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Will change reflect the pulse of the nation?
Par Hedayat Abdel Nabi, journaliste et ecrivain Egyptienne, Presidente ACANU - GENEVE
Cairo-Geneva- July 15 -- On the eve of Friday June 18, 2004,
the prestigious Al-Ahram newspaper rocked Cairo with the news of an eminent
cabinet change that would entail real change. A day before rumors spread in
the country concerning the ill health of the Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
And prior to these rumors, the Arabic edition of the Newsweek carried the cover
with a huge portrait of the Presidents' son Gamal Mubarak.
Those elements put together, triggered the curious appetite of the Egyptians and foreign observers of what next.
Other rumors were circulating on Saturday, June 19 and between 23:00 hrs and early dawn Sunday. Mobile phones in Cairo were occupied with one pressing rumor, the President would appoint the Vice President before he departs to Germany for surgery, and Egyptians held their breath.
To the dismay of all Egyptians, Mubarak left the country without appointing a vice president, but assigned the day-to-day responsibilities of the country to his outgoing Prime Minister Atef Ebeid. This decree was canceled upon Mubarak’s return to Egypt on Wednesday July 7, 2004.
However, Mubarak delivered and a new cabinet was installed with 14 new ministers on Wednesday July 14, 2004 with some of the new ministers as young as 41, and a Prime Minister of 51/52 years old.
Without having the chance to talk to the President of Egypt and probably will never have that chance in the near future, it is my belief that this must be the conclusion he has reached when he swore in the new cabinet that Egypt must be liberated from the stagnation of the status quo.
Mubarak injected modernity to several sectors such as tourism and aviation services through his excellent choice of two cabinet ministers, Dr. Mamdouh El Beltagi, the outgoing minister of Tourism and current minister of information, and General Ahmad Shafik, minister of civil aviation and former head of the Egyptian air-force.
So why now the historic opportunity to move Egypt to the modernity
of the 21st century.
For a simple reason. The Egyptians have managed to have a new look with all their new installations and have joined the tiptop of creativity and technology of the 21st century.
And here I cite the new Cairo airport, which has been a masterpiece and top of the line and, which includes the new arrival hall for private jets that will cover its costs of construction of LE 40 million in two years.
The architect of the new tip-top of the line airport General Ahmed Shafik noted that in addition to aiming at that figure in passenger traffic, the new Cargo Village would be ready for operation in a few months.
When the third terminal is finished, Shafik stressed, that Cairo airport would be the most renounced hub in Africa and North Africa.
With the new airport, Shafik believes that Cairo could become a major passenger hub to cater the needs of 21 million passengers annually.
The new cities and the new development tourist resorts is another example of this tiptop of the line in excellence.
The brilliant Minister of Tourism Mamdouh El Beltagi (currently holding the portfolio of minister of information in the new cabinet) said that tourism is has contributed in modernizing Egypt, because the huge infrastructure projects had to move to cope with the requirements of tourism.
El Beltagi said that if Tourism is moving at a pace of speed is 100 miles and the rest of the economy is at a 70-mile speed.
Egypt’s minister of tourism stressed the importance of the youth force in tourism that is inter mingling with all cultures worldwide which is very good for Egypt’s youth.
He added that in addition to the traditional tourist attractions of Egypt the desert has become a new frontier.
The minister of tourism noted that he has announced the area from Marsa Alam on the Red Sea to Ras Banas on the border of Sudan as an eco/tourism area where there will be no concrete nor luxury hotels, but mother nature.
El Beltagi announced that it is expected that by the end of 2004 Egypt will pass the 7 million figure for tourists.
He noted that the rate of increase in tourists compared with last year is 68%, and that Italy tops the list of tourists visiting Egypt, and that he is working to break the record of one million Italian tourists next year after reaching the figure of 800,000 last year.
El Beltagi stressed that the planning figure for tourists in the coming years up to 2007 would 7.5 million and with a revenue of USD 6.9 billion.