This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Year 'Round Russian Season in Egypt

"My mother begged me to cancel the trip, but we were waiting all day and dreaming of the sea for so long so we went anyway."
"This place [Sharm al-Sheikh, Egypt] is wonderful for the weather."
Ekaterina Ivanova, 34, St.Petersburg, Russia

"You have to speak Russian here, they're most of our customers and they don't necessarily speak English.
"They come for diving, snorkelling, and of course, the parties... We love Russia and make many friends and connections with them."
Mustapha Abdel-Hakim, 26, cafe owner: "La Rousse", Sharm el-Sheikh

"They are all over Sharm, they buy all sorts of souvenirs, King Tut statutes and carved wooden objects but especially Arabic water pipes -- this is number one for the Russians."
Raymond Michael, souvenir shop vendor

"I created entertainment in Sharm to be an international clubbing destination and here we are twenty years later."
"We have sunshine all year and open-air parties all year, what's not to love."
Adly el-Mestekawy, "Sheikh of Sharm, club Pacha

A view of visitors at the beach at the Mediterranean city of Marsa Matrouh, northwest of Cairo, Egypt © Amr Dalsh

It's not only Russian nationals who are drawn to the sun and sand and sea of the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, for Gulf Arabs, British, and Germans travel there as well. There was a time when Jews from Israel flocked to the Sinai; it had been their favoured vacation spot before it was handed back to Egypt in a peace agreement. But terrorism and endemic lawlessness conspired to convince Israel that Jews should avoid their former playgrounds.

Now, it is no longer Hebrew heard so commonly at the resorts, but Russian, with 60% of the tourists coming from Russia. Vacationing families lap up the sun and the sand, the restfulness and the beauty, and when evening falls they withdraw and in come the 20-somethings to party the night away. The very day of the catastrophic crash of Flight KGL9268 headed to St.Petersburg, the show, as all such entertainments tend to, continued on.

The clubbing nights last until sunrise, a draw for Russians to Red Sea tourism. "I would like to once again express my condolences to the families and relatives of the victims. Without any doubt everything should be done so that an objective picture of what happened is created, so that we know what happened", Vladimir Putin assured Russians of the "dreadful tragedy". An objective picture precludes any suggestion that Russia's military incursion in Syria is responsible.

Ekaterina Ivanova, despite her mother's pleas that she remain home and not jet off to the Sinai for holiday, decided, after having just missed taking the ill-fated flight, to continue on regardless. She -- among the three million Russians who came as tourists to Egypt last year represent a third of all visitors -- simply could not imagine missing out on the fun to be had in the southern Sinai.

It is all, after all, fairly distant from the insurgency fought by Islamic militants against the Egyptian army in the northern Sinai Peninsula. And so, the tourists come in Russian droves, willing to take their chances.

Passengers line up to depart from Sharm el-Sheikh Airport hours after a Russian aircraft carrying 224 people, including 17 children, crashed about 20 minutes after taking off from Sharm el-Sheikh, a Red Sea resort popular with Russian tourists, in south Sinai, Egypt, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015

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