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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Petrochemical Plant Deal with South Korea

Egypt and South Korea signed a $4.8 billion deal yesterday to build a petrochemical plant which Egypt hopes will provide 40,000 new jobs for Egyptians. The plant will be built in Ain Sokhna, not far from the Suez canal. South Korea will pay thirty percent of the cost to build the plant and the rest will come from an international consortium of investors. In the wake of the deal, Egypt’s minister of foreign affairs Nabil Fahmy emphasized the importance of developing close relations with South Korea.

Luxor Film Festival

For the second year running, a European-Egyptian film festival will take place in Luxor, a city in upper Egypt known for its rich antiquities. The festival will emphasize new German cinema and will run from January 19-25, and is being depicted as a way to draw tourists back to Egypt after an extended bout of political unrest. Part of the festival will be dedicated to showing classic Egyptian films, in addition to new, independent releases like Rags and Tatters, which has won several international awards in the past few months.

Appeal to Rename City Squares After Sisi

According to independent newspaper Al-Shuruk, a panel of judges is considering an appeal to promote the Minister of Defense Abd el Fattah el Sisi to the rank of field marshal, and rename all city squares in his honor. After the Egyptian armed forces ousted President Mohamed Morsi in early July, Sisi’s popularity skyrocketed. Public figures like comedian and talk show host Bassem Youssef have mocked the outpouring of public affection for Sisi over the last few months, while other groups have started campaigns calling for Sisi to run for president in the new elections next year.

Taxi Driver Strike; Head of State Information Agency Resigns

Tens of taxi and minibus drivers have announced they are going on strike to express solidarity with a driver who was killed by a group of angry protesters earlier this week. The driver, Mohamed Gamal el-Din, drove into a protest march in Mansoura and ran over one of the protesters; she remains in critical condition. In other news, the head of the Egyptian State Information Services resigned today after a media scandal surrounding a prominently-displayed poster, intended to rally support for the new Egyptian constitution. The poster misspelled the word ‘Egyptians’ in Arabic and also featured three non-Egyptians under a sign that proclaimed the new constitution was a document for “all Egyptians.”

Hundreds Dead in South Sudan Fighting

Two days after the president of South Sudan said that he had put down an attempted coup attempt, renewed fighting in and around the capital city of Juba has left over 500 dead.  The fighting is mainly between two army factions: the former vice president Riek Machar (who the president dismissed in July) is leading one group, and the other consists of soldiers loyal to president Salva Kiir. 20,000 people are seeking refuge in UN shelters, while thousands of others are trying to flee the country. As of today, the US called for a mandatory evacuation of its citizens. Phone lines haven’t been working since Monday, so it’s difficult to determine the extent of the damage; the UN estimates that 800 people have been injured.

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