Egypt and the U.S. unveil new groundwater system

Egypt and the U.S. unveil new groundwater system

Per Wikipedia, the U.S. had minimal dealings with Egypt when it was controlled by the Ottoman Empire (before 1882) and Britain (1882–1945).

President G A Nasser (1956–70) antagonized the U.S. by his pro-Soviet policies and anti-Israeli rhetoric, but the U.S. helped keep him in power by forcing Britain and France to immediately end their invasion in 1956. American policy has been to provide strong support to governments that supported U.S. and Israeli interests in the region, especially presidents Anwar Sadat (1970–81) and Hosni Mubarak (1981–2011).

Fast forward to Tuesday, March 5, 2019, and to this story of Egypt Today.

President Donald Trump and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi In White House (FNN) – photo from Youtube

Egypt, U.S. unveil new groundwater system in Alexandria

CAIRO – 5 March 2019: Egypt and the United States ‘governments unveiled Sunday finalizing the new groundwater lowering system at the Catacombs of Kom El-Shuqafa, Alexandria. 

In a Monday statement issued by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, it was stated that in support of Egypt’s vital tourism industry, U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Thomas Goldberger joined Minister of Antiquities Khaledal-Anany and Alexandria Governor Abdul Aziz Qansua to celebrate the completion of a groundwater lowering system at the Catacombs of Kom El-Shuqafa on Sunday, March 3. 

“This site has rich cultural significance and has the potential to attract tourists and generate revenue,” Goldberger said, adding that the United States is committed to continuing the partnership with the Government of Egypt to conserve Egypt’s cultural heritage and increase tourism. 

The U.S. Government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), contributed $5.7 million for a system to lower the groundwater level in partnership with the Ministry of Antiquities and the National Organization for Potable Water and Sanitary Drainage. The system preserves the site from erosion and enables tourists to access the lowest level of the Catacombs. 

Since 1995, the American people, through USAID, have provided $100 million in assistance to conserve monuments and masterpieces spanning over the full range of Egypt’s long cultural heritage – from Pharaonic times to the late Ottoman period. USAID-financed restoration and training programs helped ensure that Egypt can capitalize on the sector’s traditional role as an engine of economic growth and employment. 

Since 1978, the American people have invested $30 billion to further Egypt’s human and economic development. 

Bahrain’s non-oil economy expanded in 2018

Bahrain’s non-oil economy expanded in 2018

Non-oil growth is on the up in Bahrain, where economic diversification efforts are under way.

The picture above is that of Manama sea front © Shutterstock

Construction, infrastructure fuel Bahrain’s 2.4% non-oil growth

by Oscar Rousseau 06 Feb 2019

Both sectors led the kingdom’s economy to diversified growth in Q3 2018, new government data shows

Bahrain’s non-oil economy expanded by 2.4% during Q3 2018, according to data from Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB).

Construction and infrastructure expansion played a prominent role in driving growth for the smallest economy in the GCC.

Bahrain is in the midst of a modernisation and economic diversification drive, as Gulf nations wean their economies off oil. The latest statistics from government agency EDB indicate efforts to create a diversified economy are showing signs of promise.

New project infrastructure spending increased by 16.3% year-on-year during the quarter, while exports surged 9% during the first nine months of 2018. Bahrain’s construction sector expanded by 6.2% between January and November 2018, with manufacturing up by 3.8%, and real estate and business deals rising by 3.2%.

EDB’s research was published in Bahrain Economic Quarterly, which stated that modest GDP growth was underpinned by construction, infrastructure, and manufacturing in the kingdom.

Megaprojects have played a major role as well in the last 12 months, with one such prominent scheme being Aluminium Bahrain’s (Alba) Line 6 Smelter, which was fired up in December 2018.

Alba has become the world’s largest aluminium smelter as a result of the Line 6 expansion.

Alba’s Line 6 expansion is one of Bahrain’s megaprojects.

Bahrain Petroleum Company’s modernisation drive, which includes expansion of Bahrain Refinery, is another scheme hailed for its positive impact.

These projects are known to create jobs and drive up investment during construction, and are expected to lead to long-term social and economic benefits. Bahrain is also seeing greater investment in technological modernisation and innovation, which is supporting productivity in the kingdom, according to the government agency’s research. 

Chief economist at EDB, Dr Jarmo Kotilaine, said fiscal rebalancing would boost investor confidence and continue to support the growth of Bahrain’s economy in the future.

“With increased economic uncertainty around the world and lower growth trends in the Middle East overall, Bahrain can expect to see resilient growth thanks to its commitment to diversification and sustainability,” he said.

“As the gateway to the Gulf region, it is unsurprising that investment is flowing into sectors such as construction, [information communications tech], and fintech, thanks to Bahrain’s strategically important location, its economic benefits, and ease of doing business.”

Development Overruns of an Algerian Motorway

Development Overruns of an Algerian Motorway

In an article titled Dr. Abderrahmane Mebtoul: “Algeria Still Faces Significant Challenges” written by Mohsen Abdelmoumen of the American Herald Tribune, a question relating to the development overruns of an Algerian motorway that crosses the country from its western Moroccan border to its eastern Tunisian one was tabled at the university professor.
In few words, the East-West motorway project was launched in 2009. Costing $11.2bn, it is considered as Algeria’s most important road project, and probably the most extensive public works project in the world.
It was scheduled for completion in the fourth quarter of 2013 but was delayed by about a year. Some penetrating stretches to link coastal towns and seaports to this motorway are still pending to date.
The Algerian Government financed the project as part of a $60bn national economic and social recovery programme started in 2005. , and the works have generated over 100,000 jobs.
The project will cut travel times and provide better and safer access to the north of the country, stimulating economic development..

The picture above is of CREECUSA .

What are the reasons for the delays and additional costs accumulated on the East-West motorway and how administrative deficiencies can be explained?

The east-west motorway has a distance of 1 216 km with a cross-profile: 2 × 3 lanes where 24 Wilayas (Governorates) are served by having provided rest areas, service stations, truck stops and maintenance and operation centres of the highway. The East-West motorway has not changed the national road landscape since it has mainly followed the route of the National 4 and 5, which rally Algiers to Oran and Algiers to Constantine. On the other hand, it risks upsetting the economic life of the 19 Wilayas directly crossed and 24 served. In a country where 85% of trade is carried out by road, the impact is likely to be felt quickly. Eleven tunnels were drilled on two three-lane track, and 390 engineering structures have been completed, including 25 viaducts, to join the borders Tunisian, in the east, and Moroccan, in the west. The equipment program consists of the construction of 42 service stations, 76 rest areas (motels, parking areas, playgrounds, etc.), 57 toll stations, 70 interchanges and 22 ‘gendarmerie’ guard posts, as well as guard points of the Civil Protection. To that, it will be necessary to foresee the maintenance costs because one often forgets that a road is maintained and, according to the international standards, it varies between 84,000 Dollars to 135,000 Dollars/year and per km. This raises the problem of toll costs. Programmed initially at 7 billion Dollars and to be delivered in 2010, the last segment delivered at the beginning of the year 2019 with 12 lanes to connect the east-west motorway to the Highlands highway project with a cost estimated by the government in 2017 at about 13 billion Dollars for 1,216 kilometres, which sets the average completion price of one kilometre of highway at nearly $11 million. To the $13 billion already spent, annual maintenance costs will have to be added. These amounts will, no doubt, be higher than average because of the numerous malfunctions committed during its implementation and the delay in the transition to the paying plan. Motorists will pay for travel on the East-West motorway starting in 2018. According to the project prepared by the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, the toll on this highway will be calculated on the basis of a tariff of 1.2 Dinar (DZD) per kilometre. Some directors of public works justify the delay in delivery of the East-West motorway by problems related to the compensation of landowners who have been expropriated. To illustrate their comments, some of these directors stated that in the city of Medea, the price per square meter does not exceed DZD450 (average price DZD115 = one Dollar in 2017) and between 700 and DZD1,000 in Bejaia. In the Wilaya of Tizi-Ouzou, the services of the estates offered the expropriated sum of DZD1,200 per square meter and between 700 and DZD900 in Bouira. A large part of the owners refused the proposed price. To return to the cost of the East-West motorway, any reliable project must clearly highlight the hierarchy of objectives, the expected results by sector, scope, performance indicators, indicators of specific objectives and deadlines, and finally the risk hypothesis. However, the people in charge of this project stick vaguely to the technical description without worrying about the costs, which should in principle be the main concern of the government, the minister, and the managers. For international comparisons, variations are depending on whether there is a constraint or not, but it is necessary to avoid risky comparisons and to compare only what is comparable. In Algeria, all the factors are favourable: the labour force is at least 10 times less expensive than in Europe; there is relatively little bad weather; the materials used in large quantities, aggregates (tuff, sand, and gravel) cost practically only their extraction costs and crushing, fuel is 5 to 7 times cheaper, rents, electricity and gas too, the temporary occupations of land that cost fortunes in Europe are not even paid in Algeria when it comes to the public domain; but there are administrative problems and bureaucratic procedures, not to mention the expropriations and demolitions that are sources of extra costs.

Read more related articles of AHT . . .

Palestine is the world’s fastest growing tourist destination

Palestine is the world’s fastest growing tourist destination

Palestine is the world’s fastest growing tourist destination as it has seen in 2017 a 57.8% rise in international arrivals says Mariam Nabbout in stepFEED citing a new report compiled by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). The report features two other MENA countries in its top ten list. These are Egypt, second and Tunisia, in fifth. The Telegraph amongst several other media reported on the latest trends of worldwide tourism.
Tourism that this morning of August 18, 2017 events have somewhat tarnished further in the city of Barcelona where for months some sort Tourism-phobia was soul-scathingly debated amongst the local politicians.
Would tourism be affected by these unfortunate events? We republish excerpts of this article of  Gavin Haines with our thanks and respectful compliments to the publisher.

This is the world’s fastest growing destination – but where is it? CREDIT: GETTY

10 surprising destinations where tourism is booming in 2017

A new report compiled by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has revealed the world’s fastest growing tourist destinations for 2017 – and the results throw up a few surprises.

So what can we read into the data? Well, the fact that countries such as Egypt and Tunisia feature in the top ten seems to indicate their ability – against the odds – to bounce back after a string of terrorist attacks.

As well as telling tales of resilience, the report also chronicles holidaymakers’ increasing appetite to travel beyond traditional destinations and forge paths on roads less travelled. The presence of Mongolia and Nicaragua in the top ten is testament to that.

The list throws up a few surprises, such as Mongolia (pictured) CREDIT: GETTY

Here are the fastest growing tourist destinations so far in 2017:

  1. Palestine

Earlier this year the street artist, Banksy, opened a boutique hotel in Palestine’s West Bank, which, in hindsight, appears to have been a sage move: tourism in Palestine is booming. According to the UNWTO, the occupied territories witnessed a 57.8 per cent rise in international arrivals so far this year.

Overlooking the Israeli West Bank barrier, Banksy’s politically-charged Walled Off Hotel has likely helped raise awareness of tourism in Palestine, which is on course to welcome more than 630,000 holidaymakers by the end of the year. Read our review of the Walled Off Hotel here.

  1. Egypt

Egypt’s tourist industry has had a torrid time of late. Ongoing political unrest and the downing of a Russian passenger plane in 2015 – which investigators attributed to terrorism – deterred many people from visiting the North African nation.

Egypt’s tourist industry has had a torrid time of late CREDIT: AP/FOTOLIA

Much to the chagrin of the Egyptian authorities, the UK government still refuses to let airlines fly to Sharm el-Sheikh, from where the doomed jet departed, meaning Britain is the only European nation apart from Russia not serving the holiday resort. That hasn’t stopped other nationalities flocking to the country, which has witnessed a 51 per cent spike in international tourist arrivals this year and is on course to welcome nearly 8 million holidaymakers in 2017 (though that’s still well below the 14 million who visited in 2010).

A plaque commemorates the spot where the Sousse massacre took place CREDIT: GETTY

  1. Tunisia

Tunisia’s tourist industry suffered a similar fate to Egypt’s following the Sousse beach massacre of 2015, when a gunman killed 38 people – most of them 30 Britons – during a shooting rampage.

The hotel where the massacre took place reopened earlier this year and the FCO has since eased its travel advice for Tunisia, which seems to have signalled a change in fortunes for the country: the UNWTO reports arrivals are up by 32.5 per cent so far this year. If the trend continues, some 7.5 million holidaymakers would visit Tunisia in 2017, not far off the 7.8 million who flocked there in 2010.


Bridging global infrastructure gaps

Bridging global infrastructure gaps

The MENA is made of Oil and Gas (O&G) big exporting countries such as the GCC, non O&G exporters of the Mashrek and the small to medium exporters of the Maghreb.  Development of infrastructure has generally had a late start in all countries of the MENA until a decade ago where it is frantically gaining ground.  Especially in the GCC, where point in case, is the UAE, from roads, Railways to airports, to telecommunications, it has become home to world class facilities that have supported economic growth. Bridging global infrastructure gaps is one of the numerous handicaps that the MENA countries have first to live with and eventually cope with.

Here is a very short summary of the Status of the GCC’s.

An official person of the UAE was quoted as saying :

“If you want to have a strong economy, you have to have strong infrastructure.”

Dubai Metro


  • Roads

In effect, the UAE’s extensive road network not only connects all seven emirates but also links the UAE with neighbouring Oman. Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

  • Railways

Railways up until September 9, 2009 were inexistent in the GCC.

Dubai Metro was inaugurated ion that date and is the first urban train network in the GCC. Doha and Riyadh will soon have a network of their own.

The Etihad Rail project is set to bring rail transport to the entire country spearheading the whole of the GCC in deploying a network from Kuwait City to Muscat with a couple of loops midway of the track.   One is for Riyadh and the other for Doha via Manama.

  • Aviation

Aviation was one of the earliest drivers of non-oil economic growth in the UAE.  Today, the UAE is a global aviation hub.  Doha, Riyadh, Bahrain and Kuwait

  • Ports

The UAE’s unique location has favoured maritime activity to be centred at Dubai.  Port facilities all along the shores of the country, catering for general cargo, container shipping are of international standards.

The other countries of the MENA however are not in such luck but are not that behind the GCC.  The proposed article published today by McKinsey and Company give a fairly good summary of todate infrastructure development worldwide.  Here it is :

Bridging global infrastructure gaps

By Jonathan Woetzel, Nicklas Garemo, Jan Mischke, Martin Hjerpe, and Robert Palter

Global infrastructure systems are straining to meet demand, and the spending trajectory will lead to worsening gaps. But there are solutions to unlock financing and make the sector more productive.

The world today invests some $2.5 trillion a year on transportation, power, water, and telecommunications systems. Yet it’s not enough—and needs are only growing steeper. In a follow-up to its comprehensive 2013 report Infrastructure productivity: How to save $1 trillion a year, the McKinsey Global Institute finds that the world needs to invest an average of $3.3 trillion annually just to support currently expected rates of growth (exhibit). Emerging economies will account for some 60 percent of that need.

Despite glaring gaps and years of debate about the importance of shoring up backbone systems, infrastructure investment has actually declined as a share of GDP in 11 of the G20 economies since the global financial crisis. Cutbacks have occurred in the European Union, the United States, Russia, and Mexico. By contrast, Canada, Turkey, and South Africa increased investment.

If the current trajectory of underinvestment continues, the world will fall short by roughly 11 percent, or $350 billion a year. The size of the gap triples if the additional investment required to meet the new UN Sustainable Development Goals is included.

Would you like to learn more about the McKinsey Global Institute?

Years of chronic underinvestment in critical areas such as transportation, water treatment, and power grids are now catching up with countries around the world. If these gaps continue to grow, they could erode future growth potential and productivity. It is therefore critical to get finance flowing into urgently needed projects.

A great deal of attention has focused on connecting institutional investors with projects that need their capital as well as creating an expanded role for public-private partnerships. But the vast majority of infrastructure will likely continue to be financed by the public and corporate sectors.

Even in the face of fiscal concerns, there is substantial scope to increase public infrastructure investment. Governments can increase funding streams by raising user charges, capturing property value, or selling existing assets and recycling the proceeds for new infrastructure. In addition, public accounting standards could be brought in line with corporate accounting so infrastructure assets are depreciated over their life cycle rather than immediately adding to deficits during construction. This change could reduce pro-cyclical public investment behavior.

Corporate finance makes up about three-quarters of private finance. Unleashing investment in privatized sectors requires regulatory certainty and the ability to charge prices that produce an acceptable risk-adjusted return, as well as enablers like spectrum or land access, permits, and approvals.



L’aéroport de Doha est parmi les meilleurs du monde

L’aéroport de Doha est parmi les meilleurs du monde

L’information, rapportée par l’Observatoire du Qatar (19 mars 2016), cite le classement 2016 du cabinet d’audit britannique Skytrax des meilleurs aéroports du monde. Pour cette année, il est de nouveau dominé par le site de Singapour-Changi mais le nouvel aéroport Doha-Hamad International (HIA) progresse de 12 places par rapport en 2015. L’aéroport de Doha est parmi les meilleurs du monde et dorenavent dans le top 10 des meilleurs aéroports du monde.


Ces dernières années, de nombreux aéroports asiatiques figurent parmi les dix premiers. À lui tout seul, le Japon classe trois de ses infrastructures dans le top 10. Selon l’ODQ, “la plus belle percée est celle effectuée par l’aéroport international de Doha, inauguré en 2014, qui passe de la 22e à la 9e place. C’est le seul pays des États du Golfe à atteindre un tel niveau, ni Dubai ni Abu Dhabi ne font partie du top 10. Le nombre de passagers voyageant par l’aéroport International Hamad a dépassé 30 millions de personnes en 2015.  L’impressionnante augmentation du nombre de passagers en seulement 20 mois est due notamment à l’offre de nouvelles destinations de la compagnie nationale Qatar Airways ainsi que des services variés proposés en première classe. Il avait dans un premier temps la capacité d’accueillir jusqu’à 28 millions de passagers par an et a pour objectif d’en accueillir plus de 50 millions en 2020. “

Ce prix vient s’ajouter aux nombreuses récompenses remportées ces derniers mois, dont le prix « du meilleur aéroport du Moyen-Orient », lors de la cérémonie  Skytrax Airport Award, tenue au

Salon Passenger Terminal Expo 2015 à Paris. Mais aussi le prix du meilleur aéroport à la première cérémonie du « Future Travel Experience (ETP) Asia Awards » qui a eu lieu à Singapour le 18 novembre dernier.

Hamad International Airport