I could not think of a better word to describe Sharm El-Sheikh. Sharm El-Sheikh is an Egyptian tourist city located at the confluence of the Gulf of Aqaba and Suez on the Red Sea coast. It is the largest city in South Sinai. The city has several spectacular touristic resorts, natural resources and has great economic and political importance.
I visited this magnificent city recently as part of an official Kuwaiti media delegation headed by the undersecretary for external media at the Ministry of Information and head of the Kuwait Journalists Association as well as some colleagues at a kind invitation of the Egyptian General Authority for Tourism and the Egyptian Embassy in Kuwait. This trip was an interpretation of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah’s initiative to promote tourism in Egypt in order to convey the message that Egypt is always a safe country, which was the theme of our visit to Sharm El-Sheikh.
It was my first visit to Sharm and my mind was filled with all the thoughts and questions raised by my family and friends about safety and security in this town since the downing of the Russian plane there. The media image of security of visitors, sites and even beaches were dark indeed and our mission as journalists was to check this issue and tell the truth. We were not obliged to believe everything we heard or saw.
The journey was a chance to find an adequate answer to the question of whether security could pose a dilemma for Sharm El-Sheikh as a significant touristic spot, and how the Egyptian leadership could deal with this issue.
In the past 10 years, Sharm El-Sheikh had jumped to a good competitive position. It seems that it was punished for its success. The visit also confirms that Egypt’s security and safety is paramount, especially since Arab peoples are in one vessel and damage suffered by Egypt affects everyone. Egypt has a long history, and who doesn’t recall Egypt’s position towards the Iraqi invasion in 1990.
The most important meeting was a media conference that brought together Major General Khalid Fouda, governor of South Sinai, and Kuwaiti and Egyptian journalists. The governor gave a full explanation of the province and the kinds of tourism services such as religious tourism in St Catherine, leisure tourism in all the cities of the province, diving and beach tourism, and conference and medical tourism. He called for the promotion of Kuwaiti investments in the province, noting that talks with Kuwaiti and Saudi businesspeople for setting up joint ventures have been very promising.
We made many tours and I saw the security presence there. There was a policeman on every corner of the city, morning or evening, and so the fuss about insecurity is fabricated and pure slander, and a distortion of this beautiful city, as an aircraft crash is possible and happens every day. So I now know it’s just a smear campaign against Egypt and we should not accept it.
For all those concerned about security, I can confirm that the security situation there is completely normal. I believe that tourism will soon resume its routine during the next three months. Sharm El-Sheikh can be a new Dubai or Singapore, but media marketing is required and must have continuity. I hope the GCC sets up an exclusive media fund to support international media and marketing campaigns on international channels to show the true image of this city. Egypt is safe!
By Muna Al-Fuzai