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Watch: Egypt building Sharm el-Sheikh 'separation wall' to protect foreign tourists

Egyptian authorities are building a wall to surround Sharm al-Sheikh [Facebook]

Date of publication: 20 February, 2019

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Egypt is building a 6-metre-high concrete wall surrounding the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh to protect foreign tourists from increasing terror threats, a move criticised as counter-productive and unnecessary.
Egypt is building a 6-metre-high concrete wall surrounding the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh to protect foreign tourists from increasing threats, a move criticised as counter-productive and unnecessary.

Construction was revealed by The Guardian newspaper, based on verified pictures and videos of the wall shared by local residents showing completed and unfinished parts of the barrier.

The project seems to be a reboot of a scrapped 2005 plan to build a security wall around the town. 

Despite denials by local officials interviewed by the newspaper, Egyptian residents and expats confirmed the construction of the wall.

"It's not a wall, who told you it's a wall? We don't have a wall," General Khaled Fouda claimed.

Appearing to borrow language from US President Donald Trump, who has said he wants to build a "beautiful wall" on the Mexico border, Fouda said the project was instead a series of "barriers" and "fences" - with "four very beautiful doors" to access Sharm el-Sheikh.
Video credit: SSBC - Sharm el Sheikh Broadcasting Corporation

Angry residents told the newspaper they have seen advanced surveillance cameras and checkpoints being established along the wall's planned route.

Read more:

Booking your winter-sun getaway? Remember, Egypt's still a police state

"The beauty of the place is being covered up with a fence... this thing will destroy the view," one resident told The Guardian.

"This security barrier isn't going to make a difference, it will just annoy people more and it won't stop terrorism. It's a joke. Any tourist coming out of the city will be worried they're not safe."

The New Arab Arabic's correspondent in Egypt confirmed the construction works.

"The government has decided to build a huge wall surrounding the city of Sharm el-Sheikh from the area of Nabeq all the way to the National Park of Ras Mohammed... The wall will be very high and will block the view of the mountains and will turn our beautiful city into an ugly prison," wrote Mohammed Abo Logy, a local journalist, on Facebook.

"A very sad and infuriating sight to see. It seems Trump's ideas are contagious, and officials here have the same limited narrow minded view of how security can be implemented without destroying tourism and beauty in the process," he added.

The wall could be part of the Egyptian regime's efforts to reassure foreign nationals who have stopped coming since terrorists likely brought down a Russian passenger jet in 2015 over Sinai

Luring back tourists

Despite objections and warnings it may backfire, the move to sequester the once-popular Red Sea resort town on the edges of the Sinai desert, site of an ongoing jihadi-inspired insurgency, could be part of the Egyptian regime's efforts to reassure foreign nationals.

Many tourists have stopped travelling to Egypt's Red Sea and Sinai resorts since militants brought down a Russian passenger jet over the Peninsula in 2015.

Moscow suspended flights after the 2015 attack, which killed all 224 people on board and was claimed by the extremist Islamic State group. Russian officials said a homemade explosive device was detonated on board the plane, which had taken off from the main Sinai resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh.

Direct flights between Russia and Egypt's popular Red Sea resorts have yet to resume. Britain, another major source of visitors to Egypt, also suspended flights to Sharm el-Sheikh after the attack.

The suspension of flights dealt a heavy blow to Egypt's vital tourism sector, which was already weakened by the years of unrest that followed the 2011 uprising.

Egypt has sought to improve airport security since the 2015 attack, spending millions of dollars and bringing in foreign experts.



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