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Egypt builds wall to protect Sharm El-Sheikh, encourage tourism

Camels used to give tourist rides in the Old Market district on April 3, 2016 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt [Chris McGrath/Getty Images]
Camels used to give tourist rides in the Old Market district on April 3, 2016 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt [Chris McGrath/Getty Images]

Egypt says a recently constructed three-kilometre concrete and wire barrier encircling Sharm El-Sheikh will help protect tourism at the Red Sea resort on the southern tip of the Sinai peninsula, Reuters reported.

Authorities in southern Sinai hope to revitalise tourism which has been dented by upheaval after Egypt's 2011 uprising and the subsequent bloody military coup in 2013, the crash of a Russian passenger jet in Sinai in 2015, and the coronavirus pandemic. In 2005, bombings in Sharm El-Sheikh killed dozens in one of Egypt's deadliest militant attacks.

The security barrier is made of concrete slabs with stretches of wire fencing separating the resort from the desert around it. Some of the slabs are marked with black peace symbols.

Those entering the city by road have to pass through one of four gates equipped with cameras and scanners.

Sharm El-Sheikh is about 360 kilometres (224 miles) south of Sinai's northern, Mediterranean coast, where the government says it is fighting terrorists, but where rights activists believe oppositionists are being systematically extrajudicially killed.

READ: Egypt expected to lose $5bn in tourism revenues

"The distance between them is huge, plus there is great security with Egypt's Second Army securing the North Sinai, and the Third Army securing South Sinai," South Sinai Governor Khaled Fouda told journalists on a tour of the area at the weekend.

"They will be searched, security cameras will identify them, vehicles will go through a scan so that when they arrive in the city, it'll be after a full search operation."

A museum housing ancient Egyptian artifacts opened in Sharm El-Sheikh last year amid efforts to diversify tourism activities at the beach resort. A university named after Saudi Arabia's King Salman has also opened recently in the city.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, Sharm El-Sheikh often hosted international summits attended by coup leader turned President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.

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