosker.

A petroglyph of a six-fingered hand. Red Tank Draw, AZ

Ancient people of the Pueblo culture of Chaco Canyon, in what is now New Mexico, decorated their houses with six-digit handprints and footprints. Although it is not really known why these images were depicted in homes, researchers suggest that having an extra finger or toe made the person more important and respected in this society.

According to National Geographic, researchers were aware of the examples of polydactyly (‘many fingers’) among the Pueblo culture for many years. Several skeletal remains showing extremities with extra toes and fingers have also been found. One of the discovered remains had an ornate anklet around its six-toed foot but carried no such offering on its five-toed foot.

The team of researchers, led by anthropologist Patricia Crown of the University of New Mexico conducted the project, initially intrigued by the evidence that divine powers were attributed to polydactyls among the pre-Columbian tribes, such as the Maya.

However, according to the report, the Puebla culture did not view six-toed individuals as supernatural like the Maya, but this form of polydactyly did grant people exalted status in life and in death. The researchers maintain that people with six toes were usually associated with important ritual structures and were buried with high-status objects like turquoise.

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The Egyptian Embassy in Berlin sent an official letter to Germany’s Foreign Ministry requesting information regarding the murder of a young Egyptian man in a prison in the city of Essen.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry questioned why the Egyptian Embassy was not notified of the incident, demanding an official explanation.

Egypt’s Ambassador in Berlin contacted heads of relevant departments including in the Federal Foreign Office, the Federal Ministry of the Interior and the public prosecutor’s office in Germany to obtain urgent information about the incident, the statement read.

“Local authorities in Germany clarified that Mohamed Abdel Fattah had been imprisoned and confirmed his death,” the Egyptian foreign ministry said.

An investigation has been opened into Abdel Fattah’s death and German authorities are expected to send a written response once the investigation is concluded, according to the statement.

In a phone interview with Al-Hayah satellite channel, the father of the deceased said that his son was buried in Germany without prior notification given to him or to the Egyptian Embassy in Berlin.

The father claimed during the interview that his son had been severely tortured by prison authorities before dying of his wounds in hospital on June 22.

He elaborated that his son, Abdel Fattah, was a resident in Italy then moved to Germany where he was arrested by German police and transferred to a care center on Feb. 9.

The Egyptian Embassy and the Consulate General in Frankfurt are following the case and urging the German authorities to conduct a speedy investigation, according to the statement.

This content is by Aswat Masriya and was edited by Egyptian Streets.

sisiazhar

Al-Azhar, the top Sunni Islamic authority, rejected on Tuesday an Egyptian government order that all Muslim clerics deliver identical and pre-written Friday sermons.

Citing “damage to religious discourse”, Al-Azhar’s Council of Senior Scholars, which is headed by Grand Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayed, rejected the policy which was implemented by Egypt’s Ministry of Religious Endowments.

The Council said that relying on pre-written sermons makes imams less capable at their jobs and hinders their ability to counter extremism.

Instead, the Council recommended that imams should be provided with greater training and capabilities to tackle extremism.

The Council’s recommendation comes days after the President of Al-Azhar Univeristy ignored the pre-written sermon and delivered his own, arguing that the policy does not apply to Al-Azhar’s preachers.

Despite the statement by the Council, Egypt’s Ministry of Religious Endowments said it would move ahead with the identical sermons.

Less than two weeks after Egypt’s Ministry of Religious Endowments ordered all Muslim clerics to deliver identical, pre-written Friday sermons, Al-Azhar, the top Sunni Islamic authority, rejected the move.

The policy was introduced to tackle extremist religious discourse, something that President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has repeatedly stressed.

Last month, the Egyptian President renewed calls for a revolution in Islamic religious discourse, urging top Islamic scholars to “purge” Islam of “flaws” and to push back against extremist discourse.

In February 2014, Egypt’s Religious Endowments Ministry ordered that all Friday sermons at mosques be regulated by the government. The then-new policy saw a topic being chosen by the Ministry each week for imams to talk about.

Employees speak on phones at an exchange office in downtown Cairo June 5, 2014. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Employees speak on phones at an exchange office in downtown Cairo June 5, 2014. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Egypt’s stock market opened with huge gains on Wednesday morning as news spread of talks between the Egyptian government and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a US 21 billion loan.

The main index opened 3.3 percent higher just minutes after trading commenced as the news appeared to appease many in Egypt and abroad.

On Tuesday, Egypt’s Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said that the Central Bank Governor and the Minister of Finance are completing negotiations for an IMF lending program aimed at restoring economic stability.

“The prime minister stressed the need to cooperate with the IMF through the support program to enhance international confidence in the economy and attract foreign investment, and therefore achieve monetary and financial stability… targeting 7 billion annually to fund the program over three years,” said the government in a statement reported by Reuters.

The news comes as the Egyptian pound continues to sink in the black market. Earlier this week, the Egyptian pound was trading for 13 against the US dollar.

Analysts say the IMF lending program will ease foreign investor concerns and help restore Egypt’s foreign currency deficit. However, there are concerns that it may also result in further devaluation of the Egyptian pound.

Egypt has been struggling to regain its rapidly depleting foreign currency reserves since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak in 2011. In the five years since, Egypt’s foreign reserves have gone down more than 50 percent, from USD 36 billion to USD 16.477 billion as of last month.

The Storyteller by Martin Pate

An Ice Age Hunting Camp replete with the bird bones and tobacco has been found in Utah, USA. It is the oldest known evidence of tobacco use found so far.

According to Western Digs, the discovery took a place in the dead-flat desert of northwestern Utah, USA, where archaeologists uncovered the remnants of an Ice Age site. It has been hidden only a few centimeters below the surface. During the excavations, researchers discovered a campground used by the prehistoric hunter-gatherers 12,300 years ago.

The site contained artifacts, including the charred remains of an ancient hearth, a finely crafted spear point, and, most surprisingly, a collection of tobacco seeds. It is the oldest known evidence of tobacco use in North America. According to Dr. Daron Duke, senior archaeologist with the Nevada-based Far Western Anthropological Research Group, the most interesting part of the discovery is that there is no direct evidence that people used tobacco past 3,000 years ago, but this research proved its use more than 12,000 years ago.

Tobacco seeds (representational image only)

Tobacco seeds (representational image only). Credit: Hula Girl Store

600-Year-Old Forbidden City Untouched in Flooded Beijing

A 55-hour-long rainstorm pelted Beijing over July 19 and 20—a continuation of floods that have claimed nearly 600 lives and displaced tens of thousands since heavy rains swept the country. 

Rope making tool from mammoth ivory from Hohle Fels Cave in southwestern Germany, ca. 40,000 years old.

Rope and twine are critical components in the technology of mobile hunters and gatherers. In exceptional cases, impressions of string have been found in fired clay and on rare occasions string was depicted in the contexts of Ice Age art, but on the whole almost nothing is known about string, rope and textiles from the Paleolithic.

A key discovery by Conard’s team in Hohle Fels Cave in southwestern Germany and experimental research and testing by Dr. Veerle Rots and her team form the University of Liège is rewriting the history of rope.

The entrance of the Hohle Fels cave

The entrance of the Hohle Fels cave (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The find is a carefully carved and beautifully preserved piece of mammoth ivory 20.4 cm in length with four holes between 7 and 9 mm in diameter. Each of the holes is lined with deep, and precisely cut spiral incisions. The new find demonstrates that these elaborate carvings are technological features of rope-making equipment rather than just decoration.

Photo courtesy of Pakistan`s Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR)

Photo courtesy of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR)

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi met on Tuesday with Pakistan’s army chief General Raheel Sharif in Cairo to discuss regional challenges and boosting security cooperation between the two countries, state-owned Ahram Online reported.

Al-Sisi lauded the general on the Pakistani military’s “successes in fighting terrorism and [Pakistani] efforts for regional stability,” the Director General of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said on Twitter.

The Egyptian president also emphasized the “special relationship” between the two countries and expressed his keenness on further military cooperation to benefit from Pakistan’s experience in the fight against terrorism.

The two leaders discussed methods to bolster security and military cooperation and potential measures to bring stability and security to the region.

While in Cairo, the army chief also met with Egypt’s defense minister Sedky Sobhy and chief of staff Mahmoud Hegazy to discuss anti-terrorism efforts, and visited Egyptian special forces in training to watch their activities and training exercises.

Sharif also met with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayyeb, who “appreciated Pakistan’s efforts towards eliminating terrorism.”

Pakistan and Egypt both have experience in fighting Islamist militants and terrorists in their respective territories over the past several years.

Part of the Russian plane that crashed. Credit: AP

Part of the Russian plane that crashed. Credit: AP

An Egyptian delegation flew to Moscow on Tuesday to present Russian officials with the latest findings of investigations into the Russian airplane crash, state-owned news agency MENA reported.

The delegation is headed by Egypt’s Minister of Civil Aviation Sherif Fathy, General Prosecutor Nabil Sadek and the head of the investigative committee Ayman Mokadem.

Moscow suspended all flights to Egypt in the wake of the crash that took place in the Sinai peninsula in October, killing all 224 on board. The plane was heading from the Egyptian resort city of Sharm El-Sheikh to St. Petersburg in Russia.

In June, Egyptian officials stated they were waiting for the arrival of a Russian delegation to inspect the new security measures adopted at Egypt’s airports. The implementation of all Moscow’s demands is a prelude to the resumption of Russian flights to Egypt.

Earlier in July, Egypt’s parliamentary speaker Ali Abdel Aal headed to Moscow and briefed the Russian side about security measures recently adopted at the country’s airports.

“Approximately 85 percent of what Russia had demanded, of those guarantees, was fulfilled by Egypt,” Abdel Aal said at the meeting with speaker of Russia’s upper house of parliament Valentina Matviyenko, according to Russian state-affiliated Sputnik news agency.

“It would be a great sign if flights between Moscow and Cairo resumed.”

Since the plane crash, Russia among other western countries have sent delegations to inspect security measures in Egyptian airports, which Egyptian officials continued to describe as in line with “international standards.”

Egypt’s tourism industry, a vital source of foreign currency, has been hit hard since the crash.

The  number of tourists visiting Egypt fell by 47.2 percent in March compared to the same month last year, the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) said. The agency attributed its findings to the decline in the number of Russian tourists by 99.2 percent.

This content is from Aswat Masriya

27FRANCE-web1-superJumbo

Two armed men stormed a church with knives in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray during Mass, taking a priest and four others hostage before being shot dead by police.

According to French media, 84-year-old Father Jacques Hamel was killed during the attack by the two men. The two men were shot dead outside the church as police arrived.

Though the motive remains unclear, the French Interior Ministry spokesman said that anti-terrorism prosecutors will lead the investigation.

“The whole of France and all Catholics are wounded. We will stand together,” wrote the French Prime Minister on his Twitter account.

The identity of the two attackers remains unclear. However, the attack is one of many in recent days in Europe and comes less than two weeks after the Bastille Day attack in Nice that killed more than 80 people.

The Nice attack, which was carried out by Tunisian Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, was not known to authorities. However, authorities later discovered that the attack had been planned. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, but it is not clear whether it was a lone-wolf attack.

The “barbaric attack”, as described by the French Prime Minister, is one of many in recent days in Europe.

hanksdiab

Renowned American actor Tom Hanks, who is known for his roles in Splash, Big, Forrest Gump and others, congratulated Egyptian Director Mohamed Diab for his film CLASH which is set to be released in Egypt.

In a letter posted by Diab on Facebook, Hanks reportedly praised CLASH for going to “great lengths to enlighten many.”

“Few Americans see Egypt as being anything more than terrorists and pyramids,” writes Hanks.

“Your film CLASH will go great lengths to enlighten many. Audiences will see that humanity is a fragile community, but we are all in ‘this’ together. And, we will all come to pray for Egypt, in any way we know how,” continues Hanks.

“Thank you for your magnificent film and the crew and cast that are first rate examples of what they do.”

CLASH, which is to be released in Egypt as “Eshtebak”, was widely praised at Cannes Film Festival in May 2016 where it was aired under the category of “Un Certain Regard”.

Set in the summer of 2013 in the wake of the popularly-backed ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood government of Mohamed Morsi, the film takes place entirely in the back of a police van with detained demonstrators of different political and religious backgrounds.

mohamed khan

Renowned Egyptian filmmaker, director and scriptwriter Mohamed Khan died on Tuesday morning at a hospital in Cairo’s Maadi, where he was taken after he suffered a “sudden health crisis.”

Khan is considered to be one of the most significant filmmakers in the reality genre in Egypt since the 1980s. Among his most influential films are El-Hareef (1984,) Zawgat Ragol Mohem (1987) and Ahlam Hind wa Camilia. All three were among the 100 greatest Arab films of all time by Dubai International Film Festival in 2013.

One of Khan’s most recent films, Fatat El-Masna’ [Factory Girl] (2013) won two awards at the 2014 Dubai International Film Festival. Created in honor of iconic Egyptian actress Soad Hosny, the film’s plot revolves around 21-year-old Hiyam, a working-class girl who falls in love with her supervisor.

Khan’s films often discussed social issues in Egypt and revolved around a female character.

Khan was born to a Pakistani father and an Egyptian mother. He battled for Egyptian citizenship and the military council finally granted it to him in 2014.

Prayers will be held today at El-Kuwaiti Mosque in Maadi.

A mummy unearthed in the Atacama Desert.

Despite apparent episodes of food shortage, disease, violence, and severe weather conditions, it seems that, at least for some people, life in Chile between 500-1500 years ago was not that stressful. Lower than expected cortisol levels found in mummies’ hair have led researchers to suggest that some of the pre-Hispanic natives actually weren’t too anxious. These researchers found similar low levels of cortisol in a sample of modern Chileans. Could it be that the relaxed take on life has been passed on?

Scientific American reports that researchers from the University of Chile took hair samples from 19 mummies of San Pedro de Atacama in the north of Chile. Five of the mummies were from the Middle Period (400 to 1000 AD) and the rest from the Late Intermediate Period (1000 to 1400 AD). The researchers measured the capillary concentration of cortisol, “a hormone released in response to real or perceived threats.”

Location of the sites analyzed in the recent study.

Location of the sites analyzed in the recent study. (López Barrales et al)

A reconstruction of Pakal`s tomb in the Museo Nacional de Antropología

Archaeologists at the world-renowned Maya site of Palenque in Mexico have made a surprising discovery beneath the Temple of Inscriptions, the impressive funerary monument built for Maya ruler Pakal – underground water tunnels that appears to have been created as a symbolic path to guide Pakal to the afterlife.

Archaeologist Arnoldo González Cruz, project manager at Palenque, announced at a press conference that the finding consists of nine channels of about 17 meters in length through which water circulates.  The channel is fed by a spring and “reveals complex hydraulic engineering”.

Associated Press reports that Gonzalez believes the tomb and pyramid were intentionally built on top of the spring between 683 and 702 AD, and that the tunnels were created to lead water under the funeral chamber and guide Pakal’s spirit to the underworld. Evidence comes from carvings on a pair of stone ear adornments, which say a god "will guide the dead toward the underworld, by submerging (them) into the water so they will be received there."

The Temple of Inscriptions, Palenque, Mexico

The Temple of Inscriptions, Palenque, Mexico (Daniel Mannerich / Flickr)

The monumental Egyptian statute of a high official from the Middle Kingdom in Egypt, found in the administrative palace at Hazor, north of the Sea of Galilee in Israel.

The monumental statue is a one of series of recent discoveries that proves that Hazor was one of the major cities in the region, heading a league of Canaanite city-states.

A team of archaeologists excavating in Tell el-Qudah (Biblical Hazor), north of the Sea of Galilee, made a historic find during this season of excavations. Hazor is described as a powerful city that headed a federation of Canaanite city-states in the bible (Jos 11:10), and the recent discovery might prove the old book right.

A large fragment of an Egyptian statue measuring 45 X 40 centimeters made of limestone was unearthed. Only the lower part of the statue survived, depicting the crouching feet of a male figure, seated on a square base on which a few lines in the Egyptian hieroglyphic script are inscribed.

The archaeologists estimate that the complete statue would equal the size of a fully-grown man. At present only a preliminary reading of the inscriptions has been attempted, and the title and name of the Egyptian official who originally owned the statue, are not yet entirely clear.

The statue was originally placed either in the official`s tomb or in a temple – most probably a temple of the Egyptian god Ptah – and most of the texts inscribed on the statue`s base include words of praise to the official who may have served and most probably practiced his duties in the region of Memphis, the primary cult center of the god Ptah. They also include the customary Egyptian funerary formula ensuring eternal supply of offerings for the statue`s owner.

REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

The Arab world must unite to stand against the challenges facing the region, Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said at the opening session of the Arab League Summit in Mauritania on Monday.

“The current circumstances require unity between Arab countries in order to maintain the coherence of our societies,” Ismail said.

Reading the speech on behalf of Egypt’s President Sisi, Ismail said that the boosting of Arab ties and integration is essential to face crises in the region, including the ongoing wars in Syria and Libya. The Egyptian president also expressed “Egypt’s keenness on offering support for the [Arab League]” and to bolster joint political, economic and social work between the member states.

Egyptian media reported earlier today that the presidency had caught wind of a plot to assassinate Sisi, leading to the president sending the country’s premier in his stead. However, presidential spokesman Alaa Youssef denied these reports and said they are “not true,” privately-owned Daily News Egypt reported.

The Arab League Summit kicked off today in the Mauritanian capital city of Nouakchott in the presence of several presidents and other top state officials. It is the first summit to take place during former Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmed Aboul-Gheit’s tenure as the League’s Secretary-General, and also marks the first time for Mauritania to host the summit since it joined the League in 1973.

The two-day summit is expected to see the officials discussing measures to combat terrorism in the region, as well as potential solutions to the Palestine-Israeli conflict.

Speaking at an Arab ministerial meeting ahead of the summit on Saturday, Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry said that Egypt has been working to deter “foreign plots” against the country and the Arab world as a whole.

The foreign minister called for increased Arab cooperation to prevent the turmoil currently pervading several countries in the region from reaching other countries enjoying stability.

sisimal

Reports published in privately-owned Al-Masry Al-Youm and Youm7 alleging that Egyptian president Abdelfattah Al-Sisi’s absence at the Arab Summit today due to a suspected assassination plot are false, the presidential spokesman told Daily News Egypt.

According to Ambassador Alaa Youssef, the reports published today quoting “senior officials” in the presidency as saying the presidency learned of the plot, leading
to Al-Sisi sending Prime Minister Sherif Ismail in his stead, are “not true.”

The 27th Arab League Summit is set to commence on Tuesday in the Mauritanian capital of Nouakchott.

The heads of state and top officials attending the summit are expected to discuss measures to combat terrorism in the region, in addition to exploring potential solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Speaking at an Arab ministerial meeting on Saturday, Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry said that Egypt has been working to deter “foreign plots” against the country and the Arab world as a whole.

The foreign minister called for increased Arab cooperation to prevent the turmoil currently pervading several countries in the region from reaching other countries enjoying stability.

A sabotaged church in Dalja, Minya governorate, 2013 (Photo: Lovers of Bishop Raphael Facebook page)

A sabotaged church in Dalja, Minya governorate, 2013 (Photo: Lovers of Bishop Raphael Facebook page)

18 Egyptians were detained on Sunday over the latest incident of sectarian violence in Egypt’s Beni Suef, state-owned Ahram Online reported.

The detainees are facing charges of “disrupting public peace and assaulting personal freedoms,” as well as “damaging the house and a car of a Coptic villager” after they threw rocks at a Christian-owned building in Beni Suef that was rumored to be turned into a church without a license.

Incidents of sectarian violence against the country’s Coptic Christian citizens – who comprise approximately 16 percent of Egypt’s population – have spiked in recent weeks.

In May, an elderly Christian woman was stripped and dragged through the streets through the streets of her village in the province of Minya over rumors that her son had an affair with a Muslim woman. During the same month, 300 people attacked and burned down Christians’ homes in another village in Minya.

Earlier this month, a Christian priest said that the family of another priest was attacked and one of their neighbors killed by Muslim youths following a quarrel in Minya.

The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Initiative (EIPR) released a statement expressing “deep disturbance” over the recent spike in sectarian violence in the province, which lies in Upper Egypt.

Speaking at the graduation ceremony of the military academy on Thursday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi urged national unity in the face of the ongoing sectarian clashes and vowed to hold accountable the perpetrators of violence in Minya.

Antikythera Mechanism, National Archaeological Museum, Athens, Greece.

When we talk of the history of computers, most of us will refer to the evolution of the modern digital desktop PC, charting the decades-long developments by the likes of Apple and Microsoft. What many don’t consider, however, is that computers have been around much longer. In fact, they date back millennia, to a time when they were analogue creations.

Today, the world’s oldest known “computer” is the Antikythera mechanism, a severely corroded bronze artefact which was found at the beginning of the 20th Century, in the remains of a shipwreck near the Mediterranean island of Antikythera. It wasn’t until the 1970s that the importance of the Antikythera mechanism was discovered, when radiography revealed that the device is in fact a complex mechanism of at least 30 gear wheels.

The mechanism has since been established as the first known astronomical calendar, a complex system which can track and predict the cycles of the solar system. Technically, it is a sophisticated mechanical “calculator” rather than a true “computer”, since it cannot be reprogrammed, but nonetheless an impressive artefact.

The British Embassy in Cairo. Photo: Khaled ElFiqi (EPA)

The British Embassy in Cairo. Photo: Khaled ElFiqi (EPA)

The United Kingdom announced at a session of the United Nations Human Rights Council on Friday it is changing its policy on Egypt’s human rights situation as it has “continued to deteriorate.”

“We are concerned by the deteriorating situation in Egypt, particularly restrictions on civil society, detentions of political activists and reports of torture and enforced disappearance. We call on Egypt to release political detainees, end the use of pre-trial detention beyond its legal limits, and allow NGOs to operate freely,” the Kingdom said in a statement at the session.

While the UK had previously placed Egypt on its list of Human Rights Priority Countries in April of this year, the policy has now shifted to place Egypt as a country with a human rights situation requiring the Human Rights Council’s attention.

The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office pointed to the continued “reports of torture, police brutality and enforced disappearance,” the crackdown on the country’s civil society that has led to the shuttering of several human rights NGOs, as well as the death by torture of Italian student Giulio Regeni in Cairo.

The report went on to say that Egypt’s media environment “continues to be restricted” and that the government issues media gag orders on sensitive topics such as the demarcation deal with Saudi Arabia that saw Egypt ceding control of the Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir.

Egypt’s human rights situation has been under international scrutiny for the past several years, particularly under general-turned-president Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s rule. According to international rights watchdogs such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, Egypt’s human rights abuses also include mass trials, a lack of freedom of speech, violence and discrimination against women and a lack of accountability for the perpetrators of rights abuse.

Despite the international criticism, many countries such as the United States and France have continued to provide military aid to and sign arms deals with Egypt.

Cairo’s ‘garbage people’ – known as the Zabaleen – are recycling 85 percent of Cairo’s garbage, a staggering rate given European cities only recycle 32 percent on average, according to a short film by National Geographic on the Zabaleen.

In addition, the amount of garbage they collect daily amounts to nearly 9,000 tons – the equivalent of the Eiffel Tower, the film adds.

Cairo’s Zabaleen population is estimated to be between 50,000 and 70,000 and are based in seven different settlements – the biggest one is located at the bottom of the Mokattam Mountains and is most commonly referred to as “Garbage City”. With a population of 20,000 to 30,000, over 90 percent of Zabaleen residing in this settlement are Coptic Christians.

The Zabaleen go door-to-door collecting garbage, before taking it back to “Garbage City” in donkey carts or trucks where the trash is sorted and organized into 16 different types of waste everyday.

The Zabaleen, who live in extremely impoverished conditions, have faced many challenges over the years threatening their livelihood.

In 2003, they found themselves sidelined after multinationals were awarded contracts for household waste collection by Cairo’s municipal authorities. Some Zabaleen saw as much as a 75 percent decrease in earnings as a result.

Then in 2009, the government ordered the culling of pigs used by the Zabaleen over fears of swine flu. Pigs had the important function of eating the organic waste and their meat also provided the Zabaleen with another source of income.

Despite these recent setbacks, the Zabaleen continue to provide an alternative system of garbage collection that has garnered respect from international quarters.

Photo: Mahatat for Contemporary Art

Photo: Mahatat for Contemporary Art

In a two-day event organized by Mahatat, City Shadows brought its project to explore ways to revive abandoned spaces through art to Egypt’s Port Said on July 16 and 17.

The creative action research project, launched six months ago, views the revival of abandoned spaces as a possible solution for both the negligence of existing buildings and the lack of spaces for youth and artists to explore their creativity.

Mahatat is a Cairo-based social and cultural enterprise founded in 2011. Through contemporary art practices, Mahatat seeks to transform public spaces, create opportunities for exposure to the arts and offer needsbased learning experiences to artists, practitioners and entrepreneurs.

Photo: Mahatat for Contemporary Art

Photo: Mahatat for Contemporary Art

The exclusivity of the art scene in Egypt marginalizes the majority of the population from being an art audience and centralization of the arts deprives amateurs and emerging artists outside the capital from exposure and skills development opportunities. The initiative’s role is to take art beyond decentralized channels and nurture creative expression and production of art as a visible and accessible part of our everyday life.

Together with Mahatat as the producer and Rana El Nemr as the artistic consultant, visual artist Nadia Mounier and musicians Nancy Mounir and Omar Mostafa curated the two-day event. Port said was selected as a case study to assess the theories, practices and innovative ideas put forth during the research phase. This step is aimed at supporting the creation of a DIY toolkit where tools for renovating abandoned spaces through art would be provided.

During the location-scouting phase, an abandoned open space tucked away behind two abandoned buildings was chosen as the site. This included Villa Fernand on Abdel Salam Aref street and is among Port Said’s neglected cultural heritage. The building behind Villa Fernand used to stand as a uniquely designed, colorful building that is now in the process of demolition. As audiences entered the space, they were met with the past (Villa Fernand), passed through the present (with the half-demolished building on their right) and saw potential for the future at the end of the street (the event space).

Photo: Mahatat for Contemporary Art

Photo: Mahatat for Contemporary Art

As a way to engage audiences with the City Shadows event and around the issue of neglected spaces, a campaign was launched on social media channels prior to the event asking people to send photos of abandoned spaces in their city using the hashtag #cityshadows2016, in order to gather them for an upcoming blog by Mahatat on abandoned spaces revival.

In preparation for the event, the artists and research team were able to discover archives that led to the creation of an exhibition composed partly by popular culture, partly by history and partly by imagination. It embodied the diverse nature of the city’s people, simultaneously incorporating Port Said’s citizens and its visitors. The event allowed Port Said to be revealed through the use of sound archives, photography and music, presenting stories that were often heard but rarely documented in the city. This exhibition revolves around Port Said’s popular culture and how the citizens are entangled in their city’s heritage and history.

While the state requires an official written history, a people’s history composed of stories and human experiences is also needed. The event was attended by over 300 people in Port Said that either heard about the event through Facebook, coincidently passing by or due to the extensive grassroots outreach through Mahatat’s volunteers. Port Said Ala Adeemo, one of Mahatat’s main partners for the event and a nonprofit organization with the mission of preserving the city’s culture and heritage, also helped with the outreach. As a lead-up to the event, Port Said designed a special tour around the city to take people around significant cultural and historical places including those that have been abandoned. By foot and bike, the tour would conclude by taking visitors to the event and explaining Villa Fernand.

Photo: Mahatat for Contemporary Art

Photo: Mahatat for Contemporary Art

Most audiences revealed that they did not know this place even existed before this event. “It made me appreciate and see the city in more depth” and “you made me regain the faith that the city is still beautiful” were amongst the comments heard from audiences. The beautiful lights and music lured many coming in from the streets. Upon entering, participants would view the exhibition of photos and objects gathered from Port Said that were both old and contemporary. The visual arts display continued with a video of an old man and young boy dancing the traditional Port Said ‘semsemia’ dance with the seas as their backdrop and this worked particularly well with the experimental live music composition by Nancy Mounir and Omar Mostafa. Small details were also added as participants were able to freely roam and discover the area for themselves, included creative and resourceful paper craft by artist Nervan Talha.

On the final night, young artists from Port Said brought along their instruments in hopes that they would play with the musicians at the show. As they started the performance, the team behind the event was hoping this could be a sign for more inspiration to come in spaces and places across the city.

In the publication that will be printed and published in August 2016 alongside a free online version, readers will be presented with a learning guide with similar initiatives from the Middle East and Europe as well as results from the City Shadows event.

islamictexts

In the years that followed 9/11, Arab and Muslim Americans have experienced a sharp rise in cases of psychological diseases and mental disorders. Researchers attributed much of this to the anti-Muslim backlash that ensued post-9/11 and was reinforced by the Iraq war. In the current decade the new wave of global spectacular terrorists attacks is making things worse. My own direct observation from my own dealings, as well as through observations on social media, is that the problem is spreading into Europe’s  Muslims and indeed to the Middle East itself.

Those who attributed the problem primarily to the anti-Muslim backlash in the West would benefit from looking at Egypt where youth sentiments of depression and dissatisfaction with life are rampant. Young Muslims in the West and elsewhere are looking at the horrors committed in the name of their religion and are unable to reconcile the Islam they thought they belonged to and believed in with the various texts and citations offered by multitudes of sources from ISIS to various television sheikhs, Imams and Mullahs.

I’m often challenged by both Muslims and Islamophobes to explain how I reconcile my belief in Islam with numerous stories in Islam’s sacred texts that condone violence and discrimination. Much of the inter-Muslim discourse focuses on citations: the prowess in finding citations that would help a point of view prevail over others. Ping pong of citations is what most discussions on Islam rapidly descent into.

Islam, like other major world religions, has relied on an oral tradition. Even after the printing press, the vast majority of the world Muslims learnt their faith from oral traditions. Cultural norms and traditions have naturally co-opted the oral teachings of Islam in various countries. Female genital mutilation, or FGM, has been accepted as an Islamic tradition in Egypt, Sudan and other East African countries, even though it’s also practiced by Christians and others too.

Going back to the early days of Islam and those who accepted Mohammad as a Prophet and Islam as a faith, I ask myself why!  Why did those early Muslims accept Mohammad? Islam may indeed have spread through the sword in some parts of the world, but it also spread in vast areas around the world through word of mouth. Why did the people of Mecca accept Islam? Why did Islam spread in India, Malaysia and Indonesia? Why do I accept Islam?

I have no doubts that the early Meccans were attracted to certain ideas of Islam: equality, justice, compassion, honesty, and fairness in dealing with others. I’m almost sure that Islam wouldn’t have spread as it did if people were told that they would be killed if they were to alter their decision and leave Islam at some point.

For me, the truth of Islam is in its simplicity, its humanity, in its compassion and in its mercy. Derivatives of the compassion and mercy happen to be the two most repeated words in the Quran. The truth of Islam is in the equality of all human beings before God, in the freedom of human beings to pursue their path to God.

Discourse that regresses from the truths of Islam to debate the facts of Islam are of little interest to me and historically have actually played little role in Islamic history. The battles of texts and citations that dominate much of the discussion in today’s Islam in Islamdom would have been alien for most of the fourteen centuries of the history of Islam. Often times those who engaged in them were marginalized or worse.

The obsession over the texts and citations is a primary factor for the dissonance that we see; the loss of identity and center that stems from a loss of faith. Modern day Islamdom has created an Islam that prescribes the rituals that a man must follow to get, along with his loved ones, to heaven. The early Islam that was embraced by Muhammad’s early followers did not emphasize a bargain with God to get to heaven.

The Christians and Jews in the West have had several centuries to look beyond disputes over facts to get to the truth of their beliefs. Many of the stories of the Old Testament have largely been discounted by most believing Christians and Jews in the West, the very same stories dominate a large amount of Islamic discourse.

Many Christian scholars in the West, and indeed most Bible Colleges, accept as given than many parts of the Gospels have not been written by the people whose names they carry. Divinity schools across the US doubt the authenticity of the stories of the Virgin Birth, the Trip to Egypt to escape the decree killing children of Jesus’ age, the Bethlehem birth, and many other stories in the New Testament. Yet, believing Christians in the west have reached a comfortable place with the their sacred texts. Some believe in the literal words of the Bible, most don’t. There is little ping pong going on between the disagreeing parties. Christians are not asked to justify their belief in the truth of their faith through arguments over texts and disputes of facts.

It’s hard to be optimistic about a reform movement coming to Islam from the majority Muslim countries where religion remains a tool of authoritarian governments and closed societies. Some of the best writings on Islam are coming out of US Muslim scholars. These scholars remain engaged in the battle of citations and using traditional Islamic jurisprudence methods to push back against authoritarian interpretations of Islam. Future generations of scholars may look beyond texts and citations and may one day offer a way for the truth unencumbered by debates over facts.

One of the burials at Didnauri, the largest Bronze Age settlement ever discovered in the southern Caucasus. This burial predates the 3,100-year-old wall around the settlement by about about 200 years

A military commander killed in battle with the arrowhead still lodged in his thorax is one of the interesting finds by archaeologists at the largest prehistoric settlement discovered in the South Caucasus. The site dates back at least 3,300 years and has been yielding interesting burials, artifacts and architectural features, including a huge wall and waterworks.

The village at Didnauri in the nation of Georgia, about 150 km (93 miles) east of Tbilisi, is encompassed by a wall 1.7 km long (about 1 mile) and 7 meters (23 feet) wide.

When the discovery was made last year from satellite photographs, scholars said it could push back the establishment of an ancient civilization in the region, but they did not give a time frame.

In a tantalizing bit of information in an article on Agenda.ge, it states:

In one of the most unique findings, a grave of a military commander was unearthed in the area. The remains of the ancient warrior featured an arrowhead in their stomach area, while a 13th Century BC bronze dagger was buried next to the individual. History experts said the arrowhead found in the remains did not resemble those made in the Caucasus region.

The article does not speculate about where the arrowhead was made. One can only wonder if the people of Didnauri did battle with warriors from another part of the world that killed the commander. Because of the Caucasus’ location, hostile forces could have come from Europe, Asia Minor, West Asia or the Middle East.

Photo via Solar Impulse blog

Photo via Solar Impulse blog

Solar Impulse 2, the solar-powered plane flying around the world on zero fuel and with zero emissions, left Cairo in the early hours of Sunday for Abu Dhabi to conclude its tour around the globe.

BREAKING @bertrandpiccard has taken off from #Cairo for the last flight of the journey to #AbuDhabi #futureisclean pic.twitter.com/2ufDjAS5VK

— SOLAR IMPULSE (@solarimpulse) July 23, 2016

Although the final leg of the world tour was scheduled to begin on July 16, pilots André Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard announced they had decided to postpone the flight due to weather issues and the fact that Piccard fell ill while in Cairo.

“What is holding us back from taking off on our final flight from Cairo to Abu Dhabi? Unbelievable summer heat … We have never had to deal with temperatures so high before on our round-the-world tour,” the pilots said in a statement. “We always put safety first and therefore have decided to postpone the flight and wait for [Piccard] to feel better in order to identify another weather window.”

The plane had landed in the Egyptian capital on July 13 after a 50-hour flight from Seville, Spain that passed through Italian, Greek, Tunisian and Algerian airspaces.

Prior to landing in Seville, the plane flew across the Atlantic Ocean after taking off from New York. The transatlantic flight took 71 hours to complete at an average speed of 76.7 kilometers per hour.

Since its inaugural flight, Solar Impulse 2 has completed 16 legs of the tour and landed in countries such as India, China, Japan, Hawaii and Spain, among others.

To find out more about Solar Impulse and the idea behind the clean technology plane, take a look at the plane’s blog here.

A Paracas elongated skull and an artist’s impression based on a digital reconstruction.

The elongated skulls of Paracas in Peru caused a stir in 2014 when a geneticist that carried out preliminary DNA testing reported that they have mitochondrial DNA “with mutations unknown in any human, primate, or animal known so far”. Now a second round of DNA testing has been completed and the results are just as controversial – the skulls tested, which date back as far as 2,000 years, were shown to have European and Middle Eastern Origin. These surprising results change the known history about how the Americas were populated.

Paracas is a desert peninsula located within Pisco Province on the south coast of Peru.  It is here where Peruvian archaeologist, Julio Tello, made an amazing discovery in 1928 – a massive and elaborate graveyard containing tombs filled with the remains of individuals with the largest elongated skulls found anywhere in the world. These have come to be known as the ‘Paracas skulls’. In total, Tello found more than 300 of these elongated skulls, some of which date back around 3,000 years.

Elongated skulls on display at Museo Regional de Ica in the city of Ica in Peru

Elongated skulls on display at Museo Regional de Ica in the city of Ica in Peru (public domain)

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German authorities said on Saturday that the 18-year-old German-Iranian who killed nine people in Munich before killing himself had no link to international terrorism.

The Interior Minister said that the young killer, who had been undergoing psychiatric care for depression, had “obvious links” to Norwegian Anders Breivik. Friday marked five years since Breivik killed 77 people, mainly young people, in Norway.

According to German police, the gunman had more than 300 rounds of ammunition.

Initial reports indicate that the gunman used Breivik’s photograph on WhatsApp. The gunman, who has not been named, may have lured his victims to the location of the shooting at the Shopping Center by using a fake account as a girl.

Seven of the gunman’s nine victims were teenagers, said police.

Video, allegedly of the gunman, shows him shouting that he is German during the attack leading some to assume that he may have been an anti-immigration extremist. However, this was later proven to be incorrect.

Ten people remain critically injured, including a 13-year-old boy. Terror incidents have been on the rise in 2016, with a number of attacks in Europe.

Omar Sobhani / Reuters

Omar Sobhani / Reuters

At least 61 people were killed and 200 injured after two suicide bombers detonated their explosives vests at a protest in Kabul, Afghanistan.

In statements released through its news agency, ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack on “a gathering of Shiite [Muslims].”

The attack took place as thousands from the Shiite Hazara minority gathered at Deh Mazang Square to protest a new power line they believed crosses over where many of them lived.

Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani condemned the attack, adding that it is the right of every citizen to peacefully protest.

Police had sealed off many parts of the city and were providing security to the protest, however “opportunist terrorists managed to infiltrate the crowds,” said the President.

The Taliban, which is itself branded as a terrorist organization, also condemned the attack.

Though they are a minority, Hazaras make up approximately 15 percent of Afghanistan’s population.

erdogan-turkey-coup

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed a decree on Friday ordering the closure of 1,229 charities, 1,043 private schools, 35 medical institutions, 19 unions, and 15 universities allegedly linked to US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.

The decree by the Turkish President also extended the period of detention without charge for suspects to 30 days. Around 10,000 people have been arrested, including military personnel and judges, and another 50,000 suspended or fired following a military coup attempt earlier this month.

According to Turkish media, 15,200 teachers and other education staff have been sacked and 1,577 university deans were ordered to resign, while 8,777 interior ministry workers, 1,500 staff members from the finance ministry and 257 individuals from the prime minister’s office were also fired.

Turkey has also banned all academics from travelling abroad days after a similar ban was imposed on public servants. There are more than three million public servants working in Turkey.

Erdogan has faced wide criticism of conducting a “witch hunt” against his opposition and after the failed coup. On Tuesday, Wikileaks stated their servers were under sustained attack after announcing that they will release unspecified documents pertaining to Turkey’s political structure, the Independent reported.

The military coup attempt started with soldiers taking control of key installations and announcing on state television that a “peace council” would now run the country to “reinstate constitutional order, human rights and freedoms.”

However, the coup quickly failed, and soldiers were quickly rounded up. According to Turkish government estimates, 240 people were killed during the coup attempt. Turkey has vowed to purge the “traitors” and has even said it is considering returning the death penalty.

Personal ‘hygiene sticks’ used in toilets on the Silk Road. Hui-Yuan Yeh. Reproduced from the Journal of Archaeological Science

Once travelled by famous historical figures such as Marco Polo and Genghis Khan, the Silk Road was a hugely important network of transport routes connecting eastern China with Central Asia, the Middle East and Europe. It came to prominence during the Chinese Han Dynasty (202 BC to AD 220) and remained a key transport route for the following 2,000 years.

Given that the Silk Road was a melting pot of people, it is no wonder that researchers have suggested that it might have been responsible for the spread of diseases such as bubonic plague, anthrax and leprosy between China and Europe. However, no one has yet found any evidence to show how diseases in eastern China reached Europe. Travellers might have spread these diseases taking a southerly route via India and the Middle East, or a northerly route via Mongolia and Russia.

Caravan on the Silk Road, 1380

Caravan on the Silk Road, 1380 (public domain)

Credit: Lukas Schulze / AFP

Credit: Lukas Schulze / AFP

At least nine people are dead after a gunman, who proceeded to commit suicide, opened fire at a busy shopping center in Munich, Germany. More than 20 others were also injured in the attack at Olympia shopping center.

According to local police authorities, the gunman’s body was found nearby and bore self-inflicted wounds. Police, who identified the attacker as an 18-year-old German-Iranian, said that he likely acted alone in the ‘lone-wolf’ type of attack.

In other statements, police said that they do not believe the gunman had any “extremist links”, however this is still being investigated.

As the attack unfolded, police suspended the railway system. However, police have now given the “all-clear” and have resumed transport services.

Detail of panel with adoration to Aten.

Pharaoh Akhenaten is one of the most mysterious kings of Ancient Egypt. Researchers have discovered three tombs dedicated to him - all full of even more secrets. These tombs do, however, provide fascinating hints about the enigmatic pharaoh’s life.

Akhenaten was the successor of his father Amenhotep III, one of the most successful pharaohs of the New Kingdom Period. However, he wasn`t the crown prince of his father`s dreams. He had a weak body and was a dreamer and a poet – not exactly an iconic candidate to become a pharaoh. Despite these apparent short-comings, his reign became one of the most meaningful periods in the entire history of Egypt.

This pharaoh’s home was in Thebes, but later he created his own city called the “Horizon of Aten” - now known as Tell-el-Amarna. Akhenaten believed that this city would also be his eternal home, his final destination, and a monument which would make him famous forever. Unfortunately for him, his fame is more connected with the beauty of his wife and the tomb of his son – Tutankhamun.

A colossal statue of Akhenaten from his Aten Temple at Karnak. Egyptian Museum of Cairo.

A colossal statue of Akhenaten from his Aten Temple at Karnak. Egyptian Museum of Cairo. (Gérard Ducher/CC BY SA 2.5)

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Yamnaya skull from the Samara region colored with red ochre.

The nomad tribe known as the Yamnaya, who were among the founders of the European civilization, may have been the first pot dealers, archaeologists say. Moreover, they were responsible for the first transcontinental trade of cannabis.

The tribe of nomads came from the eastern Steppe region, which is nowadays Russia and Ukraine, and entered Europe about 5,000 years ago, bringing with them herding skills, metallurgy and even the Indo-European languages. According to a recent analysis, they were also responsible for introducing marijuana and establishing the first transcontinental trade of the herb.

Cannabis sativa plant

Cannabis sativa plant (Wikimedia Commons)

Cairo skyline and Nile River

It’s clear to most that the Egyptian economy has suffered extensively in the aftermath of the 2011 revolution. Amid the massive drop in tourism, exports and foreign investments, Egypt’s foreign reserves declined by more than 50 percent from USD 36 billion to 17 billion. Even the Suez Canal – an important earner of hard currency – has failed to pick up the slack, with the slowdown of global trade translating into a slowdown of traffic through the Canal.

The bottom line is that anything that once generated a flow of foreign currency for Egypt has vanished and the country is now grappling with an unprecedented currency crisis.

To compound the issue, Egypt is an import-reliant country: With 90 million consumers, we import nearly everything, from energy to food and industry inputs. All of these imports are now in jeopardy due to the crippling currency crisis – no dollars means no imports.

The Egyptian economy is now a “Catch-22” case; our only solution to solve the problem is to lock down a huge loan in foreign currency. Since the 2011 revolution, Egypt relied largely on her Gulf friends, particularly Saudi Arabia and the Emirates, in that regard. Egypt has received billions in the form of grants, soft loans and investments. While these funds temporarily soothed the pain of the deteriorating economic situation, oil – the main source of income for the Arabian Gulf – has seen its price collapse and its value drop by 75 percent in the past two years. This steep drop is a true economic nightmare for the Gulf countries and its repercussions on Egypt are almost as catastrophic; we can no longer rely on our Arab friends for the generous support we previously received from them. In fact, they have already begun to withdraw billions of dollars from their reserves and investments around the world to cover their own expenses.

Now, the only choice that remains for us is to seek assistance from international financial institutions to provide us with a large loan in foreign currency. Since Egypt is a member of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), we have the right to borrow from it and negotiations for such a loan actually began soon after the revolution.

However, here is the million-dollar question: Why would the IMF lend money to a country in the midst of an economic crisis? Why take the risk?

The truth is that Egypt’s economic situation is harmful to everyone; the economic downturn in Egypt hurts the West, too. There are several multinational companies in Egypt, most of which are now unable to transfer their profits to their (often Western) mother countries, simply because they are on a long waiting list to access foreign currencies to repatriate their profits in.

Developed countries have long considered the Middle East to be a huge market for their products; international companies secured enormous profits from Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates but when a currency crisis takes place, imports come to an automatic stop. This scenario is exactly what is unfolding now in Egypt. However, Egyptians remain in need of many goods and services that are either not available in local markets or have become extremely expensive due to the hike in the USD rate. This kind of situation calls for a necessary transformation; the market will transform into a factory as Egypt looks to itself to produce the goods necessary to keep the country going, and international companies will begin losing their market share to Egyptian manufacturers.

Therefore, it is of mutual benefit for all; Egypt and Western countries alike need to pump billions of dollars into the sick body of the Egyptian economy through the IMF in order to secure their respective interests. However, to ensure the recovery of these funds in the future, the IMF imposes on borrowers what is called the “Washington Consensus,” which is the prescription of 10 economic policies to alter the course of the recipient economy. Egypt has already implemented many of said policies, including opening its markets to foreign investment, reducing subsidies, floating the currency and abolishing regulations that impede market entry or restrict competition.

The question that remains now is whether or not the expected loan with its economic recipe will play out in Egypt’s favor. The answer is that we perhaps have no other options remaining.

However, history can serve as an important indicator of the loan’s success trajectory; in the 1997 Asian crisis, countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand had a simple slowdown in the economy, which turned into a serious recession thanks to the recommendations of IMF advisors. The same scenario was duplicated in Argentina in 2001 and yet again in Tanzania, where the per capita income decreased by 30 percent.

Perhaps the IMF has achieved sporadic success but there is no doubt that neoliberal economic policies espoused by the IMF often work in the favor of the international companies that benefit from opening new markets – but this comes at the expense of the economies of developing countries and, more tragically, these countries’ populations.

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