Al-Ahram Weekly Online   5 - 11 February 2009
Issue No. 933
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875



Back from touring Europe

MINISTER of Tourism Zoheir Garana ended a two-week tour in Europe that included Germany, Austria, Slovakia, France and Spain. The tour is part of Garana's continued efforts to promote Egypt as a top tourist destination which is keen on improving the quality and variety of its services. In Madrid, Garana ended his tour with a news conference where he explained the latest developments and measures taken in the Egyptian tourist market to face both the current credit crunch and improve services.

Of the 12.8 million tourists who visited Egypt in 2008, Spain had a share of 156,000, with an eight per cent decrease than the year before. And while the challenges facing the industry are many, Garana assured that they would only be overcome by a joint effort with his counterparts worldwide. The media, explained Garana, has an inseparable role in enhancing tourism, and hence should be cautious about the kind of information they publish when tackling the global financial crisis and in its ramifications on tourism.

The growing trend of developing eco-tourism in Egypt was among the most significant points which Garana stressed on his tour. Indeed, Egypt is expanding its tourist projects but never at the expense of the environment, he noted. This is a balance, Garana insisted, which his ministry is determined to uphold.

Silver jubilee at Pharaonic village

AS PART of celebrations of its Silver Jubilee, the Pharaonic Village invited movie star Nour El-Sherif for a one- day seminar, where he shed light on the pivotal role played by the village in preserving Egypt's heritage and long history. While pointing out the importance of art in helping children better grasp Egypt's history, El-Sherif cited a number of movies produced to that end, such as director Shadi Abdel-Salam's 1970 Al-Momya, (The Mummy) which he believes is the best example of how cinema can contribute in preserving heritage.

A slow, but ultimately captivating film, investigates the pros and cons of selling art treasures to finance an impoverished Egypt. The basic plot deals with an Egyptian tribal chief who decides that preserving a cultural identity may be just as important as satisfying materialistic desires of a more immediate nature. El-Sherif stated that to the credit of then first-time director Abdel-Salam, the subject is treated with enough intelligence and visual inventiveness to become gripping.

Come fly with me

WANT to fly to London, shop all you can and pay no extra weight while enjoying a memorable luxury flight? Try British Airways' Club World to London, which offers passengers 90kgs of weight for less than half the price. The offer from Cairo to London is valid until 6 February.

British Airways Business Class, Club World tickets to London can be booked for LE4,508, and is part of the airline's global village strategy of bringing destinations closer. The offer also applies to bookings made between 19- 31 March.

Speaking about promotionals offer, British Airways Commercial Manager in Egypt Mervat Alfy said that "at British Airways, we like to give our passengers the very best, and what could be better than flying them on the finest bed on air with the best Business Class price in Egypt."

British Airways flies more beds to more destinations than any other airline. Adventure combined with leisure and comfort, is a service British Airways is keen on offering. Journeys with BA are made even easier with, where travelers can check timetables, book tickets, check-in online and more.

Online check-in is available 24 hours before departure and gives customers the use of an interactive seat map of the aircraft to pick or change their seats. The online boarding pass can be printed at home or office prior to travel, allowing passengers to take advantage of the fast bag drop service at the airport, thus avoiding the queues and reducing the time required to pass through airport formalities.

Hotels, resorts and Valentine's

Taking your love out on Valentine's is not an easy task. Yet Egypt with its large variety of hotels and resorts is ready for amorous couples.

Experience the difference

WISHING to jazz it up? Head to the Fairmont Towers that celebrated its one-year anniversary on 1 February, and experience the luxury their management promises. Try the overnight packages for couples in an upgraded deluxe room, including breakfast, a complimentary bottle of sparkling wine or a bottle of sparkling grape juice, along with a heart-shaped cake and fresh strawberries, late check-out until 5pm, free internet access and free parking for LE1,050 including service charge and taxes.

A special chef-prepared romantic dinner at the hotel's signature restaurant Aqua e Lucia, will enhance the intimacy of the evening. The hotel Executive Chef Ziad Daoud has designed an exquisite four-course set menu, with highlights including pan fillet of Halibut on green asparagus risotto and lobster bisque sauce, a Valentines inspired dessert of heart-shaped chocolate mille feuilles with strawberry mousse and red berry coulis, two glasses of Cape Bay Chardonnay or Merlot wine or one Fruit Cocktail per person -- and a special surprise giveaway for ladies.

There is also live entertainment, while guests attending Valentine's by the restaurant might be winners of a complimentary romantic night at the hotel's luxurious presidential suite.

Valentine's by the Ramses Hilton

THRILL it up a bit at the Sherlock Holmes Pub, where you can start your romantic evening by the Ramses Hilton's very special "Everlasting love" Cocktail and take as much time as you desire exchanging glances with your beloved. By the Citadel Grill Restaurant, a spectacular set- up is specially laid out for the occasion, to make your candlelit dinner unforgettable until next year's Valentine's.

There is always something special at the hotel's Windows on the World, notably the view, where you can find yourself a perfect spot to gaze at the stars with your partner. In case you wish to surprise your Valentine with a heart- shaped cake, order now at the Garden Court Caf....

Shake it with the Marimba

INDEED, it is always nice to try something new. Sheraton Cairo invites guests to share the special night with a fashion show for the promising designer Mahmoud Ghali, while shaking it to the Marimba tunes played by the talented Nesma Abdel-Aziz. While red is the colour for the night's dress-code, Sheraton Cairo promises that fun and excitement will come in all the colours of the rainbow.

Romance by the beach

WHAT can be more romantic than a Valentine's celebration by the beach where a loving couple can bask in the sun, as well as other treats, which the Sharm El-Sheikh Marriott Red Sea Resort is offering. Special packages were created for the occasion, offering a two-night stay for two including dinner at the Mountain Buffet, a candlelit dinner at the Italian restaurant Parmizzano's, plus two glasses of wine or any other non-alcoholic drinks.

Hotel news

Risotto your way

AS PART of its promotional policy among its clients and various companies, British Airways in collaboration with the Fairmont Towers Hotel launched cooking classes this month. Journalists were the first to try this recreational project by the hotel's signature restaurant Aqua e Luce, where executive chef Ziad Daoud demonstrated how to prepare a palatable dish of the Italian Risotto and how to make it cook to perfection.

As much as the experienced cooks looked confident carrying out the Chef de Cuisine's instructions, journalists would not have done it without the cooks' helpful tips. "Cooking a good Risotto is like riding a bicycle," explained Daoud, "it takes a takes a little bit of practice to begin with, and a certain amount of concentration thereafter."

In the end, it was great to learn that you don't need to go to a five-star restaurant to indulge yourself with a good plate of risotto, when you know how to cook it in the comfort of your own home. However, when at a cooking class, the real fun begins when you're all done and it is time to sample the delights, or lack-thereof, of your peers' cooking.

Quality renovations

THE Laundry and Valet services at the Ramses Hilton hotel witnessed a total revamp this month, as part of the hotel's strategy of constantly delivering and providing the best services for guests. The newly refurbished departments were inaugurated by the hotel's General Manager Haitham Nassar, who's been active around the clock ever since he took his post along with

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