Sharm el-Sheikh witnesses Russian visitors after six years

 Tuesday, November 2, 2021 


Mussa al-Nahas sat outside his fragrance and spice shop overlooking the Red Sea looking happy at the sight of Russian tourists, who have started coming back to Sharm el-Sheikh after six years following a terror attack.

“Today is much, much better than three or four months ago because the Russians are back,”said al-Nahas.
“The return of Russian flights has spurred other countries to also open up,” he added.

Nahas, 42, has spent half of his life in the idyllic, sun-drenched Red Sea resort which was hit badly economically after the 2015 downing of a Metrojet plane killing 224 passengers, who were mostly Russians.

The attack was claimed by the so-called Islamic State jihadist group, with a presence in the restive North Sinai region.
Due to the crash, Russia announced a blanket ban on all flights to the Red Sea from 2015, and even to Cairo for few weeks.

Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 was a double blow driving away the remaining tourists, who wereEgypt’s lifeline.
Tourism represents about 10 percent of the GDP of Egypt.

“We used to say that Sharm el-Sheikh had become a ghost town,” said Nahas.

However, in August, the fortunes of Sharm, as it is affectionately known, started to bounce back when the first plane from Moscow landed at the local airport.

After years of diplomacy, the long-running ban was finally lifted.

Currently, there are about 20 flights from Russia landing in Sharm every week.

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