Egypt to open Rafah border crossing with Gaza on Saturday for four days

Egypt will open the Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip in both directions for four days starting Saturday for humanitarian purposes and to allow the passage of students, state-run news agency MENA reported.

Since March, the crossing has been opened occasionally to allow Palestinians stranded outside Gaza to return home.

Squash: Egypt’s ElShorbagy beats Nick Matthew to reach World championship semis

World number 3 Mohamed ElShorbagy reached the squash World Championship semi-finals after defeating veteran champion Nick Matthew 3-1 in the tournament’s  quarters on Thursday.

He needed a 53 minutes to overcome the three-time World Champion to set a date with World number one Gregory Gaultier of France in the semis on Saturday.

The Frenchman eased-past Paul Coll of New Zealand 3-0 in the quarters on Thursday.

In the Women’s tournament top seed Nour El Sherbini secured a place in the competition’s semis after claiming an easy 3-0 win over compatriot Nouran Gohar in a 30 minutes game.

“It’s always tough playing someone from your own country,” Nour El Sherbini told squash site on Thursday.

“Nouran is always a hard opponent, you know she’ll make a plan based on the last match, it’s like a game of Chess, I try to mix up the pace a lot.

“Trying to defend the title there’s more pressure, but I try not to think about it, I’ll just keep trying to play my best …”

El-Sherbini will face compatriot Nour El-Tayeb in the semis on Saturday.


Results – Quarter-Finals: 2017 Men’s AJ Bell PSA World Championships
[1] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt [8] Paul Coll (NZL) 3-0: 11-6, 11-5, 11-4 (44m)
[3] Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt [5] Nick Matthew (ENG) 3-1: 11-7, 11-6, 5-11, 11-6 (53m)

Draw – Men’s Quarter-Finals (Bottom Half): To Be Played December 15
[4] Ali Farag (EGY) v Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL)
[6] Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) v [2] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY)

Draw – Men’s Semi-Finals (Top Half): To Be Played December 16
[1] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v [3] Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY)

Results – Quarter-Finals: 2017 Women’s AJ Bell PSA World Championships
[1] Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt [5] Nouran Gohar (EGY) 3-0: 11-7, 11-3, 11-4 (30m)
[8] Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bt [16] Tesni Evans (WAL) 3-0: 11-9, 11-7, 11-9 (40m)

Draw – Women’s Quarter-Finals (Bottom Half): To Be Played December 15
[3] Camille Serme (FRA) v [9] Joelle King (NZL)
[6] Nicol David (MAS) v [2] Raneem El Welily (EGY)

Draw – Women’s Semi-Finals (Top Half): To Be Played December 16
[1] Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v [8] Nour El Tayeb (EGY)

Salah first Egyptian to win English Premier League Player of the Month award

Salah is the first Egyptian to win the Player of the Month award in EPL history

Egypt and Liverpool winger Mohamed Salah has been rewarded for his brilliant run of form in November with the EA SPORTS Player of the Month award, the Premier League announced on Friday.

“Each month I want to score many goals and help the team to win games,” Salah was quoted as saying on the English Premier League official website on Friday.

“That month, I scored seven goals and it’s a good feeling, but for me the most important thing is the result and we had good results that month,” the Egyptian star added.

The 25-year-old is the first Egyptian to win the Player of the Month award in EPL history.

He scored seven goals in November; doubles against West Ham, Southampton and Chelsea while also netting in Liverpool’s 1-1 draw against Chelsea.

Salah, who joined Liverpool last summer from Serie A side Roma, has hit the headlines in England, scoring 20 goals in 24 appearances on all fronts with Liverpool so far. He’s currently the Premier League top scorer with a 13-goal tally.

He won on Monday the BBC African Footballer of the Year for 2017, beating his teammate Senegalese star Sadio Mane and Borussia Dortmund Gabonese forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Burnley’s Robbie Brady, Manchester City duo Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling, Ashley Young of Manchester United, Chelsea’s Eden Hazard and Arsenal defender Shkodran Mustafi were also nominated.

Salah was instrumental in Egypt’s successful campaign in the World Cup qualifiers, which saw the Pharaohs reach the football’s most prestigious showpiece for the first time since 1990.

He is among the candidates for the CAF 2017 African player of the year award. The Awards Gala will be held in Accra on 4 January, 2018.


(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

Israeli troops wounds more than 40 Palestinians in protests over US Jerusalem move

Israeli troops shot and wounded more than 40 Palestinians in Gaza and the occupied West Bank on Friday, medical officials said, as protests over U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital entered a second week.

Near the Palestinian city of Ramallah in the West Bank, Israeli police troopers said they shot a man after he stabbed and hurt one of their unit.

Medical officials said three more Palestinians were shot and wounded in the West Bank. A further 38 were wounded on the border of the Gaza Strip, whose dominant Hamas Islamists have called for a revolt against Israel in protest against Trump’s Dec. 6 decision.

The Israeli military said that about 2,500 Palestinian took part in riots in the West Bank, rolling flaming tyres and throwing firebombs and rocks at soldiers and border police. Troops took action to break up the riots, it said in a statement.

Similar scenes occurred along the border with Gaza Strip, where about 3,500 Palestinians demonstrated.

Gaza has also seen almost nightly rocket launches into Israel by Palestinian militants, which have not caused casualties. An Israeli counter-strike on Gaza killed two Hamas gunmen.

Trump’s announcement, reversing decades of U.S. policy which treated Jerusalem’s status as a matter for Israeli-Palestinian negotiation, stirred anger across the Arab and Muslim world and concern among Washington’s European allies.

Jerusalem is holy to Jews, Muslims and Christians.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem from Arab forces in the 1967 Middle East War and later annexed it in a move not recognised internationaly.

Palestinians hope that part of the city will be the capital of a future independent state and Palestinian leaders say Trump’s move is a serious blow to an already moribund peace process.

*This story was edited by Ahram Online.–Palestinians-in-p.aspx

Palestinians have right to east Jerusalem as capital: Saudi king

Palestinians have the right to Israeli-occupied east Jerusalem as their capital, Saudi King Salman said Wednesday, echoing calls at an Islamic summit in Istanbul from which he had stayed away.

“The kingdom has called for a political solution to resolve regional crises, foremost of which is the Palestinian issue and the restoration of the Palestinian people’s legitimate rights, including the right to establish their independent state with east Jerusalem as its capital,” the king said.

Salman’s address to the kingdom’s Consultative Council came as the world’s main pan-Islamic body held an emergency summit in Istanbul in response to last week’s US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Exploring Egypt: A taste of the Sinai Trail

A trek through the mountains of Sinai offers some stunning scenery, the peace of the desert, nights under twinkling stars and a distinctive Bedouin culture. Following the Sinai Trail makes it all possible

Through deep valleys, up the highest peaks and everything in between, hiking the Sinai Trail shows off the splendor and diversity of South Sinai, and connects with its Bedouin culture.

The award-winning full trail (also called the Thru Hike) is the first long-distance trail in Egypt, and it takes around 14 days to complete the 250km trek – between St. Catherine and Bir El-Soweir (near Ras Shitan).

I joined a five-day hiking and camping trip covering the first 47km – between St. Catherine and the Blue Desert – that was organized by the Sinai Trail cooperative in conjunction with adventure trips company Wild Guanabana.

The journey was beautiful, challenging, peaceful and invigorating, leaving my brain quieter, my heart fuller, and my body stronger.


Between Wadi Sebaiya and El-Furoosh (Photo: Soha Elsirgany)

Journey’s start

The trail is run by the Sinai Trail cooperative, consising of three Bedouin tribes who reside in different parts of the peninsula – the Jabeleya, Muzeina and Tarabin – along with Englishman Ben Hoffler. A resident of St. Catherine for many years with strong ties to the Bedouin, Hoffler penned the Sinai Trekking Guide and organized the “Sinai is Safe” initiatives.

Our starting point was the Desert Fox Camp in St. Catherine, where Ben told me how the trail was designed in the spirit of honoring Bedouin heritage, seeking to benefit their communities by encouraging the local tourism business, which has taken a hit in recent years.

“We wanted to do something that would be a counter-narrative to all the bad news and reflect the real Sinai,” said Ben. “We felt what would really help is a hiking trail. Let’s use that path to show the beautiful ways of Sinai and how rich the culture is. We felt we have something unique but that people are afraid of, so we wanted to give them an accessible way in.”

And so, between 2013 and 2015, four men went into the desert and picked out the best route. We were introduced to one of them, Nasser from Jabeleya tribe, at the Desert Fox camp. He would be our main guide, along with Hemeid, Ramadan, and Christina, who organizes the short trips.

Our overnight bus from Cairo dropped us at the camp around 10am, just in time for breakfast. After freshening up and bidding farewell to civilization (showers, phone networks, chairs, sinks, etc.), we began our hike toward a nearby Bedouin orchard, where we would spend the night.

On trips like these, the first day is always a detox from busy city life. The restlessness melts away as I adjust to the pace, and my senses become attuned more and more to the silence, the earthy colors, scents of the herbs that we pass by, and the gentle light of dawn that wakes me up.

Every day from then on, we rose with the sun, had an early breakfast, packed our things, and got going. Then we were on the move all day, reaching the campsites by dusk.


Farsh Elias (Photo: Soha Elsirgany)

Closer to the sky

The big stars on our part of the trail were Mt. Saint Catherine and Mt. Sinai (also known as Mt. Musa). While Mt. Saint Catherine had us walking up a long zig-zag path on the mountainside, Mt. Musa was a steeper hike of 750 stone steps. Strangely enough, I found that I liked Mt. Musa more. I felt I was being hugged by the mountain; the place felt more spiritual to me.

Although the itinerary was set, at some points Nasser would give us options for side-hikes, or the option of which path to take, and we split into groups according to our preference.

On the first day there was the option of forming a small group and hiking up Jebel Abbas Basha, Egypt’s second-highest peak. I’d climbed this one before, so I passed on this option. For the record though, it’s very much worth it. It’s a relatively easy hike and the wide peak is a special one, featuring the ruins of the stone palace for Abbas Basha that was never completed. And of course, the view is fantastic – but in Sinai it always is!

I did, however, go for the side-hike up a less famous mountain called Ras Sefsafa, and that proved to be a highlight for me. I found scrambling boulders to be more enjoyable than hiking up a sloped path. There’s something about feeling the stones and using the whole body in the climb that made it all the more immersive. This one was like a conversation with the mountain.

Towards the top, the shapes of the rocks around us got more and more beautiful – nature’s artwork. While going up, Ramadan, the youngest guide, told me that this underrated peak is among the highest, but it was his first time hiking up it. He is among the few Bedouins in his generation that care about being in the mountains and working as a guide. Ben and the Bedouins hope to change that; by preserving the local culture through the trail, they can pass it on to the younger Bedouin who consider leaving to work in the big cities.


Naqb El-Talla (Photo: Soha Elsirgany)

On the beaten path

In between all these stunning peaks, the trail took us through a wonderfully diverse landscape.

“We looked for the most beautiful way, sometimes the most historic way,” said Ben. “The Bedouins have a very rich mental map of the desert, so we relied on the them taking the lead, each tribe in its own territory.”

Listening to Ben, I reflected that sometimes the roads most travelled are the best.

Among the highlights for me was an area where the rocks are a smooth and silvery white, marking where the streams would run after the rain. Then there was Wadi El-Arbain around Mt. Catherine, a never-ending downward slope into a deep, deep valley. In the area around Sefsafa, we passed by little old chapels (that aren’t in use), and a tree with beautifully twisted bark.

As we walked, our guides would point out different kinds of plants and their uses and benefits, some of which only grow in certain areas. We picked up bouquets of those we liked. When our water bottles were empty, we filled up from the mountain springs, sometimes pulling it up from a well, other times from the slim pipes in the gardens.

“We don’t carry the water. The water carries us,” Nasser said, reminding us to stay hydrated.

In Wadi Sebaiya we walked along a ledge with mountains to our right and open desert to our left. We crossed flat plains, a welcome change after the rocks and cliffs, and came across a herd of camels. I remember vividly layers of mountains on the horizon against a striking orange-purple sunset.

Many times, I would be hiking solo in between the two groups. I was treated to the most humbling moments in the silence of the mountains. There was no one within sight or earshot, just blue skies and the beautiful rocky arrangements.

I constantly reminded myself to look up and around me, because it’s so easy to get caught up in watching your step and forget to “really see” where you are.


(Photo: Soha Elsirgany)

Cozy campfires

Apart from frequent short breaks to catch our breath and grab an energizing snack, our main stop each day was for lunch.

I have a soft spot for all kinds of bread, but the flat bread of the Bedouins is easily among my favorites. We would use it to wrap whatever was for lunch; tuna, salad, cheese. These were light and simple meals prepared on the road, and we cherished them more and more every day.

In addition, we sampled a few delicacies of desert cuisine, such as the fantastic grilled chicken and delicious mashed potatoes. Around the camp fires, there was always tea and karkade.

Unexpectedly, I had hot chocolate over breakfast, and even more unexpectedly Rotella – the long-lost twin of Nutella. This was such a hit that it was devoured in no time.

We were lucky enough to have musicians and a singer on the trip, and they entertained us through the evenings, while Nasser told us stories.

Huddled by the fire at Farsh Elias, he told us about Stevens, a man who years ago wanted to join the monks but whose request was refused.  Wanting to do something better than transporting goods among the monasteries, he built the paths surrounding Jebel Musa. On a cold day after it had snowed, Stevens was found frozen to death in one of the caves. His body is still preserved in its seated position in the St. Catherine museum.

There was another story about the old trade routes, and how the tribes exchanged goods with each other, and another about a bad drought and a monk who prayed for rain. At some point, Nasser looked at the clouds gathering above us, and gave us serious instructions: If it rained at night, he would call out to wake us up, and we should quickly move our tents out of the way of the floods, taking shelter in the stone hut.

Despite the danger, I couldn’t help secretly thinking it would be cool to witness a flood. In any case, it didn’t rain, and we slept soundly with no drastic midnight adventures.


El-Furoosh (Photo: Soha Elsirgany)

Notes on expectations

Sinai’s mountain hikes are a well-known attraction, but most people – locals and tourists alike – only experience a small part of the peninsula.

The trail is far from any unrest or danger in North Sinai. It’s just a great way of getting to know this special land and its knowledgeable, generous people, while supporting their communities, which often feel marginalised.

Depending on your perspective, the focus can be physical, spiritual, social, visual or photographic – or a mixture of them all. The trekking is leisurely to intermediate in terms of difficulty, but the whole experience will be more enjoyable if you are well prepared for camping and have a good fitness level.

That said, various levels of fitness are accommodated for, with the group dividing into smaller groups to ensure everyone is comfortable with their pace. Having a knee injury, I was proudly with the slow group, which turned out to be wonderful. Going at a slower pace gives you time to really take it all in.

Each night we camped in a different orchard, with tents provided by Wild Guanabana, and one night we had the option of a sharing a room. Only on the last night did we camp in the open desert, wedged between mountains.

There was always the option of “the million star” hotel, with just a sleeping bag and no tent, under a blanket of stars.

You can book a hike with the Sinai Trail through their website, where you’ll find all the necessary information and maps of the route. The trips are also announced on their Facebook page. The shorter trips are a convenient way to explore the trail in segments, without committing to a two-week vacation, but those interested in the full trail will not be disappointed.

In the meantime, Ben hopes the project will expand to include more tribes and become a platform for sharing Bedouin culture through different mediums.

“We’re just beginning to discover all the pieces of heritage that you can discover walking this path,” he said.


On the Sinai Trail (Photo: Soha Elsirgany)

Runners-up Ahly await Gabonese or Burkinabe test at Champions League round of 32

Runners-up Ahly is to play directly from the round of 32 in next season’s CAF Champions League, while Maqassa will make their first appearance in the preliminary round

Egypt’s Ahly will face the winner between Gabon’s CF Mounana and Burkina Faso’s Rail Club du Kadiogo in the 2018 CAF Champions League round of 32 as the tournament’s preliminary round draw was announced Wednesday in Cairo.

Last season’s Champions Wydad of Morocco and runners-up Ahly were exempted by the African football governing body from playing at the preliminary round alongside DR Congo’s TP Mazembe, South Africa’s Sundowns and Tunisia’s Étoile Sportive du Sahel. The quintet will appear directly in the round of 32.

The winner of the preliminary round match between CF Mounana and Rail Club du Kadiogo will be facing the eight-time African Champions Ahly in the next round. The first leg will be played in Egypt, while the return match will be away.

Egyptian league runners-up Maqassa will be competing for the first time ever at the prestigious continental tournament with their country’s champions Ahly.

Maqassa will kick off their campaign from the preliminary round by facing Senegal’s Generation Foot.

The first leg will be played on 9, 10 or 11 February in Senegal, while the return match will be on 20 or 21 of the same month in Egypt.

If Maqassa manages to reach the round of 32, they will face the winner between Guinea’s Horoya and Nigeria’s AS FAN.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

Ahly’s icon El-Khatib, World Cup among most searched words on google by Egyptians in 2017

Google international search engine published its annual “Year in Search” report for 2017 on Wednesday, where Mahmoud El-Khatib – Egypt’s football legend and newly elected Ahly football club president – and the FIFA World Cup 2018 draw, for which Egypt qualified for the first time in 29 years, were among the top searches by Egyptians this year.

The elementary school exam results were the most googled topic by Egyptians this year.

As for songs, the Egyptian shaabi song El-Keif was the most searched, followed by the Puerto Rican song Despacito.

Google’s Year in Search report also revealed the most trending public figures of 2017, with El-Khatib coming on top followed by politician and presidential hopeful Ahmed Shafiq and Lebanese singer Elissa.

Topping the list of events was the FIFA world cup 2018 draw in Russia, where the Egyptian national team recently qualified for the first time since 1990.

The Ahly presidential elections, which took place only last month, came in second place, followed by the funeral of Egyptian golden age singer Shadia and the Wahat terrorist attack in Egypt’s Western Desert respectively.

The list of trending public figures also included the national football team’s goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary at ninth place, followed by Egyptian national football star and the Premiere League’s current top goal scorer Mohamed Salah at 10th place.,-World-Cup-among-most-searched.aspx

Moody’s says higher oil prices, public spending support Gulf non-financial companies

Global credit rating agency Moody’s says higher oil prices and continued public spending support the stable 2018 outlook on non-financial companies in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

“Improving oil prices, which are narrowing fiscal deficits, as well as an ongoing commitment to public spending and a supportive stance towards government-related issuers will underpin the stable outlook on GCC companies over the next 12 months,” said Rehan Akbar, Vice President  and Senior Analyst at Moody’s.
GCC consists of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar.
The report says “oil prices above $50/bbl will allow countries with large fiscal buffers and small populations, such as the UAE, Kuwait and Qatar, to implement fiscal reforms at a slower pace than their regional peers.”
The report, however, highlighted that the 2018 outlook for companies in both Turkey and South Africa is negative.
“Limited clarity on policy direction and on the pace of implementation of structural economic reforms, as well as political risks and high currency volatility drive the negative 2018 outlook for Turkish companies,” Akbar added.
“Similarly, the negative outlook for firms in South Africa reflects continued political and policy uncertainty, and depressed business and consumer demand.”,-public-spending-sup.aspx

Islamic leaders urge Jerusalem recognition as Palestine’s capital

Islamic leaders on Wednesday urged the world to recognise occupied East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, as Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas warned the United States no longer had any role to play in the peace process.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan convened in Istanbul an emergency summit of the world’s main pan-Islamic body, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), seeking a coordinated response to the recognition by US President Donald Trump of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

With the Islamic world itself mired in division, the summit fell well short of agreeing any concrete sanctions against Israel or the United States.

But their final statement declared “East Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Palestine” and invited “all countries to recognise the State of Palestine and East Jerusalem as its occupied capital.”

They declared Trump’s decision “null and void legally” and “a deliberate undermining of all peace efforts” that would give impetus to “extremism and terrorism.”

Erdogan — who regards himself a champion of the Palestinian cause — denounced Israel as a state defined by “occupation” and “terror”, in a new diatribe against the Israeli leadership.

“With this decision, Israel was rewarded for all the terrorist activities it has carried out. It is Trump who bestowed this award even,” said Erdogan, who holds the rotating chairmanship of the OIC.

He said all countries who “value international law and fairness” should recognise occupied Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine,” saying Islamic countries would “never give up” on this demand.

Using unusually strong language, Abbas warned that there could be “no peace or stability” in the Middle East until Jerusalem is recognised as the capital of a Palestinian state.

Moreover, he said that with Trump’s move the United States had withdrawn itself from a traditional role as the mediator in the search for Mideast peace.

“We do not accept any role of the United States in the political process from now on. Because it is completely biased towards Israel,” he said.

The final statement from the OIC echoed this sentiment, saying Trump’s move was “an announcement of the US administration’s withdrawal from its role as sponsor of peace” in the Middle East.

Abbas slammed the recognition by Trump of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel as a “gift” to the “Zionist movement” as if he “were giving away an American city,” adding that Washington no longer had any role to play in the Middle East peace process.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Jordanian King Abdullah II and Lebanese President Michel Aoun were among the heads of state present, as well as the emirs of Qatar and Kuwait and presidents of Afghanistan and Indonesia.

A surprise guest was Venezuela’s leftist President Nicolas Maduro whose country has no significant Muslim population but is a bitter critic of US policy.

Trump’s announcement last week prompted an outpouring of anger in the Muslim and Arab world, where tens of thousands of people took to the streets to denounce Israel and show solidarity with the Palestinians.

The decision sparked protests in Palestinian territories, with six Palestinians killed so far in clashes or Israeli air strikes on Gaza and hundreds wounded.

*The story edited by Ahram Online.