Ancient Roman Pantheon to start charging entry fee in 2018

Tourists visit the ancient Pantheon in downtown Rome, Italy December 11, 2017. REUTERTS/Tony GentileROME - 11 December 2017: Visitors to Rome’s Pantheon, one of the ancient world’s best preserved monuments, will have to pay an entry fee from next May unless they are going there to pray, Italy’s culture and tourism ministry said on Monday.Now a church, the vast cylindrical former temple whose undamaged exterior wall supports a 43.3 metre-high (142 ft) dome with a circular skylight at its summit, drew 7.4 million visitors last year.The new 2 euros ($2.36) per person charge is part of a drive to squeeze more profit from Italy’s cultural assets, and the ministry said tourist visits would also be suspended during religious services.Part of the ticket revenue will be spent on maintaining the site, where Roman statesman Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa commissioned a temple in honor of Emperor Augustus in around 27 B.C.The Pantheon’s current form and six-metre thick walls date from the early part of the reign of Emperor Hadrian, who came to power in A.D. 117. The building survived the Barbarian attacks on Rome and was transformed into a Christian church in 609.Among those buried in there are the Renaissance artist Raphael and two Italian kings.Caring for art and architecture dating back thousands of years has long posed a challenge for a country that is responsible for more UNESCO world heritage sites than any other and has long-standing problems of bureaucracy and low public funding.

Source:Egypt Today

December 11, 2017 17:37 UTC


Russia positions itself as Middle East broker

Speculations ensued as to who would be a substitute for the U.S. as the main power player in the region.Trump showed no sign of backtracking his decision, leaving the region enraged and thousands of Arabs protesting across the world.The gap presumably left by the U.S. after a short-lived thaw with regional powers is now seeing Russia eager to fill the position of Middle East peace broker. On December 8, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared his deep concerns over Washington’s decision on Jerusalem, showing great interest in Israeli-Palestinian relations.Putin visited Cairo on Monday as part of a regional tour that included Syria and Turkey. Putin has courted closer ties with Egypt and NATO-member Turkey, as well as other countries in the region, in the recent years.Besides backing different sides in the Syria war, Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met in Ankara in September. They said they wanted to see progress on the TurkStream gas pipeline from Russia to Turkey and the Akkuyu nuclear power plant being built in Turkey in collaboration with Russia.Russia and Egypt have had warm relations. In September, Moscow and Cairo drafted an agreement to allow each country's military to use the other's air bases.In addition, Moscow has stood by Tehran while Trump has refused to re-certify the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.Across the Gulf states, King Salman of Saudi Arabia visited Moscow in October and signed multibillion-dollar energy deals with Russia.

Source:Egypt Today

December 11, 2017 16:41 UTC


Russian tourism return and promoting bilateral relations

Russia's President Vladimir Putin (C) and his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (L) visit a cafe at the Rosa Khutor resort in Sochi, August 12, 2014. REUTERS/Alexei Druzhinin/RIA Novosti/KremlinPhoto: 1: Russia's President Vladimir Putin (L) meets with Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (R) in Cairo, Egypt December 11, 2017 - REUTERS/Alexander Zemlianichenko/PoolPhoto: 2 : President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi receives his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, December 11, 2017 – Press PhotoPhoto: 3: Russian President Vladimir Putin with President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, 11 December 2017- Photo screenshot from OnLivePhoto: 4: President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi during his meeting with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in China - Press photoCAIRO – 11 December 2017: Russian President Vladimir Putin said he discussed with President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi on Monday speeding up joint steps to resume direct passenger flights between the two countries, which has been halted since 2015.With the historical visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to Egypt on Monday, many workers in the tourism sector expect a major breakthrough in returning Russian aviation and tourists to Egypt as soon as possible.The return of Russian tourism is a priority on Sisi's agenda with Putin, as it represents a strong boost to the Egyptian-Russian cooperation. Several experts expected a tourism protocol to be signed on Monday’s visit.The tourism issue, which is considered an issue of security, not politics, would show how Egypt is capable of attracting more Russian investment in the coming period.The two most important issues to be discussed in this visit are the return of Russian tourism and the Dabaa nuclear power plant, stated Sherif Gad, director of the Russian Cultural Center, to Akhbar Al-Youm.The bilateral relations between Egypt and Russia need to extend the communication bridge, particularly after an era of cold relations, added Gad.Russian aviation and tourism were suspended after a Russian airplane was downed in Sinai on October 31, 2015, followed by measures and actions relevant to security requested by the Russian delegations for resuming flights between the two countries.Egyptian airports are now equipped with the latest security mechanisms, including x-ray scanning devices and storage of footage from security cameras, as well as a fingerprint verification system for airport employees to control their entry and exit and to check the identity of individuals going beyond the customs section and the airstrips.Russian inspection committees inspected Egyptian airports in the hopes of resuming direct flights as soon as possible, announcing that Egypt has become ready for the resumption of Russian flights.The most significant developments that President Sisi will discuss with his Russian counterpart are the American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the death of former Yemeni President Ali Abdallah Saleh by Iran-backed Houthi militias.Sisi and Putin will discuss issues of common interest and tackle means of boosting the two countries’ cooperation in various fields, most notably the commercial, military and transportation fields.Both leaders will attend the inauguration of Egypt's first nuclear power plant, which is located at the Mediterranean city of Dabaa in Marsa Matrouh, Egyptian Minister of Electricity Mohamed Shaker previously told Egypt Today.A Russian delegation consisting of 35 officials arrived in Cairo on Thursday to prepare for Putin's visit to the capital, according to security forces at Cairo International Airport.On September 5, Sisi invited Putin to attend the final signing ceremony of the Dabaa plant in Egypt, and Putin announced that he accepted the invitation. Prime Minister Sherif Ismail announced that the foundation stone of the Dabaa nuclear power plant will be laid soon.In February 2015, the Russian President visited Egypt and attended the signing of a number of deals between Cairo and Moscow.

Source:Egypt Today

December 11, 2017 16:30 UTC


Lebanon calls for cutting ties with US over Jerusalem

Demonstrators shout slogans during protests against the U.S. declaration to move its embassy to Jerusalem and to recognize the city as the capital of Israel December 6, 2017 - REUTERSCAIRO – 11 December 2017: “Jerusalem is not for Palestinians only, but for all Muslims and Christians,” said Lebanese politician Gehad al-Samad on Sunday.Samad asserted that power is needed to protect rights, adding that Israel is the enemy of all Arab nations. He called on all Arab and Islamic states to cut diplomatic ties with the U.S. and boycott all American products.Dozens of Lebanese took to the streets on Sunday to protest American President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Lebanese security forces fired tear gas and water cannons at protesters near the U.S. embassy in Lebanon on Sunday during the demonstration, TV footage showed.Protesters, some of them waving the Palestinian flag, set fires in the street and threw projectiles toward security forces, who barricaded the main road leading to the U.S. embassy in the Awkar area north of Beirut.During an emergency meeting in Cairo on Saturday, Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil stated that Arab nations must impose economic sanctions against the U.S. so as to prevent Washington from moving its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to occupied Jerusalem. "Pre-emptive measures must be taken against the decision […] beginning with diplomatic measures, then political, then economic and financial sanctions," said Bassil during the Saturday meeting of foreign ministers at the Arab League in Cairo, according to Reuters.Basil's speech received blessing of all Arab delegations and journalists who attended the urgent summit in Cairo, as he affirmed that “I call you all for an Arab-Arab reconciliation for the salvation for the Arab nation and restoration of its dignity.”“Let's call for an urgent Arab summit with the title of Jerusalem,” Basil said.Arab foreign ministers unanimously rejected the U.S. decision during the emergency meeting, considering it invalid and in violation of international laws and U.N. Security Council resolutions.They stressed their belief that the decision is illegal, as it undermines the peace process, deepens tensions and elicits anger.They called on the U.S. to cancel its decision and work with the international community to oblige Israel to end its occupation of Palestine through a peaceful solution that guarantees the establishment of a state with Jerusalem as its capital.They urged the Security Council to issue a resolution confirming that the U.S. decision contradicts internationally legitimate resolutions.On this regard, Arab foreign ministers agreed to convene an emergency Arab summit in Jordan and also agreed to maintain the Council of the Arab League in permanent session in order to evaluate the situation and to agree on future steps.They called for upholding the relevant Security Council resolutions that reject any shift in the current legal status of Jerusalem.Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said that U.S. President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital cast a shadow over the peace process in Palestine, describing the decision as a regrettable shift in American policy.Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim Al-Jaafari called on taking unconventional decisions and not just data, as this decision will lead to tensions in the region and religious conflict.Jordanian Foreign Affairs Minister Ayman El Safdy said that peace will not be achieved between Israel and Palestine without Jerusalem, declaring Jordan's rejection of the U.S. decision.Secretary-General of the Arab League Ahmed Aboul Gheit said that unilateral measures are null and void.Saudi Arabia expressed its total rejection of the U.S. policy toward Jerusalem. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said that Saudi Arabia has warned that any U.S. declaration on Jerusalem would have a negative impact on peace negotiations, undermine the efforts already exerted and provoke Palestinians.Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki expressed his regret for the U.S. policy, as there is no peace without Palestine and no Palestine without Jerusalem.

Source:Egypt Today

December 11, 2017 16:30 UTC


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