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Lebanon minister apologizes to Egypt for insulting its cleanliness

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BEIRUT (Reuters) – Lebanon’s tourism minister has apologized to Egypt after criticizing the country’s cleanliness and living conditions in a newspaper interview, Lebanon’s state news agency NNA said.

Caretaker Tourism Minister Avedis Guidanian, in the interview published on Monday by Lebanon’s English-language Daily Star, complained that negative media reports about Lebanon were harming his country’s image and hindering tourism.

“Look at Egypt – is there a place dirtier than it? People are louder than us, there is more traffic than here – people live in graves, OK? But there is tourism, because they know how to sell the country,” Guidanian said.

Late on Monday Guidanian apologized for his remarks and visited the Egyptian ambassador to Lebanon on Tuesday, NNA said.

In Egypt, pro-government TV talk show host Ahmed Moussa said he “does not care for his apology”, but stressed the good relations between the people of Egypt and Lebanon. Moussa dismissed the minister as a “fool” and said the Lebanese government should “intervene”.

An official diplomatic source said the minister’s statement in the newspaper “does not reflect the position of Lebanon as a country or government, nor the Lebanese people”.

“The Lebanese people come to Egypt for tourism in large numbers,” the source added.

A Lebanese tourist in Egypt was sentenced in July to eight years in prison after authorities said she had insulted the country in a Facebook video post. The tourist, Mona el-Mazboh, had made a series of complaints including of sexual harassment. Her sentence was reduced in September to one year and suspended, and she left Egypt.

Lebanon has been without a government for six months since parliamentary elections, holding up vital reforms and raising fears for the economy. Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri has so far been unable to find consensus among rival political parties to form a national unity government.

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Egypt Jumps Ten Places in ‘Global Knowledge Index’ in Only One Year

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Egypt has jumped 10 places in just a year in the 2020 Global Knowledge Index (GKI), according to three infographics released by the Egyptian Cabinet’s Information and Decision Support Center.

The index, which gets issued every year by the United Nations Development Programme and the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation, shows that Egypt has moved from the 82nd place to the 72nd in only one year.

The rankings are based on a survey done on the knowledge performance of 138 countries in 7 areas and 199 indicators. Egypt has shown great advancement in all areas, it moves 23 ranks up in the area of Technical and Vocational Education and Training and 11 ranks up in Pre-University Education.

The index also highlighted Egypt’s points of strength in education sector, which included higher enrollment in universities and a significant decline in out-of-school children. There’s also an increase in the number of students enrolling in vocational and technical schools.

Switzerland, the United States, and Finland came on top of the 2020 index.

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Egypt Set to Build Its First Train Factory in Port Said

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Egypt’s Ministry of Planning and Economic Development has announced that Egypt is planning on building its very first train factory in Port Said.

The factory will build EMUs, DMUs and monorail trains in East Port Said industrial zone.

The Ministry made the announcement on the 16th of September in a meeting attended between the minister of planning and economic development, Dr Hala El-Said, transport minister Major General Kamel El-Wazir and chairman of the Suez Canal Economic Zone Authority, Mr Yahia Zaki.

The meeting went over the project’s implementation plan and the possible outputs of the factory.

Egyptian Railways Services and Maintenance Company (Ermas) will most probably run the new plant in cooperation with the private sector including a number of international companies, such as the Suez Canal Economic Zone, and Egypt’s Sovereign Fund.

According to El-Waziri, the factory is seen as part of a localizing initiative that aims at producing railway equipment locally, in order to meet the rising demand both domestically and in Africa and on the Arabian peninsula.

The factory will help boost the Egyptian economy, in addition to generating hard currency and providing job opportunities.

 

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AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine Shows 90% Effectiveness With No Serious Side Effects

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AstraZeneca announced today the effectiveness of its Covid-19 vaccine and it turned out to be around 90% effective with no serious side effects!

According to data from the late-stage trials in Britain and Brazil, the vaccine, which is developed by Oxford University, has shown 90% effectiveness after being administered as a a half dose followed by a full dose at least one month apart.

“This vaccine’s efficacy and safety confirm that it will be highly effective against COVID-19 and will have an immediate impact on this public health emergency,” Pascal Soriot, Astra’s chief executive, said in a statement.

British Prime minister Boris Johnson said it was “incredibly exciting news the Oxford vaccine has proved so effective in trials.”

The next step now is for the company to start preparing regulatory submission of the data to authorities across the world that have a framework in place for conditional or early approval.

It will also seek an emergency use listing from the World Health Organization (WHO) to speed up availability in countries with low income. In parallel, the full analysis of the interim results is being submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

With both Oxford’s and Pfizer’s vaccines, we can be hopeful that the new year will come bearing good news!

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